Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement

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Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.


Audiobooks to Movies: Christopher Robin
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August 6, 2018 by Jhara Navalo

You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. – Christopher Robin

 

Christopher RobinsDon’t you love when Hollywood turns our most favorite childhood stories into big blockbusters? Maybe not. Lucky for us, Disney’s new film Christopher Robin answers the question, “Whatever happened to Christopher Robin?”.

 

The new movie follows Christopher Robin to adulthood, having him not only miss his beloved childhood friends, Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tiger, & Eyore, but also remind him of the loving and playful boy who is still inside.

Rotten Tomato Audience Score 92% liked it!

Before you go see the movie, our volunteers have recorded a few audiobooks that you all can read-a-loud and enjoy and you too will wonder, "What happend to Christopher Robin and the child within us?"

 

Winnie

Synopsis
The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh
Who could care for a bear?When Harry Colebourn saw a baby bear for sale at the train station, he knew he could care for it.

 

Winnie-the-Pooh

Synopsis
Since 1926, Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends—Piglet, Owl, Tigger, and the ever doleful Eeyore—have endured as the unforgettable creations of A.A. Milne, who wrote this book for his son, Christopher Robin, and Ernest H. Shepard, who lovingly gave Pooh and his companions shape. These characters and their stories are timeless treasures of childhood that continue to speak to all of us with the kind of freshness and heart that distinguishes true storytelling.


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 the most extensive library of human-read audiobooks that students want and need to read both at home and at school. This reading experience helps accelerate learning, enables a new level of access to knowledge and powerfully increases confidence and self-belief.

Learning Ally empowers over 370,000 students with improved comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and critical thinking skills. For over 70 years, we have helped transform the lives of struggling readers by bridging the gap between their reading capability and their academic potential as they confidently become lifelong learners who thrive in school and beyond.

Learn More About Becoming a Learning Ally Member

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#Stopcyberbullyingday - Audiobook Recommendations
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June 13, 2018 by Jhara Navalo

Cyberbullying Day is an international awareness day encouraging people from around the world to show their commitment toward a truly inclusive and diverse online environment for all, without fear of personal threats, harassment or abuse. Our students are plagued with this new type of cyber threat and we are committed in spreading the word and educating adults and students about how to avoid being bullied and to take a more positive and supportive tone when chatting with peers online.

To help you create an informed conversation about bullying we've selected a few good reads for you and your students to enjoy.

 

CyberBullying

Synopsis
Before the advent of the widespread use of the internet, bullying was confined to school grounds, classrooms, and backyards. Now, the virulence of bullying has taken on new meaning, as bullies take to the web to intimidate, harrass, embarrass, and offend others. Through email, cell phones, text messaging, and social networking sites, bullies can carry out their bullying in many cases without ever having to confront their victims, and often without consequence.


 

Cyberbullying in a digital age

Synopsis
Cyberbullying has become more prevalent through the use of e-mail, instant messages, chat rooms, and other digital messaging systems. It brings with it unique challenges. Cyber Bullying provides the most current and essential information on the nature and prevalence of this epidemic, providing educators, parents, psychologists and policy-makers with critical prevention techniques and strategies for effectively addressing electronic bullying.


 

A Smart Kid's Guide to Online Bullying

Synopsis
Online bullying has become a serious problem for America's children and teens. Readers will learn how to identify bullies online, how to deal with them, and how to avoid becoming bullies themselves.


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 the most extensive library of human-read audiobooks that students want and need to read both at home and at school. This reading experience helps accelerate learning, enables a new level of access to knowledge and powerfully increases confidence and self-belief.

Learning Ally empowers over 300,000 students with improved comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and critical thinking skills. For over 70 years, we have helped transform the lives of struggling readers by bridging the gap between their reading capability and their academic potential as they confidently become lifelong learners who thrive in school and beyond.

Learn More About Becoming a Learning Ally Member

Read More about #Stopcyberbullyingday - Audiobook Recommendations

Audiobook Library Suggestions (April) - Literature
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May 10, 2018 by Jhara Navalo

Human-narrated audiobooks truly make the difference in ensuring a student engages with and comprehends the books that they're reading.  Our volunteers spend hours recording these books to secure the rights for all students to learn and out of their love for reading and education. Here's a list of audiobooks that have been newly recorded and added to our library.  Enjoy!

 

Alexander Hamilton

Grade Level: 12+

Synopsis
In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, National Book Award winner Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”


 

Amelia to Zora

Lexile:AD1040L

Synopsis
From Amelia Earhart, pilot and adventurer, to Zora Neal Hurston, writer and anthropologist, readers learn about the hardships and triumphs of 26 amazing women and discover what inspired each one to change the world around her.


 

Cabin Fever

Grade 3-7
Synopsis
Greg Heffley is in big trouble. School property has been damaged, and Greg is the prime suspect. But the crazy thing is, he’s innocent. Or at least sort of. The authorities are closing in, but when a surprise blizzard hits, the Heffley family is trapped indoors. Greg knows that when the snow melts he’s going to have to face the music, but could any punishment be worse than being stuck inside with your family for the holidays?


 

Dog's Best Friend

Grade Level: 3-7
Synopsis
Releasing the same month as the MIDDLE SCHOOL movie, this next installment of James Patterson's hit series has non-stop laughs starring everyone's favorite underdog.


 

Fourth Stall

Grade Level: 3-7
Synopsis
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid" meets "The Sopranos" in this fresh, funny debut novel--an offer no tween can refuse.


 


The Giver

Grade Level: 7-12
Synopsis
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.


 

The Education of Richard Rodriguez

Lexile: 920L
Hunger of Memory is the story of Mexican-American Richard Rodriguez, who begins his schooling in Sacramento, California, knowing just 50 words of English, and concludes his university studies in the stately quiet of the reading room of the British Museum.


 

Invisible Man

Grade Level: 12+
Synopsis
A Science Fiction Classic: From the twentieth century's first great practitioner of the novel of ideas comes a consummate masterpiece of science fiction about a man trapped in the terror of his own creation.


 

Outcast United

Synopsis
The extraordinary tale of a refugee youth soccer team and the transformation of a small American town Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement center in the 1990s, becoming the first American home for scores of families in flight from the world’s war zones—from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. 


 

Tales from the Odyssey Part 2

Grade Level: 3-6
Synopsis
Part Two includes: Book Four: "The Gray-Eyed Goddess," Book Five: "Return toIthaca," and Book Six: "The Final Battle."


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 the most extensive library of human-read audiobooks that students want and need to read both at home and at school. This reading experience helps accelerate learning, enables a new level of access to knowledge and powerfully increases confidence and self-belief.

Learning Ally empowers over 240,000 students with improved comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and critical thinking skills. For over 70 years, we have helped transform the lives of struggling readers by bridging the gap between their reading capability and their academic potential as they confidently become lifelong learners who thrive in school and beyond.

Learn More About Becoming a Learning Ally Member

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National Poetry Month: Featured Audiobook Titles
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April 23, 2018 by Jhara Navalo

National Poetry Month was started by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture. Poetry's rhythmic style and playful way of learning how to hear the syllables within words supports reading fluency. Breaking down words into smaller chunks aids in content comprehension, helping your child see the patterns within language and improve skills in ‘sounding out’ words. We hope you enjoy this list of audiobooks we put together for you to introduce poetry to your child and get them reading.

 

What A Day It Was At School

Grade Level: K-5
When your science homework eats your dog, you spend lunch dodging flying food, and your backpack weighs a thousand pounds, you know you've got a great answer to the question, “What did you do at school today?”


 

Shout! Little Poems That Roar

Grade Level: K-3
This vibrant collection of twenty-one poems celebrates the joys (snack time!) and pitfalls (2 + 2 = 23?) of childhood. Brod Bagert's often silly, always winsome poems cover everything from the seasons and the stars to finger paint and kids who quack.


 

A Poem In Your Pocket

Grade Level: K-3
Usher in National Poetry Month with Mr. Tiffin and his students, stars of the hugely popular How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? and The Apple Orchard Riddle.


 

The Raven And Other Favorite Poems

Grade Level: 9 an up
Features 41 of Poe's most memorable poems — among them "The Bells," "Ulalume," "Israfel," "To Helen," "The Conqueror Worm," "Eldorado" and "Annabel Lee" — reveal the extraordinary spectrum of Poe's personality and his virtuoso command of poetic language, rhythms and figures of speech. Alphabetic lists of titles and first lines.


 

The Charge Of The Light Brigade And Other Poems

Grade Level: 9 an up
Treasury of verse by the great Victorian poet includes the famous long narrative poem, Enoch Arden, plus "The Lady of Shalott," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "Break, break, break," "Flower in the crannied Wall" and more. Also included are excerpts from three longer works: The Princess, "Maud" and "The Brook."


 

The Best Poems Ever

Grade Level: 7-9
Just in time for National Poetry Month, a fantastic collection of some of the best poems ever. These are some of the most amazing poems ever written, touching the heart, challenging the mind, and conjuring worlds of experience and imagination.


 

A Time To Dance

Grade Level: 7 and up
Padma Venkatraman s inspiring story of a young girl s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form.


 

Under The Mesquite

Grade Level: 7 and up
Lupita, a budding actor and poet in a close-knit Mexican American immigrant family, comes of age as she struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother's battle with cancer. A novel in verse.


 

Where The Sidewalk Ends

Grade Level: 4 and up
Shel Silverstein's masterful collection of poems and drawings is at once outrageously funny and profound.


 

Full Cicada Moon

Grade Level: 3-7
This historical middle-grade novel is told in poems from Mimi's perspective over the course of one year in her new town, and shows readers that positive change can start with just one person speaking up.


 

The Mouse Of Amherst

Grade Level: 3-7
Inspired, Emmaline writes her own first poem and secretly deposits it on Emily's desk. Emily answers with another poem, and a lively exchange begins. In this charming and fanciful introduction to Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Spires demonstrates the power of poetry to express our deepest feelings, while Claire A. Nivola's delicate pencil drawings capture the intricacies of life in Emily's world.


 

The President's Stuck In The Bathtub

Grade Level: 3-7
In The President's Stuck in the Bathtub, the lives of the presidents are served up as fact-filled and fanciful poems that will make you laugh, cringe, and gasp with amazement at the colorful cast of men and women who have lived in the White House.

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 the most extensive library of human-read audiobooks that students want and need to read both at home and at school. This reading experience helps accelerate learning, enables a new level of access to knowledge and powerfully increases confidence and self-belief.

Learning Ally empowers over 240,000 students with improved comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and critical thinking skills. For over 70 years, we have helped transform the lives of struggling readers by bridging the gap between their reading capability and their academic potential as they confidently become lifelong learners who thrive in school and beyond.

Learn More About Becoming a Learning Ally Member

Read More about National Poetry Month: Featured Audiobook Titles

Subject Matter Continuity and Reading Comprehension
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April 14, 2018 by Jhara Navalo

Natalie Wexler  by guest blogger, educational author, and journalist, Natalie Wexler


Kid Struggling to readIn the fall of 2016, a new student joined Sarah Webb’s fourth-grade class in an Ohio suburb—a sweet, blond-haired boy who I’ll call him Matt. His mother took Webb aside and confessed that she was worried about his reading. Matt hadn’t been diagnosed with a disability, but he’d always been placed in the lowest reading group.

Webb had seen kids like Matt before: discouraged, struggling, seeing themselves as part of “the dumb group” year after year. Neither Webb nor Matt knew it yet, but this year would be different.

