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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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National Public Radio
August 29, 2016

Recent studies and government reports continue to highlight what many American's know by their wallets: Rising income differences, debt and stagnant real wages are among the biggest problems besetting the nation. That economic inequality is reflected in America's schools, right? Absolutely. But a study just out shows that the gap in school readiness between rich and poor children entering kindergarten closed significantly — by 10 to 16 percent —from 1998 to 2010. Some ethnic/racial achievement gaps declined as well.

School Library Journal
August 29, 2016

This year, we collectively discussed what matters most when it comes to text selection at the book level. We are frequent patrons of our local libraries and bookshops and we thought teachers and librarians might like to peek inside our heads to better understand our process when we are staring at the shelves or searching online deciding what to share with you each week. As we select the books that we use in our classrooms, the learners with whom we work are at the forefronts of our minds. LIke you, we have taught in classrooms that include children with a wide range of cultural, social, academic, and emotional experiences. We know that the texts we include in the classroom need to be similarly varied so that each child has reading material that motivates, intrigues, and inspires.

9&10 News (Cadillac, MI)
August 29, 2016

A new program wants to recruit community volunteers to help increase literacy among young kids. The Born to Read's ambassador program will send volunteers across Northern Michigan to encourage parents to read to their children. The Born to Read Program started seven years ago, giving books to parents who had babies at Munson. Now, they're looking for volunteers to help spread the message. “We're especially interested in reaching out to parents who may not be at the library. May not be able to find the time,” said Born to Read Coordinator Sharon Workman. “But we wanted to reach those who have economic stress and other things that prevent them from coming to the library.”

Education Week
August 26, 2016

It turns out that in the lower-income neighborhoods of Oakland, Calif., 70 percent of parents read to their young child at least three days a week. That fact is one of dozens of fascinating tidbits gleaned from a survey of 420 parents conducted last spring by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, a local philanthropy. Having reported extensively in Oakland, I was especially interested in the survey, which I was tipped off about by New America's early-education newsletter. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that while the gap in education-focused parenting behaviors between college-educated, white, middle class parents and their less advantaged peers is notable, it's not as big as you might think.

International Literacy Association Daily
August 26, 2016

By asking our students to read and evaluate information, write down key evidence, and respond and create as a means of sharing new knowledge, we are providing them with the opportunity to research, record, and report about what they have learned. In this column, we share with you a possibility in which technology can be integrated into science and English language arts (ELA) teaching and learning activities. This example illustrates how technology can be integrated into a science unit on biomes. Student exploration of the wetland biome provides numerous opportunities for reinforcing ELA skills, especially Common Core State Standards Speaking and Listening Standards, Writing Standards, and Reading: Informational Text Standards.

National Public Radio
August 26, 2016

Second grader Caedmon Craig is attempting to write in cursive and he's being helped by his mom. But a lot of erasing is happening at this kitchen table in Prattville, Ala. This school year Caedmon will be writing in cursive for the first time. For now he's only required to write his cursive letters separately, but he's ready for more. By the time Caedmon reaches the end of the third grade he'll need to demonstrate for his teacher that he can join all of the letters. Alabama recently joined California and Louisiana in passing a law that mandates cursive proficiency for its students. The law has made some parents and lawmakers in the state very happy, but others view it as unnecessary.

The New York Times
August 25, 2016

How much homework is enough? My daughter, Maya, who is entering second grade, was asked to complete homework six days a week during the summer. For a while, we tried gamely to keep up. But one day she turned to me and said, “I hate reading.” I put the assignment aside. That was my abrupt introduction to the debate over homework that is bubbling up as students across the United States head back to school. This month, Brandy Young, a second-grade teacher in Godley, Tex., let parents know on “Meet the Teacher” night that she had no plans to load up her students’ backpacks.

