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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Almost one in four children in the United States speak a language other than English at home, according to an analysis of national data compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Center. In 2016, the number of emerging bilingual children rose to roughly 12 million, an increase of 1.2 million over the past decade. The Kids Count data examines the linguistic background of children between the ages of five and 17, finding that 22 percent do not speak English at home. That percentage has remained unchanged for five years, but the number of children who speak one language at home and another in school is growing. But some research has shown that while the number of English-as-a-second-language speakers in schools is on the rise, the quality of education those students receive in the nation's K-12 schools is not.
Undergraduates from a variety of majors flock to our children’s literature course at Saint Michael’s College with memories of formative picture books and riveting YA novels. They’re ready to revisit favorites and claim new ones. But we found that they seldom visited or used the books in our library’s extensive children’s collection. Instead of hoping students would come to the books, we brought the books to them. We created circulating book bags, each containing four picture books, which would rotate among the students on a weekly basis. Beyond getting books into their hands, we had several goals for the project: to shape what students were reading, to highlight components of the course, to ensure they were able to apply the course readings to books immediately, and to create a curiosity for the rest of the collection and help them see the value in utilizing the library’s print collection.
As a school counselor, I often hear from parents whose children are struggling academically or behaviorally. They have questions that vary from the logistical to the personal. Should they consult a professional or give it time? How can they know if their expectations are realistic? Would a diagnosis kill their child’s self-esteem? Bob Cunningham, head of the private Robert Louis Stevenson School in Manhattan, advises parents to trust their instincts and take action when their children’s grades decline, their behavior changes, they resist going to school or their friends start ditching them. “Don’t let small slips add up to big problems,” he says. Research shows that identifying problems early can improve a child’s outcome, adds Howard Bennett, a pediatrician and author of “The Fantastic Body.” As parents embark on the journey to identify and address learning or attention issues, here are nine ways they can support and empower their child.
To truly embrace culturally responsive teaching—the only way to reach students—I had to move away from an insensitive archaic system and foster a culture of diverse inclusion. By doing so, my students’ knowledge grew exponentially, and in turn, I also stayed true to my own cultural growth. Here’s what I did: (1) I researched sociocultural perspectives; (2) I chose engaging texts; (3) I restructured my classroom environment; and (4) I became more transparent.
In recent years, there’s been a resurgence of interest in book clubs for grade school and middle school students. When librarians think of book clubs, many often imagine a traditional experience: selecting one work of fiction that a group of students has a set time to read, with everyone joining a discussion. When I started my first book club in 2015, however, I wanted to do something different. Many adult book clubs are branching out to meet the changing needs of the adult reading community, and I wanted to do the same thing for my younger readers. My goal was to include a wide range of readers, not only those who would be interested in reading and discussing the same book, which can default a book club to a very similar group of students at the same reading level and with the same interests. A traditional book club could also exclude readers who aren’t ready to tackle offerings with more mature themes or whose families have strict guidelines for reading choices.
Do you think pre-K literacy starts with mastering letter names, sounds, and the conventions of print? A research brief published this week from the International Literacy Association says those elements are only part of what helps young children master reading skills. In "What Effective Pre-K Literacy Looks Like," written by former assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education Susan B. Neuman, the association outlines a number of steps it considers important for creating strong readers. They include reading to young children, which "reinforces print conventions and concepts in the context of a meaningful experience;" setting up discovery areas for children to play and "to practice what they have learned about print with their peers and on their own;" and offering regular opportunities for children to express themselves on paper, even with teachers acting as scribes early on. Such activities "send the important message that writing is not just handwriting practice—children are using their own words to compose a message to communicate with others."
If we want to make students better readers, how much they read matters. To foster students’ interest in reading, teachers can use interest and motivation inventories as well as online resources—such as book trailers and YouTube videos—to entice students and to empower them to choose their own texts. In the context of reading, interest is a person’s willingness to engage with specific content. Capturing students’ reading interest is important, as interest can impact students’ motivation to read. In The Reading Teacher, Springer, Harris, & Dole (2017) present four research-based principles of reading interest. The first research-based principle is individual interest, which is self-directed and tied to a student’s personal interest in a topic. The second principle, situational interest, occurs when teachers create exciting instructional activities. The third way teachers can affect reading interest is by choosing texts that are interesting in terms of organization, design, and storytelling. The fourth principle is interest regulation, when students learn how to read and comprehend texts that are not interesting to them. U
For children with disabilities and their parents and guardians, navigating the education system can be stressful. Before anyone can focus on schoolwork, families must ensure the school facilities and curricula are accessible and meet their specific needs. Creating an appropriate Individualized Education Program is key, but the process can be difficult to understand without specialized support. With that in mind, some public libraries are stepping in to connect patrons with experts. Using their strong relationships with the community and close ties to local nonprofit organizations, these libraries become a source of information and much-needed assistance for those navigating this challenging but essential element of the education system. Recognizing the need for support in their community, several public libraries partnered with local organizations to develop programming.
Several coats of paint, newly assembled furniture and (most important) boxes and boxes of books have transformed a Palmetto after-school tutoring center into a hub for literacy in a neighborhood previously devoid of books. The Martin Luther King Jr. Children’s Library opened Monday at the Anna Gayle STEM Center. “Many of these children do not have a book or a magazine or anything of that nature in their home,” longtime Manatee education leader Barbara Harvey said. “And we want to change that.” The center operates out of an old house and had previously focused mainly on after-school tutoring. With the facelift comes a new focus on early child literacy. The primary goal is to ensure students begin school ready to learn and are reading on grade level by third grade, although there are reading rooms and materials for older children as well.
"The federal government must take bold action to address inequitable funding in our nation's public schools." So begins a list of recommendations released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan agency created by Congress in 1957 to investigate civil rights complaints. Thursday's report comes after a lengthy investigation into how America's schools are funded and why so many that serve poor and minority students aren't getting the resources they say they need. The 150-page report, titled "Public Education Funding Inequity: In An Era Of Increasing Concentration Of Poverty and Resegregation," reads like a footnoted walking tour through the many ways America's education system fails vulnerable students — beginning with neighborhood schools that remain deeply segregated and continuing into classrooms where too many students lack access to skilled teachers, rigorous courses and equitable school funding.
For years, Texas education officials illegally led schools across the state to deny therapy, tutoring and counseling to tens of thousands of children with disabilities, the federal government said Thursday. In a letter to the Texas Education Agency, which oversees education in the state, regulators from the federal Department of Education said the state agency’s decision to set a “target” for the maximum percentage of students who should receive special education services had violated federal laws requiring schools to serve all students with disabilities. The target, enacted in 2004 and eliminated last year, was set at 8.5 percent of enrollment, and school districts were penalized for exceeding that benchmark, even though the state and national averages had both long been about 12 percent. As a direct result of the policy, regulators determined, the share of students receiving special education services in Texas dropped from 11.6 percent in 2004 to 8.6 percent in 2016 — a difference of about 150,000 children. In the letter, federal regulators ordered the state to design a plan to identify students who were inappropriately kept out of special education and to figure out how to help them, among other corrective actions.
Illinois' use of English-language-learner data as an "emerging bright spot" for states looking to better serve and understand the growing, but often misunderstood, student population, according to a report from a Washington-based think tank. In the new report, New America examines how the state's effort to use longitudinal data could serve as a model for other states seeking guidance on how to accurately evaluate the academic growth and needs of their English-language learners. New America also praises Illinois' partnership with the Latino Policy Forum, a Chicago-based advocacy group that advises state on English-learner issues. While touting the work already underway, the think tank encourages educators in Illinois—which is home to the nation's fifth-largest ELL population—to push further and use data to explore how factors such as poverty, homelessness, and student mobility affect the academic performance of English-learners.
