Speed Reading For Education

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Sharon Hennessy Has Something To Say for Our Spreeder Speed Reading Application

For reading comprehension and fluency Spreeder is an interesting web-based application. Paste any text into the reader and set the speed, font size, and begin reading. I do this in class using a classroom computer and projector, but Spreeder can be used by individuals on tablets and phones too.

According to some studies, fluent college readers read at 350 words per minute with good comprehension while average non native English speakers often read at 150 words per minute.(1) Because texts read in Spreeder support phrase reading and help students develop fluent reading, I’ve found it helpful to introduce my non-native English speaking students to this tool. They can use it to judge, control, and develop their reading speed.

In class, I put passages we had previously read in Spreeder, and ran them at different speeds so students could understand the target needed for college level reading. I asked them to find a level that was comfortable for them. Then students read unfamiliar texts at a comfortable speed and answered comprehension questions. I encouraged students to practice and set speed goals using their own texts and devices. We used Spreeder as a class about once a week and monitored changes in reading comprehension scores.

Sharon has been teaching ESOL for 26 years and EL Civics for 10. She currently teaches at Portland Community College, Southeast Campus in an 8-level intensive academic program where she is a technology early adopter. She holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts with TESOL Certificate from Portland State University and an MAEd in Adult Education from Oregon State University.

Original Post here.

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Sharon Hennessy Has Something To Say for Our Spreeder Speed Reading Application

What Do Harry Potter, Reading, and Brain Scans Have In Common? An Experiment With Fascinating Results

Scientists recently looked into the brain activity of people caught up in reading a page-turner, J. K. Rowling’s popular “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone.” The experiment helped measure brain activity during reading, and it is shedding light on the questions surrounding how our brains work, how they make sense of reality, and what they experience when we read.

The eight subjects that participated in the Carnegie Mellon University were reading the ninth chapter of the first Harry Potter book, one that revolves around a flying lesson.

What scientists discovered is that when the participants were reading about the movements and efforts of Harry Potter to ride his broom and fly, this activated the brain regions that people use when they try to detect and understand other people’s movements. In other words, reading and interpreting real-life events activate the same brain regions.

The flying lesson chapter the participants were asked to read was also one laden with emotions. In this chapter, Harry is confronted with the bully Malfoy and at one point meets a three-headed dog. The many events and emotions described in this chapter helped scientists extract some important conclusions from the study.

The scientists discovered that during the reading experiment, when people were reading about a person’s point of view or character, the brain region that lit up was the one associated with how people interpret other people’s actions. As the scientists explain, “Similarly, the characters in the story are associated with activation in the same brain region we use to process other people’s intentions.” Source

This reveals that what we read truly engages our brain and activates complex processes so that we can understand  what we’re reading, both in terms of language and in terms of narrative.

In other words, whether we’re reading about how a protagonist tries to decipher a person’s actions by trying to figure out what their intentions are, or whether we are trying to decipher these intentions in a person sitting next to us, the same brain regions come into play.

While previous studies focused on individual words and sentences to understand how the brain processes language, by looking at language and brain activity through the act of reading, we get a much richer overview of how the brain responds to this complex process. The reader is expected to decipher the meaning of words and put this meaning in context. The reader needs to use grammar and context clues, and at the same time keep up with how the characters develop and how the plot proceeds through the various events introduced in the narrative.

This research is a big step towards better understanding of how the brain operates and processes visual and linguistic stimuli, and how reading affects our brain. It’s not the first time that scientists have used reading as the vehicle for monitoring brain activity. Reading is a cognitively complex process that seems to hold the key to many of our brain’s mysteries — mysteries that, as yet, are still unsolved.

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What Do Harry Potter, Reading, and Brain Scans Have In Common? An Experiment With Fascinating Results

eBook Reading Before Your Bedtime: How It May Affect Your Sleep

E-reading is part and parcel of nearly everyone’s life these days. You e-read while commuting, you e-read before bedtime, you e-read with your children … but could it be that e-reading is a harmful habit? In fact, it turns out that e-reading before bedtime may actually affect your sleep patterns.

A print book will often lull you to sleep before you even know it, even if it’s a fairly exciting plot. However, the same cannot be said about e-books, which have been proven to keep us up at night. This is because the screens on your tablet or e-reader have been found to affect your melatonin production.

Melatonin is the hormone your body secretes. It is responsible for the circadian rhythms of your body and their regulation. Melatonin is what signals your body that it’s time to sleep. A study by researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Lighting Research Center revealed that backlit e-readers suppress melatonin production by more than 1/5 (22%), which is why many people who have the habit of e-reading find it hard to go to sleep after a reading session.

The short-wave light emitted by tablets and other e-reading devices seems to disrupt our body’s natural sleep process by inhibiting melatonin’s function. Currently scientists are working with hardware specialists to discuss the relationship between circadian rhythms and electronic devices. The goal is to help technology designers learn from these studies and develop more sleep-friendly devices for reading aficionados.

With many people already suffering from sleep deprivation, tablets and other LCD screen devices are now being added to the already long list of reasons for such sleep disruption. Unfortunately, tablets and ereaders are not the only devices with LCD screens. Smartphones, TVs, and computer monitors also emit short-wave light and could be responsible for your inability to sleep.

For at least two hours before your bedtime, abstain from using any LCD screen device and see if your sleep improves.

As for e-book lovers, try switching to the tried and tested conventional print book reading for a change, and perhaps you will be able to get to sleep much more quickly.

While the study at the Lighting Research Center only involved 13 subjects, it does resonate with many people’s concerns that e-reading before bedtime stimulates their brains too much instead of helping put them in sleep mode. More studies will need to replicate these findings, but for the time being, experiment with no LCD-screen usage before bedtime to see if that will allow you to sleep like a baby!

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eBook Reading Before Your Bedtime: How It May Affect Your Sleep

Speed Reading Software Reviews That You Might Have Missed In 2014

It’s 2015 already, but did you keep up with last year’s software reviews on speed reading software, 7 Speed Reading™? If 2015 is the year you are planning on mastering speed reading, then you ought to read what others say about eReflect’s reading improvement program.

Top Ten Reviews gives 7 Speed Reading™ a near perfect rating, 99.5%

Top Ten Reviews, a renowned software evaluator trusted by millions of Internet users, had put eReflect’s software to the test. After rigorous assessments the editor announced that the program is a leader in its category, giving the software a 9.95/10 score.

In a detailed review of the software’s features and technologies, the Top Ten Reviews editor focuses on five aspects of the program: its reading level and exercises (9.8/10), methods and materials available (10/10), features set (10/10), reporting (10/10), and finally help and support (10/10). The reviewer, Noel Case, emphasizes that the software’s entertaining and complete approach to teaching speed reading are unrivaled.

But that was in 2014.

Top Ten Reviews rates 7 Speed Reading™ with 9.95/10 for 2015

For its 2015 rankings, Top Ten Reviews insisted on its previous stellar ratings of 7 Speed Reading™ . The verdict comes as no surprise, as the editors note, saying, “User friendly, feature rich and effective, 7 Speed Reading is the best speed-reading application on the market.”

Typing Lounge and Mark Ways acknowledge 7 Speed Reading™’s superiority

Typing Lounge is another site that thoroughly tested and evaluated 7 Speed Reading™ against other reading improvement software products. Typing Lounge and Mark Ways have found that 7 Speed Reading™ offers a unique set of features and technologies that make it stand out from its competition. The reviewer stated in his 2014 review that 7 Speed Reading™ has industry-leading status thanks to its unrivaled combination of capacities and features.

Spreeder emphasizes 7 Speed Reading™’s effectiveness

A child project of 7 Speed Reading™, Spreeder, offers a review of and in-depth look at the program. This website focused the evaluation on how the program is essential in the classroom, listing the ways it is able to help children improve their reading habits and let go of habits that sabotage their academic performance.

Spreeder asserts that speed reading helps students master reading and other reading-related assignments much faster and effortlessly, motivating them to keep improving their academic efficiency. For the latest reviews of the 7 Speed Reading™ 2015 check here.

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7 Speed Reading Declared The Best Speed Reading Software of 2015 by Speed Reading Lounge

Speed Reading Lounge proclaims 7 Speed Reading™ software by eReflect the top software for 2015. If there’s one site dedicated to the skill of speed reading that’ s Speed Reading Lounge; it helps people understand the significance of speed reading and offers them tips and how-tos on improving their reading skill so that they can learn more with less effort, and in less time.

Speed Reading Lounge recently published a detailed, comprehensive list they’ve named “Best Speed Reading Software for 2015.” 7 Speed Reading™ by eReflect topped the list with its unrivaled set of features, technologies, and benefits.

The Speed Reading Lounge top 5 list for speed reading software is as follows:

1.   7 Speed Reading™
2.   Ace Reader Lite
3.   Iris Reading
4.   Reader’s Edge
5.   EyeQ Deluxe

The Speed Reading Lounge editor used his detailed review to focuses on the fact that 7 Speed Reading™ is a popular and renowned speed reading tool. 7 Speed Reading provides a surefire way to improve reading efficiency through expert-designed lessons, activities, and interactive games that are fun to practice with. As the editor notes, this is something consumers and software editors know very well, and have known since the first release of this popular software by eReflect.

The program helps people improve their reading habits through 7 distinct reading strategies and techniques that first eliminate bad reading habits and then help the reader adopt more time-efficient and comprehension-promoting ones. The reviewer states that 7 Speed Reading™ is the go-to speed reading program, saying that it is “[r]ecommended by thousands of students and professionals who have tried and tested it. The quality of videos and exercises makes it an effective guiding tool, making it superior to its competitors. It is beneficial for anyone at any age. Family and friends can take advantage of this program as there are no limits to user accounts.”

For the Speed Reading Lounge editor, eReflect’s software is without peer. Its winning combination of features, functionality, and state-of-the-art activities and tools ensure effortless and quick improvement of anyone’s speed reading skill.

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7 Speed Reading Declared The Best Speed Reading Software of 2015 by Speed Reading Lounge

Can Books Change A Person’s View About Life?

Reading books is something that, time and time again, has been proclaimed the medium to knowledge – and thus power. The more you read, the more benefits you collect: cognitive, critical, factual, social, economic, cultural, spiritual, you name it.

What effect do books have on our lives? Could they really change how we view or think of the world? Is there really such a thing as a life-changing book?

From a scientific point of view, books have been found to actually alter the biology of your brain.

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta looked at MRI brain scans to see how reading affects brain networks. They found that days after the participants had finished reading a novel, they were still able to exhibit high connectivity in their left temporal cortex, the brain region associated with language receptivity. In other words, reading changed how their brains react and process language.

Reading had a lasting effect on their brains’ physiology with the impact lingering on for days after reading took place.

What is more, increased activity was located in other brain regions too, namely the central sulcus brain region, the one associated with motor function.

What the researchers discovered is that the act of reading about an activity (for example, running, chopping wood, or driving) is enough to stimulate this motor activity brain area and momentarily make those brain neurons active, just as if the person reading were actually engaging in that physical activity.

Therefore, as studies show, our brains are definitely affected by what we read. From a more experiential and cognitive aspect, books are consistently changing people’s lives, mindsets, and outlooks. Any person with a favorite author or book will undoubtedly tell you the same.

A book will make you reconsider ethical values, even your religion and spirituality. A book will give you hope about humanity or confirm your long-held assumptions about the hopeless cruelty of people. A book will give you the skills to cope with a mental or physical malady, and it could give you relief, support, and encouragement while you go through a rough time in your life.

The ways a book can affect and in fact change your life are manifold, and that’s the pure magic of reading. We cannot anticipate or predict how we will react to a best-seller or how an old-time favorite will make us feel the third time we read it.

Books give us cues to follow and hint at possible solutions, they present puzzles to solve and issues to ponder. Books are enthralling windows to our psyche. They hold us by the hand while we pry into the unending space of our shared humanity.

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One Book Can Change It All: Read To A Child And Spark Their Ambition

Familiar with the characters in this short clip? Maybe you can also share it with the children of today’s generation.

Best Speed Reading Program In Exciting New Partnership With Online Typing Test Keyhero.com

The ultimate hack to being productive turns out to be much simpler than we imagined. Take a second and consider what currently takes up most of your time at the office. Most likely, it’s typing and reading. Typing reports, blog posts, meeting notes, and social media content – and then reading reports, blog posts, meeting notes, and social media content. You get the idea. Touch typing and reading are two activities that comprise most of the workday for many people. You read a ton of emails and corporate communications, you type your own in reply, and then you read some more. And then there’s the stress of having to meet deadlines with all of this typing and reading, and an answer to your boss who’s asking about the documentation you said you’d have ready by Monday morning …

Being productive in the 21st century office means being able to deal with the new technologies and the constant arrival of new ideas to read and write about. It’s evident that the corporate world must get more serious about how they can develop a well-equipped staff that can tackle this workload. That’s why it’s so exciting that eReflect and KeyHero, two productivity-boosting specialists in their own industry, have teamed up to answer this need.

The new partnership announced by eReflect and KeyHero aims at improving workplace productivity by giving employees the opportunity to increase their typing and reading speed.

Speed Read Your Way To Workplace Efficiency

If one thing can make your day easier it’s not having to read through chapter-long memos, documents, and other corporate content. However, you need to keep up with that information. The solution? Learn to speed read them, and stay up to date with everything your company is up to.

eReflect offers the chance to people like you to improve reading speed and increase reading comprehension with 7 Speed Reading™, a program designed by experts aimed to help you read more efficiently.

It eliminates reading habits that get you nowhere (subvocalisation, regression, narrow reading block span) and helps you master reading-boosting ones, including how to read in blocks rather than word by word. The program improves your eye-muscle strength and optimizes your optic nerve’s capacity so that you can read faster without exhausting your eyes and compromising your comprehension of what you read.

KeyHero for Mastering The Art of Keyboarding

While eReflect works on improving your reading skills, KeyHero focuses on how to save you time and make you more productive at touch typing. KeyHero offers resources like typing speed tests and informative articles and training resources to improve your typing speed and accuracy.

One thing is crystal clear: if there’s one way to get noticed at the office with an increase in productivity that will astound your boss, it’s by improving your reading and typing skills. Today.

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Which Is The Strongest: App or Web Tools?

When you’re using technology for work, pleasure, and communication, do you prefer using apps or web tools? A new infographic by Edudemic shows that apps win by a wide margin for many people. Let’s have a look at the numbers.

If you combine the apps on the Google Store and Apple store then you get over 2 million apps. This is a mind-blowingly gigantic number, especially considering how recent a phenomenon mobile apps truly are.

More than 50 million apps have been downloaded through the Apple store. Google’s apps come second with about 48 million apps being downloaded so far. It is also estimated that out of all these app downloads only 75% of them are actually used. Some are not used even once after they’re downloaded.

Estimates suggest that by the year 2017 there will be more than 4.4 billion users of mobile applications. So where does that leave web tools usage?

When it comes to Ed tech, students and their educators seem to opt for a combination of the two. Web tools offer more feature-rich content, enhanced capabilities, and the advantage of being more reliable. On the other hand, mobile apps provide variety and easy access, and they tend to be, well, mobile.

As many major web tools, platforms, services, and communication tools already have corresponding mobile apps, it is becoming evident that the future belongs to the app world. Apps are irresistible, handy, powerful tools. By contrast, people often find that web tools are more burdensome and inflexible.

Given that popular services like Google Maps, Pandora, YouTube, and a wide range of games dominate both the Apple and Google stores’ top downloads, it comes as no surprise that web tools will slowly morph into apps and our access to Internet tools and resources will eventually be primarily app-based.

Care to weigh in? Tell us which you prefer – web tools or apps?

WriteToTop’s Experienced ESL Teacher, Adam, Aims To Teach ESL Learners The Skills Needed For A Clear, Persuasive, and Compelling English Text


INTRODUCTION: English classes often focus only on the basics of vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. ESL courses cover language basics, but many then spend their time on teaching students how to hold a conversation, order a pizza, or answer the telephone. While these are all necessary skills for anyone who wants to speak English as a native, many classes don’t always take the next step: teaching students to write fluently, as well as to speak fluently. Experienced ESL teacher Adam recognized this lack and decided to set up a new video training series at WriteToTop to help ESL and native speakers alike learn to write clear, persuasive, and compelling English text.

UV: As a longtime professional editor, you’ve probably seen every mistake possible. What types of errors do most people need to learn to avoid making?

While most people might expect me to point out certain grammatical errors as common issues, these can easily be learned or reviewed, and thus avoided. The most common problem that writers need to focus on is their awareness of their readers. One of the first things I remind writers of is the fact that they are not writing for themselves—they are writing something for someone else to read, on their own. Unlike a conversation, where misunderstandings and language issues can be cleared up instantly, a person looking at a text does not have the writer standing next to him or her to clarify a word choice, or an incomplete sentence, or a disjointed argument. So writers need to approach their text with an eye to clarity, concision, flow, and of course a grasp of language rules. Moreover, these problems are manifested in two ways: first, many writers take shortcuts, assuming a reader can make the connections and jumps that are obvious to themselves. Do not make these assumptions about your reader. A good rule of thumb is to consider that your reader is an intelligent person who is literate, but who knows nothing about your subject, so spoon-feed them everything. Second, written language does not tolerate the informalities and the grammatical rule bending and breaking of spoken language. In other words, do not write in the same way as you speak. Again, you are not present with the reader and therefore cannot compensate for shortcuts with facial and body gestures, tone of voice, or other cues.

UV: How does your experience as an ESL tutor influence the way you work with writers?

I had taught ESL for almost fifteen years, in four countries. The first thing I learned as a teacher was that every student is different and cannot be lumped into a “type” of learner. The same applies to writers. There is a whole history behind each person, a culture, a native language, and of course a personality. Teachers and editors need to take these things into consideration. I have found that both English students and writers tend to be very sensitive about their communicative abilities. In fact, one of the hazards of being an editor is showing someone all the corrections made on their text. Students and writers alike hate seeing red on their text. They sometimes seem to take it as a personal affront. This is where my teaching experience has benefited me; I learned how to point out errors in a way that doesn’t offend, such as by highlighting strengths at the same time, or by asking for an explanation in such a way that the student or writer notices the error on his own and makes the necessary adjustments. In terms of editing, I also ask for confirmation on major changes so as to involve the writer in the process. I add a comment in the margins, asking, “is this OK?”, or explaining why I made the change and asking the writer for feedback on the change. When a writer or student feels that the final draft is still his or hers, they are more confident about their writing and want to continue improving.

UV: Your website provides lessons in grammatical structures like independent clauses, and on topics like the use of the subjunctive. Aren’t these taught as part of basic English and ESL classes already?

Yes, they are, but generally these topics are dealt with in a “light” way. Most ESL classes focus on speaking and listening skills. Even when it comes to writing, formal academic writing is often a class on its own. The reason for this is that when it comes to spoken language, much of the communication is delivered in terms of tone, gestures, question-answer cues, and so on. In other words, a person doesn’t have to have perfect grammar in order to communicate an idea. In written communication, on the other hand, even one wrong preposition can alter the meaning of an entire sentence, and unlike spoken English, the person trying to convey a message isn’t usually there to make instant corrections or find alternative ways to express a thought. That’s why on my site I focus on the essential elements of grammar that will make a piece of writing strong, clear, and whenever possible, interesting. I also don’t have much in the way of too-basic grammar on the site. If a writer isn’t aware of verb tense rules, or article usage, then he or she might need to work on their basic language skills a little more before they tackle academic writing. The grammar I include is essential for good writing, and though many students have already learned it, I present it in a way that, hopefully, will make them understand why it’s so important to fully grasp these elements that they could approach “lightly” in their ESL classes.

UV: Another area you cover is how to structure and organize essays and reports. Why is this an important skill?

The basic function of any written work is to convey ideas such that the reader can follow the train of thought of the writer and reach the conclusions, or retain the information as the writer intended. If a written work is not properly organized, then the reader needs to search for the connections, the relations, the reasons, or whatever else the writing tries to express. Most readers do not have the patience or desire to “mine” a passage for the information they need. If it’s not handed to them on a silver platter, they’ll go find another platter.

UV: You also offer video coaching on English-language evaluation tests like the TOEFL and the IELTS. Is this just overall advice and instruction, or do you provide students one-on-one help with these exams?

I offer students private, personalized coaching sessions via Skype, or at my office in Toronto. I say coaching because I do not want to have “students”, nor should test-takers want a “teacher”. Ultimately, the person who takes one of these tests will do so on his/her own. That’s why I coach them on things like approaches to the test they take will take, good/better study habits, time management skills, and whatever other areas they need to focus on. I set them up to self-study, but to do it in an efficient and effective manner.

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Vocabulary blog.

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