K-12 | Read to Achieve

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Welcome to Learning Ally’s blog. You've come to the right place if you are an innovative teacher who wants to transform more struggling readers into grade-level achievers.


Empower Parents to Support Reading Success with the Learning Ally Solution
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September 17, 2018 by Valerie Chernek

We’ve all heard the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Students thrive and succeed in school when they are supported by parents, teachers, and the community. This is especially true for students with reading disabilities or who struggle to read grade-level content. The key to gaining the support of parents is communication.

To aid you in connecting with parents as students begin to use Learning Ally’s human-read audiobooks, we've developed this helpful resource guide.

Host a Fun Parent Night or Event

 

One way to inform parents about Learning Ally is to host a parent night or event.

When you host a Parent Night to inform parents about the importance of reading with Learning Ally, you will build capacity in your ability to teach in the classroom. Students will have the support of their parents and feel more empowered to read in school and at home. They will also come to class more prepared and eager to tackle their assignments. 

Support more students who struggle to read and get their parents involved. Check out all of the great teacher and parent resources and sign up for a demo today!

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The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Honors Learning Ally for Best Practices Serving Children and Youth Who Cannot Read Standard Print in U.S. Schools
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September 8, 2018 by Valerie Chernek

Learning Ally, a leading ed-tech nonprofit reaching more than 375,000 students last year, is one of fifteen honorees receiving the 2018 Library of Congress Literacy Award. The annual award recognizes the outstanding achievements of organizations (national and international) whose innovative and research-based best practices serve to improve literacy worldwide.

Andrew Friedman, CEO of Learning Ally, said, “We are extremely proud of this prestigious recognition and want to congratulate all of the nominees who share a mission of universal literacy. Throughout our history, Learning Ally has worked tirelessly to ensure all students who struggle to read due to learning differences and vision impairments have the same opportunities to realize their full academic potential by providing them with an equitable reading solution.”

Learning Ally has more than 70 years’ experience creating reading accommodations to help struggling readers reach their full academic potential. The organization has an extensive library of high quality human-read audiobooks and a suite of educator tools and resources to ensure student success. Research shows the solution has a positive impact. In a 2018 survey, more than 85% of educators agreed Learning Ally solutions helped students take greater ownership of their learning, achieve academically, and better comprehend grade-level texts.

Today, Learning Ally is driven by a keen desire to provide equal opportunities to learn for all struggling readers so they can succeed academically, and in life. The organization maintains a strong focus on innovation to truly support students with learning differences in tech-enabled classrooms. To better serve each student and support them on a deeper level, Learning Ally has developed more customized launch plans, personalized student reading incentive programs, and real-time reports to monitor student progress. This iterative and inclusive approach to developing products and services ensures all students with learning differences have equitable access to grade level content, can work to their ability, keep pace with their peers, possess a strong belief in self, and have hope for their future.

For Learning Ally, accessibility for all struggling readers is more than an ideal, it’s a promise. The organization believes all students with learning differences can succeed in school and in life with the right support and timely accommodations.

Learn more about Learning Ally’s audiobook solutions for educators and students.

About The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program

Since 2013, The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program awarded $1.4 million to 66 institutions in 30 countries through the generous contributions of David M. Rubinstein. Administered by the Library’s Center for the Book, Congress created the program to stimulate public interest in books and reading, and to encourage development of innovative methods for promoting literacy through effective best practices. This year, a selection committee evaluated 59 nominations with top monetary prizes awarded to Reading Is Fundamental, Washington, DC, East Side Community School, New York City, and Instituto Pedagógico para Problemas del Lenguaje, Mexico City. http://www.read.gov/literacyawards

About Learning Ally

Learning Ally is a leading nonprofit ed-tech organization delivering a comprehensive learning solution for struggling readers in elementary, middle and high schools. Our proven solution includes an extensive library of human-read audiobooks that students want and need to read, along with a suite of teacher-focused resources that ensure student success.

Learning Ally successfully partners with more than 15,000 U.S. schools, districts and leading state education systems across the country to empower over 375,000 students with improved comprehension, vocabulary, fluency and critical thinking skills. For over 70 years, the organization has helped to transform the lives of struggling readers by bridging the gap between their reading capability and their academic potential to become confident, lifelong learners who thrive in school and beyond.

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97% of Elementary Students with Dyslexia at The Academy at Nola Dunn Meet or Exceed STAAR Reading Requirements
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August 31, 2018 by Valerie Chernek

Ninety-seven percent (97%) of elementary students with dyslexia at The Academy at Nola Dunn, in Burleson, Texas, met or exceeded the STAAR reading requirements this year and placed third in The Great Reading Games, a national reading competition offered by Learning Ally.

Proud 5th graders gather in their school lobby holding their reading certificatesDana Blackaby, the Dyslexia Specialist who works with the children says, “Reading engagement is critical to keep my students motivated and building skills, especially those who hate to read and have little learning confidence.”

In her fifth grade classes, 100% of students with dyslexia met or exceeded the 2018 STAAR reading requirements with 60% demonstrating two years growth. The class also read more than 130,000 pages in just seven weeks during Learning Ally’s signature Great Reading Games, an engagement program incentivizing struggling readers to read frequently and compete for awards, prizes and recognition for them and their schools.

Learning Ally is an edtech nonprofit audiobook solution that supports educators who want to bridge the gap between students’ decoding ability and cognitive ability.

 “My students demonstrated significant improvements in reading comprehension and vocabulary skills,” says Blackaby, who also observed an increased level of reading engagement and a deeper desire to learn in her students. She attributes much of their success to the human-read stories in Learning Ally audiobooks with VOICEText enabling them to enjoy the content rather than struggle to decode every word.

A third grader read nearly 10,000 pages during the games to take his school to victory and win third place in the nation. Prior to participating in the competition, he tested at 40 wpm and now reads 61 wpm. “He was extremely proud of himself,” adds Blackaby, who encourages her struggling readers to choose audiobooks above their reading level and to talk with peers about the books they read.

In this video, a local Dallas news station interviewed Mrs. Blackaby, her principal, Lindsey Byrd, and students at The Academy at Nola Dunn about the competition and their reading successes. “Once you get them hooked on audiobooks, they feel strong and eager to read in class and at home,” says Blackaby. “Their efforts are reflected in their test scores and their learning confidence, and that is a win-win for everyone!”

About The Academy at Nola Dunn

The mission of The Academy at Nola Dunn, an innovative learning community, is to inspire and empower life-long learners by offering a brain-based environment and instruction including: experiential field trips, vertical and horizontal schedules, character focus and instruction, hands on learning, vertical teams and buddy classes, after school clubs, an Extended Day Program, and narrative report card.

About Learning Ally                                                      

Learning Ally is a leading nonprofit edtech organization delivering a comprehensive learning solution for struggling readers in elementary, middle and high schools. Our proven solution includes an extensive library of human-read audiobooks that students want and need to read, along with a suite of teacher-focused resources that ensure student success.

Learning Ally successfully partners with more than 15,000 U.S. schools, districts and leading state education systems across the country to empower over 375,000 students with improved comprehension, vocabulary, fluency and critical thinking skills. For over 70 years, the organization has helped to transform the lives of struggling readers by bridging the gap between their reading capability and their academic potential to become confident, lifelong learners who thrive in school and beyond.

Contact Learning Ally at 800-221-1098. Schedule a demo at www.learningally.org/educators.

 

 

 

 

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When it comes to struggling readers "motivation matters"
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August 9, 2018 by Valerie Chernek

Do Kids Hate to Read?

Search “kids hate to read” on Google and you’ll find an alarming batch of research to confirm that this is the norm in America.

Some studies even suggest that the standard way of teaching -- to assign core reading from only textbooks or have students read books from only their decoding level -- could dampen enthusiasm to read at all. Face it, if a book doesn’t interest you, you aren’t going to read it.

The Nation’s Report Card says only 36 percent of eighth graders read at proficiency level. This statistic increases slightly to 37 percent by high school. Additionally 1 in 5 students are dyslexic. These statistics suggest that a U.S. classroom could be filled with many low-level and non-readers who aren’t going to make the grade. This is a daily challenge for teachers, like BeLinda Martin at Buffalo Gap Elementary School in Texas.

Mrs. Martin’s 5th Grade Class

Mrs. Martin is a Reading and History teacher. About 20 percent of her class doesn’t like to read and some students have never passed a reading test. Determined to flip this paradigm, Mrs. Martin gave up some traditional teaching practices and beliefs.

She no longer teaches only to the test. She does not accept the idea that students will remain stuck in lower reading proficiency levels, and she does not rely on direct instruction alone to engage her students.

What Mrs. Martin does do is make reading fun and playful for struggling readers. She uses e-books with human-read audio intertwined with reward-based activities to motivate students to read, and read frequently. Martin believes that students must enjoy the act of reading before they will be successful learners.  

Do Kids Read for Fun Anymore?

The National Center for Education Statistics conducts surveys of 9-,13,- and 17-year olds as part of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) long-term trend assessment. In addition to measuring children’s reading achievement, this survey of about 26,000 students included how often these young people read for fun. The data indicated a sharp drop once students hit middle and high school. According to the study, half (53%) of all 9-year olds, a quarter (27%) of all 13 year olds and one in five or (19%) of 17-year olds read for fun each day.

Research Says Motivation is Critical for Learning Success

Overwhelming evidence now supports "motivation to read" does have direct implications when it comes to achievement. (Gambrell, 2015; Jang et al., 2015; Fisher et al., 2018; Gambrell, 2011; Applegate et al., 2010; Mucherah et al., 2008)

Additionally, teachers identified “creating interest in reading” to be what they most cared about (Applegate et al., 2010).

In her book, “When Kids Can’t Read,” Kylene Beers (1998) discusses how struggling readers tend to think that good readers are good, just because they are. These students do not realize that good readers employ strategies and techniques that help them read.

The reverse can also be true. Sometimes good readers’ strategies are so automatic they don’t realize what they are doing helps them get through a passage.

Confident readers monitor their understanding and determine meanings of words by using context clues and base word strategiesThey read with fluency, are willing and active participants in discussion and read with stamina.

You can Read Kylene’s article in School Library Journal, “LISTEN”.

Research by Beers, Melekogu and Wayne conclude:

-- “Struggling readers stop reading when the passage gets too tough, they turn to others for help, they read to get by, but tend to be inactive in discussions.” (Beers, 1998 & Melekogu, 2011

-- “Reading skill deficits can lead to negative attitudes about reading and lower motivation (Melekoglu, 2011). When struggling readers aren’t motivated to read, they don’t read and the result can be detrimental to their academic, social and emotional success. As one of the indirect but noteworthy reasons for low achievement in reading, motivation to read is an important key for all students with and without LD to be successful in school.”

-- “Struggling readers seldom get to experience how great it feels to finish a book and how much fun it can be to escape day to day life by jumping into a good book” (Wayne, 2011, pg. 8). (Melekoglu, 2011, pg. 249).

-- “Promoting motivation in struggling readers can have a positive effect and therefore should be an essential focus for educators.” Melekoglu (2011)

So how do we increase reading stamina and reading engagement? How do we help students understand the value associated with reading? How do we change the discourse for struggling readers and redefine a culture of readers? How do we ensure that students of all reading abilities are successful and improve academic achievement?  

Let’s Continue the Conversation

Watch a recording of the edWebinar held August 29, 2018 by Terrie Noland who gives a comprehensive review of research that MOTIVATION does MATTER when it comes to struggling readers and academic achievement. Her 10 research-based points have implications for administrators, educators and students. 

Gap in the Research

As importantly, there is also a gap in the current research. Terrie will shed new light on resources and strategies that “if addressed and implemented in schools,” could have a powerful and lasting positive impact on the motivation of struggling readers and their self-belief as successful learners and achievers. Join us for this EdWebinar. Educators receive CE credits.

Terrie Noland is the VP of Education Initiatives for Learning Ally. She develops engagement programs, professional learning services and communities for educators. Terrie has 25 years of experience as a motivational leader and developer of content.

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NEW App Features Aid Educators in Meeting Classroom Goals
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July 31, 2018 by Jenny Falke

girl with Learning Ally app on tabletWith Learning Ally’s new features in the audiobook reading app, educators can now more easily integrate audiobooks into classroom curriculum and assignments.

Enhanced features allow educators to:

  • Evaluate reader’s critical thinking skills via note sharing capabilities
  • Boost vocabulary and comprehension with in-app dictionary
  • Encourage independence with a customized reading experience

Students Can Show What They Know Directly in Learning Ally's Reading App

Now students can create and share notes allowing them to complete assignments and email teachers directly from the app.

5 ways students from elementary through high school can use note sharing to achieve their classroom goals:

  • Writing Summaries - Teachers can assign students to summarize what they’ve read after specific parts of the story and have students email those summaries back to be graded.
  • Designing Book Reports - Students can note their reflections, mark specific places to go back to including character names and key vocabulary words and then email all those notes to themselves to have a detailed outline perfect for finishing up a book report.
  • Citing Evidence - Students can note each time they notice, for example, figurative language within a chapter and email all those instances directly to their teacher. Teachers can then evaluate the student’s written note about why that particular part of the story was indeed figurative language.
  • Interpreting & Describing - Teachers can assign a section of reading and ask students to describe a character and email their interpretations back to the teacher about why the character responded in a specific way.
  • Completing Research Papers - Students can mark each area they want to quote within a book and email their findings to easily and quickly prep for writing research papers.

Boost Vocabulary and Improve Comprehension at a Grade-Level Pace

Educators know it’s best to teach vocabulary in context. The app now includes a dictionary (BETA)  so students can look up words and automatically mark them to create a vocabulary list for studying and homework assignments. Students can:

  • Mark all the vocabulary words assigned to them and easily study each word’s meaning.
  • Easily look up words to improve their comprehension of grade-level assignments.
  • Use the Learning Ally reading app to manage their workload alongside their peers. Now, they can gain even more time back as they look up words directly within the app.

Customization Puts Students in Control to Ease Reading Experience

Having the power and the choice to select your own font size, the space between the letters and lines, or the text color-just to name a few options-maximizes the student’s reading experience and allows them to discover and advocate for what is necessary for them to learn best.

  • Have fun with colors! Change the highlighting color to a favorite sports team motivates students to read more and builds on their love of reading and foundation for learning.
  • Adjust the spacing and sizes for increased reading stamina to discover and advocate for a personalized reading experience where students learn best.
  • When students decode below grade level, adjusting the speed of the reader helps them complete an entire novel on time. This allows them to engage in discourse with the rest of the class.

Update The App Today and Log In To Get Started

Learning Ally’s reading app is available for students with Learning Ally accounts on computers, phones and tablets. Educators can use the app in many ways based on their classroom and instructional environment. View the strategies by device tips to get more ideas.

Explore all of the ways you can use Learning Ally’s NEW features to make classroom assignments and projects a breeze so your struggling readers can thrive. Share ideas with us on Twitter and tag @Learning_Ally.


EXPERIENCE THE APP IN ACTION IN A LIVE DEMO

Learning Ally is a leading nonprofit edtech organization delivering a comprehensive learning solution for struggling readers in elementary, middle and high schools. Our proven solution includes an extensive library of human-read audiobooks that students want and need to read, along with a suite of teacher-focused resources that ensure student success.

To learn more about how your school or district can support struggling readers with the Learning Ally solution, join a demo or call 800-221-1098 today!

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