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. 

Making Accessible and Self-Grading Chat GPT Quizzes with Classkick

Being a teacher in today's classrooms might feel overwhelming, especially with the focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Chat GPT over the past few months. If you are like me, you might be unsure how to integrate AI into your everyday tasks. The following blog post will show you how to generate a self-grading accessible quiz using Chat GPT and Classkick! 

Creating a Quiz with Chat GPT

There are a variety of different ways you could do create a quiz. You could ask Chat GPT to create a 10-question quiz on the US State Capitals. 

Want to make it more engaging? You could ask Chat GPT to create your quiz as a Blooket. 

Want your quiz on specific content from an article? No problem! Copy and paste the article into Chat GPT and ask it to create a quiz from the content. Copy and paste the quiz into a Word or Google Doc. 

Want to make your article more accessible? Have you ever considered combining Chat GPT with Classkick to create a self-grading quiz with audio recordings? Check out my video on how to create a self-grading and accessible quiz:


It may be a little scary using Chat GPT for generating quizzes; however, we can use tools like Classkick to create a self-grading and accessible assessment of what students know. As Chat GPT becomes more advanced, additional ways to generate quizzes will certainly exist. Obviously, multiple choice quizzes are not the end-all-solution; however, the key is to looking at possible barriers and envision how it could be redesigned to meet the needs of all students! 

Using Chat GPT to Write Learning Objectives

Do you like writing learning objectives? I can't say that it is one of my favorite tasks. For example, I had to put together a description and objectives for an upcoming presentation; however, my brain was fried. I was on a time crunch and could not assemble an intelligent set of objectives. What did I do instead? I pasted my description and asked Chat GPT to help me craft my objectives!

Here is my description: 

Do you clear ramps or shovel steps? Your answer may determine how accessible and equitable your classroom truly is. In the world of education, examples of step shoveling stifle student performance and create a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. The following session will help you develop a ramp-clearing or UDL mindset, which employs proactive design to create accessible learning experiences and environments for ALL. Participants will learn a variety of easy-to-implement strategies, resources, and tools for creating access and providing flexibility in the product or process.

I asked Chat GPT to put together my objectives and here is what it came up with: 


  • Understand the importance of accessibility and equity in the classroom, and how it impacts student performance.

  • Develop a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) mindset and utilize proactive design principles to create accessible learning experiences and environments for all students.

  • Apply practical strategies, resources, and tools that promote accessibility and flexibility in education's product and process aspects, fostering inclusive learning environments.

Creating Sketchnotes with the Tayasui Sketches School App

Sketchnotes are a great way for students to take notes visually, but did you know you can use them as a formative assessment tool? Visually representing content is a great way to quickly assess students and provide them with options for learning. 

Sketches School

There are various tools to develop sketchnotes; however, Sketches School is one of my favorites on iOS and Android. It's easy to use and offers a variety of accessible options for students to use. I used Sketches School to develop this sample sketchnote to share my understanding of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). I was able to draw examples, words, add text, shapes, and images from my camera!

Want to see how it works? 

Check out my 4-minute tutorial video

Generate Interactive Lessons in Seconds with Curipod

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been one of the most noteworthy and polarizing topics in education in 2023. Although it seemed to come out of nowhere, AI has been an influential part of our daily life for quite some time. Many educators (including myself) find it scary to think about some of the challenges of AI; however, there are many time-saving benefits to teachers so that you can focus on what really matters - your students!

Lesson view of Curipod


I recently came across Curipod, which uses AI to generate grade and subject-specific interactive lessons for students. For example, once I signed up for a free account, I chose to generate a 5th-grade lesson on fractions. Curipod designed an interactive lesson filled with open-ended questions, content about fractions, drawing activities, sample problems, and even a brain break! I could easily add or remove content, activities, and assignments if I wanted to modify any activities.

