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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Awesome, New Fun Online Tool that Builds Vocabulary: Infercabulary

I am so pleased to announce my 12th Go Dyslexia video podcast: Dyslexia: Building Vocabulary and Semantic Skills with Infercabulary, featuring Guest Beth Lawrence and Host Dr. Erica Warren. URL: https://youtu.be/WVZkHFXPKo8

This blog shares my most recent video podcast, featuring dyslexia expert Beth Lawrence, MA, CCC-SLP. Beth is an Orton Gillingham trained, certified speech-language pathologist, and CEO of Communication Apptitude (dba InferCabulary and WordQuations).

This is the 12th of many free video podcasts for Go Dyslexia!   
During the video podcast, Beth and I talk about Infercabulary, a fun and multisensory online site that offers vocabulary and semantic reasoning development exercises and assessments.  Beth talks about the importance of developing language skills and also provides a quick description of her app, WordQuations and assessment, Test of Semantic Reasoning.
What is Infercabulary?
Infercabulary is a fun online site that develops the language skills semantic reasoning skill and vocabulary.  Instead of memorizing complex language-definitions, students can now learn to use semantic reasoning skills to actively infer the meaning of words based on seeing five images of the word used in different contexts.  The activities use visual and audio cues to present lessons and game-like assessments make the process both fun and memorable.  I have now implemented this software into my own private practice for session activities as well as home-fun assignments (I don’t give homework, I give optional home-fun suggestions). The best parts is I can track my student’s progress and growth.

A Special Gift - Get 30% off Infercabulary:
If you would like to purchase Infercabulary, they are offering a special promotion for my audience.  Simply use coupon code GoDyslexia at checkout to receive 30% off!

Important Links Mentioned in this Podcast:

URL to Video Podcast: https://youtu.be/WVZkHFXPKo8
Audio version from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/go-dyslexia-episode-8-dyslexia-building-vocabulary/id1104665925?i=1000386789731&mt=2
Come Check out all my Video Podcasts: https://godyslexia.com/dyslexia-podcasts/
Come check out my Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/warrenerica1

Click the image below to watch our Video Podcast on YouTube:

Infercabulary is a dynamic tool that can be used by parents, teachers, learning specialists, reading specialist, educational therapists and more. I hope you found this post helpful.  Please share and like the video, and let me know what you think!!

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

7 Free Strategies for Selecting Super Summer Reading Books

This week I have a guest post by Nancy Platt. Nancy is a early literacy specialist and worked as a children's librarian for 15 year at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Connecticut. Nancy is passionate about multisensory and play-based early education.  Currently residing in the Dominican Republic, Nancy is furthering her expertise in language acquisition and bilingual education.


Each year as schools close their doors for summer vacation, a familiar scene plays out. Students joyously, rapturously careen into vacation mode without a thought to the summer reading lists and “enrichment packets” that likely made their way home in the final days of the school year. The ten weeks that make up most schools summer break is a deceptively dangerous time academically for many kids, as studies have shown that during this relatively short break, students lose significant ground and forget crucial skills learned throughout the school year – at least a month of reading gains, on average. Teachers report that they spend the first month (or two) of the academic year helping students return to where they were the previous spring. Commonly referred to as the “summer slide”, this achievement loss is more commonly found among students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and among students who are reluctant or struggling readers.
Fortunately, as educators know, it’s not hard to stave off the dangers of the summer slide. Reading just four to six books over the course of a summer vacation can help students maintain their cognitive footing, and reading more can lead to gains in overall reading ability.
In an effort to help assuage this loss, assigned summer reading has been the course of action for most schools - but what can you do if your child is a reluctant or struggling reader to begin with? How can you get them to read when it’s something they dread, or even help them decide which of the choices on their recommended book list are right for them? It might be easier than you think to help engage these kids and get them reading, without complaining (or at least, without too much complaining!)
The trick to getting a child to read is often as simple as letting them choose what they want to read. Children given the ability to select their own books have been shown to read more than those who were told what to read. As it turns out, giving kids ownership of what they read makes a big difference, even if it’s letting them read Captain Underpants.
One of the best ways to light a fire under a reluctant/struggling reader is just by taking them to the children’s section of a good public library or bookstore. Browsing the curated and well-crafted displays that showcase new, popular or “hot” titles can lead to a whole bag full of reading possibilities.
However, most schools send home recommended reading lists from a wide range of genres for the children to choose from. The problem isn’t the books on theses lists, it’s often just the fact that there are lists to begin with. As mentioned, free choice tends to lead to more reading, which improves reading abilities, vocabulary, concentration – a whole host of positive outcomes. I’ll step off the soapbox and get back to the fact that you probably have a list. Don’t worry! These lists usually include realistic fiction, fantasy/adventure, mystery, comic books or graphic novels (Yes, these absolutely count as reading!), informational books such as biographies and regular non-fiction. Most lists also include the recent award winners and hot or popular titles and some even include annotations, or brief descriptions of the books. They are designed to offer a little bit of something for everyone.
If your child or student is really stuck, here are some things you can ask to get them thinking about what it is that will make them want to open a book and keep turning the pages.
1) What’s your favorite book?
Often, with reluctant or struggling readers, they don’t read for pleasure because it’s not a fun experience. Without reading practice, the student doesn’t improve and cycle of frustration continues. Sometimes, the student’s favorite book was read years earlier or was read aloud to them.  No matter, forge on.
2) What was the last good book you read?
This question can often be met with a blank stare, but give it a minute or two and your student/child might come up with some good information about what engaged them.
3) Why?
What did your child/student like about the book – did they identify with or relate to a character? Did they love the plot or genre?  Here, the more specific they can be, the better. Again, this book may have been read years earlier, but no matter.
You can piggyback on a favorite tale by giving your reader something similar to a book that they already like and feel safe with. Use this as a springboard book, and have follow-up stories waiting. Find read-alikes based on books that kids have already read here: http://www.whatshouldireadnext.com
Often, younger readers or reluctant readers won’t know what they liked about the book, they just felt like it was a good book. See if you can dig a little deeper to find out about the feeling that the book evoked: silly, happy, excited, scared, sad? Use that information to guide you.
4) What do you like to do in your free time?
5) What are your favorite games, television shows or movies?          
I love asking kids these questions, because you can literally see them light up talking about what they love to do. Reluctant readers or kids for whom reading is a challenge often come to their independent reading with a whole host of negative feelings that don’t serve them. Even if a child says they “hate” reading, I challenge it, because I’ve never met a kid that didn’t like stories, whether it came in the form of books, video games, television shows or movies. Many popular family films are adaptations of popular children’s books, which are readily available. Kids who play sports might love to read sports books – either fiction or non-fiction. Minecraft lovers might be drawn to adventure or fantasy stories.  Ask your kids what they like and be prepared to listen and help them make a connection to something they will want to read.
If you’re working with a list that has annotations or brief descriptions…or even if it doesn’t…
6) Read through the annotations and see if any of the descriptions pique your child’s curiosity. If they’re on the fence, or you don’t have annotations, search the child’s/student’s selected options on Amazon.com. Kids love to write book reviews – go figure, they have opinions about what they read!! A lot of the reviews on are written by kids, for kids and they’re remarkably honest. Sometimes, kids just need to hear it from another kid.

