Listing all posts with label reading strategies. 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. 50+ Patriotic Activities & Resources for Kids---All in 1 Place!

    We are fast approaching the 4th of July Weekend and with it the unofficial milestone of mid-summer, too. Wasn't it just yesterday that we were enjoying the season's first barbecue over the Memorial Day Weekend? Time marches on, as they say! Before we know it, Labor Day will be looming, and children will be returning to school. For now, though, let's enjoy the summer, right?

    While we are enjoying time with our families, it is also a very good idea to help prevent what is often called the summer slide or summer slowdown, terms used to describe the loss of reading and math skills that children have learned. This loss can occur when there is a decrease or lack in stimulation of young brains during extended school vacations or other academic break times.

    Though it may seem challenging to do so, it is very possible to avoid this loss of skills by working with children, using stimulating activities during those long vacation times. The Fourth of July Weekend is a perfect time to introduce these kinds of activities to help your child or grandchild avoid this learning loss, especially when we have reached the mid-point of the summer, and children just might be looking for a variety of new things to do.

    Should you choose to utilize some or all of the many resources in the link provided below here, your child or grandchild will be ahead when the new school year begins. So, keep the link handy for your use during the coming holiday weekend. You might also want to refer to it again over the Labor Day break, too.  At any rate, you will help your child enjoy our Independence Day holiday as well as help keep his mind sharp over the summer vacation period.

    Yes, we can still have fun in the sun this 4th of July, but at the same time, avoid the summer slide with an array of enjoyable reading activities, games and other related resources having a patriotic flare. That way, long after the holiday weekend is history, your children (or grandchildren) will be skipping around the summer slide and well on their way to gearing up for the coming school year while still having fun this July 4th.

    Remember to KEEP them reading and learning ALL summer long! Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July with your family!

    Link to 50+ Patriotic Reading Activities & Resources (Most are FREE!)
    https://www.pinterest.com/brennajn2000/patriotic-games-activities-resources-for-kids/?etslf=5719&eq=Patriotic
  3. Empowering Resources for Persons of ALL Ages with Autism
     
    We believe that the right tools, strategies and resources can significantly improve one’s reading and learning success, especially when reading and learning can be difficult for someone with ADHD, dyslexia and other issues.
     
    If you or someone you know is challenged with autism, however, the importance of those tools, strategies and resources may be even more important in efforts to improve the quality of life.  You may already know about the low-tech and digital Reading Focus Cards, effective tools that help challenged, unfocused readers with autism and sensory issues.  We also provide a free list of reading and learning strategies and accommodations to help persons of any age with autism.  The list can be found on this website.
     
    For this article, we wanted to address the third component---resources that can actually help to EMPOWER persons with autism to become more confident, more socially interactive and better able to overcome their obstacles.  In our efforts to write this article, we have received the assistance of Ms. Kathleen Carter, a high-school student with Asperger's (autism) and volunteer-intern-extraordinaire at EducatorLabs.  She assists the organization with its research and outreach activities. 
     
    Ms. Carter has kindly provided the first six empowering resources in our list included here.  We want to thank her for these good resources for autism.  We have added a few more links to the list and hope that because of our combined efforts, these resources may help you or others you know in the autism community to feel empowered to become more confident, more comfortable in social situations and more independent in overcoming the challenges of autism---each and every day!

    Empowering Resources for Persons with Autism

    1.   Autism Speaks Resource Guide
    http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-guide

    2.   Career Assistance for People with Autism
    http://www.hloom.com/career-assistance-for-people-with-autism/

    3.   National Center for Autism Resources & Education
    https://www.disability.gov/resource/national-center-for-autism-resources-education-ncare/

    4.   AutismNOW Transition Planning
    http://autismnow.org/in-the-classroom/transition-planning-for-students/

    5.   Aquatic Therapy for Children with Autism
    http://www.saveonpoolsupplies.com/landing/aquatic-therapy-for-children-with-autism.aspx

    6.   Autism
    http://healthfinder.gov/FindServices/SearchContext.aspx?topic=81

    7.   Equine Therapy Programs for Children with Asperger's and Autism
    http://www.equine-therapy-programs.com/aspergers.html

    8.   Autism Resources from Easter Seals
    http://www.easterseals.com/explore-resources/living-with-autism/autism-resources.html

    9.   Family Grant Opportunities (for Therapy, Assistive Technology, etc.)
    https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-library/family-grant-opportunities

    10. Resources - Solutions to Problems in the Autism Community---US Autism & Asperger Association
    http://www.usautism.org/resources.html

    11. BEST Apps for Sensory Processing Issues (iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
    http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2015/04/best-apps-for-sensory-processing-issues.html

    12. BEST Apps for Autism-2015 (iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
    http://helpforstrugglingreaders.blogspot.com/2015/01/best-apps-for-autism-2015.html

  4. 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).
  5. 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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