Skyscraper by Lynn Curlee [Text Analysis]

This post was going to be about the wonderfully written and illustrated book “Skyscraper” by author and illustrator Lynn Curlee. I thought it might be good material to keep on hand during the Materials and Structures unit of Grade 3 science. The author follows the phenomenon of the Skyscraper through various ages and architectural periods, focusing on the architects and their contribution to the art. The descriptive and engaging text is accompanied by vivid, full-page, informative diagrams and art-deco illustrations that hearken back to the boom-time of American skyscrapers.

However, while reading I was impressed by the vocabulary of the book and had a sense that it was a little too advanced for independent reading in Grade 3. This led me to use various tools online to determine the reading and grade level of the book. What I found intrigued me. There are many useful tools out there for analyzing text. I will talk about a few of them here and discuss the efficacy of such tests and benchmarks in a later post.

The first online tool that I came across is called Rewordify. This simple but effective site replaces some words that it deems “hard” with more simple vocabulary. You can print a list of the vocabulary, generate cloze tests and word bank quizzes, highlight parts of speech, and view a variety of stats. A free account allows you to analyze up to 50,000 characters at a time.

The next one is called Online Utility. It has a variety of functions including readability and stats. It also lets you find unusual or common words, sort them by frequency and length, and even compare the text to a variety of vocab lists so that you can augment it accordingly. The analyzer also suggests which sentences should be re-written in order to make it more comprehensible.

Another utilitarian text analyzer is Analyze my Writing. This one provides many of the same stats as Rewordify and Online Utility but offers more specific counts, including punctuation and syllable counts. It also offers some simple but informative graphs to accompany the stats and readability measures.

Finally, Voyant Tools offers a variety of analysis and visualizations and is probably the most powerful out of these 4 tools. You can use numerous visualizations to generate word clouds, berries, trees, madalas, graphs, charts, lists and other unique techniques for viewing vocabulary in different ways.

Any of these tools can give you interesting insight into any text. They can also help you to choose and create tests that are the right level for what you are trying to teach. Below I have listed a variety of stats that I have gleaned from the text of Skyscraper by Lynn Curlee.

Flesch Kincaid Grade Level9.6-10
Gunning Fog Index12.13
SMOG12.23
Coleman-Liau10.88
Flesch Reading Ease54.0
Fry Readability10
Lexical Density29.3%-57.07%
Average number of characters per word4.83-5.12
Average number of syllables per word:1.61
Average number of words per sentence16.7-18.3
Word Count8024 – 8216
Unique Words2349

In my search for text analysis tools, I came across plenty of literature discussing the use and efficacy of these readability tools. In a later post I will discuss the research surrounding these topics.

Please comment if there are any other online resources for analyzing texts that you know of.

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