Dr. Warren’s blogger articles on reading.

Free 60-Day Pilot of Nessy Reading and Free Dyslexia E-Book

I’m so pleased to offer you an incredible opportunity from my friends at Nessy learning.  Nessy Learning is looking for a few Canadian and U.S. schools interested in participating in a free, winter 2016 pilot of their Nessy Reading and Spelling program, used in over 10,000 schools worldwide.
  • The pilot targets children with reading disabilities such as dyslexia, and other at-risk readers from K-5 but accommodates all students and abilities.
  • The software utilizes intensive, Orton-Gillingham methods in a fun, multisensory game format.
  • The pilot will run for 60 days – beginning this winter 2016. 
  • Based on previous pilots, you can expect at least a grade level improvement in reading skill.
  • Nessy Learning provides all software, orientation material, and support material at no cost.
  • The pilot can supplement existing reading remediation programs.
  • Three, 30-minute sessions per week for each student is the recommended commitment.
  • Schools are under no obligation to purchase software at the completion of the pilot.
RSVP to ensure participation.

How to Participate:
Please use this activation code: EW101 and complete this: sign up form 

Who can Participate?

  • Teachers and school administrators 
  • Participating students do not have to be dyslexic or have difficulty reading, although struggling or dyslexic readers will benefit most.  
  • There is no minimum number of students required for participation. 

Purpose of the Pilot:

  • The purpose of the pilot is to improve reading skills (vocabulary, phonemic awareness, spelling, comprehension, fluency) for young, struggling students. Based on previous pilots, you can expect at least a grade level improvement for participating students.
  • Data collected from the pilot can be utilized in student evaluation (report cards) and planning (IEPs). 
  • Nessy will use the data from the pilot to improve and enhance the next version of the software.

Note that Nessy Reading has already undergone extensive testing.

Technical Requirements:

  • Windows – PC or Apple – Macintosh desktop
  • Broadband internet connection
  • Latest version of Firefox or Chrome browser recommended
  • Full tablet accessibility with Puffin browser
Nessy’s Role:

Dedicated Nessy staff will work with your school for the duration of the pilot. They will:

  • Provide orientation material.
  • Assist in the installation of the Nessy browser and software.
  • Provide technical support.
  • Address any issues arising including any questions.
  • Conclude the pilot early for any reason.

Your School’s Role in the Pilot:
Nessy will make every effort to limit any administrative burden.  Each school must identify a person who will work with Nessy. Their role includes:

  • Reviewing orientation material.
  • Viewing a pre-recorded webinar.     
  • Installing the Nessy browser and software.
  • Having all participating students begin with the Nessy assessment.
  • Allocating three, 30 minutes weekly sessions per student for the pilot duration.

Beyond the Pilot:

  • Progress reports data will be available to school staff at every stage of the pilot.
  • Your school will have the option of continuing to use Nessy by purchasing licenses at a steep discount compared to retail rates. 

Please use this activation code: EW101 and complete this: sign up form  

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
                                            Follow on Bloglovin

Key Reason Dyslexics and Struggling Readers Hate to Read

Imagine going to the movies with your eyes closed.  How much of the movie would you understand?  How much of the storyline would you recall?  Not much, and it probably wouldn’t be very engaging. In fact, you may begin to focus on the smells and the sounds of people crunching on popcorn. Your thoughts might wander, and you could even fall asleep. 

Many struggling readers have a similar experience when they open a book. They get little to no visuals in their mind’s eye while reading, they report that it is difficult to maintain attention and many complain that the process is boring.  Others purport to have a “blind mind’s eye” and are amazed to learn that it is possible to create mental imagery while decoding text.    

Why Does This Happen?
The average reader puts 20% of their cognitive effort into decoding and 80% into the visualization and comprehension of the text.  However, most struggling readers put 80% of their cognitive effort into the decoding process, leaving a measly 20% for comprehension. It’s no wonder why many can’t generate personal visualizations and they end up putting books down out of boredom, frustration and exhaustion.


What Makes Reading Fun, Engaging and Memorable are the Visualizations Created from the Text
Voracious readers report that what makes reading enjoyable, enticing and memorable is the mental imagery that they encounter when reading.  They report that they get lost in a “movie in their head.”  In other words, their mind’s eye conjures up visualizations of the words they read and paints pictures. This is similar to watching a movie and their attention and motivation gets pulled into the pages.

