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Friday, December 12, 2014

10 Great Games for Students with Dyslexia

With the holiday season almost upon us, finding fun and beneficial educational materials can be key for keeping students with dyslexia busy over the break.  What's more, you can continue to use these activities throughout the year to help remediate areas of difficulty. Games can be one of the best ways to help these kids, especially because struggling learners won't even know that their brains are hard at work!

Holiday Gift:
One of my favorite games, Puppy Party, helps students to master the short vowels sounds and is great for any Orton-Gillingham or phonics based reading program.   CLICK HERE to get your free downloadable copy!

Ten Great Games to Buy for Kids with Dyslexia:
  1. Hey What's the Big Idea: This is a fun, family game that teaches children how to generate and discriminate between main ideas and details.
  2. Word Shuffle: Word Shuffle is a fabulous word game that strengthens processing speed and language skills.  With three levels - elementary, middle school and high school, students will master concepts like rhyming words, grammar, parts of speech, figurative language and literary terms. 
  3. 5 Ws Detective:  This delightful sentence game develops language skills, sequencing, word retrieval and helps beginning writers solve silly cases by answering who did it, what they did, when it was done, and why it happened.  Players work against the clock to fill in the data and summarize their findings.     
  4. Reading Games:  Great for any Orton-Gillingham or Phonics based reading program, Reading Games offers 11 games, 17 printable decks and two printable board games that work on the different types of syllables, syllabication, affixes and compound words.
  5. Reading Games 2: Like Reading Games, these games work seamlessly with any Orton-Gillingham or Phonics based reading program.  These games focus on blending and spelling.  
  6. Reading Board Games:  Orton-Gillingham or Phonics friendly, Reading Board Games offers 7 reproducible board games that cover the 6 syllable types as well as syllabication. 
  7. Piggy Banking: This engaging board game helps players learn how to use a debit card, bank register and to write checks.  They will also learn about bank loans, bounced checks, discounts, tips, rebased, interest and more.  
  8. Place Value Panic: With 4 games ranging in difficulty level, Place Value Panic is loads of fun. The simplest game works on the ones, tens, hundreds and thousands place, whereas the most difficult level uses 13 place values. 
  9. Show Don't Tell:   Show Don't Tell is a fun, multisensory writing game that helps players to "show readers" with descriptive verbs, adjectives, adverbs, similes, metaphors and personification.  Instead of telling stories, learners will quickly master descriptive writing.
  10. Grammar Games Galore: Grammar Games Galore offers 5 new and engaging card games that help players master the parts of speech.   
I wish you and your family a wonderful, fun-filled holiday season.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

The CodPast Celebrates the Cool and Creative side of Dyslexia

I’m so please to feature and share an interview with Sean Douglas and his Codpast!  Sean is an internet broadcaster with experience in broadcast TV news, public relations, corporate communications and podcasting.  After Sean was diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult and met other successful dyslexics, he created the Codpast, to share those stories and more with the public.

My Interview with Sean:

1) Can you please give us a brief description of The Codpast?

The Codpast is a media portal which consists of three online radio shows (podcasts), a blog, news articles and videos.  The main purpose of The Codpast is to celebrate the cool and creative side of dyslexia.  We hope it will be a place where people can come to hear positive stories that they can identify with and pick up tips and advice.  Ultimately though, we hope it will be a place where people can come to find compelling and interesting content.

2) I understand that you were diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult.  What impact did this have on you as a person and a professional?

At the time it didn’t have a huge impact, as I already knew I was dyslexic.  The diagnosis just meant I had confirmation and a certificate to prove it.  At that point, I was a news cameraman which utilized a lot of my dyslexic strengths, so once I got the diagnosis I kind of just forgot about it.

3) Many individuals with dyslexia have genius qualities.  What do you believe are your most amazing talents?

I’m extremely organized.  I wouldn’t say this is a talent, as it is something I have to work at incredibly hard. However having everything organized is what allows me to function in the kind of work I do now.  For instance I have about 12 email addresses.  Most people would see this as a huge pain but for me this is great.  I see each inbox as a folder, so for me this is actually a system where emails automatically sort themselves into the correct folders.  This is a bit time consuming to set up but once it’s up and running is saves me hours.

4) What are the ways that dyslexia creates challenges for you?

Reading and writing are challenging.  Writing emails takes forever and takes a huge amount of energy, especially when trying to convey a complicated concept.  As the world now relies more and more on text-based communication, this is a bit of an issue.  Whenever possible, I will give someone a call.  Even if it takes me a few days to get hold of someone on the phone, I know that in a 5 minute conversation I can achieve what would have taken me hours of email writing.

5) What can people learn from your website and podcasts?

I really hope people are inspired and entertained when they come to my site or listen to the podcast.  I try and keep the guests as varied as possible, so hopefully there will be many guests that people can personally identify with.  I also want to make the site quite fun and contemporary, so we do things like our Top 10 videos.

6) Who were the two most interesting people you interviewed and why?

Every story we have featured so far is different, but two that standout for me are Episode 5 with Aakash Odedra and Episode 6 with Peter Stringfellow.  I think Aakash’s story shows how important it is to accept your dyslexia. He had achieved so much in his life, but it wasn’t until the age of 21, he had an incident with his passport which forced him to accept that dyslexia was a part of him.  This allowed him to take his career to the next level.

Peter’s story was a pretty epic rock and roll tale, incorporating the Beatles, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.  But at its core, it reinforces the fact that in life things don’t always plan out the way you thought they would.  Although it may be difficult at the time, in hindsight these mishaps are generally the things that push you in a new direction you may never have thought of.

7) What have you learned from creating the Codpast?

Producing the Codpast I have learnt a hell of a lot about myself and how dyslexia has shaped the person I am.  It’s great connecting with other dyslexics and realizing there are other people that do some of the weird and quirky things that I do.  When you realize there are a whole group of people doing the same things as you, they suddenly become less strange.

The self-awareness that I have gained from producing The Codpast has also given me the confidence to be less apologetic about being dyslexic.  It’s also made me more pro-active in doing things and obtaining information in the ways that best suit me and yield the best results.

8) What can people do to support your effort?

The best thing that people can do to help the show keep going is to spread the word.  I would love people to tell their friends, retweet and share our posts on Facebook and Twitter.  Another thing that really boosts the show's visibility is when people subscribe to the show on iTunes and leave 5 star reviews; this helps the show get on the featured list on iTunes.  There is also a donations page and any donations large or small really supports this cause as, at the moment, I fund the show myself.

I also had the great opportunity to Skype with Sean.  We had fun sharing our passions and experiences.  One area that Sean discussed was the different types of assistive technology that he utilizes.  Here is a list of his four favorites:
  1. ClaroRead:  ClaroRead is text to speech software for the internet as well as scanned books and documents.  It includes visual tools such as colored text, highlighting, and it offers an enhanced spell check, homophone check and thesaurus.  ClaroRead can even read the words as you type.
  2. AudioNotetaker: Audio Notetaker offers a visual and interactive form of note-taking where audio, text and images are used to create comprehensive notes.  
  3. Global AutoCorrect:  Global AutoCorrect allows you to focus on your writing as it automatically corrects your spelling as you type. 
  4. Encrypted dictaphone:  This device records audio and is converted to another form that can not be easily understood by anyone but the authorized parties.  
Sean also shared a video of a recent speech that he gave at the Moat School in London on how Dyslexia has impacted his work life.  Thanks Sean!
So, please check out the wonderful free podcasts and other goodies at Sean's site, and share this gem with your friends and loved ones.  To learn more go to: http://thecodpast.wordpress.com/

Friday, November 28, 2014

10 Free Ways to Improving Visual Tracking for Weak Readers

While reading, tracking across the page from one line to the next can be tricky when the text is small, but for students with dyslexia or weak reading skills it can be a problem regardless of the font size. 

What Exactly is Tracking?
Tracking is the ability for ones eyes to move smoothly across the page from one line of text to another. Tracking difficulties happen when eyes jump backward and forward and struggle to stay on a single line of text.  This results in problems such as word omissions, reversals, eye fatigue, losing your place while reading and most importantly it can impact normal reading development.  

Can Tracking be Improved?
Tracking can be improved by strengthening eye muscles as well as getting your eyes and brain to work cooperatively.  There are three eye movements that need to be developed:  
  1. Fixations: The ability to hold ones eyes steady without moving off a target.
  2. Saccades: The ability to jump to new targets that randomly disappear and reappear in a different location.
  3. Pursuits: The ability to follow a moving target with ones eyes.
10 Free Ways to Improve Tracking:
  1. Use Beeline Reader to read ebooks, PDFs and webpages will assist with tracking.  This free technology makes tracking faster and easier by using a color gradient to guide your eyes from one line of text to another.  
  2. Play ping pong - but more importantly, watch others play the game.  Sit on the side of the table and keep your head steady.  Watch the ball, moving your eyes back and forth across the table.
  3. Get a book but only read the first word and the last word in each line.  Continue down the page. Time yourself and try to beat your speed.  If reading words is slow or labored, just read the first and last letter on each line.
  4. Go to the site Eye Can Learn and do their eye tracking exercises. 
  5. Watch a metronome or crystal pendulum.  Place the metronome or pendulum about 1-2 feet from your face, keep your head steady and move your eyes with the swinging metronome or pendulum. 
  6. Use a laser pointer on a wall and watch the red dot while sweeping it across the wall: go up, down, left, right and diagonally.  
  7. Use Apps like Dream Reader which will highlight the words while it reads the text.  You can read along with the excellent synthesized voice options, or if you prefer, read the text yourself and turn off the audio.  Adjust the speed so that words are highlighted while you read.
  8. Pick a common letter of the alphabet such as the letter "A."  Select a book, or article and scan through the lines of text as if you are reading, circling the letter "A" every time they see it.  
  9. Read aloud.  This helps the eyes and brain to work together.
  10. Play an internet version of Pong.  My favorite is Garfield Tabby Tennis.
Are There Any Products I Can Purchase That Develop Visual Tracking?
Yes, check out the Reversing Reversals series to develop tracking as well as other important visual processing and cognitive skills that will improve the foundation abilities needed to be an excellent reader.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Activities that Strengthen Following Directions Skills and Freebie Offering

Do some of your students struggle with subtle linguistic cues, tricky wording and following both oral and written directions?  Difficulties in these areas can make it challenging to complete all aspects of an assignment, interpret multistep directions and comprehend multiple choice tests.  This is a common problem for students with dyslexia and other language based learning disabilities, however most students benefit from the development of this skill.  So what can we do to help foster these skills while bringing in the fun factor?

With the holiday season around the corner, many students love to get into the spirit and providing festive activities can be entertaining and motivating.  My Thanksgiving and Christmas Following Directions Activities could be just what you are looking for! In fact, I offer a holiday bundle too that celebrates, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, St Patrick's Day and Valentines Day.  Come download some free sample following directions activities.

If you would like to enter a contest to win a free copy of my Holiday Bundle, come on over to my facebook page between now and December 15.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Developing Writing Skills for Students with Dyslexia

Like reading, writing is a complex process that requires students to multitask.  In fact, all students must master a number of fundamental skills before they can be expected to become competent writers. However, for students with dyslexia, the process can be even more challenging as their learning disability may impact cognitive tasks such as spelling, word finding, as well as the formulation and organization of ideas.

What are the Fundamental Skills Required to Write?
The fundamental skills include:
  • Transferring the inner voice into words on the page - spelling
  • Formulation of letters or typing skills
  • Access to a rich vocabulary and creative ideas
  • Awareness of grammar, sentence structure, and literary elements
  • Cognizance of transitions, and paragraph structure  
What are the Key Features to Consider When Teaching Students with Dyslexia?
  • Help Students Learn to Automaticity: The fundamental skills required for writing must be done simultaneously, therefore, to become efficient and effective writers, many of these tasks must be mastered to a degree of automaticity.  In other words, students should be able to do these tasks with little thought or effort.  If the fundamental skills are not fully learned, student will not have enough cognitive space to unite these skills and write.   
  • Make Learning Multisensory: Integrating as many of the 12 Ways of Learning into your lesson plans will help students' encode the needed skills.  Here is a free Prezi that reviews these diverse teaching modalities.
  • Include Enjoyable Activities in the Learning Process:  Consider what your students love to do and integrate that into lessons about writing.  For example, if Peter likes to draw, get him to create a story board where he illustrates pictures that represent the sequence of ideas.  If Sue likes balls, consider brainstorming ideas while tossing a ball back and forth.  If legos are popular, place adjectives on red pieces, nouns on yellow pieces, verbs on green pieces and so forth and then have fun joining them to create silly sentences.  Finally, come learn about how to make free word collages and wriggle writing to increase the fun factor.
  • Play Games that Allows Students to Practice their Lessons: Play sentence building games such as DK Games: Silly Sentences and Smethport Tabletop Magnetic Sentence Builders. You can also master grammar skills with games like Grammar Games Glore and the Best of Mad Libs. If you want to develop creative writing abilities consider the writing game Show Don't Tell.
  • Teach the 5 Ws:  The 5 Ws are questions students can ask themselves when they are trying to formulate the whole story. Who is it about?  What happened?  When did it take place? Where did it take place?  Why did it happen?  If you would like to practice this, consider the game The 5 Ws Detectives.
  • Teach Students to Visualize before Writing: One of the best ways to bring the fun factor into writing is to have students visualize the setting, characters and plot before they begin writing.  Then all they have to do is paint the images with words.  If you need to develop this skill, consider teaching this skills with products like Mindful Visualization for Education.
  • Teach Grammar and Literary Devices: Here are a number of tools that can be used to help students master grammar and literary devices: A Writer's ReferenceThe Giggly Guide to Grammar Student Edition, Word ShuffleMastering Literary Devices, and Grammar Games Glore.
  • Expand and Develop Vocabulary: There are many tools that can help students to broaden their vocabulary.  Workbooks like Wordly Wise 3000, or free sites like Free Rice, can develop this skill.  What I really love about Free Rice is that students work is reinforced because for each correct answer, the site donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.  Also, teaching students how to use a thesaurus to vary word choice and learn new words is a terrific strategy that they will use for the rest of their lives.
  • Teach about Transitional Words, Phrases and Sentences: It is also important to instruct students about transitional words, phrases, and sentences so that their writing is understandable and flows from one idea to the next.  Here is a free transitional word sheet, and if you would like some activities to develop this skill consider Categorizing, Paragraph Building and Transitional Words Activity.
  • Use a Scaffolding Approach:  Like a scaffolding that supports a weak building, adults can help students develop their writing skills by assisting young learners with the process of writing.  For example, if handwriting is labored and monopolizes a student's attention, acting as a secretary for a student can lessen the cognitive load so that he or she can learn some other aspects of writing such as the development and organization of ideas.  If you would like to learn more about scaffolding, read The Joy of Writing: A Scaffolding Approach.
  • Analyze Good Sentences and Paragraphs:  Look at sample sentences and paragraphs from each student's favorite books and talk about what makes the author such a great writer.
  • Use Software to Help with the Writing Process:  My favorite products are Kidspiration (for K-3) and inspiration (4-adult).  These two programs help students generate and organize ideas.  They offer the full software for free for one month.
  • Teach the Formula Behind Writing:
  1. Sequence the Steps: It is important to also review the steps required to formula sentences and paragraphs.  Here is a free Prezi that reviews the sequence required to write a 5 paragraph essay.
  2. Teach about Main Ideas and Details:  Each new paragraph introduces a main idea that is then supported with details.  Therefore, teaching students how to formulate main ideas and details is a vital step in teaching the writing process.  I have two games that teach kids how to generate main ideas and details.  The first publication, the Main I-Deer, offers instruction on main ideas and details as well as two games.  The second publication is a game, Hey, What’s the Big Idea.
  3. Provide Graphic Organizers: Graphic organizers help students to visually brainstorm, organize and connect ideas before writing.  There are many sites that offer free graphic organizers to help students with the writing process.  In addition, it's always a great idea to help students create their own graphic organizers.  Come learn how to create your own templates.
For more information, check out the webinar from the DyslexicAdvantage where they interviewed Dr. Charles Haynes who provides strategies to help students with dyslexia in the areas of writing, sentence building, paragraph cohesion, and word retrieval.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Improving Spelling for Students with Dyslexia

Not all students require the same remedial process even though they struggle with the same academic difficulties.  Diverse combinations of cognitive processing weaknesses and deficits can unite to create the "perfect storm" that can cause challenges with reading, math, writing, spelling and more.  In fact, no two students have the same cognitive profile, so to provide the optimal solution, one needs to consider both a student's strengths and weaknesses when designing a remedial approach.  

Occasionally, I like to present the questions emailed to me from parents and teachers.  This week, I will share an email that I received from a parent in England as well as my response.

Email received: 

Hi there:
Love the website!
Our son (age 8) is dyslexic and we have been told that he has a good visual memory (so he can easily spot a correctly spelt word and can even easily distinguish the correct meanings of similar sounding words e.g. sea and see). However, he has poor memory retrieval - so he has massive difficulties finding the correct spelling of a word. We have found that if he really concentrates and can think of a place where he has seen that word written previously, then he can eventually extract the word - but it takes time and is not a practical way of remembering spellings in a busy classroom. I wondered, which of your resources would be good to try to help him to build on the skill of word retrieval?
Many thanks

Here was my response:

Thanks so much for your email.  That is terrific that your son has a great visual memory, and it will come in handy.  I have a few suggestions:

1)  Develop his visualization capacity.  Visualization - which is a little different than visual memory (because your son has to conjure his own imagery) will help him become a better speller, reader, writer and will improve his long-term memory - auditory and visual.  I think it will be his secret weapon!  So the main publication that I recommend is Mindful Visualization for Learning: http://www.goodsensorylearning.com/teaching-visualization.html  I think the two of you will have a lot of fun with this.  It helps students develop their capacity to visualize through games that the two of you can play together.  
2) Exercise his word finding abilities by playing the game Spot it.  You can find it just about anywhere.  I purchased it on Amazon.com.  There are many versions and any of them would be great.  It is all about practicing quick retrieval.  I will place links to a few versions at the bottom of this blog.
3) Keep track of the words that your son finds tricky or difficult to recall.  Create a little book.  Each page can be devoted to one word.  Have him write the word.  Practice visualizing it (Once he thinks he’s got it visualized, ask him questions like: "what is the 3rd letter?", and “Can you spell it backwards?...").  Also on each page ask him to come up with a memory strategy.  For example, let’s take the word “what.”  Your son might notice that the word “what" has “hat" in it.  So his strategy might be - "What hat?"  Then he can do a drawing of a hat on top of the word “what."  Make it a fun and creative project that integrates coloring, collage, and anything else that he enjoys... 
4) Encourage him to develop his keyboarding skills and use a computer for his written work.  A spell check will help him to see the words spelt correctly which will improve his spelling over time.  Also consider purchasing Word Prediction Software, or a device like the Franklin Spellers to assist him with the immediate process. 

Before long, he’ll be a wonderful speller!! Keep in touch and I’ll be happy to help if you have any more questions.  

Yours sincerely, Erica

In Summary: 

When considering the best remedial approach, investigate each student's strengths as well as any reported difficulties so that a plan can be tailored to accommodate individual needs and achieve quick results.  Ideally, it is best to meet with families as well as review prior testing, teacher comments and other pertinent materials.  I hope you find this blogpost helpful.  If you have your own suggestions, please share them below.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Friday, October 31, 2014

OSMO Develops Verbal Reasoning, Sequential, Spatial, and Critical Thinking Skills

Being a personal trainer for the brain, I am always looking for multisensory tools that can develop the different cognitive processing areas.  A few months back, a saw a video promotion for OSMO and I was hooked.  I preordered OSMO and recently received my materials.  I'm happy to say that it has exceeded my expectations!

What Exactly is OSMO?
OSMO is a wonderful tool that brings iPad activities into the real world.  This new technology utilizes the space in front of the iPad to take games off the screen.  The use of a base and a reflective camera, allows players to interact with three game-like apps.  Drawings and physical objects are captured by the device and transported back onto the screen.  The product also provides actual tangram shapes as well as letter tiles that can be used in the activities.  Once the apps are downloaded, there is no need for the internet to play the activities.

What Do I Get When I Purchase OSMO?
OSMO comes with three, neat and well-designed boxes that magnetically snap together.  One box holds the base and reflective device that slips onto the iPad.  The other two boxes hold manipulatives for two of the games. Otherwise, directions guide the buyer on how to set up your own iPad by going to a web address and then downloading three free apps. The set up was quick and simple. 

Tell Me More About the Three Activities?
There are three games offered by the company:  Newton, Tangrams, and Words:

  • Newton: This game develops spatial reasoning skills, visual-spatial abilities, and executive functioning.  The object of this game is to divert a falling ball to one or more targets. Players can do this by first placing a piece of paper or a dry erase board in front of the OSMO and either drawing or placing objects onto this surface.  These drawing or objects then appear on the iPad screen, diverting the ball to the target. 
  • Tangram: This game develops visual spatial abilities, nonverbal reasoning, fine motor skills, and executive functioning. Wooden puzzle pieces can be arranged in the playing field, challenging players to match images projected on the iPad.  The game guides players through the process and slowly reveals a map of more difficult puzzles.
  • Words: This game develops verbal reasoning skills, sequential processing and decoding abilities.  Images are projected on the iPad to serve as word clues.  Players can then place letter tiles in the playing field to guess the possible word. Players can play individually or they can compete against another player. The game gets progressively more difficult as play continues. Best of all you can upload your own words and images to make this game applicable to current academics.  What a wonderful way to practice spelling or vocabulary words!

What About the Future of OSMO?
  • The designers claim that they have plans to create more interactive games if the company grows.  I can't wait to see what they come up with next!
  • OSMO has even caught the eye of Apple.  Apple will be featuring it on their website.  
  • I contacted the company to ask whether I could create separate student profiles.  It is not possible at present, but they said that they are already working on this feature and hope to release it soon. 
Where Can I View a Video of OSMO? 

How Can I Purchase  OSMO?
Click Here or on the following link:
I would love to hear your thoughts about OSMO and learn about your experiences with this new, awesome device.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Problems Using Academic Assignments or Homework as a Punishment

In the heat of the moment, it is not uncommon for both teachers and parents to assign academic work as a consequence to inappropriate behaviors.  In addition, pleasurable breaks such as recess are often withheld when students are being unruly or they don't complete classwork.  A punishment might involve a writing assignment, extra math problems or additional homework.

Why is This a Problem?
The issue with this method is that children associate negative consequences and punishments with academics.  So, for example, if Patty was told to write an essay because she exhibited inappropriate behaviors, the next time she has to write for a school assignment, she will likely associate the negativity she was feeling to writing in general.  In another instance, if Nick had to stay in from recess because he didn't get his assignment done, he will learn to dread future assignments.

What are Some Better Ways to Handle Unruly Behaviors?
  1. Ignore bad behaviors and reward positive behaviors.  Surprisingly, many kids learn negative behaviors. For example, a child can learn that complaining and whining can get them what they want if someone at sometime gave into their demands.  In addition, if a child only gets attention when misbehaving, they may choose that negative attention is better than no attention at all.  So make a conscious effort to change this cycle and praise all positive behaviors with rewards, verbal appraisals and benevolent attention. 
  2. Use the Opportunity to Lead a Discussion and Lesson on Social Skills.  Interrupt the unruly behaviors and have a calming heart to heart discussion with your child or children.  If necessary, give a "timeout" where all involved spend 3-5 minutes sitting quietly to calm nerves. If it is a classroom, have the class sit in a circle.  Take some deep breaths and encourage the participants to let their bodies relax. Next, see if the students can identify the problem and then ask them to suggest solutions.  If they are a part of creating the solution, they are more likely to make the right decision the next time the situation repeats.
  3. Allow Kids to Earn the Things They Want.  Many children are given all the things they desire without having to work for it.  If however, children earn their belongings, they will value these items more and take pride in their accomplishments.
Let's Flip the Coin and Associate Pleasantries with Learning
Clearly, we need to help students feel positive about learning.  Therefore, making an effort to associate academics with joy and fun is best.  What can we do to nurture this positive association?
  1. Integrate games into the learning process.
  2. Come up with fun and enticing names for lessons.
  3. Go multisensory and teach to all of the 12 Ways of Learning.
  4. Be excited about the material you are teaching.  Enthusiasm is contagious.
I think you will find the more you associate pleasantries with learning the more you and your children will enjoy the learning process.  I hope you have found this blogpost to be helpful.   If you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments section below.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Friday, October 17, 2014

BeeLine Reader: Dyslexia and ADHD Technology Improves Word Tracking Abilities

When reading, do you ever find it difficult to track from one line to the next?  This can be tricky for anyone when reading small text, but for many struggling readers, it remains to be a pervasive problem.

A Better Solution
In the past, students have used a finger, highlighter or bookmark to keep place.  In addition, some Apps, such as Dream Reader, will even highlight a line of text or even individual words when text is read aloud.  But wouldn't it be nice to drop some of those tools and be able to visually scan text with ease? BeeLine Reader, offers a new, ingenious concept that can morph text on the internet and your electronic devices with the use of color.

I was recently contacted by Nick Lum, the founder of BeeLine Reader, and once I saw his

Nick Lum
innovative concept, I asked if I could interview him for this blogpost:

1) What is the history of BeeLine Reader and why was it created?

The idea behind BeeLine Reader is to adapt reading—which has historically been done on printed paper—for the digital era. Digitization has changed so many things about how we interact with written material: emails can be sent much faster than snail-mail, and you can fit a thousand ebooks on a handheld device. But despite these advances in the way we transmit and store written material, the way in which we ingest it is basically the same as it was on paper. Why is this? We never used to read in color on paper because printing in color is expensive. But on smartphones and tablets, color is costless. So the question becomes: is there anything you can do with color to make reading more efficient? The answer is yes, and this is precisely what our technology does. Our eye-guiding color gradients are designed to take advantage of the way your visual processing system works when you're reading. This wasn't possible—or at least practical—on paper, but on digital devices its a snap. We've created several tools that make this concept a reality, and in the last year readers all over the world have read millions of pages using BeeLine Reader.

2) Do you have your own personal interest in BeeLine Reader?

BeeLine Reader started as an idea for making digital reading more efficient, but we quickly learned that it is much more than that. The reaction from the accessibility community—which we did not set out to target—has been tremendous, and it has changed the way we approach the technology. We have heard so many stories from people young and old who have struggled to read for their entire lives, and it is has been an incredible experience to work with them on products that have such a deep impact on their ability to read, learn, and work.

3) What populations are served by using BeeLine Reader?

BeeLine's technology is designed to help all readers, but it is particularly helpful for readers with vision impairments, dyslexia, and attention deficits. Vision therapists and dyslexia researchers are doing studies to better understand how BeeLine is interacting with various cognitive and visual differences to generate extraordinary gains for certain populations of readers. 

4) What are your long-term goals for BeeLine Reader? 

Ultimately, we want to see BeeLine adopted as part of universal design and accessibility. Although BeeLine has potent benefits for the accessibility community, it is helpful for the vast majority (over 85%) of readers. Interestingly, it works in every language we've tried it in, and we have users reading in 100 languages. Given this broad appeal, the long-term goal is to have BeeLine integrated with many devices and platforms so that it can be used by anyone to read anything.

5) Do you have a testimonial that you would like to share?

We’ve received many emails, tweets, and posts from users who find BeeLine to be helpful for them. Some of our users have reading difficulties, and others are unimpaired readers who simply enjoy being able to read a bit easier and faster:
  • "Wow, It feels like the first time I tried glasses. It completely removes any chances of me missing a line. I have a low dyslexia and this just works. Thank you!!"
  • "Do you have any idea how helpful this is for dyslexia? OMG I can follow this text! The words and lines are not blurring together! I can READ!"
  • "I don’t think you understand just how awesome this is, as someone with ADD, I have a lot of trouble reading. This was the first time I have ever read a paragraph uninterrupted." 
  • "As someone with sight difficulties, this is amazing. I wish all books were like this, I may read a lot more."
  • "Having tried BeeLine Reader and found that it makes reading both easier and faster, I really wish I could use it with all of my readings [as a PhD student at Berkeley]. Honestly, it might be the best improvement since I started wearing glasses.”
6) Do you have any links that you would like me to use?

Our website is www.BeeLineReader.com. Our free browser plugins are at www.BeeLineReader.com/install, and our PDF converter is at www.BeeLineReader/pdf. It might be worth mentioning that we'll have an iPhone/iPad app released within a few weeks. People can sign up for our mailing list (on our website) to get updates on new product releases, scientific studies, etc.

Being dyslexic myself, I have already been using the technology, and I couldn't be more excited about spreading the word to my followers and associates.  I want to personally thank Nick for reaching out to me and for creating this truly outstanding product. 

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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