Saturday, December 28, 2013

With a New Year, New ADHD Strategies for Teachers

The first article in a series of three (for teachers, parents and adults)

A new year is fast approaching and with it will come the making of resolutions for personal improvement for millions of persons. For some this will mean losing the pounds gained from all the recent holiday goodies. For others, the resolutions will affect less visible needs for change. Resolutions made to improve personal habits, goals, relationships and more may take precedence for many individuals as we begin 2014.

For children and adults challenged with ADHD, making age-appropriate resolutions for the new year are very important and can produce significant improvements in daily life---for personal habits, goals, relationships AND health. However, what new and effective ADHD strategies could result in such positive developments for these children and adults in the coming new year? We believe that a little planning and resolution writing NOW will make your New Year 2014 much more productive AND successful, especially if you, your students or others you care about have ADHD.

We're here for you all year long to help with tips, strategies and resources for challenged readers. Many with ADHD frequently visit our blog for this information. Today, we are providing in this article some new tips and strategies (with a few resources included, too!) to help teachers of students who struggle with the symptoms of ADHD, particularly as we are about to begin this new year. We hope that this information might come at a good time when the second half of the school year is about to begin as well and "fresh" ideas may be more appreciated and welcome. Perhaps some of the strategies included in the following list will become part of your classroom list of ADHD strategies for 2014!

Effective Strategies for Teachers of Children with ADHD

Before BEGINNING: Make a list of the most distressing or disruptive ADHD symptoms experienced for a particular individual. Use a highlighter (choose a favorite-colored marker) to highlight the top 3 symptoms that cause the most problems for your child, for you or for another adult with ADHD. FOCUS on these 3 symptoms, addressing only 1 symptom each week or so until improvement is evident. Younger children may need more time and encouragement than older children or teens. Finally, keep these three, highlighted issues in mind as you choose strategies from the list to follow.

1. "Catch" them doing something good!---First of all, resolve to "catch" EACH of your students doing something good as you begin the new year and thereafter whenever it may be appropriate without being patronizing or less than genuine. It will be especially important (and perhaps challenging for the teacher!) to do this for your students with ADHD. They very much need to hear, as well as do their classmates, that they are capable of doing what is right and good, even if it is not as often as one would like. This will also improve self-esteem and respect in and for the children. Again, it will be especially effective with those having ADHD challenges.

2. Direct instruction---Attention to task is improved when a student with ADHD is engaged in teacher-directed activities as opposed to independent seat-work activities. Also, the teaching of note-taking strategies increases the benefits of direct instruction. Both comprehension and on-task behavior improve with the development of these skills.

2. Tasks & assignments---To accommodate a short attention span, academic assignments should be brief with immediate feedback provided (about accuracy). Longer projects should be broken up into smaller, more manageable parts. Short time limits for completing a task should be specified ahead of time and can be enforced with timers.

3. Peer tutoring---Class-wide peer tutoring can provide many instructional benefits for students with ADHD. For example, it provides frequent and immediate feedback. When set up properly with a token economy system(see below here #17), peer tutoring has been found to yield dramatic academic gains.

4. Scheduling---Based on evidence that the on-task behavior of students with ADHD progressively worsens over the course of the day, it is suggested that academic instruction be provided in the morning. During the after-noon, when problem solving skills are especially poor, more active, nonacademic activities should be scheduled.

5. Novelty---Presentation of new, interesting and highly motivating material will improve attention. For example, increasing the novelty and interest level of tasks through use of increased stimulation (e.g., color, shape, texture and other use of the 5 senses ) reduces activity level, enhances attention and improves overall performance.

6. Structure & organization---Lessons should be carefully structured and important points clearly identified. For example, providing a lecture outline is a helpful note-taking aid that increases memory of main ideas. Students with ADHD perform better on memory tasks when material is meaningfully structured for them.

7. Rule reminders and visual cues---The rules given to students with ADHD must be well-defined, specific and frequently reinforced through visible modes of presentation. Well-defined rules with clear consequences are essential. Visual rule reminders or cues should be placed throughout the classroom. It is also helpful if rules are reviewed before activity transitions and following school breaks.

8. Auditory cues---Providing students with ADHD auditory cues that prompt appropriate classroom behavior is helpful. For example, use of a tape with tones placed at irregular intervals to remind students to monitor their on-task behavior has been found to improve arithmetic productivity.

9. Pacing of work---When possible, it is helpful to allow students with ADHD to set their own pace for task completion. The intensity of problematic ADHD behaviors is less when work is self-paced as compared to situations where work is paced by others.

10. Following instructions---Because students with ADHD have difficulty following multi-step directions, it is important for instruction to be short, specific and direct. To ensure understanding, it is helpful if these students are asked to rephrase directions in their own words. Also, teachers should be prepared to repeat directions frequently and recognize that students often may not have paid attention to what was said.

11. Productive physical movement---The student with ADHD may have difficulty sitting still. Therefore, productive physical movement should be planned. It is appropriate to allow the student with ADHD opportunities for controlled movement and to develop a repertoire of physical activities for the entire class such as stretch breaks. Other examples might include a trip to the office, a chance to sharpen a pencil, taking a note to another teacher, watering the plants, feeding classroom pets, or simply standing at a desk while completing classwork. Alternating seat work activities with other activities that allow for movement is essential.

12. Active vs. passive student involvement---In line with the idea of providing for productive physical movement, tasks that require active (as opposed to passive) responses may help hyperactive students channel their disruptive behaviors into constructive responses. While it may be problematic for these children to sit and listen to a long lecture, teachers might find that students with ADHD can be successful participants in the same lecture when asked to help (e.g., help with audio-visual aids, write important points on the chalk board, etc.)

13. Distractions---Generally, research has not supported the effectiveness of complete elimination of all irrelevant stimuli from the student's environment. However, as these students have difficulty paying attention to begin with, it is important that attractive alternatives to the task at hand be minimized. For example, activity centers, mobiles, aquariums and terrariums should not be placed within the student's visual field.

14. Anticipation---Knowledge of ADHD and its primary symptoms is helpful in anticipating difficult situations. It is important to keep in mind that some situations will be more difficult for than others. For example, effort-filled problem solving tasks are especially problematic. These situations should be anticipated and appropriate accommodations made. When presenting a task that the teacher suspects might exceed the student's capacity for attention, consider reducing assignment length and emphasize quality as opposed to quantity.

15. Contingency management: Encouraging appropriate behavior---Although classroom environment changes can be helpful in reducing problematic behaviors and learning difficulties, by themselves they are typically not sufficient. Thus, contingencies need to be available that reinforce appropriate or desired behaviors, and discourage inappropriate or undesired behaviors.

16. Powerful external reinforcement---First, it is important to keep in mind that the contingencies or consequences used with these students must be delivered more immediately and frequently than is typically the case. Additionally, the consequences used need to be more powerful and of a higher magnitude than is required for students without ADHD. Students with ADHD need external criteria for success and need a pay-off for increased performance. Relying on intangible rewards is often not enough.

17. Token economy systems---These systems are an example of a behavioral strategy proven to be helpful in improving both the academic and behavioral functioning of students with ADHD. These systems typically involved giving students tokens (e.g., poker chips) when they display appropriate behavior. These tokens are in turn exchanged for tangible rewards or privileges at specified times.

18. Response-cost programs---While verbal reprimands are sufficient for some students, more powerful, negative consequences, such as response-cost programs, are needed for others. These programs provide mild punishment when problem behavior is displayed. For example, a student may lose earned points or privileges when previously specified rules are broken. There is evidence that such programming decreases ADHD symptoms such as impulsivity. A specific response-cost program found to be effective with ADHD students involves giving a specific number of points at the start of each day. When a rule is broken or a problem behavior is displayed, points are taken away. To maintain their points, students must avoid breaking the rule. At the end of the period or day, students are typically allowed to exchange the points they have earned for a tangible reward or privilege.

19. Time-out---Removing the student from positive reinforcement or providing a "time-out" period typically involves removing the student from classroom activities. Time-outs can be effective in reducing aggressive and disruptive actions in the classroom, especially when these behaviors are strengthened by peer attention. They are not helpful, however, when problem behavior is a result of the student's desire to avoid school work. The time-out area should be a pleasant environment and a student should be placed in it for only a short time. Time-out should be ended based upon the student's attitude. At its conclusion, a discussion of what went wrong and how to prevent the problem in the future should occur. While these procedures are effective with ADHD students, it is recommended that they be used only with the most disruptive classroom behaviors and only when there is a trained staff.

(Source: Adapted from LD Online --- Helping the Student with ADHD in the Classroom: Strategies for Teachers

Resources for ADHD Strategies

Creating a Daily Report Card for the Home (for Parents, Professionals & Students)
Describes in a series of step-by-step worksheets how a parent can establish a program at home to help them better manage their ADHD child's behavior problems and to develop more appropriate behaviors.

Organizational and Academic Resources (with FREE Printer Versions) from The Learning Toolbox
Graphic organizers, schedule templates and other printable resources for home and school

School Behavior Tips: Impulse Control for ADHD Children---from ADDitude Magazine
Help children with ADHD think before they act by establishing clear expectations, positive incentives, and predictable consequences for good or bad school behavior.

Helping the Student with ADHD in the Classroom: Strategies for Teachers---from LD Online

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, December 21, 2013

BEST Books for Younger Challenged Readers (Ages 4-8)

The last article in a series of 3 (different age groups)

As the holiday season draws to a close, so does our series of three articles here with book lists and resources for challenged readers in various age groups. We thought that providing this information at this time would help parents and teachers discover books for gift giving to reluctant or struggling readers.

This last article is intended for younger readers (age levels provided with each selection). Some of the books listed are geared toward children who daily experience the challenges of dyslexia. Others touch on more general reading problems. One book even deals with bullying, which is an issue that, unfortunately, many students face in our schools today. At the end of the resources list, you’ll even find a link to a site that offers FREE e-books, which can be very helpful to young challenged readers (as e-readers and other tech devices for e-books can help diminish visual stress experienced by some challenged readers.)

We hope you’ll agree that each of these selections offers more than just one more book for a child to read. They each have something “special” to offer a young person whose self-esteem is at stake because of a struggle to read.

Happy reading---AND Happy Holidays, dear readers!

BEST Books for Younger Challenged Readers

Tacky the Penguin---by Helen Lester & illustrated by Lynn M. Musinger (ages 4-8)
This delightful tale of an odd penguin that doesn’t fit in with the “perfect” penguins in his colony is well suited to budding out-of-the-box thinkers who often do things differently from their peers. Stories give children a way to think positively about themselves and Tacky is a hero for children who struggle with differences. A Read-Along Book/CD combo is also available.

It’s Called Dyslexia---by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos & illustrated by Nuria Roca (ages 4-7)
Whoever said that learning to read and write is easy? The little girl in this story is unhappy and she no longer enjoys school. When learning to read and write, she tries to remember which way the letters go but she often gets them all mixed up. After she discovers that dyslexia is the reason for her trouble, she begins to understand that with extra practice and help from others, she will begin to read and write correctly. At the same time, she also discovers a hidden talent she never knew existed!

Thank You, Mr. Falker---by Patricia Polacco (ages 5-8)
"This story is truly autobiographical. It is about my own struggle with not being able to read. This story honors the teacher that took the time to see a child that was drowning and needed help...Mr. Falker, my hero, my teacher, not only stopped this boy from teasing me, but he also noticed that I wasn't reading well and got a reading specialist to help." -Patricia Polacco

The Alphabet War: A Story about Dyslexia---by Diane Burton Robb and Gail Piazza (ages 7-10)
"When Adam was little, he loved to sink into his mother's warm lap and listen to her read." Yet, reading becomes a frustrating, daily battle once Adam starts school. Finally, in third grade, Adam learns that he has dyslexia...and begins a journey back to enjoying reading.

FREE e-Books for Young Readers---from Pearson Education, Ltd. (for Primary Grades)
Everyone deserves a rest when they’re at home, but it’s also important for children to keep up with their reading practice if they can. To help make reading fun at home, this resource provides FREE access to a range of e-books for teachers, parents and children. No sign-up, no login, no fuss.


Young People’s Books Focusing on Dyslexia

Finding FREE Kids Books Online: Holiday Edition!

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, December 14, 2013

BEST Books for Older Teens with Reading Challenges

Second article in a series of 3 (different age groups)

It can be daunting for a parent or teacher to successfully find just the right book for the older teen who is struggling to read. No matter what the cause of the reading issue, a teen’s self-esteem can be significantly affected by this struggle. Most teens just “want to blend in” and be “normal”, often times avoiding strategies and cumbersome tools that can cause them to “stand out” or not be “like everyone else.”

To help older teens (and adults) with these issues, it can be a real lifesaver to own an e-book or iPad to help them “blend in” with their friends who have no reading issues. In fact, having access to this technology can positively impact their reading experiences---and it’s COOL, too!

Most e-books have matte-type screens to help readers with lighting and glare issues. These tech devices can also allow the reader to increase font size when needed. In addition, the non-white background of text pages can help readers who experience visual stress with the usual white pages of a traditional text.

Another option to keep in mind is that audio books might be a good option, especially for an auditory learner. These types of “listening” books are available at local public libraries and in bookstores. Many are even FREE and easily accessible online (see link below here).

Besides addressing the reading struggles for an older teen, there is the problem of finding the right book, the book that will increase the chances of reader engagement. Knowing the teen’s areas of interest is always a good place to start. Choose a book with a topic the teen cares about and will more likely choose to read.

Also, it will help to have an idea of what kind of genre may appeal to a particular teen. Is it fiction? Not always. In fact, many reluctant or challenged readers of any age have little or no interest in fictional stories. This is a signal that non-fiction selections may be a good place to start, especially with teen boys. Consider sharing an issue of Popular Mechanics or a book about hunting and fishing. For girls, think about introducing the biography of a famous woman or a “how-to” book about a favorite topic.

As promised and to help you find just the right book for a teen you know with reading challenges, we have gathered links for our second book list here. This one is specifically for older teens. We hope you will find it helpful in “lighting a spark” for reading in a teen you know.

Happy Reading---AND Happy Holidays, dear readers!

Next week’s article & book list: BEST Books for Young Children Who Are Challenged Readers

BEST Books for Older Teens with Reading Challenges

2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers (for ages 12-18)

2013 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Books Should Be Free---FREE Public Domain Audio Books & e-Books

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Friday, December 6, 2013

BEST Books for ‘Tween & Teen Challenged Readers

The 1st in a series of 3 articles (by age group)

We often receive calls and emails requesting children’s or teens’ book lists throughout the year. However, we had not created a list for any of the previous holiday seasons to help parents and grandparents choose the best books for young, challenged or readers.

To address this, we have gathered together over the past several weeks a series of 3 NEW book lists just in time for your holiday shopping. Each list is dedicated to a particular age group of struggling or even reluctant readers.

Our first booklist here is for ‘tweens and teens. We think this list could come in handy during the 2013 Holiday Season. In fact, you just might enjoy your holiday gift shopping a little bit more this year while at the same find a favorite book to read WITH your child any time of the year! (HINT: See the second book in the list to follow.)

Happy Reading---AND Happy Holidays, dear readers!

Close to Famous---by Joan Bauer (girls, ages 9-13)
Plucky, twelve-year-old Foster McFee is not going to let her inability to read keep her from reaching her goal of having her own television cooking show. In fact, her ambitions engage everyone around her, including an unlikely reading tutor who forces her to confront the vulnerability she is trying to keep hidden.

What Is Dyslexia?: A Book Explaining Dyslexia for Kids and Adults to Use Together---by Alan M. Hultquist, illustrated by Lydia Corrow (ages 8-11)
Children with dyslexia can be left "out of the loop" when it comes to discussions about the reasons for their struggles at school. This book is designed to help adults explain dyslexia to children aged 8-11. Hultquist offers clear examples and explanations, interactive activities for parents (or other adults) and children to do together, and highlights of the courage and strengths of people with dyslexia.

Eleven---by Patricia Riley Giff (ages 9-13)
Sam, a talented boy who can't read, is trying to discover his true identity through written documents. This action-packed psychological mystery is both suspenseful & touching. (Kindle edition also available)

Hank Zipzer: The World's Greatest Underachiever---A series by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver (ages 9-13)
Henry Winkler's real-life experiences as a young "underachiever" inspire these humorous and exciting stories in the Hank Zipzer series. These books will engage even the most reluctant reader in a fun romp through the days of Hank Zipzer, who always manages to keep things lively and, in the end, helps deliver a message of understanding for all kids, especially for those who share Hank's learning differences.

The Lightning Thief---and others in the series by Rick Riordan (boys, ages 10-15)
Boys will like the books in this series. They are filled with excitement, danger and personal triumph. They can also be downloaded for an MP3 player. A graphic novel version is also available.

Two-Minute Drill: Mike Lupica's Comeback Kids---by Mike Lupica (boys, middle grades)
Chris Conlan is the coolest kid in sixth grade—the golden-armed quarterback of the football team, and the boy all the others look up to. Scott Parry is the new kid, the boy with the huge brain, but with feet that trip over themselves daily. These two boys may seem like an odd couple, but team up when Scott figures out how to help Chris with his reading problem, while Chris helps him with his football and both boys end up winners.'s+Comeback+Kids+by+Mike+Lupica&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3A+Two-Minute+Drill%3A+Mike+Lupica's+Comeback+Kids+by+Mike+Lupica

River Rampage---and others in the Sam Cooper Adventure series by Max Elliot Anderson (ages 8-13)
Max Elliot Anderson brings a lifetime of dramatic film and video production to the pages of his action adventures and mysteries. His books are written especially for reluctant reader boys 8 and up, but they are also loved by avid readers, girls and even adults. If you happen to be a reluctant reader or are a parent of a reluctant reader, your life is about to change!
To purchase a copy signed by Mr. Anderson, email the author for details at:
You can also order via at:

Next week’s article & book list: BEST Books for Challenged Older Teen Readers


Young People’s Books Focusing on Dyslexia

Max Elliot Anderson’s Blog & Website

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, November 30, 2013

2013 Holiday Gift Guide for Challenged Readers

Happy Holidays to all of your faithful blog readers! You know that we are all about helping struggling readers. So as the 2013 Holiday Shopping Season gets well underway this weekend, we wanted to help you save some much-needed shopping time by providing a gift guide for your family members and friends who experience various challenges when reading or learning.

These readers on your holiday gift list may be children, teens or adults who have ADHD focusing issues or symptoms of dyslexia. They might also be seniors who are challenged with low vision, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or even stroke-related issues. They could even be veterans or others recovering from head or other brain injuries. For these good people on your list this year, you might want to give them a gift that just might help improve their ability to read AND their quality of life.

2013 Holiday Gift Guide for Challenged Readers

Franklin Handheld Spelling Devices-Various models from $13.00 to $70.00
These various types of handheld, battery-operated tech devices can be placed into a pocket or purse for easy access. They provide portable spell-checkers, dictionaries, thesauruses and more can be inexpensive lifesavers to those who struggle with all aspects of spelling and writing correctly.

Reading Focus Card Combo Pack---From $16.95 to $19.95 per tool set
Reading Focus Cards are effective reading tools for those who struggle to follow the lines while reading. The sensory-appealing tools come in two convenient sizes and provide a solution for struggling readers (U.S. Patent 7,565,759) of all ages. With a choice of 3 different colored filters recommended by a developmental optometric group, the customizable Reading Focus Cards block out more surrounding text than other reading tools and allow a reader to read through his or her chosen colored filter.

The shorter Reading Focus Card is best for short lines of text as in regular paperbacks, books with 2 columns of text on a page, math problems, etc. The longer size is best for longer lines of text with children's books, worksheets, larger volumes, science and math equations, documents etc. The 2 sizes of the tool can also be used with tech devices such as Kindles, Nooks, iPads, e-tablets and more.

e-Reader---Various models from $69.00 and up from
Did you know that an e-reader can be a great option for a struggling reader? This tech device can encourage readers who have dyslexia (diagnosed OR undiagnosed), because:
 Book size won’t be intimidating to the reader
 FREE reading samples can be downloaded for trials
 The font size feature can be changed to limit the number of words on the screen
 Text-to-voice feature can be very helpful---plus other features may help, too!

Laptop Computer---From $299.00 (for a very basic model) and up
If a struggling reader you know is a college student, a laptop may be the perfect gift, especially if it has a Touch Screen with a Windows 8 operating system. Many readers challenged with dyslexia also struggle with writing as well as with organizational issues. Typing is easier for these readers, AND it will also assist them with getting (and staying!) more organized. Visit the various computer company websites or their local branch stores/kiosks for various pricing and usage needs. A wireless service plan will be required.
DELL Computer- (for PCs)
Apple Computer- (for Apple OS)

e-Tablet (Regular & mini versions)---From approx. $200.00 and up (depending on where purchased)
Although this type of portable tech hardware will require a separate data plan from your phone or wireless service provider, an electronic tablet can make all the difference in the world for someone who daily struggles to read and learn. Apps can be downloaded (for FREE and/or at various pricings) to assist a challenged reader of almost ANY age with an almost infinite number of tasks and life skills.
DELL e-Tablets- (for Android & Windows)
Apple iPads- (for iOS)

Smartphone (Android or iOS)---Various prices (depending on where purchased)
It is probably no secret that a handheld device can be indispensable to a challenged reader. A device that can download all kinds of assistive applications (apps) can provide reading assistance, note-taking help, a tech “time coach”, an electronic and/or scanning dictionary, a GPS (global positioning system) and many more helpful “assistants” for a challenged reader. Visit your local phone service company (or online) for the best model and options for an individual’s usage needs. Again, a data plan is required from your phone or wireless service provider.

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, November 23, 2013

MORE Android Tools & Apps for Kids Who Struggle to Read

One of our most recent articles on the blog here provided a significant number of Android apps for challenged readers (BEST Android Apps for Struggling Readers, November 2, 2013, Since that time, we have had quite a few of our readers request even more information about Android tools and apps for children who struggle to read. This week’s article has been written to address these requests in a timely manner.

The first two apps listed below (Read Me Stories and Storia) work well on most Android devices. You may know that the Android platform is gaining in popularity and use over the iOS platform in some regions, especially outside the U.S. At the same time, American users are increasing in number as well, however.

The Kindle Fire is an Android device that is definitely gaining in popularity and use. The ability for this device to provide a color display is most helpful to struggling readers, especially those who are visual learners. The Reading Rainbow app listed below here is perfect for the Kindle Fire. You might want to check it out for a challenged or reluctant young reader you know.

Finally, the last two apps in the list are for our youngest readers. Both Bookster and Tikatok StorySpark are FREE offerings that will capture a young one’s attention and retain it for the length of a reading selection. Bookster provides vocabulary skill building together with a recording option for your child to read aloud. Tikatok StorySpark not only promotes and encourages literacy, it enables a young child to write and “publish” his own creative stories.

As always, we hope that the resources included here will effectively assist parents and teachers of children who struggle to read.

More Android Apps for Kids Who Struggle to Read

Read Me Stories - for Android (also available for iOS)
This app is full of picture books with illustrations that children will love. While the narrator reads the book aloud, kids can follow along as the text lights up on the screen. There is a new book available for downloading every day.

Storia (FREE) - for Android (also available for iOS)
The perfect virtual bookshelf for families with children of all ages, Storia by Scholastic has many options for readers. Children choose books that spark their interest and are at their reading level. Audio and visual supports help struggling readers.

Reading Rainbow (FREE) - for Android
Download the Reading Rainbow app now to your Kindle Fire or other Android devices. (One of the most popular educational apps available)

Bookster (FREE with first e-book) - for Android (also available for iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch)
Young readers can find new literary favorites with helpful narration from kids their age. Your little ones will also learn new vocabulary words and can record themselves reading the books when they’ve finished!

Tikatok StorySpark (FREE – Books are $3 each) - for Android (also available for iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch)
From Barnes & Noble, Tikatok StorySpark is for your family’s pint-sized publisher. Kids write and illustrate their own books, using a catalog of art or their own photos or digital drawings for the backgrounds. When it’s ready, books are “published” under a chosen pen name and posted online at


Apps for Winter Reading---by Monica Burns (from

6 Great Reading Apps for Kids---by Dominic Umile (from Scholastic)

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Android image from Tivix at and completed graphic designed by Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why iPads & Kindles Are Great Tools for Struggling Readers

It’s no secret that over the past couple of years, various types of technology have changed the way we read today. We have the renowned Kindle e-readers from Amazon and the iPads from Apple. Other technological devices have also played a big part in enhancing our reading experiences.

It may not be as well known, however, that these same tech devices can be especially helpful to struggling readers. Whether the struggle to read is the result of ADHD, dyslexia, autism or another issue, these e-readers, e-tablets, smartphones and other devices can not only promote more reading success for struggling readers, but they can also make it possible for them to read in the first place.

Why are these tech devices particularly beneficial for challenged readers of any age? We’ve gathered information here to form 2 lists, one for each tech device’s advantages for challenged readers. We hope these lists help you discover which device may be best for your reading needs or that of a child or student who struggles to read.

Some of iPad’s Benefits for Challenged Readers

• Ease of Use: It’s easy to find books at the various stores available (Kindle, Nook & iBooks.)
• Screen Quality: The iPad screen is clear, bright and eminently readable.
• Access to Text: It can also be used to access formatted text like that of a PDF document and open it in GoodReader. (
• Text to Speech (TTS) Feature: This TTS feature allows students to hear the words they read. Visually-impaired students as well as other students can benefit from this as they hear the proper pronunciation of words as they “read” texts.
• VoiceOver Feature: This feature is available for all installed apps on iPads. This is a screen reader that allows the user to point to something on the iPad and hear a description of what is at that location.
• Zoom Feature: This feature allows users to enlarge any item on the screen. The iPad also allows for connection to refreshable Braille displays using a wireless Bluetooth connection.
• Customization: A teacher, parent or other adult can customize an iPad to meet the individual needs of a reader.
(Sources: The Advantages of iPads for Special Education Students-by Denise Brown &
10 things the iPad is good for…and 5 it isn’t-by John Biggs---See links to follow.)

Some of Kindle’s Benefits for Challenged Readers

• Visual Formatting: Students with visual impairments can select the appropriate text size on a Kindle to meet their needs. (Push a button to increase or decrease font size.) This has increased engagement for many students who have difficultly seeing normal font size.
• Easy Downloading: Kindle content can easily be downloaded to the computer. This feature allows for even larger text and the ability to change the color / format. The Kindle PC option provides countless opportunities for students who require more specific text features.
• Screen Quality: The Kindle screen can also help diminish glare and “visual stress” from white page backgrounds as well as from florescent lighting for some readers.
• Text to Speech: For students who require read aloud, the Kindle is able to read any Kindle text out loud. By plugging in headphones, students can listen to books and short stories. This feature can help increase reading engagement for struggling readers and also to provide more independence to these students.
• Convenience: For students whom have difficulty flipping pages or holding open books, the Kindle provides a convenient alternative. By pushing a button, students are able to flip through pages and chapters. Additionally, for students with more severe physical disabilities, there may be some potential of connecting a switch to the Kindle.
• Organization: For students with organization troubles, the Kindle helps them out by saving the page they read.
• Dictionary Feature: The Kindle provides immediate assistance for unknown vocabulary words. By using the dictionary, which is embedded within the text, students can access texts that are at challenging reading level.
(Source: Adapted from the Kindle Project---District of Columbia Public Schools Pilot Program---See link to follow.)

Additional Resources

Why and when the iPad is the best e-reader-by Joel Mathis

Kindle Technology Helps Readers-by Rob

Can e-Readers Ease Reading for Dyslexics?-by Annie Murphy Paul

iPad vs Kindle Fire / Android Tablet for Kids---by TechAgeKids

Dyslexia on the digital page-by Jillian Rose Lim
Devices like e-readers and iPads may make reading easier for students with dyslexia

E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexia (Research article)
by Matthew H. Schneps, Jenny M. Thomson, Chen Chen, Gerhard Sonnert & Marc Pomplun

Apps for Struggling Readers

9 Great Learn-to-Read Apps for Kids---by Common Sense Media (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch; Kindle Fire apps)

8 Apps for Struggling Adolescent Readers---by Hope Mulholland (Apple and Android apps)


Kindle Project---District of Columbia Public Schools Pilot Program

The Advantages of iPads for Special Education Students-by Denise Brown, Demand Media

10 things the iPad is good for…and 5 it isn’t-by John Biggs

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: iPad or Kindle: will our wallets decide?-by Paul Miller and
Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, November 2, 2013

BEST Android Apps for Struggling Readers

We’re saying “good-bye” to October and LD Awareness Month. At the same time, we’re also concluding the busiest month in our company’s history! More Reading Focus Cards were ordered by parents, teachers and catalog distributors in the past month than in any other month on record for Brennan Innovators. There is increasing evidence that many children, teens AND adults continue to struggle with reading.

For this reason, we thought we would begin this month’s articles with one that includes resources for a variety of challenged readers. Because we receive many requests for Android tech resources to help these readers, we are providing here a current and sizable list of Android apps for struggling readers of various age groups.

From the many parent phone calls, emails and orders we receive for our research-based Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), most involve a request or concern for a young, challenged reader that is between the ages of 8 and 11 years. As stated in a previous article in this blog, prior to this age range, children are “learning to read”. From age 8 or 9, children are “reading to learn” and must utilize skills (hopefully developed earlier) to learn the content and information presented via printed media. However, if those reading skills have not been developed properly---or at all, focusing and tracking issues can be just two of the ramifications. For this reason, the first resource listed below here should be helpful to some of these readers (Apps (Android) by Bugbrained---from

The other links provided here may be helpful to other age groups. The second resource listed will provide an extensive list of some of the very best Android apps for challenged readers in various age levels, including those for adults. Many resources throughout the listing are FREE.

We hope that what is provided here will help you or someone you know who struggles daily to read with more success. Happy reading---EVERYONE!

BEST Android Apps for Struggling Readers

Apps (Android) by Bugbrained---from
Reading apps for children (up to & including the Grade 3 reading level)

100+ Top Apps for Struggling Readers (Android)---from AppCrawlr
Excellent listing of the top 100+ Android apps for challenged readers of all ages

Blackberry Playbook and BB10 Android Apps---from Good e-Reader
Good e-Reader has over 6,000 apps and games for Blackberry 10 and the Playbook. Download the latest BAR Files for Blackberry 10 and the Playbook

FREE Kindle App for Android Devices---from Amazon (NO Kindle device required!) (via + FREE e-book links!) (via Google Play Store link)

Go Read (Android)---from Bookshare
A FREE, accessible e-book reader for people with print disabilities; based on the open-source FBReader project.

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: techradar.phones at and Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, October 26, 2013

BEST Websites for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)

The last in a series of five articles with specific special needs resources

As LD Awareness Month concludes during this last week of October, we are bringing you our final article in a series of five that provides websites and resources for specific special or additional needs.

The most recent data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) indicates that in the U.S., about 1 in 88 children have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among boys than girls – with 1 in 54 boys identified.
(Source: CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, March 2012:

Because of this high level of autism prevalence, we thought it most appropriate to conclude our series here by providing our readers with helpful website resources for that specific need. We hope that this list of autism websites will help you as a parent, teacher or caregiver of a child or adult with autism.

BEST Websites for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)

Autism Spectrum Disorders---from the National Center for Learning Disabilities

National Autism Association

Autism NOW---from the National Autism Resource & Information Center

TeachersFirst Resources on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger’s

Websites for Families from Autism Speaks

10 Great iPad Apps for Students on the Autism Spectrum---by Patrick Jordan

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC

Saturday, October 19, 2013

BEST Websites for Executive Function Disorder (EFD)

The fourth in a series of five articles with specific special needs resources

Challenges with executive functiona set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action—can be seen at any age and often contribute to the difficulties that individuals with LD already face in academic learning. Many individuals struggle with executive function, which governs a person’s ability to plan, organize and manage details in everyday life.
(Source: National Center for Learning Disabilities---Executive Functioning: Please see website link to follow below here.)

Children who experience executive function disorder (EFD) will often struggle in school with late and/or missing assignments and will have difficulties trying to manage a daily schedule that promotes academic success. These affected children frequently have difficulties with the following:

• managing time & attention
• switching focus
• planning/organizing work & responsibilities
• remembering details
• curbing inappropriate speech or behavior
• integrating past experience with present situations

For adults with executive function issues, behavior such as procrastination, tardiness, memory challenges and more will negatively impact one’s effectiveness and success at work as well as the person’s relationships and home life.

So, what can a parent or teacher do about improving or developing executive functioning skills in a child affected by such challenges? Are there strategies or tips that might help an affected adult with these executive function issues?

We think that the best place to start is with the best information available about executive functioning skills. In keeping with this October’s commemoration of LD Awareness Month, we have gathered some helpful website resources on this topic here in our fourth in a series of five articles. We hope these links will provide the assistance needed to help you or someone you care about with executive functioning challenges.

Executive Function 101---FREE e-Book from the National Center for Learning Disabilities

Executive-Function Deficits in Children---from ADDitude Magazine

Executive Function Disorder, Explained!---from ADDitude Magazine

What Is Executive Function?---from WebMD

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC

Saturday, October 12, 2013

BEST Websites for Dyscalculia & Dyspraxia

The third in a series of five articles with specific special needs resources

As planned and promised, we are continuing our series of articles containing helpful links to websites for specific special needs. This week, the websites presented are for dyscalculia and dyspraxia, two different disabilities that some consider as two other forms of dyslexia.

Before we present the best websites for these two learning challenges, however, we first want to provide good definitions for these learning issues.

What Is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of lifelong learning disabilities involving math. There is no single type of math disability. Dyscalculia can vary from person to person. It can also affect people differently at different stages of life. Using alternate learning methods, people with dyscalculia can achieve success. Currently, statistics vary regarding the incidence of this particular learning disability.
(Source: National Center for Learning Disabilities---NCLD: Please see website link to follow below here.)

What Is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder throughout the brain that results in life-long impaired motor, memory, judgment, processing, and other cognitive skills. Dyspraxia also impacts the immune and central nervous systems. Each dyspraxic person has different abilities and weaknesses as dyspraxia often comes with a variety of comorbidities. One in ten persons in the U.S. suffers from dyspraxia.
(Source: Dyspraxia Foundation USA: Please see website link to follow below here.)

BEST Websites for Dyscalculia

National Center for Learning Disabilities---Dyscalculia

about dyscalculia Tools

Apps to Help Students with Dyscalculia and Math Difficulties---by Darla Hatton and Kaila Hatton (via NCLD)

The British Dyslexia Association---Dyscalculia Primer & Resource Guide

BEST Websites for Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia Foundation USA

Six Helpful Dyspraxia Resources---from the National Center for Learning Disabilities


Dyspraxia (Children) – Symptoms (from NHS in the UK)

BRAIN.HE (Best Resources for Achievement and Intervention re Neurodiversity in Higher Education)

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC

Monday, October 7, 2013

BEST Websites for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia

The 2nd in a series of 5 articles with specific special needs resources
Updated November 2016

In last week’s article, we mentioned that this month was ADHD Awareness Month, and we provided our readers with some helpful ADHD website resources to commemorate the next 31 days---BEST Websites for AD/HD. That same article was the first in a series of five this month of October, also designated as Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. To continue our series AND address the needs of other learning disabilities, this week’s article will address some helpful resources for two other learning challenges---dyslexia and dysgraphia.

What Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a lifelong challenge. This language-based processing disorder can hinder reading, writing, spelling and sometimes even speaking. Dyslexia is not a sign of poor intelligence or laziness or the result of impaired hearing or vision. Children and adults with dyslexia have a neurological disorder that causes their brains to process and interpret information differently.
(Source: National Center for Learning Disabilities---NCLD: Please see website link to follow below here.)

Studies show that individuals with dyslexia process information in a different area of the brain than do non-dyslexics. Many people who are dyslexic are of average to above-average intelligence.
(Source: The International Dyslexia Association---IDA: Please see website link to follow below here.)

What Is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing, which in itself requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. Dysgraphia makes the act of writing difficult. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia can have trouble organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page. This can result partly from:

Visual-spatial difficulties: trouble processing what the eye sees
Language processing difficulty: trouble processing and making sense of what the ear hears
(Source: National Center for Learning Disabilities---NCLD: Please see website link to follow below here.)

We hope that the website resources listed below for dyslexia and dysgraphia will be helpful to you or to someone you know.

BEST Websites & Resources for Dyslexia

The International Dyslexia Association

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

DyslexiaHelp at the University of Michigan

Articles and Resources for Dyslexia from

800+ Dyslexia Resources & Support---ALL in 1 Place!
from Brennan Innovators, LLC

BEST Websites & Resources for Dysgraphia

The International Dyslexia Association

Dysgraphia from National Center for Learning Disabilities

Dysgraphia from LD Online

Dysgraphia from Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA)

Articles and Resources for Dysgraphia from

Handwriting Problem Solutions from Handwriting Problem Solutions, LLC

200+ Dysgraphia Resources---ALL in 1 Place---Brennan Innovators, LLC

For information on customizable tools for dyslexia & other reading challenges: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC

Saturday, September 28, 2013

BEST Websites for AD/HD

The first in a series of 5 articles with specific special needs resources

Most visitors to our website and those who know us at Brennan Innovators are familiar with our Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. However, not everyone knows that we also provide consultation services and educational resources for parents, teachers and adults with reading challenges.

We especially enjoy connecting individuals with information and tools that can help improve reading focus, concentration, comprehension and retention for an increase in overall reading success for persons of all ages. This includes individuals with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, low vision, stroke recovery or TBI (traumatic brain injury) and other issues that can impact reading ability.

This week, we are beginning a new series of articles that will give our readers separate lists of websites with each specific to a particular special need. These lists will be current and hopefully helpful for parents, teachers and adults looking for assistance with reading issues.

To coincide with the beginning of ADHD Awareness Month (beginning October 1), the topic for the first installment here is AD/HD, attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder. This is the notation used for either ADD (no hyperactivity) or ADHD (with the hyperactivity component). Both children and adults can be affected by the condition, and it can occur in varying degrees of severity from one individual to another. There really is no “cure” for AD/HD, but it is very possible to successfully “manage” the symptoms of the disorder. This management may include the use of assistive tools, strategies, coaching and other helpful resources.

To follow here are some of the best websites available to help with AD/HD (both ADD and ADHD). These are the go-to sites we use time and again to refer parents, teachers and adults for the AD/HD information they need. You might consider bookmarking this page for easy access for a time when these resources might be needed.

BEST AD/HD Websites for Children & Adults

CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a national non-profit organization working to improve the lives of affected people through education, advocacy and support. From lobbying to local support groups, CHADD is a leader in the field of ADHD.

National Resource Center on AD/HD (Sponsored by CHADD) is the center funded by the CDC. It has much science-based information about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

ADD Resources is another non-profit serving the ADHD community. It has an extensive directory of workshops, conferences, publications, and articles for parents, teachers, adults, and medical professionals. The organization supports itself through memberships. (A fee to access some content) is a site where Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D. and Patricia Quinn, M.D. (Edge Foundation board member) provides answers to questions about AD/HD for families and individuals at every stage of life from preschool through retirement years.

ADDitude Magazine is the site that provides numerous resources for parents and teachers of children with AD/HD as well as for adults challenged with the condition. Printable downloads, many informational articles, an AD/HD community forum and more are readily available on the site at no cost.

Next week’s article: BEST Websites for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia Stay tuned! Follow our blog and have next week’s article delivered right to your inbox as soon as it is published! (Please see Email Box to the right on this page to register. Thank you!)

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC

Saturday, September 21, 2013

BEST Audio Books for ALL Kinds of Readers

If you are a teacher or parent, you may already know the value of audio books and stories that are able to be downloaded from the Internet. If you are the teacher or parent of one or more auditory learners, you probably consider audio books to be one of the most important resources you can provide for struggling readers. However, teachers and parents of children with special needs will very often look at audio books as priceless.

Student learning styles that benefit most from listening must be addressed in the classroom and at home. Doing so will help these students reach more of their academic goals in ALL content areas.

As promised in our last blog article, we wanted to provide our readers with a list of current online audio book and story resources for auditory learners as well as others who struggle with traditional reading or informational media. This would include children, teens and adults challenged with various types of dyslexia, ADHD, autism, low vision, stroke recovery, TBI issues or other conditions that can impact reading success. As always, we hope you will find these resources helpful for the individuals you serve or care for each day.

BEST Audio Books & Stories for Children

Random House Audio Listening Library (for Young Children---Pre-K - 2nd Grade)
Various platforms (some FREE)
FREE and individually-priced audio selections for very young listeners

Random House Audio Listening Library (for Middle School---Grades 3 – 6)
Various platforms (some FREE)
FREE and individually-priced audio selections for middle school listeners

Audiobooks - Kids (FREE)-by Audiobook Pop! LLC
Platforms: for iPhone and iPad
The Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Velveteen Rabbit, Anderson's Fairy Tales, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Adventures of Reddy Fox

FREE Audio Stories for Kids (great for shorter attention spans or younger children)
Here is a list of audio stories created especially for children. Listen by clicking on the story title to visit the story’s page where you can read along by downloading the audio file provided.

Books Should Be Free-for Children
Platforms: iPhone, Android, Kindle & mp3 players
Many FREE public domain audio books & e-books for children

BEST Audio Books for Teens

Random House Audio Listening Library (for Young Adult---7th Grade & up)
Various platforms (some FREE)
FREE and individually-priced audio selections for teen listeners

Books Should Be Free-for Teens & Young Adults
Platforms: iPhone, Android, Kindle & mp3 players
Many FREE public domain audio books & e-books for teens and young adults

Books Should Be Free-Short Stories (great for shorter attention spans)
Platforms: iPhone, Android, Kindle & mp3 players
FREE public domain audio books & e-books for teens & young adults

BEST Audio Books for Adults

Books Should Be Free-Non-fiction Selections
Platforms: iPhone, Android, Kindle & mp3 players
FREE public domain audio books & e-books for adults (some for teens & young adults)

Books Should Be Free-Top 100 Audio Book Selections
Platforms: iPhone, Android, Kindle & mp3 players
FREE public domain audio books & e-books for adults (some for teens & young adults)
40,000 mystery, romance, bestsellers and other selections via membership
FREE 7-day trial available

BEST Audio Books for Everyone

Podiobooks (FREE)
Podiobooks has over 70,000 free audio books over every subject you can think of and includes audio books for adults and kids. Download the free audio books directly from the website or receive them like podcasts from an RSS feed. There is no need to register to get a free audio book from Podiobooks but if you do, and registration is free, you'll get a custom podcast feed that will make enjoying your book a whole lot easier.

LibriVox (FREE)
For computers, iPods or other mobile devices, or to burn onto a CD
LibriVox has a huge selection of free audio books that are recordings of volunteers who have read chapters from books that are in the public domain. You can find a free audio book by searching by title, author, or status. You can also browse all the titles in the catalog or view only the most recent audio books. The free audio books can be downloaded directly from LibriVox or you can subscribe to them as podcasts.

Project Gutenberg (FREE)
Project Gutenberg makes audio e-books available for some of the same great literature available in plain text. Listings are divided into two categories: Human-read and computer-generated audio books. These files can be very large, so are not well-suited for people using a modem or other low-speed connection. (FREE)
All types of literary genres including non-fiction are available here.
Audible has a 30-day free trial going which means that you can download any audio book of your choice for free during that time. Audible has a great selection of audio books and you'll be able to find just about any audio book you are looking for, including best sellers and new releases.

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: William Milner Photography:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

BEST Book Apps for Kids

For Apple, Android and Other Platforms

During the past week drove by one of the middle schools in our local district where the marquis on the front lawn read “Progress Reports due the week of September 16th.” Are we really approaching the mid-point of the first quarter? Yes, we are!

If you are like most parents and teachers, you may already be wrestling with the issues of homework and long term projects for your children or students. In fact, many students have already received their first book report assignments of the school year. How can you make these book report projects less “painful” and actually more enjoyable for students?

We think one good option might be to include or allow more e-books and audio books in the offerings made to the students. In fact, e-books, apps and audio books very often do an excellent job of addressing the needs of students' different learning styles, especially those of struggling readers and learners. The tech devices on which these digital books and apps are read can sometimes compensate for the issues frequently associated with florescent lighting (which can cause issues for some challenged readers) or allow for other text manipulation to improve reading comfort and success. Audio books have long been known to benefit auditory learners in a significant way.

This week, we are presenting here what we believe are some good resources for FREE and low-cost e-books and book apps for children and teens. With school budgets as they are right now and families wishing to be frugal in the current economy, these lists and selections (for various digital platforms) may be just what are needed for the current and future book report projects your children or students are assigned.

Note: Please stay tuned. Next week’s article here will offer online resources for audio books.

Happy reading, everyone!

BEST Book Apps & e-Books for Kids

Best Book Apps for Kids (for Pre-School through 14 years-Prices vary)
Platforms: iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and others
You’ll find classic tales as well as interactive science books and much more here.

Best iPad Children’s Books (Various prices & FREE)
With your iPad, children's books truly come to life. No longer do you have to worry about making silly character voices yourself or accidentally skipping a page. Your iPad is the ultimate, interactive reading device.

50 Best Apps for Kids from 2013 That Parents Can Trust (Some FREE)
Platforms: iPhone, iPad and Android
These apps won't leave you with a big bill, but will provide stimulating education, creativity and entertainment for children. (UK)

Read Me Stories: Kids’ Books (FREE)
Platform: Android
A new book EVERY DAY develops your child’s love for books and reading. Help establish a daily reading habit for your child---and you!

6 Great Reading Apps for Kids (Some FREE & others via monthly subscription)-by Scholastic
Platforms: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Google T, Windows Phone and Android
These phone and tablet apps will enrich storytime at home or on the road.

Teens Book Apps & Games for Kids (Ages 13 to 19-Some FREE)
Platforms: Android, iPad & iPhone
Get reviews and download book apps for teens.

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC

Sunday, September 8, 2013

7 Study Tips to Go!

Several weeks ago, many students began returning from the summer break to begin a new school year. The last wave of students will be entering their classrooms and meeting their new teachers during the coming week. It’s hard to believe, but as we approach the end of the first month of school, these students will be starting to prepare for their first quizzes and tests of the new school year. (How does that thought make YOU feel?)

For some children and teens, testing is considered just part of being a student. However, for the many students with reading and learning challenges of various kinds, a looming quiz or test can cause much anxiety, which in turn can negatively impact student well-being, academic attitudes, test performance and overall learning success.

How can students avoid these negative issues? The answer is with GOOD prep for quizzes, tests and other assessments that are a necessary part of student learning. As a follow-up to last week's article about one, very effective study method called SQ3R (, we wanted to present here some tips and tricks to effectively help students manage both study times and test sessions. Instead of inducing anxiety and stress, we hope that the tips offered here will make a real difference when the teacher announces “the first test” of the school year or ANY test from September to June.

7 Study Tips to Go!

1. Break down the content: Take the content to be learned and break it into “chunks” of information. If you are to learn the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution by next week, break it down into lines or sections, and study one line/section each day until it is committed to memory. Of course, this means that you will want to start early, as soon as the work is assigned.
RESULT: You will be able to “pace” yourself and not experience that feeling of “overwhelm” with too much information needing your attention at once.

2. Create acronyms & funny stories: Take the details of the information you need to learn and turn them into acronyms (a series of letters that stands for something meaningful) with a funny twist or story connection. For example, if you need to remember the Order of Operations in mathematics, create the acronym PEMDAS, but recall it with “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.” This will serve as a “funny” prompt that you should always address math problems in this order:

P------> Parentheses first
E------> Exponents (i.e. Powers and Square Roots, etc.)
MD---> Multiplication and Division (left-to-right)
AS----> Addition and Subtraction (left-to-right)

RESULT: It will be easier to remember details with these acronyms and “funny” tales.

3. Change it up: Change the location of WHERE you choose to study. Scientific research indicates that sticking to one study location and simply alternating the room where a person studies, improves retention. An older student might choose to visit a different but quiet location each day when trying to learn the same or related content. Because the brain is being forced to form new associations (in the different locations) with the same material, it actually becomes a stronger memory.

4. Write it out/Type it out: There is something about writing something down that impresses the brain. Gather ALL the important points (main ideas) from one section of material needing to be learned and re-write those points on a NEW sheet of paper. If writing is a challenge for you (i.e. dysgraphia, dyspraxia, etc.), type these points on your computer and print them out. Type each point in a different font or color to further impress the brain.
RESULT: You will be providing your brain with even more “memory prompts” by doing these above activities.

5. Talk it out: In addition, the act of reading information aloud can have a positive effect on one’s memory. Try it. Read aloud the important points or details from a studied section of content. For this activity, be sure to find an appropriate location for your “read-aloud” study!
RESULT: Your brain will be mentally storing the details by both “seeing” AND “hearing” the needed information.

6. Create flashcards: For vocabulary word study or learning facts and dates for social studies, history or science content, consider writing out (or typing, if needed) flashcards on regular 3” X 5” index cards. Put each new vocabulary word on one side of a card with its definition on the card’s reverse side. For other content, put the date, event or other term on one side with the explanation of each on the reverse side. With a standard hole-puncher tool, punch a hole in the upper left-hand corner of each card with and ring them all together with a loose-leaf binder ring. Do this for each major section of content to help you better prepare for chapter tests, etc. Then, after the test, file them away (with labeled dividers) in a re-cycled shoebox for end-of-unit study or semester exam prep later.
RESULT: You will be “imprinting” your brain with each card’s information and will be much more prepared for assessments, no matter when they are scheduled. You can also carry each set of study flashcards in your purse or backpack, always ready for an impromptu study session or simply while waiting for a friend to join you.

7. Use good study tools: Select reading and study tools that can effectively contribute to your learning experience. Consider online tools such as Evernote, Studyblue, Zotero and Google Hangouts to jumpstart your study efforts, especially if you like FREE tech downloads (See Resources to follow here.). Should focus and concentration be issues for you, you might want to take a look at the Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759). These teacher-created, reading tools can help isolate 1-2 lines of text in a book, document and even on tech devices such as Kindles, iPads and other e-readers and e-tablets. Law, medical students and others with massive amounts of content to read, use these tools and have found them to be quite helpful, especially when focus and attention are study issues.
RESULT: More focus and concentration on content lead to better retention. The RIGHT tools for an individual can make ALL the difference in one’s learning success.


“How to Study” Resources
Scroll halfway down page to access FREE downloadable resources for better study results.

23 Science-Backed Study Tips to Ace a Test
Excellent tips that work when preparing for tests and exams

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits by Benedict Carey, New York Times

Five FREE online study tools for higher grades
Merge new technology with studying and use these five free online study tools. They allow you to study anywhere your laptop or phone can go, helping you make great use of the extra chunks of time in your day: riding the bus, waiting for a professor’s office hours to start, or hanging out between classes.

Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565.759)--These reading tools are solutions for challenged readers of all ages. They can be especially helpful for children, teens and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, low vision and other issues that impact reading success.

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC: