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.
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!
The Volunteer Nation Community Portal is so much more than a place to log our volunteer hours. It is our Volunteer Nation Home. We encourage you all to make this your home. A place to visit anytime, it’s also a great place to visit before starting your work. After exploring, there are links out to both the Textbook project sites as well as the Literature Community Portal to find your projects.
Come check out the blogs. You’ll find stories about the students and schools that we are helping. Get to know some of your volunteer peers, learn why they volunteer and what they’re up to outside of Learning Ally. Find statistics about all the students you are helping. Use this information to help spread the word. Remember to brag to your friends and families about the great things you do through volunteering.
There is a Resource link that will take you to some great training and support information, including documents and videos.
Visit the Support link to find answers to FAQs. Your question not answered? You’ll find instructions there on how to connect to our Volunteer Support team. They are available to provide one-on-one help with your questions, ideas, and problems.
You’ll also find our Recognition page. In addition to the volunteers recognized here, we want you all to know your great generosity has had a profound and lasting impact on our students. Thank you all!
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.”
Elementary Students Learn How to Make Audiobooks!
We recently had the pleasure of hosting students from two elementary schools in Austin, TX and Princeton, NJ. A great day was had by all. The excitement was contagious as they entered the building. You could see the wonder on their faces, as they are so familiar with Learning Ally and how much it impacts their day to day accomplishments at school. Without you volunteers, none of this would be possible! Here’s a look into each school visit, and what the students were able to experience while they were here.
Highland Park Elementary Students, Austin TX
On February 27th, 32 students and 6 teachers, parents and school administrators visited the Austin studio to learn about how our audio books get from volunteer’s voices/home studios into the app they use to listen to their books.
The students listened to the history of Learning Ally, back to 1948 when we were called Recording for the Blind and recorded material onto flexible record albums. They saw how we have kept up with technology over the years through reel-to-reel, cassettes and CD’s and now to the Learning Ally Link App. They watched a video showing how our books are chopped and scanned to make the PDF and EasyBooks files our volunteers use to read. They learned how volunteers can now work anywhere in the world to help record their books thanks to our virtual technology!
Highland Park students are experts at using the Link App, so they enthusiastically helped staff demonstrate how to search for and download books, find chapter headings, page numbers and change the speed of the audio and the color of the text on the screen.
Students got to step into our old recording booths and make a recording on a Learning Ally Flash Drive to take home to their family.
Austin volunteers Kathi Jensen and Robert Miller helped staff members Cheri Nightingale and Gigi Franklin with the tour. One little girl told us “This is the best field trip we have ever taken!” Their two hours at the studio flew by, but their enthusiasm for reading will last a lifetime. They all gathered in the studio conference room before getting back on the bus and yelled “THANK YOU!” to all the volunteers around the world who help brings books to life for them.
Village Elementary School, Montgomery NJ
On January 24th, we had an amazing group of students from Village Elementary School, visit us and get to experience firsthand how an audio book is made from beginning to end! They were able to experience LINK and be “testers” with some new advanced features coming up!
The students had an opportunity to meet learn about guide dogs, and how they are trained to lead the blind and visually impaired around obstacles. Abigail Shaw, a Learning Ally staff member was gracious enough to bring her guide dog Kit, for the students to meet. This was a huge hit with everyone, and it helped bring an understanding how important these companions are!
We had a great voice over session, where students recorded a clip of a short story of their choice and brought it home on a flash drive for their parents to listen to! They were so proud of themselves and loved hearing their voices on the recordings!
It was a great day that couldn’t have been possible without the help of our wonderful staff and volunteers that joined us for this impactful event. A special thank you to Maryfran Annese and Joe Clark for making a special trip to Princeton to join the fun!