Assistive Technology Tools to Meet Student Needs in the Classroom
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Assistive Technology Tools to Meet Student Needs in the Classroom

– [Webinar Host] Good afternoon, everyone. It’s four o’clock so
we’re gonna get started. Welcome to the CTD webinar,
Assistive Technology Tools to Meet Student Needs in the Classroom. We’re pleased to welcome as
our expert today Sharon Plante. She’s an educator with over
20 years teaching experience in special ed and
currently serves as teacher and director of technology at
Eagle Hill Southport School. Sharon’s gonna demonstrate
accessibility features available in a range of devices
that can empower students to be independent in
completing assignments. We’ll also share valuable apps, websites, and resources across academic areas. We look forward to you
taking away practical ideas to support all learners in your classroom. I’ll go ahead and pass it off to Sharon. Thank you. – [Sharon] Welcome, as
people keep joining in. Just to give you a little background, I am a special education teacher, but I am also Director of Technology just because I happen to love it. My school is an
independent school for kids with language-based learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, executive
function challenges. And we have really worked to empower them with technology for their learning. And I hope to share some of those things that I have learned through
that process with you, so that you can take back to your school. One thing I want to talk about is, I’m gonna go through some
things that we talk about being assistive versus differentiated, and that’s kind of a fine line that can often be confused and blurred. But it’s the idea of
differentiated instruction. It’s just really where we, that process that we apply our learning. I think of that through that whole idea of the Universal Design for Learning, that we approach things
that allow students with differing abilities, to inter-engage and interact
with content instruction in different ways. Assistive technology is
really as you can see, is that piece of equipment
that is used to increase, maintain, or improve that capability. It’s something really required
for the student to complete a task successfully. Some of the things I’m gonna
talk about at the beginning will really be that assistive side. Some of websites and
apps that I’ll talk about can really address both in differing ways, depending on the students’ needs. So we think about today
those different types of technology we have, it’s amazing. I was just talking about it today at work about the amount of technology
we have in our schools today, our kids have in their hands. We really went full
technology when we started a one-to-one iPad program
with our upper school, which is middle school
age, about five years ago. And we also started a bring
your own device policy. And we are now at both
about 95% if not more of students bringing their
own devices to our school. Which is really empowering. What families have loved to learn is that how we can engage
kids to use technology that they love to take
pictures, ask silly questions, but they can really engage
it for their learning and also create some independence. Which I think is a key
factor for those kids who learn differently, those
who have learning disabilities, to find some independence with
technology in their learning. So I always like to tell people to start out with the basics. That sometimes the students needs, I go back to thinking
about Dragon Dictation. Dragon was one of those keyhole programs that we all relied on so long ago. It is really robust, it is really great but not every student needs
all of that robustness to find a level of independence, a level of accessibility
to content and engagement. So it’s really starting
out with the basics of whatever device a student is using. We are mainly an iPad-based school, so I would go to the iOS devices. Often that’s what a lot of people have. And if we think about that
text-to-speech option, in the iOS, in any iPad or iPhone, it’s under the Accessibility. There are some really great speech options that can be turned on so that the students can just use that built-in accessibility which is why we rely on the
iPad because it’s built in. It’s not an add-on layer. Chromebooks, which are very
popular in a lot of schools, which I totally appreciate. They are cost effective. They’re really engaging for students. There is a free extension
called Speak It!, that can do text-to-speech from websites. But if you’re really in
that Chrome environment and you really have a
student that struggles, one of my favorites is Text Help has Read&Write for Chrome. Read&Write Gold was again
one of those programs around for a long time, really robust, but they created a Chrome extension that’s a subscription-based, but it’s really beneficial. You could actually use the free version. There’s a 30-day trial, then
will give you some capability but not full capability for free. But of course my school, well like many, we have gone Google Apps For
Education, now known as G Suite and that Google Voice Typing is just free. It’s built in to Google
Docs and students can use it for that text-to-speech option. And if you’re a Mac-based person, they do have built-in and improved those System Preferences
Accessibility options, so if you go under System Preferences, and Accessibility and Speech, you’ll see some of the various
options you can customize with voices and various
things under there. I know Windows has some of that, but I know most schools
aren’t really working in Windows environment. I find that more maybe high school on up, but there are definite options out there. And then again that speech-to-text. I always love when I can
first teach a student when they have an iPad
that you don’t just ask those silly questions,
like what does the fox say? But that they can use Siri
to dictate their writing, to dictate emails, to
dictate text messages. My Head Master is actually
dyslexic and he is walking around the building all the
time dictating everything, because that is the way
it works for him best. As we’ve taught more and more kids, I went last year and
worked with a student who, when he was a little boy
who could never write a full paragraph and once
we really engaged him and worked with him on dictation he could dictate a three paragraph essay just being able to use Siri. Again, if you’re in a
