Students First, Tools Last: How to Find the Right Reading and Writing Accommodations

Thanks to the proliferation of technology in schools today, there’s no need for accommodations. Right? Those who work in a 1:1 Chromebook environment know there’s no need to document AT on an IEP. Right? And if your school follows Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, there’s also no need for more customized solutions for students. Right?!


The short answer is, No, No, No!


Technology is now infused into our learning environments, and there are limitless opportunities to use that tech to bridge learning gaps for all students. Things like 1:1s, BYOD programs, and UDL ensure that students who need specialized accommodations don’t have to stand out as people who use something different. It’s a remarkable technological leap we’ve made, and it’s cause for excitement.


That excitement is so powerful that we often cannonball into various tools without figuring out if they actually fit. Merely having the tools available doesn’t mean students will know if and when they should use them or incorporate them in their reading and writing routines (habits are powerful forces to overcome).


As anyone on an IEP team will tell you, having a bunch of tools isn’t the endgame—learning is. And we need the right process to fully harness the power of technology for learning across the curriculum.


So, before you jump into a new tool, we urge you to always keep the SETT hierarchy in mind:

SETT Framework graph illustrating that performance in the classroom is based off of the student, environment, tasks and tools

Student, Environment, Tasks, Tools. It’s all too easy to collect more and more digital tools for the classroom, only to realize you’ve developed a huge backlog of things you won’t use or aren’t effective. The tools you use should support your students’ success. If you already have a comprehensive reading and writing toolkit that meets their needs (and helps bridge eLearning gaps), you’re set. You don’t need the latest and greatest that goes far beyond the basics—into tools like Dynamic Text Leveling and distraction-free reading. You don’t need the transformative Don Johnston offerings. But for those of you who are still on the hunt for the right accommodations and support, keep reading.


Let’s dive into some helpful tools that work right in Google Chrome, that make evaluations, reading accommodations, writing accommodations, and accessible quiz generation a cinch. By the time you scroll to the bottom of this page, you’ll have new information that will help you support students in their reading and writing, plus tools that make your instruction more effective.

How to Identify the Right Individualized Reading Accommodations

Back to the SETT framework for a second; You need to know what problem you’re looking at before you work to solve it. In the past, identifying the right reading accommodations was guesswork at best. In fact, during subjective evaluations, teachers are no better than chance at determining whether a student needs a read aloud accommodation. But now, with uPAR, educators can easily and accurately determine the right reading accommodation for each student.

Delivering the uPAR automated protocol online, the IEP team instantly learns the right course of action. Whether it’s with one student or a large group, the evaluations are done quickly and reports clearly show the accommodations they need and where their reading level might jump to with the right support. The beauty of uPAR is how it uses data, not gut feeling, to prove its case.


Want to explore the protocol yourself? Today’s the day for it. Click here to access the complete protocol (the free, downloadable, PDF version designed for one-student-at-a-time).

How to Support Students in Their Reading and Writing Tasks

So, instead of rushing to grab a tool you thought was right, you did the wise thing and identified the needs first. Now that you have them, you can start looking at the tools. And in another wise move (we’re on a roll!), we got our hands on Snap&Read.

Snap&Read Logo

Snap&Read is the ultimate reading toolbox. It makes EVERYTHING students read easier to understand. It works hand-in-hand with iOS, Microsoft Edge, and Google Chrome—reading both accessible and inaccessible text aloud, leveling vocabulary, and translating—all in-browser. If it’s in Chrome, Snap&Read reads it. Suddenly, students navigate independently through their assignments, and even develop a love and passion for reading they didn’t know they had.


Snap&Read isn’t the only tool. Co:Writer does for writing what Snap&Read does for reading. The real-time writing assistant uses word prediction, translation, and speech recognition to help students get their thoughts down in writing. Co:Writer works to give students the words and phrases they intend to use, in real time.

Co:Writer Logo

It’s all made possible by the Neuron Word Prediction engine, our proprietary technology that follows the natural relationships of ideas and concepts in the brain. Co:Writer instantly knows the topic area and works quickly to predict what might come next. It’s magical to witness.


Important note: Both Snap&Read and Co:Writer have free trials you can sign up for right now. If either (or both) sound like something your district could use to give access to learning, check them out.

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