Adam’s 7 Favorite Podcasts for Early Educators

Favorite Podcasts for Early Educators

“Whether you’re hitting the road for a summer vacation or sitting with a cup of coffee at home, I’m sure you’ll find something you love in each of these podcasts!” ~ Adam Peterson

virtual teaching for 1st grade

Adam Peterson
Pre-K/K Educator, Author, Speaker, and Educational Consultant
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I know from experience that teachers are not known as people who often take a break and just relax. Even during the much deserved time off during the summer, teachers are thinking about their students, what their classroom will look like for the new school year, beginning to plan ideas for their new students, and so much more.

Hopefully all of you amazing teachers reading this blog are also finding time for YOU! Ok, ok…let’s be honest with each other. If you’re reading this blog then you’re obviously fitting into the mold of teachers who never stop learning, and are always trying to find ways to innovate and improve your classroom.

One of my favorite ways to take downtime for me and keep using my summertime to improve as an educator is by listening to podcasts! Whether it’s on a summer road-trip vacation or lounging around at home, podcasts are an easy way to get some free PD before you head back to your classroom.

What better way to start this list of podcast ideas than with a shameless self-promotion of my own shows, right?! Better yet, our CEO, Cynthia Kaye at Alive Studios Zoo, has been a guest on both of my shows to talk about her passion for engaging students and helping teachers. You can find both of my podcasts on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.

On My Way To School with Adam Peterson
1. On My Way To School is a podcast where I talk about positivity and passion in education with guests from all walks of life. My guests on this show also talk about life outside education, their side-hustles, and so much more.

The Classroom Collaborative
2. The Classroom Collaborative is a podcast that I co-host with my amazingly talented friend, Deedee Wills from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten. Our guests range from teachers to principals and authors to entrepreneurs.

The end. Just kidding!

There are so many great podcasts for educators out that I would be doing you all a major injustice if I just stopped after mine. So, I also made a list of my top 5 “other” favorites for you to take a listen to as you start to plan your summer road trips and relaxation time. Here you go!

The Cult of Pedagogy
3. Teaching strategies, classroom management, education reform, educational technology — if it has something to do with teaching, we’re talking about it. “Jennifer Gonzalez puts a huge amount of work into making her podcasts useful. She has simultaneous blog articles with all the links mentioned. She does a lot of research ahead of time and summarizes it for us. She prepares excellent questions for her guests ahead of time so that every interview proceeds quickly and with direction. She never interrupts her guests, lets them finish their points. Her diction/elocution is perfect, easy to understand, with no annoying quirks.” – from

Teachers on Fire with Tim Cavey
4. Warming your heart, sparking your thinking, and igniting your professional practice. “Tim releases a new episode every week, where he chats with an educator about their experiences (both good and bad) and their influences and passions. Tim’s vision is clear, he aims to contribute to the important conversations in and around education that he feels are required to inspire innovative practices by educators around the globe.” – from

Teach Me, Teacher
5. “Teach Me, Teacher is a podcast for educators where teachers discuss topical, informative, and inspiring subjects. Designed from the ground up as a no nonsense approach to teacher development, this podcast is your gateway to bettering your craft (and having some laughs along the way). It is a show for you. To help you better your craft, learn new skills, and get ideas to fuel your own. It is a show for anyone in the field of education, and will feature teachers and administrators from all over to offer their unique perspectives.” –

Shake Up Learning
6. The Shake Up Learning Show, hosted by Kasey Bell, features a variety of episodes for K12 teachers and educators, including tech tips, lesson ideas, practical advice, on-air coaching, student interviews, and interviews with inspiring educators. –

Who Smarted?
7. My last recommendation is one for you AND your students. I actually had the opportunity to interview the co-creator/host of the show on The Classroom Collaborative recently and he’s fantastic. Who Smarted is a podcast for students ages 5 to 10 and is full of creative learning. “Atomic Entertainment are the Emmy-nominated co-creators and producers of Nat Geo’s #1 educational series BRAIN GAMES & Netflix’s live-action science and history series for kids, BRAINCHILD. Their work has been viewed more than 1 billion times worldwide. The Atomic team includes educators, STEM consultants, writers and producers with a passion for improving the lives of children, parents, and teachers. The Atomic team has spent tens of thousands of hours creating the best educational content in the world; we will stop at nothing to make learning fun and easier for you and your family.” –

There you go, teachers! I hope you enjoy the shows I shared as much as I do and can find time to relax, unwind, and listen to some inspiring episodes. Whether you’re hitting the road for a summer vacation or sitting with a cup of coffee at home, I’m sure you’ll find something you love in each of the podcasts I mentioned.

