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Today's Reading News

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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Sanford Herald
October 24, 2014

Thursday morning at 10:40 a.m. means it’s reading time for three third-graders at Tramway Elementary. One of them, Zach Thompson, sits down at a small desk. He opens “The Runaway Racehorse,” the book he’s reading right now, and waits for his partner, Mikeal Basinger. Zach jumps into chapter five of a mystery unraveling why Whirlaway disappeared the night before a big race only to show up the next morning running unusually slowly. When the two turn the page and end a paragraph, Zach stops reading and Mikeal picks up. For about 20 minutes, they alternate, finishing one chapter and starting another. Occasionally, they stop to summarize the plot or debate what might happen next. Every once in a while, they pause on an unfamiliar word to make sure everyone knows exactly what it means. It all seems pretty routine. Until one realizes that Zach is reading in front of a laptop deep in the one-story labyrinth of Tramway Elementary, and Mikeal is sitting with his iPad, five miles away, in his office on the second floor of First Bank. Zach and Mikeal are participating in “I Read, You Read,” a new partnership among United Way of Lee County, Lee County Schools and local businesses for children who need more help learning to read.

Chicago Sun-Times
October 24, 2014

Parents may think reading to babies might seem like a waste of time in those early sleep-deprived months, but it’s far from it. Even though newborns won’t understand the meaning of the story or nursery rhymes, hearing the rhythms and syllables and tones develops brain cell transformations that last a lifetime. “Our brains develop most quickly between birth and age 3 ,” said Orland School District 135 Center School reading recovery teacher Kara Bonfitto. “Reading to children when they are this young stimulates brain cells and connections between brain cells. ... Research shows that reading to children from infancy boosts brain function and IQ.”

Johnston Sunrise (Warwick, RI)
October 24, 2014

Following Governor Lincoln Chafee’s signing of a proclamation that declared October as “Dyslexia Awareness Month,” local advocates and students took part in a rally at the State House over the weekend as part of their ongoing awareness and action campaign. According to organizers, one in five students struggles with dyslexia or another language-based learning issue. Dyslexia is a neurological language processing disorder that can take many forms, and it is not related to intelligence or work ethic. Those on hand for the rally said the main push of advocates is for awareness and for the taking of steps to identify and provide the tools those students need to overcome their difficulties and realize their talents.

School Library Journal
October 24, 2014

The winner of the first-ever 2014 Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature is Kate Samworth’s Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual: Renewing the World’s Bird Supply Since 2031 (Clarion, 2014). Modeled on mail order catalogs of the past and present, “Aviary Wonders Inc. is a picture book that widens the definition of the genre. While truly a picture book, it was created for readers aged 10 and up with well-developed sensibilities and senses of humor. Confronting environmental issues in a clever and whimsical way, it is original, highly unexpected, beautiful, and thought-provoking. Aviary Wonders Inc. is by far one of the most creative books we have ever encountered,” read the judges’ statement from the Kirkus press release.

Huffington Post
October 23, 2014

In traditional education, reading is taught through fiction and science is taught in science classes. Reading in science classes was limited largely to textbooks, which are not noted for high interest and engaging writing. ELA classes focused on the human experience in literature and on narratives, not on expository prose, reporting of events, or step by step instruction. There has been little or no integration of disciplines and literacy skills. Students don't read a variety of science books in science class. That could be about to change. The National Science Teachers Association and the International Reading Association have discovered each other and are partnering a new initiative focusing attention on literacy.

KQED Mindshift
October 23, 2014

While more teachers are using digital games in the classroom, how they decide which games to use and why is less standardized, according to a teacher survey of 694 K-8 teachers by the Games and Learning Publishing Council called Level Up Learning: A National Survey on Teaching with Digital Games. The report finds that teachers learn about games through informal means, such as peers within the school or school district, and could benefit from more explicit training programs. By not having a more formal process, the report finds that “teachers may not be getting exposure to the broader range of pedagogical strategies, resources, and types of games that can enhance and facilitate digital game integration.”

Modesto Bee (CA)
October 23, 2014

Stanislaus Community Foundation President Marian Kaanon started school in America at age 7 as a low-income immigrant who spoke no English. By high school, she was winning speech and debate competitions. Her success she credits to her parents, she told a Stanislaus County literacy task force at its first meeting two weeks ago. “They put a library card in my hand and filled our home with books,” Kaanon said. Now she is part of an effort to have every child reading well by third grade. Stanislaus READS, which stands for Ready, Engaged, Able, Determined Students, is tackling the sad statistic that only 39 percent of third-graders test as reading at grade level.

Education Week
October 23, 2014

While late-night screen surfing can drastically throw off students' sleep cycles and learning, boosting blue-light in the classroom may spark students' cognition, according to a new study in Germany. Last year, I told you about a flurry of new studies on how late-night screen time — via nearly ubiquitous laptops, some televisions, tablets, smart phones, and even high-efficiency lightbulbs — affects students' sleep schedules. In a word: Powerfully. Exposure to lights rich in "blue light," the same spectrum existing in natural sunlight, after dark can throw off students' circadian cycles, giving them the equivalent of jet-lag.

Education Week
October 22, 2014

Helping Georgia preschool and early-care providers support children who are learning English is the aim of a new training initiative by the state agency that oversees early-childhood education. The effort seeks to help early-childhood practitioners develop the skills and knowledge necessary to identify young English-language learners and support their English-language development in order to boost school readiness. Supporting childrens' home-language development will also be a major focus of the new training for practitioners and school district personnel.

Bellingham Herald (WA)
October 22, 2014

Reading to children is a longstanding part of many cultures, but multiple studies indicate that this practice is even more crucial than we thought. Research now shows that creating rich experiences in the earliest years of a child's life has profound and lasting impacts on their learning, throughout their school years and beyond. Early literacy is what children know about communication and language before they begin reading and writing. Through early experiences of talking, singing, reading, writing and playing, children develop essential skills that form the foundation for learning to read. The earlier and more frequently children are exposed to early literacy skills, the stronger this foundation is built. With a strong foundation, children enter school ready to learn to read and write and succeed. When they start kindergarten prepared, they require less remediation, grade repetition, special education and other services to boost their skills.

Wausau Daily Herald (WI)
October 22, 2014

A child who hasn't mastered reading by third grade will face an uphill educational battle for the rest or his or her school days. And a kid who has a difficult time in school in today's world will be much more likely to have a difficult time in life later down the road, experts say. Those two realities, backed by numerous educational and even medical studies, are one reason libraries, school systems and parenting advocates across the country are focusing attention and resources on early childhood literacy. It's also why Gannett Central Wisconsin Media has chosen to focus on reading and children as its keystone project for Make A Difference Day.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 22, 2014

Picture book author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen believe that picture books aren’t a genre of easy reads for young children. They declare that picture books are a form, a way of telling stories, that can appeal to any age. “I loved picture books as a kid, and I never stopped loving them. When I was a kid and started reading novels, I kept my picture books out. I think it’s an interesting form, and it is a form, it’s a way of telling a story. You've got text and image, and this relationship [between the two],” said Mac Barnett. “Sam and Dave Dig a Hole,” the pair’s newest collaboration, is about two boys who dig a hole with the hopes of finding something spectacular.

Education Week
October 21, 2014

Digital learning games have officially gone mainstream, with nearly three-quarters of K-8 teachers saying they use the games for classroom instruction, according to a new national survey. But the rise of digital gaming within schools still pales in comparison to the advances seen in the commercial gaming sector, according to a comprehensive, 67-page report issued by the Games and Learning Publishing Council, a project of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, a New York-based nonprofit that studies digital media use and children.

Coos Bay World (OR)
October 21, 2014

Southwestern Oregon Community College will host 500 kindergartners this week for the state's roll-out of its new early literacy campaign. Gov. John Kitzhaber launched stORytime this month, a statewide literacy campaign to build awareness for the positive impact early literacy can have on lifelong success. It's a key effort in the state's effort to make sure students are proficient readers by third grade. "StORytime was created to meet families where they are and to empower them to use myriad ways to support their children that can be incorporated into daily life," according to a news release. "The program also is designed to fit easily into busy schedules, adapt to a variety of literacy levels and encourage teaching in multiple languages."

The New York Times
October 21, 2014

Last week, Motherlode sought “Books for Middle Schoolers Who Aren’t Yet ‘Teens,”’and amid that fantastic discussion, another question arose: What about the reader whose interests have overshot her reading ability? Can we help this parent out? As a side note, I’ll say that my child whose reading comprehension appears below grade level in school still reads many books that must challenge her — if she’s engaged. She loved “Matilda” recently and, at a slightly younger age, “The Little Leftover Witch” (a seasonal book that I loved as a child, too). Looking over the pages, I know there are many words she must not have known, and hearing her talk about the book, I know that there are things she didn’t understand, but I’d still count it as a win. I also want to suggest graphic novels (try the “Zita the Spacegirl” or the “Amulet” series) and comics, the best of which, like “Calvin and Hobbes” reach readers at all levels about sophisticated concepts.

Christian Science Monitor
October 21, 2014

While the celebrity book list may have its share of bad apples, there are those that shine as brightly as a celebrity at his or her pinnacle of success. Here are a few popular choices among children’s books written by celebrities for parents to consider: At number one, for being absolutely smart, moving, and a great life lesson about the dangers of gossip is Madonna’s “Mr. Peabody’s Apples.” The book is inspired by a 300-year-old Ukrainian folktale. For sheer brilliance, parents can pick up any book by actor John Lithgow. I personally love “Marsupial Sue” and also, “Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo.”

Wall Street Journal
October 20, 2014

Investments in early childhood education can pay for themselves because they substantially boost students’ chances of educational and economic achievement over the course of their lives. That was the finding of a paper presented at a conference on economic opportunity and inequality sponsored by the Boston Fed. The paper argues that strong educational guidance in the early stages of life has huge long-term payoffs. “The benefits of even a moderately effective early childhood education program are likely to be substantial enough to offset the costs of program expansion,” the authors say. The paper’s authors say their findings are rooted in scientific studies that back the importance of early brain development. “Environmental enrichment can promote cognitive development, whereas a variety of adverse experiences may shape cognitive development in ways that are ill-suited for later learning,” they said.

The New York Times
October 20, 2014

Elmo and his “Sesame Street” buddies could soon be having two-way conversations of sorts with children. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of “Sesame Street,” and the children’s speech recognition company ToyTalk plan to announce Monday that they have signed a two-year research partnership agreement to explore how to use conversational technology to teach preschool literacy. The agreement formalizes work the two have been undertaking for more than a year. Sesame Workshop has been testing prototype mobile apps that use ToyTalk’s proprietary PullString technology, a combination of speech recognition meant to understand children’s speech patterns, artificial intelligence and prewritten scripts responding to what a child has said.

Hechinger Report
October 20, 2014

Two-thirds of Mississippi’s youngest learners are starting the year unprepared, according to results from a new test examining the reading skills of kindergarten students. Kindergartners took the STAR Early Literacy exam during the first month of the current school year to gauge their reading abilities. Over 40,000 students from 144 school districts took the computer-based exam that measures what the students know as they enter kindergarten. It was the first time the state gave the test. The results of the exam, created by Renaissance Learning and released Friday, come at a time when reading at grade level is a critical goal for Mississippi. This school year the Literacy Based Promotion Act was introduced into the classroom. Under this act, students who are not reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade will not be promoted.

Publishers Weekly
October 20, 2014

We Need Diverse Books, the grassroots group of authors and others that coalesced around the lack of diversity in BookCon’s initial children’s author lineup this past spring, continues to advocate for more diversity in contemporary children’s literature by introducing new initiatives. The organization announced exclusively to PW this week that it is launching an award and grants program in 2015. Also, Walter Dean Myers’s literary estate has granted WNDB the rights to name the award and grants in memory of the late children’s book writer, who was outspoken in his lifelong advocacy for multicultural children’s books. The Walter Dean Myers Award, which WNDB representatives have already nicknamed The Walter, will recognize published authors from diverse backgrounds who celebrate diversity in their writing and “[allow] children to see themselves reflected back” in those works.

The Washington Post
October 17, 2014

Now, as a writer myself, I still believe that the best way for students to become writers is by reading as much good writing as possible and internalizing the various structures and techniques they encounter. For extras, the habit of reading will also increase their vocabulary, improve their spelling, and help them grasp the fact that many of the conventions of written language are different from those of spoken language. More than lessons on how to write an effective argument or an informational piece students need to immerse themselves in the worlds of stories, poems, myths, fables, business letters, opinion and information essays, advertisements, instructional manuals, newspaper articles, memoirs, biographies, and whatever else captures their interest. Although only a very few will become professional writers, almost all of them will be able to do the kinds of writing needed for success in “college and careers” and every day life.

Hechinger Report
October 17, 2014

Teacher Valyncia O. Hawkins knew she needed extra time with students who arrived in her classroom behind grade level, but slowing down the whole class risked boring the more advanced students. But even after 20 years as a teacher, Hawkins still didn’t have a good method to keep everyone moving forward. The 21 children in her classroom at Anne Beers Elementary School shared the label of fifth grader, but they arrived with different needs. It was clear she was losing some of them. It was disheartening. Convinced there had to be a better way, this D.C. Public Schools Teacher took a fellowship with the CityBridge Foundation in 2013 to research and develop a new teaching method. Today, she is no longer standing in front of the room for a whole class period, trying to keep everyone on the same page. She developed a new style of teaching that gives students a mix of technology and small-group instruction. Online tools, most of them free, helped her customize lessons for students. She periodically checks progress through the year to adjust.

School Library Journal
October 17, 2014

Three-time Newbery Honoree Zilpha Keatley Snyder died on October 8. She was 87. Beloved in the world of children’s literature, Snyder received her Newbery Honors for The Egypt Game (1967), The Headless Cupid (1972), and The Witches of Worm (1972, all S. & S.), vivid, evocative, and dark works for middle-grade readers. One of her earliest titles, The Egypt Game, is centered on the intense fantasy life of a group of children who reenact ancient Egyptian practices and rituals in an empty lot, while in the background, a child murderer lurks. The novel was remarkable not only for its eerie, absorbing narrative but also for its inclusivity. Snyder’s editor Karen Wojtyla, vice-president and editorial director at Simon & Schuster’s Margaret K. McElderry Books, praised the author’s commitment to diversity: “[Snyder created] for The Egypt Game a multiracial cast of characters that was unusual in the 1960s.

Pittsburgh Tribune
October 17, 2014

Fox Chapel Area junior Olivia Van Dyke loves to settle down with a good page-turner to learn a new skill, be inspired or just to escape. The 17-year-old realizes that not everyone has that privilege. As a member of the high school's community outreach committee, Van Dyke has spearheaded a book drive to benefit local elementary and middle school students. Books will be given to All of Us Care in Sharpsburg to benefit its literacy program through which children can sharpen their skills over the summer. All of Us Care is a program of Volunteers of America that aims to keep children safe from crime and substance abuse by providing positive afterschool activities and homework help.

Library Journal
October 16, 2014

“Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries” explores how public libraries can respond as the digital age increases the demand for high-speed information access, changes in our education systems, innovative job training models and additional community services to help people and communities compete in the new economy. The “Rising to the Challenge” report recommends communities leverage three important library assets: connecting people and fostering relationships to strengthen the human capital of a community; using the both the physical and virtual spaces of libraries in new and innovative ways; and tapping into high-speed interactive platforms to curate and share ideas and knowledge. The report highlights a number of examples of groundbreaking work and new ways public libraries are meeting the needs of their communities.

PBS NewsHour
October 16, 2014

In the first eight months of 2014, nearly 60,000 school-aged children entered the United States, undocumented and unaccompanied by a family member. These recent immigrants are eligible to enroll in U.S. schools and to be given access to the same school-based resources as children born in this country. These resources require professionals who are skilled in teaching as well as other seemingly unrelated fields like nursing, nutrition, speech and language, occupational and physical therapy, psychology, psychiatry and social work, just to name a few. Individuals working from these disciplines have field-specific training and certification, yet all have to acquire new skills in order to understand how the background of their new students impact successful instruction. How can professionals facilitate school success for these undocumented students, and what do they need to know about them?

Ed Central
October 16, 2014

The conversation on reducing the “word gap” in early childhood has reached new heights: Today the White House Office on Science and Technology is hosting a group of policymakers, researchers, and early childhood advocates to exchange ideas on how to help foster language development. The event is titled “Federal, State and Local Efforts to Bridge the Word Gap: Sharing Best Practices and Lessons Learned.”

WUNC (Chapel Hill, NC)
October 16, 2014

First published in 1939 by UNC Press, the picture book Tobe was a rare children's story featuring an African-American protagonist. The book follows a boy who works hard on his family farm. The story uses the real photos of people who lived in an African-American township just outside of Greensboro called Goshen. The book gave a historical glimpse into African-American communities in North Carolina, but left open questions about what happened to these families in the decades to come.

School Library Journal
October 15, 2014

Kathleen Krull’s many picture books exemplify the best kind of narrative nonfiction for our students—accurate, well-researched, lively texts enhanced by large, handsome illustrations. Her exemplary biographies “take old stories of famous people and…make them new for kids today.” In an interview the author commented, “We’re all secretly People magazine readers at heart” and confessed to salting her biographies with “gossipy details” about her subjects, using them as “hooks” to teach her readers about history and “things that [educators] want them to know about … famous people — why they’re so respected, what their accomplishments were.” Highlighted here is a sampling of Krull’s titles suited for shared reading in the upper elementary grades.

Chicago Parent
October 15, 2014

In preschool Lucas Baronello of Antioch had difficulty learning the alphabet, even though his mother Angela faithfully read to him every day and tried to teach him. In kindergarten, Lucas dreaded going to school, and by first grade he complained of daily headaches and stomach pains. Lucas, 10, has dyslexia, but he wasn’t formally diagnosed until the end of first grade — missing out on much-needed services. About 20 percent of people in the United States have dyslexia — a language processing disorder — but the disability is often misunderstood and services are lacking, Baronello says. Baronello, and others who have joined the national movement Decoding Dyslexia (which aims to raise awareness of the learning disability) hope all this will soon change. New legislation now includes dyslexia in the Illinois education code and is expected to help by identifying dyslexia as a learning disability. It also establishes an advisory board to develop teacher and school administrator training for teaching students with dyslexia.

CBS Baltimore
October 15, 2014

This is the fourth annual Michael Carter Men Reading in School Day, and this is the first year Edgewood Elementary School participated. Shalik Fulton is spreading an important message to a class full of eager kindergartners. “Not seeing African American males, positive males, so we are driving home the fact that we do exist, positive males, and we are coming in and care about our young people,” Fulton said. The tradition honors the late Michael Carter, an influential leader in education.

Education Week
October 15, 2014

Everyone from parents to teachers to physicians continues to worry about how much time children are spending in front of computer screens. But in the mobile-and-apps age, considerations of what types of technology use are "developmentally appropriate" for young children need to be more nuanced, taking into account what type of media is being used, for what purpose, and with whom, according to a new report released Tuesday by the RAND Corporation. "Technology use is not monolithic, and the definition of developmentally appropriate use should reflect and accommodate the wide variation in possibilities that technology offers," according to "Moving Beyond Screen Time."

Science Times
October 14, 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will discuss the role that pediatricians and parents can play in promoting young children's early learning during her remarks on Sunday Oct. 12 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition. Secretary Clinton will announce the launch of the Academy's updated early literacy toolkit for pediatricians and parents, Books Build Connections, which will be shared with its 62,000 pediatrician members. The toolkit provides updated, practical resources for pediatric professionals, as well as guidance for families on the importance of talking, reading, and singing with their children to promote early learning. The toolkit includes 12 tip sheets, parent handouts and other publications in easy-to-use, mobile-friendly formats to help pediatricians promote early literacy.

The New York Times
October 14, 2014

For years, child development experts have advised parents to read to their children early and often, citing studies showing its linguistic, verbal and social benefits. In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised doctors to remind parents at every visit that they should read to their children from birth, prescribing books as enthusiastically as vaccines and vegetables. On the other hand, the academy strongly recommends no screen time for children under 2, and less than two hours a day for older children. At a time when reading increasingly means swiping pages on a device, and app stores are bursting with reading programs and learning games aimed at infants and preschoolers, which bit of guidance should parents heed?

Hechinger Report
October 14, 2014

This fall, as teachers nationwide prepared their classrooms for the new school year, many reported being bombarded with a decorations blitz, from educational supply store promotions to classroom design blogs to Pinterest posts on themed classrooms with polka dots, owls and bumblebees. But a new study has found that for young children, adopting a more subdued approach, like Baker’s, is better. The study, published May 2014 in Psychological Science, was one of the first to examine how decorations impact learning. It found that when kindergarteners were taught in a highly decorated classroom, they were more distracted and scored lower on tests than when they were taught in a room with bare walls.

National Public Radio
October 14, 2014

Lexi Schaefers' preschoolers squeal with excitement. Their eyes are trained on an animated tiger dressed in a red hoodie and sneakers, peeking out of the TV at them. These 3- and 4-year-olds at Shady Lane Preschool in Pittsburgh, Pa., sing along with the songs and laugh and mimic what the characters are doing onscreen. It's been 13 years since Mister Rogers' Neighborhood went off the air and more than a decade since the passing of its host. But the world Fred Rogers created for preschool children — one that's safe, nurturing and accepting — lives on in a PBS program called Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

National Review
October 10, 2014

I come neither to praise nor bury the Common Core State Standards, now widely regarded as a “damaged brand” and a political piñata. But I do wish to point out that the standards enshrine several sound education ideas that have long been near and dear to conservatives. If Common Core disappears tomorrow, the considerable energy that has gone into fighting the standards ought to be redirected toward ensuring their survival. If not, conservatives may win a pyrrhic victory over standards, losing the bigger, longer war to improve America’s schools. Here are a few big ideas in Common Core worth preserving and promoting.

THE Journal
October 10, 2014

New improvements to a cognitive assessment tool will allow school and clinical psychologists more access to test content and additional information about a student's learning processes specific to learning disabilities. Pearson has introduced the fifth version of its Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V), which gathers information about a child's learning ability, strengths and weaknesses and can help develop a personalized learning plan for students who need remediation. The latest edition of the product includes access to new subtest content and increased coverage of cognitive processes important to specific learning disability identification and intervention. It also can integrate achievement measures from tests like the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test.

School Library Journal
October 10, 2014

“Reading is not optional,” Walter Dean Myers famously stated in his role as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. And yet, for many students, reading is a struggle. He wrote about the most difficult time in his own life — his teenage years — and often said that he created books that he wished had been available when he was a teen. Audiobooks are another option for these students, a means of opening a door to new discoveries and a bridge to building literacy skills. The following audiobooks — from Sharon Creech’s loving demonstration of Myers’s profound effect on writers of all races to Kekla Magoon’s harrowing story of racial injustice to the exuberant work of Myers’s son, Christopher — showcase the exceptional stories made possible by the groundbreaking work of a man whose life was changed by reading and writing.

School Library Journal
October 10, 2014

At just 17, Malala Yousafzai, the courageous crusader for girls’ education in Pakistan and around the world, becomes the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She shares the award with 60-year-old Kailash Satyarthi, an educational reformer from India who has campaigned for children’s rights. In 2012, Malala became a household name when she was shot in the head by the Taliban. Already an outspoken opponent of the Taliban’s ban on girls’ education, the teenager rose to become an international figure in the movement for educational rights. In 2013, she appeared on the cover of Time magazine, profiled as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” The teen continues to fight for the rights of children across the globe — even in the face of death threats to herself and her family. Several new and upcoming books tell the tale of this heroic young woman. These affecting and inspiring portraits will spark discussion and inspire.

Daily Comet (Lafayette Parish, LA)
October 9, 2014

Students earning an education degree at Nicholls State University are using iPads to help local first- through sixth-grade students who struggle with learning English and language arts skills. The project, called Technology Assisted Reading Interventions, was designed with the intention of improving elementary students’ literacy skills. Though the students and candidates work on English, reading, writing and reading comprehension, they also focus on what each student specifically needs help with — this week, students are working on learning synonyms and site recognition of words.

Ames Tribune (IA)
October 9, 2014

The Iowa Reading Corps, a replication of the successful Minnesota Reading Corps, is a tutoring program to help increase the number of students who are reading at grade level. The program, managed by United Ways of Iowa, utilizes daily, one-on-one reading practice and is implemented in six Story County elementary schools this year — Ames (Sawyer), Ballard East, Ballard West, Collins-Maxwell, Colo-Nesco and Nevada. The program places AmeriCorps members, trained as Elementary Literacy Tutors, in schools to implement literacy interventions for students who are just below proficiency in reading. Each day, members meet individually with students for a 20-minute tutoring session to build skills in phonics, phonemic awareness and fluency.

Hechinger Report
October 9, 2014

It’s a midweek afternoon and all 450 of the students at our Denver middle school are staying an hour later. They’re not in detention. The buses aren’t late. Instead, students are participating in a range of activities, from a rocket-building class to one-on-one tutoring in math, and they’re excited to be here. I’m the principal at Grant Beacon Middle School, an urban, public school in southwest Denver, Colorado. We have a diverse set of student needs and a student population comprised of 85% on free and reduced lunch, 20% receiving special education services and 30% are English language learners. Just a few years ago, Grant Beacon looked very different than it does today — we were facing possible closure. We have since turned our school around by implementing an innovation plan based on expanded learning opportunities — practices intended to expand and deepen learning opportunities for all students

Education Week
October 9, 2014

With springtime testing for the common core only months away, nearly a third of district superintendents are still scrambling to put in place the curriculum and professional development necessary to teach the standards, according to survey results released Wednesday. The Center on Education Policy, which has been tracking common-core implementation since the standards were released four years ago, concluded in its report that “the future of the common core remains uncertain at this important juncture” because many districts still are not fully prepared to impart the new academic expectations in English/language arts and mathematics.

Union-Tribune (San Diego, CA)
October 8, 2014

It’s the most common learning disability, affecting roughly 1 in 10 Americans and 20 percent of school-age children. Yet in many cases, it goes largely undiagnosed. It’s dyslexia, a language-based learning disability that results in problems with accurate or fluent word recognition, poor reading and decoding abilities. If left undetected, it can lead to frustration with school or low self-esteem. And while there’s no “cure” for the condition, there are treatments that can allow those who have it to function as well others. Next month, families and professionals will gather in San Diego to discuss and learn more about the condition during the International Dyslexia Association’s Reading, Literacy and Learning Conference.

WBALTV (Baltimore, MD)
October 8, 2014

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Tuesday the expansion of a program called Third Grade Reads. Through the program, city employees tutor elementary students who are reading below grade level. The mayor signed an executive order last year granting every city employee two hours of paid leave per week to volunteer through Third Grade Reads. The program is expanding from five to nine city elementary schools. Four of out five Baltimore fourth-grade students are not reading at grade level, according to results from a recent national test. City school officials agree that's all the more reason why reading remains a priority, especially in the early grades.

Publishers Weekly
October 8, 2014

Kate DiCamillo must be taking lessons from the Energizer Bunny. On top of roving about the country this past year as the Library of Congress’ 2014–2015 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and launching a chapter book series this fall called Deckawoo Drive, DiCamillo has finished writing a new novel, her seventh one to be published by Candlewick. The as-yet-untitled novel, for readers ages 10+, will be published in spring 2016, and, Candlewick representatives informed PW last week, it will be her “next major fiction release” after Flora & Ulysses, which won the 2014 Newbery Medal, as well as a slew of other prizes.

WAMU 88.5 (Washington, DC)
October 7, 2014

Some D.C. public schools using the "blended learning model" are seeing student test scores go up and suspensions go down. At Randall Highlands Elementary School in Southeast D.C., fourth grade teacher Jarvis Gause just left the small group of readers he was working with for a moment, and he's checking in on another group wearing headphones, working quietly on computers. There are different learning "stations" and these 9-year-olds rotate through all of them. It's part of the blended learning model, which blends teacher-led instruction and technology. Principal Tracy Foster says even kindergartners at this school use computers to learn, but they have a picture password because they can't spell yet. "We try to balance the technology with social interaction so we don't create a cohort of students who shuts out the world and tunes into a computer," Foster says. The principal says she's seen a nine percent increase in math scores and an 11 percent increase in reading scores since they've implemented blended learning. She says teacher turnover is far lower this year and there haven't been any school suspensions. She attributes the change to how much more engaged students are with their school work.

Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS)
October 7, 2014

Being a good reader is critical to success in school. That’s why Mississippi’s youngest students started this school year with classes that provide a greater emphasis on literacy. This effort is part of the Literacy-Based Promotion Act, which Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law in 2013. The act establishes a path to ensure every child in Mississippi enters fourth grade as a competent reader. Mississippi’s Literacy-Based Promotion Act takes a comprehensive approach to identify struggling readers, intervene early, and ensure students advance ready to succeed. As a part of this plan, our schools are screening students starting in kindergarten to identify those who struggle with early reading skills.

WUSF (Tampa, FL)
October 7, 2014

Bridget McKinney, principal at Miami's Allapattah Middle School, says her students struggle to pass the state's reading and writing tests. So when McKinney first read the Common Core math and language arts standards used in Florida schools this year, what jumped out was the emphasis on answering questions and making arguments using examples and evidence from what students are reading. It took McKinney back to college — she was a speech major. So she decided her sixth, seventh and eighth graders would have to take a speech and debate course each year. McKinney says the goal is to improve reading and writing skills — and state test scores. "It’s been our Achilles’ heel at Allapattah, meeting that minimum requirement for literacy," McKinney says. "I have to be very, very innovative or an out-of-the-box thinker to make this connection for my students.”

"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase