Select the search type
  • Site
  • Web



Volunteer Nation Blog


“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” ~Winston Churchill

Sarah Klipper
Sarah Klipper
Sarah Klipper's Blog

Metrics Update April 4

Despite social distancing being extended through April, we are happy to report that our readers are not slowing down…
Our readers this week increased to 226,913 with over 114 million pages read and 43,037 at frequency – a 21% increase for schools over last year!

As we're all getting used to Zoom conference calls and everyone working from home, I wanted to share this video (linked below) from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra based in the Netherlands.  They’ve continued performing, despite COVID-19, by transitioning to playing virtually.  They remind us that together anything is possible… even when we’re remote! Enjoy Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”!
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra plays Ode to Joy remotely 


And also, a quote from Edinburgh-based journalist, Hope Whitmore that seems particularly relevant to recent events:

 In hard times, reading fiction reminds us we are human in a way Twitter never can.  Reading teaches us not only about our common humanity – it is wonderful to see something expressed in words and think, ‘Yes! That’s exactly how I feel’ – but also about the world.  Reading gives me hope because the chroniclers of dark times tell us that they pass.


Have a great weekend, keep reading, and stay safe!

Metrics Update - GRG 2020 Final Stats and More!

The 2020 Great Reading Games have come to a close, and we've sparked joy of reading in even more students than before! Check out our data and some twitter highlights from the last few weeks below:


GRG Data…..

Schools opted in: 2909

Students Reading: 46,366

Pages Read: 13,967,038


Number of students reading in the GRG for 2020 was 46,740, up 25% from last year’s 37,500

The number of schools that had at least one reader in 2020 broke 2,000 (2,033) up 30% from 2019 (1,571) and up 67% from 2018.


In the coming months, the Reading Programs team will track the FOPI C schools that had readers in GRG.  Last year 27% of C schools that had a reader in GRG became an A school.  In 2020, we had 552 C schools participate in GRG, up in the range of 25% from last year.  If the conversion rate of +27% holds for two years, we have a reading program proven to move C schools to A.  Did you catch that?  Did you see how we are using the data to provide PROVEN programs for schools? 

(FOPI= Fidelity of Program Implementation – FOPI A are our highest performing schools and FOPI C are the lowest performing)



GRG Books

Here are the top 5 books that were added to bookshelves and kept our students reading for the final week of our 2020 Great Reading Games.  We see that a title from Dan Gutman's My Weird School Daze series jumped into the top spot in anticipation of Dan's webinar! Do some of those other titles look familiar? The Dog Man books were the top titles for last year's games! We love seeing all the titles that have moved in and out of the top 5 list this year.  


  • KT020 Officer Spence Makes No Sense! 
  • JW075 The World According To Humphrey 
  • NB956 Diary Of An Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal 
  • NC382 Dog Man: For Whom The Ball Rolls 
  • NB760 Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild  


Along with Dan's book in the top 5 list this week the kids are also reading: 
- the first book in a series about Humphrey the classroom hamster
- the first book in the Rowley Jefferson series from Diary Of A Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney 
- 2 books in the ever popular Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey 


While we are sad to see the Games end we want to continue seeing the increased engagement and usage continue throughout the rest of the school year and over the summer!



Something to Tweet About
We LOVE these posts from Kimberly Sanders, sharing the fun and joy her students get with reading:

#CCEcougars get into some funny positions once they settle into a good 📖!😂😄😅#GRG20 @Learning_Ally @SuessShannon #Risdsaysomething

 A girl using Learning Ally LINK on her phone while sitting backwards in her chair, with a big smile on her face.
(Image is a screenshot of a young girl wearing a bright pink coat with fur around the hood.  She’s sitting backwards in the chair.  She isn’t wearing any shoes and you can see her panda socks sticking out from underneath the back support.  She’s holding her phone and she has a slight smile while listening to her book with her headphones)


Kimberly Sanders tweets: They're future is bright because they read! The photo shows two confident boys in cool sunglasses.

