Support for visual, attention & motor control challenges
Remember training Dragon Dictation to recognize your student’s voice? That technology was pretty profound in 2004, but the options now to support differentiation for learners will blow your mind. What’s better is that we don’t have to offer these technologies to identified students. Any student (or adult!) can use these apps and extensions if they are helpful.
Let’s explore some FREE Google Chrome apps and extensions that support differentiation for a variety of learners.
5 Chrome apps and extension for learner support
1. Speak It!
SpeakIt! reads selected text from a web browser:
With language auto-detection for 50 languages.
2. Grammarly –
Grammarly’s free writing app provides support for improving grammar as you type. It checks basic grammar, such as article, tense and subject agreement. It also has a word choice mode, suggesting synonyms to help students improve their vocabulary. Adding the Grammarly extension to Chrome allows students to use the tool with Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Tumblr. No support for Google Drive and Docs, though… yet.
Still, the app provides students with weekly emails tracking their performance and providing insights into areas of improvement. Great metrics to use to track student performance!
3. Google Type with your voice
Does what it says on the tin: this Chrome extension allows you to type and edit in Google Docs via voice command. Indispensible for students with motion-related or fine motor-control challenges.
I found that the hardest part of Google Type was just turning the mic on, so here’s a screencast of how to get started typing with your voice using Google Docs:
Announcify reads out loud every website you want. It can also be a powerful tool in the arsenal of students who could use audio reinforcement as they read, or for students with visual challenges.
5. Calmly Writer
For students struggling with attention and focusing challenges, Calmly Writer can help remove distractions from a web interface (such as a browser window) with a number of different options. It’s available in six languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Polish and Russian. Students can choose to have:
- nothing displayed except the title and text of what they’re working on;
- a highlight area around one paragraph at a time, keeping them visually focused;
- white writing on a black background;
- or just a simplified set of formatting tools surrounding the text.
Teachers or paraprofessionals can help guide students through choosing a setting to lock the app on, or making the settings customizable depending on the current classroom situation.
These quick apps and extensions should be in every teacher’s toolbox to share with students.