What Can We Do to Help Struggling Readers Learn to Create Mental Imagery?
I have found that the best way to teach visualization is through games and mindful discussions. You want to develop this skill to automaticity so that students can generate visualizations while doing other activities such as reading and writing. Here are some activities you can try:

  1. Play imaginary games and encourage your students to generate visualizations and describe them in detail.
  2. Break your classroom into groups of three students.  Ask them to all read a short descriptive passage to themselves.  Then ask them to read it again and highlight the words that create mental imagery.  Next, encourage the students to share their personal visualizations with their partners.  Finally, have the groups report back to the whole class and make a list of all the unique personal visualizations.
  3. Encourage learners to listen to passages of text and then draw images.
  4. After your students read a chapter, ask them to create storyboards – a sequence of drawings that share the storyline.
  5. Take the decoding process away and offer text to speech software.  Encourage your students to close their eyes while listening and create a movie in their head.  When they are finished, have them write about or draw their own personal visualizations.

Are There any Added Benefits of Visualization for Students?
By helping your students learn how to visualize, you can provide them a “secret weapon” that can enhance their learning capacity, improve memory and spark creativity.  In fact, the research shows that visualization not only improves reading comprehension, but also creative writing abilities and memory for math, history and science concepts.  To learn more about this, CLICK HERE.

Is it Ever too Late to Develop One’s Mind’s Eye?
No, it’s never too late. Let me share a story about and elderly woman that began to visualize while reading for the first time in her life:

I’ll never forget a grandmother bringing her grandson to a consultation.  After learning that her grandson had a great visual memory, I asked him if he visualized when reading.  When he said he didn’t, I went into a short explanation and summary of the process I would teach him.  A week later, his grandmother sent me an email.  She expressed that she had been listening to our conversation and that she picked up a book and made a conscious effort to visualize the text for the first time in her life.  She reported that the experience was wonderful. 


Are There any Ready-Made Products that Can Help Students Learn to Develop their Mind’s Eye?
To help teach students to improve their visualization capacity, I wrote a book entitled Mindful Visualization for Education. This 132-page downloadable document (PDF) provides a review of the research, assessment tools, over twenty game-like activities, lesson suggestions in all the subject areas and more.  In addition, I offer two PowerPoint downloads that review the 10 core skills that need to be developed to optimize visualization abilities.

If you have any thoughts or comments, please post them below.


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com, & www.learningtolearn.biz

Slow and Labored Reading: Causes and Solutions for Dyslexia and More

Slow and labored reading can make schooling a drag for many bright students, and in order to truly help these struggling learners, teachers and support personnel need to understand the root causes. The problem is that each student has their own unique contributing factors.  As a result, the best way to serve each student is to begin with an investigation.  

What are the Three Main Causes of Slow and Labored Reading?

Three main causes of slow reading.

1) Cognitive – Deficits or weaknesses in key cognitive processing areas can point to a root cause of slow and labored reading.  Common areas of deficit that can impact reading speed are:

  • Auditory processing 
  • Visual processing
  • Memory
  • Processing speed
  • Executive functioning and attention

2) Physical – Discomfort in the physical process can also make the process of reading difficult and it can minimize the practice needed.  For some learners, the reading process is: 

  • Exhausting: Some report that reading is wearisome for the eyes and can even make them feel sleepy.
  • Uncomfortable and annoying: Others find the reading process boring, tedious and aggravating.
  • Overwhelming:  Many individuals complain that they are visually overwhelmed by small or dense text.

3) Emotional – The pairing of negative emotions with reading can also impact one’s reading.  

  • Learned helplessness: When students feel a sense of learned helplessness from repeated failure, they can give up and avoid reading altogether.
  • Adversity: When reading becomes associated with adversity, students can experience the 3 Fs. 1) Fight – They will refuse to read. 2) Flight – They will walk away or even hide books. 3) Freeze – They seem unable to process the written word.
  • Feelings of inadequacy: When students feel that they are deficient readers, they can become passive learners and their fear of failure can become as self-fulfilling prophecy. 
Once Difficulties Have Been Uncovered, Also Look at each Student’s Strengths:

By defining a student’s strengths, it can help to uncover the needed tools that can be used to help each student work around challenging areas.  Like a detour, students can often learn to use other parts of the brain to assist them.  For example, a student may have poor reading comprehension but a a strong mind’s eye.  Some explicit instruction can assist them in applying this talent to reading.