Like virtually all American kids, Matt had spent his school career in a system that limits children’s knowledge of the world largely to what they can access through their own reading. But, as research has shown, up to about the age of 13 children can absorb more sophisticated text by listening than through reading. And they need to hear that kind of text read aloud to acquire the knowledge, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills that will enable them to succeed in upper grades—and in life.

The assumption has been that if kids have trouble reading, they just need to spend more time practicing their reading skills on books that aren’t too hard for them. That makes sense for decoding skills. But reading comprehension skills like “finding the main idea” and “making inferences”—which students practice day after day, year after year--won’t turn struggling readers into proficient ones. Readers can’t use those skills to make sense of a text unless they have enough background knowledge and vocabulary to understand the text in the first place.

If you don’t know much about, say, cell biology, you’ll have a hard time understanding an abstract of an article about it. For children whose knowledge of the world is still limited, lots of texts—especially nonfiction texts—assume knowledge and vocabulary they don’t yet have, making reading a confusing and discouraging experience. Even children who seem to be doing fine in the early elementary grades, when reading simple stories, can encounter serious problems later on when they’re expected to read more complex nonfiction, both in class and on standardized tests.

When elementary teachers introduce nonfiction, they generally still focus on supposed skills—for example, identifying “text features” like captions or glossaries--on the theory that they’ll help students comprehend any nonfiction text. They may jump from a book on clouds to one on zebras to one on volcanoes. But students are much more likely to acquire new knowledge and vocabulary if they spend at least a couple of weeks focusing on a single topic.

The year Matt joined Sarah Webb’s class, she tried a different approach. Her students still had time to read books of their choice at their own reading levels. But Webb also read aloud to the whole class from books that had been chosen not for their supposed ability to develop comprehension skills—the standard approach—but for their ability to build knowledge. The books were part of a curriculum called Wit and Wisdom, which provides sets of books grouped around topics like the meaning of the phrase “a great heart,” or the American Revolution. Webb also led class discussions of the books and had her students write about what they were learning.

All of Webb’s students were enthralled by the new curriculum, eager to learn more about certain topics and read more books by the same authors. The high-achieving kids were flourishing. But so were the ones who struggled with reading—including Matt.

He was keenly interested in everything the class was learning about. And the fact that he was studying the same material as his higher-achieving peers boosted his confidence to the point that he often led class discussions. After the class learned about Clara Barton, Matt wrote an entire paragraph about her—more than he’d ever written before—and proudly read it to his parents. Matt’s mother said she had never seen him so enthusiastic about school. At the end of the year, Matt wrote Webb a thank you note, saying that reading wasn’t a struggle anymore.

Wit and Wisdom is only one of several knowledge-focused elementary literacy curricula that have become available in recent years—some of them for free. Others include Core Knowledge Language Arts, Bookworms, EL Education, and American Reading Company. More and more schools are adopting them—and seeing the same kinds of results that Webb did.

But the vast majority still use the skills-focused approach. If you teach at one of those schools, or your child attends one, you can advocate for switching to an approach designed to build knowledge and vocabulary.

Parent and Child listening to audiobooks Parents can also supplement a skills-focused curriculum by finding several books on the same general topic and reading them aloud to their children—or having them listen to audio books like those provided by Learning Ally--at home. But until all schools treat reading comprehension as an outgrowth of knowledge rather than a set of general skills, too many children like Matt are likely to languish in “the dumb group” rather than being enabled to develop their full potential.


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 the most extensive library of human-read audiobooks that students want and need to read both at home and at school. This reading experience helps accelerate learning, enables a new level of access to knowledge and powerfully increases confidence and self-belief.

 

Learning Ally empowers over 240,000 students with improved comprehension, vocabulary, fluency and critical thinking skills. For over 70 years, we have helped transform the lives of struggling readers by bridging the gap between their reading capability and their academic potential as they confidently become lifelong learners who thrive in school and beyond.

Learn More About Becoming a Learning Ally Member

Read More about Subject Matter Continuity and Reading Comprehension