Chromebook environment, Read&Write Chrome has the text-to-speech and speech-to-text option, so it’s really, really great. And in Mac when we went to Siri, in Sierra OSX, which was last years
operating system upgrade, they built in Siri to a device. And yes, you’re right
John, it’s speech-to-text. But really great options but there is so much built
in to today’s devices which is my point, that if you really look at what is there and engage students with that, and they do need work with it, there can be a lot that
can be accomplished just using the basics. If you have students who really
need to still access paper, there are two options I
have been engaging with. One, again, we are an iPad environment. One of my favorite tools is
an app called Claro ScanPen. It is about 6.99 and you
simply take a screenshot of a piece of paper or textbook page. It creates a quick image
and you swipe over the text and it reads back to the student. I have worked, I’m really
amazed with how students when they learn it, it takes a little bit of
a learning curve I think, just how to take the best
screenshot and best lighting, but it’s a really great tool. Last year, and if you’re really
into assistive technology, there is a great conference
yearly in Orlando in January, The Assistive Technology
International Association, and I met with the company
that created one of the pens that is now out there on
the market called C-PEN and it can be used on, again, on any paper and it scans over it and
can read back to a student. What’s great about that over, I know an ideal like Claro ScanPen, if you’re in a testing
environment or something like that where you don’t want a student
to have full accessibility to all the things that
might be in a device, this is a stand-alone device. They have one that has a
dictionary, one without, just for those testing purposes. It is about $250, but it is actually, I’ve had hands-on with it,
it’s a pretty good option if you really need something
that is a stand-alone idea. So we really talk about
overall reading accommodations. There is two big players
in the field for this, Texthelp and Don Johnston. They both have really great products. They are definitely on the market and always creating things. As I talked about, that
Read&Write for Google Chrome, it adds in word
predictability, text-to-speech, speech-to-text. It has the ability to have
students highlight information and they can pull things they highlight, whether it be on a document
or even on a website, and pull them into a new Google document. So that there is a lot they can do. It’s really robust in what it does. They’ve built in now Fluencytutor into the Chrome extension as well, which allows you to assign
things where students can record themselves reading
and you can listen to it later and keep track of those fluency goals that you want for them. It’s really nice to see
they’ve added that in to the Chrome Extension as well. And really fluid in ease
for the teacher and student. Really more in that Chrome or
Chrome-based web environment, not going to work on tablet environment. Don Johnston, one of their great tools that I like to highlight is Snap&Read. This is something that
it does have an iPad app. It also functions in Chrome. And it can layer over and
allow students to read, have websites and things read to them, and engage a little bit more with some of their reading tools. They are both great
companies to touch base with. If you want to know more about them, both companies are really great and I highly recommend
exploring those tools if you need that kind of environment. And the Snap&Read, from my experience in a tablet, and again,
in an iPad environment, the built in is just as good, but I do like Snap&Read in
a web-based environment. I think it adds a lot to it, but both have really great
features and options to do. And I see somebody is talking about, yeah, the leveling tool in Snap&Read
is a really great point to bring up Bonnie, thank you. So another great tool
that helps with reading and this is from
Texthelp, it’s Snapverter. This was really a
game-changer for me this year with a student I had
that was using a laptop. So Snapverter is a Chrome extension. It’s built in a, as you can
see, I have what looks like is my Google Drive. So Snapverter installs
folders, a set of folders, into your Google Drive and if you take an image
of a document, a PDF, and you drop it in where
it says Drop to Convert, it will convert it for
you into accessible text, which was really a good thing
for a lot of my students. And I actually tested it
with a student this year who was on a laptop base and
I had him install Snapverter. He had his folders, and as the teacher I was able
to share his Snapverter folder in Google Drive, to me. So if I just wanted to make
a document accessible to him, I didn’t have to put it in
mine, convert it, and share. I just dropped it in to his
Snapverter Drop to Convert, and he automatically had it. So if you just had a few students
you need to do this with, that probably would be
the best way to do it. Have them install it, share it to you, and then you could drop
whatever needs to be in it, automatically goes there to them. Otherwise initially I
would drop it into mine and then share it out. But it’s a pretty seamless,
easy thing for a teacher to do, because you’re not to the
whole big scanning things. Again, I think I just
took a picture on my phone and dropped it in and it
does all the work for you, so definitely one to check out. So one of the key things
that was always hard is when you come to
something like right now, with a webinar for an hour,
you hearing a lot of tools, and I see somebody talking about it. It’s hard, you hear them, I’m telling you as best
as I can about them without being able to show you everything. One of the things I love about TextHelp is their YouTube Channel. They have lots of videos, whether it be an
introduction to their videos or a really how to engage, they are really robust
and well put together, so if you really want to know more about how to use their tools, subscribe to the TextHelp YouTube Channel. You will learn a lot. That’s how I’ve gotten a lot
to figure out their tool’s used and they’re constantly adding more as they update their tools. So to the person who asked
about how does this works, definitely go there and check it out. The key thing is also some
resources for educators as well as families. And the two big players I would talk about would be Bookshare and Learning Ally. Bookshare is free for qualified users, which means you would
have to prove that there is a learning disability in place. My school they’ve allowed because we are a special ed school. I can actually qualify all of my students, But they use a digitized voice and it’s of literature-based books. So not textbooks, this is not
your resource for textbooks but any student who has a book and wants it in accessible format, this is where they could go
and download unlimited books and use whatever tool may be. They have improved it in the last year. It’s really a browser-based. You don’t need any extensions or add-ons. Quite a robust library and
they’re constantly adding more. My favorite on an iPad is
to use a third party app, known as Voice Dream Reader. I just really love all
the accessibility features in Voice Dream Reader. It’s an app that was not
designed for accessibility but the developer is a really great person who has found that if people
using it for accessibility. and there is, you can adjust the number
of lines that are seen, the text spacing, the
line spacing, the colors, adjusting the speech
rate just within the app. And download book sharing to it as well as many other resources. So if you’re in an iOS
environment checking out Voice Dream, but really
just looking at Bookshare and families can qualify
or schools can qualify for those students. It’s a really tool great
and they keep improving it. I had this conversation with someone at the Assistive Technology Conference and they’re really
eager to get more people knowing about their service. Another big one is Learning Ally. They are a resource for many things. They are fee based. Families can seek it on their own or schools can work with them directly. Big difference is they
have a human voice reading and they’re really that
resource for textbooks, but they also have literature books. And they have their own
tools to use for that. Both great resources. I know families that use both. I know teachers that use both. And really a place to go, Learning Ally is also really great about having other information
to help families out. So if you are a person
who’s working with a family who needs a bit more information, Learning Ally is one of those places, they could start to have
a bit more information. But also for teachers. So two really great resources. So if we’re gonna get into
reading a little bit more, there’s also that idea of decoding. Particularly if you’re probably working in that elementary level. So some of the tools that are out there. Lexia is a big one. It has been around for a
significant amount of time. My school has used it from
when it was a disk-based and now they’re web-based,
it’s really great. It can be used from very
young ages to older ages. They have two programs, Core Five, which is really
more geared for elementary just based on the way it looks. It’s a little bit more gamey,
a little bit more cutesy. But they have an older
program called Strategies. But Strategies does work
with students who are older and are really low decoders. So it’s just designed a little bit more to look a little less gamey,
a little bit more formal, so the students don’t feel
like they’re doing things. It also goes a little bit further up. They also have started with a
program known Rapid Assessment which is really designed to delve deeper into giving teachers and
schools a little bit more data for students and how to program them. Something actually my school
is starting to use this year to really see what data points we can get at a dyslexia program. We use it as support. It is not meant to be for instruction, but it can really provide
some great practice and teachers can design
and assign students to work on specific things. So even though there’s an
assessment piece within it even if you don’t use
the Rapid Assessment, teachers can adjust to say
I just want the students to work on these things,
which is really great. Sound Literacy is an iOS app. If you are a school or
person using Wilson, I think this goes back to
which I have used Wilson, the reading program, they
have that magnetic board where the tiles that you can
move around and manipulate. Students can maneuver and manipulate. Sound Literacy is that on an iOS app. And so it’s nice cause you
don’t have to carry it around. It’s about $25 so it’s
not inexpensive at all, but it was designed by a
Speech-Language Pathologist. There is no sound with this letter tile, so it’s just purely for manipulation. But what is also nice in it, if you work with several students and you use this app, you can have tile sets
for a number of students within the app. And goes all the way up through high levels of
sound structures and things, not just the letters, but the combinations and
pairings and things like that. So definitely worth checking out. If you’re on Facebook, she has
a really great Facebook page providing information all
the time and ways to use it. So it’s really great. Classkick, so Classkick is
not an app really designed for anything specific. I equate it to one of my favorite
apps, Explain Everything. Problem is with Explain
Everything was it is only iOS and it has a cost to it, but really can do some
great things with it. So Classkick is basically
a plain, whiteboard app. It is free. It is device agnostic,
so they have a website, they have an app that
can be used anywhere, but I, as a person who teaches reading, have found ways to leverage
it to teach reading. And I’m gonna give a
demonstration of an activity of a student that I had doing that. You just have to think open-minded that there are tools within Classkick for students to record their voice, teachers to record their voice. Students to draw, teachers to draw. Add images, add text. It is blank but there are some
great activities you can do to engage with it. One of the other things
I love about Classkick is I as the teacher will design
a lesson to engage students. When I do that, I can
then share it to them through a code and a roster. It’s a pretty basic thing. And I, as the teacher, when I share it, can go in and see live, or
later, it saves the information, what each student is
doing at that exact time. The student can, in the
app or on the website, there’s a little icon to raise
their hand to ask for help, and I can go onto the student’s screen within the app myself
and provide feedback. So yes, Classkick. I think this is the next. The video we’re gonna have will be to show a student doing a reading
activity that I designed. And I’ll explain it. This might buffer a little bit, but hopefully you get the idea. – [Student] Finisher. – [iPad] Wildly. Zai, do your stuff. – [Student] Finisher. – Zai, do your stuff.
– You can see what is on screen is directions of what the student is supposed to do, what she was supposed to
mark the suffix, the ending, which she could do. She had to copy it over
for spelling purposes and then record herself saying
it for decoding purposes. And I retain this data. It’s stays there even
after she closes it out. I have it on my end and can use it for showing her parents
later or showing her. What I also like about this is you can build in numerous
things throughout the slides and it’s shared to them but I sometimes have a student
who can’t complete as many. They can’t complete or they go too fast, so I can say okay, when we stop, we stop, but I still have all that data and everyone can work at their own pace. And you can create many
things within this tool to engage students because
there are definitely multi-modal tools for them
to be part of the activity. So for reading for
differentiated non-fiction, I think most people are probably
most common with Newsela. Newsela has been around for a little bit. It is a really great place
for non-fiction articles. And when a teacher can go in and assign it and it can be adjusted by Lexile level. The teacher and the
students have the ability to adjust it by Lexile level. The students don’t know what that means. They just see a number
and they go up and down. And the teacher, if you
can get the feedback at what level they read it at and it’s followed by about four multiple choice questions. You can also add in
some writing assignments to certain articles. There is a free level which is one, if you ever start with it, I’d start with the free level
and then there is a paid level that gives a little bit more teacher data. But a great place I think for
science and social studies or working with kids
with non-fiction articles because again, one student, and I’m gonna give an example in a minute, that you can have the same article adjusted to different levels, but they’re getting the same content idea. So you can have a student
who is reading an article at a lower level, but
they’re gonna still be able to engage in that class
discussion or group discussion because they have the same
concept of what is being written. Front Row also has a component to this. Front Row has also a
free and a paid level. One of the reasons I’m a fan of Front Row for the idea of the
non-fiction is when it goes in it gives the student a brief assessment and then adjusts to give an
idea of what reading level they should be at, so when the teacher assigns an article, the teacher controls
the level of the article for the students. So I have had in the
past, when I did Newsela, students would pick the really high level or the really low level, and
I didn’t want them there, so I like the controls of Front Row because at each time I assign an article I can leave it where it
says I should, adjust it up, adjust it down, and the
student can’t touch it. Again, it is non-fiction
and it is followed by about four multiple choice questions. So here is an example of a Newsela article and I could adjust it to a Lexile level or assign it at this level to be read, but the students have the
ability within the side to pick what they’re going to read it at. And again, the same article
written at a second grade level, we’ll adjust it. It changes the title, changes the wording. Makes it more, more simplistic
but allows the student to again have the same information, just written at a level that
is more appropriate to them. Some other tools that you can
use to support comprehension. One of my favorites right
now is Actively Learn. I use it with literature classes. They have free content. They have some paid content. I just used it for a
literature class last year and I rented a book through their service. And I as the teacher
could build in questions directly through the text. So I didn’t have to say
read Chapter One tonight and go fill out this
Google Doc of questions. The questions were right within there and I could put them wherever I wanted and I could give feedback
right within the tool and have students go in and
adjust them and fix them. They could see each
other’s answers afterwards. Really great tool. It’s free except if you’re
going to rent the books. CommonLit is another
one, very much similar. ReadWorks which is another robust service with a lot of articles. They have text sets, they
have non-fiction, fiction. They have a digital tool
that they came out with. If you’re working with younger kids, Reading Comprehension Booster
is a way to have students show what they know in the app. It’s kind of fun and cute
for setting and characters. Just another way to engage them. LitCharts is something that it’s made, I think, of Backfield Cliff Notes. Those yellow and black books,
I could picture them now, for all those tools. LitCharts is a more modern of
that created by SparkNotes. So just some other
tools that are out there that you can engage
students in different ways. Again one of the reasons I
use Actively Learn as well is for that accessibility piece. Students can listen to the
text within Actively Learn so if they can’t be reading it, they have the ability to listen to it through a tool built into their site. So before we go on, does anybody have any specific questions about reading, reading tools, any of the tools that I shared? I see Sally talks about, yeah,
primarily English speakers. That is the population that I work with, but I think some of the tools out there might have some ability to work with English language speakers
but it’s not so much strong in the area with the population
that I’m working with. And again, I’m gonna throw a lot at you. Yes, Reading Booster is an app. And it’s again, definitely
for elementary students that allows them to share how they know and create that knowledge
and engaging with text. Thank you Nancy, Newsela does
have articles in Spanish. – [Webinar Host] Sharon, is
looking for information about maybe having an apps
to photo a page of text and have it read to the person. Do you have any information about that? – [Sharon] Yeah, that would go back to if you’re using an app,
that would be that Claro. Let me go back quick so I can. The Claro ScanPen is an app. It will take pictures of text and immediately be able to read within it. It’s so much simpler. There was one a while ago, Prizmo, but it was a little quirky
and didn’t always take it. This is a really, Claro ScanPen, if you have a student who
has any tablet device, again it’s Android or Apple, is a really great tool
to introduce people to. I like it cause I also
introduce it to kids who have an iPhone who might then go out and need to have a menu read to them. And talk about that conversation that they could take a
picture of anything out there on their phone, on their tablet, and have any text read to them. And thank you Bonnie, that again, if you work
with that population, that Snap&Read, which is
that Don Johnston tool, is able to convert text to Spanish and level the text in Spanish. That’s really great information to know for those working with that population. That’s really great. So move along into some areas of writing. So one of the things we focus
on too is grammar practice. NoRedInk has been around
for a bit of time. It’s one I’ve used with
my writing students. It’s really a nice way to
engage them and beyond. I think that those
traditional text worksheets that you had to mark-up
and things like that, it’s also neat because
students, when then go in, and they answer some questions
about their preferences and then some of the
sentence work that they do, the website creates
sentences about those topics. So kids kind of find it
when they see their name or their interests pop up in them as they’re working on them. One that was introduced to
me last year at an Ed Camp, I haven’t had a lot of
time to play with it cause I didn’t have a writing class, but I was told that it was
a favorite over NoRedInk, was Grammar Ninja. And having taken a look
at it, it looks engaging. I have some writing teachers I’m going to have work with it this year. But those, just a nice different way that provides something
that kids can do online so that they can use if they need it. Those accessible features
to listen to text and things like that. Which is why I like using websites with kids who learn differently, because they can use built-in features if they’re not built into the tool, to listen and engage with text. And if you’re on an iOS environment, there are two apps that
I love from McGraw Hill. Grammar Wonderland, there’s the Primary, and there’s Elementary. It’s definitely gamey and game-based but a fun way to have students work with that concept of grammar. So we talk about writing engagement, one of those really challenging areas for kids with learning disabilities. One of my favorite apps that I had started with lower schools was Write About This. It is a paid app. They do have a free level. But it’s images that have, and they have a space within there, there’s an image and they
usually have three different writing fonts you can
do and they work with it right within the environment. But it definitely was elementary based and about a year or so ago,
they came up with Write About. Write About is a website
and it’s meant for those older age students, so
middle school on up. So if you’re looking for
some great writing prompts and ways to have students do that, those are two great tools to engage with from the same company. One of my favorites has been for a while just to engage students
cause writing topics, whether it be, it’s always so had for them to develop. Storybird, Storybird, so
it’s more of that tool to create engagement, not necessarily accessibility, but it is a sit full of
great, amazing artwork. And students can really go through and craft their own stories. They can create a book
and do all the writing right within the website. It is device agnostic, so you can just access
the website anywhere. But if you go in and
check out the artwork, it would inspire anyone to write. If you’re using an iPad
or anything like that, Story Starters is another
great tool for younger kids just to give an idea to help prompt, to get them going. Snap and Type were I think
of what Write About just did where they took a picture
and created a prompt. Snap and Type you can
take a picture yourself and create the prompt and
have students work with that. And a new tool that came across last year is called Writable K12. They’re really great people. They actually had started
another company that I had used related to books, kind
of like Actively Learn where you could build questions in and then it got bought
by Rennasainse Learning and these people then went
and created Get Writable, or Writable K12. They over the last year
been working to pilot it, so actually if you’re willing to pilot it, they will give it to you for free. The teacher end currently is free. The student end is about, I
think it was a dollar a month. I just had a conversation with them. They went away from the iPad app. It’s now just all web-based no matter what the device is. But what was really great is
the engagement and feedback that can happen right within the tool, that you can provide feedback, peers can provide feedback anonymously. There is a lot of layering. I had my writing department
head talk with the creators and she was really impressed
by the layer of scaffolding and things that could
be done within this tool to provide students writing feedback. So definitely one to look at. They are really great, the two creators. They are happy to Google
Hangout and to share more again and are looking for schools to pilot it to help their data so if you have enough you can use it for free. Mind Mapping, always a
big thing to help students brainstorm ideas. Inspiration’s been around
for a really long time. I’m still not a fan of
the desktop software. I love the iOS software. One of the big things for
me with the iOS software is when you create a
mind map in Inspiration on the iPad, you can
convert it to an outline and export that outline
directly into pages. So a student doesn’t need to
then go recreate this outline or the words they’ve
already put down on paper. They can simply take
that outline now in pages and turn those brainstorming
ideas directly into sentences. Or printing it out and
having to copy it over. So I’d always run into this challenge where I couldn’t do that in Google Docs and luckily for the power of Twitter, had reached out to a couple of companies that did Mind Mapping and
Mindmeister reached out and said oh we do have
this way to do that. So if you’re in a Google environment using Chrome or web-based, Mindmeister, they have a Chrome
extension at the website. There is a level of free to paid, depending on how many mind
maps you want to make. But they have directions on
how to take that outline, or that mind map, and
export it into a Google Doc, so just like I explained for Inspiration, it would be there in an outline format and the student could edit
it and turn those ideas directly into sentences. It’s really taking away a step, which is what can be key for kids. That can be a struggle for writing. Why am I gonna go create a mind map and you’re gonna ask me to
type the same thing over? That takes away a layer. Popplet I love, specifically
for elementary school kids, because it is simple. It is very clean, they
can’t add a lot of things. I have trouble with Inspiration with some of my elementary school kids, and even Inspiration, they
want to add all the pictures. There is none of that in Popplet. Popplet is just very basic. They actually have a great
teacher resource area with other ideas and
how to use their tools. I love it too. I’ve used it with kids cause
they can color-code the boxes. So I might have them color-code, and then one color,
this is your paragraph. And the next color, this
is your next paragraph. But just simple and easy,
particularly for those ADD kids. And one people don’t often
think about for mind mapping, it’s really an open tool but I’ve used it. It’s Padlet. I like Padlet because it is again, open source that does
not matter the device. I as a teacher could create a topic and share it out to my students
and they can all brainstorm at the same time onto the same Padlet. So it can be showing up on the screen, it could be on their screen, and we could brainstorm ideas together. And craft them into a story. Just a tool that is more
open but can be used in an idea of mind mapping. And again we go back to
those two big companies, Don Johnston and TextHelp. Don Johnston, if you’re
looking for a more things with stronger word prediction, that text-to-speech, speech-to-text, that has a little bit more to it than what’s built into
devices, they have Co-Writer. It’s been around for a very long time. They now have Co-Writer Universal. So if you have a student
working on it at school and they need to go home
to a different device, they can access that same tool anywhere. It’s really one of the tools
that I really like a lot. TextHelp with that Read&Write, that is one of the same
kind of tool to be using. If you’re a teacher, by the
way, Read&Write for Chrome is free for the teacher with
an education based email. So when you go sign up
and you download it, you will have all of
those services for free. So one you can go in and play with it and see what it’s like or have a student use your device. Both of those add a little bit more in than what is built in the
devices for that word connection. And again, some of the vocabulary, I know Read&Write again,
has a picture dictionary and ability to highlight, but they both have a lot more layers, scaffolding for writing. And of course, as we talked about before, there is voice typing in Google Docs. One key thing that I’ve been working with with a student is my big
challenge is when students type things I try to really encourage them to then highlight it and listen to it or if they’re speaking it, having it read back to them and how to teach them how to do that. Because sometimes things
don’t come out the right way or we have auto correct,
which totally changes it. I have particular student
I worked with this specifically on, she
really wants to be typing, word prediction was not, or speaking-to-text was not great, word prediction was not her avenue, she was really wanting to type, but she was not paying
attention to what she typed. So under, and this is again an iOS feature in Accessibility that, under Speech, there’s a feature you can turn on called Typing Feedback. So as soon as the student starts typing, it reads back exactly what they’ve typed so they can hear immediately
what is being said and hopefully make those corrections and pay attention to that
versus having to go back and highlight it and have it read to them. Just another feature where you can layer in a layer of scaffolding that a student can hear what’s going on and make those corrections and being aware of what their putting down on paper, which can often be a big challenge. And of course there’s always
that grammar checking. The two big ones out there
are Grammarly and Ginger. Ginger has an iOS app,
Grammarly is just web-based. They both are great tools. They have a free level and a paid level, but just to help students with some of the grammar corrections. I use it when I write reports. I put it in there to make
sure I’ve worded things well. They also have layers
where they can add in, help give you suggestions
on how to write things in other ways. Really great tools, again, they both have Chrome extensions. But if you’re in an iOS environment, Ginger’s gonna be your option. I find, as an adult,
definitely a great tool for me, so really engaging students to help them with some of that and giving
independence is so key. And this gives them a
layer of independence to do some of the correcting on their own, because unfortunately
we’re not always there and they need to learn
what is available to them to help them through this process. It is a tool that I find
I have to spend some time helping students work with so they realize what it’s doing. It’s not just a here,
have it, and walk away. And probably most of the
tools can be said for that. And then there’s always
digital storytelling, which I think can be
really done at any age. A lot of the tools out there are designed for younger students. Puppet Pals is a great iOS app. Toontastic, one I’ve loved for a while, got bought by Google, they’ve done some great things with it. If you’re in the Chrome environment, PowToon is a great place for
that digital storytelling. StoryboardThat is a website, it makes comic-like digital storytelling. Really fun to play with
and create comic strips. And a tool that is really
designed for many things would be Adobe Spark Video. This allows people to put in images, text, and then record their voice. So you could have an image and go through and tell a story with just
the images that are there and students record their
voice slide by slide. A little bit more that it would
be like in a presentation, like a PowerPoint, Keynote kind of tool. It’s more design, there’s music. They can play with the text. It’s free, which I love, and can be a lot of fun
for students to play with. It works in a website as well as an app. They have, if you’re older
level for storytelling, although not digital, Adobe has another layer up from Spark that involves images and text. To me, I think it’s website based, but instead of just taking an image in a Google doc and plopping it on there there’s a layer where
images roll over text, a lot of fun to play with. It’s called Adobe Spark Post. But if you check those out, really different ways to
engage students with writing. I love digital story telling
because I can get students giving words and crafting
stories without having to worry about the laborious task that
may be typing or handwriting. And once they get engaged in
the idea of story telling, sometimes those are the
students that I really move into using dictations
to do their writing, because they’ve now learned
how to tell a story. It’s not a hard sell to then say, okay, let’s tell that same story and it’s gonna appear
in text onto a document. And another great tool
many people are a fan of is Book Creator. It can be used in really any content area. I love that they’ve only been
iOS for a very long time, but they just this summer
released a Chrome extension. So teachers and students can use this to create and share content. It’s definitely multi-modal. I’ve used it with students
to create their own books and then they can share it out. But even if you’re as a teacher, have had people share to
me how they’ve used it to create accessible
text for their students, because you can use the
accessibility features of a device, you can add in your own
voice to read things to them. You can add in images where it may be, really kind of blank slate to create it as whatever it may be. They actually just created a really great Facebook group for people to share ideas. So if you’re on Facebook, see if you can find the
Book Creator Facebook group. It has teachers from all over the world sharing how they’re using it. But there is a lot, really amazing that a lot of people who work with kids who learn differently, who
have learning disabilities in many levels who are using
it just for that purpose, to give content to students, or have students provide
content back to them. And I’ll jump through
quickly to spelling too, because it’s part of writing. One of my favorites is
Touch-Type Read and Spell. It is subscription based, but
it provides sound feedback, word feedback, it’s really
building in for those kids those words and sounds and typing. It has a really great demo on the screen to show them where
their fingers should be. They have an iPad version as
well as the web-based version. It can really provide some
of that great typing practice with also that reading and spelling. Word Wizard is an iOS app. I think somewhat back to the
Wilson tool of the magnets, but it does provide sounds. Some of the sounds are not 100% great if you’re really a purist, but it can be a fun way for kids to play with sounds and
letters to say words. Simplex Spelling has a series of iOS apps that really, to me, follow that structure literacy, I am an Oregon
(mumbles) trained teacher. It has some really great
apps that can help provide individualized practice. And another way to always engage kids is one of my favorite tools, Vocabulary and Spelling City. There are some activities that are beyond the traditional spelling
activities for students, but there’s also the
accessibility features of reading. And I’m gonna show you one more time in that tool with Classkick
