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Go Dyslexia Episode 7: Rapid Automatic Naming and Multisensory Methods with Guest Dr. Michael Hart and Host Dr. Erica Warren

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I’m so pleased to announce my seventh Go Dyslexia video podcast: Rapid Automatic Naming and Multisensory Methods with Guest Dr. Michael Hart and Host Dr. Erica Warren. URL:  https://youtu.be/PfwxcU2B3-U

This video podcast shares my most recent video podcast, featuring dyslexia expert and advocate, Dr. Michael Hart. This is the seventh of many, free video podcasts for Go Dyslexia!   

Dr. Michael Hart is a child psychologist and dyslexia expert who offers 25 years of experience in parent and teacher training, educational technology, learning differences, and diagnostic assessments. He is the founder/owner of www.doctormichaelhart.com and is currently providing online webinars and courses that focus on dyslexia.  

During the video podcast, Michael and I talk about rapid automatic naming (RAN) and its impact on dyslexia and more specifically reading.  In addition, we discuss the importance of using the Orton-Gillingham approach, multisensory methods and paying attention to the individual needs of learners.  

URL to Video Podcast: https://youtu.be/PfwxcU2B3-U

What is Rapid Automatic Naming?

Rapid Automatic Naming or Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) is the ability to quickly verbalize a series of familiar items including letters, numbers, colors or things.  This a cognitive skill that has a major impact for many struggling readers.

Important Links Mentioned in this Video Podcast:

Let us know what you think!! Please help us spread the word by liking, commenting and sharing the video as well as this blog.

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Dr. Erica Warren
Learning Specialist, Educational Therapist, Author, Podcaster, Vlogger and Course Creator.

Free Text to Speech Software Can Help Students Edit Papers

Text to speech software is a valuable tool that comes for free on all Mac computers, and now a number of free apps make this technology available at no cost for PC users too.  Text to speech has been used as an accommodation for struggling readers, but did you know that it is also an advantageous device for writers too?  In fact, I often teach my students how to use this technology to help them edit their written language.

What is Text to Speech Software?
Text to Speech software is a form of speech synthesis that converts text to a spoken computerized voice.   This technology was originally created to aid those with vision impairments so that they could hear written text.

How can Text to Speech Help Students Edit Their Writing?
Many students struggle to edit their own work, because when they go back to refine their text, they often glide over mishaps and read it as they meant to write it.  Furthermore, there are many errors that are easy to make but difficult to see.  For example, for many learners simple letter and word reversals are difficult to detect.  If you type the word “from” as “form,” you probably won’t catch this reversal when scanning your document visually.  In addition, many young learners get confused by words that look similar but are pronounced differently such as loose and lose.   Text to Speech allows students to hear the mistakes that they may not see!

How Can I Access Text to Speech on a Mac Computer?

  1. Select the Apple icon on the top left of your screen.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Click Dictation and Speech.
  4. Click Text to Speech.
  5. Select “speak selected text when the key is pressed” checkbox.
  6. The default for enabling Text to Speech is Option-Esc – or to select a different key, click Change Key, press one or more of the following keys (Command, Shift, Option or Control) together with another key and click OK.
  7. To have your Mac read text aloud, press the specified keys.  To have it stop speaking press the same keys again.  If you want it to read specific text, highlight the text before you select the specified keys.

What Free Text to Speech Apps are available for PCs and Surface Computers?
There are a number of free apps, but my favorites are Read and Write and Natural Readers.

I hope you found this blog post informative.  If you have any thoughts or comments, please share them below this post.

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

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  

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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  


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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.

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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
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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  

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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  

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Tailoring Reading Remediation for Faster Results.

There are thousands of reading remediation programs out there as well as reading specialists that can help learners master the complex task of learning to read.  However, the process can be taxing, time consuming and expensive.  In fact, many students are placed into slow and boring programs that force them to wade through a sequence of lessons, many of which are not needed and not fun.

How Can Reading Remediation be Tailored to Meet Individual Needs?
Assessing each students’ needs is imperative so that time can be used efficiently and positive results can abound quickly.   This will allow the instructor to individualize remedial goals for maximum results.

How Can Individual Needs be Assessed?
There are a number of areas that need to be evaluated to see where there are gaps in proficiency. Once you know where the problem areas lie, you can focus remediation.  Here are the areas that should be assessed.

  1. Letter: name/sound recognition
  2. Rhyming words
  3. Syllable divisions
  4. Word Blending
  5. Beginning sounds
  6. Middle sounds
  7. Ending sounds
  8. Words to sounds
  9. Drop the first sound
  10. Drop the last sound
  11. Sight words
  12. Closed syllables
  13. Open syllables
  14. Silent-E syllables
  15. Consonant LE syllables
  16. R-combination syllables
  17. Vowel combinations
  18. Syllabication
  19. Beginning blends, digraphs and trigraphs
  20. Ending blends
  21. Compound words
  22. Prefixes
  23. Suffixes
  24. Compound words

Is There A Publication That Assesses These Needed Areas?
The Good Sensory Learning Reading Assessment offers a comprehensive, 27-subtest evaluation that helps to tailor any phonics based or Orton-Gillingham reading program.  It was designed to offer reading specialists, teachers and parents an easy assessment.  The score sheet, pictured to the right, allows administrators to highlight instructional goals, and the re-administration (post-intervention) provides comparative information about the success of the intervention as well as additional needs.

If you would also like to use remedial materials that bring the fun factor into lessons, consider Reading Games, Reading Games 2, and Reading Board Games.  In addition, you can also find other great multisensory, fun reading materials at DyslexiaMaterials.com.

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  
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Audiobooks Can Improve Word Recognition, Pronunciation and Visualization Abilities

Did you know that audiobooks or books on tape can improve word recognition, the proper pronunciation of words and also develop visualization abilities?  Passive learners may not obtain these perks, but with guided instruction on active and mindful reading, these benefits can be easily attainable.

How Can Students Reap The Benefits of Audiobooks?
For young learners to get the most out of audiobooks, they must learn to be active participants in the reading process.  They can take one of two roles.

1) Students should follow along with the text as they listen to the book:

  • If students read the text while listening to the book, they can begin to recognize whole words.  Instead of decoding or sounding out the words, the audiobook does this for them, and they can just focus on tracking the words across the page.  
  • An added plus to scanning the text while listening is students will quickly learn the proper pronunciations of sight words and other tricky words such as “chaos,” and “deoxyribonucleic acid.”  In fact, for many students they experience improvements in spelling too as they pair the proper pronunciation with the visual of the word.  

2) Students should close their eyes while listening to the audiobook and make a conscious effort to visualize the setting, characters and plot.  Learning to create a movie in ones head improves attention and will also make the process more fun and memorable.  Understand that many students that struggle with reading do not fully develop their abilities to visualize, and they may need instruction and practice with this needed skill.  If you would like to help your students to develop this ability consider purchasing Mindful Visualization for Education.

Where Can I Get Affordable Options for Audiobooks?
There are a number of sites online that offer audiobooks.  If I child has a learning disability, they can qualify to receive audiobooks through their school or learning specialist from sites such as Learning Ally and BookShare.  Furthermore, here is a website that offers 224 Places for Free Audio Books.  Below you will see a list of just a few of them:

  1. Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/
  2. Audible: http://www.audible.com/
  3. Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks
  4. Free Classic Audiobooks: http://freeclassicaudiobooks.com/
  5. Books Should be Free: http://www.booksshouldbefree.com/
  6. LibriVox: https://librivox.org/
By helping young learners to actively use audiobooks, they can improve their reading abilities and find more joy in the process.

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  
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