Make It Stick


Make It Stick Picture

Thank you to those who attended our Parent Connections on October 28 and December 6.  If you were unable to attend, we have attached the Power Point slides.

Our next Parent Connection will be held on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at 8:05 AM in the Parents Association Room (across from Admissions in the Library and Technology Center).  Please join us to learn about “Leveled Questions” and how they can be used as a reading strategy and for self-testing (the most proven way to make information “stick”).

Make It Stick for Parents Part 1

Make It Stick for Parents Part 2

AS Team

Image taken from

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


grateful-54-audiobooks (1)For many students, listening to audiobooks can help bridge the gap between decoding words and assigning meaning. Receiving information both visually and audibly reinforces word recognition, improves fluency, builds vocabulary and supports the development of comprehension skills. Audiobooks help students by allowing them to focus on the meaning of what they’re reading rather than decoding words on a page. A student’s  listening comprehension may be stronger than his/her reading comprehension. By listening to text, students access content that’s above their current reading levels making learning more efficient. Audiobooks ease frustration, boost confidence and make reading much more enjoyable by allowing students to independently access text and keep up with peers on both content area reading and pleasure reading. Audiobooks help students learn to enjoy literature and build a diverse knowledge base.

Additional Resources

There are many sources of audiobook reviews readily available online, such as Also available online are free audiobooks of older children’s titles such as the Beatrix Potter books at Wired for Books and the Wizard of Oz stories at Audiobooks for Free.


What Is It?

Bookshare is a federally-funded program that provides free downloadable audiobooks for students who meet certain criteria.  They offer a library of over 300,000 titles, including popular fiction books, textbook selections, newspapers, and magazines.  Books can be downloaded and digitally read on:

  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • iPads
  • Personal computers or laptops (using Windows or Mac platforms)

Who Qualifies?

Bookshare is available free-of-charge to US residents who cannot read traditional print books because of a visual impairment, physical disability, or severe learning disability.

How Do I Access Bookshare?

Ask an Academic Skills teacher if your child qualifies to use Bookshare.  If he/she does, simply complete the online registration form at to sign up.  Indicate the Skills teacher as the competent authority to confirm that the child’s learning disability significantly interferes with reading.  Bookshare will send an email to the teacher, and she will complete the registration.  You will then receive an email from Bookshare saying you are authorized to use the program.  It’s that easy!

For more information, contact

Learning Ally

What Is It?

Learning Ally is the world’s largest producer of audio textbooks. Membership includes access to bestseller audiobooks too.  Approximately 80,000 audiobooks are enhanced with VOICEtext, which allows highlighted synchronized text to accompany the human narration.  Through a Learning Ally membership, simply select the book you need, and listen to it on:

  • Smartphones (iPhone or Android device)
  • Personal computers or laptops (PC or Mac)
  • iPads
  • iPod Touch devices

Who Qualifies?

Learning Ally services are limited to individuals with documented learning disabilities, vision impairment, or physical disabilities that impede the ability to process standard print.

How Do I Access Learning Ally?

Your child’s Academic Skills teacher can confirm that a learning disability interferes with reading.  If interested, contact your child’s Skills teacher.

Is There a Cost?

Yes, Learning Ally charges an annual fee of $119 with a 14-day risk-free money back guarantee.

What Is Included in a Learning Ally Membership?

  • Up to four phone consultations with a highly-trained parent support team
  • Unlimited use of audiobooks and textbooks
  • Access to virtual conferences
  • Hosted and impromptu online conversations with like-minded parents who can help you connect to local resources and provide a community of support
  • Eligibility for Learning Ally Scholarships are awarded to outstanding student members and can help defray costs of college or graduate school
  • Exclusive ‘member only’ webinars led by industry leaders
  • Both basic and advanced level online seminars with experts across a wide range of disciplines in the learning disabilities field. You get priority seating and the opportunity to interact and ask questions with some of the industry’s leaders
  • Discounted rates for other special events and courses
  • Virtual training and community events throughout the year with special rates for members

For more information check out:

How Do Audiobook Providers Compare?

Learning Ally Bookshare
Eligible Audience  dyslexic, LD, blind/visually impaired, physically disabled general public dyslexic, LD, blind/visually impaired, physically disabled
 Title Collection  65% textbooks, 35% popular 0% textbooks, 100% popular  5% textbooks, 95% popular/magazines
 Narration  human-read by subject matter experts read by authors and celebrities read by machine
Enhanced Navigation  yes (direct page access) yes (shared bookmarking across multiple devices) yes (direct page access)
Highlighted Text with Audio  yes, on 2000+ titles (at paragraph and sentence level) yes, on Kindle only  yes (requires app purchase, but basic navigation app at no cost)
App Price  free free $19.99 (free “lite” app also available)
Live Customer Service  yes yes  no
Cost  annual fee of $119 varies per book free (exception:  purchase of app for certain devices)
Image taken from
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Power of Three

Have you ever noticed how many things come in threes?  Primary colors, stoplights, stooges… Three is a powerful number.  It is often just enough information for the reader to see a pattern, but it is not too much information to lose their interest.  Students can use the power of three to improve their writing. Brian Backman, in his book, Thinking in Threes, notes some rules of three to guide students in their writing:

  • three steps for brainstorming
  • three paragraphs in the body of an essay
  • three ways to connect paragraphs and sentences
  • three types of evidence to support lead sentences
  • three qualities of a good example
  • three ways to write fluent sentences
  • three ways to write successful introductions and conclusions

The power of three is also applicable in other areas.  When studying, do three problems, then take a break.  Try three strategies before asking for help, better known as “Three Before Me.”  Place your vocabulary words in three categories as you learn them.