that I used for spelling, because, again, it’s a blank slate. I’m gonna give you a spelling activity that I did with a student for that. – [Computer] Thankless. Thankless. – [Student] I don’t know
why I keep touching that, I feel like I’m going to the next page. – [Computer] Nameless. – [Sharon] But one of the key things is– – [Computer] Nameless. – [Sharon] It does not
matter the rate he’s typing. There’s no word prediction,
so it can’t help him with the typing. I have students on their iPads, they’re doing the handwriting. They can listen to the word
as many times as they choose. They usually do this with headphones. So again, they can work at their own pace to work through the different words that I want them to do. I could create three different lessons. So if I have students working
on one group of words, another student working
another group of words. They can all be working at the same time without my direct intervention or need to pay attention, and I can be wandering around
watching what they’re doing. And they again can be
working at their own pace, making those corrections, listening to words as much as they can. So it allows for a lot of differentiation and again, I can see
what they’re doing live. I’m gonna jump right into
some of the other tools, because I know we’re getting dear on time and I’ll take any
questions towards the end. For math, if you’re in an iOS environment, two of my favorite tools
are My Script Calculator. My Script is neat because
it allows students to simply hand write the problems directly onto the screen. Some things are a bit
that you need to make sure you write it in the correct direction, but the students can cross through things, change things, and it solves it for them, but they can just simply
write onto it the screen. Of course if handwriting is of challenge, this is not a great tool for that. But I’ve had some students struggle with traditional calculators and this can be a tool to solve that. Mod Math is actually an
app that was designed for parents of a student who was dyslexic, dysgraphic, dyscalculia. And it is meant to be that idea
of traditional graph paper, which we often have students
use who have trouble with lining numbers up. This is what it does. That keypad is not a calculator. It does not solve the
problem for the students. They simply use that
keypad to input the numbers and make sure they’re lining it up and they have to solve the problem and then can share it to their teacher. So it’s that idea of graph paper online. And again using a keypad so
they don’t have an issue, if they’re having that dysgraphia issue with writing numbers. Two tools that can be used
for math in a bigger realm, really for that
differentiation environment. Front Row is one much of my
school moved to last year away from IXL. It allows me to really differentiate. I have some students, I’m
getting them back this year, they’re in middle school
and they’re working at a low elementary level. Front Row allows me to
easily differentiate for every student what
they should be working on. It does an assessment within the tool and tells me what level
the student is working on. And every time I assign an area, it automatically levels it for
the students I assign it to. So I don’t have to do that leveling. It keeps track of that,
gives me percentages, gives me a lot of feedback. There is a free level. That’s actually how we got into it. Some teachers were using it with students. There was a lot of positive feedback and so we went to a paid level. They have a kind of a gamey
area of earning coins. What I love it about it
too is that when a student earns coins that can’t always go to what they call the Piggy Store. It’s controlled when it appears
and it is time sensitive, so they only have a limited time. So they can’t get lost in the
fun, they have to do the work. One I’ve heard about
from a lot of teachers for feedback is Dreambox Learning, maybe some of you are familiar with it. I just actually had a
conversation with them this week. They have an amazing layer of robustness and scaffolding and feedback and ability to tailor to students’ needs. It’s probably a little bit more expensive, but if you have the funding,
I was really impressed with the layering of
scaffolding and support that they provide and the
teacher report feedback that they provide as well. You can get a small number of licenses. I definitely think if you
have a lot of students to use this with, again, it can be used, either of those two could
be used in any classroom so that it would address the
needs of any level of students. Whether it be the student
who is on grade level to the student who needs a lot support. And easy for the teacher to
assign and manipulate that. A huge thing that came out. There was a great Google
add-on I’d heard about in the last two years called g(Math) and it got bought by Text
Help as a Google add-on. So it’s no longer free,
but it’s a really great way to engage that G Suite environment
to create math problems. As the teacher that you can speak in, you can type in, it’ll recognize math and create it with speech. And you can speak in the problem, it’ll formulate it for you. And students can also use this add-on to answer those problems with
those really complex tools. They have a great video on
this as I talked about before, that Text Help YouTube channel. They have a really great video
that can do justice to it, definitely more than I can. But if you really have those math teachers who haven’t not wanted to
use a Google Doc for Mac, which I completely
understand, it is not easy, this is the answer to that. It really is a great way
to create math sheets in a web-based environment. And some more math that you can look at, Classkick, as I told you before, it’s a really an open environment. I have used it to create math problems, and again students can
work on the math problems that I share to them. I have that data and feedback for later. They can work at their own pace. You can really, it’s free and easy to use. If you’re in an iOS environment some of my students’
favorites, Sushi Monster, definitely has various different levels for addition, subtraction,
division, multiplication. Dragon Box, again for those lower levels, and then if you have students older, Algebra 12+, which is
again from Dragon Box. A really great tool for
those higher level ideas. And although we often talk about no, we don’t like worksheets for students, because it’s not acceptable. One of my big challenges with worksheets is always the busyness
of them for my students. So a website I use is called I love their website because
they’re not cluttered and many of them provide an option for you to have a certain number
of problems on the page to even create less busyness. Because that busyness is
what can distract them, there’s not enough room. That site is probably one
of the best places I’ve had and they have a whole plethora of topics for you to print out worksheets for students on many different topics. And wrapping up towards study skills. Notability has been a great iOS app. They have a Mac app, but I
like Notability on the iPad for the engagement of students can draw, they can type, they can write. If you’re familiar with it, what’s out there known as sketchnoting. Where students can draw
in words and word art to show their demonstration
of knowledge and takes notes. Notability is a really
great tool for that. They’ve been reached out before
for a lot of great feedback on how to do that and have notebooks to organize those notes within it as well. I have a friend who is a big proponent of Microsoft OneNote, particularly
