Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Celebrate Dr. Seuss Day in Style with These GREAT Resources!

One way to the heart of a reluctant reader or one who is challenged in other ways is to mention the name of the legendary Dr. Seuss. If you are already one of his grown-up fans, you probably know that Dr. Seuss Day is just around the corner and fast approaching, too. March 2 is the BIG day, and you'll most likely want to celebrate it in a special way with the young readers (and maybe the older ones, too!) you know.

On this second day in 1904, Theodor Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, author and illustrator of such beloved children’s books as The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Geisel, who used his middle name (which was also his mother’s maiden name) as his pen name, wrote 48 books–--including some for adults–--that have sold well over 200 million copies and have been translated into multiple languages. Dr. Seuss books are known for their whimsical rhymes and quirky characters, which have names like the Lorax and the Sneetches and live in places like Hooterville.

This week's article will make it easy for you to commemorate the famous Dr. Seuss. We have gathered here a sizable collection of resources to make the day memorable for you, your children or students and others who love the books written by Mr. Geisel. These Dr. Seuss resources are FREE or at low cost to you. The most difficult part for you will be to choose the very best ones for the individual or group you serve, as there are so many great ones.

We know these reading and math resources will definitely get you in the mood for the GREAT day! So, you'll be all set to motivate young readers on March 2 with this ready-to-use bundle of activities, games, recipes, apps and other "goodies." These resources will help you celebrate Dr. Seuss' Birthday in style with ALL the readers you know. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

GREAT Reading Resources for Dr. Seuss Day (March 2)

Dr. Seuss We LOVE!
Here are 120+ resources (all in one place!) to help you celebrate Dr. Seuss Day in a BIG way. You'll discover math activities, videos, finger puppet instructions, recipes, apps and so much more to make March 2 a great day to remember Dr. Seuss!

Seussville.com---from Random House
Random House's website for all things Dr. Seuss---Games, activities and more that are all about Dr. Seuss. FREE resources for teachers and homeschooling parents, too.

55 Dr. Seuss Activities For Kids---from No Time for Flash Cards
A collection of Dr. Seuss activities and resources from other blogs and websites.


1904-Dr. Seuss born---from History.com

For more information about assistive technologies for challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image sources:
Courtesy of U.S. Stamp Gallery at http://usstampgallery.com/view.php?id=419a16d52b4e30c45d78c6ff65fa1aaea8220ef8 and
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

18 Tips to Support Dyslexics & Other Challenged Readers

Reading and learning do not come easily for every student. Parents and teachers often look for specific strategies and resources to assist struggling readers and learners, especially for the many with dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and/or other issues that can impact reading success.

Making using of such strategies or accommodations allows for more fairness in the classroom where other, more typical readers and learners at the same grade level may be present. These are supports that can actually help "level the playing field" for many children, teens and adults who would not otherwise receive the support needed to be successful readers and learners.

In addition, such supportive accommodations should be implemented for as long as they are needed by the individuals. Here is a printable list that you might consider to help and support the challenged reader(s) or learner(s) in your family or in your classroom:

1. Request or allow course and book content to be available via audiotape, CD, or DVD.

2. Use a portable, hand-held spell checker (such as the Franklin Spelling Ace) for unknown words.

3. Use graph paper or the Reading Focus Cards for math to promote accurate placeholder work.

4. Use interactive computer reading programs that require only a limited number of tasks at a time.

5. Underline or highlight important key words in a set of directions BEFORE beginning an assignment.

6. Fold a worksheet so that only a small amount of text, information, or problems is visible at one time. Using individualized tools can help with this as well.

7. Allow for standing at a desk/table or moving to optional work areas with less distraction.

8. Allow for the experience of a variety of sensory learning techniques such as those from the use of a computer, e-tablet, mp3 player, tape recorder, projector, and/or manipulatives. The more senses you appeal to and employ in the learning process, the more success the student will experience.

9. Use word processors or computers to complete written work, especially when writing is a struggle.

10. Allow for kneeling or standing at a desk (if needed), as long as it does not cause problems or distractions for others.

11. Allow for access to a copy of prepared notes, especially after a teaching session or discussion.

12. Arrange for a second set of textbooks at home so that materials are always at hand when needed.

13. Use very low-volume music (instrumental) or environmental sounds (seashore or other nature sounds) while doing independent work.

14. Allow for student to work cooperatively at times with others as part of a "buddy" system of support.

15. Use colored paper for all printed materials including worksheets, outlines, notes, etc. Experiment with pastels as well as bright shades. One particular color may produce the best results for an individual.

16. Use colored overlays or the low-tech Reading Focus Cards for focus and reading challenges with physical book pages, worksheets and other documents. These inexpensive reading aids can diminish or eliminate the visual “stress” or discomfort some readers/learners experience with the white backgrounds of most text pages. These same tools can also be used with Kindles, Nooks, and other e-readers (Model #001-Shorter) as well as iPads and other e-tablets (Model #002-Longer), too.

17. Make use of websites such as www.math.com, www.khanacademy.org, www.mobymax.com or other free sites for help with specific math, science or other content challenges.

18. For reading online or offline digital media, use the Reading Focus Cards desktop app with Macs and Windows PCs to provide more focus and fluency, better tracking, increased comprehension and improved retention for unfocused or overwhelmed readers.

For more information about assistive technologies for challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image source: Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

5 Decoding Tips and Tools for Reluctant Readers

What IS Decoding?

The term decoding refers to the process of translating a printed word into a sound. To demonstrate, please read the following words aloud: dog, table, jump. This is an example of decoding regular words and is sometimes called word identification skill. Regular words are commonly used words, i.e., words frequently found in printed material.

To further illustrate the skill of decoding, please read the following words, aloud: blud, wight, frish. This is an example of decoding non-words (or decoding pseudo-words) and is sometimes called word attack skill. Pseudo-words are pronounceable based on phonics rules but are not real words. A highly similar task involves asking students to read words that they have never seen before—i.e., unfamiliar or new vocabulary words.

How can we tell if a student is proficient at decoding? The two most common tests of decoding skill are to ask students to:

1. Translate printed, regular words into sounds (i.e., word identification skill) and
2. Translate printed pseudo-words or printed unfamiliar words into sounds (i.e., word attack skill).

We can measure a student's decoding accuracy—by counting the number of times the student makes the correct sound—or the student's decoding speed (also called efficiency)—by counting the number of correctly decoded words per minute. As one might expect, high proficiency is indicated by a high rate of accuracy and/or speed.

However, significant problems result when a student's decoding skill level is low or poorly developed. When he cannot breakdown words into the sound of each phoneme, fluency, rate, tracking and other skills also suffer.

There are a variety of tips, strategies and tools available today to help improve a reader's decoding skill. We hope the following 5 resources will help you and the readers you serve to get started in the right way. In the process, you will also be promoting more in the way of phonemic awareness at the same time. The end result may very well be that reading reluctance could turn into reading motivation for the individuals you help.

Tips to Help with Decoding

1. Use individual colored markers to highlight each phoneme (or syllable, if that is the phonics method you employ) in a word. Try a different color for each phoneme. For optimum results, consistently use the same color for the same phoneme from one activity to another. This may best be accomplished by using a key or legend shared with the reluctant reader you are assisting.

2. If a variety of colored markers are not available, box out each phoneme or syllable with a pencil or pen to show the beginnings and endings of words, blends or other phonemes. As in the above method, this also helps break down a word or phrase into chunks or manageable units for a challenged or reluctant reader.

3. Cover parts of words and phrases that do not need decoding at the moment. So much of the reluctance of a challenged reader is the feeling of overwhelm by just too many letters, words or lines of text viewed simultaneously or in rapid succession. This covering can be achieved simply with the aid of a one's finger.

Tools to Help with Decoding

1. Use a ruler, index card or the low-tech Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), inexpensive tools for challenged readers, to easily breakdown or decode words, phrases and lines of text on physical pages, worksheets or other documents. Both the colored reading window and/or the notch at the top of the focus cards can be used for this decoding process.

Use of the Reading Focus Cards' reading window (yellow filter option) for decoding:

Use of the Reading Focus Cards' reading notch for decoding:

2. Use the digital Reading Focus Cards desktop app (Patent 8,360,779) for Macs and Windows PCs, an innovative and fully customizable application for challenged readers to easily breakdown or decode words, phrases and lines of text on digital pages or documents---whether online or offline.

Here are just 2 decoding steps out of a possible 7 steps to break down the word happiness with this Reading Focus Cards desktop app:


What is Decoding? article by R.E. Mayer, education.com

For more information about assistive technologies for challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info & support for struggling readers

Image sources:
Fingernail photo: Mr. Barlow's Blog at https://mrbarlow.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/why-do-you-get-white-spots-on-your-fingernails/
Other images: Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com