Quick Guide: How to Effectively Promote Literacy in the New Year
We know that everyone is busy. With family, school, work and community responsibilities, invariably many things are sometimes moved to a "back burner." In the New Year, we all too often make plans or resolutions to re-address those back-burner items on our lists and follow through with their completion. What about your plans for more and better literacy in the New Year? Have they been placed on a back burner in recent years because of other duties? Has there been just too much to read or has screen time taken over in your life and that of your family?
Well, this can be the year to change all that---not only for your own personal literacy, but also for your family's literacy as well as literacy in your school, your workplace and in your community. We can show you how, too, with some relatively easy tips to make it happen. Happy Reading AND Happy New Year to everyone!
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Home
1. Read to Them Daily! It’s never too early to read aloud to your child. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading to children in infancy! This special time actually promotes healthy brain development and serves to bond parent and child closer together.
2. Read in Front of Them, too. – If parents “practice what they preach” about the importance of reading, it sends a loud and clear message to their kids that reading is, in fact, valuable.
3. Create Space for Reading and Writing. One way parents can make literacy appealing to children is by providing an inviting place to read and write. A desk with pens, pencils, markers and paper nearby will encourage your little one to hone his writing skills. A small bookshelf filled with books, with a comfy beanbag close by, will promote reading.
4. Take Advantage of Windows of Opportunity. Parents should look for natural opportunities throughout the day to support literacy development. Have your kiddo write the shopping list for you, read the traffic signs as you drive, and name all the things in the kitchen that start with the letter R.
5. Be Involved with Your Child's Homework. If your little one is school-age, then be available to help with homework. Children often feel overwhelmed and unsure about their assignments. Your presence can help to alleviate their anxiety as well as remind them that you place a high value on their education.
For MORE Literacy Tips for Your Home, click here.
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your School
1. Set aside time for independent reading. Time for reading independently doesn’t just happen. Plan for it by making it a priority in schedules across K-12 classrooms. You may need to get creative by stealing minutes here and there, but find at least 15 minutes a day (20 recommended) for self-selecting, independent reading.
2. Create Literacy-Rich Environments in every K-12 Classroom. A literacy-rich environment – full of print, word walls, books, and reading materials – not only supports the Common Core standards, but also provides a setting that encourages and supports speaking, listening, reading, and writing in a variety of authentic ways – through print & digital media. Make it a priority for every K-12 classroom to be an inviting, print-rich environment that supports independent reading and student learning.
3. Support High-Quality Classroom Libraries. Students need access to interesting books and materials – both in print and online. When students are provided with well-designed classroom libraries, they interact more with books, spend more time reading, exhibit more positive attitudes toward reading, and exhibit higher levels of reading achievement (NAEP, 2002). Additionally, research-based classroom libraries support balanced literacy instruction. Support teachers in building classroom libraries through budget dollars, grants, and book drives.
4. Encourage Read Alouds. In the Becoming a Nation of Readers report (1985), experts reported that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” Not only did the experts suggest reading aloud in the home, but they also suggested reading aloud in schools. Read alouds not only allow teachers to model that reading is a great way to spend time, but also exposes students to more complex vocabulary than they typically hear or read. Remember to read to older students, too. Occasionally reading more difficult text aloud provides opportunity for rich discussion and vocabulary development.
5. Create a “Caught Reading” Campaign that features Teachers as Readers. Creating a school-wide reading culture is important to promote reading as a lifestyle. Students need to see their teachers as readers. Create posters of teachers and staff reading their favorite books and display them in hallways throughout the schools. You can also produce bookmarks that feature teacher’s favorite book picks to help guide students as they select books for independent reading.
For MORE Literacy Tips for School, click here.
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Workplace
1. Start a Book Basket in Your Office. If you do not have a basket you can use a box or bin instead. Make sure you place it in a high traffic area, such as the mail room, the lunch area, or where everyone signs in and out. The idea is that these books are easily accessible by any colleague in order to promote leisurely reading. Bring a few books that are laying around your house that you have already read and donate them to your workplace. Everyone can take a book as long as they promise to bring at least one back to share. When the book has been read, it should be brought back so someone else can enjoy. This will also hopefully inspire some collaboration and discussion about the books.