Curiopod reminds me of some of the features of NearPod and Kahoot combined, which makes learning engaging, fun, and student-centered. For instance, much like NearPod, students log in with a class code or QR code, enter their name, and the teacher controls how to navigate the presentation.
Dashboard view of Curipod

Curiopod provides students multiple response options for sharing their understanding, such as drawing and entering text. In addition, students can see each other’s work and “vote” for the best answer or drawing.

How Does It Work?

Want to see how it works? Check out my video tutorial.


In conclusion, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has profoundly impacted education in 2023. While AI may initially seem daunting, its benefits for teachers cannot be overlooked. By leveraging AI-powered tools like Curipod, teachers can save valuable time and energy on mundane educational tasks, allowing them to dedicate more attention to their students. Curipod's grade and subject-specific interactive lessons, reminiscent of NearPod and Kahoot, provide an engaging, student-centered learning experience. With features such as open-ended questions, drawing activities, sample problems, and the ability to modify content, Curiopod empowers students to actively participate, collaborate, and showcase their understanding.

Slides Timer: A Great Alternative to Embedding YouTube Video Timers in Google Slides

I always look for unique ways to keep students on-task, organized, and engaged. One helpful strategy I learned is embedding a timer in Google Slides. Sometimes, students must work on a task in pairs or individually, which creates the need for embedding a timer on specific slides. 

In the past, I have embedded YouTube videos; however, I recently came across a great Chrome Extension called Slides Timer that can create a personalized timer for your needs!

How Does It Work? 

Check out my video or read the instructions below: 

First, install the Chrome Extension in your Chrome Browser. 

Next, identify the slide that you want to add a timer to. Add the following text <<amount of time you want>>. For example, if I wanted a five-minute timer <<5:00>>

Finally, put your presentation in full-screen presentation mode. The timer will automatically work! 

Additional Features

Want to do more with your timer? Here are some powerful keyboard shortcuts and additional features! 

  • Use d key to pause timers. e key to reset timers. Timers will start pause with at the end.
  • <<5:00->> will count down starting at 5 minutes.
  • <<2:00+>> will count up starting at 2 minutes.
  • <<time>> will display the current time in AM/PM format.
  • <<date>> will display the date in 00/00/00 format.
  • <<date>> will display the date in shortened word format.
  • <<date>> will display the date in word format.
  • When using countdown trigger advancing to the previous slide with an extra - <<00:10-->> will move to the previous slide after 10 seconds.
  • When using countdown trigger advancing to the next slide by adding + <<00:10-+>> will move to the next slide after 10 seconds.
  • When using countdown trigger audio inserted on the slide by adding @ <<00:10-@>>.
  • When using countdown trigger video inserted on the slide by adding ! <<00:10-!>>.
  • <<time>> and <<date>> can be customized by adding | and formatting. <<date|MM/dd/yyyy>>

If you want a valuable resource for your science classroom, I recommend using OLogy: Science Website for Kids

What is OLogy? 

In science terms, ology is defined as "the study of." The OLogy website was developed by the American Museum of Natural History and contains various videos, resources, articles, and interactive activities to provide students with options for learning content. Students can learn content from 14 different areas of scientific studies, such as Anthropology, Astronomy, Brain Science, Marine Biology, Physics, and more! 

Just click on the OLogy you are searching for and you will be directed to a page filled with rich and diverse content! For example, I clicked on Earth Science and found the following page filled with games, videos, reading articles, and hands-on learning opportunities. Want to learn more about Earth Science? You can read an article titled "Ask a Scientist About Our Environment." 


Research shows that students need options when learning new content. Therefore, videos, articles, and interactive activities are good ways to do so. OLogy provides students and teachers with rich content in a variety of topics. 

Chrome's Experimental Reader View

 Have you ever used a reader view feature in your browser? If you are a Safari or Edge user, you are familiar with this tool that removes backgrounds, images, and other distractions from web pages. 

Imagine you are having students read the following article. It is filled with distracting advertisements, videos, and thumbnails! 

If you use the reader view of your browser, then you will get something like this! 

How does this work? Check out my 3-minute video on using the experimental reader view in Chrome! 

Literal App: You'll Never See Reading the Same Way Again

In middle and high school, I struggled with understanding what I read. Anything that I read didn't make sense or if it did make sense, I quickly forgot it. I was bored with reading at times and zoned out. 

Reading comprehension can be difficult for many of our students to master because reading requires so many different elements. For instance, students may need help with vocabulary usage, background understanding, and staying interested in the content.

The Literal App could be a great solution! The website states, "Literal turns popular books into a digital reading experience that’s 68% more engaging than social media. It’s addicting (in a good way)."

Website Picture

How Does It Work?

Teachers and students have access to 500 free books presented in an interactive group text-messaging format. Each character has their own picture, and students can access an audio version of the group text being read aloud. There are four different reading modes, support tools for translation, a dictionary, and a paid version with more books and features.

Want to see it in action? Check out my brief video!


Literal may be a great solution to keep students engaged or add an additional scaffold and support in your classroom. Students are highly variable in how they learn and comprehend information. This tool could provide students with an alternative medium to build comprehension and important background knowledge to successfully understand and participate in reading assignments. 

Make Your Ideas Come to Life with Visme's Whiteboard Feature

Visme is a fantastic tool that you can use to create dynamic presentations, documents, videos, and more! Did you know that it's free? 

I recently looked at the free Whiteboard feature, which can be used in many ways! For example, you could have your students use the whiteboard feature to brainstorm ideas, create a graphic describing what they learned in class, create a sketch note, or diagram a process. As a teacher, you could use Visme's whiteboard feature to create a presentation, anchor charts, and brainstorm what students know about a topic. 

Check out my example on What is UDL? 

How Does It Work? 

Check out my video crash course for using Visme's Whiteboard feature! 


Why is using Visme essential for your classroom? Brain research shows that our students need different mediums to express and communicate their ideas. Some students may excel at sketching their ideas on paper, others like to write, and some feel more comfortable with a digital tool. It's important to find flexible ways for students to appropriately express what they have learned. Visme could be a great free tool to add to your toolbox of tools to assess student understanding and misconceptions. 

Using Canva's New Translation Tool

 If you are an educator, you have probably used Canva to create amazing presentations, documents, videos, and more! However, did you know Canva has launched a new translation tool to make your documents more accessible to multilingual learners?

  Check out my video on using this tool to help all students access your presentation slides!

CommonLit: Free and Comprehensive Language Arts Literature Program

If you are looking for digital resources for language arts instruction, I highly recommend CommonLit. This free tool has an extensive library of digital texts organized by academic standards and Lexile levels. Each text provides students with options for customizing text, such as increasing the font size, translating, annotating, text-to-speech, and solving reading comprehension. 

How Does It Work? 

I created the following video tutorial (5 min) to show you how CommonLit works! 

TEACHFLIX: Crowdsourced Videos for Educators and by Educators

One of my favorite quotes about the power of media is from Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan, who said, "the medium is the message." I identify with this quote because I find media a powerful tool for engaging students in the classroom and teachers during professional development. A great video has the potential to generate amazing discussion, increase engagement, and create memorable learning experiences. However, finding the  "right" video is sometimes tricky, right?

I have spent hours trying to find the "perfect" video to show students and adults; however, I recently found a great teaching resource called TEACHFLIX, which has a curated library of teaching videos and resources for students. You can browse by keyword, subject area, or grade level.

TEACHFLIX explains:

"It’s a collection of videos – sorted into categories – that you can use with your students in class. We’ve found our own favorites – and curated suggestions from classroom teachers. It’s not a perfect, all-encompassing collection. But we like it. And we keep adding new videos to it!" (TEACHFLIX, 2023)

I found TEACHFLIX incredibly useful for teachers at any grade level who want to incorporate video into their classroom. It's easy to use and there are a variety of curated videos, which can save time and effort!

5 Tips for Engaging Learners with UDL

Phillip Schlechty (2011) theorized that the highest levels of learner engagement require learners' full attention and commitment. While ...