Listing all posts with label colored overlays. Show all posts.
  1. 13 Tips to Enhance e-Learning with Low-tech, High-tech & Sensory Resources
    (Article originally published via the ReadSpeaker.com blog on February 9, 2016)

    Educators know that getting and keeping students engaged in a lesson is challenging, but it is also key to learning success. Incorporating different kinds of strategies into a lesson plan will go a long way to ensure a higher level of student engagement, especially when these methods appeal to one or more of the students’ five senses. The more senses involved, the better the engagement, mastery level of the content and the retention thereof.

    In our world of education today where technology has become an integral part of learning, one might ask, how can I develop “sensory” units of study when so much of what we do in the classroom involves computers and tablets?

    Here is a list of 13 ways to incorporate low-tech, high-tech and sensory strategies into a unit of study:
     
    1.     Allow for the recording of oral notes from an online lesson with a micro-cassette recorder or other inexpensive recording device. When a main idea is presented in the digital text, it can then be recorded for future reference. The essential points that support each main idea should also be recorded as they are discovered in the text. Play back the oral notes for a variety of further study activities: to help create more accurate written notes, to facilitate in writing an essay, to review content at test time or to share with a study group. This is a good strategy for auditory learners.
     
    2.     Arrange for all course and book content to be made available via audiotape or CD. This will be another very helpful strategy for students who learn best by listening.
     
    3.     Use sensory-appealing tools to help isolate 1 or 2 lines of text for individuals with focusing challenges. These types of tools can help visual as well as tactile learners with their use of color, soft materials and other features. Many students can easily be overwhelmed by too much text on a computer, e-reader or tablet screen. For such an issue, a student might use these physical tools to help focus on each line of text and block out a large amount of surrounding text on a screen. This approach can make reading assignments much more manageable, breaking down the content into chunks or small sections.
     
    4.     Allow for access to a copy of prepared notes, especially after an online lesson or presentation. This will give students the benefit of knowing which ideas and points are important in a unit of study for an online lesson. This can be most helpful to students with attention and focus issues, writing challenges such as dysgraphia or other difficulties.
     
    5.     Provide stick-on notes for writing down main ideas from a lesson or study unit. Then allow for them to be placed on a wall at eye level. This is an effective strategy for visual learners and/or individuals with executive function challenges (memory, etc.)
     
    6.     Allow for the use of colored paper for handwritten and printed materials including worksheets, outlines, notes, etc. Experiment with pastels as well as bright shades. One particular color may produce significant results for each individual reader. White page backgrounds with black text in particular can cause “visual stress” for more than a few readers.
     
    7.     Along the same lines, consider the use of anti-glare computer screen filters and/or colored screen overlays when reading online content. These can decrease visually-offensive glare often caused by overhead florescent lighting, increase focus, diminish “visual stress” and help lengthen online reading and working periods. It is also recommended that appropriate colored overlays or films for smartboards and dry erase boards also be used for these purposes.
     
    8.     Allow for some kind of movement when reading online content. Also, permit kneeling or standing at a computer desk (if needed), as long as it does not cause problems or distractions for others. A standing computer desk can be a huge benefit to a kinesthetic learner or to an individual with ADHD. For an even lower-tech idea, consider attaching a “soundless” elastic band or bungee cord across the 2 front legs of a non-rolling computer chair. While seated and reading online, this will allow for feet to move within a small space and can be helpful for children who must “fidget” to focus. Stress balls can provide another option or additional support for some learners.
     
    9.     Consider adding 1 or more therapy balls as another seating option for students, as they work with computers or other tech devices. These types of balls strengthen core muscles and can be very therapeutic for kids who need to wiggle. These also can help develop proper posture, improved sitting habits and are good for children with sensory needs.
     
    10.   Permit the use of very low-volume music (instrumental) or environmental sounds (seashore, birds, etc.) while doing independent work online. Be sure to provide headphones in a classroom setting for this strategy, of course.
     
