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: