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


Stacie Court
Stacie Court
Stacie Court's Blog

We love BUGS!

 

Ad for Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School, including images of happy children involved in a variety of science-based activities


 

This past year Learning Ally Education Solutions GM Tim Wilson approved a special project where we provided a license to the Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School (affectionately known as BUGS) in return for the opportunity to study their experience with Learning Ally solutions.  It was a truly fruitful year for the students and teachers, and yielded results even we did not expect.


 

During their introduction to Learning Ally in November, teachers were thrilled by the variety and quality of our solutions, with teacher Betsy McGowan, the school’s reading specialist, exclaiming, “It looks like Christmas came early this year!”  By January all of Betsy’s students with reading deficits were registered with our program.

 

Betsy McGowan has shoulder-length light brown hair, brown eyes, and a big smile.


 

BUG’s eighth-graders were all assigned a dystopian novel, one which was available through our audiobook solution.  More than a few students told Betsy that this was the first time they had read an entire book--Learning Ally made it possible for them.


 

Cover of Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, including image of young biracial Trevor with his Xhosa mother in the foreground.

 

The next assigned book, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, was in our queue but unavailable when assigned.  Encouraged by their success with their first book, many of the students were inspired to work really hard and read the print version!  It took longer and they had to work much, much harder to keep up, but they liked the feeling of understanding and participating in the class discussions.


 

Cover art for George Orwell's Animal Farm: white cover with stylized pink pig


 

The final book for the school year was George Orwell’s classic, Animal Farm, already available through Learning Ally.  One student told Betsy she had been able to learn so much more vocabulary using Learning Ally’s audiobook solution.


 

A few weeks ago we received a surprise at our Princeton office:  a huge card thanking the Learning Ally team (that includes YOU, volunteers!).  Each student signed their name and gave us the number of pages they read, all of them (and their teachers) so proud of their progress.


 

Large black card (science fair display size) with colorful message thanking Learning Ally and smaller messages from students



 

This kind of success is possible because of all the great people we have working on our solutions.  This is just one example of how our volunteers make a difference in people’s lives every day--a difference that supports them through a lifetime of learning.  Thank you all for the gifts of your time, talent, and treasure. Our friends at BUGS are just one small group that is grateful every day for your presence in their lives.



 

Colorful graphic of celebratory confetti and streamers rising up from festive party hat-like cones


 

Metrics Update for this week:

 

  • Our readers increased to 211,197

 

  • We had 46,753 reading at frequency*



 

Happy Summer, and Happy Reading, everyone!





 

*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.


Summer Reading Together Explosion

 

Summer Reading Together logo: stylized sun wearing dark sunglasses in blue circle with words Summer Reading Together, Learning Ally


 

Learning Ally’s Summer Reading Together program is already helping thousands of students avoid summer slide!  Just since June 1st:

 

  • More than 3,000 students reading

  • More than 500,000 pages read

  • More than 500,000 minutes read



 

Students are having a great time exploring fun lit and even LEARNING over the summer.  Click here to watch the video recommendation posted by one of our enthusiastic participants:

https://www.instagram.com/p/By7-zyYhSdQ/


 

Young boy with crewcut and dark-framed glasses smiles as he holds up his tablet with the book Private Pilot Maneuvers displayed



 

Look for more exciting news from our students as the summer goes on!  To learn more about the program (and share the information with teachers and families who may want to join in the fun), click on this link:

https://learningally.org/Summer-Reading-Together


 

Colorful graphic of celebratory confetti and streamers rising up from festive party hat-like cones


 

Metrics Update for this week:

 

  • Our readers increased to 209,389

 

  • We’ve had over 141 million pages read--an increase of 65% over last year for school readers!

 

  • We had 46,058 reading at frequency*



 

Happy Summer, and Happy Reading, everyone!





 

*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.

 


Summer Fun for Students with Learning Ally

 

Summer Reading Together logo: stylized sun wearing dark sunglasses in blue circle with words Summer Reading Together, Learning Ally


 

It’s summer time, and that means...Learning Ally’s Summer Reading Together!

 

Each year, students all over the country compete for monthly and grand prizes while completing summer reading assignments and fighting summer slide.  It’s a great program and motivates students to continue building their reading and comprehension skills. The students can read anything available on Learning Ally, including material assigned as summer reading and books that are just for fun.  To help them get started, the Family part of our website includes a link to Learning Ally Featured Books, grouped by themes such as Summer Reading Together: Space Exploration and Learning Ally Featured Books from Best-Selling Series, and includes books ranging from items based on movies to classic literature.  To explore our current list, click here:

https://learningally.org/Portals/6/Docs/SummerReading/SummerReadingLists.pdf



 

Screenshot of Learning Ally parent Amy Goetsch's post, featuring a photo of son Alex mowing the lawn and a shot of his Word of the Day: Arduous.

 

In addition, we have a Vocabulary Challenge for them on social media, where they can upload video recommendations of summer reading books, or post three to six vocabulary words that they learned during their summer reading experience.  Participants will be entered into a raffle, and one lucky winner will be the proud owner of a new Chromebook at the end of the summer!



 

Colorful graphic of celebratory confetti and streamers rising up from festive party hat-like cones


 

Metrics Update for this week:

 

  • Our readers increased to 208,500

 

  • We’ve had over 137 million pages read--an increase of 66% over last year for school readers!

 

  • We had 45,743 reading at frequency*



 

Keep up the great work, everyone!  We're looking forward to a terrific summer!





 

*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.


Spotlight on Dyslexia 2019

 

Logo: Spotlight on Dyslexia Virtual Conference


 

Once again, Learning Ally hosted its hit online conference Spotlight on Dyslexia this past Friday.  SPOD is a dynamic conference featuring sixteen speakers from all over the country, experts and specialists in dyslexia, literacy, and neuroscience, for in-depth discussions of the facts of dyslexia and the issues faced by dyslexic students, their families and their teachers.  This incredible event lasts all day and is attended by educators and administrators, parents, students, and teachers-in-training--anyone who wants to learn more about dyslexia and the solutions available that help people with dyslexia succeed in a print-based environment and beyond.




 

SPOD Theatre view with list of a few of the sessions available to attendees, as well as advertising by Learning Ally and partners including edWeb.com

 

Completely online, SPOD’s Theater offered fifteen sessions (three to choose from during each session period) ranging from “Older Struggling Readers: What Do They Need?” to “We’ve Screened for Dyslexia...Now What?” and “What a Successful Public School Dyslexia Program Looks Like”.  




 

Dr. Maryanne Wolfe outside in front of a tree and some bushes.  She has shoulder-length brown hair, a friendly smile, and wears glasses.  She's wearing a black dress with large white polka dots, and yellow sweater, and a silver chain.

 

In addition, our Keynote Speaker was Dr. Maryanne Wolf,  an educator famous for her advocacy for children and literacy around the world.  Her keynote address was “Lessons from the Reading Brain for Dyslexia, Early Diagnosis, and Intervention”.  Click here to learn more about her: https://www.maryannewolf.com/



 

SPOD Lounge, with links to the Educators chat room and the Parents chat room, as well as advertising by Learning Ally and partners including edWeb.com

 

To augment the activity of the day, we also had a Lounge with two chatrooms available all day, one specifically for educators and one specifically for parents.  These were places where people could reach out and learn from each other’s experiences. There were some great interactions going on, and it was absolutely heartwarming to see people helping each other succeed.


 

The Resource Center was a great place where participants could access and download pdfs and videos provided by Learning Ally, our partners, and the speakers:

 

SPOD Resource Center, with a list of a few of the pdfs available for download, as well as advertising by Learning Ally and partners including edWeb.com



 

Learning Ally partnered with edWeb.com so that educators attending the event could receive up to sixteen Continuing Education credits.  One great aspect: if you were tied up that day, every session is recorded, and participants can access the sessions and Keynote Address later to experience at the time that is best for them.  Another bonus: since participants could attend only one-third of the presentations live, the recordings give participants the opportunity to experience ALL the sessions. Educators who registered for the event have until September 30th to submit their quizzes and receive their CE credits.  Each session also had its own dedicated chat and Question and Answer that attendees could actively participate in during the live sessions, giving them the opportunity to ask questions directly to the speakers, as well as to chat with others interested in the specific topic being discussed.



 

We had over 1400 registered, and it was a busy day.  A few of the comments we received included:

 

From a teacher:  SPOD exceeded her expectations, it’s fabulous, easy to understand with great downloadable resources!

 

From a student: “Hi, everyone, I hope everyone’s enjoying their conference.  I’m so excited to be here to be supporting Learning Ally. Learning Ally has been such an instrumental part to my Success in school.  I’ve been using the software since 10th [grade] and it has transformed the way I learn.”

 

From another teacher:  “The students love Learning Ally!  I always do a group lesson how to utilize it correctly before sending them off to read/listen.  We focus on how listening to a book can be a tool that will help them become stronger readers...and they come in SO proud that they finished their first book.  I feel that Learning Ally levels the playing field for them. They can tackle a text that other students are reading and are able to discuss it with them because they are able to listen and comprehend instead of struggle to decode words and create meaning…”


 

In a past year an educator who attended told us, “The conference helped me grow so much as an educator and I earned CE credits.  The content and the experts were top notch!”

 

This year’s conference was no different--sought-after content, knowledgeable speakers, opportunities to share ideas and solutions!  Learning Ally has once again supported the success of teachers, administrators, students, and families, all over the country!  Start thinking now about joining us next time!

 

A classroom scene: a young teacher helping students learn how to use audiobooks in the classroom.  Everyone is smiling!





 

Colorful graphic of celebratory confetti and streamers rising up from festive party hat-like cones


 

Metrics Update for this week:

 

  • Our readers increased to 207,718

 

  • We’ve had over 135 million pages read--an increase of 66% over last year for school readers!

 

  • We had 45,403 reading at frequency*



 

Thanks for all your hard work, everyone--together we are making a tremendous difference in the lives of so many people!





 

*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.


A Message to Tristan

 

Computer screen shot of Michael Burgess with a big smile on his face.  Thumbnail photos on right are of Terrie Noland, Tristan and Mrs. York, Alexis, and Dave--all smiling!



 

Last week we told you about eighth-grader Tristan and his accomplishment of reading an entire book for the first time in his life, sharing an interview with him recorded by Learning Ally staff member Terrie Noland.  The book Tristan read was Swing, by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess--a wonderful story about people struggling to find their way in a confusing, complicated world.



 

Swing book cover: stylized image African American young man walking with backpack, book, and baseball bat, surrounded by music symbols and musical instruments traditionally used in jazz.


 

In response to this post, Literature Community Lead Alexis Bourbeau arranged for Learning Ally’s narrator for Swing, Michael Burgess, to record a message to Tristan, congratulating him and encouraging him to continue.  In a heartwarming video, Tristan, Tristan’s teacher Mrs. York, Terrie Noland, and Production Team staff members Alexis Bourbeau and Dave Kozemchak listen to Michael’s message and talk about Tristan’s great accomplishment, encouraging him to continue his quest for great books about subjects he’s interested in.  To watch that video, click here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyNGpEPeY0E&feature=youtu.be

 

In addition, at the end of the video is a follow-up email sent by Mrs. York:  

 


 

Special thanks to Alexis and Michael for making this moment possible!






 

Colorful graphic of celebratory confetti and streamers rising up from festive party hat-like cones


 

Metrics Update for this week:

 

  • Our readers increased to 206,406

 

  • We had 44,925 reading at frequency*



 

This is why we all do this work:  to encourage and inspire struggling yet eager learners to explore the possibilities before them, and to help them succeed in school and beyond.

 

Happy June, everyone!  Thank you for all you're doing to help Tristan and other students like him!



 

*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.


The Journey Begins

 

Reading Specialist Katherine York and eighth-grader Tristan stand in front of her classroom door.  They are both wearing bright blue Learning Ally t-shirts, and have big smiles on their faces.  Tristan is holding a copy of the book he read, Swing by Kwame Alexander.


 

Every day I see students who have lost faith in themselves, but I also let them know that I believe in them.  That is where their journey begins.

 

Reading Specialist Katherine York works with students at Walt Whitman Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia, and sees a lot of variation in the reading levels of her students...including teenagers who have never read an entire book before.  Click on this link to listen to a conversation between Mrs. York and eighth-grader Tristan: thanks to her encouragement, Kwame Alexander’s great writing, and Learning Ally’s audiobooks (including our volunteers’ dedication to the art of narration), Tristan has just completed his first book ever...and plans to read more!  

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ThvNahjH4sxXvITIQXEhtRZP5KqmuV5o/view?ts=5ce408da


 

Mrs. York recently wrote a blog post for Learning Ally, discussing the challenges many students face that prevent them from achieving reading fluency, and what she is doing to improve their chances of success; click here to read what she has to say:

 

https://learningally.org/Solutions-for-School/Educator-Blog/keeping-it-100-for-my-struggling-readers




 

Colorful graphic of celebratory confetti and streamers rising up from festive party hat-like cones


 

Metrics Update for this week:

 

  • Our readers increased to 205,005

 

  • We had 44,421 reading at frequency*

 

  • We’ve had over 135 million pages read--an increase of 67% over last year for school readers!


