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How I Got My Principal on Board to Implement Audiobooks for Learning

Categories: Assistive Technology, Audiobook Library, Curriculum & Access, dyslexia, Education & Teaching, Learning Ally “How-To Use”, Learning Disabilities, Reading Strategies for K-12, Student Centric Learning, Teacher Best Practices

Grant Elementary School in Shasta County, California has some of the highest academic scores of any school in the region, yet, like many schools, there is a population of students who aren’t making reading progress. 

This is where Eilyne Davis, an Early Development Literacy Coordinator and Intervention Specialist, steps in. She works with children identified through her school’s early screening process who have reading deficits. One of her strategies is to use human-read audiobooks from Learning Ally as a supplement to explicit reading instruction. 

Ms. Davis initially experienced audiobooks with her son, Archer, who has dyslexia. Through his journey, she was determined to help more children to read successfully and sought out to show her principal, Mike Freeman, the potential of this resource to unlock children’s reading barriers.

Archer’s Journey

Eilyne and her son huggingEilyne heard about the human-read audiobooks from her son’s literacy tutor. Archer was diagnosed with dyslexia in the second grade. As a teacher, it was painful for her to watch her son struggle, so she purchased a household license for the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution. “He read books,” said Eilyne. “This was a big deal!” 

She then spoke with Archer's third grade teacher to find out what books he would be required to read in class. She downloaded them for him on the Learning Ally Audiobook App. 

A Long List of Students to Support

In her K-6 classes, many children showed signs of reading deficits in decoding, phonics, phonemic awareness and fluency. Eilyne raised their challenges with her Principal, Mr. Freeman. She shared her son’s experience and asked, “What if we could help more children with this resource?” They evaluated how audiobooks with human narration could break through reading barriers like decoding, and improve skills in listening, comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, prosody and verbal reasoning. When Mr. Freeman saw how audiobooks could unlock more children’s potential, he initiated a school-wide literacy program.  

Eilyne had demonstrated how audiobooks were effective and provided equitable access to content. She said, “At some point, every teacher will assign books that one or many students will not be able to read. This is when they fall behind and can’t meet their goals.” 

Watching Brooke Grow in Fluency and Comprehension 

Ms. Davis and student, Brooke in a classroom Brooke, a sixth grader with reading challenges, was struggling to keep up with her peers in class. She also expressed her frustration at not being able to read books that many of her friends were reading. Using the Learning Ally Audiobook solution, she logged 2000 pages in one week. “She worked so hard to fit in but always felt isolated and different,” said Eilyne. “In the first trimester, her reading fluency was 94 words per minute. When we re-assessed her in the second trimester, she improved to a whopping 120 words per minute! Her comprehension went from a Lexile level of 625 to 900!”

Reading Data Reveals More Students’ Progress

Eilyne routinely reviews her students’ reading data on the Learning Ally teacher dashboard. She wants to get a glimpse of their reading behaviors and genres that interest them. “Students love searching for books and tracking their pages read,” she says. “When you empower them to select their own books, they are more apt to read independently. They see your confidence in them that they can do it.”

Sharing Success Through the School Community - Facebook Live

Eilyne and her principal decided to do a Facebook Live meeting with their community to help more teachers and parents to understand how the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution works, and the power of audiobooks for students with reading deficits. Principal Freeman said, “We want reading to come alive. Learning Ally is like having a public library in our students’ book bags.” 

Stacking the Bookshelves for Transition to High School

At the beginning of fall semester, Grant teachers determine how much summer reading slide occurs. Eilyne says, “Children, who once saw so many books out of reach, now read. We love seeing the joy on their faces.” Brooke and many other students are transitioning to high school. “This is the time when they will be assigned complex material,” said Eilyne. “They are ready! The ability to ‘see and listen’ to audio textbooks and literature has given them confidence and skills to comprehend more grade-level work and feel good about their future.”