(Image is of Kimberly Sanders's tweet that reads “Their future is bright because they read!”  Below the tweet is a picture of two boys standing back to back with their arms folded and wearing sunglasses.  They are looking very James Bond-like!)



Holly Sanford's students "continue to arrive early” for reading sessions with Learning Ally...   This means that not only students, but parents and families needed to be engaged and involved in GRG.  They had to be intentional about having their kids there early to read before school.  Our impact goes beyond the classroom!

 Tweet from Holly Sanford: Final push for Learning Ally grg20. These students continue to arrive early to get in an early morning Great Reading Games/Learning Ally session! The photo shows a classroom with several kids using Learning Ally at their computers, at 7:35 AM.
(Image is of Holly Sanford’s tweet that reads “Final push for @Learning_ally #grg20 These students continue to arrive early to get in an early morning Great Reading Games/Learning Ally session!”.  Below the tweet is an image of a classroom with students sitting at their desks in front of computers.  We are seeing their backs and the bright lights of their computers with their books.  Every student is wearing headphones and look to be quite content reading!)  


There’s Nothing Weird About Reading with Dan Gutman
It’s not every day that you can reach over 680 schools and 25,000 students and teachers with fun, laughter and excitement about reading.  Oh wait!  If you are Learning Ally, you sure can!

In last month's webinar, we learned about Dan Gutman’s journey as a writer, how he got rejected many times and continued to write because he believed in his books, how he didn’t like reading as a child, and we even got to see the inside of his mouth!


If you weren’t able to attend the webinar live, you can watch the recording.  Dan’s only request is that we do not share the recording via social media or anywhere on the internet. The recording was sent to everyone that registered.

 Author Dan Gutman smiles wide and holds up a draft of his next book: Mr. Marty Loves a Party!
(Image is of Dan’s face, smiling widely, and holding up his unfinished manuscript of “Mr. Marty Loves A Party!”.  The manuscript is regular 8.5 x 11 paper with the words “Mr. Marty Loves A Party” written in red marker and in all caps taking up most of the page.)



This year's Great Reading Games may be over, but don’t worry - Spring Into Reading and Summer Reading Together are right around the corner.

During our Spring Into Reading Program, we will be inviting everyone to participate in a couple of the fun reading days:

·    D.E.A.R. Day (Drop Everything and Read) will be on April 12th

·    Poem in Your Pocket will be on April 30th


Finally, our total readers this week increased to 203,005 with over 94 million pages read and 35,790 at frequency – a 23% increase over last year for schools!

Metric Update: Falling in Love with Reading!

We help students fall in love with reading!As the Great Reading Games continue, we keep helping students with learning differences fall in love with reading!


More GRG Data…..
Schools opted in: 2858

Students Reading: 37,367

Pages Read: 7,719,183



Beloved Books
Here are the top 5 books that were added to bookshelves and kept our students reading for the fourth week of our 2020 Great Reading Games! 


KT019 Mr. Granite Is From Another Planet! 
NB956 Diary Of An Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal 
KM769 To Kill a Mockingbird 
NC382 Dog Man: For Whom The Ball Rolls 
NB707 Trapped In A Video Game


Everyone is still loving Dan Gutman's books - one of the titles that we started promoting out last week is now #1 on the list! 


Something to Tweet About…
 As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Check out the photos below of some of our amazing readers!  


Kelli Zicha tweeted about two of her students, Cynthia and Tyrese:

Cynthia is enjoying Jason Reynolds’ Ghost during the @Learning_Ally Reading Games 💛 #GRG20 #shelfie #wearereaders #tellyourstoryxrds @BonnieCapes @sondra_hinson @mjkmiec @LamprechtPaula

Cynthia sitting in a purple chair with her laptop in her lap and facing the camera. Her laptop is showing her bookshelf. She’s wearing white pants and a white shirt. She has long black hair and has white headphones draped around her neck. She’s giving a sly smile!

