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9 Apps to Check Out for Your Special Education Classroom


I am always on the lookout for tech tools to make teacher's lives easier. Here some apps that would be especially beneficial in special education classrooms.

I am always on the lookout for tech tools to make teacher's lives easier. Here some apps that would be especially beneficial in special education classrooms.


Free Apps:

First things first.  The biggest and best add-ons you can utilize in your special education classrooms (as well as encourage your gen ed teachers to let your kiddos use when in their classrooms) to support learning are two sides of the same coin - speech to text and text to speech.  There are many options for this, just search in your favorite app store.  If you use Google Suite, “voice typing” is already present in the Tools menu (or use multi-language options like SpeechTexter) while Google Text-to-Speech or Read Aloud will take care of the other side.  For your less verbal students, there are also AAC options like Sounding Board for Apple or LetMeTalk for Android to get them communicating more effectively.

I am always on the lookout for tech tools to make teacher's lives easier. Here some apps that would be especially beneficial in special education classrooms.



Montessori Numbers (Apple)

  • This app lets students touch buttons and move things around on the screen to count numbers, move blocks and solve problems and equations.  This app is helpful for visual and kinesthetic or movement-based learners, and through the use of repetitive elements helps students more easily retain knowledge of how numbers and equations work.


Clicker Docs (Apple, Windows/Mac, Chrome Extension)

  • Clicker Docs helps children with all kinds of disabilities to advance in writing and vocabulary skills. A variety of features are included, such as text prediction, automatic grammar and spelling correction, and vocabulary customization.  You can also customize the app to include longer or harder words for more advanced students.


Time Timer (Apple, Android, Windows/Mac)

  • This app is helpful for kids who struggle with telling or measuring time. Utilizing a visual representation of time rather than numbers, it quickly and easily helps kids understand how much time they have to complete a task. It is especially useful to children with dyscalculia or other number-related disabilities.


Otismo (Apple, Android)

  • Otismo uses Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as the main approach used throughout 13 areas with over 80 activities or stories, allowing for fast feedback and motivating tasks in each game.  The reporting section allows you to track the progress of your students, which makes it useful to share between home and school so everybody knows what has been worked on.


Paid Apps:

The Social Express (Apple, Windows/Mac)

  • The Social Express is a great resource for children on the autism spectrum as well as other kids who have difficulty developing social skills and responding to social cues. It shows children animated images of people in different situations and scenarios to help kids learn what to do in similar situations with many different kinds of people, from parents and teachers to classmates and playmates.


Choiceworks (Apple

  • This app helps children complete daily routines, as well as understand and control their feelings and improve skills such as taking turns and not interrupting. Created with the support of leading hospitals and child development specialists, it is designed for caregivers or teachers to provide clear and consistent support to foster independence, positive behavior, and emotional regulation at school, at home and in the community.


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I am always on the lookout for tech tools to make teacher's lives easier. Here some apps that would be especially beneficial in special education classrooms.


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18+ of the Best Chrome Extensions to Use for Students


These are Chrome extensions that teachers can recommend to their students for use while studying or doing homework. Organized into categories for productivity, note-taking, study aids, and assignment aids. Have you tried any of them with your students?
These are Chrome extensions that teachers can recommend to their students for use while studying or doing homework. Organized into categories for productivity, note-taking, study aids, and assignment aids. Have you tried any of them with your students?


Productivity & Organization

Calendar is a great way to stay on top of due dates.  See your next events, get meeting desktop notifications, add or snooze events without opening the Google Calendar page!

Stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.

Habitica is a free habit and productivity app that treats your real life to-do list like a game.  The extension adds a "Pay to Pass" Website Blocker, and Pomodoro Timer to separate work into fixed intervals, separated by short breaks. 

Quickly organize your tasks and check off completed tasks for the day right from the extension.  Integrates with 60+ apps like Google Drive, Dropbox, Zapier, Evernote, and Slack.

Replace the new tab page with a personal dashboard featuring to-do, weather, and inspiration.

A session manager that allows you to save open tabs as collections that can be easily restored later. You can see and manage all open tabs in one place, or search open tabs and collections to quickly find what you're looking for.

If you have a bunch of extensions installed but don't need all of them all the time, this allows you to quickly enable/disable them as needed.

A password manager to save your passwords and give you secure access from every computer and mobile device.


Note-Taking

Save URLs, text, and images.  Take notes on saved content, add labels to your notes, and automatically save everything to Google Keep.  Collaborate with study groups by sharing notes.

Evernote Web Clipper helps you save things you find on the Web into your Evernote account.  Evernote is a comprehensive note taking platform that can also be collaborative.

Bookmark, archive, screenshot & markup with highlight and add sticky note features.

PDF and document annotation tool that works with Google Drive and Google Classroom, as well as Canvas and Schoology.


Study Aids

View definitions easily as you browse the web.  Double-click any word to view its definition in a small pop-up bubble, view the complete definition of any word or phrase using the toolbar dictionary, and store a history of words you've looked up, so you can practice them later.

Instantly query Wolfram|Alpha from any page or tab for expert, computable knowledge across thousands of domains.

This extension automatically highlights the important content on article pages.

High quality text-to-speech reader capable of seamlessly reading large amounts of text.


Assignment Completion Aids

Utilise voice-to-text to dictate your messages in ANY text box in ANY website.  Voice In recognizes 40+ languages including Portuguese, Italiano, Deutsch, Français​. You can also use Voice In to practice your pronunciation in all these languages. 

Automatically create APA style, MLA format, and Harvard referencing style citations with this citation generator.


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These are Chrome extensions that teachers can recommend to their students for use while studying or doing homework. Organized into categories for productivity, note-taking, study aids, and assignment aids. Have you tried any of them with your students?


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20 Chrome Extensions to Use for Math


Chrome extensions can add functionality and time-saving organization for teachers and students. Take a look at these Chrome extensions and apps that are geared specifically towards math.

Chrome extensions can add functionality and time-saving organization for teachers and students. Take a look at these Chrome extensions and apps that are geared specifically towards math.


Note-Taking & Study

Google Keep

Save URLs, text, and images.  Take notes on saved content, add labels to your notes, and automatically save everything to Google Keep.  Collaborate with study groups by sharing notes.

Extensity

If you have a bunch of extensions installed but don't need all of them all the time, this allows you to quickly enable/disable them as needed.

Turn Off the Lights

With a single click on the lamp button, the page will fade to dark and automatically focus on the video you are watching.


Skill Practice (mainly lower grades)

Math Games

Allows students to practice math skills with more than 1.5 million questions that cover content from Kindergarten to the 8th Grade.

The Math Learning Center

A fantastic collection of math tool extensions, including:

Number Line

Helps students visualize number sequences and demonstrate strategies for counting, comparing, and arithmetic.

Fractions

Lets students use a bar or circle to represent, compare, and perform operations with fractions with denominators from 1 to 100. 

Money Pieces

Virtual currency pieces that replicate the appearance and relative size of U.S. coins and the dollar bill, as well as area money pieces. 

Number Pieces

A virtual version of Base Ten Area Pieces for use as an open-ended educational tool, ideal for elementary classrooms.

Math Clock

Learners use analog clocks with geared or free-moving hands to learn how to tell time, explore jumps with count by numbers, and visualize story problems involving intervals of time. 

Pattern Shapes

Use Pattern Shapes to explore geometry and fractions, create their own designs, or fill in outlines. As they work with the shapes students explore geometric relationships, think about angles, investigate symmetry, and compose and decompose larger shapes. 


Calculators, Measuring Tools, etc. (mainly upper grades)

MB-Ruler for Chrome

An overlay to measure distances and angels on web sites.

Edge: The Web Ruler

A simple onscreen ruler. Support for pixels, inches, and centimeters.  Both Horizontal and Vertical rulers can be moved, resized or calibrated with your screen size.

Melanto Calculator

Along with a basic calculator, it also provides logarithm and other scientific functions.  The tool was made with touch-screen in mind, is optimized for small devices and works even if you are offline.

Desmos Graphing Calculator

Plot functions, create tables, add sliders, animate your graphs, and more.

GeoGebra

GeoGebra joins graphing, geometry, 3D, spreadsheets, computer algebra and probability in one easy-to-use and powerful package. 

Plotly

Use Plotly for scientific-quality line graphs, bar charts, heatmaps, histograms, box plots and more.  Import data from files, Dropbox, and Google Drive.

Analyze data with fits, functions, stats, and more. Collaborate by sharing projects with your team and share graphs online, or in presentations.

Equatio

Easily create mathematical equations, formulas and quizzes. Type or handwrite virtually any mathematical expression directly on your keyboard or touchscreen. There’s no need for any complicated code or programming languages.


Teacher Tools

Dualless

Dualless is a poor man's dual monitor solution. It splits your browser windows into two by just 2 clicks. The ratio can be adjusted according to your needs.

Screencastify

Screen recorder for Chrome. Capture, edit and share videos in seconds.

Insert Learning

Teachers can insert questions, discussions, and insight directly into any website.  When students go to that website, they can respond to those questions and discussions, see that insight, and take their own notes.


Have you tried any of these extensions? 
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Chrome extensions can add functionality and time-saving organization for teachers and students. Take a look at these Chrome extensions and apps that are geared specifically towards math.

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20 Chrome Extensions to Use for Language Arts


Chrome extensions can be a teacher's best friend! They save a ton of time and can also add features we need to make our teaching lives easier. Take a look at these Chrome extensions and apps that are geared towards language arts.

Chrome extensions can be a teacher's best friend! They save a ton of time and can also add features we need to make our teaching lives easier. Take a look at these Chrome extensions and apps that are geared towards language arts.


Note-Taking & Organization

Google Keep

Save URLs, text, and images.  Take notes on saved content, add labels to your notes, and automatically save everything to Google Keep.  Collaborate with study groups by sharing notes.

Kami

PDF and document annotation tool that works with Google Drive and Google Classroom, as well as Canvas and Schoology.

Diigo

Bookmark, archive, screenshot & markup with highlight and add sticky note features.

Extensity

If you have a bunch of extensions installed but don't need all of them all the time, this allows you to quickly enable/disable them as needed.


Reading Aids

Night Shift

Night Shift shifts the colors of your browser content to the warmer end of the color spectrum to reduce eye strain.

Visor

A screen dimmer and line reader that tracks your mouse to create a horizontal focal point, giving focus to the content being read whilst reducing the visual noise of the surrounding page.

Selection Reader

High quality text-to-speech reader capable of seamlessly reading large amounts of text.

AlphaText

Customize and change the appearance of online articles to enhance text readability.  Quickly adjust font size, font style, and line spacing on websites, color adjustment to optimize text and background color to your liking, and clutter-clearing tools to remove distracting multimedia.  Save favorite style sets to apply them with a single click.


Study Aids

Super Simple Highlighter

Highlight text on a web page, in a variety of styles. The extension remembers the location & content of each highlight, and attempts to highlight the same passages of text the next time the page is loaded (it does not sync across devices, however).

Google Dictionary

View definitions easily as you browse the web.  Double-click any word to view its definition in a small pop-up bubble, view the complete definition of any word or phrase using the toolbar dictionary, and store a history of words you've looked up, so you can practice them later.

Power Thesaurus

View synonyms and antonyms by button in toolbar, right-click or by word selection on any page.

Auto Highlight

This extension automatically highlights the important content on article pages.


Assignment Completion Aids

Grammarly

From grammar and spelling to style and tone, Grammarly helps you eliminate writing errors and find the perfect words to express yourself.

MyBib

Automatically create APA style, MLA format, and Harvard referencing style citations with this citation generator.

Plagiarism Checker

Help determine if your writing is done correctly by scanning any content for plagiarism with just a couple of clicks. 


Teacher Tools

Dualless

Dualless is a poor man's dual monitor solution. It splits your browser windows into two by just 2 clicks. The ratio can be adjusted according to your needs.

Small PDF

Easy-to-use PDF tools to edit, convert, merge, split and compress PDF files. Integrated with Gmail.

Mote

Easily add voice comments and feedback to shared documents and assignments, integrated into Google Docs, Slides and Sheets, as well as Google Classroom, for easy recording and playback.

Insert Learning

Teachers can insert questions, discussions, and insight directly into any website.  When students go to that website, they can respond to those questions and discussions, see that insight, and take their own notes.

CraftyLevel

Highlight some text, then click the icon in the extension bar to see the Flesch-Kincaid grade level of any web page.


Chrome extensions can be a teacher's best friend! They save a ton of time and can also add features we need to make our teaching lives easier. Take a look at these Chrome extensions and apps that are geared towards language arts.


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28 Veteran Teacher Tips for New Teachers


 

I talked to a number of teaching veterans and asked them to share tips specifically for first-year teachers. They all had amazing advice to share! Many of the ideas were repeated so I've compiled them into a list. Here’s their wisdom:

I talked to a number of teaching veterans and asked them to share tips specifically for first-year teachers. They all had amazing advice to share! Many of the ideas were repeated so I've compiled them into a list. Here’s their wisdom:

I talked to a number of teaching veterans and asked them to share tips specifically for first-year teachers. They all had amazing advice to share! Many of the ideas were repeated so I've compiled them into a list. Here’s their wisdom:

  1. “Start to build your library of themed picture books for the units you teach right away. Books are perfect as a backup plan and sub plans on short notice.”
  2. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Do not allow behavior that you do not want to have continuously.”
  3. “Be consistent in...meeting deadlines, being on time for work...being prepared...establishing routines and procedures...following protocol...knowing when to “lead” and when to be “led”.”
  4. “You are not their “friend”. You can have great relationships with kids without being friends. Create boundaries and structure and operate within those..... kids will thank you for that!”
  5. “The biggest thing is to keep consistency. Remind students of your expectations. Keep lessons tight, and when they are not following your expectations, stop and reteach.”
  6. “Removing privileges is not ideal. They’re kids. Add additional movement breaks, or engage them more deeply in their work. If you don’t already have a class contract (with like 3 broad expectations) you could work with your students to create one. Then, when students do something unexpected, refer back to the expectations. “Remember, our expectation is to show kindness to everyone in the class. Let’s make another choice.””
  7. “Create office hours and stick with them! Your family shouldn't suffer for work. It's not worth the stress. Use free time at work to be productive, not social. It helps!”
  8. “Leave school at a decent hour and don’t take work home. It can consume you.”
  9. “Forgive yourself for what you can’t do yet.”
  10. “A couple others have said it, but don't stay at school forever. I used to set an alarm on my phone that would make me go home at a reasonable time. You don't get paid extra to stay late!” 

  11. “Build relationship, set reasonable expectations, be consistent, and always let the kids see that you are real. They can find a fake a hundred miles away.”
  12. “Find a teacher buddy that will truly support and help you ‼️ Stay positive ‼️ Have at Least one day you don't take work home or do school work ‼️”
  13. “Have big dreams for sure but take it one step at a time. Understand and accept that not everything will come together right in the beginning. Do a lot of reading of blogs, educational articles etc. That’s always helpful.”
  14. “Google is your friend. I have found soooooooo much information from different tech blogs.”
  15. “Maslow before Bloom. Every day. Relationship building is key. Walk the walk. Deadlines important? Impose them on yourself as well. Want them to be life long learners? Model your learning. Be human. Share your school challenges so that they know you struggle but can overcome. Be willing to laugh at yourself. Remember that the kid who needs the love the most often makes it most difficult to give it. Be the adult that doesn't give up on them.”
  16. “Find a teacher buddy or mentor that will help you know what is coming up, where to find things, and who to go to.”
  17. “Be kind to yourself.  Don’t be afraid to learn something from and with your students.”
  18. “It will get done tomorrow. I spent hours at school, in the beginning, trying to do it all and now I know that the work I do is sufficient for today. If it does not get done, that is what to-do lists are for.  Same for emails- they will be there tomorrow. Answer them only if an emergency - the rest will be handled the next day. We put a ridiculous amount of pressure on ourselves to immediately handle something but a banker or lawyer who waits until the next day is not seem as a problem.  Maslow before Bloom - love them and help nurture their souls before anything else.  Remember that you are not their only teacher and that you may not be their fave teacher.  Keep them busy.  Find a marigold - a bright spot - teacher in your school that you can talk and giggle with....and complain to when needed.  Say I don't know - when kids ask something and you have no idea, be honest - show them that you are always learning and don't know everything.”
  19. “Turn off notifications for school emails. Do not check it on the weekends or at night.”
  20. “Make sure everything is ready for the next day's lessons before you leave. And have a bin or folder with emergency sub plans. You never know when the unexpected will happen.”
  21. “A good mentor and a grade partner who is willing to share ideas!”
  22. “Focus on routines and behavior! Set expectations and you will be amazed how smooth your year will be!”
  23. “Read good books and change your voice for different characters and when they beg you for one more chapter look up at the clock and down at the book and choose the book sometimes (or every time)!”
  24. “Breathe and be organized and always have a plan b.”
  25. “Make sure they know you love them and that you believe in them. Get to know them. If they know they are loved and you have high expectations of them, they will work hard and will go farther than you ever expected.”
  26. “Don’t grade everything!!! Some work is practice and can go into file 49 (trash).”
  27. “You can’t do everything! A lot of the time, what is being asked of you won’t fit in a day. Choose what’s best for your kids and don’t fret over the stuff that doesn’t really help them! Do what you can.”
  28. “Not every lesson has be over the top with songs, dances, Bitmojis games, etc. If you do this every day for every lesson, you’ll never leave work.”
Would you add anything to the list? Let me know in the comments.
Pin this blog post to refer back to later:
I talked to a number of teaching veterans and asked them to share tips specifically for first-year teachers. They all had amazing advice to share! Many of the ideas were repeated so I've compiled them into a list. Here’s their wisdom:


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Brittany Washburn
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