Whose Responsibility is This?

Many teachers and parents do not have the time and resources to provide this detailed analysis for each of their struggling learners, but support personnel such as special education teachers, and psychologists can help.  In addition, if students are working with an outside educational therapist or learning specialist, they too can be a valuable resource.  

Once Contributing Factors and Strengths are Defined, What Can Teachers and Parents Do?
Once deficits and strengths are defined, teachers and parents can help these learners develop and utilize the needed strategies.   Here is a comprehensive list of possible methods to choose from:

  • Be patient and provide a supportive, appealing learning environment.   To read more CLICK HERE.
  • Help students to develop their capacity to visualize.  This can assist students in maintaining focus and improving memory.
  • Teach students mindfulness, so they have greater control over their concentration while reading.
  • Use assistive technology.
    • Text to voice or books on tape can be used in one of two ways.  Students can listen and make a conscious effort to visualize what they are hearing, or they can scan words while listening to improve whole word recognition.
    • Tracking devices help the eyes to move in a fluid, forward motion from one line of text to another.
    • Color overlays or lenses can change the background color so that the visual process of reading is less agitating. 
    • Color and font type adjustments can make the reading process easier to decode words.  Students can select and adjust the text to meet their own preference.
  • Provide remedial reading instruction.  Some students need alternative, multisensory reading instruction using an Orton-Gilllingham based reading program.   One of my favorite OG reading programs is Nessy.
  • Do cognitive remedial activities that help to strengthen weak areas of cognition.  You can find a large selection of these tools at Good Sensory Learning.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations:  When students have diagnosed learning disabilities, they can pursue a 504 or IEP designation that can provide mandated assistance.  Some options include:
    • Readers for tests
    • Books on tape
    • Tracking software
    • Extended time
  • Offer pages with fewer words for those that get visually overwhelmed.  Limiting the amount of text on each page can be very helpful.
  • Present instruction on higher order language such as inferences.
  • Make reading fun by integrating reading games.
  • Start each student at the right level, so they can experience success.
  • Help students discriminate between important and unimportant details.
  • Improve sight word recognition.
  • Improve vocabulary by exposing students to more words, so they can be easily recognized when reading.
  • Teach skimming strategies so that students can quickly find main ideas and details when reading.
  • Help students read with the mind instead of subvocalizing each word.
I hope you found this helpful!  I would love to hear your thoughts!


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Remediating Dyslexia with Orton Gillingham Based Reading Games

Students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities often learn differently and require an alternative approach to learning basic reading.  What’s more, these young learners are working full tilt while sitting in the classroom and by the time they get home and have to complete their homework, they are mentally spent.  As a result, tagging on remedial reading lessons to a cup that is already overflowing can be enough to turn these kids off to learning altogether.

How Do We Help These Students Learn the Core Skills Needed to be Successful Readers?

  1. First, use a remedial program that is backed by time, testimonials and research.  The Orton-Gillingham approach to reading is a well-established and researched approach that offers a multisensory, sequential, incremental, cumulative, individualized, and explicit approach.  There are many programs that are available.  Click here to learn about a selection of these programs. 
  2. Second, employ an individualized approach as each student has unique challenges and gaps in knowledge.  If you need to assess the areas that require remediation be sure to use an assessment tool such as the Good Sensory Learning Reading Assessment
  3. Third, the process needs to be fun and engaging.  Many programs required students to slog through boring lessons, complicated rules, and bland workbook pages. Many of these concepts can be instructed through cute memory strategies and fun activities.  You can find many fun supplemental materials here
  4. Fourth, integrate a student-created, colorful, language arts handbook or guide. Click here to learn more about this method. 
  5. Fifth, help students learn how to visualize what they are reading.  Many struggling readers do not have the cognitive space to use their mind’s eye when reading, therefore, developing this skill to automaticity is key.  To learn about the research behind visualization and learning as well as how to teach this needed skill click here.  
  6. Sixth, and most important, supplement all reading programs with card and board games that allow students to practice the concepts they are learning.  This brings the fun factor into learning and can help to nurture a love for reading.
Where Can I Find Multisensory and Fun Reading Games?
At Good Sensory Learning, we offer a large selection of downloadable card and board games that work with any Orton-Gillingham or phonics based reading program.  In addition, we have many other supplemental multisensory reading activities and materials.  In fact, we just unveiled a new website. Let me know what you think!

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

Follow on Bloglovin

An Overview of the Orton-Gillingham Approach to Reading Instruction

Many parents and professionals ask me about the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading and spelling. It is a well-researched and multisensory way of teaching struggling readers.  In fact,  popular programs such as Lindamood-Bell, Wilson, Barton, Fast Forward, and Spire are all based on this incremental approach.

What is at the Heart of the Orton-Gillingham Approach?
I created the following infographic to help provide an overview of the process:

When was the Orton-Gillingham Approach Created, and Who Designed it?
The Orton-Gillingham approach has been around since the 1930’s.  It was designed by a Samuel T. Orton, neurologist and pathologist, and Anna Gillingham, an educator and psychologist.  They developed an explicit, incremental and diagnostic way to teach reading instruction for students with dyslexia.

Limitations to using Orton-Gillingham Based Programs: 
Although the programs available on the market today offer a well-sequenced, comprehensive, cookie cutter methodology of teaching reading and spelling, I find that the process can be long and arduous for some students.  Many learners don’t like completing workbooks and reading long lists of words. As a result, I suggest finding a professional that knows the Orton-Gillingham approach well and has the confidence and mastery to tailor individualized lessons for each student.  In addition, I suggest using tools that strengthen the core cognitive skills required to read and spell as well as implementing games and fun activities that make the learning process motivating and fun.  If you would like to see some of these products, Click Here.

If you have any thoughts or anecdotes about the Orton-Gillingham Approach, please share them below this post.

Here is a pinnable image:

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  


Follow on Bloglovin

Orton Gillingham Online Academy: An Interview with Founder Marisa Bernard

This week I am featuring an interview with Marisa Bernard the creator of the Orton Gillingham Online Academy.  Marisa is a dynamic educator and passionate learning specialist that has an expertise in serving students with dyslexia.  Marisa has made it her mission to assist children who do not fit inside the conventional box and to send them on their way feeling productive, successful, & well-equipped to lead a fruitful life.

_________
Erica: Hi Marisa!  I’m so excited to be able to share this interview with my audience.  Can you tell us more about your professional background?

Marisa: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a focus in cognition and learning as well as a Master’s Degree in Special Education. I have experience as an Elementary Education teacher, a Reading Specialist, and I worked on staff at the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana as both an educator and trainer of the Orton Gillingham Approach. In addition, I taught Special Education in a public school setting and have remediated countless numbers of students to grade level by using research based strategies such as the Orton Gillingham Approach. Furthermore, I am a professional member of the International Dyslexia Association, and I also received a grant through the Lilly Foundation that enabled me to travel to the highlands of Ecuador to teach English, using the Orton Gillingham Approach, to the indigenous children. 

Erica: What population of students are best served by your online training program? 

Marisa: The Orton Gillingham Online Academy serves as a resource for those who teach individuals with Dyslexia. Having said that, any student population learning the English language would find our course work and tools helpful. It is our goal to unlock the door to language acquisition for people from across the globe.

Erica: Who typically purchases your training modules?
Marisa: Parents, teachers, SLPs, tutors, school districts, paraprofessionals… Really anyone who is involved with the education of those with Dyslexia.
Erica: What are the benefits of your training program?
Marisa: The Orton-Gillingham Approach is used for those who have Dyslexia. These individuals have difficulty primarily in the areas of reading, writing, and spelling.  Often these difficulties create a learning gap in other academic areas as well.  While non-dyslexic students acquire language skills easily, those with Dyslexia need to be taught various components that make up the English language. The Orton-Gillingham Approach is most often and effectively used one-on-one, due to its prescriptive nature, as well as the fact that the lessons can be catered to each student’s individual learning needs.  Having said this, the Orton-Gillingham Approach can also be adapted to group instruction.  Please note, the Orton-Gillingham Approach has stood the test of time and has been proven effective time and time again in assisting individuals to overcome their language-based disability.
Erica: Are you creating new courses and materials?
Marisa: Absolutely! Our academy is growing and we are continuously revamping, improving and adding to our current course work to enhance the teaching/learning venue. We will be launching our Advanced Language Continuum Course April 4th and this course will cover advanced morphology & derivatives, connectives, accenting, vocabulary development, & much more. We are also launching a comprehensive multisensory Connect to Comprehension course is June. This course will cover everything needed to teach students the tools necessary for meaningful comprehension, including curriculum guides and scripted texts for multiple levels. We are also working on a comprehensive multisensory grammar course, as well as a word study seminar. The idea is to provide a holistic website that will serve to meet the needs of those with Dyslexia by offering an array of courses & resources geared toward successful remediation.
Erica: How would you like to see your academy grow over the next few years?
Marisa: The knowledge we have to share has the potential to change lives and our hope is that word of our academy travels to those who need us the most. Currently, we are servicing several countries from Singapore, Thailand, Australia, Canada to the United States & several other locations in between. As we continue to reach places with no previous exposure to language remedial tools, paths are appearing and making a difference. This is truly what we are all about.
Erica: What is the best way for people to reach you?
Marisa: The best way to reach me is via email: ogonlineacademy@gmail.com
___________
Thank you Marisa for sharing your passion, expertise and mission with all of us!  It’s been a true pleasure to get to know you better, and I wish you great success.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

Follow on Bloglovin

The Reading Focus Card: An Interview with Designer Joan Brennan

This week’s blog features an interview with Joan Brennan, a teacher and inventor who designs reading tools for struggling readers.  We will focus our discussion on her ingenious Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759) and her Reading Focus Cards desktop application (Patent 8,360,779).

_____________________________
Erica: Hi Joan.  Can you tell us about your mission to help struggling readers?
Joan Brennan

Joan: My mission and that of my company, Brennan Innovators, LLC, is to create and provide inexpensive yet helpful low-tech AND digital tools to challenged readers of all ages.  In addition, as certified educators, we also present parent and educator workshops, consultation services and other professional development opportunities in the Greater St. Louis Area. We work diligently to bridge the gap between no services for challenged readers and expensive therapies, methods and other resources that are not accessible to many because of the cost or the location of such resources. 


We are particularly passionate about helping children, teens and adults who struggle to read.  This struggle may be for a variety of reasons.  As a result, since 2007, our Reading Focus Cards have helped many readers of all ages with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, low vision and other issues that can affect reading success.
Erica: Why did you create the Reading Focus Cards website and products?
Joan: The low-tech and sensory-appealing Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759) grew out of need in my own middle school classroom in the late 1990’s.  Because a special education teacher was not on the faculty at the time, all teachers worked with all students in their individual classrooms, even children with additional needs. 

More than a few of my students had experienced focus, tracking and attention issues.  As a result, comprehension and retention skills were significantly compromised.  Some had been diagnosed with ADHD while others were suspected to have attention deficiencies.  A few had been prescribed medications by their pediatricians, but even these students sometimes did not always take their medications (parents forgot to administer before school day, etc.) 

The “light-bulb moment” occurred some years ago during one reading class period when a student (without her medication taken that day) privately mentioned to me that she was having difficulty paying attention enough to read the requested 2 pages of a selection.  To make matters worse, this was at a time when the school had just established a daily schedule that included a 90-minute block for language arts classes.  So, I knew something had to be done to help this young student to focus and read with some degree of success—and immediately!  That’s when the first prototype of the Reading Focus Card was born.  I instinctively (and on the fly!) took an old manila folder from the top of my desk and cut a shape about the size of a 3″ X 5″ index card.   With that, I then cut a narrow but long rectangle in the center of the card and gave it to the student, asking her to read each line of the two pages in front of her with that card.  This immediately allowed her to focus on one line at a time and read each when she was ready to read it.  The focusing card also covered much of the surrounding text that had overwhelmed her.  The result?  The student was amazed at the card’s ability to help her, and she asked if she could take it to her next class!  Since that time, I have learned from many special education educators that they, too, have often created similar paper devices to help their students who struggled to read, only to discard it after use.

