Wednesday, June 23

Assistive Technology Part III

Susan Botts, GCCS Teacher of the Year, brings you: 

Assistive Technology Part 3: Chrome Extensions and Apps for Inclusive Education

In Part 1 of this blog, I described the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework as an instructional design in which all students have “access” to learning. Universal Design for Learning (UDL), was developed by David Rose and the Center for Applied Special Technology to create an instructional model in which all students had “access” to learning. UDL uses three principles that focus on eliminating barriers to learning. These three principles are:

  • Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge (the ‘what’ of learning)
  • Multiple means of expression to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know (the ‘how’ of learning)
  • Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn (the ‘why’ of learning)

(Also check out extensions and apps in Part II)

Focus for Part 3: Providing Multiple Means of Action and Expression

An important principle to remember when planning instruction is that learners differ in the ways that they can navigate a learning environment and express what they know. It is also important to realize that action and expression require a great deal of practice, strategy, and organization, which is another area in which learners can differ. Technology that assists students with expression of ideas, additional practice, strategy instruction, and organizing their thinking will help provide for multiple means of action and expression. Since there is not one means of action and expression that best meets all learning needs, it is essential that we provide students with options for action and expression. This blog will review some specific supports for varied learning disabilities and provide information about types of supports available for varying content areas.


There are numerous free websites and apps available in chrome to provide for the three UDL principles. In part 2 of my blog I focused on some of my favorite Chrome Apps and Extension that provide for multiple means of representation. In part 3, I will focus on my Chrome Apps and Extensions that provide for multiple means of expression. I will also provide the links so you can view and download any tools you want to use for yourself and your students.


To install any of the free Chrome extensions and apps mentioned in the blog:

  1. Visit the store at
  2. Browse or search for the extension you’d like to install.
  3. On the extension’s details page, click the “Add to Chrome” button.


Assistive Technologies that provide for multiple means of expression:

Assistive technology for students with varying writing disabilities include websites and apps that provide options for planning, generating, reviewing/evaluating, and revising writing. Many technologies exist that can provide options for students to compose in multiple media such as text, speech, drawing, illustration, comics, storyboards, design, film, music, visual art, or video. Other helpful supports include providing self-monitoring tools, such as writing and editing checklists.

Note Taking and Writing with Voice Recognition Apps: Speech to text apps assist with note-taking skills for students that have difficulty taking notes in longhand because of poor spelling, writing, and/or eye-hand coordination skills.

Voice Recognition: Students can use Google Chrome as a voice recognition app and type notes, long documents, or school essays without touching the keyboard. The app is integrated with Dropbox and Google Drive

VoiceNote II: Chrome App for Speech to text, allowing students to take notes with their voice.

DictaNote is an app for speech to text which students can use to dictate sentences, edit the output and add them together to form paragraphs.

Assistive Apps and Organizational Tools for Note Taking: These tools will assist students in expressing their thoughts and ideas by providing an organizational framework.

Notebook: This Chrome App provides a notebook for students to take notes, memo, blogs or diaries, with label support and much more. Notes can be exported directly to Google Drive

ReadWriteThink Notetaker is a hierarchical outlining tool which allows students to organize up to five levels of information for reading and writing activities.

Prewriting: Graphic Organizers and Brainstorming Tools

Read Write Think Student Interactives – This resource provide students with interactive organizational tools for various types of writing, including biographies, comparing and contrasting and even poetry.  Using these interactives before writing can help students to organize their thoughts. Provides varied tools to fit the needs of grades k-12.

  • The Comparison and Contrast Guide outlines the characteristics of the genre and provides direct instruction on the methods of organizing, gathering ideas, and writing comparison and contrast essays. (grades 3-12)
  • The Webbing Tool provides a free-form webbing tool to brainstorm ideas for writing and make connections. (grades 3-12)
  • The Venn Diagram is an interactive tool allows students to create Venn diagrams that contain two or three overlapping circles, enabling them to organize their information logically. (grades k-12)
  • Bubblus – Free version allows 3 mind maps monthly


 Writing Prompts: Scholastic’s Story Starters provide hundreds of creative combinations that to prompt creative writing for students. (varied levels for grades k-6)


Writing: Tools that assist with spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and expression of thoughts and ideas are helpful for a variety of learning needs.

Google Dictionary Plugin (Chrome): Toolbar dictionary in which students can view definitions while browsing the web.

Visual Thesaurus: An interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps with meanings and branch to related words. ($2.95 per month or $19.95 per year)

Grammarly Spell Checker & Grammar Checker: Assists students with a spell check and grammar check for their writing.

Storybird – This website allows students to choose from a variety of art sets and use the images to create online storybooks. On a free teacher account, you can have up to 60 students and 3 classes under you. (grades K-5)

Voki – While Voki is generally thought of as a speech software program (Students design an avatar and record their voices to have the avatar speak.), it can also be a writing tool.  Students can type in their writing and the avatar will “read” what they have written exactly as is.  This is a great way for students to “hear” their writing read aloud. Also visit the Voki Lesson Plans and Activities Data Base. (grades k-12)

PersuadeStar: This free online application is designed to help students in grades 5-12 write an online persuasive essay.  Lots of free resources to support varied learning needs. Resources for writing include worksheets for teaching writing, error correction worksheets, transition worksheets, example essays and various writing assignments.

The Write-n-ator: Students watch a video clip, check the writing & vocabulary clues, then complete a writing challenge. Also shows sample responses from other students – great resource for reflection activities or to have students assess these writing responses using a writing rubric.


Reading Supports:

Assistive Technologies for support in reading include tools that support organization of thoughts and assist with expression of ideas. Resources listed include web based tools that provide these options. Students with reading disabilities also need scaffolding and extra practice for applying newly learned skills. Listed below are websites that provide scaffolded support and additional practice in various skill areas to assist students with developing fluency.


The Fluency Tutor for Teachers is a teacher tool Chrome extension for fluency work. With Fluency Tutor™ for Google, Teachers can pick reading passages based on content, lexile level or reading age, and share with individual students or groups via Google Drive. Students practice and record their assigned passages. Extra help is provided by a dictionary, picture dictionary and translate tools. The teacher dashboard and student interaction area are all free. Teachers then score the assessments and the program graphs results to track each student’s progress over time. Premium features such as useful analytics and progress tracking are also available for $99 per teacher, per year.

The Fluency Tutor for Students is a student tool Chrome extension for fluency work. Fluency Tutor provides tools to enable students to practice reading aloud and to record pre-assigned passages called “assessments” or tests. Teachers then score the assessments and the program graphs results to track each student’s progress over time.

The K-W-L Creator is a tool which allows students to create an online K-W-L chart. Saving capability makes it easy for them to start the chart before reading and then return to it to reflect on what they learned. (grades 3-8)

The Story Map interactive includes a set of graphic organizers designed to assist teachers and students in postreading activities. The organizers are intended to focus on the key elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution development. These provide great organizers for reading response activities.

Into the Book is a reading comprehension resource for elementary students (resources for teachers also). This site provides additional practice to help build students’ proficiency in eight research-based strategies: Using Prior Knowledge, Making Connections, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, Summarizing, Evaluating and Synthesizing.

iStory Books: Chrome app for free story books with fun pictures, text & audio. Type of books include children’s story books, classic stories, folk tales, fairy tales and fables with accompanying audio of the text in each page.

Books That Grow is a leveled reading application available at the Chrome Store with eBooks that adapt to each user’s reading ability. It’s a great tool for teachers to assign reading to their classroom, and be able to monitor student reading progress. Teachers can also set students to a suitable reading level. Books That Grow also allows the reader to read diverse content at their level of comfort. Read over 150 titles across biographies, classic fiction, science, social studies and more.

Interactive Literacy Games: Websites that provide additional practice in various literacy skill areas, such as phonics, spelling, and vocabulary, assist students in becoming fluent in those skills.  This site offers reading & vocabulary games (and more) which offer a range of fun interactive activities to practice and improve a variety of reading skills. Skills include learning to use a dictionary, follow directions, understand poetry and more. Geared toward ELL students, but great for meeting varied learning needs for grades K-8.

KS1 Bitesize: A variety of phonics, reading, and grammar games for elementary.

Turtle Diaries:  A variety of literacy games (including comprehension skills practice) for grades pre-K through 5.

Readquarium: Includes literacy games for comprehension, fluency, phonics and vocabulary

Arcademic Skill Builders: Arcade style reading games for grades 1-6. Even offers multi-player classroom gaming.

