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.


Teacher Ally: Assisting Educators, Maximizing Student Reading Progress
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Educators and students across the nation are speaking up about a major new improvement in how they access and get the most out of Learning Ally audiobook resources at school. Institutional or school district memberships now include Teacher Ally, an online tool that helps kids maximize their audiobook learning in the classroom. Here's a look at the key benefits and enhancements.

“As the Dyslexia Therapist for our school, I work with very smart kids who get left behind in vocabulary and building background knowledge because they are limited readers," says Melinda Walters of Frenship Independent School District's Oak Ridge Elementary in Lubbock, Texas. "Learning Ally is leveling that playing field, and with Teacher Ally allowing the teachers to assign books to individual student accounts, we can ensure the students are getting access to the same books their peers are reading.”

Simplifying Audiobook Learning in the Classroom

Teacher Ally is an online management tool created to help educators manage their Learning Ally school membership. Through an efficient dashboard interface, multiple teachers at a school can access their own profiles and add individual students, enabling them to optimize and personalize instruction and follow-up with each child. Teachers can view and add books from Learning Ally’s audiobook library to each student’s personalized “bookshelf.” Once books are organized into each student’s online profile according to their educational needs, teachers can download books directly to that student’s individual listening device or computer. If the student is using the Learning Ally Audio app, Teacher Ally recognizes how many pages they’ve read of each book on their "bookshelf." This progress shows up in their online profile allowing teachers to track their progress, make recommendations and ensure success all from within the Teacher Ally tool.

Tracking Progress Matters for Public Elementary Schools

Oak Ridge Elementary school has maintained a Learning Ally school membership for more than five years, supporting several 2nd – 5th grade students. Now with Teacher Ally, teachers have enrolled more than 30 students.

“I have one parent who is particularly excited, and who shared that her son, a 2nd grader with dyslexia, was basically a nonreader," says Melinda Walters. "They used to ask him, ‘Where is your library book?’ and had to prompt him to try and read. Now he is checking out books and reading in class and all the time at home. I never felt that students fully embraced using audiobooks. But now, I have students who are on fire about reading! “When they are reading books along with their peers, they feel more confident. With Teacher Ally, we can even share with the students: ‘Wow, you’ve read 800 pages this year!’ and that is a great thing to see and reinforce positively for the kids. “It saves our teachers a tremendous amount of time with this easier process of adding students and downloading books. That is really the best part for teachers,” says Melinda. “I’ve shared this tool with other elementary schools and when they see how easy it is, they sign up too. We have six other elementary schools who are now using the program within the Frenship Independent School District.”

Community College Students Get Easy Access

The Disabled Student Programs and Services Department at Santa Barbara City College in California manages services for 2,000 students and currently provides Learning Ally access to more than 70 students through the new Teacher Ally tool. “Our assistive technology specialist, Laurie Vasquez, is very student-centered," explains Jana Garnett, Director of Student Disability Services. "When we learned about this easy way for students to access audiobooks, she worked really hard to market it to students and organized an early training program for them. Then students told other students; and more and more became interested in Learning Ally.” The department now has 150 students approved to use audiobooks, with more being added to Teacher Ally each semester. Riley, pictured right, is one of the students currently enrolled. “I use Learning Ally on my iPhone and on the computer," he says. "I have four books on my online bookshelf. I like how listening reinforces the information for me and when I follow along in the book, I get it from two senses – listening and seeing each word.”

Every Teacher Needs An Ally

The advantages of Teacher Ally are expected to reinforce the documented benefits of audiobook learning resources that Learning Ally highlighted earlier this year. Surveying test score results across six states, the organization found that schools which actively adopt Learning Ally services outperform others in assessments of math and reading proficiency among students with IEPs. “These findings signal that students with disabilities who use audiobooks have an extra advantage,” says Paul Edelblut, Learning Ally VP of Programs and Services. “When you see the clear evidence of improved performance in reading and math, it suggests that students are achieving to the level they need for life, and that teachers and schools are meeting their mission.”

If you are interested in getting Teacher Ally for your school, visit our educator page on LearningAlly.org and contact us to learn about membership options; or call a Learning Ally membership specialist at 800.221.4792; or email Custserv@LearningAlly.org.




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