How to Use

Magic Ladder

Children of the Code
Learning Stewards




Activating – Selecting Words

Help with Reading Words (PQs, Animated Sound-Outs)

Help with Understanding Words
Paying Attention to “Reading Needs”

Activating OLSN on a Page:  Once installed (with the gray OLSN icon visible as shown above) clicking the icon will activate OLSN on the webpage currently running in the Chrome browser. Once the page has been prepared for use with OLSN, the OLSN icon will change to its colored version to let you know that OLSN is now fully activated and the page is ready for reading.

Selecting Words: Once activated on a page, OLSN will work with any text-based word on the page (not graphic text within an image). Selecting words to open in OLSN is easy: On a tablet or phone, touch the word. If on laptop, PC, or streaming box, click the word.

Help with Reading Words: Instantly as a word is selected OLSN pops up and appears as a blue outlined box that contains the selected word. OLSN is now ready to help the reader learn to read and/or understand the word.

Help with Reading Words:  PQs and Animated Sound-Outs
PQs – When OLSN appears it presents the word’s letters in visually distinct ways that act like hints or “cues”.  These pronunciation cues (PQs) help readers recognize which of a letters’ possible sounds it is actually supposed to be making in the word they are trying to read. Thus PQs reduce the confusion involved in sounding out and pronouncing words (the most common bottleneck to progress in reading).

Important Note: Learning PQs is not required to benefit from using OLSN. PQs are an optional aid for improving reading skills while making “reading to learn” less dependent on reading skills. For those who choose to learn PQs, learning occurs by simply using OLSN and noticing how the different ways letters look correspond to the different ways they sound. 


Example: Click this word: variations. When it appears in the popup, notice how its letters look.

PQs Note:  There is no need to learn the variations in advance, PQs are easily learned while using the popup.


1 – dotted underline “ar” = “air” variation (not: arm, or war)
2 – raised “i” = “e” variation (not: ice, big, rain, pencil, or view)
3 – bold “a” = full letter name sound variation (not: ant, arm, soda, or taco)
4 – solid underline “ti” = “sh” variation (not: tip, tier, tie)
5 – shrunken “o” = “uh” (schwa) variation (not: old, dog, boot, foot, actor)
6 – raised “s” cues “z” variation (not: sad, or escape) 


The variations (PQs) in the way the letters look are not unique to this word. Using a small set of such variations, PQs can help readers read virtually any word.  If you’d like to learn more about how PQs work, click for an Online Guide to PQs


Animated Sound-Outs  One a word is inside the OLSN popup box, clicking it will instantly result in a slow speed animated sounding out of the word.  As readers listen to what they are watching, each sound they hear is accompanied by seeing the letter or letters that make that sound in the word.  OLSN uses PQs to focus the reader’s attention on how the word’s letters make the sounds they hear.  Try it. Click on any word in this paragraph and, while the word is in the popup, click it again and watch and listen. Notice how OLSN sounds out the word and uses PQs to show you how each sound relates to each letter.


Readers can thus learn PQs simply by watching the visible letter-sound variations appear as they hear the same letter-sound variation’s sound. Just in case they still need help, after OLSN sounds out a word, it says it normally.

Once familiar with PQs, just the initial display of the word with the PQ visual hints is all most readers need. Readers can click a word as many times as they want to repeat the word’s animated sound tour.

Help with Understanding Words: 

Parallel to how OLSN’s PQs and Animated Sound-Outs help with reading words (recognizing/pronouncing them), OLSN’s Reference Panel helps with understanding words. Clicking the WordExplore button in the popup opens the Reference Panel and fills it with references relevant to understanding whatever word is in the popup. 

Shows examples of reference panel Reference Panel
Important Note 1: As shown above with the word “acquisition”, every word used in the definitions, synonyms, or roots, can also be clicked or touched for help with reading it (using PQs and Animated Sound Tours). Important Note 2: Every word used in the definitions, synonyms, or roots, can be selected just like every word on a webpage. Once the word is in the OLSN popup, clicking the WordExplore button will load the selected word into the reference panel.

Reference Panel

Clicking or touching anywhere outside the reference panel or clicking the “X” close button on any of the pages of the reference panel will close it and return the reader to the OLSN popup. Clicking anywhere outside the OLSN popup will return the reader to exactly where they were when they clicked on the word they wanted help with. 


Thus readers are never more than 3 quick clicks away from whatever they might need to read and understand a word and never more than 2 quick clicks away from getting right back to where they started. 


Paying Attention to Reading Needs: 


OLSN is designed to respond to “reading needs”. Reading needs are learning needs that occur in relation to not recognizing or understanding a word while in the flow of reading.

OLSN greatly reduces the distraction and overhead involved in getting help for reading needs.


A reading need occurs whenever the meaning of a word doesn’t pop to mind. What should a reader do?  Most people “skip over” words that don’t pop to mind because they think the time and effort involved in getting help isn’t worth losing their flow. But skipping over a word is a gamble that the word isn’t important to comprehension or that it will be made contextually evident later. While good readers with good vocabularies and sufficient background knowledge can sometimes get away with this, for less skilled readers, and for those having difficulty learning from what they are reading, “skipping” words is far more likely to cause them to get “lost” and “frustrated”. 


Getting the most out of OLSN depends on becoming more aware of reading needs and using them to ask OLSN for help.