We look forward to sharing more of our individual strategies in writing, reading comprehension, studying, and math!

See you soon!  (3)

Suzanne, Eleanor, and Becky (3)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Partnering with Technology

Academic Skills partnered with Cindy Fordham, Lower School Instructional Technology Specialist, to provide experience using Kidspiration software.  Kidspiration  is a tool that assists students in connecting their own visual images and thoughts with written expression.  Students began their individual writing by creating graphic organizers using a web diagram.  Next, they expanded their ideas from the visual organizer into their written expression.  Third graders in Academic Skills used this tool to develop a personal narrative about a favorite birthday party.  Academic Skills will continue our partnership with Mrs. Fordham as we explore new technologies that will enhance the learning of our students.  Thank you, Mrs. Fordham, for partnering with Academic Skills to provide additional engaging learning strategies for our students!

Check out this link for more information about Kidspiration!kidspiration logo

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Red Balloon

Wordless books are just that – books without words.  Authors use pictures to convey a story, allowing the reader to formulate his/her own narrative.  Using wordless books in the classroom has many uses.  It requires the student to analyze the picture, synthesize the material, and decipher what is going on in the story.  Wordless books are useful for making inferences and predictions.  All of these skills are critical to reading successfully when words are involved, too.

This week in Skills, some of our 3rd and 4th graders watched the 1956 classic, “The Red Balloon.”  It is a short movie made in Paris, and it has almost no words.  The objective of the lesson was to hone our prediction and inferencing skills.  We began by discussing what it means to make an inference or a prediction.  We told the students that an inference is “what you think based on what you have seen.”  It is an opinion you form from evidence in the past.  A prediction, however, involves the future.  It is “what you think will happen based on what you know.”

We watched the movie together, pausing frequently for students to jot down their thoughts or predict what would happen next.  Ask your child about the movie and what he/she learned.  If you would like to view the movie yourself, click on this link:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words (or More!)

During this busy time we all look forward to receiving pictures of our friends and families.  Often, that spurs us on to take out our albums and reminisce about past memories.  One activity you can do with your child is to take pictures that you find in your albums, on holiday cards, or in magazines and use them to reinforce language development, visualization skills, and comprehension.  These skills carry over into reading, writing, and oral expression.

A Web site we have recently begun to use in Skills class is  Open this site and enter a search term in the upper right hand corner.  Click on an image site, such as Fotopedia, and you will find a plethora of pictures on that topic.  We entered “winter” on Fotopedia and selected a picture to prompt our students’  thinking.  This is one image we used:

Students could generate any of the following:

  • descriptive phrases (what do you see?)
  • an interpretation of the picture (what is happening?)
  • what happened before, during, and after this picture? (make inferences)
  • opinions (what do you think?)
  • a story about this picture (narrative)

We wish you and your family a happy holiday season!

Suzanne, Eleanor, and Becky

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


As you know, Lower School’s focus during 1st quarter was on self-awareness.  In collaboration with CCL (the Center for Creative Leadership), each grade level developed launch lessons and was asked to be cognizant of how to incorporate self-awareness into their classroom lessons, both academic and not.

In Skills, I thought a lot about this.  What do we do to promote self-awareness?  We have time each day to know your children individually, so surely the subject must come up.  How do we make them more self-aware?  For me, the answer was clear:  help them to become more aware of how they learn best.  Each of us has strengths, and each of us has ways to use to get information to “stick.”  Kids have a way; sometimes they just need someone to help them process this.  You know, help them sort out what works and what doesn’t work when they are trying to learn more information, study for a test, etc.  I think we need to make kids aware of their own learning preferences so they can maximize upon what they do well and avoid what they don’t.

When thinking about your own child, make a note of how you helped him/her study for a test, then record the grade.  Ask the child if he/she felt prepared for the test and if the test was easy or hard.  Help the child correlate a study method with success.  For example, if you called out test questions from the study guide, did the child score well?  Another time, did he/she make flash cards and study alone?  What was the grade?  Sometimes it helps to look for patterns.

Help your child know if it makes a difference if he writes information down to help him study.  Maybe he does better studying on his own.  Perhaps a study buddy with which he can discuss concepts is best.

Becoming self-aware is the first step to reaching one’s full potential.  What have you done to make your child more self-aware?   Please share!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email