The Language of Content

Articles from the Speak Agent team that provide classroom resources, implementation strategies, research-based perspectives, and updates regarding our Content+LanguageSM platform.

Product Update - October 2020

October 08, 2020 | Katie Cunningham |

Speak Agent version 1.13.1 upgrades several beta test features recently released over the summer. It also adds new visual reading aids to better support learner variability.

Explaining Reasoning and Solutions (v1.0)

EYW-level2Explain Your Work has been greatly expanded into a scaffolded STEM writing activity featuring three progressive levels:

Level 1: Complete a model explanation of a math solution, scientific reasoning, or an error analysis using sentence frames. In this level, students gap-fill with the help of visual aids.

Level 2: Write short phrases using sentence stems and hints. After doing so, students compare their explanation with a model explanation.

Level 3: Write a full explanation without a model or hints. At this level students may draw upon a word bank of relevant key terms.

After a student completes all three levels, she or he submits the written explanation for teacher review. See here for a two-page guide to this activity.

Key research-based strategies embedded in this activity:

Lesson Reports (v1.0)

lesson-report-screenshotLesson Reports track student progress and performance for each Speak Agent lesson. This new release speeds up the report loading time, among other improvements. The top section of the lesson report shows which activities have been completed, displays results for scored activities, and links to any portfolio items generated by an activity. The bottom section measures progress toward student mastery of academic concepts and vocabulary. These are measured in three stages of knowledge acquisition using the Speak Agent learning model.

Math Puzzle Maker (v1.0)

MPM-step2Math Puzzle Maker enables students to create word problems and puzzles for classmates to solve. After teacher approval, each puzzle is randomly assigned to a classmate. The classmate can solve the puzzle, rate it, and compare answers with the puzzle creator. The activity includes a training video for students and a PD video for teachers.

Key research-based strategies embedded in this activity:

Visual Reading Aids


Lights Out is a visual reading aid that dims the entire screen except for the specific area being read. This helps students who have vision needs and can also help students to focus attention on the text. To exit Lights Out mode, the reader simply clicks or taps anywhere on the screen.



Students may highlight any text they wish in any of four primary colors. This strategy supports tracking when reading. Readers can also use highlighting to categorize things like categories of terms (e.g., 3-D solids, physical characteristics, measurement units, etc.) or trouble words.

Read Alongs Library (BETA)

You can now add Read Alongs from our public library to your own lessons. We will be moving over hundreds of STEM stories across grades K-8 over the coming 1-2 weeks. Currently, authoring new Read Alongs in the Library is closed, except to beta testers. Please contact us if you would like to best test this.

Issues Fixed in This Release

  • Lessons sometimes displayed activities in the wrong recommended order. This is now fixed.
  • When you searched for lessons to assign, the search results kept refreshing several times. This is now fixed.
  • Non-English language flags now display on both the student's Home screen and To Do page.
  • Some activities generated portfolio items before students had saved any work, creating blank items. This is now fixed.
  • Read Along portfolio items previously displayed in reverse order, now corrected.
  • Read Along next and back buttons work more smoothly now.
  • Vocab Lab narration audio now pauses properly.
  • Teachers can now assign organization and community lessons to students without having to make a copy.

Coming Soon

We are working next on a smartphone version of Speak Agent. Stay tuned for more information!

listeningAs always, if you have ideas about how we can improve Speak Agent, please contact us. 
We are listening!

Katie Cunningham

Written by Katie Cunningham

Katie is CTO and Co-Founder of Speak Agent, Inc. A leading expert in the Python programming language, Katie designed the Speak Agent architecture and wrote the very first line of code for the current platform. She is an accomplished technical author and keynote speaker worldwide, as well as a leader of the Washington DC chapter of PyLadies, an organization dedicated to training women in Python.