Tuesday, December 27, 2016


SnapType can help students keep up with their peers, even when their penmanship holds them back. Students can easily complete worksheets with an iPad and SnapType.

SnapType allows students to load worksheets, as a PDF file or a photo from the camera. You can type on the document and share your work. It is a great solution for kids, and even adults, who struggle with handwriting.

Scanning a worksheet and sharing it with students is the most efficient way to use SnapType with an entire class. The app can also be used by an individual, on the fly, by taking a photo of the worksheet and uploading it into SnapType.

I have created a quick tutorial on SnapType to get you started.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Doodle Buddy

Doodle Buddy

Doodle Buddy is an iPad app.  With Doodle Buddy you can draw, write, type, and stamp.  This app allows for a large number of educational options.

Doodle Buddy allows you to change the background and text color. This can be helpful for students that need a dark background with light font or if different colored text makes reading easier.  The ability to change these items may also be a motivator for students or a starting point for creating a story.  

Doodle Buddy has a large number of stamps, some similar to emoji's, that can be used to design a picture to write about or as manipulatives to demonstrate math work.  

Work within Doodle Buddy can be e-mailed to teachers or saved to the iPad Photo Album for grading at a later time.  

This is a highly versatile app.  It has made my list of favorites because it is also FREE!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Fun Alternative for Spelling Words

Spelling practice can be tough for many kids.  It can be an agonizing activity for students that struggle with handwriting.

One alternative to handwriting is keyboarding.  To help with the visual memory of words, while still using keyboarding, have your students use Spell with Flicker.  

Spell with Flickr is a free website that allows users to create letter-by-letter visualizations of words.  The website works by pulling from tags of letters with photos uploaded to the photo sharing site Flickr.com.  

Students type one word at a time into the Spell box:

Students will then get an image of the word.

You can click on each letter to change the image.  Words can then be screen-shotted and added into a Doc to be handed into the teacher.  

Consider this fun, simple alternative to help struggling students become excited with spelling again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Audio Books

Audiobooks, used at all ages and all grade levels, can be used to improve fluency, expand vocabulary, activate prior knowledge, develop comprehension, and increase motivation to interact with books.

Audiobooks can model reading, teach critical listening, build on prior knowledge, improve vocabulary, encourage oral language usage, and increase comprehension.

Below are a couple of audiobook options available for free:

The Night Light Stories Podcast


The Storynory Podcast




Audio stories make a great Classroom Gift idea:

Burn a CD of Audiobooks from a free audiobook website as a holiday, birthday, or end of the school year gift for your students.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Exciting News from Bookshare: Updated 12/2/2016

I read through the newsletter from Bookshare every time they send it out.  This month's newsletter had some very exciting information!  Bookshare now makes their books available in an EPUB format allowing Apple users to read books using iBooks.  

This is exciting news for me because we are a district full of Apple products.  We have iMacs and MacBooks.  We also have a large number of iPads.

I have not had time to test out the process since I read the article (it is on my agenda for this week), but I have shared it with some of my co-workers (and it is going to be my school newsletter article this month).  Bookshare has done a great write-up already on how to download the books and load them into iBooks for both MacOS and iOS.

I am including a few links below, sending you directly to the Bookshare website.  The site contains everything you would need to know about Bookshare.  I am including links to a few locations to get you started. 

Is Bookshare for me?

Who Qualifies?

What does it cost?

and lastly,

Can I open a book in iBooks?

Update: (12/2/2016)

I was able to test the process provided by Bookshare this week.  

The above tutorial titled, Can I open a book in iBooks?, is a good write up but when I tried to download a book I noticed a couple of key items that are not included.

  • You must use Safari to download the books
  • Books still have to be assigned to Members by Sponsors (unless they have an individual account in addition to their organizational account)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Summarize Text

Summarizing is the restating of the main ideas of the text in as few words as possible. Some students could understand the content if it was presented in simpler vocabulary.  Other students need less to read in order to complete the assignments in the same amount of time as their peers.  Summarizing the text is a way to help both types of students complete the same grade level assignments as their classmates

The links below take you to free sites where you can paste an article, text or essay into the box to get a summary.  You can also summarize PDF documents or online articles and webpages by uploading a file or pasting a URL.  The sites below all offer different options in terms of selecting word, sentence or document length as well as text difficulty.





Wikipedia also has a summarize type option.  It has a language option called Simple English.  This language option changes the reading level of some Wikipedia articles.  Compare these two versions on Molecules:
Simple English

Matter is a Google Extension that summarizes text. 
Matter highlights the important text in a passage.  It allows you to read the important parts of an article without removing or changing any of the actual text within the article.

Summarizing text can benefit our students in so many ways.  Please explore the options I have provided for you and see which one(s) are best for you and your students. Consider teaching your students to do the summarizing for themselves, as a way to become more independent in their learning.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

5 Ways to Utilize iPad Backgrounds & Lockscreens - Guest Blogger

As the availability of technology in a classroom grows, so does the need for good organization and classroom management techniques.  

During a research session I came across a great blog post that I am sharing with you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Audacity is a free audio editor and recorder. It is an open sourced, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. 

Why am I telling you about an audio recorder?  How could this possibly be an AT / UDL Tip?

As an audio recorder, Audacity has multiple classroom uses.  

- It can be used to record a report to be used in Blabberize.  
- It can be used to record long tracks of audio that students can use for practicing reading fluency.  Teachers can in turn have multiple students reading into different machines and then track their reading later, allowing more students to practice at one time.  
- It can also be used as a way for students to express what they know without having to generate handwritten or typed text. 

All of these options make Audacity a great tool for the classroom.

Audacity can be downloaded for both Windows and Mac machines.  The website
 offers a great features list and online manual.

Please share your uses for Audacity in the comments section for others to see.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Are you looking for a fun new way for your students to present a report to the class? Do you have a student that is shy and struggles with oral reports? Are you looking for a different way to give directions to your class, maybe for when there is a substitute? I have just the thing for you. Turn a photo into a talking report with Blabberize.

Blabberize is as simple as 1, 2, 3.

1. Upload a picture

2. select the mouth on the picture and 

3. record the sound.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Word Clouds & Word Cloud Generators

A Word Cloud is a graphical representation of word frequency.

A Word Cloud Generator is a tool that can be used to create visualizations from blocks of text. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more often in the text.

Word Clouds can be used to help students vary word choice in their own writing by highlighting words they use frequently. They can also be used to highlight themes in text by giving greater prominence to words that appear most often.

Most Word Cloud Generators allow you to personalize your cloud with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

Below are a couple of Word Cloud Generator options.

For Google Chrome:



For PC:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Graphic Organizers are a wonderful writing tool. Every teacher I know has a favorite way to use and/or teach about Graphic Organizers. I want to throw a new option into the mix.

MindMeister is a multi-platform Graphic Organizer or Mind Mapping tool. It is available on the web: https://www.mindmeister.com/ as well as a free app: https://goo.gl/T5heba. It also allows for creation using a Google Docs Add-On.

MindMeister’s biggest limitation to the Basic (free) subscription is the number of Graphic Organizers you can store. You are limited to 3 Mind Maps at a time. You can delete old ones and add new ones but you are limited to three active, editable maps per subscription, at one time.

MindMeister has a large number of great options. One of my favorite is the variety of templates available. There is a template for Reading Comprehension as well as for Lesson Planning.

There is a great YouTube channel that contains short lessons on using MindMeister. Each clip is under 3 minutes long. Check out the YouTube channel at MindMeister Tutorial Videos.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Closed Captioning

Closed Captioning is proven to improve the reading abilities of students. Captioning is one way you can provide struggling readers with additional print exposure which is proven to help improve foundational reading skills.

The use of closed captioned television shows and movies is one way in which we can motivate and engage our students to help build and improve phonics, word recognition, and fluency. Closed Captioning is a function of almost every television found in homes across the United States. Closed Captioning, or subtitles, is also a feature required for all educational videos to be considered Accessible for all learners.

“By watching closed-captioned television, students consistently score higher on written tests than students in any other group.”


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Starting a New Line within a Google Sheets Cell

Sometimes when I am working in Google Sheets I want some of the information in a cell to start on a new line.  There are times when this helps both visually and for organizational purposes.  

