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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Thriving Practice as a Learning Specialist


Did you know that teachers stay in the field of education for an average of only two years? Many of these people slogged through years upon years of schooling and accrue tens of thousands of school-based loans only to find that the job they longed for was nonexistent.  What's the next step?

Did You Ever Consider Being a Learning Specialist?
I have been getting a ton of questions about what it takes to create a learning specialist practice.  I have a simple way for you to get many of your questions and concerns answered! Sign up for my Successful Learning Specialist Practice VIP list and let me teach you strategies for success!!

What is a Learning Specialist?
Learning specialists are teachers/coaches who are skilled at providing support to struggling students. They can find employment in private schools or set up a practice outside of formal schooling. These educators work individually or in small groups to provide intensive instruction and support that meets the individual needs of each learner. Often an expert in a number of subject areas, learning specialists also offer study strategies, memory techniques, metacognitive and focusing methods, and remedial lessons. They should also be versed in assistive technology, creating an intervention plan, conducting observations, defining reasonable accommodations, and assisting students to develop self-advocacy skills. Many learning specialists also offer reading, writing and/or math remediation as well as cognitive remedial training, homework help and direct communication with teachers and other professionals. Learning Specialists should be well educated in learning and cognition as well as alternative learning and multisensory teaching strategies. They should hold an undergraduate degree and preferably a master’s degree and/or doctorate in a field such as educational psychology, special education, neuropsychology, and or school psychology.  

Why Did I Become a Learning Specialist?
I went into the field of education because I wanted to empower struggling learners and help them to find their genius qualities and life's purpose.  When I finished my doctorate, I tried a number of positions.  I ran two college programs for students with learning disabilities, taught university courses, conducted teacher training as a consultant, and acted as a learning specialist in a private school.  I soon learned that the educational system was sadly broken and I continually found myself in positions where my hands were tied and I could not give the students what they needed and deserved. I decided to try one more thing before changing my profession altogether.  I created my own private practice and called it Learning to Learn.  I networked for a few weeks, and I've been slammed for the past 18 years.  Throughout this time, I've mastered the business end, collected and created the very best materials and documents, and utilized some amazing technology tools that make my practice a virtual no-brainer to run.

What are Some other Common Titles Used for This Profession?
There are a number of other common titles used in the private educational field, and each offer a slightly different expertise and focus.  
  • Educational Therapist
  • Learning/Academic Coach (Executive Functioning Coach, ADHD Coach)
  • Educational Specialist
  • Reading Specialist
  • Tutor
Actually, I use all the following titles to describe the work I do in my practice: learning specialist, educational therapist, coach and personal trainer for the brain.  Here is an article that I wrote that defines the Differences between a tutor, learning specialist and educational therapist

There is a great need for enthusiastic educators that can help students make it through their years of schooling.  What's more, you get to set your hours, wages, and approach.  If you have any further questions or comments, please share your thoughts below this blog.
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, April 20, 2016

Online Zoom Sessions for Learning Specialists: Making Documents Interactive


Educational Therapists, Learning Specialists and Tutors can now use Zoom, a conferencing platform for free to improve online sessions and office appointments when meeting with students one-on-one. Compared to Skype, Google Hangout, and Facetime, Zoom is a more stable platform with some unique added features.

What are the Key Features?
  1. Zoom allows both participants to share pdf images, web pages, word processing and an interactive whiteboard.  When you select the green "share screen" option that is on the bottom menu of the zoom meeting, it opens a window that allows you to share anything that you have open on your desktop.  What's more, it allows either participant to share their iPhone or iPad screen. 
  2. My favorite feature is that the participants can also draw lines and shapes or type text on the screen so that activities and images become interactive.  Yes, if you have digital workbooks or images, you no longer have to print your activities!  You could even take a picture of a workbook page and share this in a zoom lesson, as long as that image is open on your computer.  This can save both time and money when prepping for appointments!  
  3. If you share the whiteboard with your students, it can be a nice way for the two of you to brainstorm ideas in a web.  It can also be a nice blank space to practice spelling activities.
  4. What's more, Zoom has the added feature of letting either party record the session.  This way strategies or snippets of your lessons can be shared with parents after the Zoom sessions is over.  As soon as you end your zoom session, your recording will be converted and saved to your computer as an mp4.  This can be mailed as an attachment or placed into dropbox and shared.
Can I See a Demonstration?
I did a demonstration of how I use Zoom in my online sessions by completing one of my Following Directions Intermediate activities called What am I?  

 look forward to getting to know you on the inside!