2. Write a Weekly Reflection or Newsletter. Writing is a great way to reflect on what has happened and can help you plan out for the days or weeks to come. It also provides a sense of accomplishment once you realize all the things have been completed. This is also a great vehicle for mention of a favorite book or article read by you or a co-worker. It can keep everyone at work in the literacy loop!
3. Practice Reading or Writing Yoga. Read or write silently for at least ten minutes per day. You can easily turn your workplace into a relaxing yoga studio by dimming the lights or adding party or holiday lights. Turn on a wax burner or oil diffuser to stimulate your nostrils (as per office or workplace policies, of course). Play some instrumental music to set the tone and perhaps bring a rug, beanbag, or pillows to allow you to get more comfortable. You can even brew some hot tea or make some hot chocolate to stimulate your taste buds, too! This environment will really help relax all your senses and provide somewhat of a mental break from the stress and workload that you may be faced with each day. Try it out! You and your colleagues will be amazed on how energized and relaxed you will feel afterwards.
4. Write a Thank You Note. Many times we get caught up with work that we forgot to thank those around us. We take for granted those people that mean the most to us and those whose work goes unnoticed. Take a few minuets to write a small thank you note to someone that you work with that has done something for you or that rarely gets noticed for their hard work (the janitors, cafeteria ladies, security guards, and secretaries are a great place to start). I guarantee this small act of kindness will mean the world to whomever you deliver it to. Let them know that you care and you are grateful to work alongside them.
5. Create a Book Club in Your Office. Get a group of colleagues to commit to read a book that everyone agrees upon and set weekly or monthly expectations for what should be read. Try to meet over breakfast, lunch, or happy hour to discuss. If everyone is crunched for time, you can start a slow twitter chat and pose questions to each other regarding the book.
6. Start a Gratitude Jar. Take some time to write down what you are thankful for on some Post-It Notes. Keep them in a plastic or glass jar and place it near your computer or someplace in your office were it is easily noticeable as a daily reminder to constantly write and add to our growing gratitude jar.
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Community
1. Educate Yourself and Others by Researching Literacy Websites. Start by researching some of the online resources available to you and then share them on social media or anywhere else you think they will help. Some are comprehensive directories that can help you identify help in your own community.
2. Volunteer at Your Local Literacy Council. Your local literacy council is there to help adults learn to read, do math, learn a new language, anything literacy and numeracy related. They can also help children keep up with reading in school. Staff members are trained and reliable. Participate by becoming a volunteer or by explaining the services to someone you know who might benefit from them.
3. Find Your Local Adult Education Classes for Someone Who Needs Them. Your literacy council and/or your local community college will have information about adult education classes in your area. If not, simply search online or ask at your local library. If your own county doesn't offer adult education classes, which would be surprising, check the next closest county, or contact your state education department. Every state has one.
4. Ask for Reading Primers at Your Local Library. Your local county library has resources available and can recommend special books to assist you in helping a friend learn to read. Books on beginning readers are sometimes called primers (pronounced primmer). Some are designed especially for adults to avoid the embarrassment of having to learn by reading children's books. Learn about all of the resources available to you. The library is always an excellent place to start.
5. Hire a Private Tutor for a Challenged Reader. Give the gift of reading to someone who needs it. It can be very embarrassing for an adult to admit that he or she cannot read or work simple calculations. If the thought of attending adult education classes freaks someone out, private tutors are always available. Your literacy council or library are probably your best places to find a trained tutor who will respect the student's privacy and anonymity. What a wonderful gift to give someone who won't otherwise seek help.
10 Tips to Promote Literacy at Home by Jennifer Campbell, Red Apple Reading Blog
25 Ways Schools Can Promote Literacy And Independent Reading by TeachThought
Promoting Literacy in the Workplace posted by Alejandra Guzman, High Five Science
5 Ways to Improve Adult Literacy by ThoughtCo.
BEST Book Gift Combos for Challenged Readers
Books are priceless gifts that can open doors for children that they might not otherwise have opened to them. Stories teach important lessons, provide "travel" to faraway lands and introduce children to characters that inspire and remain in their hearts for years to come. So, when it is time to think of a great gift for a child you love, think no further than a favorite book to help him remember your special thoughtfulness. Whether it is to commemorate a birthday, the Holiday Season or other important event, give a book, and chances are, you will hear about your gift often and for a long time to come.
You may wonder, "But what about a child who struggles to read or has challenges that make reading more difficult for him?" Please don't stop thinking about books as worthy gifts if this is the case. In fact, giving a book to a child with a reading challenge like dyslexia or other LD such as ADHD, autism, etc., can actually provide you with an opportunity to present an audio-book or a traditional selection accompanied by helpful reading tools. So, don't hesitate to consider the gift of one of these options that will make a child of any age smile.
Book & Tool Gift Sets for Challenged Readers/Learners
Consider choosing a title with a main character that struggles with the very same reading challenge the child experiences. There are more children's books than ever before that demonstrate just how to manage and even overcome many reading and learning issues. Some attack dyslexia or ADHD head on while others infer an academic or other struggle. Whatever the case, when a child reads about a character who experiences the same issues and feelings he has, it can be the first step to helping to deal with that issue. Combine the title with helpful tools or reading aids, and you have an ideal gift option for a child who wants to read and learn with more success.
During this Holiday Season, we have gathered together a very special grouping of favorite children's selections
for a variety of age groups to help you with gift giving. With books like these that are paired with innovative reading tools
, not only will you be encouraging a child to read, but you will also help provide support, enjoyment, inspiration and improved self-esteem for that child. Of course, being a genuine supporter of literacy and life-long learning will be a wonderful benefit, as well. And there is always the very good chance that the child will ask for another book to read just like the mouse with the cookie and the glass of milk. Happy "Reading" Holidays, everyone!
(ages 6-8) by Sara Pennypacker
- My Name is Brain Brian
(ages 8-12) by Jeanne Betancourt
- My Mouth Is a Volcano!
(ages 5-8) by Julia Cook
- Tom's Special Talent - Dyslexia
(ages 5-7) by Kate Gaynor
- Fish in a Tree
(ages 10+) by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
- The Alphabet War: A Story about Dyslexia
(ages 5-7) by Diane Burton Robb
- The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 1)
(ages 9+) R. Riordan
- It's Called Dyslexia (Live and Series)
(ages 6-9) by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
For more information on customizable reading tools for ADHD and/or dyslexia, please visit: FocusandRead.com
---Tools for readers of all ages!
Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC
15+ Helpful Strategies & Tools for Challenged Readers & Learners
Reading and learning do not come easily for every
child. Parents and teachers often look for specific strategies, tools and other resources to assist struggling readers and learners, especially the 6.4 million children with ADHD
and the nearly 1 in 5 children with dyslexia
in addition to other issues. Here are just a few ways you might consider when helping the challenged reader(s) or learner(s) in your life:
Request or allow for course and book content to be available via audiotape, CD, or DVD
2. Use a portable, hand-held spell checker
(such as the Franklin Spelling Ace) for unknown words.
3. Use graph paper, a ruler or the Reading Focus Cards for more focus with math work
(i.e., to help promote more accurate number placement in column addition, long division, equations, etc.)
4. Use interactive computer reading programs
that support challenged readers or learners and require only a limited number of tasks at a time.
5. Underline or highlight important key words in a set of directions
BEFORE beginning an assignment.
6. Fold a worksheet so that only a small amount of text, information, or problems is visible at one time
. Using individualized tools can help with this as well.
7. Allow for moving to optional work areas
with less distraction.
8. Allow for the experience of a variety of sensory learning techniques
such as those derived from the use of a computer, tape recorder, projector, and/or manipulatives. The more senses you appeal to in the learning process, the more success and retention the student will experience.
9. Use word processors or computers to complete written work
, especially when writing is a struggle.
10. Allow for kneeling or standing at a desk
(if needed), as long as it does not cause problems or distractions for other children or students.
11. Allow for access to a copy of prepared notes
, especially after a teaching session or discussion.
