Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tools to Support All Kinds of Learners

Instructional Technology tools have remarkable power to level the playing field for diverse learners! Here are a few that might provide beneficial support to students with learning disabilities, limited English proficiency, visual impairments, and more.

Learning Ally - Improve reading comprehension and boost confidence with the wide selection of human-read audiobooks from Learning Ally. Plano ISD has a subscription thanks to generous funding from the state. If you would like for your students to have access to audiobooks on any device, please contact Nancy Watson ( for information.

Read & Write - the desktop version is available in the App Depot; use this toolbar with any material on your computer screen. The toolbar contains icons that provide word prediction, text-to-speech, screen masking, and more. There is a Read & Write extension for Chrome and an iPad app that works with the Safari browser. All icons on the Chrome extension are free to teachers; for students, the TextHelp company offers a 30-day free trial of the premium features. View free and premium features at

Kindle app for iPad - press and hold on unfamiliar words to take advantage of the Kindle's built-in dictionary. Use the translate feature to hear the text in a different language or to hear the pronunciation of a word.

Prizmo Go - an amazing iPad app! Take a picture of the page of any book. The app will convert the text to a machine-readable form and will read it aloud to you.

Reader Pen - use the pen to "highlight" the text in a book and it will read the text aloud. It frees up teachers' time and helps students be more independent learners. The district does not provide funds to purchase these devices.

Readability - a Chrome extension that removes clutter on a website and makes text easier to read.

Google Docs Voice Typing - fantastic Speech-to-Text app built right in to Google Docs. Click Tools > Voice Typing, enable the microphone, and dictate what you want to say. You can even change the language of dication!

Co:Writer - Chrome extension; word prediction tool that works in Google Docs. Recognizes and accommodates for common spelling errors/inventive spelling.

MindMeister - terrific mind mapping tool; you can create organizational charts like the one below and even insert images.

Do you have other apps or websites that you've found are helpful to your students? We'd love to know about them! Email us at with any suggestions.

Have a great Thanksgiving week, everyone!

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