Join my Learning Specialist VIP List

If you would like to join my Learning Specialist VIP list where you can get freebies, announcements and advice CLICK HERE. If you would like to learn more about the courses that are currently available CLICK HERE.

Resource Links:
You can sign up for Zoom at www.Zoom.us
You can also learn more about my Following Directions publications and get some free samples at http://bit.ly/1RCifY7

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, April 13, 2016

Dyslexia and Voice Dream Reader: Discussion and Demonstration with Winston Chen


This blog shares my most recent video podcast featuring Winston Chen, the author of my favorite app for readers with dyslexia.  This is the first of many free video podcasts for Go Dyslexia!

Winston founded Voice Dream while on sabbatical on an island north of the Arctic Circle and his flagship product Voice Dream Reader is an amazing technology device that offers text-to-voice for audiobooks, PDFs, and more.  This top-selling iOS app has a recent, free, comprehensive update with some new extraordinary features. Come learn about this creation and view a demonstration of this amazing tool that is changing the accessibility of text for individuals with dyslexia around the world.



Mentioned Resource Links:
Voice Dream Reader: http://www.voicedream.com/reader/
Voice Dream Writer: http://www.voicedream.com/writer/
Abbyy Fine Reader:  http://www.abbyy.com/finereader/
Scanner Pro 7:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scanner-pro-7-document-receipt/id333710667?mt=8
Cam Scanner:  https://www.camscanner.com/user/download
Snap to PDF:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/snap2pdf-scan-documents-share/id472940721?mt=8
Prismo: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prizmo-scanning-ocr-speech/id366791896?mt=8
Apprentice Alf:  http://www.epubor.com/apprentice-alf-drm-removal-tools.html

Best New Features:
1) Pac-man reading mode: The latest research at MIT and Harvard shows that anyone can double their reading speed with no loss of comprehension. This new technique combines audio, visual, and attention propulsion. The words disappear from the page slightly before they're spoken by text-to-speech, forcing the reader to read ahead visually with audio arriving a fraction of a second later. With practice, the results can be staggering.

2) Finger reading: Some readers struggle to follow even at the slowest speed, which also becomes distorted. With finger reading, the reader runs their finger under the words on the screen to hear each word.

3) Quickly browse text: On an iPhone 6s or 6s plus, you can press firmly on the fast forward button while the app is reading -- also called Force Touch -- to double the reading speed. Release it slightly to return to normal speed.

What’s New in 4.0.0 release of Voice Dream Reader?
•  A brilliant new user interface
•  Grid view and book cover images in the library.
•  Improved library organization: filters, flags, and sort order.
•  Visual appearance of the entire app uses the current color theme.
•  Experimental rich text
•  Support for images/illustrations for all documents.

Library Synchronization:
• Your entire library, including folders, reading locations, bookmarks and annotations are synchronized across all your devices using iCloud Drive.

New Reading Modes:
• Finger reading allows beginning reads to control the speed by running a finger under each word.
• Pac-Man mode. Harvard and MIT developed speed-reading method for everyone to read at 2x speed with no loss of comprehension.
• Sentence mode. Speech pauses at every sentence. Useful for beginning readers.
• Repeat mode.
• Option to rewind to beginning of the last sentence when you pause.

New Voices:
• Alex, free, high-quality voice in iOS 9.
• New premium child voices from Acapela in US, UK, Australian English, US Spanish, and German.
• Acapela's new flagship German voice: Claudia.
• Emotive variations of Jeroen, Antoine, Margaux, Dimitris and Will.

Other New Features:
• Set PDF margins to exclude text in header and footer.
• Up to 4X speed for recorded audio.
• Support for 3D Touch, split-screen multitasking, and Spotlight search.
• Safari extension to save Web pages and Web addresses.
• Evernote file attachments.
• Background download for files and voices.
• More accurate language detection.
• Option to hide header and footer in full-screen mode.

What do you think of Voice Dream Reader?  Share your comments and stories 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 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, April 6, 2016

Comprehensive Remediation for Students with Dyslexia

Dyslexia is consistently found to be associated with academic difficulties. As a result, many of these learners require additional help at school or in their community by a qualified professional. Alternative reading instruction is a common approach, but many of these struggling learners require a more comprehensive method. Remedial help needs to focus on strengthening areas of weaknesses, while nurturing abilities and developing compensatory learning strategies. What's more, many of these learners possess both physical and emotional concerns that also require attention.

Cognitive:
There are a number of common cognitive processing areas that require remediation:
  • Visual processing: Dyslexia symptoms can be caused by visual processing problems residing in the brain. These are not problems with vision, rather they are problems with how the brain makes sense of visual stimuli. Therapies for visual processing disorders include cognitive remedial therapy, and some individuals also report that the use of colored paper, tinted lenses and colored overlays as well as vision therapy can help. 
  • Auditory processing: Students with auditory processing deficits can hear normally but struggle to recognize slight differences between sounds in words. In short, their hearing is normal but their brain struggles to process the information accurately. 
  • Language processing: Language processing is the way people process words to extract information, ideas and feelings. 
  • Rapid Automatic Naming (RAN): Rapid automatized naming (RAN) or rapid naming is the ability to quickly verbalize a series of familiar items including letters, numbers, colors or objects. Experts agree that RAN tests suggest a lot about one’s reading abilities.
  • Memory: Many students with dyslexia find that their learning disability as well as anxiety can block recall.  Like finding a favorite shirt in a messy room, a lot of time can be wasted searching for the right word, or even worse, individuals with dyslexia may not be able to demonstrate their knowledge when called upon in class or when recording answers on a test. 
  • Executive functioning/Attention: When individuals with dyslexia struggle with executive functioning, tasks that require planning, organization, memory, time management, attention and flexible thinking become challenging. Executive functioning is like a mental workspace that encodes, retrieves and manipulates information. 
When students in placed in a traditional classroom, these cognitive deficits can lead, in turn, to physical or emotional problems in what can become a destructive feedback spiral.

Emotional:
The repeated association of academics with stress and frustration as well as negative comments from peers, parents or teachers can result in adverse emotional states:
  • Learned helplessness: When students feel that repeated efforts result in failure, many give up and avoid learning altogether.
  • Fear: When academic struggles become associated with adversity, students can experience the 3 Fs. 1) Fight - They will refuse to learn. 2) Flight - They will avoid or even hide their books. 3) Freeze - They seem unable to process what they are learning.
  • Feelings of Inadequacy: When students compare themselves unfavorably to their peers. This can lead to withdrawal, feelings of inadequacy, and a poor academic self-concept.
  • Anger/Frustration: Many individuals with dyslexia feel angry and frustrated when they are misunderstood, bullied or made to feel stupid by their peers or adults.
  • Shame: Some dyslexics feel humiliation or distress caused by poor academic performance.
Physical:
For some struggling learners physical problems can result:
  • Exhaustion: When students with dyslexia use great mental effort to process what they are learning, they often struggle to maintain effort throughout the day and may complain of mental fatigue.
  • Discomfort: With the emotional and cognitive strain and stress that many students with dyslexia feel, their body may tense up and they may experience shortness of breath.
  • Headaches or body pain: Daily strain and distress at school can also manifest in the body as headaches and digestive distress. 
How Can I Help?
It is important to assess and address all the areas of difficulty that each student with dyslexia faces.   Here are a few ideas:

  • Cognitive: As no two students with dyslexia are alike, be sure to use a tailored approach that can meet the unique needs of each individual student.  If you are looking for cognitive remedial tools for dyslexia, there is a great selection of options at Good Sensory Learning.  
  • Emotional: Work with students on coping strategies and help to build self-esteem and resilience through discussion and support.   We now have a growing number of social emotional products at Good Sensory Learning.
  • Physical: Help students manage stress through mindfulness training and meditation.  Also consider using kinesthetic breaks or "brain breaks" to fuel and feed the brain and body with oxygenated blood.  Finally, contemplate using methods like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) that can be used to address past, negative learning experiences.
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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