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


This Weeks Highly Recommended Titles 10/23

This Weeks Highly Recommended Titles 10/23

We will be highlighting some of the books that our incredible Volunteer Nation has worked on! These are the selections for this week...and keep an eye out for next week's three-book selection for Halloween! This information is collected weekly by Christina Trejos, Digital Production Coordinator at Learning Ally.


Grade Band: K-3
Melia And Jo by Billy Aronson (NC084)
Narrated by: Nikola Zakocs
Book Trailer: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pXy0RwFYS61u034fyTT-HZ0X23MWjGil
Synopsis: 
Melia and Jo will be to STEAM what Rosie Revere is to STEM. Melia is scientific and loves to create things in her backyard laboratory, but something is missing. Her inventions just aren't quite right. Enter Jo, her new friend with an artistic spirit. When you add the arts to sciences, something magical happens This whimsically illustrated picture book is the perfect introduction to the benefits of STEAM-focused curriculum.

 

Grade Band: 3-7   
The Ship is Dead: Magnus Chase and The God's of Asgard: Book 3 (NA576) 
Narrated by: Michael Fryar
Author: Rick Riordan
Book Trailer:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1RqKlXvdVGyN855t0UuO6J6lDwW27UWRe
Book Link: https://learningally.org/BookDetails/BookID/NA576
Synopsis: 
Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin's chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn't naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus faces his most dangerous trial yet. His cousin, Annabeth, recruits her boyfriend, Percy Jackson, to give Magnus some pointers, but will his training be enough? Loki is free from his chains. He's readying Naglfar , the Ship of the Dead, complete with a host of giants and zombies, to sail against the Asgardian gods and begin the final battle of Ragnarok. It's up to Magnus and his friends to stop him, but to do so they will have to sail across the oceans of Midgard, Jotunheim, and Niflheim in a desperate race to reach Naglfar before it's ready to sail. Along the way, they will face angry sea gods, hostile giants, and an evil fire-breathing dragon. Magnus's biggest challenge will be facing his own inner demons. Does he have what it takes to outwit the wily trickster god?

 

 

Grade Band: 8+   
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Series: Book 1 (NA473) 
Narrated by: Paul Morgan
Book Trailer: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1RqKlXvdVGyN855t0UuO6J6lDwW27UWRe
Synopsis: 

Malcolm Polstead and his daemon, Asta, are used to overhearing news and the occasional scandal at the inn run by his family. But during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm finds a mysterious object—and finds himself in grave danger. Inside the object is a cryptic message about something called Dust; and it’s not long before Malcolm is approached by the spy for whom this message was actually intended. When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he begins to notice suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl—just a baby—named Lyra.   Lyra is at the center of a storm, and Malcolm will brave any peril, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through it. 


Why is Logging Hours important?

We get asked often, why logging hours is important. To help answer, here are some ways the data is used in managing our volunteer program. 

 

  • Volunteer Recognition! We appreciate everything you do. This data helps us recognize milestones and outstanding service!
  • Program Health. We can use this data to evaluate the health of our volunteer program. We can see the effort that goes into audiobook production and other Learning Ally initiatives that volunteers support. We can project how many new audiobooks we can produce during a year, measure volunteer retention, and build recruitment plans to grow and fill areas of need. 
  • Reporting. The value of your donated service is required in our financial reporting. We can also provide reports, when requested, to companies that give to nonprofits where their staff volunteers, and to foundations that are interested in our volunteer program.

 

Some cool numbers based on logged hours that you might find interesting. From July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, we had 604 volunteers donate a total of 57,143 hours to Learning Ally -- an average of almost 95 hours per volunteer! Many in more than one role…

 

  • 244 volunteers donated 12,373 hours Narrating new audiobooks in the Literature Community.
  • 94 volunteers donated 5,241 hours Listening and checking those new audiobooks for our Literature Community.
  • 61 volunteers donated 452 hours performing Quality Assurance testing on audiobooks completed in the Literature Community.
  • 216 volunteers donated 24,034 hours Reading new textbooks.
  • 201 volunteers donated 10,436 hours Checking those new textbooks for the Instructional Text Community.
  • 141 new volunteers donated another 1,738 hours of Checking as part of our Virtual Hands-on Center (VHOC).
  • 36 volunteers donated 2,248 hours performing Pre-production tasks for the Instructional Text Community. This included tasks like ToCTool, writing project guidelines, and PDF bookmarking for textbook production.
  • 17 volunteers donated 115 hours providing Career Development Support to graduating Blind or Visually Impaired students from our College Success Program.