Prolific author Carole Boston Weatherford’s picture book biography Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library (Candlewick), about the Afro-Latino bibliophile and historian Arturo Schomburg, has garnered the first-ever Walter Award in the Younger Readers category. Long Way Down (Atheneum) by Jason Reynolds won the top award in the Teen category. Reynolds’s All American Boys, coauthored by Brendan Kiely, received the inaugural “Walter” in 2016. Both of this year’s winners were selected as 2017 SLJ Best Books. In its third year, The Walter honors outstanding titles for young people that celebrate diversity.
Earlier this week, the author Matt de la Peña wrote about the importance of including the darker sides of life in stories for children. In it, after recalling a time when an elementary school student asked him what he would ask his favorite authors, he wrote that he would like to pose some questions to one he admires, Kate DiCamillo: “How honest can an author be with an auditorium full of elementary school kids? How honest should we be with our readers? Is the job of the writer for the very young to tell the truth or preserve innocence?” DiCamillo shares her response here.
Literacy professionals say that early literacy, teacher preparation, and equity are among the most important literacy topics to emphasize—but those aren't always what policymakers are focusing on, a new survey concludes. The survey, released today from the International Literacy Association, explores the views of nearly 2,100 respondents from 91 countries. While the results reflect a wide range of opinions from educators and academics working in different contexts, it's not a nationally representative sample of people in any one country.
“Books change us. They can help us have the bigger conversations,” Jacqueline Woodson said during her inauguration ceremony as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature at the Library of Congress on Tuesday. “We go into a book because we’re hopeful for something. When we come out of a book, we’re different.” During a conversation with librarian of congress Carla Hayden, Woodson spoke movingly of her literary heroes, mentors, and colleagues; the Harlem Renaissance; and the importance of kids pursuing and honing what “they’re really good at that they really love doing,” whether that be writing, music, or something else. Watch the full video of Woodson’s inauguration.
The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Gene Luen Yang passed the baton to his successor Jacqueline Woodson on Tuesday. NPR takes a look at where young people's literature is now and where the new ambassador would like to take it in the coming year. Woodson has come up with her own mathematical equation to spark conversation about literature. "Reading equals hope times change. So of course it's that play on words, but it's also the fact that we come to books looking for the hope in them. And when we close a book, we're a different person than when we first opened that book. And reading begins a conversation. And my hope is that we can start having these conversations that literature triggers around the country."
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games premiere in South Korea for 18 days starting February 8 and ending February 25. Almost 3,000 athletes will gather to compete from over 90 countries in seven sports, including skating, skiing, bobsled, biathlon, curling, ice hockey, and luge. Over 102 medals are up for grabs, which is the most ever in Winter Olympic history. Educators have a terrific opportunity to expand their students’ learning, and librarians can play a key role in research and support of classrooms during the Olympics. These games provide excellent moments to teach students about many subjects, including history, science, physical education, and social studies.
Yesterday, ILA released the 2018 What’s Hot in Literacy Report, our survey of literacy professionals from around the world designed to assess the trends in the field that are the most important for advancing literacy and those trends that are the hottest—the most talked about by administrators, policymakers, and media. By examining the gaps between what’s hot and what’s important, we can better assess which topics educators need to focus on in order to effect real change. Our infographic and “Top Takeaways” one-sheet make for a quick breakdown of some of the most interesting findings from the survey. The No. 1 most important topic and No. 2 hottest topic in the field at the moment? Early literacy, the topic of our next #ILAchat, which will take place on Thursday, January 11, 2018, at 8:00 ET.
Lay or lie? It's a verb choice that many adults get wrong in their own speech and writing. And so do U.S. students nationwide, according to a recent report of the top grammar and writing errors. Mixing up lay and lie was the top usage error of 2017. That conclusion is based on the responses of 3 million U.S. students in grades 5 through 12, to more than 1 billion practice questions aimed at improving their grammar and writing. The report was released by NoRedInk, a website that uses adaptive exercises to improve such skills. Also among the top 10 usage errors: choosing when to use "farther vs. further," "among vs. between," and "fewer vs. less." You can read the full list here.