The cell on the left feels cluttered, hard to read.  The cell on the right contains the exact same information but is less cluttered, easier to view.


Previously I would add a bunch of spaces to the end of a section so that the next bit of information would start on a new line.  This process was time consuming and not always accurate when you would print the document.

After doing a quick Google search for a colleague, I have found an easier way.

Place your cursor where you want the new line to start. 
On a Mac, use the key combination: command + enter.
On a PC, use the key combination: control + enter.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Guided Access, review

With the addition of all of the new iPads we have in our district this year I wanted to share this post again.  Guided Access can be a great classroom management tool.

Guided Access

What is Guided Access? How can it help in my classroom?

Guided Access is a built in Accessibility feature on the iPad. It helps students stay focused on a task while using the iPad. It limits the device to a single app and lets the teacher control which features are available.

Guided Access is a great technology management tool and can be enabled in a couple of quick steps.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Sorry followers.

I have been sick this week, terrible cold.  I have not been able to work on a blog post.  I will work hard to catch up and get something great written for next week.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Meaning Behind the Name

AT / UDL Tips & Tricks for Everyone...
What does AT stand for?
What is the meaning behind UDL?

Truthfully AT and UDL go hand-in-hand.

AT - Assistive Technology
Assistive Technology consists of DEVICES and SERVICES that help children
with disabilities carry out a functional activity in their environment.
UDL - Universal Design for Learning
U.D.L. Technology consists of DEVICES and SERVICES that help children
carry out a functional activity in their environment.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Google Maps Distance Measurement Tool - Guest Writer

Ok Friends.  I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but once again there are not enough hours in the day to get my job done and write my blog post.  

Thanks to Jerilyn Lynn though, here is an awesome idea using Google Maps.

Google Maps Distance Measurement Tool

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Use Spreadsheet as Virtual Copy Machine - Guest Writer

It has been a very busy week again, with no time to write a post.  I want to thank Jerilyn Lynn for being a guest writer on my blog for the second week in a row. 

Use Google Spreadsheet as Virtual Copy Machine

Thank you Jerilyn!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Google Timer - Guest Writer

Summer is a very busy time for school technology departments.  Because of this, it has been difficult to find time to write a post. 
In order to provide great information for my readers, even during the BUSY summer months, I have enlisted the help of some guest writers.
This week I am using a write-up from Jerilyn Lynn, M.I.L.S - University of Michigan, Technology Resource Specialist for Ypsilanti Community Schools.

I hope you enjoy this write-up as much as I did!

Thank you Jerilyn!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wow! Today!

So, here it is.  My post for today.  It is already 7:30 p.m. and something should have been posted almost 12 hours ago.  I am sorry this post is not more exciting, but I promised myself that I would post something at least once a week and I wanted to stick to my promise.

I am sorry is all I can say.  I have been so busy that I have not had time to write a post.  We had 2 buildings start back on Monday, they are on balanced calendar.  I have been working on getting equipment out for my SE students as well as getting new iPads delivered to the GE teachers of our balanced calendar buildings.  This is the first time I have been able to sit down all day.

I hope everyone still on summer vacation is having a great break.  See everyone in a few weeks.  I will be on vacation next week but I promise that next weeks post will be better.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Note Anywhere

Have you ever wanted to leave a note on a webpage?
Are you looking for a tool to leave some thoughts while doing some research?

I have a great option for you to try.

Note Anywhere

Note Anywhere is a Google Extension. It allows you to add one or more Post-it type notes on any page. 
The notes stay on the page until you delete them. The notes load auto-magically when you open the web page.  If you have notes on any given webpage, the extension icon tells you how many post-its you have on that page.

If you right click on the Note Anywhere icon in your extensions tool bar, you can open the options menu.  Within options you can change the color of the post-it note.  You can also view a summary of where you have notes.  It will provide you with a list of URL links to the articles with notes on them.  


Note Anywhere can be a useful research tool for both teachers and students.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Optical Character Recognition in Google Docs

What is Optical Character Recognition?