 

Gathering volunteer service hours is not unique to Learning Ally. This is something that most volunteer programs do, especially those of our size. However, speaking for Learning Ally on the subject, without you logging hours, we would not be able to truly understand or recognize the work and effort that you all put into providing students with the tools they need to succeed. With that in mind, I will finish with text straight from our Recognition Page on our Volunteer Nation Community Portal:

 

You matter. You make a difference.

 

Your great generosity has had a profound and lasting impact on our students. Your willingness to share both your time and your talent says a lot about each of you as human beings. Your willingness to give selflessly to help others speaks to both your strength and the quality of your character.
 

When you volunteer, you are making a commitment to share that most precious of resources – your time – to make life better for those who are in need. The fruits of your labors make a tangible impact, of course, but perhaps it is the fact that you are willing to share your time and talent to lend a helping hand and to show kindness and caring that makes the greatest difference in the lives of the individuals who learn to love reading from listening to the audiobooks YOU help produce.
 

While we know that you choose to volunteer selflessly and without expectation of being recognized or rewarded, we want to take the time to let you know just how much your dedication is appreciated and to make sure you know that everyone at Learning Ally is forever grateful to each of you. Whether you are a long-time volunteer or if you got involved fairly recently, and regardless of how many hours you choose to give, it’s important for you to know that what you do makes a difference.
 

Words cannot adequately express the gratitude that we wish to express. Please know that your service is recognized, appreciated, valued and cherished. We thank you and look forward to continuing to work with you in the future.
 


Literature Books Completed in June, 2019

The Literature Community finished recording 90 books in June!! I want to thank both our volunteers and staff members for helping us record these books.

 


Students Love Us!

 

     Abigail Shaw wears a bright yellow dress and a big smile; her guide dog, Kit, gazes quizzically at the camera

 

Abigail Shaw, staff member with Learning Ally’s College Success Program, with her guide dog, Kit


 

Students love Learning Ally!  Here’s a message from just one member of our ever-growing fan club:

 

I’m looking forward to this semester because for once I was actually able to get my textbook list ahead of time and found most of the books on Learning Ally, so there’s one less thing I have to worry about...I will enjoy my classes and they seem interesting so I’m looking forward to that.


 

College Success Program student

Sophomore from Long Island





 

 

Another big fan is Sadie Regardie.  A student in the Fairfax County Public Schools, Sadie read A LOT this summer, participating in our Summer Reading Together contest.  Sadie not only read at home--she even took her books on vacation! How many kids want to read on vacation? Sadie entered our social media part of the contest as well, and her entry shows how audiobooks can not only build enthusiasm for reading but also expose students to concepts and vocabulary.  Sadie says about Learning Ally, “...it has helped me persevere in reading. Makes the book make sense and makes reading more fun.” Click here to watch Sadie’s video entry:

https://spark.adobe.com/video/yjkTu48FpM4Sy


 

Sadie’s mother, Jenn Regardie, is a key influencer for Learning Ally in their school district, and will be a panelist for one of our upcoming edWebinars.  For more information about this educational opportunity, click here:

https://home.edweb.net/webinar/readers20190814/





 


 

Metrics Update for this week:

 

  • Our readers increased to 212,034

 

  • We had 47,285 reading at frequency*

 

  • Pages read by school readers increased by 63% over this time last year!



 

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.


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.


"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!
 


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!


Updates from the Training Center for March 2019

Hello Volunteers!

March means it’s time for our annual Building Books for Student Success fundraising events. We aim to raise $100,000 by May 31st through the efforts of our Learning Ally staff, our parent community, and volunteers like you. Visit the Building Books for Student Success Campaign Homepage to learn more about the program and all the ways that you can help. Every $1,500 we raise provides a school, and all their students, with access to our library and educator support services. 

Fundraising page preview image.

You can set up your own fundraising page in three easy steps and get started right now!

 

Evaluation Study

This spring, we are sending out surveys and some interview requests to those who registered as a new volunteer or enrolled in a course in the last 6 months. This is part of our efforts to provide an excellent training experience for all, and we hope you are able to respond and provide honest and thoughtful feedback to help us improve the training process!

