10 Tips for Supporting Students with Special Needs in #RemoteLearning

Over the last month or so, educators across most countries have been scrambling to figure out how to deliver content and assignments to students at home, how to connect with them via live video, and how to make sure they were safe and sound.  While we could certainly debate which of these are and are not important, as well as which ones are more or less important, I think that we could also certainly agree on one priority that’s missing from that list:

How can we support learners with special needs in remote learning?

While, certainly, some educators are doing great things to support these students, from my observations, this has taken a backseat to other elements of remote learning.  And these students NEED OUR HELP.

Unfortunately, I am not an expert in special education, accessibility features or assistive technology. I am, however, skilled at asking other people to share their expertise. 😃 So, in episode 40 of the Educational Duct Tape podcast and in the 4.8.20 #EduDuctTape Twitter Chat I asked educators one simple question:

How can we support learners with special needs in remote learning?

And they DELIVERED. I mean, the awesome suggestions and resources, all from a perspective of support rather than judgment, POURED in. And so, here they are.

Title Graphic for this blog post. Says "10 tips for supporting students with special needs in remote learning." Also says "10 edtech tips + dozens of tools"

I’ve curated their responses and organized them into 10 Tips for Supporting Students with Special Needs in Remote Learning. Here they are! Summarized, organized, curated, and, most importantly, shared with you.  I hope that you can use these to support the learners that you work with!


Tip #1: Know your students’ devices’ accessibility features.

As Kelli points out in the tweet below, every device has built-in accessibility features and it’s important for you and your students to know them. If all of your students have the same devices provided to them by your school, that makes this easy.  We’ll cover the big 3–Chromebooks, iPads and Microsoft–in this first section.

Chromebooks’ Accessibility Features

Chromebooks have a whole array of different accessibility features built right into them. If your learners use Chromebooks, it’d be wise to inform them of these! During episode 40, David Allan shared about a handful of them.  In Mini-Episode #11 of the podcast I discuss some of these features with David in more detail.  You can see Google’s complete Chromebook Accessibility list here, but I’ve provided most of them below as well:

  • Increase the size of all on-screen text and visuals – You can use ctrl + to increase the size of web content or ctrl shift + to increase the size of all onscreen content, including menu items and toolbars.
  • Screen magnifier – While the previous option makes everything on the screen bigger, this option actually zooms the view into a certain portion of the screen. There is also a docked screen magnifier which uses a portion of the screen as a magnifier window, while the rest of the screen stays normal.
  • Screen reader – This tool, also known as ChromeVox, will read all on-screen content (even menu items and buttons) aloud and provide plenty of details about what is on-screen for the user. You can learn more about ChromeVox here.
  • Adjust mouse cursor size
  • High-contrast mode – This mode inverts the colors of the screen and the text.
  • Show large mouse cursor
  • Highlight cursor and text This set of features allows you to have circles around the cursor when it’s moving, the text caret location (where you’re typing), or a currently selected button.
  • Select-to-Speak – Whereas ChromeVox is designed to read all on-screen text for individuals with significant vision loss, Select-to-Speak allows the user to select specific text to have read aloud.  You can learn more about Select-to-Speak here.
  • Braille support

iPad Accessibility Features

“In 2018, Chromebooks made up 60 percent of all laptops and tablets purchased for U.S. K-12 classrooms.” (Katie Schoolov, CNBC)  So, it’s logical to list their accessibility features first. However, we know that lots of households have iPads that kiddos might be using during remote learning.  We also know that, from the same article, Apple makes up 18 percent of the purchases for classrooms in 2018. So, it’s important to highlight their accessibility features as well!

Lauren shared a fantastic ebook from Morgan Cave, Melissa Piette and Ronit Shapiro titled Opening Doors to Access.