School Library Journal
August 25, 2016

School Library Journal and Scholastic recognize School Librarian of the Year Award winner Todd Burleson, of Illinois, and finalists Anita Cellucci and Laura Gardner, both of Massachusetts. These school librarians all display outstanding achievement and innovative use of technology. “I am humbled and honored to be selected as the 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year. I’ve never worked harder or had more fun than my time working with students and encouraging collaboration in the library,” says Burleson, the director of his school’s resource center. He transformed his elementary school library into an IDEA Lab, an integrated, technology-driven space where students can exercise their creativity.

The Atlantic
August 25, 2016

“I think it's important to have a ‘soft start’ in order to let the school routines and procedures gently grow into the kids,” said Johanna Hopia, a classroom teacher at Martti Ahtisaari Elementary School in Kuopio, Finland. In Hopia’s classroom, the first days are usually spent discussing summer vacation, playing games, and exercising together. During this time, she neither hands out textbooks nor assigns homework. Jere Linnanen, a history teacher at Helsinki’s Maunula Comprehensive School, prefers that his students have “an organic process” of returning to school. “I want to start the school with as little stress as possible,” Linnanen said, “both for myself and my students.”

Education Week
August 25, 2016

Luz Santana, Dan Rothstein and Agnes Bain agreed to answer a few questions about their new book, Partnering With Parents To Ask The Right Questions: A Powerful Strategy For Strengthening School-Family Partnerships. Luz Santana and Dan Rothstein are co-directors of The Right Question Institute and Agnes Bain is the institute's treasurer and a professor of government at Suffolk University in Boston. In this Q&A, they provide a "universal" explanation of the Right Question Strategy and its relationship to parent engagement.

Education Week
August 24, 2016

One of the most stalwart advocates for big-city school districts and a power player in federal education policy got its start 60 years ago as an ad hoc meeting of superintendents worried about prospects for graduates in cities where manufacturing jobs were dwindling. That group—including superintendents from Chicago, Cleveland, New York City, and San Francisco—evolved into the Council of the Great City Schools, the Washington-based advocacy organization that champions the interests of the country's 69 largest urban districts and Hawaii's statewide school system. Along the way, the council became a formidable voice on behalf of urban districts, and has served as a forum for big-city school leaders to learn from one another. The group has left an imprint on major federal education legislation and policies, from Title I, which provides additional funds to high-poverty schools, to the federal E-rate program, which subsidizes telecommunications services for libraries and schools.

The Journal
August 24, 2016

Newsela, an education startup working to improve literacy, has launched a new library of primary source material, historical and biographical resources, available in English and Spanish and arranged by reading standard. Launched in 2013, Newsela publishes news articles daily at five levels of complexity for students in grades 2–12, as well as Common Core-aligned quizzes to test reading comprehension and critical-thinking. Following the same format of their news, the library will provide multiple versions of historical and biographical resources for readers at different reading levels to understand.

The Hechinger Report
August 24, 2016

Kathy Rogers teaches at Louis Pizitz Middle School in Vestavia Hills, Ala. When a new seventh-grader joined her homeroom class last year, the veteran teacher faced a challenge: the student spoke only Spanish, but she didn’t. How could she make the student feel welcome in her classroom, but also help him build the English language skills he needed to be successful in school? Rogers, who teaches German, turned to the popular language instruction app Duolingo, with its little green owl that guides users through lessons. According to Rogers, who uses Duolingo for Schools for homework assignments in her German class, the app works especially well for English Language Learners (ELLs) because it gives them a chance to practice the vocabulary and grammar they pick up throughout the day, in a private, risk-free environment.

The New York Times
August 24, 2016

People talk about the decline of handwriting as if it’s proof of the decline of civilization. But if the goal of public education is to prepare students to become successful, employable adults, typing is inarguably more useful than handwriting. There are few instances in which handwriting is a necessity, and there will be even fewer by the time today’s second graders graduate. Some experts argue that handwriting offers children neurological benefits. Professor Virginia Berninger of the University of Washington says that “handwriting — forming letters — engages the mind, and that can help children pay attention to written language.” A 2012 study of 15 children found that forming letters by hand may facilitate learning to read. But there seems to be no difference in benefits between printing and cursive.