12. Arrange for a second set of textbooks at home
so that materials are always at hand when needed.
13. Use very low-volume music
(instrumental) or environmental sounds (seashore or other nature sounds) while doing independent work.
14. Allow for a child or student to work cooperatively
at times with others as part of a "buddy" system of support.
15. Use colored paper
for all printed materials including worksheets, outlines, notes, etc. Experiment with pastels as well as bright shades. One particular color may produce the best results for an individual.
16. Consider the use of colored overlays or the Reading Focus Cards for focus and reading challenges
because the white background of a page of text can be visually “offensive” to some readers/learners. In addition to being used with physical
books and worksheets, these types of reading tools are also very good for use with e-readers
(i.e., Kindles, Nooks, etc.) as well as with e-tablets
(i.e., iPads, etc.)
A non-scratch film should be used to protect tech device screens with this application.
Utilize the many online educational resources available like math.com
or Khan Academy
as well as other similar free websites for help with specific math and science challenges
Consider using the webste live ink
for readers at all levels of ability to re-format text
in order to deliver instant benefits like improved comprehension, retention, fluency and efficiency (speed & accuracy) as well as reduced eye strain and other advantages.
19. For reading online and/or offline digital media
, use the Reading Focus Cards desktop app
with Macs and Windows PC's to provide more focus and fluency, better tracking, increased comprehension and improved retention for unfocused or overwhelmed readers.
13 Tips to Enhance e-Learning with Physical, Digital & 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
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.
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
10 Tips to Help Children with Dysgraphia
Does your child struggle to write on the appropriate lines
provided? Do you know or teach a child who is challenged and/or frustrated with simply forming basic letters and words
? A child or student with these issues just might be challenged with dysgraphia
is a neurological disorder characterized by writing disabilities
. Specifically, the disorder causes a person's writing to be distorted or incorrect
. In children, the disorder generally emerges when they are first introduced to writing. They make inappropriately sized and spaced letters, or write wrong or misspelled words, despite thorough and apporpriate instruction.
Children with the disorder may have other learning disabilities
; however, they usually have no social or other academic problems. Dysgraphia in adults generally occurs after some trauma
. In addition to poor handwriting, dysgraphia is characterized by wrong or odd spelling
, and production of words that are not correct
(i.e., using "boy" for "child"). The cause of the disorder is unknown, but in adults, it is usually associated with damage to the parietal lobe of the brain.
1. First, CHANGE the paper used for writing.
A person with dysgraphia experiences significant challenges in the writing process. These challenges involve the inability to organize information
that is stored in memory AND getting words on to paper
by handwriting or typing them.
These 2 challenges prevent dysgraphic persons from understanding the spacing between letters, words, and sentences. In order to help your child visualize the space and to minimize frustration, first consider replacing your child’s lined paper with graph paper
or turn the lined paper sideways
, with each letter getting its own block/space and leaving an empty block/space between words.
You might also try using various kinds of highlighted printing papers
. There are a few online sources for such supplies. (Please see FREE downloadable templates available via the link provided below here, too.)
Also, consider changing the color of the writing paper
. A particular pastel color for paper may help alleviate some of the visual stress caused by white papers. Just the "right" colored paper for your child could make a positive difference, if only in the way he approaches the writing task.
2. CHANGE the writing tool or instrument your child uses.
Dysgraphia affects fine motor control
. Because of this, gripping a pencil or pen lightly isn’t natural. Encourage your child to write as if she were holding a feather, or take it a bit further and give her an actual quill and ink
. Feathers are delicate and children tend to handle them much more gently than they do a solid object like a pencil. If a quill is not readily available,consider using chalk
, as it will crumble when pressed too hard.
As for writing surfaces
, the bigger, the better! Use an easel
or a large sheet of white poster board
. Another option is to use sliding glass doors
on which to write (with washable markers or transparency pens) as they are huge and the glass surface naturally encourages my children to write much more softly than they would on other surfaces. An added benefit is that these large glass doors can easily and quickly be washed.
In addition, adding a soft and comfortable pencil grip
or holder to the writing tool currently used can provide much support for a struggling writer. These types of pencil grips can be found online from various special needs sources.
3. TEACH your child to type and effectively use a computer keyboard.
To help eliminate much of the stress of repeated writing difficulties, allow your child to express his ideas and thoughts with a word processor or computer keyboard
. Providing this option can relax and enable your child to make more progress in learning in all content areas. Another option for this purpose is a portable keyboard/word processor called AlphaSmart
. Although an older type of assistive technology, the AlphaSmart keyboards
can provide the needed typing tool for a challenged writer and is available online either new or used.
4. INTRODUCE your child to gross motor skill exercises.
Show your child a few gross motor skill exercises
to strengthen the arm and hand. Then incorporate these exercises into your child's daily routine. Make them fun, combining them with rhymes or your child's favorite kind of music. A good resource for these types of exercises is OT Mom Learning Activities (please see "gross motor" link below here).
5. INTRODUCE fine motor control exercises.
Introduce fine motor control exercises
to strengthen the fingers and wrist. Add these to your child's daily activities as well. By combining these exercises with some relaxing instrumental music selections, your child may relax a bit more and be able to concentrate on the exercises more successfully. A variety of fine motor exercises can also be accessed via many special needs or OT websites such as OT Mom Learning Activities, too (please see "fine motor" link below here).
6. CONSIDER by-passing printing & proceed directly to cursive writing.
The move to cursive
, too, can significantly reduce the levels of frustration
experienced by many with dysgraphia, allowing them to relax
and become better able to write. This might be a temporary by-pass of printing, or it could become more permanent, depending upon the results observed with the cursive writing.
7. DEVELOP & UTILIZE narration or speaking skills whenever possible.
some individuals to experience a block between thinking something and writing it
. Narration is an excellent tool for helping your child record her thoughts. Saying letters and words aloud as they are recorded
on a small tech device (mp3 player or the like) or with a text-to-speech program
will also be a benefit when it is time to write down those words. A handy list will have already been created.
8. WORK TOGETHER to evaluate & change your writing goals as needed.
Discuss at least once per week about how the accommodations are working
to help your child. Even if your child is young, he can provide valuable input as to what is working and what is not. He may even have additional ideas to add or request, especially after you have begun to show him just a few helpful strategies or accommodations.
9. DEMONSTRATE and USE large "air writing" techniques.
Demonstrate and use large "air writing" of letters to develop a more efficient motor memory
for the sequence of steps necessary in making each letter. You might also introduce "sand writing"
which involves using the finder to write out letters in a sided tray of sand. These multi-sensory approaches often yield very positive results.
10.MAKE USE of a other multi-sensory techniques.
Make use of a variety of multi-sensory techniques
to further develop handwriting skills. Visit Dysgraphia Resources
to access more than 200 multi-sensory activities, tools and other resources to help your child with the challenges of dysgraphia (many of the resources there are FREE, too!)
Sources & Resources:
8 Strategies to Beat Dysgraphia
from Homeschool Gameschool
Strategies for Dealing with Dysgraphia
by Regina G. Richards, LD Online
BEST Websites for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia
from Help for Struggling Readers
Pencil Grips and Holders
from Fun and Function
Portable assistive technology for keyboarding and word processing.
Able Apps for Dysgraphia
from Help for Struggling Readers
Fine Motor Skills and Handwriting (Activities Included)
from EduBlox Online Tutor
300+ Dysgraphia Resources---ALL in 1 Place
from Brennan Innovators, LLC
More than 300 multi-sensory resources to help someone you know with dysgraphia.
2 Literacy Apps That Work TOGETHER to Help ADHD & Dyslexic Readers Succeed!
With these 2 desktop apps in your tech toolbox, you'll be ready to support even more challenged readers!
Children and adults who struggle to read, especially individuals with ADHD and dyslexia, have many more options available to them today than they did only a few years ago. Now, there are many assistive technologies possible that were not even dreamed about a decade ago
. Today, both higher-level tech resources and low-tech tools can offer much help for unfocused or otherwise challenged readers.
