Hello Learn Lead Grow Readers!

A few weeks ago, I had mentioned that I was planning on retiring from blogging. The outpour from you has been amazing! 

After much thought and consideration, I have decided to continue blogging on a limited basis. I appreciate your support!


5 Tips for Redesigning Your Reading Assignments with UDL in Mind

Imagine you have decided to give students the same reading assignment in your room. The learning goal states that all students will read the same article; however, you realize there is tremendous variability in your classroom. How do you plan with variability in mind? 

The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework is a proactive framework for designing accessible and engaging lessons for all students. It is based on brain research and states that there are typically three types of barriers and ways to plan for those barriers proactively.

Redesigning the look of a reading assignment to create access is something that is extremely easy to plan for, but is often overlooked. Here are 5 tips for using UDL to redesign the reading assignment with access in mind (aka Multiple Means of Representation). 

Tip # 1: Change the Background Color

Research indicates that pure white backgrounds and black text can generate difficulties reading for students with Dyslexia and cream color backgrounds (light yellow, orange, etc.) are more conducive for reading. This can be done in Google Docs by visiting the File menu and choosing Page Setup. 

Tip # 2: Use a Serif Font

Did you know that Sans Serif fonts (fonts without dashes at the end of each letter) are difficult for students with Dyslexia to read? Instead, use Serif fonts to make it easier for readers to identify letters, such as Calibri, Comic Sans, Open Dyslexic, and Lexend.

Tip # 3: Provide Options for Reading

Providing students with printed, digital, and audio options are helpful for increasing accessibility. Digital files in PDF format can easily be manipulated, annotated, and used with screen readers. Did you know that you can save a Google Doc in PDF format? Simply visit the File menu and choose Download as a PDF. 

Tools like Adobe Reader, Speechify, and Read & Write for Google Chrome have built-in text-to-speech features to read PDF’s and Google Docs. In addition, Vocaroo makes it easy to create a voice-recorded audio version of the article. 

Tip # 4: Build-In Background Knowlege

We cannot assume that all students have the same knowledge and background knowledge when providing reading assignments; therefore, helpful tools like videos and images are extremely helpful for building student understanding and context. 

Many teachers find using YouTube 360 videos helpful for providing students with a customized video experience, where students can navigate 180 and 360-degree spherical videos. 

Here is one of my favorite YouTube 360 videos

Tip # 5: Hyperlink Important Vocabulary Terms

Do you know some of the vocabulary terms that students will have difficulty with? It may be helpful to add hyperlinks to important definitions students may need. Although there are many great online dictionaries available, you may want to consider doing a Google search for a specific definition.

For example, if you did a search for “definition of running,” Google would provide you with the definition, images, and an audio recording of how to pronounce the word running. Copy and paste this URL as a hyperlink in your document for students to access. 


In conclusion, embracing the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework equips educators with the tools and resources needed to revamp reading assignments for accessibility and engagement. Implementing strategies like adjusting background colors, using readable fonts, offering diverse reading options, incorporating multimedia resources, and hyperlinking key vocabulary terms fosters an environment where all students can comprehensively access and engage with the material. UDL's proactive approach paves the way for a more equitable and enriching learning experience, accommodating the diverse needs and strengths of every learner.

VoiceMod: Using AI to Create Songs to Showcase Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be everywhere you look today! I recently saw a social media post claiming that you would be "left behind" if you were not "using AI in the classroom." 

I am not going to lie, AI can be highly intimidating; however, it can also be used to help our students learn in new and exciting ways. If we think our students need to start using AI, then we are kidding ourselves. 

Create Songs with AI Through VoiceMod

I recently came across a tool called VoiceMod, which uses Artificial Intelligence to generate songs. What an excellent way for students to express their knowledge in new and creative ways! Students write the lyrics, and VoiceMod generates a song based on the words, 

How it Works

Here's how it works.

Step 1: Visit the VoiceMod website and be sure to sign up for a free account!

Step 2: Choose Create Your Content and decide how you want to create content. Do you want to upload your own song? Do you want to type in your lyrics and let AI do the rest? 

Step 3: Create and share your content! I decided on the Create a Song option, which allows me to create a song with the preloaded AI artists. 

First, I chose the song I wanted to write my lyrics to. I chose to make a pop song! 

Then, I chose the artist that I wanted to sing my song. I chose Ed!

Next, I wrote my lyrics! I chose to make a song about Universal Design for Learning. You are limited by time, so you have to make your lyrics short and to the point. 

Finally, I created my song, which I will debut here! It can be uploaded to VoiceMod's site or downloaded.

The best part is that I can download the song. Students can place a downloaded copy in their One Drive or Google Drive to keep private and share only with their classmates. Or they could use a program like Garage Band to mash songs together to make a collaborative creation! 

Create an Interactive Photo Word with Google Slides and Flip

I recently came across a fantastic Google Expert Eric Curts idea called a Photo Word. This is a way to use Google Slides to create a word with a photo inside to create word walls, flashcards, or graphics. 

Believe it or not, this is much easier than it sounds! In addition, you could make your Photo Word more interactive by linking it to a Flip video definition of the word. Either a QR Code or hyperlink! Check out my video below for more information

New Look at Old Tools: Google Earth's Project Feature

Lately, I have been revisiting old tools with a new perspective. My last installment looked at Google Earth's Voyager feature, an excellent resource for providing students with virtual field trips. Today, I want to look at Google Earth's Project feature, a fantastic tool for creating virtual field trips. 

The Project Feature

The Project feature is a free resource you or students can use to develop custom field trips depicting important historical locations or the settings of a non-fiction text. Everything saves on Google Drive, making sharing and collaborating easy. Students can place pinpoints in different locations, filling them with information through text, video, and images. 

How Do I Use It? 

Several years ago, a colleague and I collaborated on building a custom field trip depicting the life of Milton S. Hershey. The trip correlated with a book our students were reading called Chocolate By Hershey. As the students navigated the presentation, they completed a scavenger hunt. 

Although it was fun to create, it made me realize that an even better way of using it, would involve students creating their own Virtual Field trips. Want to see it in action? Check out my brief video tutorial below. 

New Look at Old Tools: Take a Voyage with Google Earth

As the school year ends, most educators are taking a well-deserved break and taking time to recharge.  It's a time to slow down, rest, and gather new ideas for next school year. The following series is devoted to revisiting familiar tools and creating new ideas!

Google Earth is a tool that many of us are familiar with; however, how often do we use some of its most basic features? Simply visit Google Earth and choose the captain's wheel icon to access. 

The Voyager feature is loaded with dozens of educational field trips and games aimed at sharing the world with students! Here are some great voyages to take your students on!

Changing Forests

Imagine you want to teach your students about the consequences of disappearing forests and global warming. The Changing Forests voyage uses time-elapsed imagery to showcase how deforestation ravages the planet. 

Triangular Structures

How often do students ask you, "When will I need this?" The Triangular Structures tour helps you answer that exact question as you dive into real-life examples of one of the most powerful geometric shapes! The tour includes the Eifel Tower, The Louvre, and more! As you explore, students will learn why triangles are used so often in architecture. 

This is School

This Google Earth voyage takes you inside classrooms from all around the world. From London to the Himalayas, you will see where students learn (and sometimes the challenges they face) and gain a cultural appreciation of how learning occurs across cultures. 


Google Earth is a powerful tool for virtually traveling the world and exposes students to different cultures and perspectives. How will you use Google Earth in your classroom? The possibilities are endless! 

Conker: Using AI to Create Quizzes

There are various ways artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in education, but did you ever think about using it to develop quizzes? I recently wrote about how you could use Chat GPT and Classkick to create accessible and self-grading quizzes; however, I recently came across an even better tool called Conker that can be used for generating quizzes.

What is Conker? 

Conker uses AI to generate multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank quizzes based on a topic and grade level. The self-grading quizzes can be accessed through a join code in Conker, exported to Google Forms, or as a printed copy.  There is even a text-to-speech option for students to listen to each question being read aloud, which is extremely helpful for students needing this accessibility feature. 

How Does It Work? 

First, create a free account and login to Conker. 

Next, you will tell Conker the topic (i.e. Capital Cities, Mitosis, etc.), the type of questions (i.e. multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank), and how many questions (5 to 10 total).  There is even an option to choose which language you would like the test generated in, which can be helpful for ELL or multilingual students. 

Then, Conker will generate your quiz. Generating your quiz takes a few minutes. 

Finally, you can access your quiz in the Activity tab. This is where you can share, edit, duplicate, or delete your quiz! 

Students will receive a join code if you share your quiz through Conker, much like Kahoot, Quizziz, and other tools. 

Students will be prompted to enter their names and take the quiz. Once the quiz is finished, students can see their progress, which is a fantastic way for reducing test anxiety and helping students prepare for a summative assessment. In addition, teachers can see a report of student results once they complete their quiz. 


 Hello Learn Lead Grow Readers! A few weeks ago, I had mentioned that I was planning on retiring from blogging. The outpour from you has bee...