Practical Tools for Learning Anywhere
As we have covered in previous back to school articles, for students with special needs, transitioning back into a school routine can be challenging. At the time of this writing in early summer 2020, many states are only just beginning to ease restrictions on stay at home orders, so we are unsure of what “back to school” really means.
Chances are, like us, your family struggled with remote learning and working and social distancing and playing and caregiving and curbside pickuping and telehealthing and maintaining all of life’s other obligations during quarantine. We struggled with you. Parenting and caregiving and taking care of oneself while also being asked to be at-home teachers was a tall order. For some parents of children with disabilities, keeping our children safe and healthy was our number one priority. Others realized, quite unexpectedly, that we are quite good at the temporary homeschooling thing and our children thrived. And still others worry that our children’s learning will fall behind or progress will be slowed due to the lack of meaningful summer school or camp opportunities.
Whether your child is returning to traditional school, homeschooling, distance learning, or a hybrid, we have an app recommendation just for you.
To help make life easier for your learner this year BridgingApps has created a list of our favorite must-have educational apps for back to school. These apps have been trialed with children of different abilities and reviewed by professional educators and therapists. Wishing you and your family a successful school year – however you define success!
inku – tool for dyslexia
inku is a speech to text app that enables people with dyslexia, other print disabilities, physical disabilities and anyone who could benefit from using their voice to type documents, write stories, notes, and messages. Users can also choose to type and have instant word prediction for misspellings, as well as word and phrase suggestions based on the content as they type. The app is a simple interface with a blank screen that has a menu in the form of colored tabs across the top with symbols and a keyboard at the bottom for typing.
Ava: Best Live Captions
Ava is an easy-to-use tool that provides real-time captioning on your mobile device. Ava was developed for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, but any child who can read and who needs visual language support could benefit from trying this app. To use Ava, simply keep your phone or tablet out and read what the other person is saying in live-time. Or sync multiple devices and keep track of who said what in a meeting or over the phone.
Price: Free with optional in-app purchases
Kidspiration Maps was designed to help kids organize and classify information, work on sight words, and expand ideas into written and verbal expression. Using a visual to map out thoughts and ideas is a great way to help students who struggle with the writing process for creative writing or factual reports. Kidspiration Maps includes a variety of pre-made activities in the content areas of reading and writing, math, social studies and science. There is also a Lite version that is great to try out before deciding if you want to pay for the full version or not.
Shadow puppet Edu
Shadow Puppet Edu is a fun presentation tool that is listed for elementary kids, but can really be used as a resource for teachers and older kids to design and create engaging presentations in an interactive format. Don’t let the name fool you, this app has nothing to do with making shadow puppets. Rather, it should be considered as a “show what you know” app that allows students to easily create videos demonstrating their learning. Students can add images, videos, text, music, and narration and then easily share with other classmates and students around the world in multiple ways.
With ChatterPix – by Duck Duck Moose early learners can simply take any photo, draw a line to make a mouth, and record their voice to make silly greetings, playful messages, and creative cards with family and friends. Chatterpix is also a creative tool to use for projects that may seem overwhelming to some students such as book reports, science reports, and much more. For example, a book report can be created by taking a picture of the cover of a book, drawing a line to make a mouth, and then having the student record themselves talking about the book. Voila! Simple and entertaining!
Fraction Basics & Decimals
Fraction Basics is a supplemental app to use when teaching and reviewing fraction concepts. This is a good resource for students who need to see visuals of instruction and may need slower paced explanations. Fraction Basics includes 12 mini-lessons that focus on understanding improper/ mixed fractions, equivalent fractions, adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing fractions, converting fractions to percentages and decimals. The video mini-lessons show visuals and highlight parts of the screen when referencing parts of fractions.
Price: Free with optional in-app purchases
Sight Words Adventure
The Sight Word Adventure is an app that allows users to practice their reading and spelling of sight words. This app is a great tool for individualized learning both for students on grade-level and students requiring specialized instruction, and can be a powerful tool to build home-school connections or tutor-classroom connections. It can be used with multiple curriculums, grows with student’s individual learning, and most importantly, kids love to play it!
If you are interested in searching for more apps on productivity, recreation, stress relief, and so much more, please go to BridgingApps.org. BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, is a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about using mobile devices with people who have special needs.
Amy Fuchs is the Program Coordinator at BridgingApps and a former special education teacher.
Amy Barry is the Content Manager and Editor at BridgingApps and mother of five children.
Cristen Reat is co-founder of BridgingApps and a mother who found success when using a mobile device with her children who have special needs. We share a passion for using mobile technology to enhance the lives of people of all ages with disabilities.
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This post originally appeared on our July/August 2020 Magazine