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.
May 9, 2019 by Valerie Chernek
By: Marlene Moyer – English and Social Studies Teacher, South Tahoe Middle School, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Peer interaction plays a huge role in our ability to fit into the “norm” at school and feel good about ourselves as learners. When we are learning and feeling proud of our accomplishments, we create positive connections socially and emotionally with our peers. Conversely, if we struggle to read and rarely understand what we are trying to learn, we suffer the consequences of negative social and emotional feelings. If a child who struggles to read does not demonstrate improvement when direct reading instruction is at its pinnacle in 3rd and 4th grades, the probability of being behind grade-level and lacking self-confidence follows that child their entire life.
Struggling to Read is Traumatic
As a seasoned English and Social Studies teacher, I have deep empathy for kids who “try and fail” repeatedly. This failure turns into a nagging stigma and heartache for the student, their teachers and their families. Even sadder is that many struggling readers have above average intelligence; they just don’t know how to harness it. This type of trauma is avoidable.
Years ago, I decided that no more students who struggled to read were going to “try and fail. The solution I found was accessible education materials and human-read audiobooks from Learning Ally. This resource made an incredible difference in my class instruction, my students’ skill level and in their social and emotional health.
Giving students equitable access opened their world and an opportunity for self-reflection. Students who had never thought of themselves as learners began to speak up. Their self-doubt changed to positive self-identity. They showed vast improvements in reading and began to talk about the books they read with peers. They made huge strides in their social connections. The transformation was nothing short of incredible.
Conversing is Learning
In my classes, I have a fair amount of reading assignments and discussions. With Learning Ally’s audiobooks, struggling readers got into the groove of listening and conversing right away and I saw positive changes. It was a real game changer! Students wanted to self-select their own books in the digital library. They selected books on and above their grade-level. They led book discussions and small reading group activities. Seeing students who were once emotionally shut down and labeled as “low readers,” now interacting with peers, one could not argue the impact on my students’ emotional well-being and the change it made for all of my students.
“Look at Me” Class Discussions
Audiobooks enabled me to raise up every struggling reader to say, “Look at me reading, Mrs. Moyer.” What a wonderful phrase… “Look at me reading!” In all of my 16 years of teaching, Learning Ally’s Audiobook Solution is the ONLY thing that has made a significant difference to so many kids. Not only are they improving their reading skills, their IDENTITY as readers has solidified. These kids FEEL like readers now. Nothing else I’ve tried has done so much good for them academically, socially and emotionally.
A reading accommodation and access to digital content was the solution to get more students who struggle to read – reading. They experienced reading growth. They felt dignified. These positive results and emotions are powerful and I could not be prouder or more grateful for Learning Ally.
To learn how your school or district can transform more struggling readers into grade-level achievers, schedule a quick demo or call 800-221-1098.
Categories: Assistive Technology, Audiobook Library, Curriculum & Access, Education & Teaching, Reading Strategies for K-12, Student Centric Learning
May 6, 2019 by Jenny Falke
The count-down to summer has already started! You have so many projects to wrap up, but don't stress about your school's Learning Ally subscription this summer. Use these seven tips to end the year right.
Don't update students or assign books for the 19-20 school year just yet! On August 1, 2019, Learning Ally systems, including the educator portal, will reset and your students will need to be updated AFTER that date. Here's a look at what to expect after the reset on August 1.
After the reset, students reading data such as pages read and days read will reset in the educator portal. Make sure you have the data insights you need by exporting the data before August 1.
Go ahead and archive students you know won't use Learning Ally during summer or next school year. If you have students pending certification and will not qualify, archive those students. Master Admins and Administrators also have the ability to delete archived students.
If it's time for your school to renew your Learning Ally subscription, speak with your account manager today to confirm your students will have access all summer long! (You would have received an email notification if it's time.)
Tell other teachers and add them to Learning Ally. It costs nothing to add more educators as Learning Ally users and more educators means more success for your students. You may also have a few educators you need to deactivate if they've left your school.
Sign up your students for Summer Reading Together, and share about our social challenge. You can help students get the most out of summer reading using our simple lesson plan, plus more downloads like our parent letter and printable tracking calendar.
Hand out our fun summer reading list, which includes books from the Collaborative Summer Library Program's space exploration theme. You can also ensure any required summer reading books are assigned and on student bookshelves.
Share these tips with fellow educators to be sure your school starts the year off right with Learning Ally next year.
Last but not least, don’t forget to go ahead and register for Learning Ally’s Spotlight on Dyslexia Virtual Conference featuring Dr. Maryanne Wolf.
Learning Ally is a cost-effective solution to help your students who read below grade level boost their vocabulary, comprehension and test scores. Our extensive library of human-read audiobooks includes core content, is easy to set up, and fits into your existing curriculum. Learn how you can transform the lives of your struggling readers.
Sign up for a demo, call 800-221-1098, or email programs@LearningAlly.org.
Categories: Education & Teaching, Educators, Learning Ally “How-To Use”, Teacher Best Practices
April 25, 2019 by Valerie Chernek
For Immediate Release:
Princeton, NJ, April 25, 2019 - Learning Ally, a leading education solutions organization, today announced that its reading app has been selected as a 2019 EdTech "Cool Tool" Awards finalist in the category of special needs/assistive technology solution.
The Learning Ally reading app gives students with dyslexia and other learning differences anywhere/anytime/any device access to an extensive library of human-read audiobooks, including age-appropriate fiction, literature and textbooks. It is currently used by more than 375,000 students nationwide.
Available to students in grades 3-12 in schools that use Learning Ally, this versatile app promotes independent reading inside and outside of the classroom and enables students to manage all aspects of their reading experience in one place. Student-centric features include notetaking, a built-in dictionary, sharing and customization.
Terrie Noland, VP of Educator Initiatives at Learning Ally, said, “For students with reading deficits it is critical to have an integrated learning experience rather than dealing with different apps and support tools to complete assignments. Our reading app does this effectively. This recognition reinforces our commitment to doing everything we can to level the playing field for more struggling learners.”
For nearly a decade, the EdTech Awards have been celebrating individuals, organizations and solutions that are transforming today’s educational landscape. Andrew Friedman, President and CEO of Learning Ally, was named a 2018 EdTech Leadership Award finalist for global leadership.
About Learning Ally
Learning Ally is a leading education solutions organization committed to transforming the lives of struggling learners. The Learning Ally Audiobook Solution is a proven reading accommodation comprised of human-read audiobooks, student-centric features and a suite of teacher resources. Used in more than 17,000 schools nationwide, this solution helps students with reading deficits become engaged learners and reach their academic potential.
Explore the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution
Schedule a demo to see how Learning Ally delivers an immediate impact for your struggling readers and how the reading data dashboard works. For more information about a school subscription, call 800-221-1098 or email programs@LearningAlly.org.
Categories: Assistive Technology, Curriculum & Access, Education & Teaching, Funding & Awards, In the news, Learning Disabilities, Student Centric Learning, The Digital Age
April 23, 2019 by Valerie Chernek
April 23, 2019 - Princeton, NJ– Learning Ally, with edWeb.net, will host the 4th virtual conference Spotlight on Dyslexia on Friday, June 7, 2019 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. Designed for teachers, administrators, and parents, Spotlight on Dyslexia brings 16 world-class experts in the fields of dyslexia, assistive technology and neuroscience to share new research, strategies and insights for identifying and supporting students with dyslexia.
“There is a national conversation taking place in our schools, our homes and our nation about the increasing number of students who are struggling to read,” said Terrie Noland, VP of Educator Initiatives at Learning Ally. “This event offers tremendous expertise and learning engagement for anyone who works with or has a child with dyslexia or other reading struggles.”
Dr. Maryanne Wolf, a noted expert in the field of education and cognitive neuroscience will keynote, Lessons from the Reading Brain for Dyslexia, Early Diagnosis and Intervention. Her presentation will bring new insights to the prediction, early diagnosis, and targeted intervention of children with dyslexia.
Attendees will have opportunities to directly interact and engage with the presenters, as well as other parents and educators as they discuss important professional learning topics. Educators can earn up to 16 CE Certifications from edWeb.net.
The Spotlight on Dyslexia Virtual Conference is $99. Content will be available on-demand through September 30, 2019. Register now.
Learning Ally is a leading education solutions organization committed to transforming the lives of struggling learners. The Learning Ally Audiobook Solution is a proven reading accommodation comprised of human-read audiobooks, student-centric features and a suite of teacher resources. Used in more than 17,000 schools, this solution successfully helps students with reading deficits become engaged learners and reach their academic potential.
About Dr. Maryanne Wolf
Dr. Wolf is currently working with members of the Dyslexia Center in the UCSF School of Medicine and the faculty at Chapman University on issues related to dyslexia. She completed her doctorate at Harvard University in the Department of Human Development and Psychology in the Graduate School of Education, where she began her work in cognitive neuroscience and psycholinguistics on the reading brain, language, and dyslexia. She is a frequent presenter and the author of more than 160 scientific articles. Dr. Wolf also designed the RAVE-O reading intervention for children with dyslexia and co-authored the RAN/RAS naming speed tests, a major predictor of dyslexia across all languages.
For more information about a school subscription, call 800-221-1098 or email programs@LearningAlly.org.
Categories: Assistive Technology, dyslexia, Education & Teaching, In the news
April 17, 2019 by Valerie Chernek
By Tammy McEntire, Dyslexia Coordinator, Westside Consolidated Schools, Jonesboro, Arkansas
In my 29 years of teaching, I have worked as a first grade teacher, a fourth grade teacher, a reading recovery teacher and, most recently, a certified dyslexia therapist.
During that time, I have seen many students become angry with themselves, their teachers and the world, because they struggle to read. More than ten million students nationwide struggle with reading, and only a small percentage of them get the support they need.
Struggling Readers Struggle with their Feelings
Struggling readers with learning differences experience feelings of shame, embarrassment, confusion, irritability, frustration and self-doubt. You name the negative emotion, and I’ll tell you a story about a child or teen who experienced it and suffered social and emotional consequences as a result.
When I taught fourth grade, children were reduced to tears when they couldn’t grasp simple words in their favorite books. Middle-schoolers cringed at the sight of a book and felt ashamed when asked to read aloud. High-schoolers tried to hide their inability to stay on task.
Motivating and Engaging Your Students
Getting and keeping students engaged and helping them make an emotional connection with the material they’re reading are critical for struggling readers. I’ve found that Learning Ally is a great way to motivate students to read.
This proven reading accommodation is specifically designed for struggling readers, especially those with dyslexia and other learning differences. It gives students access to a huge library of human-read audiobooks, including popular titles, literature and textbooks. It’s easy-to-use, and it has a bunch of student- and teacher-friendly features.
A Great Way to Promote Reading
One activity that gets my students really charged up is Learning Ally’s Great Reading Games. This seven-week national reading event is exactly what struggling students need to jumpstart their enthusiasm and passion for reading. It’s enough time to really generate some positive momentum, and students love the challenge of competing for individual and school prizes and recognition.
I want to challenge my fellow teachers to look for new and better ways to get all their students reading. Consider reading tools like the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution. Try motivational contests and events like the Great Reading Games. Find other ways to make reading inspiring, rewarding and fun. Trust me, there’s nothing quite like seeing the excitement on your students’ faces when they realize what they’re capable of doing.
Not only have more of my students improved their ability to read accurately and fluently through Learning Ally, they have developed more confidence. This year, our middle school came in ninth place in the nation in the Great Reading Games for the second year, and our high school came in fourth. I couldn’t be prouder.
Improving Access for All
In Arkansas, our statewide mandate is to provide students who demonstrate characteristics of reading deficits with interventions that support their learning needs. Our school staff is constantly trying to improve our school performance.To accomplish this, students receive reading instruction and practice via Accelerated Reader throughout the school year, and their progress is closely monitored and assessed by Star Reading standards-based assessments.
We rely on the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution to provide access for students who require a reading accommodation. Without Learning Ally’s digital library, many students would not be able to keep up with assignments, maintain grade-level status or read independently at home.
When We Know Better, We Can Do Better
Our middle school received the "Outstanding Educational Performance - Best Growth Scores ELA 2017-2018" in the state according to state mandates. Our third- and fourth- graders performed 12% higher in a single academic year. We attribute this success to great teachers and administrators and the right resources to support all learners.
I especially want to acknowledge the amazing work that our teachers in special education are doing to embrace audiobooks. They know that a reading accommodation is a vital resource for a student who clearly cannot keep academic pace with their peers. They know the importance of adding a reading accommodation and access to accessible education materials into students’ IEPs or 504 plans to ensure they have the necessary tools to achieve.
When we as educators clearly understand that students who struggle to read process information differently, we can implement the right tools and resources to make a difference. Learning Ally is one organization that supports our school’s goals, as well as my efforts to instill a passion for reading in students of all ages.
Categories: Assistive Technology, dyslexia, Education & Teaching, Learning Disabilities, Student Centric Learning, The Digital Age