Optical Character Recognition, or OCR for short, is defined as a technology that allows you to convert different types of documents, such as scanned documents, PDFs or images captured by a digital camera, into editable and searchable data.
Google Drive has OCR reader technology built into its system. This technology allows you to Convert PDF and photo files to text, simply by opening them as a Google Doc.

How can Google's OCR reader help my students?

For starters, when documents have been transformed, it allows you or your students to use any of the text-to-speech options available to your students.
Using OCR to transform your PDFs also allows you to update information within a PDF or make any necessary changes before sharing with students.

Google offers support for using OCR at: Convert PDF and photo files to text.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Guided Access

What is Guided Access? How can it help in my classroom?

Guided Access is a built in Accessibility feature on the iPad. It helps students stay focused on a task while using the iPad. It limits the device to a single app and lets the teacher control which features are available.

Guided Access is a great technology management tool and can be enabled in a couple of quick steps.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How to Find and Install a Google Extension or App

Many of my previous Blog posts have talked about Google Extensions.  It recently occurred to me that some of my readers may not know how to install a Google Extension.  Below are the instructions on how to locate and install a Google Extension or Google App (I will talk about some of these in later posts). 

Install a Google Extension or Google App

Google Extensions and Apps are available in the Google Web store. You can also locate the Google Web store by searching to Web Store in your Google browser.

Once in the Web Store, search for the Extension or App you wish to add.

Your search will provide a list of possible Apps and Extensions.

Locate the one you want and click Add to Chrome.

For Google Extensions:
A dialog window will appear asking for permission to add the Extension.  
Select: Add extension.
Google Extensions will appear to the right of the URL bar in Google Chrome.

For Google Apps:
A dialog window will appear asking for permission to add the App.  
Select: Add app.  
Google Apps will appear in Your Chrome App Storage.  Your Chrome App Storage is available by selecting the rainbow colored “waffle” icon on the far left of your bookmark bar.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Speech-to-Text a.k.a. Dictation

Consider for a moment your students. Think about the ones who struggle to get their ideas onto paper. How about the students who struggle with spelling or have fine motor control issues.

Speech to Text is a tool that can help these students and many others. Speech to Text is an Accessibility feature built into most computers today. It is a tool that allows a writer to dictate their thoughts and ideas into a document. Many Speech to Text options also allow you to speak the punctuation and a multitude of voice commands for editing purposes.

Google Docs has a built in Speech to Text option called Voice Typing.

Google offers a fairly comprehensive instructional guide for Voice Typing. The guide includes a list of languages supported by Voice Typing as well as a list of punctuation that can be voice enabled. The guide also includes a list of voice commands for formatting or editing your document in the sections under “Voice commands”. There are also some troubleshooting tips located near the end of the guide.

Because it is an accessibility feature, you can enable Speech to Text on a Mac.

Apple also provides a set-up and use guide that includes a variety of voice commands.

Give it a try! You (and your students) will love it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Text to Speech

Text to Speech is a tool that has multiple uses. It can be used to help with reading and writing. It can be used by students and teachers.

I use text to speech to edit my writing. I listen to what I have written to help with sentence structure or misused words. It helps me improve my writing. I use text to speech to edit all of my blog posts.

Text to Speech can be a useful tool for struggling readers, English language learners, or readers with dyslexia as well. Using Text to Speech as a reading tool can help a variety of students and adults.

On a Mac follow these directions to enable Text to Speech.

Try it out for yourself.  I am sure you will love it!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Announcement

Schools out for Summer! (In your best Alice Cooper voice.)

During the summer months I will continue to post to my blog.

I will use the summer to re-visit items from the YCS Technology Newsletter, provide updates on previous newsletter entries or blog posts, or to re-post the most popular blog entry to date.  The summer will be a time to refresh, for all of us, while still providing you with wonderful AT / UDL Tips and Tricks.

Please continue to join me for Tech Tuesday's and enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

One Tab

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Tab Snooze, one of my new favorite extensions.  Before I discovered Tab Snooze I was using a different extension, OneTab.  Although OneTab is not new to me, it is still one of my favorites.  I know it will be one of yours.


One Tab allows you to convert all of your open tabs into a list of URLs.  

From the list you can restore your tabs individually or all at once.  