During the ensuing summer vacation periods and as a result of doing a considerable amount of research, the left side of the Reading Focus Card prototype was opened (for improved tracking), colored filters were added (recommended by a developmental optometrists’ group here in St. Louis) and sensory-appealing materials were sought for the final, working prototype.  Later, two independent focus studies were successfully conducted of the Reading Focus Cards (in 2007-2 6th grade classrooms and in 2011 in a high school reading specialist’s classroom).  Today, thousands of these Reading Focus Cards have been sold and are in use in the U.S., Canada and around the world. They continue to help many readers who struggle with all kinds of reading challenges.
Erica: Were there any key people or organizations that helped to inspire the Reading Focus Cards? 
Joan: Yes, there were a few key people and organizations that helped to inspire and contributed to the development of the idea of the Reading Focus Cards;
a. First of all, my husband, Robert Brennan, Jr., M.D., has inspired and supported me and the idea in every way since it first “made a difference” for my reading student.  He is amazing.
b. My former principal, Mr. Michael Talleur, recommended that I “do something” with the first “seeds” of the idea.
c. My business advisor, Mr. William Deemer, volunteer mentor in the St. Louis University Dept. of Entrepreneurship (part of the John Cook School of Business at SLU) advised and supported my efforts to bring all of my reading tools to market.
Erica: Who is your audience?
Joan: My audience is GROWING daily.  The majority of my audience is primarily mothers, teachers and tutors of children & adults with ADHD & dyslexia, and special needs organizations.  However, in the past year, we have received many more orders and requests for services from OTs, speech & language pathologists, optometrists, autism caregivers/orgs. and stroke recovery, brain injury (TBIs) patients and their caregivers.  Most recently, a local optometrist ordered a Reading Focus Card Combo Pack for her patient with Parkinson’s disease.  So you can see that there is a very interesting, diverse AND increasing audience for our reading tools and services.
Erica: What kind of feedback have you received about the Reading Focus Cards?
Joan: Our testimonial page will provide many comments from users of the low-tech RFCs.  
Erica: I understand that you have also created the Reading Focus Cards App for both Mac and PC. Can you tell us more about this?
Joan: This new Reading Focus Cards desktop application (Patent 8,360, 779) for Mac and PCs (desktops & laptops) was also created for challenged readers to help provide improved focus and better tracking when reading digital media. This customizable app is an extension of the low-tech Reading Focus Cards used with physical books and documents. As a result and if the app is used properly, the reader can experience better comprehension and retention as well as better focus and tracking when using this desktop app.  In addition, the digital, pop-up Toolbox for the app will allow the user to adjust color, length, width and orientation of several features of the virtual Reading Focus Card to help the reader enjoy more visual comfort as well. This app can be especially helpful for persons of all ages with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, low vision, stroke or brain injury issues and other challenges that can affect reading success. 
The Reading Focus Cards desktop application is very innovative in that it is able to independently float over AND stay on top of underlying digital applications. It can be customized and controlled by using a mouse, touch pad, arrow keys or the reader’s fingers on a screen (where touch-screen technology is available.)  Currently, Apple and Android tablets and other mobile platforms are not able to support this “disruptive” type of technology.  However, we are monitoring this for possible future development.  To learn more about this technology Click here.
Erica: Are you presently working on any other projects to help struggling readers?
Joan: We are currently collaborating with another company to create a new program with e-books, online courses and materials specifically for readers with dyslexia.  In addition, another company has recently requested our new Reading Focus Cards app’s assistance in allowing challenged younger readers to more easily read its new series of e-books soon to be published.
_________________________

I want to thank Joan for taking the time to share all this great information with us.  You can purchase the reading focus card on Amazon (also linked below) and the App on the Mac Apple Store button. You can also purchase products directly on Joan’s website and learn how to get the software for Windows PC


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

Follow on Bloglovin

A Multitude of Resources for Dyslexia at Dyslexia Reading Well

I am so pleased to feature an interview with Michael Bates: the creator of the Dyslexia Reading Well website and the Dyslexia Reading Well Parent Guide 2014-2015 (Click here to view more details). As a parent of a dyslexic son, Michael has created a wonderful and heart-felt site packed with valuable resources for individuals with dyslexia, parents, teachers and more.

_______________
Erica: Why did you create the Dyslexia Reading Well website?

Michael: Because there is overwhelming need for it. There are literally millions of parents with kids who struggle to read, many dyslexics themselves.  I am convinced that most of those parents (and many teachers) desperately want to help their children, but are not finding the kind of information and advice they need; my website is intended to help them.  I know for fact that many parents are struggling, because I was one of them. I wish we had caught the dyslexia in kindergarten or grade one instead of grade 5—it could have made everything much easier for my stepson. 

Michael Bates


As a parent, community and even a society, we have to take the problem very seriously. Lives can be derailed and destroyed by reading disabilities. For example research shows that our prisons are full of struggling readers.   While there are some good websites out there already, they are tiny compared to the scale of the problem and the need.  I felt that reaching even a few parents would make the site worthwhile; but today, seeing the number of daily visitors, and the kind emails I receive every week, I know that many people are benefiting.  This feedback is extremely rewarding.      


Erica: Why did you create the Dyslexia Reading Well Parent Guide?

Michael: Even though I try to make the website easy to navigate, I recognize that parents have very limited time and can’t get to every page that may be of interest.  So I pulled together what I thought to be the critical information parents need and assembled it into one easy to read guide.  It’s not a short guide at 80+ pages, but I think it is very easy to navigate and as an e-book, very portable.  To be sure, there is more that parents need to know beyond the guide, but if I had been referred to this guide when we first discovered that my stepson was struggling to read, it would have put us on the right path, helping us avoid false starts, unhelpful programs and wasted money. That’s what I hope it can do for other parents.  

Erica: What types of resources can parents find in the Dyslexia Reading Well Parent Guide?


Michael: The guide is meant to present the essential information: definitions, lists of symptoms and signs and an explanation of causes.  There is also some information on assistive technology since that is now so important for every student. But where I think the real value of the guide lies is in the resource lists. First there is a table of reading programs that work best for dyslexic students and an explanation of why they work (the critical content and methods).  This can help parents find a reading program that will make a real difference.  
Sample pages from DRW Parent Manual

Second there is a state by state list of schools, tutoring centers and community groups. This table will point parents to local resources.  For example, I had no idea that there are so many schools for dyslexic kids until I started building my website.  Also most parents don’t know that there are very active support groups such as Decoding Dyslexia and the International Dyslexia Association that have branches in most every state. My guide helps parents discover those critical links and connections which in turn will lead to more information and support. Finally there is a state by state list of legislation relating to dyslexia. In some states there is legislation requiring schools to assess young readers for dyslexia or laws requiring teachers to be trained for teaching dyslexic students. By knowing ones state mandates (and other states) parents are in a stronger position to assess how their school is performing or where their child might be better served.   

Erica: Will you be updating the guide yearly or creating other guides?


Michael: My plan is to make minor updates on an ongoing basis (two already since October) and then make one major annual overhaul before releasing the next edition each October in conjunction with Dyslexia Awareness Month. 


One of the benefits (and challenges!) of authoring an e-book is that it can be kept current with the latest science, news, product releases and policy changes that are going on.  I am also currently working on a guide for U.K. parents and after that one for parents right here in Canada.  Finally, I am thinking about creating other guides for teachers and students.
Erica: What kind of feedback have you received about the Dyslexia Reading Well Parent Guide?


Michael: The feedback from my Facebook page and through the website has been very positive and encouraging.  It’s not yet on Amazon, where it will be publicly reviewed, but it should be soon.  Of course as an author, I see room for growth in future editions. For example, I look forward to adding content on Individualized Education Plans, homeschooling, and new assistive technology, which is always in a state of flux.  
_______________

If you are interested in viewing a free sample or getting the guide,  Click here to view more details! You won’t be disappointed.


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

Follow on Bloglovin

Eight, Dyslexia Games Make All Reading Programs Fun and Memorable

Do you ever have to bribe your students with candy or stickers to entice them to read through long lists of words or complete workbook activities?  There are a multitude of phonics and Orton-Gillingham based reading programs available on the market, but so many of them place struggling readers through boring drills and activities.  I experienced the same problem.  What could I do?

I Created Games to Bring the Fun Factor into My Lessons:
Over the past few years, I created a system to make any reading program fun and motivating.  I designed and published board and card games to weave into reading lessons.  Now, my students can’t wait for their sessions, are reading more, have increased stamina and they are mastering concepts at a faster pace.  A series of three reading game publication bundles have been available and selling like hot cakes, but upon popular request, I have released a new title, Reading Games Primary.  This publication offers new games that help students master basic reading concepts such as syllables, rhyming words, short vowel sounds, ending sound blends and sight words by playing super fun and engaging card and board games.  

Tell Me More About the 8 Games:

  1. Sight Word War:  

    Sight Word War is a card game
    that helps students master sight words and practice basic alphabetizing
    skills.  

  2. Syllable Sort:  Syllable Sort is a card game that helps students master syllable divisions in words.
  3. Switch-A-Roo Reading: Switch-A-Roo Reading is a reading/writing game that helps students learn beginning, middle and ending word sounds
    as well as rhyming words. 
  4. Sole Survivor:  Sole Survivor is a board game that helps
    students master breaking words into syllables as well as beginning and ending word
    sounds.
  5. Animal Party:  Animal Party is a board game that helps students learn beginning, middle and end sounds of simple three letter words.
  6. Animal Bingo:  Animal Bingo is a board game that helps
    students master breaking words into syllables as well as beginning and ending word
    sounds.  It also develops tracking and
    counting skills.
  7. Three of A Kind Beginners:  Three of a Kind is a card game that
    helps students learn rhyming words, beginning sounds, middle sounds and ending
    sounds of simple three letter words. 
  8. Three of A Kind Intermediate:  Three of a Kind Intermediate is a card game
    that helps students master rhyming words, beginning blends, middle sounds and
    ending sounds of simple four to five letter words.  
Are There Other Reading Games?
Yes.  Reading Games Primary is my fourth bundle of reading games to be published.  In fact, I have created more than 50 different games for all levels of reading remediation.  To learn more about all of these games and even download a free sample game,  click here.


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Follow on Bloglovin

10 Free Ways to Improving Visual Tracking for Weak Readers

While reading, tracking across the page from one line to the next can be tricky when the text is small, but for students with dyslexia or weak reading skills it can be a problem regardless of the font size. 
What Exactly is Tracking?
Tracking is the ability for ones eyes to move smoothly across the page from one line of text to another. Tracking difficulties happen when eyes jump backward and forward and struggle to stay on a single line of text.  This results in problems such as word omissions, reversals, eye fatigue, losing your place while reading and most importantly it can impact normal reading development.  
Can Tracking be Improved?
Tracking can be improved by strengthening eye muscles as well as getting your eyes and brain to work cooperatively.  There are three eye movements that need to be developed:  
  1. Fixations: The ability to hold ones eyes steady without moving off a target.
  2. Saccades: The ability to jump to new targets that randomly disappear and reappear in a different location.
  3. Pursuits: The ability to follow a moving target with ones eyes.

10 Free Ways to Improve Tracking:

  1. Use Beeline Reader to read ebooks, PDFs and webpages will assist with tracking.  This free technology makes tracking faster and easier by using a color gradient to guide your eyes from one line of text to another.  
  2. Play ping pong – but more importantly, watch others play the game.  Sit on the side of the table and keep your head steady.  Watch the ball, moving your eyes back and forth across the table.
  3. Get a book but only read the first word and the last word in each line.  Continue down the page. Time yourself and try to beat your speed.  If reading words is slow or labored, just read the first and last letter on each line.
  4. Go to the site Eye Can Learn and do their eye tracking exercises. 
  5. Watch a metronome or crystal pendulum.  Place the metronome or pendulum about 1-2 feet from your face, keep your head steady and move your eyes with the swinging metronome or pendulum. 
  6. Use a laser pointer on a wall and watch the red dot while sweeping it across the wall: go up, down, left, right and diagonally.  
  7. Use Apps like Dream Reader which will highlight the words while it reads the text.  You can read along with the excellent synthesized voice options, or if you prefer, read the text yourself and turn off the audio.  Adjust the speed so that words are highlighted while you read.
  8. Pick a common letter of the alphabet such as the letter “A.”  Select a book, or article and scan through the lines of text as if you are reading, circling the letter “A” every time they see it.  
  9. Read aloud.  This helps the eyes and brain to work together.
  10. Play an internet version of Pong.  My favorite is Garfield Tabby Tennis.

Are There Any Products I Can Purchase That Develop Visual Tracking?
Yes, check out the Reversing Reversals series to develop tracking as well as other important visual processing and cognitive skills that will improve the foundation abilities needed to be an excellent reader.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Follow on Bloglovin