Some of these technologies can even be combined in order to better help the estimated 1 in 5 persons in the U.S. challenged with dyslexia
or the 8 to 13%
(depending on the state) of school-aged children in our country who have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorders
(ADHD). These individuals can find it particularly difficult to focus, track, concentrate, comprehend and retain information when reading, especially for extended periods or when many pages of digital text must be read at a time.
One of the most popular and easily recognizable technologies to help these challenged readers is Amazon's Kindle
, the well-known e-reader launched in late 2007 that has been most disruptive
to the publishing world. The Kindle
technology enables readers to eliminate glare with a unique screen, diminish the starkness of white page backgrounds behind dark, virtual text, manipulate font or text sizes and more to assist persons with various reading issues.
Turn Your Computer into a Kindle with This App from Amazon!
If this upfront cost is prohibitive, readers should seriously consider downloading the FREE Kindle
app to your desktop or laptop, whether it is a Mac or Windows PC (the app is also available for other tech devices as well via the same web page). It costs nothing to turn one's computer into a virtual Kindle
and then immediately allows the individual to purchase e-books from Amazon.com for download directly to your computer. Kindle
app download link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-page/
Add The Reading Focus Cards Desktop App to the Kindle App & Watch What Happens on Your Desktop!
For challenged readers who often struggle with focus and attention, tracking, comprehension and retention, it would be hard to beat the combination of the Kindle app
AND an innovative application called the Reading Focus Cards desktop app
(Patent 8,360,779) for Macs and Windows PC's. If you know a challenged student or other struggling reader with ADHD or dyslexia, this 2-app combination can enable that individual to experience more comfortably focused, sustained and successful reading of e-books or other digital media.
When in use, the virtual
Reading Focus Card actually floats on top
AND stays on top of
e-book pages or any underlying application to more easily read a web page, Word or PDF document, Excel spreadsheet, e-book or other digital media.
If readers become overwhelmed with too much text
on a digital page of an e-book, the Reading Focus Cards
app directs the eye to what needs to be read WHILE covering as much or as little of the surrounding text as selected by the reader. Nearly an entire digital e-book page can be covered to improve focus on the text line needing attention.
Reading Focus Cards
desktop app download links:
Mac version: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read-and-focus/id920617853?mt=12
Windows XP, 7, 8 & 10 versions: https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards
Windows 10 version only: https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9WZDNCRDF33D
The Reading Focus Cards desktop app
will allow you to:
– Infinitely configure
Reading Focus Card’s features to improve your focus & attention
, decoding skills
, reading rate
– Easily move the virtual Reading Focus Card over an underlying e-book or other application
on the screen with a touchpad, mouse, arrow keys or even with your fingers, where touch technology is applicable.
– With this app's pop-up Toolbox
, independently customize the color
, level of transparency
of both the virtual
Reading Window and Reading Card, respectively, to provide more reading comfort
and block out distractions
, keeping you focused on the text you need to read.
Reading Focus Card to accommodate very large fonts or extensive paragraphs
, if you choose!
– Never worry about the virtual
Reading Focus Card disappearing from the screen unexpectedly, even when using it with the Kindle
app or other underlying programs! It floats on top
AND stays on top
of your computer screen, so you can scroll through e-book pages as well as read documents without interruption. You decide when to close the application.
Currently, mobile devices are unable to successfully support this unique, overlay-type Reading Focus Cards
app that stays on top of and moves independently of the underlying media applications.
Now, readers of any age and ability can improve their focus to read e-books as well as other digital media in greater comfort and with much more reading success. It is now possible with the combination of these 2 great apps, the Kindle app
for Macs and Windows PC's AND the Reading Focus Cards desktop app
Happy Reading---now for everyone!
By the Numbers: 120+ Amazing Amazon Statistics (2016)
by Craig Smith, of DMR
e-Book Statistics Update
from Writing for Life
Research-Based Literacy Tool – Helpful App for Struggling Readers
by Jayne Clare, of Teachers With Apps
Reading Focus Cards Desktop App
---Patent 8,360,779 (for Macs & PC's)
OR visit the Mac App Store and search for the Reading Focus Cards
Windows PC's: https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards
OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the Reading Focus Cards
. (No URLs provided for apps in the Windows Store.)
for Macs, Windows PC's & Other Tech Devices
by Charles Dickens
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations
. A Public Domain Book. N.p. N.d. e-Book.
This is the e-book available via Amazon.com used for the screenshots in this article.
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
The Ultimate Reading Guide for Your Child
Are you hoping your child will love reading as much as you do? Or are you interested in ensuring your child enjoys reading because it was never one of your favorite things to do. Either way, here are some practical tips to help you turn your child into a book lover.
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:
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!)
MORE Helpful Resources for the Autism Community
In June 2015, we had the pleasure of publishing an article for the autism community that was written by one of its members, Ms. Kathleen Carter. She is challenged with Asperger’s Syndrome and authored the article in this blog entitled Empowering Resources for Persons of ALL Ages with Autism
Once again, we are pleased to publish here Ms, Carter's latest collection of resources for the autism community. As our readers may know, there is a wide range of ways and levels in which people are affected by autism. Because of this, nearly every autism resource has the potential to significantly impact the quality of life for many on the spectrum.
Many of our readers may have witnessed firsthand the very helpful benefits of service dogs, but did you know that these very special dogs can be profoundly beneficial for autistic persons? Ms. Carter has told us that she herself will soon begin working with an autism service dog, and she wants to spread the good word about the positive impact these animals can have for those on the autism spectrum. In addition to the service-dog links included in her list below, Ms. Carter and we have also included other resources that may help the individuals who need them. We, too, hope our readers who work hard to serve persons on the autism spectrum will find them to be helpful in their good efforts.
Thank you, Ms. Kathleen Carter, for providing this great list of resources!
4 Paws For Ability
The Life-Changing Impact of Autism Service Dogs
Stress & Anxiety Reduction | Autism Research Institute
How to Handle the 4 Most Challenging Autism Behaviors
The Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759):
Physical Reading Tools for Challenged Readers
From Brennan Innovators, LLC
Sensory-appealing and customizable reading tools and solutions for challenged readers of all ages. Made in the U.S.A.
Reading Focus Cards Digital Desktop App (Patent 8,360,779)
---for Macs & Windows PCs (Price: $5.99)
From Brennan Innovators, LLC
This desktop app for Windows PCs and Macs is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. The app provides practical support for children and adults with autism, ADHD, dyslexia and other conditions that can affect reading success. It promotes more focused reading of digital media---whether online or offline. The application floats on top AND stays on top of any other underlying application.
A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder
Source for image: http://rlv.zcache.com/autism_puzzle_ribbon_awareness_poster-r447c6ac7647142f0ae07364edc5fe352_xzptb_8byvr_512.jpg
Dyslexia Awareness, Tools, Resources & Support
Some of our readers may know that the month of October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. Although we provide dyslexia tools and resources to our many customers and clients throughout the year, we make it a point to emphasize awareness of and share even more resources for dyslexia with everyone during this month of October. With the incidence of dyslexia estimated to be 1 in 5, it is essential that parents, teachers and other adults become aware of these statistics so that they can better address the needs of the many individuals with this specific learning challenge.
Dyslexia is a brain-based learning difference that specifically impairs a person's ability to read. Individuals challenged with dyslexia typically read at levels significantly lower than expected even with normal or average intelligence. Although the symptoms and experiences of dyslexia can vary from one person to another, the common characteristics
of the condition are:
Difficulty with phonological processing
-Manipulation of sounds
Challenges with spelling
. Difficulty with rapid visual-verbal responding
In persons with the adult onset of dyslexia, it usually occurs as a result of brain injury or in association with dementia. However, dyslexia may have been present in childhood or adolescence but was never identified until adulthood. Children who experience the symptoms listed above here should be considered candidates for dyslexia testing and evaluation by an appropriate medical professional (a behavioral or developmental optometrist, a developmental pediatrician, or other certified dyslexia specialist). Dyslexia can be inherited in some families, and recent studies have identified a number of genes that may predispose an individual to develop dyslexia.
In honor of this Dyslexia Awareness Month, we wanted to provide our readers with current and helpful resources to assist parents, teachers and other adults as they work with individuals challenged with dyslexia. We hope you will find these resources of benefit to you or someone you know.
