Saturday, November 12, 2011

Move over Gaming and Music- Accessibility and Productivity are HERE!

Apps are what makes the iPad function. Because I'm a special education teacher, I have learned a lot about apps that level the playing field for my students. These are the ones that I LOVE and how I use them with students.

1. Read2Go
Read2Go is the app that makes the iPad an accessible ereader for students who struggle to read. Read2Go is put out by Benetech and is a FREE service that provides digitally formatted books to people with a print disability. Being a member of bookshare is necessary in order to use this application. For details on getting an organizational membership for your school or an individual membership for a child with a print disability, please drop me a note or visit

My students use this application to assist them in reading novels for class, pleasure reading, and meeting their Accelerated Reader goals.

2. Evernote
Evernote is amazing for organization and productivity. It is a cloud service and serves as a place to keep everything: a to do list, notes from class, journals, pictures, etc. My students can use Evernote to record lectures and type notes during a lecture. They also share a journal notebook with their English teacher and I. This allows me to assess their writing for their IEP goals with the same writing sample their English teacher uses for a different purpose. I also share a notebook with a student and his mother which helps to keep everyone informed of expectations and accomplishments. This cuts down on the number of panic emails. I highly recommend watching some videos from at to get to know about this app. Also, Evernote is web based, and the app is available for download on ALL devices, so it can be anywhere you are.

3. Speech Journal
Speech Journal (and all other apps by Mobile Education) is fantastic. This app allows students to take or import photos from their experience and verbally tell the story that accompanies the photos. For those students who struggle to write, this is an appropriate alternative assessment. Creating a pre-writing (or speaking) plan is an important step in teaching those skills that allow students to develop and organize their thoughts beyond one or two sentences. The app allows students to email the speech journal to teachers, friends, and family.

4. Complete Class Organizer
WOW! This app has an assignment notebook, web connection, whiteboard, recorder, and notes pages. It allows students to manage their classes in one place, and it syncs assignments with calendars they use most. It also syncs with google docs, and very soon it will be able to sync with Evernote. Complete Class Organizer will be an app that will carry a student from middle school through college. It takes some practice to be able to use all of the features effectively, but it is awesome!

5. Moody Me
I love this app because sometimes behaviors and moods need to be tracked so that parents, teachers, and health care providers can best serve a child. Independence with this app will depend on the age of the child, but middle school and high school students can definitely manage keeping track of their moods as long as they are empowered to do so.

6. Dexteria and i Write Words
These are two apps that help children build fine motor skills especially handwriting. My own children have worked on their pencil grip and letter formation with these apps and have experienced significant gains. The teacher in me likes Dexteria because it provides me with a lot of useful data to monitor and meausure growth. The parent in me loves iWriteWords because my kids love it. It does take a video of the writing, so I can also see progress.

7. Show Me
This is a great app for teachers to record brief lessons or explanations of assignments. It is a web based service so show me's can be accessed without an iPad. I used this to go over specific math problems that I know will stump my students. They can then access the video and maintain their independence.

8. Speak it
This is a fabulous text to speech option with an excellent speaking voice. All you need to do is copy info from the web or email into the app and then click speak it. It is great!

9. Dragon Dictation
The iPad Dragon is amazing too! Students who experience difficulty with handwriting and spelling should utilize this app when writing. It will enhance their productivity as they will be able to compose much faster by speaking their thoughts.

10. Accessibility features in the iPad
The new iPad update to IOS 5 has enhanced the accessibility features greatly. Go to settings and adjust them to the child's need. I especially like the ability to speak highlighted text without actually using voiceover. That is a major improvement!

Accessibility is often enough to help students with learning disabilities remain in regular education classrooms. Teachers and parents can't expect students to know about these or how to effectively use them. It is our job to help our kids make the most of their devices. These apps are a start.

Do you have additional accessability or productivity you love? Please post a comment.


  1. In class, I have just discovered software programs such as Kurzweil 3000 and Classroom Suite. These programs are great for the students who struggle with any of the five components of reading. A website that we discussed was Tumbler Books. This site gives an animated and auditory view to children's books. I would recommend these programs to any teacher or parent.

  2. We use Read Write Gold from It is amazing as well. All of our elem. students have access to Tumblebooks too.