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Google literacy support extensions and apps

To add Google extensions and apps go to the Chrome Web Store (‘Windows’ tab - ‘Extensions’ - scroll down to web store).


The extensions work from within your Chrome web browser (look at the top right hand side of your toolbar) and apps are found in your app launcher.


Extensions and apps can support support students working in Google Apps for Education (GAFE) including google docs and are available for those using Chromebooks.


Star rating: I have included my personal 5 star rating but this should be used with caution because the best app will always depend on students learning needs.

WordQ for Chrome imageimageimageimage4/5

This app supports writing by offering word prediction, text to speech and topic lists. It operates as a separate window (not a toolbar or add-on) and has a very simple clean format.


The word prediction in this app performed very well in our tests and is comparable to the other versions of WordQ (see previous reviews for software and iPad app). Usage examples of predicted words are available and everything can be read aloud with a choice of high quality voices.


Documents made in the app automatically save in google doc format into google drive. It works online and offline.

WordQ Extension

The app costs NZ$18.99 but a 15 day free trial is available.

ThoughtQ for Chrome imageimageimageimageimage 5/5

This app supports web research and I cannot recommend it highly enough for both teachers and students. It would work well for students working at level 3 of the curriculum and above (or with support at lower levels).


The app is set up to search the web on any topic (like a google search box). Once you have chosen a search the ThoughtQ generates a page with three parts:

  1. Topic word list (auto generated)
  2. Web and picture search results for the search term
  3. Viewing box - click on the search results to add to the viewing box - if you like them leave them there and add the next one you like. If they are no good simply remove them. You can also open or create a google doc within the viewing box to take notes or copy parts of each web page as you go

Once the student has selected the web pages they are interested in they can go to the menu to generate a URL’s list (reference list) or topic word list. These can be copied to the clipboard and used in other documents. ThoughtQ topic lists can also be added into WordQ.


All parts of ThoughtQ can be read aloud to you and web pages can be de-cluttered. Both tools work extremely well.

The app costs NZ$8.99 but a 15 day free trial is available.

Read&Write for Google (variable)

Designed to support struggling readers and writers, Read&Write provides a number of literacy support features when you are online. See our earlier review here.


After the 30 day free trial two free tools remain: imageimageimageimage

  • free text to speech - allows you to have anything read aloud when you are in the Google web browser. It is easy to use and works well.
  • translation

Other tools available in the premium versions (US$100/annum but free for teachers) include:

  • picture dictionary - simple pictures in symbol format that are easy to understand

  • dictionary definitions - in plain simple english

  • highlights tool -  allows the student to highlight parts of a document with different colours and use a single click to collect these creating notes and key points.  This tool is also available free in google docs as an add on (see add-ons menu in your toolbar).

  • speech recognition and word prediction tools - I tested these again and found that they did not perform well. image

Grammarly imageimage

Grammarly is a spelling and grammar checker. It automatically identifies issues and suggests changes as you are writing on the web including in gmail, facebook and twitter.


Unfortunately this extension does not work in Google docs. To use the free version of Grammarly to support writing you can cut and paste, write or open files in grammarly’s separate window and then copy the text back into your document later.


I reviewed the accuracy of the spelling support using the two sentences we have used in previous word prediction tests. These were examples of very poor spelling and Grammarly did not cope at all well (correcting 19/30 & 30/55 in our two test sentences) though it performed significantly better than Google docs.


I then compared Grammarly, Google Docs (right click) and Microsoft Word with a paragraph of text at a higher level and Grammarly performed much better (about the same as the Microsoft Word default spell and grammar check).

  • Grammarly = 5/8 corrected
  • Google docs = 2/8 corrected (spelling only)
  • Microsoft Word = 5/8 corrected

The paid version integrates with microsoft word and includes additional vocabulary enhancement, plagiarism and professional proofreading. US$139/annum or US$29.95/month.

Other apps:

Readability imageimage

Simplifies web pages by taking out the clutter for reading now or later.


Ginger image

Spelling and grammar support. I experienced quite a few glitches during the trial - highlighting of misspelt words was inconsistent and several incorrect words weren't highlighted. The corrections offered were about the same or marginally better than Google’s right click.

SpeakIt! image

Text to speech extension. This did not work well - speaking a long string of numbers before starting on selected text and then would start randomly without my selecting it.

Co:Writer n/a

This extension is only for people in a school that already has a Co:Writer Universal license. If you do not have a license, you will not be able to log into the product

Google offers many other apps and extension. Try these links for other great extensions and add-ons from Allanah King:

More information is available here http://www.appsusergroup.org/presentations/google-special-needs 


I would love to hear about how you are using extensions and apps to support students.


  • Allanah King

    Today I added Colour Enhancer to my list of Chrome Extensions.

    https://sites.google.com/site/ggwg2011/chrome #32

    You can calibrate the colours of your web browser so that if you are colour blind you see as much of the colour contrast that you are capable of- untested at the moment because I am not colour blind - would like to hear from someone who is as to how effective this extension is.


Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology

Using technology to support students with disabilities and special learning needs.