The three Apple Distinguished Educators designed the ebook as a toolkit focused on accessibility features, which they call “Tools for Learning because these tools are beneficial to all learners to increase the culture of access in a learning community or classroom.” (pg 2) In the book, they highlight some of the iPad’s accessibility features:

  • Speak Screen – This feature is designed to read all screen content, including menu options.  This video, which is also featured within the ebook, goes over the first 2 features in this list.
  • Speak Selection – This feature operates similarly to the Speak Screen option but is intended for when the user doesn’t want all content read aloud but wants to select specific text to have read aloud.
  • VoiceOver – VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that gives audible descriptions of all on-screen content including things like the app that you’re currently touching and the battery level of your device.  Learn more about VoiceOver here.
  • Predictive Text – Most of us are already familiar with this feature. When we are typing on our phones, we typically see 3 predicted words that we can include next in our sentence. This feature not only supports students with writing or typing difficulties, but it can also improve spelling, vocabulary, and written expression. Check out this video, from the ebook above, to see how to turn on “Hold to Speak Predictions,” which will read the predicted text aloud to the user to help them see if it’s the word that they want.
  • Dictation – Most people are also familiar with dictation – this is what we often refer to as speech-to-text.
  • Typing FeedbackTyping Feedback can be used to have the device speak the letters, words, auto-corrections, and/or predictions back to the user as they type.
  • Text Replacement, Auto-Capitalization, Check Spelling – These are 3 features that most of us are familiar with: our phones fix errors that our clumsy thumbsies make as we rush through typing that text message or tweet. It’s super beneficial for our learners as well!
  • Look Up – Highlight a word (or phrase) on an iOS device and select Look Up. Voila!
  • Safari Reader View – While I’m a Google Chrome guy, it’s important to point out that Safari has a nice “reader view.” This view eliminates ads, navigation menus and other distractions from articles.  It also provides some other options, including customizing the background color, font color and font style. Learn more about Safari Reader View here.
  • Assistive Touch – If the device’s buttons or gestures are difficult for you or your learners, you can use Assistive Touch to modify them.  Learn more about Assistive Touch here.
  • Other Features – There are even more features within the Accessibility section of the Settings within iOS devices. They include modifying the display, the text, on-screen colors, and more.

Microsoft Accessibility Features

According to that article linked above (Katie Schoolov, CNBC), Apple’s 18% share of the 2018 education market was actually 3rd place. Microsoft came in at 22% of the market. So, it’s important to talk about their accessibility features as well!

During the chat, Patrick McMillan shared about Microsoft’s accessibility offerings and, when I asked for more information, followed up with the awesome chart from Mike Tholfsen, Product Manager on the MicrosoftEDU team.  I’ll share some more details about Microsoft’s features below the tweet.

As the chart shows, Microsoft’s features are available within Microsoft Word online and most versions of the OneNote App.  Some of them are available in their other platforms (Outlook, Teams, the Edge Browser, Office Lens and Flipgrid).  Here are the features and some details about them:

  • Read Aloud & word/line highlighting
  • Spacing and Font Size
  • Page Colors
  • Syllables
  • Line Focus
  • Parts of Speech
  • Translation
  • Picture Dictionary
  • Dictation
  • Math & Equation Support

Tip #2: Know the accessibility features in the platforms & apps that your students use.

While students’ devices likely have built-in accessibility features, the apps, and programs that your students are using likely have additional ones.  Let’s look at a handful of those!

Speech-to-Text in Google Docs

One of my favorite lesser known features in Google Docs is the speech-to-text tool. I often use it when I’m writing longer documents and want to give my fingers a break! And, if you learn some of the tricks in this post you can actually add punctuation, formatting, and more.  This is also available within the Speaker Notes of Google Slides.  Be sure to press play on my #EduGIF in the tweet to see it in action!

Immersive Reader

The MVP of the #EduDuctTape Twitter Chat was the Immersive Reader. This tool, the main part of Microsoft’s accessibility offerings, is not only part of most of Microsoft’s tools but, as the tweets below show, it’s part of many other edtech tools.

As Pam points out in the tweet below, knowing that the immersive reader is available for your learners can make some tools–like Wakelet, in her example–even better choices for your lessons and activities.

Tip #3: Identify reading supports that are available to your students.

Once you know what accessibility features are available in the hardware, sites, and apps that you’re using, you may discover that there are some missing features that your learners need. But don’t worry, there are plenty of tools that are ready and willing to help you! One of the biggest needs of our learners is helping them read complex texts online. Be sure that your students know what services are available to them!

HelperBird

Need a tool for making web content more accessible for you or your learners? The HelperBird browser extention–it’s available in Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge–might be the option for you.  The free version gives you easy access to features like changing web fonts (including Dyslexics fonts), the Immersive Reader, font size changing ability, reader mode, Google Translate, and two features for color-blind learners (underlining and text stroke). While many of these features are available through other means, especially in Google Chrome, you might consider HelperBird because it puts them all in one place.  And, if those features aren’t enough, they have an array of other paid features.

Google Read & Write from TextHelp

Another tool to support learners when reading on the web is TextHelp’s Google Read & Write which operates in Google Chrome. The free version offers the most important tool–text-to-speech–while the paid version, which is free for teachers offers a long list of additional features including definitions, a picture dictionary, word prediction, an awesome highlighter feature, a vocab list tool, and check it for spelling and grammar checking.

As Lauren mentions below, if you use TextHelp’s equation, formula, and graphing tool Equatio to add mathematical equations and symbols, Read & Write will even work them!

Snap & Read

Another tool for reading on the web is the Snap & Read Chrome Extension which is similar to the other one that Cassandra mentioned–Google Read & Write.  Snap & Read offers text-to-speech, text leveling (for simplifying complex text), translation into 100+ languages, distraction-free reading mode, color overlays, line reader guides, a picture dictionary, and a slew of other tools. The only downside with Snap & Read is that, like Read & Write, it’s not a free tool.  You can check out all of its features and its pricing on the Snap & Read page.

Immersive Reader

We already mentioned it above, but it’s worth referencing it again here.  The immersive reader offers:

  • read aloud (text-to-speech) with customizable speed and voice
  • enhanced dictation (speech-to-text)
  • customizable font spacing, text lines, font sizes, and colors
  • focus mode with a line focus
  • picture dictionary
  • immersive reading
  • the ability to identify the parts of speech
  • an option of syllabification (to break up words that students need to sound out)
  • comprehension mode
  • translations

Rewordify.com & SMMRY.com

So, I’ve explored these two tools quite a bit. My first reaction is that they are both rather inconsistent. My second reaction, however, is that when they do work, they can be really beneficial for students.

Rewordify’s main function is to take text that you paste in, look for one of the 58,000 difficult words or phrases in their database and replace them with simpler versions. That certainly can be helpful. There are a few problems though. First, it ignores words that don’t exist. For example: rewordify. Second, it ignores clumsy or complex wording or phrasing. So, I guess my advice would be: feel free to use it as a first step.  Then, go back through and fix the things that Rewordify missed.

SMMRY.com does an impressive job of summarizing articles and text. My only frustration with is is how many times it says Summary Not Found. Many texts and articles that I tried yielded no results. The times that it did, though, yielded great summaries.

OCR in Google Drive

What if the text that you are having students read is in a physical book or handwritten document? Google Drive has you covered. Did you know that Google Drive had OCR (optical character recognition) built into it? Yup, just upload or save a picture into your Drive, right-click on it, and select Open With > Google Docs.

Add Audio Read-Alouds to your Slides

Have text on a Google Slide and want to add in your own “read aloud”? Use any platform that can export as an audio file and then add it right into the Google Slide! While it’s original intent wasn’t for recording audio, Lauren’s tweet brings up a great point: if you’re already a Screencastify user, you can use its export audio feature in this situation so that you don’t have to learn to use a separate audio recording tool. Check out this video from Sethi De Clercq to see how adding audio works in Google Slides.

Bookshare

One of big challenge during extended school closures it students’ access to reading materials. At school, teachers often have extensive classroom libraries, plus access to the school library. At home, some students may have very few books that fit their interest or ability. Online libraries help out big time, but might be lacking in formats that are appropriate for students with special needs.

Bookshare’s site says that “For students with dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy, and other reading barriers, Bookshare is a free online library that provides access to over 800,000 ebooks in easy-to-read formats. Students can read books in audio, follow text with karaoke-style highlighting, read in braille or large font, and customize their reading experience to suit their individual learning style. Teachers can create free school accounts and easily assign books to students to read their own.” While not all students qualify for access to these ebooks, Bookshare has nearly 10,000 that are available for anyone to read.

Tip #4: Make Closed Captioning Available

One of the biggest topics in accessibility is adding captions to videos, presentations, live videos, or video chats.  There were plenty of tips shared in the #EduDuctTape Twitter Chat about captioning.

Our first 4 tools have captioning built right into them.

Google Meet Live Captioning

Yup! Live CC is available in Google Meet! Watch this super short video to see how to turn it on. Just a note: since these are live, automated captions they will not be perfect.

YouTube

YouTube automatically captions all videos. While the captions might not be perfect, the video’s owner can edit them.

Captions in Flipgrid

That’s right! As long as you make sure that the Captions setting is turned on in your Grids, Flipgrid will automatically provide captions for your videos. Teachers can also go in and easily edit the captions for their own videos–or the videos of their students! Students, can’t edit their own captions, but they can attach a document with their script or captions in them. Then, if you’d like, you can use what they uploaded to edit the captions for your students.  Here’s a guide from Flipgrid about their closed captioning feature.

Captioning in Google Slides

That’s right! If you’re presenting in person, over video conferencing or in a video recording using Google Slides, you can have it live caption your speaking! You can learn more about captioning in Google Slides here.

As Mandi pointed out, one possible strategy is to use Slides with captioning on while recording a video so that your video has captions. The downside is that these captions are not editable. If you’re already uploading to YouTube, I’d advise just letting YouTube auto-caption them for you and then editing those captions.

 

The following tools don’t automatically caption for you, but you can make it happen!

Screencastify → YouTube for Captions

I asked Stella for clarification after she tweeted this one. Screencastify, unfortunately, does not provide captioning. However, if you upload your Screencastify videos to YouTube, the YouTube captioning service will automatically add captions for you. Since it’s an automated service, they will not be perfect, but you can edit them so that they’re accurate.  Here’s a help article on editing your YouTube captions. If you have longer videos, you might want to check out the “ninja trick” below for editing YouTube captions.

Captions in Screencast-O-Matic

While Screencastify users will have to send their videos to YouTube to get captions in their videos, Screencast-O-Matic users can add their own captions from within Screencast-O-Matic. There are 4 different ways to add them. Unfortunately, the automated captioning is only available in the paid version of Screencast-O-Matic. So, in the free version, you have to create your own captions and upload them into Screencast-O-Matic.  While it’d be nice to have the convenience of automated captioning in the free version, there are two reasons that it’s not a big deal to me.  First, we know that automated captions aren’t completely accurate anyhow. And, second, there are multiple hacks (using YouTube, using a dictation tool to “type” from the audio of the video) that you can use to automate the creation of captions.

Apple Clips Live Captioning

I hadn’t really played with Apple Clips before Joe & Kristin Merrill shared about it on the Educational Duct Tape Podcast back in early March. On their recommendation, I started exploring it and discovered that it was a super easy way to create visually appealing videos.  You can record from directly in the app, pull in videos or images from your photo library, and even edit pieces together.

Then, Jen shared the tip above about Apple Clips and I discovered something that I liked even more about it! If you’re recording a video on an iOS device for your class, consider recording it in the free Apple Clips app and turning on Live Titles! You can even edit the captions! It’s important to point out that if a video is recorded in the regular camera app and then imported into Apple Clips, the live titles do not automatically generate.

These captions are open captions rather than closed captions, meaning they are on for everyone and there’s no way to turn them off. That’s not ideal as some people find captions to be distracting, but if you’ve got to choose between open captions or no captions, open is the way to go.

Clipomatic

I had not heard about Clipomatic before Kelli mentioned it! If you do a quick Google Search, you’ll likely find some articles about celebrities and social media influencers using the app. That’s because it’s easy to use–like Apple Clips–and adds in live text that is more stylized than Apple Clips’ offerings.

Clipomatic and Apple Clips are actually pretty similar, so… what’s the difference?

  • Apple Clips is free, Clipomatic costs $4.99.
  • Apple Clips can edit videos together, Clipomatic cannot.
  • Apple Clips videos can be as long as 60 minutes (the videos within the project are limited to 30 minutes though).  Clipomatic videos can only be 1 minute.
  • Apple Clips can be made without text, Clipomatic videos always have text.
  • Clipomatic seems to have more text style options.

Based on those differences, I can’t really see any reason to choose Clipomatic over Apple Clips. If you know of something that I’m missing, though, please let me know!

The Ninja Trick for Modifying YouTube Captions

Earlier in this post, I mentioned editing the AI-generated captions in YouTube videos. For longer videos, it can be an incredibly tedious process.  If you need to do this for longer videos or if you do it regularly, I recommend checking out this hack from Dr. Eric J Moore, which Mia shared a few days after the chat.

 

And finally, we have a few tools that don’t directly add captions to video, but can be used to generate transcriptions that can be used for captions.

Otter.ai

This is a new tool for me and I am so glad that Hillary brought it to my attention! Otter.ai is intended for transcribing meetings, classes or presentations.  It seems like their a lot of their marketing is geared towards college students looking for transcriptions of lectures. What’s really nice is that it records the audio and links it to the timestamped transcription. In the free version, you can record & transcribe up to 600 minutes per month.

The downside, however, is that the free version can’t be easily used with videos. So, if you recorded a video in Screencastify (which doesn’t have captioning or transcriptions) and wanted to use Otter.ai to create your transcriptions, your only options are to (a) play the full video while Otter.ai records the audio of it or (b) have Otter.ai recording you while you record the screencast. In the paid version, though, you can upload that video (or an audio file) for Otter to transcribe for you.

The bonus in the age of Remote Learning is that the free version of Otter.ai does offer transcriptions of Zoom meetings. They’re not live transcriptions, though.

Web Captioner

Live captioning is available in Google Meet. When I asked Kelli (can you tell that Kelli is an assistive technology rock star!?) about live captioning in Zoom she pointed out that it’s not built in. You can choose to either live-type them manually or to use a 3rd party service. One such service is Web Captioner.

I am super excited about Web Captioner. It offers real-time captioning, can censor profane words, works in over 40 languages, allows you to save the transcript (or auto-save to DropBox), and is FREE. My favorite feature, though, is that you can cast your captions to a Google Device. So if you’d like to have a presentation or speech live captioned without using Google Slides, Web Captioner might be the choice for you!

As Kelli pointed out, you could also use it to add real-time captioning to your Zoom meetings or presentations. It cannot, unfortunately, show the captions in the bottom 3rd of your video like you’d normally expect a captioning service to do. It can, however, be screenshared to show the captions.

It’s also possible to use Web Captioner with live streaming tools like vMix and OBS to add real-time captions to your live streams.

Tip #5: Differentiate

Differentiation in Google Classroom

As Mrs. McLoud points out, one of the best features in Google Classroom is the ability to differentiation assignments, materials, and communication. Check out this video from Google for Education’s EDU in 90 series to learn more.

Differentiation in Schoology

If Schoology is your LMS, you can also differentiate your assignments in there as well! Here’s a post from CAST about how to differentiate in Schoology by assigning work to different groups.