 

What a great way to start Memorial Day weekend--thanks, everyone!


 

*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.


We've Got It!

 

A young boy smiles as he listens to an audiobook


 

What do you look for in a library?  Most people look for quality content and variety of choice.  Learning Ally has both! At over 83,000 books, and growing daily, our library is an important resource for teachers, students,and families.  This quality and variety is what makes Learning Ally one of the most popular choices out there for increasing literacy levels and general enjoyment of reading.  Our members range from early elementary school children working towards fluency and teens looking for meaningful and uplifting stories, to college students and lifelong learners who enjoy digging deeper into subject matter.




 

Reading Specialist Jeri Powers smiles for the camera for her school photo.  She has shoulder-length blonde hair, and wears a black blouse and hot-pink jacket, with a necklace of large white beads.


 

Recently, staff member Terrie Noland interviewed teacher Jeri Powers of Prairie Ridge Elementary School in Kansas.  Over the course of the interview, Jeri talks about why she loves Learning Ally, and the importance of our textbooks and literature titles.  Please take a moment to listen:

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3Svvfqr67MaYjBhVWRldk5WSmcta095bGlDWWliaERyWDBz/view?usp=sharing

 

(note: for some reason, the interview is attached to an image of another elementary school)



 


 

During the interview, Jeri mentions the book A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park...and, yes, we’ve got it!  Click here to access Learning Ally’s page for our description of this book:  

 

https://learningally.org/BookDetails/BookID/KQ753






 

Colorful graphic of celebratory confetti and streamers rising up from festive party hat-like cones


 

Metrics Update for this week:

 

  • Our readers increased to 202,771

 

  • We’ve had over 127 million pages read!


 

Another great week--brought to you by the volunteers, donors, and staff of Learning Ally!  Thanks, everyone!


Learning Ally Proud!

 

Graphic with hand from left holding Winner certificate and hand from right holding loving cup

 

Learning Ally staff member Meg Roe recently shared some great news with the rest of us:  in case we didn’t already know, we are real winners! Here are just a few of the organizations that have recognized Learning Ally recently:



 

Parent and Teacher Choice Award Winner logo: gold medallion with stylized adults behind celebrating child figure

 

Parent and Teacher Choice Awards Gold Medal Winner—Best Website

The Parent and Teacher Choice™ Awards from HowtoLearn.com are the most recognized and valued international awards by both parents and teachers. These awards honor educational products, services, media and toys with exceptional quality for their brain-based learning principles, creativity, innovation and fun. To be considered for this award, nominees must reflect proven learning values, stimulate higher-order thinking skills, employ brain-building principles, be innovative in their approach to helping children learn, play or be creative. Products must promote social and emotional growth, build character and help children see the joy in learning or play.



 

SIIA CODiE Awards 2019 logo: no images, simply the words

 

SIIA CODiE Awards Finalist—Best Solution for Exceptional Students

(This is a highly recognized and coveted award. Fingers crossed we will be a winner; will know soon!)

The SIIA CODiE Awards is the only peer-recognized competition in education and business technology. For more than 30 years, the SIIA CODiE Awards have been honoring software, education information and media products for excellence and innovation in technology. This year's program features 32 categories, several of which are new or updated to reflect the latest industry trends. “The 2019 CODIE Award finalists represent the finest in innovation and creativity in educational technology,” says SIIA President and CEO Jeff Joseph.  “These breakthrough products are opening doors for learners of all ages by developing and utilizing new technologies to respond to the diverse needs of student and educators.”

 

 

 

Logo:  The EdTech Awards at top; Cool Tool Finalist 2019 at bottom; stylized e with image of atom in middle

 

 

EdTech Digest Cool Tool Awards Finalist—Special Needs/Assistive Technology Solution

The largest, most competitive recognition program in all of education technology, the EdTech Awards recognizes people in and around education for outstanding contributions in transforming education through technology to enrich the lives of learners everywhere. Featuring EdTech’s best and brightest, the annual program shines a spotlight on cool tools, innovative leaders and innovative trendsetters in the K-12, higher education and skills and workforce sectors. The EdTech Awards recognize people, the products they produce and the lives they shape. Andrew Friedman, Learning Ally President and CEO, was a 2018 EdTech Leadership Award finalist for global leadership.

