Game Changing Google Tools for Students that Struggle with Writing

Many students experience difficulty with written expression. A child may struggle with the physical act of writing or with generating and organizing their thoughts.   While working with my son one evening, we discovered a new feature available within Google Docs called  Google Voice Typing.  My child actually squealed with glee when he discovered that he was able to “type with his voice”.  Although strengthening his keyboarding skills is a personal goal, this is a great bypass strategy  for him to use until he is proficient with keyboarding.

We often recommend that students use the SQ3R  reading strategy.  This strategy encourages students to ask themselves questions  and to summarize the information they have read. Google Voice Typing could be a great way to summarize the questions and thoughts they vocalize.

Some students may choose to take photos to supplement their note-taking. This could provide a great visual demonstration of what they have read or learned in class.   Google Photos is an awesome way to help students organize their photos in their Google Drive and easily access them later for review.

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IPad and Google Apps with Assistive Features

I recently participated in two webinars facilitated through Georgia Tools for Life: Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program.  The first webinar focused on fine motor and sensory apps and shared this comprehensive list with the participants.

The second webinar demonstrated Google Apps and Extensions with assistive features.  From the apps shared, I was most excited to try out Voice Not.es, which allows users to watch videos and take notes in the same browser window.  These notes are time stamped and synced to your Google Drive.

Another app that you may want to check out is Newsela.  This reading tool publishes daily new articles that can be adjusted to 5 different reading levels.

If you would like to watch the webinar recordings, both are archived on the Tools for Life website.

Why audiobooks are great for kids…

I recently read an article from Scholastic.com outlining the ways that audiobooks can boost childrens’ reading skills. Audiobooks have traditionally been recommended as an assistive technology tool to provide students with learning differences an opportunity to enjoy books!  The audio version of texts helps to strengthen listening and reading comprehension skills and can be used as a bypass strategy for students that might have challenges related to reading fluency.

Audiobooks can be of great benefit to avid and gifted readers also. Not only do audiobooks make reading more enjoyable and less laborious for some students, this multi-sensory approach to reading helps introduce students to books above their independent reading level.

At Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, our middle school students have the benefit of having most of their online textbooks available on their personal chromebooks.  Many of these online texts include the audio feature as a resource for their readers.

There are also three additional audiobook resources, I typically recommend for students. Learning Ally, Bookshare and Audible.  Learning Ally and Bookshare are nonprofit organizations that are designed to provide students with learning differences access to audio versions of textbooks and other literature.  However, my sons (Drew-3rd grade and Will-1st grade) prefer to listen to novels using Audible, because the narration tends to be more animated and engaging to the listeners!  Some of the series they have enjoyed listening to recently have included Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, Wings of Fire and The Gryphon Chronicles.