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Google Tools for Struggling Students

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Lecture

Friday, December 4, 1:30–2:15 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Eric Curts  
People's Choice winner. Learn about the many tools, apps, extensions and features available for Google Chrome to assist struggling learners and students with special needs. Take an in-depth, hands-on look at tools to address text to speech, speech to text, readability, reading comprehension, navigation, communication, behavior and focus, and more.

Audience: Coaches, Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Participant accounts, software and other materials: The majority of tools covered will be extensions for the Chrome web browser, so participants will need to have a Windows laptop, Mac laptop, or Chromebook, and the ability to install Chrome web extensions, to fully participate in the session.
Topic: Assistive & adaptive technologies
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Special education
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students build networks and customize their learning environments in ways that support the learning process.
  • Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
For Coaches:
Digital Age Learning Environments
  • Select, evaluate and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning.
Additional detail: Session recorded for video-on-demand

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Technology can be a powerful tool to provide assistance and accommodations for struggling students and students with special needs. The vast majority of these tools are free and work within the Google ecosystem of products. Over the years I have collected a wide range of such technology tools, extensions, add-ons, web apps, and more. The purpose of this session will be to demonstrate how these tools can help any and all learners, as well as how to find, install, use, and manage these resources in school.

The major topics and resources covered will include:

1) Text to speech tools: SpeakIt, Read&Write for Google, Announcify
2) Speech to text tools: Docs Voice Typing, VoiceIn Voice Typing, Speech Recognition, Voice Recognition, SpeechPad, VoiceNote
3) Readability tools: Mercury Reader, Dyslexia Friendly, OpenDyslexic, BeeLine Reader, ATbar, MagicScroll Web Reader, Readline, Reading Ruler, Visor, Pupil Pref, High Contrast, Change Colors
4) Reading comprehension tools: Google Dictionary, SMMRY, Newsela App, TweenTribune, News in Levels
5) Behavior and focus tools: Simple Blocker, Move It, ClassDojo, AdBlock, uBlock Origin
6) Navigation tools: Caret Browsing, Click-free Browsing, Vimium, CrxMouse
7) Chrome browser features
8) YouTube features


The session will cover the following information. Note: live links to the resources referenced below can be accessed at

1) Overview of how to find, install, and use Chrome Web Extensions (6 minutes)
2) Text to speech tools (10 minutes)
3) Speech to text tools (10 minutes)
4) Readability tools (12 minutes)
5) Reading comprehension tools (10 minutes)
6) Behavior and focus tools (3 minutes)
7) Navigation tools (3 minutes)
8) Chrome browser features (3 minutes)
9) YouTube features (3 minutes)

The entire session will be hands-on, as the participants will be encouraged to install and try out the tools as I demonstrate each one.

Supporting research

Much research has been done to show the benefits of assistive technology. An excellent summary of current research can be seen in the article "Benefits of Assistive Technology" by Mary Sagstetter, M.A.Ed at:

Among the many benefits cited from research, she includes:
Increased ability to participate in and contribute more fully to activities in home, school, work environments, and in communities.
Increased self-motivation
Increased independence
Expanded learning and life experiences
New opportunities for interactions and communication

More [+]


Eric Curts, Stark Portage Area Computer Consortium

Eric Curts is a veteran educator who started his career as a math teacher in Ohio. After teaching middle school math for seven years, Curts became a technology integration specialist in North Canton Schools where he supported teachers in integrating technology into teaching and learning, and oversaw the district’s technology initiatives. He’s currently the technology integration specialist for the Stark Portage Area Computer Consortium (SPARCC) and the Stark County Educational Service Center where he supports teachers and all schools in the consortium through tech implementation guidance and training, and assistance with G Suite for Education tools, as well as online learning programs and other technology initiatives. He also oversees and manages the annual SPARCC Educational Technology Conference that draws educators from throughout the state. Curts is a G Suite Certified Trainer and Innovator, and co-leader for GEG-Ohio, the Google Educator Group of Ohio. He shares tech resources, including training videos, help guides and podcasts, on “Control Alt Achieve,” his award-winning blog. For over two decades, he’s traveled the U.S. to provide training, keynotes and consulting.

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