 



 

Two young boys proudly displaying their Great Reading Game awards.  One has a grin and a medal around his neck.  The other is smiling widely and holding up his GRG certificate

 

In addition, this past week we were pleased to hear from teachers at Woodmere Elementary School in Oregon:

 

Two students at Woodmere Elementary ranked in the top 5 percentile of students from nearly 1,000 elementary schools nationwide in a competition for nontraditional readers. Fifth graders Esnoy and Eric are graduates of Shadow’s Reading Mentors Program, which pairs students with a mentor and assistive reading technology designed for children with learning challenges.

 

 

 

 

 

Colorful graphic of celebratory confetti and streamers rising up from festive party hat-like cones


 

Metrics Update for this week:

  • Our readers increased to 201,345

 

  • We had 41,350 reading at frequency*

 

  • We had over 125 million pages read!


 

Great work, everyone!


 

*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.


Learning Ally Users' Confidence Grows

 

Three young school children sit at a table, reading their books using Learning Ally.  While they read, they eat their lunches.

 

When you were a kid, would you give up the freedom of lunchtime and recess...to sit at a table and read?  The students at Nola Dunn have been doing just that, thanks to Learning Ally’s Great Reading Games! These students have grown to love reading so much, they’re willing to make that sacrifice in order to hear what comes next in their books.  Learn more about this change and more by clicking on this link and watching the TV news story that aired the other night: https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Dyslexic-Students--509331111.html

 

Learning Ally team member Terrie Noland shares from her conversation with teacher Dana Blackaby:  

 

Many of us have heard the name Dana Blackaby, mainly because of the performance of Nola Dunn in the GRG...but until you hear her shaky voice over the phone telling Gavin’s story, you don’t know the depth of belief that Dana has in Learning Ally.  She uses words like life-changing, transformative, and dedicated believer to tell Gavin’s story.  Gavin is one of her 5th graders who has severe discrepancies in phonemic awareness – he can’t tell what sound an “a” makes from one day to the next.  Dana works tirelessly with him on explicit reading instruction, but with his severe dyslexia, it takes time. With the help of Learning Ally, Gavin has blossomed, his self-confidence has grown immeasurably, even to the point of delivering an Edwebinar to thousands of educators around the world!!

 

To hear Gavin talk about Learning Ally during the Edwebinar, click on this link and scroll to about 27:45 (you will have to enter an email address to gain access): https://home.edweb.net/webinar/readers20190416/


 

Anyone recognize the voice reading Al Capone Does My Shirts?  It’s Learning Ally volunteer Mike Klipper!  Mike introduced his fiancée to volunteering, and eventually Sarah Klipper joined our staff!


 

Mike and Sarah beaming at the camera while Sarah holds up two hand-written fortunes:  (1)  You will be hungry later; and (2) Your future will be full of cookies and tacos.


 

Colorful graphic of celebratory confetti and streamers rising up from festive party hat-like cones

 

Metrics Update for this week:

  • Our readers increased to 198,786

 

  • We had 40,747 reading at frequency*

 

  • We had over 121 million pages read!


 

Another great week for Learning Ally!


 

*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.


Learning Ally Transforms Lives

 

Eilyn Davis and Mike Freeman have big smiles on their faces as they talk about Learning Ally.  Graphics have been added, making them appear as if they are wearing cartoon-style pink hats with cat and bunny ears, and pink headphones.  Audio-related icons are in front of Mike as if they are his microphone.  Between them are puffy, white, cloud-like words:  GOOD DAY


 

Mike Freeman, Superintendent Principal at Grant Elementary School in Redding, California, and Resource Learning Lab Teacher Eilyn Davis are BIG fans of Learning Ally!  Click on the link to watch this video and find out why:

https://www.facebook.com/grantschoolcougars/videos/2585783788103729/



 

Colorful graphic of celebratory confetti and streamers rising up from festive party hat-like cones

 

Metrics Update for this week:

  • Our readers increased to 196,219

 

  • We had 39,491 reading at frequency*

 

  • We had over 118 million pages read--an increase of 70% over last year for school readers!


 

Great work, everyone!  Let’s see what next week brings!


 

*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.