No matter whether you’re teaching in a Special Education, ESL or General Ed environment, there’s a large number of apps and web sites out there that can help reinforce and expand vocabulary, strengthen reading comprehension and provide assistance to learning disabled students.
Cost for school plans—contact Membean
Individual plans start at just $6/month
Based in Portland, Oregon, Membean offers personalized software for schools and individuals to help expand vocabulary and word retention. Membean offers word maps, words used in context and even video clips from movies to reinforce a word’s meaning.
Sand Draw, a free app, is great for OG teaching situations where sand is either not feasible to use or when students have an aversion to the texture. Kids get the same benefit of kinesthetic movement, reinforcing letters and sounds…just without the sand!
READING A TO Z
Free trial for 14 days; Free downloadable samples
Home or school subscriptions—contact Reading A to Z
Reading A to Z offers downloadable, printable or projectable non-fiction books in twenty-seven different reading levels, from Kindergarten to 5th grade. Science and social science titles cover all 4 of the Common Core anchor standard areas: key ideas and details; craft and structure; integration of knowledge and ideas; and range of reading and level of text complexity.
Cost for school plans—contact Newsela
Newsela offers ad-free news articles on current events from top news sources (The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and more) written at five different reading levels, so articles are customized for kids. All levels are Common Core aligned and subject matter spans art to war & peace to health and money.
Free app for iPhone, iPad
With 6,000 professionally recorded words clearly pronounced for maximum comprehension, Phonics Genius carefully groups words into 225 phonic categories. Phonemes are highlighted in each word, helping students quickly make connections and reinforce recognition.
Free Google Chrome plug-in
Premium is $99/year per teacher
Teachers can assign level-based reading passages for struggling students. At their own pace, students can work through content, supported by text-to-speech, dictionaries and translators. Once completed, teachers can review student recordings and provide feedback. Add-on analytics allow teachers to track and graph student progress over time.
Dexteria and its Jr. version are a set of hand exercises aimed at improving the motor skills used in handwriting and other fine tasks. Dexteria is useful for kids and adults, while the Jr. version is best for kids from 2-6 years old. In-app analytics help parents and teacher track the user’s progress.
$24.99 App for iPhone and iPad
Sound Literacy uses letter tiles, breaking words into the smallest word parts or ‘graphemes,’ to help students see the underlying connection between words. Elkonin boxes can be used—a method used in early elementary grades to break down words to individual sounds, building stronger phonological awareness.
$2.99 App for iPhone and iPad
Studying for spelling tests can be stressful. Super Speller allows kids and parents to enter words that will appear on upcoming tests—they can record them and even use them in a sentence. Then Super Speller creates practice tests, guided by fun on-screen characters who provide feedback. No two tests are alike, helping to reinforce memory under various circumstances.
.99 cents App for iPhone and iPad
The app overs four different game modes: “Missing Letters,” “Spelling,” “Word Types,” and “Verbs.” Kids and adults alike can practice their English skills, reinforcing lessons from the classroom, while also expanding their vocabulary with new words.
BONUS PRODUCTIVITY APPS
And because we can all use some help staying focused and on-task, here are two great apps that help with organization and concentration.
Free app available
SymbalooEDU—Free version or Premium; contact Symbaloo
Symbaloo takes all of your favorite apps and web sites and puts them on one easy-to-use page. It’s a tool to help students narrow down the vast web into a manageable page with tiles for each app or site. And parents/teachers can use it to gain better control over sites kids visit on the web.
$1.99 App for iPhone and iPad
This handy task-manager allows you to set up reminders for items that are due daily, weekly, monthly. Also built in is a function to break down larger tasks into simple steps; iProcrastinate also tracks your progress as you move through each step toward goal completion.