National Public Radio
August 23, 2016

As a new school year gets underway, the Common Core remains a partisan flashpoint, while Americans overall have serious concerns about the direction of our public education system. That's according to two new polls. Education Next, a policy journal, released its 10th annual large national poll of public opinion on education today. And Gallup, the polling organization, has recently released new figures as well. With results broken out along partisan lines, the polls also provide insight into trends that may affect the current presidential campaign. Here's a roundup of key findings.

New America
August 23, 2016

It’s 9:30 in the morning in Fresno, California, and Ramona Ruacho is sitting at a small round table in her home with four children under age 5. The group has just finished reading a book and while infants nap in the nearby darkened living room, Ramona engages the bigger kids in a hunt for letters on cardboard cutouts made from cereal and snack boxes. Three-year-old Felix recognizes the “f” in “goldfish,” and Ruacho shows the children the difference between the F and the letter P. Ruacho says she is always trying to learn new things and build skills that will improve her practice. She has been active in the Central Valley Children's Services Network, Fresno County’s child care resource and referral network, which runs support groups and training programs for informal care providers. Most recently, she took part in a series of collaborative professional development sessions with other teachers and care providers, focused on building language instruction and supporting dual language learners.

The Atlantic
August 23, 2016

Any child in England who has turned 3 by Sept. 1 is guaranteed 15 hours a week of free childcare or preschool for 38 weeks a year, or 570 hours total, paid for by the national government. “We don’t think of it as socialism at all,” said the Oxford University professor Edward Melhuish, who studies child development and was instrumental in conducting the research that largely led to England’s current policies. “We think of it as common sense.” Apparently, so do most parents—94 percent of whom take the government up on its offer of free education starting at age 3, according to government data.

KQED Mindshift
August 22, 2016

Teachers in Littleton, Colorado — like teachers in many places — are increasingly asking students to read and write online. Free tools like Google Docs have made it easy for students to work on the same piece of writing at home and at school, and have allowed teachers to explore collaborative writing assignments and synchronous editing with students. There are also many digital tools that can support students as they learn how to read deeply, take well-cited notes, and navigate the writing process. While many teachers are finding efficiency in allowing students to write and submit assignments online, not all students or teachers want to use the exact same set of tools. That’s why Littleton’s Instructional Technology Specialist, Dana Levesque, started compiling resources on a site that both teachers and students can access to find the tools that fit their needs.

Stamford Advocate (CT)
August 22, 2016

Maureen Durand never realized all of the components to learning how to read. Then the five-year classroom teacher spent the 2015-16 school year as an Anne E. Fowler Literacy Fellow, an intensive program that helped her to focus on how to reach students who — despite her best efforts — still struggled. In all, nine tenured teachers from districts including Stamford, Bridgeport, Danbury and Norwalk are part of an inaugural cohort of literacy fellows at Fairfield University. The effort was funded by a grant and spearheaded by Literacy How, a North Haven-based group that works to translate scientific literacy research into practice. “For me it was a lot of ‘aha’ moments,” Durand said. She is to return to Stamford Public Schools in the fall as a reading specialist, working with small groups of struggling students.

National Public Radio
August 22, 2016

In 1998 Oklahoma became one of only two states to offer universal preschool, and it's been one of the most closely watched experiments in the country. Today, the vast majority of these programs are in public schools. The rest are run by child-care centers or Head Start, the federally funded early childhood education program. Deborah Phillips, a professor of psychology at Georgetown University, has spent more than a decade studying and tracking children in these programs. Her most recent findings were just published in the journal, Developmental Psychology. Her study focused on Tulsa's biggest Head Start program, which is run by CAP Tulsa, a nonprofit group that serves 3- to 4-year-olds. It looked at how the students in the program were faring years later. And it found clear benefits for children who'd gone through the program.

"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan