Will Your Summer Program Prevent the Summer Slide?

summer slide
Some experts say early learners lose up to two years of knowledge retention through the summer months. Make it a summer to remember with our fun, engaging programs for reading and math!
Consider adding Letters alive and/or Math alive to your Summer Curriculum:

Imagine teaching Reading like this: (90-sec video)

Letters alive augmented reality in education

Or, teaching Math like this: (2-min video)

Math alive video of augmented reality in education

Will your Summer Program prevent the Summer Slide? Our engaging software solutions are as exciting as field trips and slip-n-slides! ;P

Are We Hamsters on the Wheel of Illiteracy?

illiteracy rates in america

We see it in our inboxes. We read it in our news articles. We can Google it and find countless studies and blog entries. The issue isn’t awareness any longer, the issue is how are we going to address our country’s literacy problem. Like hamsters on a wheel, this summer could mark the beginning of the United States’ 11th year with unchanged illiteracy rates.

For the record and to springboard into a discussion about solutions, let’s recap some dismal US literacy facts:

  • 67% of students are not proficient in reading by the end of 3rd grade.
  • Students who are not proficient by the end of 4th grade are 66% more likely to wind up on welfare or in prison.
  • Students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
  • Students who are retained to repeat a grade will cost a District an average of $10,000 each.
  • The US illiteracy rate hasn’t changed in 10 years.
  • 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.

illiteracy in america
Prior to fourth grade, our educational system’s literacy plan is about learning to read; from that point, it’s about reading to learn. The basic system doesn’t cater well to deviations. Therefore, we have a countless supply of data around the failures. However, we do not offer many solutions to the crisis.

Unless you have lived under a rock, or have spent the last five years on your own private island playing Naked and Afraid, you know these stats about the lack of reading proficiency among our early learners and what the consequences are if not addressed. What you may not have heard is there’s a growing tribe of solution seekers looking for answers to the problem.

America has a plentiful supply of entrepreneurs hungering to invent the next widget that successfully resolves a problem; but not many who are aggressively pursuing the literacy crisis. Educators are increasingly looking for actions they can take in PreK to 1st grade as a proactive measure against failing academic and social futures; yet, they’ve been stifled by lack of funding, lack of solutions, and lack of proven curriculum.

illiteracy rates in usIt’s hard to solve any issue without finding, defining, and exposing the root of the problem. Teachers commonly cite student engagement as a major contributor to not learning and not retaining the presented information. In their personal lives, today’s children are exposed to so many neurological stimulants in an average day that a typical classroom curriculum simply doesn’t hold their attention. Therefore with low engagement, learning is hindered and retention of information is minimal. Studies show that the average attention span is now around eight seconds – and that is for adults.

A second, more challenging contributor to the literacy crisis is the variation in students’ individual learning styles and abilities. Some students learn by seeing; some by hearing; and others by doing. If curriculum is not presented in a blend of these learning styles, the inevitable occurs and the students enter the path to failure. Yet more often than not, a lack of resources can restrict a teacher’s ability to cater to and catch those who are falling behind.

As a mother of four, including two adopted sons from overseas, Cynthia has personally experienced the struggles with teaching children how to read. She tried everything on the market to help them but nothing worked. Faced with this challenge and in search of a “better way,” she was able to pull from her career experience as a CEO of an educational products provider. Having been introduced to Augmented Reality (3D without the glasses), she knew this could be the secret sauce we needed to capture young imaginations and increase engagement.

After two years of R&D, Letters alive was released as a Supplemental Reading solution for Pre-K to 3rd Grade and was our small contribution to the mission of improving literacy rates. Unfortunately, by the time the solution was ready, Cynthia’s youngest son was entering his teen years and becoming another illiteracy statistic. Cynthia knew then that we had a mission much bigger than herself and made a vow to do everything in her power to prevent this from happening to other children.

We aim to equip educators with engaging solutions that help young learners become proficient in reading and math by 3rd grade. We celebrate any other solution providers who can also deliver effective tools towards this cause. This is a nationwide crisis and requires a united effort to bring about literacy improvements.

Ultimately, we can research ourselves into oblivion hashing through the consequential social failures that occur as a direct result of not addressing this crisis; but until we get serious about tapping into innovative solutions that make a positive difference, we are just hamsters on the wheel of illiteracy.

Will You be Someone’s Favorite Teacher?

favorite teacher

Will You be Someone’s Favorite Teacher?

I was recently asked to name my favorite teacher. favorite teacherNow, considering it’s been over twenty years since I’ve had a teacher, it took me a minute to think. But even after chewing on it for a bit, I realized not only did I not have a particularly favorite teacher, I barely had any memorable teachers at all. Thinking through my 17 years of schooling, I could only recall about six teachers by name even though I’ve had well over 50. I remembered them because they were creepy, crazy, or creative… not necessarily because they were favorites.

What makes a teacher a favorite? I think the answer is pretty simple: a favorite teacher is one who singles you out with positive, individual attention and gives you a few direct compliments that are specific to your gifting. I’ve asked several people this question. Most people actually do have a favorite teacher; and their reasons are mostly the same. This singled out educator held a coveted position because he/she gave individual attention and directed words of wisdom and encouragement specifically to the student.
Why are most teachers forgotten? I think that answer is equally simple: most teachers are forgotten because they teach classes, not individuals. The students are treated as one body, with very little, if any, individual attention. I reflected more about my 17 years of schooling and certainly confirmed this fact in my own experience.

Throughout our school years, we are but mere chalkboards (showing my age) on which teachers can mark with wisdom. Some marks are beautiful, cherished, and protected from defacing. Other marks are scribbled, softly written, and blow away with time. Yet, there are also marks that are deep, hurtful and scar through the years. Teachers hold this power. They can shape, mold and build, or they can simply have no lasting effect at all. The best teachers, the ones that are recognized and remembered, know this to be true.

Will you be remembered? And if so, how? loving on a teacherWho was your favorite teacher? Why were they special to you? Think about this and make these next few days/weeks count for each of your students. Leave a beautiful mark. Tell each of them how special they are and that you believe in them. You may be the only person to ever tell them this.

Teach, lead, love.