7) Audiobooks, audiobooks, audiobooks…yes, this is reading!
Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, if your child or student is struggling, is reluctant, can’t sit down to read, won’t sit down to read, and is an unhappy reader – please start listening to audio books with them. If you spend time in the car, it’s ideal. If not, as little as 20-30 minutes a day can get them (and you) hooked. Even if they are reading a slightly more difficult book than is really comfortable, pairing the actual book with the audio and having them follow along with their finger is a great way to help a child “read up”.  If you’re worried that it’s not really reading, don’t, because your brain thinks it is.  I refer to them as a gateway drug for reluctant readers. It’s a little gift that you can give your child and yourself. You can find wonderful, award winning audio books here.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

13 Amazing Reasons Students Should Use Google Keep

Helping students find the best method for recording assignments and organizing their packed schedules can be a game changing strategy that can boost grades and confidence. Over the years, I have tested out many apps as well as printed and digital calendars.  Most recently, I have been evaluating Google Keep, and I’m really excited about this option that communicates across platforms.

What is Google Keep? Google Keep is a web-based application that allows you to create, access and share notes, lists, and reminders on many devices.  In addition, it offers many cool features such as images, voice notes, drawings, reminders, color coding and more!  It’s an attractive interface that resembles customizable sticky notes. It also easily integrates with Google's other applications! keep.google.com

On What Devices Can I Access Google Keep?
Here is a list of devices that can use Google Keep. Below you will find live links to download pages:

What Are My Seven Favorite Features of Google Keep?
  1. Easy Interface: Google Keep offers readable icons and a simple, visually appealing platform.
  2. Note Taking Tool: Google Keep allows users to type notes or use speech to text (on some devices) and save them for later.
  3. Checklists: Google Keep enables you to create a quick checklist with archivable checkboxes that can be dragged into any order. When you complete a task just select the box, and it gets marked completed and sent to the bottom of the list. The best part is you can create reminders by time or place. The place feature is amazing. If you tag the reminder to a specific location, when one of your devices is near that locale, you will receive a reminder.  
  4. Online Bookmarking: The Google Keep Chrome extension allows students to quickly bookmark websites and record addresses. This can be a marvelous way to assist students with research projects! Furthermore, it places an online link on the note for future reference. To top it off, this information can then be downloaded to a Google doc.
  5. Voice Notes (on some devices): Google Keep allows users to select the microphone and record audio notes. Google Keep will transcribe your voice into text in the note, and it will also provide the audio clip.
  6. Organizing and Color Coding: Google Keep will help you stay organized by labeling or color coding all your notes. With the filtering option, you can easily find content by color or label!
  7. Pictures: Google Keep allows you to add pictures to your notes from your camera, photos, desktop or websites!
  8. Labels:  Google Keep enables users to label to categorize notes.
  9. Drawing: Google Keep allows you to sketch with a pen, marker, or highlighter and add them to a note. You can even draw on top of an image.  
  10. Share and Collaborate: Google Keep enables you to share your notes and lists with other individuals or groups.
  11. Pin Note: Google Keep allows you to quickly “pin” a note to save it to the top of your notes page.
  12. Search Notes: Google Keep enables you to search and filter your notes. In the search box type a keyword, phrase, label, or a collaborator’s name. You can also filter by color, reminders, lists, images, voice recordings, label categories, or things.
  13. Google Docs Integration:  Google Keep integrates with Google docs!  By clicking on “Copy to Google Drive” you can move information into a new Google Document. You can even pull Google Keep notes into a Google Document by selecting Tools in the menu and selecting Keep Notepad.

If you have any thoughts about Google Keep, please share them below this blogpost. If you want to learn about all the tools I use in my practice, consider taking my learning specialist courses.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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