Monday, November 9, 2015

The Best iPad Apps to Provide Curriculum Access

One of the MOST important ways to create a learning environment that supports, includes, and challenges all students is by providing access to the curriculum. We do this by providing modifications and accommodations, co-teaching, collaborating regularly, and creating responsive and interactive classrooms. One of my favorite strategies that allow students true access to the curriculum is the iPad. This strategy is perfect for schools and classrooms that may have access to a couple of iPads but not an entire class set (no 1:1 in any of the schools I've worked at).

 iPad Accessibility Features


Pros: This amazing FREE feature comes with the iPad. This allows students to select ANY text to read aloud. You can choose the speed at which the robot reads and each word that is read aloud is highlighted. This can be used on PDFs and on websites. This allows struggling readers to access and read websites. Here's another great (longer) video on how to use this particular accessibility feature.
Cons: A robot reads the text. That's it! This feature should be on every iPad in your school!

Reading Apps 

Pros: This connects to Bookshare so all students with print based disabilities can download many textbooks, books, and newspapers free (after the initial app purchase). It also connects to Google Drive which allows you to read aloud any document that you create. The app provides choice of font type and size and many options of robot voices. The app highlights each word as it reads the text aloud. It has the ability to define words, annotate and export notes.
Cons: A robot reads the text. That's it! I love this app!


Word Prediction and Writing Apps 

Pros: This is almost as good as Co:Writer (see below). Includes: word prediction software, easy to use, press down on a word to hear it read aloud before choosing it, press down for a dictionary option, reads each word and the entire sentence back to you after you write it.
Cons: No export options. Word prediction is not always perfect. The student might need to play around with the word before finding what they are looking for. You can't indent and adding sentence starters into the actual page beforehand looks confusing. If you're working on paragraph and essay organization, this app lacks some features. It does not read the dictionary definition out loud.
 


Pros: Includes: word prediction software, easy to use, can use speech to text (speak into the microphone and it comes out as text), reads the entire sentence back to you after you write it, can create a word bank topic (like "Christopher Columbus") to help narrow down words predicted. Export to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
Cons: You can't indent and adding sentence starters into the actual page beforehand visually looks confusing. If you're working on paragraph and essay organization, this app lacks some features.


Pros: Great for younger students. The teacher creates sentence starters and word banks beforehand and the student uses the words to create a complete sentence. Great for writing simple sentences. Students can individualized the keyboard with their favorite colors. Very visual- you can include pictures. Send to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
Cons: Can be time consuming for adults to put together. Like really. It's a great app but prep time is an issue.


Pros: This is better than co:writer for students who need word prediction, sentence starters, and organization support. Send to Dropbox, Google Drive. Great for middle schoolers!
Cons: Involves teacher prep which can be time consuming

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