Saturday, October 27, 2012

Brain-Building Apps to Get Kids Thinking!

Trick-or-treaters may have already come knocking at our doors! Did YOU have your treats ready for the big and little goblins who came a-calling?

We were certainly ready with our "treats" this week---and no tricks were required! We wanted to offer our readers some "goodies” in keeping with the holiday of All Hallows’ Eve. At the same time, they happen to be "healthy treats", too. The brain-building apps to follow here will be "treats" to sharpen the brains in the “skulls” of your kids, your students, and YOU while having fun at the same time. They'll provide a WIN-WIN opportunity for all of you---especially for struggling readers and learners!

Hope you had a Happy and SAFE Halloween, dear readers!

Brain-Building "Treats" for All Age Groups

12 FREE Brain-Building Apps for Kids --- (Android & Apple) Here's a list of mobile apps that are great for keeping young (and old) minds at work!

Kids Shape Puzzle --- (Android) From tots to teens, these are your go-to brain-building apps. Take this portable puzzle anywhere – and never lose the pieces. Kids Shape Puzzle entertains
Price: $2.99---From intellijoy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Kakooma Addition Pro --- (Apple) Do you love the challenge of a great puzzle? Kakooma® is the quick-thinking, brain-building app that is getting kids and adults of all ages hooked on numbers. So what are you waiting for? It's time to Kakooma!
Price: $.99---From Creative Smarts, Inc.

BEST Critical Thinking Apps = GREAT “Brain” Workouts --- (Apple) These apps focus on increasing critical thinking, problem solving and brain-building skills (all age levels).
FREE and various prices in lists provided

Special "Treat"!

Halloween Matching Game - Ghost, Witch, Skeleton, Pumpkin, Bat --- Exercise your memory skills by matching each picture with it's spooky look alike pair while celebrating Halloween with this fun Halloween Matching Game!
by Jeremy Larsen

Happy brain building, goblins!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Struggling Student at Conference Time

Can it be that the first grading period has arrived already? Yes, and with it come the annual or semi-annual, parent-teacher conferences. This realization usually causes one of two parental reactions ---“I can’t wait to see how Evan is doing!” or “I’m worried about what Ms. Jackson is going to tell us about our Emma.”

From a teacher’s standpoint, this first conference with parents can also be a stressful event. At conferences, educators often meet students’ parents for the very first time. These conferences usually occur right after the hard work of term test taking for students followed by the time required to prepare report cards with individual performance comments. All the while, these teachers continue to plan lessons, correct papers for the second term already begun, and reply to emails and phone calls from parents and colleagues. It can be a very overwhelming time of the year!

If the scheduled conference is for the benefit of a struggling student, the level of concern on the part of the parents may be even greater, and the teacher may need to prepare even more carefully in order to best help the student. Parents can do much to help make the first conference a very positive experience for all involved, particularly for their child:

First and foremost, show respect for the educational professional seated before you. She likely spends more hours per week with your child than you do during the school year. She knows your child and will provide valuable information to enable the child to enjoy more learning success.

Secondly, when constructive criticism about your child is offered, listen and remember what is said. If needed, jot down a few notes regarding the suggested areas of needed improvement.

• Normally, the teacher will make suggestions or offer resources to help with those improvements. Continue the note-taking. However, if none are offered, “gently” request her recommendations, tools and strategies or other resources you might consider to help your child develop more skill in a specific area.

• Finally, remember to be appreciative. Make it known to this teacher that you are grateful for the time and efforts she gives to help your child read and learn. Teachers are human beings in the work of service, hard work that very often is not always appreciated by those who are served. Be grateful for their dedication and commitment.

For educators, you most likely have a preferred format for conducting conferences. No matter which conference “template” you use, there are a few good ideas you might want to keep in mind:

• Try to describe student weaknesses in constructive ways---with some degree of gentleness. Of course, never compare one student with another.

• For every shortcoming or struggle a student may be experiencing, be kind enough to provide a possible strategy to help bring about improvement.

• Always remember to share at least one positive comment about each child. Every child has at least one talent, gift or characteristic that makes him or her special. Share these good comments with parents.

• Finally, offer encouragement to parents who may be struggling to guide their challenged children.

Once again, we have taken the time to gather some resources here to help both parents and teachers at this special “conference time” of year. We hope you will find them beneficial as you work together to help a child improve and experience more learning success!

Resources for Parents

FREE IEP e-book---To help parents plan for a child's IEP meeting! (from the NCLD---National Center for Learning Disabilities)

What Is a 504 Plan? (Video)---Excellent 5 min. video that clearly explains a 504 plan (from the NCLD)

40 Winning Accommodations---New, FREE ADHD Printable! (from ADDitude Magazine)
Increase the odds of your ADHD child succeeding in school with ADDitude's FREE printable, 40 Winning Accommodations.

10 Top Tips for Dyslexia---Tips parents can use to help their children challenged with dyslexia to enjoy more learning success in school

The Top 50 Apps for Kids (2012)---In education, music, art and more

Resources for Teachers

Parent–Teacher Conference Tip Sheets---both English & Spanish (from Harvard Family Research Project)

Parent-Teacher Conference Resources---These resources will help maximize the benefits of parent-teacher collaborations to serve each child's educational needs. (from

Family Involvement Publications & Resources---Articles and other resources to help with conferences (from Harvard Family Research Project)

The Best Resources on Parent/Teacher Conferences---Some of the most useful materials to help with parent-teacher conferences (from

Happy learning, everyone!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Dyslexia Resources--Fall 2012

At the literacy and vision conferences attended during the past two weeks, we were asked many questions about dyslexia. In fact, we received more questions from teachers, tutors and parents about dyslexia than about any other topic at both events.

Current statistics show that nearly 15% to 20% of school-aged children in the U.S. may be affected by some form of dyslexia. Yet only 5% are recognized (often because the dyslexia is severe) and receive assistance.

Approximately 60% of individuals diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) also have dyslexia. However, their learning and language differences are often unrecognized because only the behavioral aspects of ADHD are addressed. Without the proper diagnosis and help, many of these individuals with dyslexia and ADHD are only functionally literate, and are part of the 44 million adults with only the lowest level of literacy. This limits their ability to find jobs and function independently in their communities. (Source: The Dyslexia Research Institute)

With this data, it is easy to see why we received so many recent inquiries relating to this particular reading challenge. We felt it was just the right time to offer some updated information and a few more resources for these teachers and parents as well as for our regular blog readers here.

Animation Video---To Help Explain Dyslexia
From BrainPOP

7 Activities Affected by Dyslexia (Blog article)
From ChromaGen Vision’s blog

The Upside of Dyslexia (Opinion Article)
By Annie Murphy Hall---Published: February 4, 2012

Signs of Dyslexia Start Before Reading, Study Finds (from ABC News--& VIDEOS)
By Mikaela Conley (@mikaelaconley)---Published: April 5, 2012

Online Dyslexia Testing
From Lexercise---Company in Raleigh, NC, offers services to help children with reading, writing and spelling disorders such as dyslexia and dysgraphia.
Disclaimer: This is a FREE dyslexia test to see if your child is having trouble reading and processing words. This online test determines if your child needs a full evaluation in order for the best individualized treatment plan to be developed. This online test is NOT a replacement for such an evaluation.

10 Top Tips for Helping Your Child with Dyslexia
From Teach Our Kids

Spell Trekking in Schools: the New App for Literacy Tuition---New, multi-sensory iPad literacy app
Blog article about the app:
Access to app: FREE download at

Dyslexia Research Institute Information and resources about dyslexia

Happy reading, everyone!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

GREAT Apps to Help Teach Reading

This past weekend, our associates of Brennan Innovators attended a second educational conference in as many weeks. This time, the conference was located in our own city of St. Louis on the beautiful campus of Harris Stowe State University.

The International Reading Association-St. Louis Suburban Council held its annual Literacy-for-All Conference for college professors, teachers, reading specialists, parents, and others interested in promoting literacy in our schools and homes. The conference theme was "Literacy for the Future". It was a very good conference.

I had the great pleasure of presenting a workshop entitled "Strategies, Tools and More for Struggling Readers" at Saturday’s event. Not surprisingly, the number of workshop attendees was significant with every chair taken in the conference room. It was apparent that teachers and other literacy advocates most definitely want to know more about how they can help challenged readers experience more reading success. Attendees were also interested in apps that could help teach children how to read.

So today, we are dedicating this blog article to just those kinds of apps. Most of the links to follow here will each enable our readers to access an entire list of apps to help teach reading and related skills. The last URL, however, will connect to a single app for use with pre-school aged children.

10 iPad Apps for Teaching Kids to Read
From HowStuffWorks---Blog article by Sarah Winkler

Top Ten Reading Apps for Children
From The Reading Corner---Blog article by Christine @ Reading Horizons

6 Great Learn-to-Read Apps for Kids
From Common Sense Media and iVillage

Best Android Apps for Learning to Read 1
by JennyMurphy

Kids Learn to Read (for Preschool)—(Android app)
From intellijoy—Price $3.99
Kids Learn to Read is a delightful game that invites preschool-aged children to practice blending sounds together to read and spell simple words, such as "dog", "sun", and "big".

50 Useful Apps For Students With Reading Disabilities--(for Apple iPads)
Studies tell us that about half of kids with AD/HD also have problems with reading, and writing and spelling problems are common, too. Here's a long list of apps designed to help.

Happy reading, everyone!

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

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