(Image of Cynthia sitting in a purple chair with her laptop in her lap and facing the camera. Her laptop is showing us her bookshelf. She has long black hair and has white headphones draped around her neck. She’s giving a sly smile!) 

Tyrese just downloaded the Learning Ally app on his phone! He’s excited to read and participate in the @Learning_Ally Great Reading Games 💛 #GRG20 #shelfie #wearereaders #tellyourstoryxrds @BonnieCapes @sondra_hinson @mjkmiec @LamprechtPaula

Image is of Tyrese. He is sitting at his desk facing forward. He’s wearing a white hoodie with the words that say, “The future is yours”.  He is holding a phone in his lap and is giving a handsome smile.

(Image of Tyrese sitting at his desk facing forward. He’s wearing a white hoodie with the words that say, “The future is yours”. He is holding a phone in his lap and is giving a handsome smile.)


Finally, what Joelle Nappi tweeted and the picture she captured is an opportunity for us all to make connections to what Maryanne Wolf described in her keynote speech at Spotlight on Dyslexia last year as “deep reading”.  The student pictured below was able to read with Learning Ally, then stop, think about the text, play it again if she needed and begin to think deeply about the what she was reading.  She may be making connections, finding the author’s purpose, or citing evidence.  Take a minute to think about the brain changes that are going on for her with the power of what Learning Ally audiobooks is able to bring.  We ALL make this happen every single day!  

Joelle Nappi, Middle School ELA teacher in NJ, tweeted out several great strategies:


Listening while following along with text, stop & jots, thinking about our thinking! We are growing as readers everyday by using ALL our tools and strategies! #GRG20 #ddeempower

Image is a screenshot of a middle school girl.  She sitting in a blue bean bag chair, has on a warm fuzzy jacket and warm boots. Her legs are crossed with a book propped on her leg. She has headphones draped around her neck. She has a pencil in her right hand, looking intently at the page and is jotting notes in the book. There is a poster behind her that reads, “Kindness is the new cool.”

(Image  of a middle school girl sitting in a blue bean bag chair, with a warm fuzzy jacket and boots. Her legs are crossed with a book propped on her leg. She has headphones draped around her neck. She has a pencil in her right hand, looking intently at the page and is jotting notes in the book. The poster behind her reads: “Kindness is the new cool”.)


Hear directly from Dan Gutman about the “There’s Nothing Weird About Reading” author webinar coming up on February 27th! Please share this far and wide.  You will start to see it on our website, in emails and on our social media channels.  


Our readers overall this week increased to 186,238 with over 76 million pages read and 28,053 at frequency – a 22% increase for schools!
Our readers this week overall increased to 191,092 with 81 million pages read and 30,218 at frequency – a 23% increase for schools!

The Great Reading Games Have Begun!

The Great Reading Games of 2020 kicked off this month, and we're off to a great start with over 3 million pages read in just the first two weeks!


The Data…

Schools opted in: 2700

Students Reading: 26,241

Pages Read: 3,293,743  (last week we were almost at 1 million – look at the jump this week!)


Here are the top 5 books that were added to bookshelves and kept our students reading for the first 2 weeks of our 2020 Great Reading Games!  



Dog Man: For Whom The Ball Rolls 


Where The Wild Things Are 


The Last Kids on Earth 


Kristy's Great Idea 


Dog Man 




Something to Tweet About…

Jennifer Womack from Humble ISD shared this tweet and picture:

OMG 😳 Bring the donuts & they will come 🍩 Check out all these amazing readers @HumbleISD_FE #readersareleaders #GRG20 @MelissaBoehm3 

(Picture is of a class of 26 students.  Each one is holding up a device with their bookshelf)



Priscilla Swanson from APHE shared this tweet and picture:


The Great Reading Games are going strong at APHE! @Learning_Ally #GRG20 Our 3rd graders are leading with the most points and minutes read this week! #weareAPHE 

(Picture is of a student reading a book on his laptop.  He has on headphones and is facing the screen.  He is wearing a multi-colored blue hoodie)



Elizabeth Vickery Tweeted and shared this great bulletin board display:


We are ready, with medals and a trophy, for The Great Schultz Reading Games! #GRG20 @Learning_Ally @SchultzKISD @KleinISD #EVERY

(Image is of a bulletin board with the title:  Metamorphosis of a Reader.  It is a tree made out of twisted brown paper with the stages of reading on cards placed on the tree.  The cards read:  1st book, read with pictures, recognize words, you’re a reader.  In the bottom right hand corner is a section that has medals and the Olympic rings with an image reading “The Great Reading Games, Shultz Elementary)



Mrs. Arevalo Tweeted her bulletin board:

Chill morning with great books for @Learning_Ally #GRG20 #wearereaders @Cambridge_AH and we’ve moved ten places up the leaderboard to prove it! CE ❤️ 📚

(Image is of a bulletin board.  Last years’ 2019 GRG poster hangs on the left hand side, it reads:  Our school is a Learning Ally Great Reading Games Top 10 Winner!”   In the middle are the words “We are now in 22nd place!”  22nd is on a sticky note that can be replaced each week as they move up on the leaderboard.  A sticky note hangs beneath that reads: “Up from 31st place! WOW!  On the right is a banner that readers: We love our #GRG20 Readers.  Below that hangs a flyer about the games.)



Author Event…..    

There’s Nothing Weird About Reading with Dan Gutman

Thursday, February 27th @ 1:00 EST

The event has been updated on the Educator Portal, in our the GRG guide and on our Latest News page.


This event is open to anyone.  While we are encouraging our GRG schools to participate, any school is welcome to join. Learning Ally staff are welcome to join as well.  If you are in a location with others, considering joining together. Dan is a popular children’s book author who has written more than 130 books for kids from kindergarten all the way up to middle school. His work includes the "My Weird School" series, "The Genius Files", and "Flashback Four". Dan will tell us how he HATED to read when he was a kid, and what turned him into a voracious reader.


As you can see, Dan is a fun guy! 


(Picture is of Dan wearing a Mets jersey, standing on one foot and it looks like he is teetering in space over the peninsula of Florida)


Our readers this week increased to 180,815 with over 72 million pages read and 25,860 at frequency – a 21% increase for schools!

New Year Metrics Update

Winter Bear ReadingWe are halfway to midwinter, and our readers show no signs of slowing down. As of last week (Jan 10) our readers increased to 169,395 with over 63 million pages read and 22,273 at frequency – a 22% increase for schools! Let's keep 2020 rolling with some great comments from people who donated online to share our vision. cool

Comment from Teacher Marina B:
"I teach children and adults with dyslexia how to read, write and spell. Most dyslexic students are reading below their grade level and they certainly do not read for pleasure. While my students are learning to read correctly and are getting their reading skills up to grade level and beyond, audiobooks help them build vocabulary and comprehension skills. Following along in the book while they are listening, increases their reading fluency. They also learn to love books by having wonderful experiences with them! This is a big deal for a student who has experienced a lot of trauma with reading. I am such a fan of audiobooks and of Learning Ally!"



Comment from a parent member:
"My girls greatly benefit from using Learning Ally. Thank you for contributing to their academic advancements in 2019!"



Comment from Volunteer Joan M.:
"My cousin's son visited me this Spring. He was about to graduate from the Colorado School of Mines in Chemical Engineering. Somehow, it came up that I had volunteered with Learning Ally and he thanked me because he was dyslexic. I'm so happy to have been a volunteer!"



Elizabeth Almeyda posted the following in the Washington State Zoom Channel about 1 of our readers last month, and Lee Peters shared. This story drives home the impact we have…..and keep in mind, there are 169,000 other stories to tell!!!