Differentiation in Microsoft Teams

Assigning work to different groups of students can be done in a similar process to how it’s done in Google Classroom, but you could also do this by creating different channels within your classes.  Here’s a video from Alice Keeler about doing this.


Tip #6: Provide multiple ways for students to respond and demonstrate comprehension.

People often tell me, “Jake, you’re so brave having your voice in a podcast, I hate the sound of my voice!” Our students are the same way – some are comfortable with audio, some are great with video, and others are great with text. If the medium isn’t the actual goal–like writing an essay–then consider offering options.

Choice Boards

While giving students a list of choices is certainly good enough, an option that many educators love using is choice boards. I found that this post from Kasey Bell gives a good overview of choice boards.

Padlet

There’s one key word in Michael’s tweet about Padlet that I want to point out: versatility. In Padlet, students can respond with text, images, video, audio or drawings.  During the aforementioned episode of the Educational Duct Tape Podcast, multiple guests referenced UDL (Universal Design for Learning). Providing multiple media for students to select from when responding–as Padlet does–is a key feature of UDL.

Also, as Michael points out, the ability to have bite-sized communications in Padlet could be beneficial for some students.

Flipgrid

I’ll share a few tweets about Flipgrid later in this post, but right here I want to point out: with a tool like Flipgrid that seems to have only one mode–responding with video–there are still ways that we can give students choices based on what they’re comfortable with. This post from Jornea Armant at Flipgrid goes over some ways to make camera-shy students feel more comfortable. Another tip to share with learners with special needs is to use the on-screen post-it notes to prepare a script for themselves to use when recording.

Screencasting

I like that Molly’s answer about screencasting wasn’t about teacher-made screencasts, but about student-made screencasts! Yes! For students who might struggle with writing or typing, a screencast may be a great choice.

It’s important to note that some students may not be comfortable with screencasts and, if it were my classroom, I’d let them choose a medium that works for them, as long as it still addresses the intended skill.

Tip #7: Connect with your colleagues who have expertise in supporting these learners.

This should go without saying, but is important: make sure that you’re communicating with these people – intervention specialists, school psychologists, occupational or physical therapists, speech & language pathologists, and others. They are trained to support these learners and, while they may not have tech expertise, they can help you devise a plan for how to support these learners.

Tip #8: Communicate with their parents.

In this situation, the parents have become like intervention specialists, paraprofessionals, or special education aides, except without all of the training that those of us in education have. This is a stressful time for all of us and reaching out to see what kind of support they need could go a long way.

Office Hours for Parents

I love Hillary’s point of providing office hours for the parents! Yes! They need our support!

Flipgrid Office Hours

Nervous about having live synchronous 1-on-1 video chats with frustrated parents? (I don’t blame you) If you still want to use video to connect with these parents, consider hosting “Flipgrid Office Hours” where parents can ask video questions and you can provide video responses!

Email or Phone!

It doesn’t have to be high tech to be highly helpful!

Calendly

Want to offer up time slots during your day for parents (or students) to claim for meetings? There are a lot of options out there. YouCanBook.me and Calendly are the ones that I see used the most.  I prefer Calendly. I can connect my Calendly account to my Google Calendar and it can eliminate times where I already have something scheduled on my Google Calendar!

Tip 9: Prioritize the Social-Emotional Needs of your Students

I probably should’ve listed this one first. It truly is the most important thing especially during Remote Learning. Kids are stressed, nervous, scared, and overwhelmed.  So are we and so are the parents.  For that reason, Tips 9 & 10 focus on making sure that your kiddos are doing okay and know that you care.

Pear Deck Social-Emotional Learning Content

When I hosted a Remote Learning-focused webinar with Pear Deck last week, I mentioned their social-emotional learning content being one of my favorite things about the Pear Deck. And I wasn’t kidding! They offer a set of 11 social-emotional learning slides, regularly share blog posts about SEL, and, by default, they ask students how they’re feeling prior to starting each lesson. This edtech company clearly prioritizes students’ well-being.