The Brain Science of Novelty: Practical Strategies You Can Easily Implement In Your Classroom

“… I encourage you to explore the various ways you can activate your students’ reward centers in their brains and flood them with dopamine.” ~ Chris Dunkel


teaching with novelty

Chris Dunkel
Education Sales Consultant

I LOVE brain science! I have always been intrigued by the way things work, especially things pertaining to memory and our brains. Unfortunately, in the past you couldn’t just cut open a skull and start poking around without killing your subject, so brain science was an after-death pursuit. With the advances in computing and brain imaging technology like MRI and PET machines, now scientists can study a live brain, its growth, and which parts are working when we do different tasks. It’s amazing to think that we’ve learned more about the brain in the past 20 years than in the entire history of humankind!

As a teacher, understanding the way our students’ brains work can go a long way in helping us teach them, as well as help us keep our own sanity. I taught for 17 years, many of those years teaching junior high students with their pubescent, hormone-filled brains. When one of my freshmen would do something that made me wonder, “Does he even have a brain at all?” I knew that in fact he did, but it just wasn’t fully developed yet. His prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that helps with decision-making and considering consequences, wouldn’t finish developing for many more years, so him acting impulsively was natural. By understanding how the brain works, it increased my patience and led to more “bless their hearts” moments than me simply wanting to wring their necks.

As importantly, understanding brain science helped me to teach my students more effectively. I learned the value of using multiple modalities (seeing, hearing, touching, doing, etc.) to help my students build varying pathways to their newfound knowledge. Teaching content in shorter segments with multiple transitions between them allowed my students’ brains to focus more intensely for short periods of time, something they would have struggled with if having to sit through a longer lecture. Adding physical movement to the activity or having transitions that required the students to get up and move increased blood flow and oxygen to their brains, helping to keep their brains operating at peak performance. While the list goes on, one of the favorite things I learned from brain science is the power of novelty, as it’s so easy to implement.

The idea of novelty in the classroom is to simply change the experience and routine from the norm. This is not to say that you should avoid routines, as routines give our students structure and can ease anxiety. However, seek ways to tweak the routines, because our brains are wired to seek and remember new experiences. Think about your own past. What days in school do you remember? Do you remember the lessons that were commonplace or the ones where the teacher did something different or unexpected? Maybe it was a field trip. Maybe the teacher dressed up in a costume. Maybe it was the day you dissected a frog in biology class. Whatever you remember, it was likely because that day was unlike the rest. As a book I once read on increasing memory noted, “The brain hates boring!” so it tends to forget those experiences (unless it was exceptionally boring, in which case the extreme level of boring made it memorable).

When we experience something for the first time or in a new way, our brains receive a burst of dopamine, often referred to as the “happy hormone” because it is a primary part of our brain’s reward system. In a study published in the journal Neuron (for those keeping score at home, the study title is Absolute Coding of Stimulus Novelty in the Human Substantia Nigra/VTA), UK neurologists presented subjects with neutral images of landscapes, faces, etc. (basically commonplace and boring) while occasionally inserting an “oddball” image that was unusual and out of the ordinary. When these novel images were presented, the participants’ reward centers of their brains were activated and were flooded with dopamine. Without actively seeking a new or unusual situation on their own, the participants were still rewarded by their brains for simply experiencing something new. As educators, we can activate and reward our students’ brains by giving them new experiences as well.