(From Elizabeth): I received this amazing email this morning from a new school that just recently Launched in Kennewick, brought a smile to my face so I thought I'd share:
"I wanted to share with you an experience one of my students had the other day with Learning Ally.  He is a 6th grade boy in a wheelchair,  and he is unable to hold a book and turn the pages.  He has me the last period of the day for study hall.  When he came in with his para, he asked her if he could read.  He told me his ELA teacher showed them how to use the program that morning.  He told me this was the "Best Day of his Life!"  He is now able to actually see the screen and read as the book is reading to him.  During the period we would hear his squeals of delight and see the big smile on his face. I sent a pair of headphones home with him, and he said, 'Now I can read anywhere and anytime I want!' We love this program so much  Thanks for helping us get it started."

Looking Forward to VO Atlanta
VO Atlanta Audiobook Academy

After winning one of two nominations at the Voice Arts Awards Gala last month, we are thrilled that Learning Ally has been invited to the VO Atlanta Voiceover Conference this year.  Michael Kinsey and Paula Restrepo will be presenting at #VOAtlanta for the #AudiobookAcademy on March 27 and 28.  This is a spectacular achievement!
Check out the link below for more information:

Metrics Update for this week:
Our readers last week increased to 156,262, with over 51 million pages read and 16,916 at frequency – a 24% increase over last year for schools!

(at frequency = students are reading books multiple times during the school year, with a general target of thirty times (more for lower grades, less for upper grades).  Our data shows that most of these students read for at least 20 minutes each time.)


Happy reading, recording and listening!

Tech Talk - How Do We Read Computer and Programming Books?

Learning Ally provides audio for a wide range of textbooks - from Music History to Economics to French Grammar to Geometry to Biochemistry! We have several specialized sub-fields within our Instructional Textbooks. Today, we’ll be taking an inside look at our Science & Technology Community, with our small but powerful Computer and Programming group.


What are these computer books all about?
Our Computer Science projects can be broken down into three main categories. The most common books are those that teach students how to use computer programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, AutoCAD, and more. Every now and then, we’ll get one or two books dealing with IT or computer service and repair. Finally, some of our more challenging projects are books on programming and markup languages like HTML, Java, and C++.


Help! How do I read  “⌘”?*

Sarah is confused by something on her Macbook. What is a Windows Key anyway?These Computer Skills and Programming books come with their own special challenges. How do we read a page full of program code? When do we use “hashtag” versus “pound”? You might be surprised to learn that there is actually a lot we don’t read in these projects. Most of our members are fully sighted, and many more have some usable vision. We don’t describe computer screenshots or read all of the punctuation in code. Our job is to focus on the textual detail, so that the students can focus on what they’re good at - thinking through code structure and building their tech skills.With our updated Computer and Code Guidelines, this Programming text isn't quite as difficult as it looks.


Our staff members can answer many questions, but we often rely on our expert volunteers as much as our own specialized knowledge and research skills. I’m Sarah Klipper, our Computer and Programming Text Lead. I work with our Science & Technology  Lead, Christine Hoffman, on everyday problems and tricky questions in our Science & Tech projects. To better deal with quirky computer lingo, I developed our Computer and Code Guidelines following Christine’s and the Science volunteers’ work on the Science Terms and Conventions as a guide. I’m grateful to have plenty of help with these Guidelines from our programmer volunteers, who know how some of these arcane terms are used in the classroom and in professional circles.


Google Hangouts are a big help with this kind of group collaboration; our Computer/Code Chat Group has been absolutely invaluable as we help each other figure out pronunciations and usage of coding syntax. Many thanks go to Ev Tate, Joseph “Old Joe” Clark, Ann Bouchard, and Kim Dauber for their contributions in this chat and various project Hangouts. Many thanks also to volunteer alumnus (and Staff husband) Michael Klipper for his help with Computer Science concepts.


A stick figure hero swoops in over a computer. Stand back, he knows regular expressions!Want to learn more about computers but too scared to try? We’re here to help…  and if we don’t have the answer, we can help you find one. ;-) 


*That ⌘ symbol is the Command key on a Macintosh computer.