Tip #10: Maintain the connections with your students.

This helps your students feel safe and cared for, but also gives them opportunities to tell you if they need additional supports.

Flipgrid

It’s clear that, during remote learning, we need to emphasize making sure that our students feel safe, cared for, and confident. How better to do that than connecting with them regularly with Flipgrid? As Frances pointed out above, Flipgrid is a great tool for giving a voice to students that we might not always hear from, especially during these difficult times.  As To The Edge author Kyle Anderson points out, it offers great functionality for many facets of our work with our students.

Two-Way Communication Tools

Over the last year or so on Twitter, I’ve seen a lot of mentions of “Maslow before Bloom.” Not only do I agree with this, but I’d also agree with “Maslow before edtech.” One way that we can prioritize what we know from of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in our current crisis is, as Jamie points out, to leverage a tool for two-way communication between student-teacher and student-student. While I feel that these synchronous tools are not good for instruction, I would advocate for using them to keep the rapport and relationships strong.


Bonus Tips:

Manipulatives in Google Slides

Students benefit from the use of manipulatives.  With us unable to provide algebra tiles, counting blocks, dice, fraction bars,, mini clocks, and play money to every household that we service, a simple tool like Google Slides can be a convenient alternative, as Angela and Mandi pointed out.

Nearpod x Boardmaker

If you’re like me, you’ll quickly recognize the personal communication symbols (PCS) available through Boardmaker. These symbols, designed to help limited-speaking or non-speaking persons communicate, have been around for decades. In Frances‘ tweets below, you can see how she is using the symbols from Boardmaker within Nearpod!

Locking Content with the Google Slides Master

Many teachers have felt the struggle of having students accidentally move images and content in Google Slides when they attempt to add their responses to the slides.  There are 3 main ways to avoid this happening:

Formative

Let’s start with the first of the two tools that Ashley referenced: Formative.  While the free version of Formative enables teachers to ask a lot of great question types–multiple choice, multiple selection, true or false, short answer, essay, and Show Your Work–and to use images, videos, and internet content, the feature that Ashley is referring to is one of the premium ones. Fortunately for you and I, Formative is one of many tools that are offering free premium access to educators during the coronavirus school closures.

The premium feature that she’s referring to is the audio content feature. This feature allows teachers to add audio to their questions. As Ashley pointed out, this could be a great way to provide a “read aloud” of a question to students. Technically, even in the regular free version, you could embed audio from on the web into a formative, though it couldn’t directly accompany the question as it does in the premium version. The premium version (which, again, is free right now) also allows the students to respond with audio.

Buzzmath

The second tool that Ashley named, Buzzmath, offers a standards-aligned mathematics program intended for grades 3-8. As Ashley pointed out, Buzzmath provides audio reading of all text.  According to the Buzzmath site, it offers differentiation and detailed reports for the teachers and, for students, “a historical adventure where they collect stars and badges to unlock missions…” While I haven’t used the site before, I would say that it sounds like a win-win.  They are offering free access during the school closures, so it might not hurt to try it out!

Promoting Achievement through Technology and INstruction for all Students (PATINS) Webinars & Resources

If you’d like to learn more about assistive technologies, accessibility practices, and UDL (Universal Design for Learning), check out this resource that Kelli shared:

gSuite for Education Resources

If you’re a gSuite for Education user and want to learn more about how you can improve the accessibility of your assignments and content when using their tools, check out this resource that Stella shared:

 

 

Published by

Jake Miller

Jake is the host of the Educational Duct Tape podcast, the #EduGIF Guy, a Tech Integration Coach, speaker, Former STEM, Math & Science Teacher, and a presenter.

4 thoughts on “10 Tips for Supporting Students with Special Needs in #RemoteLearning”

  1. Jake, this article is EVERYTHING! Very informative for us educators who work with students with exceptionalities/special needs.

  2. WOW! You have taken all of the information to support special needs students and put it in one location. Thank you!!:)

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