 

Congratulations Training Grads

Textbook: Nicole M., Clara H., Michelle S., Thomas S., Suchetas B., Donna L-J., Qamara B.
Storyteller: Joseph H., Maryfran A., Kristine R., Rowena P., Syafiq B., Nichalia S., Carman W., Makenzie S-R., 
 


Literature Books Completed in January!

The Literature team completed 53 Books in January!  Thank you for the hours of narrating, listening, teamwork and talent that makes this possible!

Shelf Number Book Title Narrator Listener
NB271 Chocolate : Sweet Science and Dark Secrets of the World's Favorite Treat JB Kump Les Wiesenfelder
KZ716 Hear the Wind Blow Barry Kaufman Joe Clark
NA599 The Fixer Lindsey Dodson Virgil Howarth
NA673 Bravo! : Poems About Amazing Hispanics Lenny Delgado Susan Smith
NA135 The Dark Prophecy James Sie Susan Newman
NB534 The Meltdown Grant Patrizio Susan Smith
NB279 Out of Wonder : Poems Celebrating Poets Michael Burgess Halina Bustin
NB204 The Great Pet Escape Elena Muntean
NA169 Voice of Freedom : Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement Leesha Saunders
NB509 The Illusion Queen Judith Lanzinger
NA482 The Firefly Code Cindy Kay Halina Bustin
NB165 The List Sue Heisner Halina Bustin
NB123 The House of Tailors Christine Kessides Les Wiesenfelder
NA769 Johnny Appleseed Maryfran Annese
KQ503 Flowers Paul Morgan
NB312 Be Quiet! John Martinez
NB028 Krakens And Lies Paul Morgan Halina Bustin
NB459 Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen? JB Jump Bill Payne
NB307 Prince Ribbit Maryfran Annese
NA944 Who Was Pete Seeger? Jerry Byrd Matt Armstrong
NB309 Click'd Erin Setch Bill Payne
NB504 Chasing King's Killer : The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Assassin Jerry Byrd Bill Payne
NB230 Search for the Lightning Dragon Sara Parlier Jim Strong
NA505 March of the Mini Beasts Sue Heisner Bill Payne
NB172 Confessions of a Former Bully Kate Fitzgerald Beira Winter
NB063 Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops Maryfran Annese
NA980 Race to the South Pole Joanne Pittman Helene Alalouf
NA167 Chester and Gus Vincent Oddo Maier Fox
NB066 Anne of Avonlea Sybil Johnson Bill Payne
NA145 Marty McGuire Digs Worms! Judith Lanzinger Betsy McClure
NA780 The Fire Cat Reynolds Washam
NA051 Rise of the Isle of the Lost Savannah Newton Bill Payne
NB551 I Am Peace : A Book Of Mindfulness Lynda Kluck
NA900 Smart Cookie Judith Lanzinger Thomas Keleher
NA593 Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry Myra Parker Les Wiesenfelder
NA079 Horizon Chris Abell Paul Morgan
NB496 Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties Grant Patrizio Susan Smith
KZ344 Say Cheese - And Die Screaming! Adrianne Ondarza Clyla Boykin
NA955 Who Are the Rolling Stones? J.B. Kump Bill Payne
NB497 Orphan Train Girl Lois Hofer Beira Winter
NA536 My Dog, Bob Jim Connell  
NA155 Bailey's Story : A Dog's Purpose Novel Vincent Oddo Bill Payne
KZ861 The Ghostfaces Paul Morgan Les Wiesenfelder
NB453 Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy Ken Pruchniewski Frances White
NB318 Jabari Jumps Darrell Johnson  
NB227 Flight of the Moon Dragon Sara Parlier Susan Snookal
NB450 Juniper Berry Sharon Martin Jim Strong
NB439 One Last Word : Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance Clyla Boykin  
NA796 Ghosts Krysta Gonzales  
NA960 Who Were the Three Stooges? J.B. Kump Susan Crawford
NA954 Who Is Ralph Lauren? J.B. Kump Bill Payne
NB159 Flute's Journey : The Life Of A Wood Thrush Maryfran Annese Betsy McClure
NA759 How The Camel Got His Hump Elizabeth Klett  
We encourage you to take a listen to any of these books in our Learning Ally Link App.  If you don't see a book in the App that you have read and want it added, please contact gFranklin@learningally.org.