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Monday, February 29, 2016

30 Ways the Amazon Echo Can Assist Struggling Learners


My favorite piece of technology in my house is my Amazon Echo. It offers me so many great features with quick voice activated access to the time, music, weather, the news, traffic, local stores, and much more. It even pairs with other devices to turn on my lights, adjust the thermostat, put shopping items on my iPhone and more. When I explored this device, I purchased a second Echo for my office, at Learning to Learn, when I realized all the great ways that it could benefit my students!  

What is the Amazon Echo?
The Amazon Echo is a wireless speaker and voice command device from Amazon. It is a 9.25 inch tall, cylindrical black microphone/speaker that allows voice commands. It responds to the name "Alexa," but this can be changed to "Echo" or "Amazon." There are a number of things you will need for the Echo to work.
  1. You will need an Amazon Prime account.
  2. You will want to pair the Echo to a Smartphone.
  3. You will need to have a wireless system in your home.
What are the Many Benefits of the Amazon Echo for Students?
The Amazon Echo offers a number of built-in commands as well as "skills" that can be enabled on your smartphone.
  1. Ask for a definition by asking, "Alexa, what's the definition of benevolent."
  2. Ask for the answer to simple numerical math problems. "Alexa, what is 346 times 98?"
  3. Add tasks to a to-do list. "Alexa, put math worksheet on my to-do list."
  4. Inquire about traffic information from home to school. "Alexa, what's the traffic?"
  5. Set timers for study time and breaks. "Alexa, set the timer for 10 minutes."
  6. Set a bedtime timer. "Alexa, set an alarm for 8:30."
  7. Ask for information from Wikipedia. "Alexa, Wikipedia global warming."
  8. Play music by artists, albums and genre. This can be helpful for some students that like to use music to block out unexpected noise. "Alexa, play Mozart."
  9. Listen to your Audible account or Kindle books. "Alexa, read The Great Gatsby."
  10. Set an alarm to wake up in the morning. "Alexa, set an alarm for 6:45 in the morning. 
  11. Listen to Alexa read events on your Google calendar. "Alexa, what is on my Google Calendar?"
  12. Play white noise such as ocean waves from prime music. "Alexa, play ocean waves from Prime Music."  
  13. Ask Alexa all kinds of questions about people places and things.  "Alexa, how tall is the Empire State Building?"
  14. Ask for the spelling of a word. "Alexa, how do you spell, upholstery?"
  15. Discover the time in any part of the world.  "Alexa, what time is it in London, England?"
  16. Ask for the temperature. "Alexa, what is the temperature?"
  17. Translate phrases from one language to another by enabling Translator. "Alexa, ask translator to say, 'I love blueberries.' in Spanish."
  18. Expand vocabulary by enabling Daily Word. "Alexa, open daily word."
  19. Test your presidential trivia knowledge by enabling Presidential Trivia. "Alexa, open presidential trivia."
  20. Find rhyming words by enabling Rhyme Zone. "Alexa, ask Rhyme Zone what rhymes with cap?"
  21. Find a synonym for a word. "Alexa, ask Rhyme Zone for a synonym for great."
  22. Use a stopwatch to help students stay on task by stating, "Alexa, open stopwatch."
  23. Practice times tables by enabling Let's Multiply and asking, "Alexa, open Let's Multiply.
  24. Take a one-minute mindful meditation by asking, "Alexia ask Mindfulness for a minute meditation.
  25. Play simple math games by enabling 123 Math. "Alexa, open one, two, three."
  26. Play a metronome beat to help some kids work at a steady pace by enabling Acoustic Metronome. "Alexa, open metronome."
  27. Practice state capitals by enabling Capital Quiz.  Alexa, tell Capital Quiz to start practicing."
  28. Discover measurement conversions. "Alexia, how many tablespoons in a cup?"
  29. Learn statistics and dates of historical events. "What is the population of the world?
  30. Plays Simon Says and the Echo will repeat what you say.  "Alexa, Simon Says - Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." This can be a great tool for students that need to practice their expressive language skills and need to better enunciate and pronounce their words. 
Come View my YouTube Video that accompanies this blog:

What Does the Future Hold?
Almost every week the Amazon Echo sends me emails about new tasks and features!  What will they think of next?  The Amazon Echo sells on Amazon for $179.99.  

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 and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Free Speech to text on Google Docs Helps Dyslexic Students


I’m so excited to tell you about the Google Docs tool, Voice typing!   This voice-to-text technology can be a wonderful, free assistive technology device for students with dyslexia and other types of learning disabilities.
What is Voice to Text Technology?
Voice-to-text or dictation technology is a type of speech recognition software or program that converts the spoken word to typed text.  Although there are many companies that charge for this technology, Google docs and Apple products offer this option for free.  In this blog we will focus on the free tool, Voice typing, in Google docs.
How Can Voice Typing Help Individuals with Learning Disabilities?
Voice to Text can help individuals with learning disabilities in a number of ways, because it:
  • resolves spelling problems. Individuals no longer have to self-generate the spelling of words. Instead, they just need to clearly pronounce the word and voice-to-text will do it for them.
  • allows individuals to focus on the organization and content of the document instead of typing or spelling. Having more attention to focus on other aspects of writing can really help to improve writing abilities.
  • keeps up with the writer’s thoughts. If one is distracted by a typo or difficult word to spell, it is easy to lose one's train of thought. This doesn't have to happen when using text-to-speech, as long as you speak in a loud and clear manner.

How Can I Access Voice Typing?
To access Voice Typing, there are two requirements.
  • First, you must be using the Chrome browser.  Voice Typing will not work on other browsers such as Safari, FireFox, or Internet Explorer.
  • Second, you must have an internal or external microphone attached to your Mac, PC or Chromebook computer.

How Can I Activate Voice Typing?
  • In a Chrome browser, open a google document.
  • Click the Tools menu > and select Voice typing.
  • Click on the pop-up microphone box.
  • Speak your text as clearly as possible.
  • When you're finished, click the microphone again.

Review and Live Demonstration:
Here is a video review and live demonstration I created for my site, www.GoDyslexia.com:  
I hope you found this helpful!  Please share this blog post and the video to help spread the word about the many benefits of Voice typing.

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.GoDyslexia.comwww.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Executive Functioning Card Game: Memory Master

I'm so excited to announce the release of my new Publication: Executive Functioning Game: Memory Master! It is the second of a series of four executive functioning games that I have been working on over the past six months. I’ve played it with my students, and it is ridiculously fun!

Memory Master is a fabulously fun game for everyone, but it can also serve as a tool that exercises working memory, attention to detail, management of distractions, stamina, response inhibition, as well as mental shifting and sustained attention. This game can be used to integrate the two hemispheres of the brain, provide a fun brain break, and it can benefit individuals with ADHD, learning disabilities such as dyslexia, executive functioning disorder as well as the head injured and the elderly.

Card Descriptions:
Sample Memory Master card
All 30 cards include six memory challenge actions, three activities and a distractor.

For 1 to 4 Players/Teams:
A parent, therapist or teacher can challenge a single player to memorize a series of activities or multiple players can compete to complete memory challenges. The first player/team to win 7 memory challenges and collect 7 cards is the winner.

Direct Application: 
Be sure to use the say it, see it and show it challenges that you learn in this game to help your children or students remember sequences of directives in real life. This can help to develop mindful listening skills and bring the fun factor into what might otherwise be considered a chore.

Where Can I Purchase the Game?
The game is presently available @ Good Sensory Learning as a digital download.  A set of my four executive functioning cards games are available on Amazon as decks.  I'll keep you posted!
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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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Benefits of Kinesthetics in the Classroom



Although many educators and parents know about the correlation between learning and movement, many disregard the connection once children get beyond kindergarten. But did you know that encourging students to sit still while learning and even completing homework could do more damage than good?  

Sitting is Bad for the Body and the Brain
The human body was not designed to sit for long periods of time, and research is now suggesting that a sedentary life is as detrimental to one’s health as smoking cigarettes.  Sadly, many school age children are now sitting in excess of 8 to 12 hours a day, and this has a negative impact on their bodies as well as their brains.  

Three Common Misconceptions:
  • Sitting still improves learning.
  • Students should stay in from recess when they don’t finish their classwork.
  • Classrooms become unruly when students are allowed to move around.

Bringing Movement into the Classroom:
Educators who insist that their students remain seated during the entire class period are not promoting optimal conditions for learning.  Instead, teachers should purposefully integrate movement into everyday learning such as daily stretching, walks, dance, drama, seat-changing, and energizing brain breaks.


Why Does Movement Benefit Learning?
Did you know that the part of the brain that processes movement is the same part of the brain that processes learning?  When you encourage your students to be active, this:
  • stimulates nerve cells to bind which is what learning is, at a cellular level.
  • develops new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus which enhances memory and learning.
  • triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor which boosts the neurons' ability to communicate with one another.
  • increases the release of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which energizes the body and elevates mood. 
  • provides oxygen-rich blood that feeds the brain for optimal performance. 
  • raises blood pressure and epinephrine levels among sluggish learners.
  • improves the ability to handle stress.
  • exercises the muscles, heart, lungs, and bones and strengthens the basal ganglia, cerebellum, and corpus callosum.
  • fosters hemisphere integration.
  • enhances social skills and emotional intelligence.