Using OneTab can conserve battery power on a laptop.  It can also help speed up your computer.  OneTab temporarily reduces the amount of memory your computer uses when you keep too many tabs running in the background.

The URL list can also be exported to save for later or share with anyone.

OneTab may be just the tool your students need when they are working on a research paper for your class.  They can open and view multiple tabs.  When computer time is over, they send the OneTab list to their G-Mail for later review and use.  They will have all of their research available to them, without having to continually start over or remember what they had searched for previously.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Why are there so many ads in this article? How are my students supposed to navigate through this?

Readability is a Google Extension that removes the ads and makes an article easier to read.


This tool removes webpage noise and clutter from an article to make it easier for students to read. With Readability, you can read the article now, later or even send it to a Kindle with the simple click of the extension. To use the later and Kindle options simply create a free account with Readability online.

Once you have de-cluttered an article, you can configure the font and margin size, as well as invert the screen color directly in Readability. Inverting the colors is great for night time reading or people with light sensitivity. Adjusting the font and margin size can be helpful for people with vision impairments and can make printing easier.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tab Snooze

How many times have you started to read an article online and been interrupted?  You know you will forget to go back and finish it if you bookmark the tab for later.  Now there is a new option, you can Tab Snooze it.

Tab Snooze

With Tab Snooze you can "snooze" a tab until you have time to come back to it.  You can snooze it until tomorrow, next week, even next month.  In the selection menu, you can also set a specific date and time you want the snoozed tab to reopen.  

What if you discover you have some time on your hands.  You can access a snoozed tab at any time by looking in the Snoozed tabs section of the selection menu.  

Tab Snooze also has an awesome To-Do tab option.  You can use it to create a colorful tab as a reminder.  Select the check mark in the bottom right hand corner of the selection menu and try it for yourself.

Tab Snooze is quickly climbing my list of favorite Google Extensions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tab Scissors / Tab Glue

I have a new FAVORITE extension!

Tab Scissors and Tab Glue.

But Kendra, that is 2 extensions. 
You caught me!  It is 2 extensions; but they go hand-in-hand.  

Tab Scissors 

Tab Scissors lets you separate 2 tabs within one Google Chrome browser window.  Tab Scissors splits the tabs into 2 smaller, equal sized windows allowing you to compare information side-by-side.  The extension separates your window at the active tab and the one to its immediate left. If you have additional tabs open, the ones on the left stay in the left window and the ones on the right stay in the right window.

Tab Glue
Tab Glue allows you to quickly put all of your tabs back together, into one large window.  Your tabs remain in their original order. Tab Glue simply works in the reverse of Tab Scissors.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Keep Awake

Talk about frustrating!  Every time I turn around my computer screen has fallen asleep.  
I just walked away for a minute!
I am trying to give a presentation!

Guess what?
There is a Google Extension for that.

Keep Awake!

Keep Awake temporarily disables your computer's power-saving settings.

Keep Awake has 3 modes:
 - Moon: Your system power-saving settings are enabled.
 - Sun: Your computer system and screen are kept awake.
 - Sunset: The computer system is kept awake, the screen may go to sleep.

Install Keep Awake today!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Google Extensions - Extensity

Google Extensions

Google has a staggering number of mini programs called Extensions.  Extensions are available in / for the Google Chrome browser.  They modify and enhance the functionality of Google Chrome.  

To install a Google Extension, visit the Google Web Store.  

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be highlighting a series of Extensions that I use on an almost daily basis.  I will be discussing one Extension per week, between now and the end of the school year.  I hope you find them as useful as I have.


Extensity is an Extension organizer and a Google Apps viewer.  Extensity's primary function is to allow you to turn Extensions on and off.  Some Extensions can drain your battery or slow down your connection because it is consistently running in the background.  With Extensity, you can turn these draining Extensions on and off.  This gives you the ability to only have them on when you are using them.  Extensity, as a Google Chrome Extension, is invaluable.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Welcome to AT / UDL Tips and Tricks for Everyone!

With this Blog, I (with some help from the YCS Instructional Technology team) will be posting useful Tips and Tricks for our Staff and Students to use in the classroom and for assignments.  We will highlight Google Apps, Extensions and Add-Ons as well as useful websites and iPad apps.