for high school on up. Again, like Notability,
it has that ability to organize within
notebooks and structure that so it’s really helpful for
that executive function idea to organize, but also
a place to take notes within a environment
that they can be typing and things like that. Both great tools, but
again, older students I think would that OneNote place to go. Notability really could be any age. My head master again, as
I shared, is dyslexic. He loves Notability. Although the idea, their in
an iPad environment right now, it sounds like iOS 11, when it comes out, Notes is gonna challenge that
and be another great tool. But I love also teaching kids
to take notes in other ways. If they’re very visual, maybe those words are not going to be their idea. In Notability too you can record, OneNote as well. So they can record lecture
and hear it again later. Quizlet’s been around for a while, but Quizlet is just a great flashcard tool where you can add
images, you can add text, you can add voice so that
it’s not just that traditional flip back and forth. There can be a definitely multi-modal way to engage with content,
whether the teacher creates it or he student creates it. I had a science teacher
cut class last year that I was teaching and
this was really crucial, because I could read those complex terms that the students couldn’t decode. I could add an image that would help and they could access
the content to study. And if you have a student doing research, a tool that can help when they can’t figure out those subtopics is Instagrok. Instagrok, you can kinda
gather from the image, if they type in a topic,
it will give you subtopics and you can explore those subtopics. So it really is a great way
to get research information and expand a topic that
a student may not have as much familiarity with but can go on and research that out. And the last big area would be engagement. For our kids, for those
who learn differently, engagement is so key, because so often it cannot be in that traditional way or they turn away from
that traditional way. Kahoot! is a big fan
favorite at my school. It is that idea of game-based learning. They traditionally, up until about now, it has kind have been live. The questions were on the screen, the students pick boxes on
their device based on color. The challenge I found
for some of my learners was they couldn’t do
that far-point reading and then touch the screen, or they couldn’t read the content. So I found a tool called Quizizz. Quizizz is just like Kahoot! One of the things I really liked about it was that it had the answer
choices on the students’ devices, so they could see it and they
didn’t have to keep looking at the board and looking back. If they had the iOS app it
read the choices to them. Was a huge game changer for me. While I was really excited
that Kahoot! is updating to have an app that they tell me that is going to have that
screen reading ability. Yes, I said exactly why
I did not use Kahoot! was there was no screen reading ability. They have said it’s coming out sometime, they said at the back-to-school
they are releasing an app so that they say it’s
going to be able to use the screen accessibility tool. What I liked about Quizizz
is it automatically did it. We will see what Kahoot! does. Quizizz just automatically
read back to the student, didn’t have to do any of the highlighting or accessibility feature. So stay tuned for Kahoot!, it
sounds like they’re hearing it and are making some help to
make those changes for students. But again, I really like that Quizizz, the questions and answers
were on the students’ devices so if they couldn’t look up, or far away, or the distractibility. But I love both tools, so a great way to engage
kids because it’s fun, it’s gamey, they want to participate, they want to enter information, so please check those out. And a huge one that I’d
heard about for a long time but never had to use was EDpuzzle. I mainly teach reading, it’s
not a tool I needed to use. I gained, by accident, a
science class last year due to an unfortunate thing with a teacher who had to take leave. And I had sixth graders
who were struggling with the coding so I didn’t know how to engage them with content. And I knew I wanted to use video, but how to engage video
in an interactive way to have students really
show me their knowledge and engage with it. EDpuzzle is you can take
videos from many sources, they have it within their sources, it’s free, amazingly. They have a paid level, I
have not found a use for it. But you can pull in videos,
you can crop videos, but you as the teacher can embed questions throughout the video that
students have to respond to. It can be multiple-choice questions, it can be short-answer questions, and you can go in and grade them. You see how long the students watched it. You see if they had to repeat a section before going to answer the question. And it’s really great for
homework particularly. If your school’s still doing homework or really in class and students again can work at their own
pace and listen to it. I kind of think of that idea of flipping. I would send students home
with the video to watch to get some information
and then we could come in and talk about it because
discussion was fine, they just couldn’t deal
with the paper content of a traditional textbook or any articles based on their decoding levels. But their comprehension
levels allowed them to engage with the information being
provided in EDpuzzle. If you’re a person who has accessibility, or needs to use videos, it’s
a really amazing tool to use to engage students with for their ability to have information shared
in a nontraditional format. Another tool just
quickly to share with you is the UDL Toolkit. It’s a site that is created by some people that I know are really great. They’re constantly trying to add to it, but other schools, there
are so many tools out there. I’ve shared with you a bunch. But they are definitely not the end all, be all to everything. So this is a great place to go check out and explore other options
that are out there related to many different topic areas. So that’s They’re constantly trying
to add to it and update it as quickly as they can. I appreciate, you know,
there’s a lot of information I’ve thrown at you. I’m running out of time,
but I’m really hoping you gained at least one thing out of it. If people walk away with one tool to try and engage, I really
hope I’ve done you well. Feel free to contact me if
you have more questions, would like more information to share. You can reach me at [email protected] I’m also on Twitter @iplante. But feel free to reach out to me if you have further questions or maybe I didn’t address an area. But again, there’s so many tools out there that if I can’t go find you the answer, I can definitely send
you to someone who can. I also encourage you a great conference, Assistive Technology
Conference in Orlando, and being in the northeast I love going to Orlando in January. But find one in your area. So again, I appreciate CTD
for giving me this opportunity to share with you guys. They are a great resource. They’re on Twitter, follow
them for many great, amazing resources that
they share out as well. – [Webinar Host] Thanks
Sharon, that was great. Again, we will have the recording and presentation and a list of links posted tomorrow afternoon and we’ll send an email to anyone that’s registered. Thanks to everyone for joining. And thanks again, Sharon. – [Sharon] I appreciate it. Have a great afternoon, everyone.

About James Carlton

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