Dyslexia Resources & Support Organizations
The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity
The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity serves as a nexus for research on dyslexia, and is as well a leading source of advocacy and information to better the lives of people with dyslexia.
DyslexiaHelp---University of Michigan
This website offers much information about dyslexia together with research, success stories and other related resources for parents, teachers and students.
International Dyslexia Association
This well-known organization provides general information and support for persons with dyslexia. The following link presents an online Dyslexia Self-Assessment for Adults
FAQ page: https://dyslexiaida.org/frequently-asked-questions-2/
Decoding Dyslexia is a network of parent-led grassroots movements across the country concerned with the limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia within the public education system. We aim to raise dyslexia awareness, empower families to support their children and inform policy-makers on best practices to identify, remediate and support students with dyslexia. For more information and to learn if your state has an affiliate branch of this organization (currently all 50 states do), please visit the link provided here.
National Center for Learning Disabilities
(Section on Dyslexia)
The National Center for Learning Disabilities improves the lives of all people with learning difficulties and disabilities by empowering parents, enabling young adults, transforming schools, and creating policy and advocacy impact. The link to follow here provides general information, dyslexia symptoms/warning signs categorized by grade level and resources to help parents and teachers.
Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy
Parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. - See more at: http://wrightslaw.com/#sthash.ajmQK87L.dpuf
Dyslegia: A Legislative Information Site
This website is maintained by Davis Dyslexia Association International to report and track pending legislation in the United States. This blog-based web site is a resource for sharing information about legislative initiatives, as a forum for discussion and exploration of policy issues, and as a communications tool to encourage citizen participation and involvement with their representatives in government.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
This website provides basic information about dyslexia as well as supportive resource links.
College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD)
Organization of developmental (behavioral) optometrists, medical professionals who can test and evaluate as well as diagnose and treat dyslexia and other vision-related reading challenges. A "locator tool" for such diagnosticians in your area is available on the website.
Helpful Dyslexia Tools & Apps
Created by Abelardo Gonzalez
OpenDyslexic is a new, open-sourced
font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. The typeface includes regular, bold, italic, and bold-italic styles. It is being updated continually and improved based on input from dyslexic users. There are no restrictions on using OpenDyslexic outside of attribution. FREE download via this link.
The Reading Focus Cards
(Low-tech Reading Tools)
From Brennan Innovators, LLC
Sensory-appealing and customizable reading tools and solutions for challenged readers of all ages. Made in the U.S.A.
(for OS X 10.8 or later---Price: $6.99)
Created by Abbie Gonzalez
Use to help with reading or sometimes to help following large tables and lists of data. Battle the wall of text, eyestrain and distractions with this on screen overlay to help you keep your place!
APP---Reading Focus Cards
(Macs & Windows PCs---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 ADHD, dyslexia, 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 Card 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.)
Best Books for Dyslexia
Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level
by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.; Vintage (2005)
Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide
by Pam Wright and Pete Wright; Harbor House Law Press (2006)
The Gift of Dyslexia
by Ronald D. Davis, Eldon M. Braun; Penguin Group-USA (1997)
(first published May 1, 1993)
The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain
by Brock and Fernette Eide M.D.; Plume (2012)
Dyslexic AND UN-Stoppable - How Dyslexia Helps Us Create The Life Of Our Dreams And How YOU Can Do It Too
by Lucie M. Curtiss, R.N. and Douglas C. Curtiss, M.D., FAAP
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
2. Career Assistance for People with Autism
3. National Center for Autism Resources & Education
4. AutismNOW Transition Planning
5. Aquatic Therapy for Children with Autism
7. Equine Therapy Programs for Children with Asperger's and Autism
8. Autism Resources from Easter Seals
9. Family Grant Opportunities
(for Therapy, Assistive Technology, etc.)
10. Resources - Solutions to Problems in the Autism Community---US Autism & Asperger Association
11. BEST Apps for Sensory Processing Issues
(iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
12. BEST Apps for Autism-2015
(iPad, Android and Desktop Apps)
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