Each weekday, Reading Rockets gathers interesting news headlines about reading and early education. Please note that Reading Rockets does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.
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Dyslexia is considered the most common learning disorder and yet it is often undiagnosed and rarely understood. This hour, we look to better understand the dyslexic mind. We explore what it’s like to live with dyslexia and we learn how to best support children who have difficulty reading -- and what could happen when they don’t get the right supports. We hear from a journalist about her reporting on and her personal experience with dyslexia. We learn from leading researchers and educators in the field. And we talk with an actor about his struggles with the learning disability and his journey from prison to behind the camera. Do you live with dyslexia or are you the parent of a child who does? What has been your experience?
What are you going to do this summer? What about sharing some classic tales or starting new reading adventures with your kids or grandkids? Think about making reading a summer family activity by using the resources of your local public library. Public libraries have offered free summer programs for over a century, with the aim of growing a child’s reading abilities. Last year, 396,023 Kentuckians were involved in summer reading programs. Activities were held in libraries, as well as at day cares, schools, community-based summer feeding programs, nursing homes and county parks. Resources to help you learn, grow, connect and create are free and available in all 120 counties. Many libraries are planning programs around the Build a Better World theme. Libraries keep kids thinking, reading and absorbing all summer.
School will soon be out, and that means that public libraries will be planning their storytime programs for the fall. Teacher librarians will also be looking for new material to purchase and share with their students when school starts again. It’s a perfect time to launch a Spanish-language or bilingual storytime. Here are a few themed storytime ideas for use in school and public libraries, complete with rhymes, finger plays, and craft activities.
On a Wednesday evening in January, a group of 17 parents came together at Lincoln Junior High’s library for the orientation to COFI’s Self, Family, and Team training. Founded in 1995, Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), is a Chicago-based nonprofit, that trains and supports parents in low-income communities to be powerful leaders on issues affecting their families. Originally from places as far and diverse as Mexico, Pakistan, and Jamaica, few of the parents in attendance knew what to expect of the training they’d be participating in for the next seven weeks. But despite this uncertainty and their different backgrounds, they soon found they shared common goals around their children, their local public schools, and their desire to make positive change in themselves and in their community. Using their own multi-step “Family Focused Organizing” model, COFI engages low-income and working parents as leaders in transforming their families, communities, institutions and the public policies that affect them.
Unidentified dyslexia is more common than one might think. The prevalence numbers vary, but research tells us that there are too many unidentified and quietly struggling dyslexic students in our K-12 classrooms and schools. The National Institutes of Health estimates that between 6 percent and 17 percent of school-age children have some form of dyslexia, although not all of those students may have been identified by their schools. Some unidentified students may present as lazy, disruptive, or lacking in academic potential, while others manage to deploy enough energy and intellectual ability to hide their difficulties and pass along with their disability undetected. However, without effective support, neither group of students can achieve their full potential. Anyone who has taught a dyslexic student has observed that dyslexia, typically considered a reading disability, affects other areas of learning. It makes spelling difficult. It makes writing difficult. It can even make memorizing math facts difficult. It simply makes school difficult—every day and in every way.
June is almost here and, if you haven’t already, it’s a good time to revitalize your classroom. ILA has plenty of tips to help you declutter, reorganize, and breathe new life into your curriculum. Whether it’s reevaluating your assessment process or eliminating tired formats, these articles will help bring about refreshing changes for both you and your students.
Circle time sounds a little different in one Lyseth Elementary Kindergarten classroom. Students are greeted with a "buenos dias!" instead of "good morning" by their teacher, Veronica Diez Guardia. Diez Guardia teachers her class of English-speaking students...in Spanish. The students are part of the Lyseth Spanish Immersion Program, now in its third year. Students whose parents sign them up for the program learn 90 percent of their core subjects in Spanish. The bilingual teachers only speak Spanish when teaching reading, math, science, and social studies. By the end of the school year, Diez Guardia says the students understand almost every word she says.
Daniel Willingham has long been interested in how learning and memory work. But about 15 years ago, the University of Virginia professor of psychology decided to move beyond the study of cognition and do something few others in his field had done: focus on what the research means for classrooms. His goal these days is to help K-12 teachers understand why students learn the way they do. His most recent book, The Reading Mind, published last month, is a deep dive into the many processes happening as people translate black marks on a page into meaning. It's an ambitious undertaking, covering everything from why sound-based (versus picture-based) coding systems were created to how reading on digital devices affects comprehension. Rather than prescribing how to teach, the book "is meant to leave the teacher with a useful cartoon model of what's happening in the mind when a skilled reader reads," Willingham explained.
Whether you are planning a road trip or shuttling children from one summer activity to another, there will likely be many hours in the car over the summer. Are visions of endless hours of boredom, DVD players, video games and bickering children dancing in your head? This is a great opportunity to unplug children from their devices and get the whole family involved in an audiobook. Here are a few of the many benefits of audiobooks.
The National Institute for Early Education Research has a new state-by-state report on preschool funding, enrollment and teacher quality. The findings are both encouraging and sobering.
Margarita Engle, recently named our Young People’s Poet Laureate, is a Cuban American poet, novelist, agronomist, botanist, feminist, and peace dove who believes passionately in freedom for all. Engle’s books have won dozens of prizes, including a Newbery Honor, a Golden Kite, and multiple Pura Belpré Medals, Américas, and Jane Addams Awards and Honors. Most of her works for older children are written in free verse, with multiple voices. "I hope to take poetry to places authors never visit, such as farm worker towns that don’t even have public libraries. I’m looking forward to participating in ongoing Teachers Institute and Youth Poetry Festival programs in Chicago. I’ve decided to focus many of my poetry readings on the bilingual theme of peace/paz, in every sense of the word, but especially peacemaking."
For teachers, the carefully controlled conditions of education research can seem ridiculous when the reality of the classroom involves regular interruptions, absences and general chaos. Professor John Dunlosky is trying to bridge these two worlds, intentionally studying the effectiveness of strategies that lab studies indicate are promising, but that don’t require special technology or extra resources. He is trying to figure out what few strategies could actually make a big difference for learners, and which ones are a waste of time.
With benchmarks reached and curricula completed, the final months of the school year often bring opportunity for projects that harness students’ true interests and passions. Looking for ways to inspire your students to become instruments of positive change? Here are four literacy-based global education programs that empower students to become informed, engaged, active members of our diverse world.
My third graders helped me redesign my library. How? It started when our K–5 school in Albemarle County, VA, adopted STEAM-integrated Project-Based Learning (PBL), which engages students in learning through planning and completing a project. This was part of a a larger strategy to embrace 21st-century learning. We needed to evaluate our learning spaces so they could accommodate and invite PBL through application, creation, making, and tinkering. I took a leadership role in transforming our elementary school library into a model learning space, as well as a center of information. Collaborating with a third grade class, we attacked the challenge of transforming the library with a five-step design process.
Nationwide, students lose about one month of learning over the summer according to Oxford Learning. This learning loss is commonly called the "summer slide", and affects students of all grade levels. Suzanne Ryals is the principal of Bramlett Elementary in Oxford. She says summer learning loss is a big issue in Mississippi. Ryals says making sure students continue to read over the summer can help combat the issue. Nathan Oakley is with the Mississippi Department of Education. He says parents play an important role in preventing the summer slide. "There are also great opportunities for parents to foster that same kind of love for learning and desire to continue learning in the summer through family trips to the library or family trips to museums."
"Decoding Dyslexia is grass roots; we're families helping families," says Allison Quirion of Hebron, founder of the Connecticut chapter and mom of a dyslexic son. "We formed to bring families together to have a voice for our students with dyslexia and to empower our parents to advocate for our students." According to the International Dyslexia Association, 15 to 20 percent of the population has a language-based learning disability, but many families statewide believe true understanding of the learning disability is lacking, Quirion says. Recently, parents and students testified before state lawmakers in support of Bill 7254 requiring special-education teachers to complete a program of study in evidence-based literacy interventions for dyslexic students. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Dannel Malloy, who was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child.
A half-century ago, a girl and brother ran away to New York City from their suburban Connecticut home. And the Metropolitan Museum of Art hasn’t been the same since. If visions of Claudia and Jamie bathing—and collecting lunch money—in the Met’s Fountain of Muses bring up fond childhood memories of your own, you’re among the legions of readers who grew up loving E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The classic children’s book turns 50 in 2017, and the tale of the Kincaid siblings spending their days wandering about the paintings, sculptures and antiquities, and their nights sleeping in antique beds handcrafted for royalty, is as popular as ever. The 1968 Newbery Medal winner has never been out of print.
Early-childhood advocates have been concerned for some time that the academic expectations of elementary school are filtering down to kindergarten. Now, there's a bit of pressure from the other direction. Teaching Strategies, creator of a project-based preschool curriculum called The Creative Curriculum, has created a kindergarten course of study that it says will bring back the play, hands-on activities and center-based work that has started to disappear from some classrooms. The Creative Curriculum for Kindergarten was piloted in fall 2016 in more than 50 public and private kindergarten classrooms in Alabama, Alaska, New York City, and Washington state and is now available for other schools. Like the preschool curriculum, which is used by more than 2 million children each year, the kindergarten curriculum focuses on child-driven social studies and science topics that integrate math and literacy skills.
A new data tool lets parents, educators and community members see how Fort Worth third-graders are performing in reading based on state testing results. Users of the data dashboard can review reading proficiency for all students or use demographic filters including economically disadvantaged and race, Superintendent Kent Scribner said Tuesday during a demonstration of the tool for school board trustees. The dashboard, on the Fort Worth Literacy Partnership’s website, is part of a continuing effort to fight childhood illiteracy.
Many states will be using the Collaborative Summer Library Program’s (CSLP) summer reading theme this year: Build a Better World. Many librarians are going the literal route, planning lots of engineering programs and Lego events. Others, however, are finding inspiration by focusing on a social justice angle, developing programs that tap into ways kids can change the world around them for the better. But where does one begin? How do you put lofty ideas into practical form? How can librarians help kids become community-minded volunteers, get involved, and help others? It’s time to explore the oft-neglected 300s of your nonfiction section!