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


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.


"Log Hours" update! - New volunteer assignment choices

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:

 

  1. Listener is now Literature Listener.
  2. Narrator is now Literature Narrator.
  3. QA/Catalog Review is now Literature QA/ Catalog Review.
  4. Checker is now Textbook Checker.
  5. Checker in the VHOC is now Textbook VHOC Checker.
  6. Project Guidelines is now Textbook Pre- Production.
  7. Reader is now Textbook Reader.
  8. TOCTool is now Textbook Pre- Production.
  9. Training Support is now Textbook Training Support.
 

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!
 


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.


From the Training Center - Google Hangouts

Are You Using Google Hangouts? 

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!

Screen shot of the Training Center lesson on Google Chat with link to the Hangout

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:

 

  • Join the right groups. Hangouts are for groups of people who are sharing in the same task, so they can better work together. If you have a question about a task, make sure you're asking the right group. Likewise with your replies. 
  • Chats are best suited for conversations, so limit yourself to a sentence or two with each post. You want to give people time to catch up with your ideas, so covering too much ground in one post may confuse them. 
  • Allow time for replies. Though people may see the notification right away, they aren't always in the right opportunity to respond. 
  • Remember that your posts are permanent. Write with care and respect. Review your words before posting.

 

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.

 

Congratulations To Our Training Graduates!

 

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.


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.


The Volunteer Nation Community Portal: Our Volunteer Nation Home

Home Sweet Home!

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!


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.


Great Reading Games 2019 Wrap-Up


Great Reading Games logo: Blue circle around a purple disc, with a traditional loving cup and laurels in its center.  A blue star is on the main body of the cup, and a crown hovers over it.



 

For the expanded report, click here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-GXMUanzp7IMVCHii1NF74zhv8NAPJx-/view?usp=sharing


 

Highlights:

  • We had a 31% increase in school participation over 2018

 

Excitement is in the air as crowds gather in a school gymnasium, waiting to watch the live-stream event with author Kwame Alexander



 

  • We had a 62% increase in participating students over 2018

 

Resource teacher's classroom door celebrating the GRG achievements of and encouraging students in various grades


 

  • Schools participating in the GRG saw a 27% increase in reading activity compared to only 19% in schools that did not participate

 

Glowing smile on the face of one little girl as she proudly shows off her tablet with the book she is reading loaded onto it.  A little stuffed animal in her arms is listening to the book with her.  Caption:  This little sweetie has been coming to read every morning since the Great Reading Games started!


 

  • Students read nearly TWELVE MILLION pages during GRG19

 

Eyes wide with excitement, a young girl shows off her very full LINK bookshelf.  Caption:  Look at all my books!

 

 

  • Educators are saying: “...this is the ONLY intervention that has made a significant difference to so many kids...These kids FEEL like readers now.”


 

Logo with an open book inside a glowing light bulb; text: Innovations in Reading Prize, National Book Foundation: Honorable Mention