August 2, 2019
July 2, 2019
June 4, 2019
April 30, 2019
Books Completed in April, 2019
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.
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”.
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/
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:
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!
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.
Our Listener focused training course is under development and has us focusing on ways we could all do more to help keep quality a top priority with Learning Ally audiobooks. The new Listener course is designed to get volunteers involved in checking the work of our Literature community narrators. While similar to the Checking process of our textbooks, there are some special distinctions that need to be made as we evaluate the presentation of literary works. Word accuracy and pronunciation are still essential but we also need to evaluate the performance of characters that bring life and energy and keep a student engaged in their reading. You can see some of our work-in-progress lesson materials on the Training Site. Just look for the Listener Course on the Courses page and you can contact VolTraining@LearningAlly.org for an access key if you want to take a look.
If you're eager to get involved with more opportunities to listen but don't want to wait for the new course, you can always help us provide quality reviews on some of our older book projects. There are still dozens of books looking for listeners and feedback. Visit the QA section of the volunteer portal for more information.
The Building Books for Student Success campaign raised more than $100,000, thanks to our staff and volunteers’ efforts. In addition to the donations and outreach of various organizations and individuals, over 40 volunteers created personal fundraisers asking their network of family, friends, and colleagues to donate, acquiring 290 new donors and reaching far beyond our own network of followers. This year we also partnered with Such A Voice, an online school for voice-over artists that aligns perfectly with our mission. Such A Voice raised close to $10,000 for BBSS and we look forward to working with them more closely in the future for volunteer recruitment.
This May we produced 82 VOICEText Books and 27 Classic Audiobooks. The combined total of 109 produced last month is more than we produced in October 2017, the last month before we went virtual. It's quite an achievement for our at-home volunteers but also an inevitable outcome. Since we moved to virtual production, all sorts of new avenues for volunteer involvement have opened up and as we introduce new programs, our volunteers move to fill them. Thank you for your continued work and devotion to our mission!
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.
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:
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!
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!
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:
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!
There have been some new updates to the Volunteer Portal. From this week onwards, when you visit the Log Hours page and log on to add your volunteer hours, there will some changes to the list of volunteer assignments. So when you click on [Post your hours] or go to the Time Sheet tab, the drop-down menu that gives options to the question “Which assignment did you serve in?”, will have slightly different assignment names. Please check out these changes below:
These changes should make it easier to select the correct community and assignment, and we hope this will (in a small way) improve your experience at Learning Ally. If there are any questions or concerns with these changes, please contact Volunteer@LearningAlly.org. As always, we appreciate all the effort that you put into creating Learning Ally audiobooks!
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!
Hangouts Chat messages are still the best way to get immediate responses to your questions about training. It's also a great way to see who else is involved in volunteering with you. You'll be using the Chat frequently in book production so take the time to get acquainted.
One of your fist steps in training is to sign up for our Google Hangout Chats, so make sure you don't miss it!
The instructions on installing Hangouts will also give you an introduction on how to use it. We have an instruction document and mini-lesson on how to use Hangouts in the Textbook Community, but much of it applies to any use of hangouts. Make sure you use chat the right way, playing up on its strengths:
You can learn more in the lessons and by referring to Google Hangouts help.
You'll find links to join various groups on the volunteer portal and project sites, like this one for the QA team:
Ask questions, offer answers, and get involved. Say "hello" every now and again in the water cooler and even in your project Chats. Your voice is what makes this a volunteering community.
Storyteller Course: Vance A., Jamal J., Gina L., Ripley J., Juliet J., Sam K., Jennifer B., T.A.N., Kian A., James R., Bruce S., Janique J., Kelly C.
Textbook Course: Lynn W., Juliet J., Marion H., Kate J.
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!