    11.   Allow students to work cooperatively with others at times as part of a “buddy” system of support. This can be an excellent strategy for interpersonal learning styles. Some students simply need to talk and interact in order to learn and retain information successfully.
     
    12.   Utilize text-to-speech technology, especially for students with reading challenges and for individuals who are auditory learners. Listening while reading to a text at the same time can greatly increase reading comprehension. This can be a particularly good strategy for students with dyslexia or those with low vision.
     
    13.   Seek out and implement the use of effective software applications to better enable individuals to focus and read digital media with more success (whether online or offline).
     
    With these tips in mind, you can begin to incorporate and discover the right match between tech tools and a student’s needs. It may take some time and effort, but the appropriate combination of assistive technology tools and tips can be instrumental in helping a student become a much more successful and independent learner.
     
    Sources:
     
    1.   ReadSpeaker: Use the power of ReadSpeaker text-to-speech to give a voice to your websites, mobile apps, digital books, e-learning materials, documents, and more!
    2.   ReadSpeaker Blog: Original article published February 9, 2016, 13 Tips to Enhance e-Learning with Low-tech, High-tech & Sensory Resources
    3.   Brennan Innovators, LLC: Strategies & Accommodations for Challenged Readers
     
     
  2. Back-to-School Reading Resources for ADHD

    Two weeks ago, we were very privileged to once again participate as educators in an excellent gifted education program called College for Kids. This program at the St. Louis Community College-Meramec was established over 30 years ago with the inspiration and support of dedicated and committed parents of gifted children in the Greater St. Louis Area. 

    The courses in the College for Kids program are offered each summer for gifted and talented elementary and middle school youth who have completed kindergarten through eighth grade. These courses are designed to further challenge and advance gifted students' skills

    The students we worked with in the program this week were outstanding and most enjoyable to teach! We provided 2 classes each of ¡Bienvenidos, Mis Amigos!, an exploratory Spanish class and a STEM course called Mechanical Robotic Arm Build.  We certainly appreciated the enthusiasm and motivation demonstrated by these talented students. It was a GREAT week for ALL of us!

    At the same time, we could not help but notice that even in this gifted population, there were more than a few students who also had additional needs.  In our work, we have found that many parents and even teachers are not always aware that giftedness AND additional needs can sometimes co-exist for some students (called twice-exceptional).  Very often, these needs involve attention and concentration issues for gifted children and teens.  Many of their young minds require almost constant stimulation, which can in itself feed the ADHD they already may have.

    For this reason and because of our experiences with students of all abilities, we thought it would be beneficial to our readers to provide a resource list for ADHD reading tips, especially during this back-to-school season.  One of our previous articles entitled Let's Deal with Distractions---ADHD Strategies for Home & School included a rather extensive list of general home and school resources for ADHD.  

    This week, we continue to help parents and teachers in the preparation for a new school year with our ADHD resource list for reading.  We hope this list will assist our readers in helping students experience improved focus, more sustained attention and better concentration when reading (whether online or offline).  It is important to note that these resources can be helpful not only to gifted children but to ALL children with focusing and attention issues.  We hope the list and its "goodies" will provide you with the needed resources to help a child you know with the reading challenges of ADHD.

    Helpful Reading Resources for ADHD

    How to Improve Reading Skills in Children with ADHD or Learning Disabilities 
    by Matthew Cruger, Ph.D. and ADDitude Magazine
    Guaranteed tips for improving reading comprehension in children with ADHD or learning disabilities like dyslexia.

    Many ADHD Kids Also Have Reading Problems
    by Denise Mann, WebMD Health News
    About half of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may experience problems with reading, according to a new study in Pediatrics. It was found that 51% of boys with ADHD had reading problems, as did 46.7% of girls with ADHD. More information about this study and many reading resources for ADHD are offered here.

    Print & Use Tools: Study Skills from School Family
    FREE worksheets, lists and activities to help children (especially those with ADHD) become better organized, more motivated and more on top of school work.

    Desktop APP: Reading Focus Cards (Patent 8,360,779) (Price: $5.99)
    from Brennan Innovators, LLC
    This desktop app is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. This app for Windows PCs and Macs provides practical READING SUPPORT for children and adults with dyslexia, ADHD, autism and other conditions that can affect reading success. It promotes more FOCUSED online reading of almost ALL digital media (webpages, PDF files, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets & more.)  In addition, the Reading Focus Cards app is compatible with and supports touch-screen technology.  The application can be moved on the screen over text by the fingers, mouse or arrow keys as needed. 

    1. For Macs (desktops & notebooks): 
    Visit the Mac App Store and search for Reading Focus Cards or go directly to 
    2. For Windows PCs (desktops & laptops):
    Visit Gumroad at https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the app called Reading Focus Cards. (No URLs are ever provided for apps in the Windows Store.)


    5 Back To School Tips for Your ADD or ADHD Child 
    by Dr. Robert Myers, Child Psychologist 
    Here are some back-to-school tips to make things seem a lot easier and smoother for parents and kids.

    ADD/ADHD Resources for Teachers from TeacherVision
    Articles and many FREE resources to help educators manage the special nature of students with ADD/ADHD.

    For more information on customizable reading tools for better focus & attention, please visit:
    www.FocusandRead.com ---Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
  3. The Reading Focus Cards: Helpful Focusing Tools for Books, Technology & More! 

    As we come to the end of the month of October, LD Awareness Month is also drawing to a close.  We all know, however, that the awareness raised for special needs and learning challenges this past month cannot remain static.  We need to continue to be advocates for those who are unable to advocate for themselves and help teach those who are able the strategies that can enable their voices and needs to be heard---and addressed effectively.

    At the same time, we want to ensure that the helpful resources, techniques and tools already available can be utilized in the most effective ways.  That is the reason for this article.  We want to demonstrate that the Reading Focus Cards you may already have can be used in variety of other ways as well.  Since diagrams and photos are important means of teaching visual learners, we have decided to present most of this information in that format.  We hope you will find a few more options here for using BOTH sizes of your Reading Focus Cards.

    Other Options for Using the Reading Focus Cards
    (Patent 7,565,759)


      Use with e-Readers (i.e., Kindles, Nooks, etc.)

    Use the SHORTER size of the Reading Focus Card (Model #001),
    moving it straight down the the screen of the device.  

    Special Note:  Please use a protective film for all tech device screens with this application.     

    Use with e-Tablets (i.e., iPads, Androids, etc.)

    Use the LONGER size of the Reading Focus Card (Model #002),
    moving it straight down the the screen of the device.  

    Special Note:  Please use a protective film for all tech device screens with this application.      

    Choose the BEST Option for YOUR Focus & Reading Success!


    For larger font sizes, one line of text can be read through the Reading Window.








    When font sizes are smaller, it can be possible to view more than one
    line of text in the Readng Window.





    If a reader prefers NO colored Reading Filter, the area of the
    Reading Focus Card that precedes the Reading Notch can be
    another option for reading text lines from left to right.

    This application is also quite helpful for breaking down words into phonemes or syllables.  Just uncover (from left to right) the letters, phonemes or syllables needed at a time.  This application can be especially helpful for readers with dyslexiaELL/ESL students or new, young readers in word-attack skill building activities.

    Another Option for More Focus & Reading Comfort

    For readers who prefer NO colored Reading Filter but desire text already read to be visible and text not yet read to be covered, simply turn the Reading Focus Card 180 degrees from its horizontal position to access a LONG, unframed section of text.

    Use the Reading Focus Cards with Math Applications, too!

    For long addition, multiplication and division, the SHORTER Reading Focus Card can help increase focus on the needed place holder column and improve accuracy with problem solving.

    Some readers may choose to use both sizes of the Reading Focus Card when working with math and science equations (tool size determined by equation length).