Kinesthetic Ideas for the Classroom:
Here are a few ideas that can help you to integrate movement into your classroom.
  1. Teach appropriate movements that your students can make while sitting at their desk such as bouncing their legs under the table.
  2. Incorporate movement into lessons.  Allow students to move from one “learning station” to the next where short, interactive activities can engage students.
  3. Do crosslaterial movements that go across the midline to integrate the two hemispheres of the brain.
  4. Offer one-minute kinesthetic breaks in the middle of class where students can do a brain break activity, stretch, or even do a few exercises such as jumping jacks.
  5. Allow learners to stand and move around the class.
  6. Integrate activities such as acting out lessons or let your students create plays that illustrate the concepts.
  7. Offer a kinesthetic corner in your classroom where students can stretch on a yoga mat or roll on an exercise ball.
  8. Place information to be learned onto balloons or balls so that the students can review material by passing props to one another.
  9. Get standing desks, kinesthetic workstations, and chairs that allow students to move and bounce.  I use the Zenergy ball chair in my office, and I find that it helps my students as well as myself.  Place the highly kinesthetic learners on the sides of the class, so that their movement does not visually distract other students.
Clearly, movement is key in the learning process and it also improves overall health and wellbeing.  I hope you too can support this in your classrooms and individual work with students.

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 and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Dyslexia Help: Reversing Reversals Beginners - New Publication and Free Samples

I'm so excited to offer my newest publication in 2016 - Reversing Reversals Beginners. This digital workbook is the fourth publication in my popular Reversing Reversals Series.

Why Did I Create Reversing Reversals Beginners?
Upon request, I have created more fun activities that bridge the gap between Reversing Reversals Primary and the original Reversing Reversals. I have included more simplistic activities that strengthen visual processing, tracking, directionality, discrimination, pattern recognition and more.

What Population of Learners are Served by this Workbook?
I created the Reversing Reversals Series to help students with dyslexia to develop the core skills needed for reading and math. These products are often used and recommended by vision therapists, educational therapists and teachers as the activities serve as brain training exercises that strengthen areas of weak cognition.

How Does Each Product in the Reversing Reversals Series Differ?
Image
Purpose
Activities
Fun activities strengthen and develop the core skills needed for reading and writing. All the activities and games utilize animal characters.  Areas of cognition addressed: visual memory, auditory memory, sequential memory, visual reasoning, auditory reasoning, visual discrimination, receptive language, listening skills, mental flexibility, attention, attention to details, visual tracking, spatial skills, and directionality.
๏ Simple animal tracking games
๏ Visual - discrimination and sequential memory activities
๏ Auditory memory/listening skills activities
๏ Spatial memory activities
๏ Following directions games
Fun activities strengthen and develop letter, number and symbol recognition. Areas of cognition addressed: visual processing/discrimination, sequential processing, tracking, abstract reasoning, attention, pattern recognition, and directionality.
๏ Simple coloring activities for common reversals
๏ Simple tracking activities for consonant and vowel discrimination and common letter reversals
๏ Simple mazes that strengthen letter, number and symbol recognition
๏ Simple sequential and pattern recognition activities
๏ Strategies for success
Fun activities strengthen and develop letter, number and symbol recognition/ common reversals. The publication also works on left - right discrimination and cardinal directions. Areas of cognition addressed: visual processing/ discrimination, sequential processing, tracking, abstract reasoning, attention, pattern recognition, and directionality.
๏ Tracking activities for vowel and consonant discrimination and common reversals
๏ Challenging coloring activities for common reversals
๏ Mazes that strengthen letter and number discrimination
๏ Activities for left/right and cardinal direction recognition
๏ Game suggestions
๏ Strategies for success
Fun activities strengthen and further develop letter, number and symbol recognition/common reversals. The publication offers additional pages that work on left - right discrimination and cardinal directions.  Areas of cognition addressed: visual processing/ discrimination, sequential processing, tracking, abstract reasoning, attention, pattern recognition, and directionality.
๏ Sorting activities for common reversals
๏ Tracking activities for letter, number and symbol reversals
๏ Mazes that strengthen letter and number discrimination
๏ Hidden image activities that strengthen challenging symbol discrimination
๏ Directionality games
๏ Strategies for success

Can I See Some Free Sample Activities?
Yes, I do offer free sample activities.  Click here for a Dropbox sample of RR Beginners.  Each of the product pages - RR Primary, RR Beginners, RR, RR2 - offer free sample downloads, and you can even get a discount when you purchase the whole series.

I would love to hear your thoughts about my new publication.

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.GoDyslexia.comwww.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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