Saturday, December 16, 2017

Enhance Accessibility with Chromebooks

In this first in a series of blog entries on ensuring learning accessibility for all students, we explore Chromebook add-ons and extensions.
Are  you struggling to enhance accessibility with Chromebooks in your classroom? In this blog entry, you will find  a few accessibility add-ons and extensions for Chromebooks.

Make Learning Accessible on Chromebooks

Find a list of Chrome apps and extensions for special needs grouped by topic. Special thanks to Eric Curts for sharing his wonderful ideas.


  • Picto4Me – Allows you to create, edit, download, and play pictographic communication boards.


  • Simple Blocker – This tool helps students to stay focused on their work by blocking distracting websites. The user can choose the sites to block, how long to block them, and include optional password protection.
  • uBlock Origin – A simple but powerful ad-blocking extension that removes distracting ads from websites.
  • Move It – This extension can be set to periodically stop students working and have them do something physical. Research supports movement during study to improve retention.


  • OpenDyslexic – This extension overrides all fonts on web pages with the OpenDyslexic font and formats pages to be more easily readable.
  • High Contrast – This tool can make webpages easier to read by changing the colors to increase contrast, invert the colors, or switch to grayscale.
  • Readline – Although designed as a speed reading tool, you can adjust the speed to the lowest setting and use this extension to easily read text one word at a time.
  • Visor– This screen overlay tool darkens the page except for a horizontal band you can move up and down as you read, helping the student focus.
  • Color Enhancer – For people who are partially color-blind, this tool can help adjust and improve webpage colors.

Reading Comprehension

  • SummarizeThis – Copy and paste any text into the app to get a summarized version of the most important information.
  • sentiSum – Get a summarized version of any web page.
  • Google Dictionary – Double-click any word on a web page to get a pop-up with the definition and audible pronunciation.
  • Books That Grow – Books That Grow is a leveled reading app that contains eBooks that are set for each user’s reading ability.
This list is just a few of the many Chrome add-ons that can enhance accessibility in your classroom. Be sure to see another list of helpful add-ons that enhance readability and reading comprehension. If you discover other apps and extensions that work with the Chrome browser to help students with accessibility, please share in the Comments section.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Power of Add-Ons: Save as Doc

Managing Google Form responses can be a pain. But the power of the Save as Doc add-on makes it a breeze. Learn more in this blog.
Eliminating the number of decisions you have to make increases your energy level, asserts the author of The Power of Engagement. You can accomplish this in a easy way with a Google Sheets add-on. Consider this scenario. You setup a Google Form and send it out to everyone you  know. When you are looking at the responses, you realize, “Wow, I don’t want to reformat this Sheet of Form Responses for readability.” You want to avoid countless energy-sapping decisions as you try to wrap content in Sheet cells, move data around, read tiny text on a crowded screen. A wonderful Google Sheets add-on makes it easy to read through the responses submitted via a Google Form and saved in a Google Sheet.

The Power of Less Decisions

We all know that reading long paragraph field entries is a nightmare in a spreadsheet. But, good news! The add-on Save as Doc is the cherry on top when it comes to finding a solution for your Google Forms content.

Save as Google Doc Core Features

  • Choose any name for the generated document.
  • Select any number of adjacent cells to output.
  • Choose any heading style for column headings.
  • Add a pagebreak after each row of data.
  • Save the current settings as the default.
  • Generates a Google Document in your Google Drive.

How to Use This Google Add-on

  1. Download the add-on.
  2. Within Google Sheets, click on Add-ons.
  3. Choose “Save As Doc > Start.”
  4. Select the cells, rows, or columns to include or choose “Select all data.”
  5. Type a Save Doc File name.
  6. Modify the output settings in the sidebar.
  7. Choose “Save as Doc.”
  8. At the bottom, click on the blue Open the Doc.

The Google Three-Step

You’ve heard of the Texas two-step? Now you have the Google three-step:
  1. Use Google Forms to enter the information.
  2. The responses are compiled in Google Sheets.
  3. Use the Save as doc add-on to turn your information back into a Google Doc.
Watch this video walk through by Free Tech4Teachers blogger Richard Byrne:

More Favorites Coming Soon

Want to power through more tough tasks in Docs, Sheets, and Form with add-ons? I’ll be sharing some more of my favorites in upcoming blogs.