    The Reading Focus Cards Are IDEAL Tools for Tests & Exams

    For bubble-type test answer sheets (such as Scantron, etc. and where permitted), the Reading Focus Cards allow the reader to locate AND retain the appropriate line of bubbles for a specific test question.  Using the tools in this application can actually help increase the participant's focus, rate and test accuracy

    Special Note:  Many states in the U.S. currently allow the use of tools such as these on annual state achievement tests (usually for students with IEPs or 504 Plans only).  However, there may be conditions required for this permission.  Please check with DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) in your particular state.

    Craft & Household Uses for the Reading Focus Cards

    Special Note:
     For the following use options, simply turn the Reading Focus Card over or upside-down so that the gripping side of the tool faces the page of text.  This will keep the reading tool in place until the reader is ready to move it to other text.

    It's easy to lose one's place when working with a crochet, knitting and other craft or hobby patterns.  However, with the Reading Focus Cards, your favorite activities become so much easier AND more enjoyable, too!



    The Reading Focus Cards can also help in the kitchen.  When reading recipes, you won't add an ingredient more than once if you retain your place in the ingredient list with this tool (usually the SHORTER tool).
  4. Reading with COLOR---What a Difference It Can Make!

    It is an unfortunate statistic that as many as 80% of U.S. students with learning disabilities (LD) have problems with reading.  A number of these children experience such reading problems because of dyslexia, convergence insufficiency, or other vision-related reading issues.  Others are challenged with attention deficits (AD/HD), autism, low vision, stroke recovery issues or TBI issues that many times will negatively impact reading success.
     
    If you notice your child or your student is struggling to read, there are a few strategies that can be implemented to help to improve reading success.  Interestingly enough, the strategies to follow here involve the use of COLOR, which can improve the connections made in the brain when one is attempting to read.  Consider one or more of these tips:

    COLOR Strategies for More Reading Success
     

        1.  Colored Paper:  When reading printed media such as worksheets, etc., consider copying the documents on colored paper instead of on traditional white copy paper.  A ream of several different colors can be purchased at your local office supply store.  Each week, try a different color of paper until the “optimum” color is discovered; that is, the color that provides the most eye comfort and focus, allowing the reader to better attend to the text and more successfully comprehend the printed material.
             REASON:   White page backgrounds can cause “visual stress” for some readers.  As a result, these readers often struggle with focusing which affects attention and comprehension.  These visually- stressed readers can also experience fatigue much sooner, and their retention of what is read is often significantly impacted.
     
        2.  Colored Overlays:  Place a colored yet transparent plastic sheet over a page of text to be read.  These can be purchased at some office or art supply stores.  Consider trying a variety of different colored sheets, one color at a time with a resting interval between each color trial.  There is a good possibility that one particular color may promote more focus and comfort for the reader than other colors. Try pastels as well as dark and brighter colors.  Introducing the best or “right” color can positively affect the appearance of printed text for a reader with symptoms of dyslexia or other reading challenge.  The reader may report that the letters stopped “moving out”, “waving out” or “shadowing” on the page. (Please see REASON above here.)
     
        3.  Reading Focus Cards: These sensory-appealing tools combine the features of the 2 options above AND also focus the eye in one directed area.  The Reading Focus Cards are able to isolate 1 or 2 lines of text on a page and block more surrounding text than any other tool available.  In addition, these tools allow the reader to change white page backgrounds with a selected colored filter (included with each tool). 

    If you try the strategies described above here, and the reading problems persist, consider visiting a developmental optometrist.  This medical professional can evaluate, diagnose and treat children and adults with vision-related reading challenges.  To locate this specialized optometrist, please visit the website for the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (Please see Resources to follow here).  There you will find a “Locate a Doctor” tool in the upper right hand corner of each of the web pages on the site.  This will enable you to locate a developmental optometrist in your area.

    Resources:     
     
    Facts and Statistics on Learning Disabilities and Literacy---Publication with statistics and other information related to LD and literacy issues.
    http://www.floridatechnet.org/bridges/factsandstats.pdf
     
    College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) Website---Information about vision-related reading challenges from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.  Site includes an online 
    tool to “Locate a Doctor” in a specific geographical area.
    http://covd.org/

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