Education

West Navarre students take third place in national reading contest

Students at West Navarre Intermediate School have place third in the nation in a new reading competition geared toward students with dyslexia and other learning challenges.

West Navarre Intermediate students read more than 10,000 pages of textbooks, fiction, nonfiction and other literature as part of Learning Ally’s inaugural Great Reading Games. All of the reading was assisted through interactive audio via tablets, computers, smartphones and other devices.

Learning Ally, a national nonprofit with more than 60 years of experience serving students with visual or reading-based learning disabilities, offers a library of more than 80,000 narrated audio book, as well as support services for parents and teachers.

“My students reacted by jumping for joy and shouting, ‘We did it,’ when they found out they placed third,” said Anne Hooper, an exceptional student education teacher at the school. “They were so proud of themselves and their team accomplishment.”

Hooper’s team included 28 students in the fourth and fifth grades.

“They read their little hearts out,” she said. “They were so excited to check the Learning Ally site daily and see what place our school was in.  Our goal was to be in the Top 10. Boy, did they ever exceed their goal.”

WestNavarre2cropLearning Ally allows students to access, download and read the audiobooks via their computers, phones, tablets, iPods and other devices. Many of the selections feature highlighted text as the narrator reads the book. In addition, students can follow along, by reading their school-issued book, while listening to the audio.

Hooper said the electronically assisted reading helps students with “print disabilities” improve their reading comprehension, vocabulary and fluency skills.

“Listening to the audio books and audio books with text screen … allows students to enjoy reading books above their reading level,” she said. “They can then discuss and have conversations with their peers about books. This is huge.”

To participate, the students set up an online account with Learning Ally. They read for 20 minutes each day during the silent reading time using classroom computers, iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches. Students with Internet access at home may spend additional time reading outside of the classroom.

West Navarre Intermediate – which includes pre-k along with third, fourth and fifth grades — was one of 230 schools in the competition. The Scheneck School in Atlanta came in first, and Arcola Elementary School in Illinois came in second.

“We are so excited about West Navarre’s third place finish, putting Florida on the map in the Learning Ally’s national Great Reading Games,” said Kimberlie Hiler, Learning Ally’s school and student success manager for Florida.

“These are some amazing kids and they have such a dedicated teacher. This just goes to show that with dedication and the use of accessible instructional materials like Learning Ally audiobooks, these students can soar.”

There is no cost to the school or students to participate in Learning Ally programs. West Navarre Intermediate School’s membership is provided by the Florida Department of Education which has partnered with Learning Ally to help students with certified print disabilities.