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Aug 27, 2019 |

Just in time for the beginning of a new school year, Wonderopolis®, an award-winning website that cultivates student curiosity, is adding a powerful new tool—Microsoft’s Immersive Reader.

Microsoft today announced that Wonderopolis, a digital property of the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), is the first nonprofit entity to feature the new technology, which works to expand content accessibility through a variety of reading assistance features.

With the help of Immersive Reader, Wonderopolis’ content will now be translatable into more than 40 languages via text and text-to-speech. Additional features of Immersive Reader include language-specific accents, line focusing, text resizing, syllable breakdown, parts of speech identification, and a picture dictionary. Moving forward, these technologies will increase accessibility for Wonderopolis users with visual impairments, reading disabilities, and English language learners.

“For two years, I’ve dreamed of making Wonderopolis more accessible for all readers and English language learners,” said Wonderopolis Community Manager John MacLeod. “But there wasn’t a great solution for a nonprofit--until now. Microsoft’s Immersive Reader puts Wonderopolis into the hands of truly everybody and provides the tools to include all learners in wondering and learning together.  

Created by NCFL in 2010, Wonderopolis has grown to become one of the most popular education sites in the world, boasting more than 2,000 unique Wonders of the Day and over 50 million visitors since its debut. With multi-disciplinary content that aligns to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the STEM Educational Quality Framework, and Bloom's Digital Taxonomy, teachers everywhere use Wonderopolis’ daily Wonders to jumpstart their students' critical thinking. With the addition of Immersive Reader, the number of users is expected to continue to grow.

“The Immersive Reader feature will allow all students in a diverse classroom setting to have access to the extensive Wonderopolis content,” said Lorie Lyon, a 5th grade teacher in Plano, Texas. “This feature will open up doors to support literacy development while still giving students choice in their learning.”

“The Immersive Reader feature really is a game changer,” added Christie Wyman, a kindergarten teacher in Weston, Massachusetts. “My students will now be able to independently access all that Wonderopolis has to offer.”

The Immersive Reader technology is the latest result in a growing relationship between Wonderopolis and Microsoft. In June, Wonderopolis announced a new partnership with Microsoft’s Flipgrid, a website that allows teachers to create “grids” in order to facilitate video discussions. Flipgrid is used by millions of students, educators, and families in over 180 countries around the world.

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NCFL Partners

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Toyota Family Learning Program

Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.

Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website

PNC Grow Up Great

PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

PNC Grow Up Great

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.

Visit the Foundation website

Better World Books

Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.

Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.

Better World Books

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.

Foundation Website

Goodling Institute

NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.

The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.

Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University