While the study revealed the impact of novelty within our brains, it is something you probably already knew at a personal or subconscious level. Think about your own life and the things you enjoy. Do you like to go on vacation? Do you like to shop? Do you like to read new books, go to movies, or seek new shows to watch on TV? Likely you said yes to at least a few of these, which is all evidence of the brain science of novelty. You enjoy these things because they are new and different, and your brain rewards you for experiencing them. If we humans were truly content with routine, we wouldn’t have a desire to do these things. We’d be happy staying at home, eating the same food every night, reading the same book over-and-over, and wearing the same clothes daily. While there are a few people who might fit this description to some degree, the majority seek novelty and their brains reward them for it. This desire to seek new experiences is what has led us to innovation, exploration, is the driving force behind capitalism, and has allowed us to increase our capacity to learn.

For teachers, understanding the physical actions that are happening in the brains of our students when we introduce novelty can make our teaching so much more effective. Besides elevating the mood of our students (happy students are often better students), the dopamine rush helps to improve their ability to focus and learn. Perhaps best of all, their brains are rewarded for the experience, thus making learning more fun and something they want to continue to do.

Now that we understand the importance of novelty, how do we implement it in our classrooms? Below are some of my favorite ways to add novelty, as these are easy to do without any seismic shifts to your teaching style. The strategies have come from some of the amazing teachers I have been able to observe or learn from, like Adam Peterson of Adam Peterson Education, Hilary Statum of Pencils to Pigtails, and “Mr. Greg” Smedley-Warren of The Kindergarten Smorgasboard, were ones I used in my own classroom or observed from my colleagues. While these are some of my favorites, I encourage you to explore online for many other ways to add novelty to your classroom.


Change the Seating. While most classrooms consist of desks, chairs, and tables, it doesn’t mean that you must use them in traditional ways every day. To mix it up, rearrange the seating in a new pattern. Turn your rows into a circle. Put your desks or tables into clusters. If you’re teaching a specific letter or number that day (like the letter “C” or the number “3”), perhaps arrange the tables or desks in that shape. You might consider moving the seats against the wall and sit on the floor for part of the day. (You would be surprised how much my freshmen loved sitting on the floor for lessons.) While visiting Mr. Greg’s classroom, I noticed that his kindergarteners had areas with some sitting on a Rugs alive classroom rug on the floor, some sitting on a raised platform, and one with a special seat atop a mini-trampoline in the middle of the rug. The kids can sit wherever they like, though he does rotate the high-demand areas (like the platform, stage, and mini-trampoline) daily to give everyone a turn. By giving seating options outside the traditional desk or chair, Mr. Greg keeps things fresh and novel.

Find Alternatives to Traditional Paper and Pencil When Possible. Granted, having students complete traditional worksheets is great for ease of distribution and assessment, but students do it so often that it becomes routine and boring. To mix it up, find unusual ways for students to write their work. Sometimes I would have my students use sticky notes for their answers that they put in various areas of the room, thus requiring them to get up and move, which also increased blood flow to the brain. This was great when I had open-ended questions. I would put the questions around the room, and the students would do a “Gallery Walk” where they moved about the room as if in an art gallery, leaving their answers next to each question. For the little ones, you could have letters around the room and the kids could write or draw something to match the letter, putting their sticky notes next to the letter. Sticky notes are cheap (usually we had several donated to us every year), and the kids loved having their little notepads with them rather than carrying a big sheet of paper.

Adam has a great strategy called “Back Writing” where he has his kids sit in a circle facing their neighbor’s back. Using their finger, they practice writing on their neighbor’s back instead of a traditional surface. I particularly love this strategy, as the students are both writing with their fingers and feeling the letter being written on their backs, activating two different areas of the brain to create multiple memory pathways.

Hilary offers two strategies that I adore. Sometimes she’ll flip her tables upside down and wrap the legs with paper or plastic wrap, giving the students a different surface on which to write. She’ll also clean her tables with shaving cream, allowing her students to practice writing in the shaving cream before wiping them clean. Giving your students a new memorable experience and getting cleaner tables in the process…it doesn’t get much better than that!

Change Where the Presenter Presents. Whether you are teaching or have a student sharing to the class, mix it up from your normal location. When I taught history in a classroom full of tables, rather than present from the front of the room by my projector screen, I would occasionally jump on a table and teach. Not only did I capture their attention immediately, but they also hung on every word, as they were not used to seeing me teach from up there.

Hilary uses this idea but with her students who are presenting, allowing them to stand on a chair or table as long as she is there to assist them. She will occasionally bring out her rolling chair, allowing her presenter to sit in her “special” chair. I was always surprised with how this simple strategy even worked with my freshmen, as it seems that all ages are enthralled with sitting in the teacher’s chair.

When observing Mr. Greg’s class, I loved how often he would change the direction of his audience during a lesson. One moment he might be at a board on the side of the room, then the next moment he was in a different spot, causing them to have to turn and focus on a new area. Instead of being anchored to a fixed position like a desk or screen, he moved a lot which caused his kids’ brains to stay active and follow his movements.

Wear Costumes and Hats. Kids love to dress up, and they love it when you dress up, too. There’s something special about seeing their teachers out of their traditional, buttoned-up attire, so when you do it, they remember it. When I taught history, I had a collection of costumes like a Roman Centurion, Viking, Shakespearean Lord, and more that I would wear with much fanfare and adoration from my students. Mr. Greg and Hilary both share in this love for costumes, as they often don a costume or a relevant hat to bring a little extra to their lessons. Peruse their blogs and you’ll see some fabulous pictures of them dressed up to engage their kids. Likely, you already have a few costumes and hats from Halloween parties or a few materials around the house that you can construct into a cheap costume. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just different. (Pinterest is a great place to get ideas for easy-to-make costumes.)

Dressing up is a terrific way to introduce novelty, though having the kids dress up can be even more impactful. While visiting Mr. Greg, he was teaching a lesson on the connection between Q and U in the English language. To illustrate this point in a memorable way, he told the kids earlier that they would be attending a wedding between Q and U and encouraged the parents to let them dress up for the momentous event. It was so cute to see his kids in dresses and bow ties, but more importantly they were learning literacy in a fun way while also gaining some cultural skills about attending a wedding.

While trying to dress up a whole class of kids may seem daunting, Adam is the master of doing it on the cheap. To really get his kids engaged with a science lesson, Adam bought a pack of white t-shirts from the clearance section and with a few strokes of a marker he made them look like science lab coats for his students. They loved being scientists for the day, and he was able to use the “lab coats” repeatedly with their science experiments throughout the year.

Get Out of the Classroom. While money and the pandemic have limited field trips, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take a mini field trip in your school. numbers and letters activity books with mobile appJust getting your kids out of their normal space will do wonders to activate their brains in a novel way. For one of my lessons on exploration, my students and I made flags of European powers and dressed up before venturing throughout the school conquering other classrooms. (I prearranged our conquests with my colleagues beforehand.) Our day spent bursting into other classes and claiming their room in the name of Spain, England, etc. was one the highlights of their year and is often mentioned by my former students who visit me years later.

Consider the various places in your school where you might be able to go for a lesson. I’ve had colleagues who have taken students outside, to the cafeteria, to an empty conference room, to the auditorium, to the library, to the roof (though I wouldn’t recommend that with the little ones), or just switched classrooms with a colleague for a period or the day. Just getting your students in a new environment will still trigger the dopamine release and the benefits it brings.

Play! Finding ways to incorporate play into your students’ day not only adds novelty to their learning but is great for building relationships and a sense of belonging. Adam details many of the wonderful benefits of play in his book, Teach. Play. Learn! (available on Amazon), which is a must read for anyone seeking to engage students and bring joy to their classroom.

An easy strategy for adding a sense of play is to have a dance party. In the drama classes I taught, we had a daily warm-up activity called “Whoosh!” that got the kids moving and served as a physical and vocal warmup. While “Whoosh!” has a set of commands that everyone must act upon, we added “Dance Party!” to the mix, giving my students the ability to initiate a mini-dance party at any time. Our 5-to-10 second dance breaks would always elicit laughter as we tried to come up with new and goofy dance moves, flooding our brains with dopamine every time.

Mr. Greg takes dancing to another level, ending each day with a dance party complete with thumping music and flashing lights. While the dance party is part of his end-of-day routine, he makes it unique by adding in some new music and dancing with the kids. What a terrific way to end the day with his students’ brains gushing those happy hormones as they leave, eager to return for another fun day in his class!

Again, the above are just a few of the many ways you can mix up your routines and add some novelty to your class. There are a wealth of tips and strategies online for adding novelty, and I encourage you to explore the various ways you can activate your students’ reward centers of their brains and flood them with dopamine. And when you find some new strategies, your brain will reward you, too, for the new things you learned!

Looking to Bring Even More Novelty to Your Classroom?
Be sure to check out Alive Studio Zoo’s award-winning products that bring 26 zoo animals to life through augmented reality. With our patented technology, you can teach foundational literacy and math skills while creating an experience unlike anything your students have ever seen. It’s why district admin and superintendents tell us they “were blown away by the technology,” “had never seen anything like it,” and call it “the best purchase we’ve ever made for Early Elementary!” To learn more, check out our short, 2-minute “Wow!” video.

About Chris Dunkel
Chris is a former educator of 17 years, endorsed in History, Theatre, Broadcasting, Graphic Design, Business Education, and Business Technology. Recognized as Teacher of the Year for his school and district, the regional NBC affiliate’s Teacher of the Week, and highlighted by actor and former ESPN personality Roy Firestone as a Teacher Making a Difference, Chris continues to seek innovative ways to help students learn. He is currently championing this cause with Alive Studios Zoo, bringing innovative literacy and math instruction to early learners to build solid educational foundations for their continued academic success.

Response to the NYTimes article about America’s Reading Crisis

The NYTimes recently posted an article titled, It’s ‘Alarming’: Children Are Severely Behind in Reading. In this blog post, Cynthia Kaye, CEO of Alive Studios, responds to each of the four challenges cited in the article.

When I read this article I was glad to see a major publication bringing our reading crisis up front and center for our nation to see so everyone can be mindful of the support our teachers and schools need. The article stated, “The kindergarten crisis of last year (2021), when millions of 5-year-olds spent months outside of classrooms, has become this year’s reading emergency.”

We have seen that reading scores have been a problem for many years. My team and I at Alive Studios have been working with teachers for over a decade on developing a unique and innovative approach that reaches young learners and helps them build the necessary skills to become confident readers. Letters alive is our captivating, brain-based resource using our patented 3D augmented reality technology to engage and excite students and help solve this literacy problem. We strategically created a cast of 26 zoo animals that help teach letters, letter sounds, and more in a way unlike any other. Why zoo animals? All kids can relate to animals in some way. Plus, animals make sounds and so do letters! These real world connections help make learning stick.

Throughout the New York Times article, I saw several specific challenges cited that schools are currently facing. Four of these challenges jumped out at me and I’d like to respond with how Alive Studios can help along with our community, schools, parents and teachers.

Let’s take a closer look at these four challenges.

1. “Children in every demographic group have been affected, but Black and Hispanic children, as well as those from low-income families, those with disabilities, and those who are not fluent in English, have fallen the furthest behind.

I know it may sound over-simplified, but schools and teachers need engaging, joy-filled resources that are proven to accelerate learning and inspire children to read.

For years our country has been faced with the reality that only 35% of 4th graders are scoring at or above proficiency in reading. Now, post-pandemic, the US has an even greater number of students who are at risk, and the national gap in early reading skills has widened between Black and Hispanic students and their white counterparts. It’s clear that teachers need engaging, high-quality resources to assist them in creating an equitable learning environment. When Alive Studios began designing our supplemental learning programs, we focussed on brain science and the power of engagement, along with multisensory learning, and we created a novel, fun, and pedagogically sound approach to early literacy.

All of our resources are appropriately challenging for ALL students and deliver highly-engaging and effective learning experiences. Our evidence-based research and classroom case studies show that our supplemental programs and resources help early childhood students across all demographics master the foundational skills that lead to reading success.

The brain science behind processing and retaining information and what is required to open children’s minds for the most effective learning experiences isn’t specific to race or nationality. Case studies and independent research proves that engaging and fundamentally sound phonics instruction can get early learners in all demographics on a path for success as they enter higher grades. That statistic drives our team on a daily basis to continue moving forward for children everywhere.

2. “The causes of the literacy crisis are multifaceted, but many experts point to a shortage of educators trained in phonics and phonemic awareness.

The National Center for Education Statistics has reported that nearly half of public schools (44%) currently have full or part-time teaching vacancies. To cover staffing vacancies, over half of these schools reported the increased need to use school staff outside of their intended duties. Others are lowering the standards for substitutes. A couple of problems can arise from this. One is the stress and burnout of already overloaded teachers who are imposed upon to step out of their classrooms to cover other staffing roles. Two is the dilemma of undertrained staff and/or substitutes put into positions to teach the foundational skills critical to future reading success.

As former educators, we intentionally designed our solutions to be easily implemented into a classroom’s daily phonics and phonemic awareness routines. Our easy-to-follow lesson plans coupled with our 3D technology delivers captivating and engaging experiences without putting extra stress and work on teachers. In addition, we have created multiple modeling videos of real teachers using our technology and lessons in their classrooms to deliver explicit instruction to their students. These videos are a great resource for teachers to help them implement lessons with fidelity; especially for staff or substitutes who may not have been formally trained in teaching phonics and phonemic awareness. It is our hope that the ease of use, combined with the high level of engagement that our solutions provide, will relieve some stress for administrators, teachers, and substitutes.

3. “Now, schools are under pressure to boost literacy as quickly as possible… more than twice as many first graders as before the pandemic tested at kindergarten levels or below in their literacy skills.

This is a frightening statistic. These children need novel resources that accelerate learning and get them to grade level before moving into higher grades. Our supplemental program, Letters alive, has been proven to not only help students in the early grades master the foundational skills for reading, but we also have proof that our resources quickly boost literacy for students who are struggling to be at grade level. One of our case studies was done post-COVID specifically for a special education classroom of 1st-grade students in Gwinnett County Schools who were struggling at or below kindergarten levels in their literacy skills. They all needed targeted intervention to ready them for 2nd-grade. The teacher began using our supplemental ELA program, Letters alive, in her core instruction as well as for targeted intervention for each of her students. After 30 days of using the program, she was amazed at her students’ accelerated progress!

Our resources are proven to increase engagement, improve student behavior, and accelerate learning. In some cases, within 30 days, students can make strides in reading that have normally taken months to complete. We were so excited to see the results from this classroom case study, and can’t wait to see the progress from other classrooms around the country that are using our solutions.

4. “If Children do not become competent readers by the end of elementary school, the risks are “pretty dramatic,” Dr. Hogan said. Poor readers are more likely to drop out of high school, earn less money as adults and become involved in the criminal justice system.

Yes, the realities are dramatic when children do not become proficient readers; but, this is not insurmountable. Engaging 3, 4, and 5 year olds with proven, phonics-based literacy instruction has the greatest impact on them becoming confident readers. Unfortunately, these crucial ages receive far less funding on average. “Children of all ages are important, but spending on the youngest children results in the greatest return on investment.” – Urban Institute, Dec. 2017

Generally speaking, a school’s reading scores don’t become public knowledge across a state or across the nation until the nationwide required testing in 4th, 8th, and 12th grades publishes the results. But, by then, it’s too late. Districts invest lots of funding at the grades prior to the nationwide testing grades in hopes of showing improvement over the previous year’s data. This way of thinking in some ways ignores the incoming Pre-K and K children making their way through the system. Each year, a new batch of students who are behind are entering the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades resulting in a constant flow that is unstoppable.

Therefore, effective core instruction in the early grades is extremely critical for every student’s success. It’s important to make the connection that when student engagement is low and all students are not meeting learning goals, it’s likely that core instruction is not engaging and needs a boost to strengthen it. If students are not reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade, it’s likely they will never gain the confidence they need to be proficient readers. This is why it’s imperative to invest in the early years so that children can be ready for kindergarten; learning targets can be mastered; growth can be sustained; and achievement gaps can be closed for ALL students.

Research has shown that investments in young children can positively influence not only their well-being during childhood but also their long term social and economic outcomes as well. Teachers are in need of resources to supplement their core instruction that can get their students engaged, active, and experiencing joy and excitement while they are learning. That’s exactly why Letters alive was created. We believe that ALL children deserve to have the best experience possible when they’re learning to read. It’s actually our mission as a company – To create joy-filled and engaging 21st century learning experiences that win early literacy for every PreK and Kindergarten child in America.

If you are interested in learning more how we can help your young students win literacy please contact me:

Volume Bonus for School Districts

school district pilot program

Below is a recent Press Release announcing our Proficient by 3rd Grade District Level Volume Bonus Program:

Alive Studios Helps School Districts Win the Reading Challenges for At Risk Students

Alive Studios is introducing a Proficient by 3rd Grade Volume Bonus program for school districts to test and prove the Letters alive early learning reading program.

Alive Studios has structured a program that allows school districts to test and prove the effectiveness of teaching with Letters alive within eight classrooms. “We encourage districts to test and compare student outcomes between classes using Letters alive and those not using Letters alive.” stated Cynthia B. Kaye, CEO and Chief Zoo Keeper of Alive Studios. The volume program comes with a full-year of free online digital assessments for measuring, tracking, and reporting the progression of students. The generated reports can be shared with teachers, principals, and even parents in English or Spanish. The Alive Studios’ team will also come on-site and trains the participating teachers how to most effectively use Letters alive with their students and how to track their outcomes. Says Kaye, “We’re convinced that once districts try the bonus program and see the results for themselves they’ll want to make this available to all their at risk students.”

“We’ve been busy spreading awareness of our game-changing supplemental reading program, Letters alive, by introducing it to teachers around the country.” added Kaye. “What we’re finding at trade shows and during demos is that teachers love our solutions, but 74% of them don’t have the purchasing authority to obtain it. We realized we needed to take our solutions to the district level.”

at risk studentsAmerica has a literacy crisis among our early learners and serious solutions are in demand. “An alarming number of children—about 67 percent nationwide and more than 80 percent of those from low-income families—are not proficient readers by the end of third grade. This has significant and long-term consequences not only for each of those children but for their communities, and for our nation as a whole,” cited Ralph Smith, Managing Director of The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

With almost 7 out of 10 students not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, early intervention with a proven solution is crucial for establishing the foundations for high school graduation and career success. Alive Studios’ difference maker is a mind-boggling technology called Augmented Reality. It creates a 3D experience without glasses and provides off-the-charts engagement that increase student outcomes. Now, over 1,500 classrooms are learning letters, letter sounds, sight words and sentence building in a revolutionary way.

The program is especially effective with At Risk students including ELL, ESL and Special Needs. Independent Research has proven a 48% increase in letter naming fluencies and 112% increase in letter sound fluencies by implementing Letters alive in the classroom. “My students love seeing a new animal each day and their reactions to the animals coming to life is priceless! Letters alive brings a whole new engagement level to our ABC BOOTCAMP!” stated Greg Smedley-Warren, Kindergarten Teacher at JE Moss Elementary, a Title I school in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Proficient by 3rd Grade Volume Bonus Program is available to any school district. Interested teachers and principals are encouraged to inform their district leaders about the program. Details about Letters alive and the bonus program can be found here.

Content is King for Classroom Technology

Content is King for Classroom Technology

So, after a long wait and a lot of pleading you finally got that new computer, or that new smartboard. Now what? Do you have the really cool content you need to engage students?

As we make the trade show tour, we have the pleasure of seeing all the latest educational technology; fast, streamlined computers and big, crystal-clear displays. Like kids in a candy store glaring at the shiniest and most colorful lollypop, we all fall into the “I have to have this” category. But when we get it into our classrooms, we realize it doesn’t solve any of the major problems we face with early learners. Are they now learning letter sounds and letter naming more effectively? Does the new tech reach both ends of the learning spectrum? Are At Risk students now achieving better results? Can ELL students grasp the English language any quicker?

One common void we discover amongst the hardware tech crowd is the lack of content. content is king for classroom technologySure they offer the ability to do “it” quicker, bigger, and with more wow.. but do what? It’s the content ON the device that makes the difference. It’s the software application that brings the device to life and solves problems in classrooms.

It reminds me of a story about a little boy who had a $5 bill and wanted to buy a wallet. After shopping several stores, he found the perfect one. It fit his pocket, it felt good in his hand, and it only costed $5. You can guess the rest of the story. Having spent his $5, the little boy had nothing to put into his new wallet. Just like the wallet with no money, a new computer or smartboard just isn’t that impressive without content.

So, if you’re given the green light for new technology, remember to save some funds for engaging content that will help make a positive difference in your classroom.