Game Classroom: Learning games for grades K-6. Includes a variety of games to build skills in phonics, reading and comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary.

Math Supports:

Assistive technologies that offer scaffolding and support for practicing math skills and concepts are helpful in meeting a variety of learning needs. Virtual manipulatives and online math tools provide accessibility by allowing learners to construct their knowledge to show what they know. These tools allow learners to more successfully take part in their learning. Learners must also develop fluency in mathematical concepts. To be successful they often need multiple scaffolds to assist them as they practice and develop independence. There are many sources of assistive technologies listed on this page which offer scaffolding and support for practicing math skills and concepts. Other types of math supports include tools that help students who struggle with organizing their work and compensate for mechanical issues such as forming numbers and symbols.

 Chrome Math Extensions and Apps

Calculator: Chrome app for an easy to use scientific calculator

Cloudy Calculator: This calculator is a chrome extension with many options. It functions like the one built into Google’s search engine, and handles many of the same kinds of calculations as Google does.

Splash Math Math App for grades K-6 to practice addition, multiplication, subtraction, division, place value, algebra, money, time etc. Common Core aligned content

Web Based Math Tools:

Math Charts: The math charts include definitions and examples covering Numbers, Operations on Numbers, Fractions, Decimals, Percent and Percentages, Ratios and Rates, Beginning Algebra, Data and Statistics, Probability, Geometry, Measurement, Time and Money.

Harcourt Multimedia Math Glossary: Math glossary for grades K-6 that defines and shows visuals for math terms. Each word and definition can be read aloud to students by clicking on the speaker icon next to the word.

Wolfram Alpha is a computational search engine that provides mathematical, logical, and factual responses to search items. Wolfram is particularly helpful in mathematics and science research for understanding terms, rules, laws, and statistical analysis.

GraphCalc: Online Graphing Calculator

Create A Graph: Graphing Tool available through the NCES Kids’ Zone

e-Tutor Graphic Calculator: Graph equations

FooPlot: Online plotting tool

EfoFex: Higher Level Math – free for students with special needs


Time Telling Tools

Time Tool:  Time telling tool including showing how time passes.

Time for Time:  Online analog clock, can manipulate clock and show the digital time equivalent. Great for Interactive Whiteboards or touchscreen monitors


Virtual Math Manipulatives: These sites offer scaffolding and practice for students to learn various math concepts and skills. Visuals and manipulatives promote understanding of math concepts that are assistive for a variety of learning needs. Virtual manipulatives allow students to construct cognitive models to express what they know.

Brainingcamp Virtual Manipulatives and Lessons: Grades 6-9 animated lessons and interactive activities along with question sets to assess student understanding.

Math Playground Virtual Manipulatives: Provides a variety of online manipulatives.

Geoboard: An online, virtual geoboard

Math Websites: Listed are several sites that provide fun, interactive activities offer scaffolding and support for practicing math skills.

ConceptuaMath – Interactive fraction tools for instruction which align with NCTM standards.

Math Playground: Excellent site providing fun games and puzzles or practicing math facts and problem solving for grades K – 8.

Math Cats: This site features fun interactive math projects, games, math art and crafts, math writing contests, story problems, even a magic chalkboard!

Learning Clip: This site is a collection of interactive activities for grades 1-6. When an activity is loaded, a video clip explaining the math concept plays. Each activity includes a game or interactive space for students to practice what they are learning. This site is ideal for struggling students, they can replay the video portion of the lesson as many times as they need to so that they understand the concept. You must register to use, but the site has many free features.

Illuminations: This site provides lessons and interactives for grades K-12 that are searchable by NCTM’s Principles and Standards and by the Common Core State Standards. The site has over 600 lesson plans and over 100 activities which include virtual manipulatives, applets, and games. Also includes 13 Calculation Nation® games.

Math TV is a series of video story problems for math. Each math problem comes with a step by step video solution, follow up problems, an online calculator, and a sketch pad. Word problems include topics such as fractions, percentages, ratios, probability, geometry, averages, and algebra. These videos are perfect for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners.

Check Also

New Wifi Information

Wifi information for 2019-2020     GCCS All GCCS owned laptops and Chromebooks, as well …

Translate »