Use Embedded Supports to Differentiate Your Instruction

Learn how technology tools can support student vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension, and making connections between reading and writing.

To ensure that your students are prepared to meet the high expectations set by the Common Core State Standards, you may need to incorporate a variety of supports into your English Language Arts (ELA) instruction, including Universal Design for Learning (UDL), explicit instruction of evidence-based strategies, and the use of technology tools. Focusing on literacy is critical at the upper elementary and middle school levels in order to help address these gaps before students move into high school.

The use of embedded or readily available digital learning supports and tools has been shown to be an effective way of addressing the needs of diverse students, particularly those with disabilities.

What are the benefits?

For many students who struggle with reading or writing, the act of decoding, or puzzling out correct spelling, requires significant effort. Built-in tools that provide just-in-time supports relieve the cognitive load on students, allowing them to focus more of their attention on comprehension or generating written content.

Examples of  digital and embedded supports that can help boost ELA skills:

  • Online reference materials (dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias)
  • Multimedia supports (video, how-to diagrams, animated illustrations)
  • Digital text, especially in combination with text-t0-speech, built-in glossaries, annotation tools, etc.
  • Text-to-speech features
  • Annotation and note-taking tools
  • Spelling and grammar checkers, especially contextual spell checkers
  • Word prediction software
  • Voice recognition software
  • Graphic organizer and/or outlining tools

Learn more!

Interested in learning more about using embedded supports for struggling students in ELA? Check out our Tech Research Brief Embedded Supports to Differentiate Instruction for Struggling Students!

Suggested Resources

  • TechMatrix - Search and compare assistive and educational technology tools to support learning for students with disabilities and their classmates.
  • Read & Write for Google - Use to create accessible Google Docs. Built-in supports include text-to-speech, illustrated dictionaries, word prediction, highlighting and note-taking supports
  • Word Hippo - Free online dictionary with a twist – search for word meanings, similar words, opposite words, rhyming words and example sentences.
  • English Language Arts for Struggling Students - Resources and ideas for helping every student meet the ELA CCSS