Tuesday, June 28, 2016

BEST Dyslexia Resources (ALL in 1 Place!)

Last week, some ground-breaking legislation was signed by Governor Jay Nixon to significantly help improve the lives of students with dyslexia in the State of Missouri. On Wednesday, June 22, Governor Nixon put his signature to Senate Bill 638 and turned it into law at an Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC) Head Start Center in Springfield, MO.

By late next year, the new law will begin to benefit an estimated 1 in 5 Missouri school-aged children. The following is a listing of the important benefits of this new legislation:

1. By December 31, 2017, this act requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to develop guidelines for the appropriate screening of students for dyslexia and related disorders and to develop the necessary classroom support for such students.

2. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, each public school, including charter schools, shall conduct dyslexia screenings and provide reasonable classroom support consistent with the guidelines developed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

3. Additionally, practicing-teacher assistance programs shall include two hours of in-service training regarding dyslexia and related disorders provided by each school district for all practicing teachers. Such training shall count as two contact hours of professional development. (Section 167.950)

4. This act also creates the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia. The Task Force will advise and make recommendations to the Governor, Joint Committee on Education, and relevant state agencies. The Task Force will consist of twenty members, as described in the act. Except for four legislative members and the Commissioner of Education, the members will be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Missouri Senate and the Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives. This task force will make the recommendations for a statewide system for identification, intervention, and delivery of supports for students with dyslexia, as described in the act.

This is a tremendous step forward for public school students in Missouri, and we certainly look forward to the enactment of this legislation!

While we await the implementation of this all-important law for students of Missouri, we wanted to join the momentum here and provide our readers with some of the BEST resources to help students with dyslexia RIGHT NOW! Please find to follow here some of the most helpful websites, tools and other resources we know that can make a significant difference in the lives of students as well as adults with dyslexia---whether you are a Missouri citizen or not. To make the access to these resources more convenient for you, we have collected them into Pinterest boards. That way, you will have them at your fingertips whenever the need arises.

Happy Reading---EVERYONE!

BEST Websites and Resources for Dyslexia

700+ Dyslexia Resources & Support
A very large collection of websites, links and other resources to help the 1 in 5 individuals estimated to be challenged with dyslexia. Many resources in the list are FREE or low cost.

Dyslexia Tools
A collection of tools, fonts and other products to help students of all ages with dyslexia to enjoy more reading success.

Reading Focus Cards desktop app (for Macs & Windows PCs---Price: $5.99)
From Brennan Innovators, LLC
This app is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759) 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 FOCUS when reading digital media whether online or offline (webpages, PDF files, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets & more.) The application FLOATS on top AND STAYS on top of underlying applications when moved on the screen over text by the fingers, mouse or arrow keys as needed. In addition, the Reading Focus Cards app (Patent 8,360,779) is compatible with and supports touch-screen technology where applicable.
1. Macs (desktops & notebooks): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read-and-focus/id920617853?mt=12
2. Windows PCs (desktops & laptops): https://gumroad.com/l/ReadingFocusCards

Dyslexia Resources from UM DyslexiaHelp (University of Michigan)
The link, DyslexiaHelp.umich.edu, is a free website and curriculum about all things dyslexia -- straight from the leaders and best.

Dyslexia Apps
A grouping of apps for desktops, iPhones, Androids and other devices to help persons of all ages with dyslexia.

Homeschooling - Dyslexia by Marianne Sunderland, Homeschooling With Dyslexia
350+ excellent tips and resources for homeschoolers with dyslexic learners.

70+ Dyslexia Resources by Monica, Discover Their Gifts
A collection of tips & resources for parents & families of children w/ dyslexia.


Decoding Dyslexia MO
Announcement of the content of HB 638 and the important benefits of the new dyslexia legislation in the State of Missouri.

For information on customizable reading tools for dyslexia, ADHD and other challenges, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

GREAT Book Lists for Girls and Boys-2016

We at Brennan Innovators are frequently asked to recommend books for children of all ages. In particular, we receive many requests to provide book lists specifically for boys and/or for girls. When summer vacation time rolls around each year, these requests seem to multiply, but we are always ready (and pleased!) to accommodate the large number of parents, grandparents, teachers and other adults who contact us for these literacy resources.

Since the summer is young with lazy afternoons and family car trips planned for many in the weeks ahead, we thought there would be no better time than now to provide these same resources right here in our blog. That way, many more readers might stand to benefit. We hope you like and utilize the lists provided below here so that you and your family can enjoy a wonderful summer filled with reading selections to appeal, inspire, stimulate and encourage even more good reading after the summer ends!

Happy Reading---AND Happy Summer, everyone!

GREAT Book Lists for Girls

Book Club Reading Lists---from A Mighty Girl Book Clubs
A Mighty Girl’s recommended reading lists are divided into four age levels: 6 - 7, 8 - 10, 11 - 13, and 14 and up. All recommended books were selected for high literary value and thematic content that would provide compelling discussion material for book clubs.

Good Books for Girls
A growing collection of book lists and other literature for girls of all ages

Christian Book Lists (for Girls)---from Goodreads
Here is a collection of good books for girls in various age groups.

Books for Girls---from Scholastic
These reads will help girls gain a better understanding of themselves and others. Scroll down the page of the following link to access lists of girls' books for specific age groups.

GREAT Book Lists for Boys

BEST BOOKS (for Boys)---from BoysRead.org
This website loves books that appeal to boys. Its mission is to transform boys into lifelong readers and lovers of books. (Many girls love the books listed here, too!)

Book Lists for Boys
20+ resources with book lists and related literature for boys of all ages

Book List for Boys (for Ages 4 to 11+)
You are encouraged to read some of the fantastic titles listed here with your child and/or add to your home library for them to pick up themselves. In doing so, you will expose your children to some well-written, wholesome books that will inspire them and stir their imaginations.

Books for Boys---from Scholastic
The books listed here will help boys gain a better understanding of themselves and others. Scroll down the page of the following link to access lists of boys' books for specific age groups.

For information on customizable reading tools to improve focus, tracking & attention for children of all ages, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

9 Resources to Address the Growing Need for Better Critical Thinking in All Readers

To say that there is significantly more media daily presented to the public than ever before would be an understatement. Since the year 2000, there has been an increase of 34 percent in the number of Americans who use the internet, resulting in a total of 84 percent of all Americans regularly logging on (as of 2015, the most recent year for data). Because of this widespread use of the worldwide web in recent years, reading the growing barrage of digital media can sometimes be overwhelming, particularly when attention, focus, comprehension and retention of that information is essential. Then, the prioritizing of that information for further evaluation can be especially daunting for challenged readers, as this step requires a higher level of mental effort, better known as critical thinking.

In addition, we all know how much access to instructional and troubleshooting information has now been transferred from personal interaction (i.e., via phone or in-person dialogue) and physical, printed text to the digital presentation of that same information. Now more than ever, an individual who needs instructions for assembly of a recently purchased product or directions for how to repair an issue with one's computer or other device, must digitally access those instructions via the internet, as a hard copy of the directions may no longer be provided with the product or the service. What's more, the instructions may only be visible for a limited period of time or only when visiting a particular web page.

Discerning which information is applicable or pertinent to a current question or issue is also most important. Skimming and scanning skills must be honed to make shorter work of the information actually needed or targeted. Key points must be read carefully and put into a sequence, especially when instructions are sought. (For visual learners, a physical listing of these key points on a piece of paper might even be advisable here.) Finally, the successful implementation or application of what has been read is hopefully then able to be achieved.

Increasingly here at Brennan Innovators, we are discovering that each of us in the office must be able to effectively research, navigate, and troubleshoot technological issues to a certain extent in order to enable all clients and customers to access our products and services without interruption or difficulty. This is required together wit all other duties and responsibilities.

In short, reading is required everywhere and in increasing amounts with the added component of discernment and evaluation. What we're talking about here is critical thinking and problem solving. For this reason, we are providing resources here to help challenged readers and others develop better critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Included here are links to articles for general information as well as resources with games, activities and more for this purpose. We hope at least one of these listed links will help someone you know to improve those much needed skills in our digitally-daunting, media-driven world today.

Resources to Help Improve Critical-Thinking & Problem-Solving Skills

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving---by Partnership for 21st Century Learning
General information and resources (includes Bloom's Taxonomy, lesson plans, other resources for the classroom, etc.) to help promote, encourage and further develop skills that involve critical thinking and problem solving.

35+ Critical-Thinking & Problem-Solving Resources---by J. M. Brennan
A growing collection of direct links (via Pinterest) to many different kinds of resources (for all ages) that promote critical-thinking and problem-solving skills development. Links listed provide games, puzzles, activities and more for this purpose.

Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Children---from Bright Horizons, Family Solutions
Information and tips for teaching critical thinking & problem solving

How You Can Help Children Solve Problems---by Ellen Booth Church, Scholastic (for Pre-K to Gr. 2)
Children are natural problem solvers, and early childhood settings offer countless opportunities for children to grow in their problem-solving abilities. These important experiences help children learn to value different kinds of thinking, think logically and creatively, and take an active role in their world. The tips in this article will be helpful for parents and teachers of young children.

Creativity/Problem Solving/Critical Thinking Lesson Plans and Resources
The sites listed here provide lesson plans and resources for promoting problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking. Click on a topic from the site index to find what you need. Resources include math problems, puzzles, word games, brainteasers and mystery hunts.

Critical Thinking---from The Critical Thinking Company
A sizable list of links to articles is provided here to help teach critical thinking skills to all kinds of learners (including individuals with autism and other special needs)

Critical Thinking for Children with Developmental Disorders: A Strategy that Works---from Upbility
Drawing on the vast range of definitions and techniques available for teaching critical thinking skills, the 3-cycle strategy presented here and developed by Upbility can be easily and flexibly used to address the particular needs of pre-school and primary school children with developmental disorders.

All Kinds of Brain-Training Exercises---for You & Your Child!
Resources for improving brain function both with specific, physical exercises and with other brain-building activities.

Engaging Critical Thinking Skills with Learners of the Special Populations---by Stacie Deyglio
A FREE 10-page printable that describes the importance of teaching all students to pose good questions and to learn how to make meaning from complex ideas. Through Socratic dialogue, project-based learning, and other methods designed to engage all students deeply in the learning process, this teacher helps all learners to be engaged. The author is a dual-certified educator in 7-12 adolescent education within the specialty areas of biology and students with disabilities.

Americans’ Internet Access: 2000-2015---by Andrew Perrin and Maeve Duggan
As internet use nears saturation for some groups, a look at patterns of adoption

For information on customizable tools to improve focus and attention at work, school or at home, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com