August 2, 2019
July 2, 2019
June 4, 2019
April 30, 2019
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!
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:
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.
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.
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:
(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:
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 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 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 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.”
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.
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.
Our readers increased to 201,345
We had 41,350 reading at frequency*
We had over 125 million pages read!
Great work, everyone!
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!
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!
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:
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!
For the expanded report, click here:
We had a 31% increase in school participation over 2018
We had a 62% increase in participating students over 2018
Schools participating in the GRG saw a 27% increase in reading activity compared to only 19% in schools that did not participate
Students read nearly TWELVE MILLION pages during GRG19
Educators are saying: “...this is the ONLY intervention that has made a significant difference to so many kids...These kids FEEL like readers now.”
It’s been a great week at Learning Ally!
Our readers increased to 191,499, with 37,212 at frequency* and over 111 million pages read!
Pages read increased by 74% over last year for school readers.
It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words….and a video is worth even more! Check out this video where Learning Ally Mom Karen tells us why our work is so important to her family:
Let us remember: one book, one teacher, one child and one pen can change the world.
We would add...and one volunteer!
Thanks to your hard work, our readers this week increased to 187,261 – with 35,953 at frequency* and over 108 million pages read!
Pages read increased by 75% over last year for school readers.
Thank you for all your hard work that makes our learners’ successes possible!
Tim Wilson, Learning Ally's Chief Financial Officer, sent out this message over the weekend:
Forget March Madness, we’re celebrating Olympians today! Terrie Noland spent the day at Nola Dunn videoing their Great Reading Games awards ceremony. Terrie’s video is attached, along with her comments below about the ceremony.
Terrie, Learning Ally's Vice-President for Educator Initiatives, says:
The students refer to themselves as “Olympians” at Nola Dunn Academy in Burleson, Texas. They placed #1 in the GRG in the Orange Bracket. When you are in 2nd grade, are diagnosed with dyslexia, have struggled to read, and accomplish amazing things in the GRG with Learning Ally, you give the District Superintendent a BIG high five in front of an entire audience of students and family.
To watch video of some of the award winners receiving their prizes, click here:
Congratulations to ALL the students who participated in the Great Reading Games, and our deepest thanks to the parents, teachers, and administrators who supported them throughout this event! Together it's possible...to transform the lives of struggling learners!
Do you ever wonder how the textbooks make it into EasyBooks? How does THIS:
In the past, only staff, and maybe a very few scattered volunteers, set up books for production. In late 2017, however, Learning Ally created a Pre-Production Community also known as Team TOCTool. Currently, eight dedicated volunteers work on setting up books, using the TOCTool program to transform the information from pdfs into .html files for EasyBooks. TOCToolers serve the community in a very special way, making the recording process easier for the other volunteers, and lightening the load for staff members, who still set up books as well, but now have some relief so they can focus on other tasks.
The requirements of this job are an eye (and love) for detail, some computer ability, regular time to devote to the task, patience, and a PC (sorry, no Macs right now--but we’re working on a new version of the program for the future). Going through the pdf page by page, the TOCTooler types in every heading and its placement within the book, creating files along the way. One TOCTooler says, “It’s a great way to get to know the books very intimately, and to see ahead of time which books I might like to read or QC.”
Caren Snook is one of our most prolific TOCToolers, working steadily to provide the other volunteers with books to work on. Caren first joined the Learning Ally Athens (Georgia) Studio in 1973 and has put in well over 5,000 hours (not including undocumented hours from the “old days”). Over her 46 years with Learning Ally, Caren has served as a TOCTooler, Reader, Checker, bookmarker, local Board President, events tabler--she’s seen it all! Caren says about TOCTool, “The logic is appealing and the attention to detail that is required fits my personality...I really enjoy reading, but my house does not include a good space for that.” TOCTooling fits her schedule, and the house doesn’t have to be quiet for her to do it.
A former teacher, Caren’s love of Learning Ally led her recently to audit classes at the University of Georgia, classes required for the Graduate Certificate in Dyslexia. While attending these classes, Caren had the opportunity to learn more about the needs of our learners, and that knowledge has made her even more focused on excellence in her volunteer work, saying, “...it is incumbent on every volunteer to do his/her best every time...take time to find out the correct pronunciation...to reread the conventions...Recognize that everyone makes occasional errors, and learn from yours...If you aren’t feeling well, give yourself a break and take a day off. Our students are depending on you!”
As a team in the last calendar year, the group set up over 200 books for the Textbook Community! Other current members of TeamTOCTool are:
Jaqui Bradley, a former cloistered Franciscan nun and ongoing kitten rescue volunteer who started at the Upland (California) Studio in 2007 and also currently serves as a volunteer mentor in the VHOC.
Jaci Collins, who joined the Austin (Texas) Studio in 1998 and continues to read and QC as well.
Elizabeth DeLaney Hoffman, who joined the Athens Studio in 2015 and also serves as a Volunteer Coordinator.
Pat Lim, a freelance technical writer in the bio-pharmaceutical field who joined the Menlo Park (California) Studio in 2011.
Jim Siewert, a retired Honeywell engineer who started volunteering at the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Studio in 2004 and whose primary TOCTool focus is books for the Math Community.
Susan Wilson, a former corporate lawyer and current law school instructor who joined the Athens Studio in 2016; Susan not only works on TOCTool but is also helping Audrey Santos pilot a program for volunteers to create project sites (no photo available).
Beira Winter, who first joined the Hollywood (California) Studio in 2000, and besides all of her work for Learning Ally, also helped with her community’s float for this year’s Rose Bowl Parade.
Think you have what it takes to become a TOCTooler? Team TOCTool is open to any interested volunteer with the desire to try the task. For more information, contact Stacie Court sCourt@LearningAlly.org, or mention joining us in your STAFF Hangout. We’d love to have you on Team TOCTool!