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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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CBS Chicago
July 29, 2014

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a new program Monday to bridge the early childhood education gap for poverty level inner city kids. CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports the mayor came to an early childhood education center in the Marquette Park neighborhood Monday morning to announce a new $6 million center to serve four-year-olds on the Southwest Side, as well as a plan to make sure all poverty level kids in Chicago had similar access to a pre-school program. "There’s a real hole there, a donut hole, and we’re gonna fill it to make sure there’s universal pre-k just like universal kindergarten throughout the city of Chicago," Emanuel said.

Reading Today
July 29, 2014

What brings a crowd of children running to our university campus each summer to read and write for a week? Camp Digi-Lit, of course! For four years, eager campers ready to engage in the reading and writing processes have overrun the College of Education on The University of Akron campus. Youngsters take over the Center for Literacy, the computer labs and the entire campus because it serves as their classroom during this engaging and fun-filled summer reading camp aimed at keeping kids immersed in literacy learning over the summer. By the last day, each Camp Digi-Lit camper has written an e-book, recorded a reading of that e-book, and has presented it to family and friends during a ‘meet the authors’ reception at the close of camp.

The Digital Shift
July 29, 2014

As we all know, it’s never too early to encourage reading. I regularly Skype with my two young nieces, who live 1,200 miles away. The four-year-old shares her current bedtime book with me, and shows me the words she can recognize in it. While reading in person with a child is best, these apps and sites also help very young students get excited about learning to read and write.

Parade
July 29, 2014

There are some children's books that are simply so classic and so illuminating that anyone and everyone would benefit from having read them. Today, the book editors at Amazon.com released their selection of 100 youngsters' books that everyone ought to read in his or her lifetime. The list includes both old favorites like Charlotte's Web by E.B. White and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder as well as more recent bestsellers like Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid and R. J. Palacio's Wonder. A good number of picture books, like Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Judi Barrett‘s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs made the list — and so did many chapter books like Madeleine L’Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and Jack London's Call of the Wild.

National Public Radio
July 28, 2014

Most of what we know — or think we know — about how kids learn comes from classroom practice and behavioral psychology. Now, neuroscientists are adding to and qualifying that store of knowledge by studying the brain itself. The latest example: new research in the journal Developmental Science suggests a famous phenomenon known as the "fourth-grade shift" isn't so clear-cut. "The theory of the fourth-grade shift had been based on behavioral data," says the lead author of the study, Donna Coch. She heads the Reading Brains Lab at Dartmouth College. The assumption teachers make: "In a nutshell," Coch says, "by fourth grade you stop learning to read and start reading to learn. We're done teaching the basic skills in third grade, and you go use them starting in the fourth." The study suggests there is nothing so neat as a fourth-grade shift. It found that third-graders exhibit some signs of automatic word processing while fifth-graders are still processing words differently from adults.

WLKY (Louisville, KY)
July 28, 2014

Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population can be characterized as dyslexic. That's one in five students who need intense help in and out of the classroom. "A lot of people believe that dyslexia is a difficulty in the visual system that causes them to see print upside down or backwards. That's really not the case at all," said Stephen McCrocklin, executive director of the Langsford Learning Acceleration Centers in Louisville. McCrocklin said dyslexia is all in the brain. "We know that people who have dyslexia have a differently designed brain, part of the areas of the language system are just wired differently," McCrocklin said. McCrocklin said students with dyslexia need systematic, intensive and explicit instruction to break through the disorder.

Fair Observer
July 28, 2014

Literature helps young people realize they are not alone in the world. The National Children’s Book and Literary Alliance (NCBLA), founded by young people’s authors and illustrators, believes that literacy is far more than the ability to read. Its primary function is as an advocacy and education organization promoting literacy, libraries and literature. Censorship and reading rights issues are an auxiliary interest rather than a primary focus. In the following discussion, Mary Brigid Barrett, president and executive director of the NCBLA, and Maria Salvadore, a specialist in children’s literature, discuss the importance of the kids’ right to read.

The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
July 28, 2014

Why are there so many series books for young readers? They come at a crucial time when, between ages 4 and 9, children begin to devour books. Adults have to make this transition along with them. It’s not as quick or easy to judge a novel as it is a picture book. Successful series provide a known quantity for both adults and children. Fortunately for young book gobblers, there is a smorgasbord of short novel series. These books have large print, a low page count, easy vocabulary and occasional illustrations. Here is a sampling of new series to fit the many interests of emerging readers.

Medical Daily
July 25, 2014

Most parents nurture a secret desire that their child will grow up to be an Einstein or a Rosalind Franklin. While the market is flooded with a number of commercial products like DVDs, books, games, etc., that claim to boost a child’s intelligence, new research shows improving a most basic skill in child years will lead to development of higher IQ later on in life: reading. "Since reading is an ability that can be improved, our findings have implications for reading instruction," Stuart J. Ritchie, lead author of the study, said in a press release. "Early remediation of reading problems might aid not only the growth of literacy, but also more general cognitive abilities that are of critical importance across the lifespan." Ritchie and his colleagues from the University of Edinburgh and King's College London conducted this research, published in the journal Child Development.

Sanford Herald (NC)
July 25, 2014

Educators have known for years that students who don’t read at grade level by third grade are significantly more likely to drop out of school and experience other academic and social problems. So with Lee County Schools having just wrapped up its first summer reading camp in half a decade, in which several dozen struggling students finally broke through and passed reading tests, local educators are pleased. Carol Chappell, the district’s director of elementary education, said the first-, second- and third-grade students who attended the camp benefited from smaller class sizes, as well as the luxury of focusing on a single subject. “They were there for reading, and only reading, all day,” Chappell said. “There wasn’t that sense of, ‘Hurry up and finish.’ ... They could really focus and also get that individual help they need.” The main target of the camp was third-grade students, following a national trend.

NPR State Impact Florida
July 25, 2014

Florida schools are making plans for how to add a state-required extra hour of reading instruction, according to two stories out today. In 2012, lawmakers required that the 100 schools with the lowest scores on the FCAT reading test add an extra hour of reading instruction to try and boost those scores. When the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability reviewed the results, the agency found most students at those schools improved their test scores. So lawmakers expanded the requirement to the 300 lowest-scoring school this year.

Charlottesville Tomorrow
July 25, 2014

Charlottesville’s preschool classes focus on providing a high-quality experience for the City’s children who are most at-risk of arriving for kindergarten unprepared. Last year, almost all the students participating in the City’s Pre-K program qualified for free and reduced lunch and the majority come from single-parent homes. “We know that socioeconomic status is a big indicator,” said Diane Behrens, Charlottesville’s preschool coordinator. “But we also know that if parents haven’t graduated from school…if they have parents who are incarcerated, parents with drug abuse problems, we try to identify and work with children as young as we can.” And the early intervention works.

Time
July 24, 2014

Do you remember when reading stopped requiring so much effort, and became almost second nature? Probably not, but researchers have long believed that it probably happened some time during fourth grade. That’s when, they thought, word-processing tended to become more automatic and less deliberate, and you started to read to learn, as opposed to learning to read. But a new study published in the journal Developmental Science questions that assumption, showing that children are still learning to read past fourth and even fifth grade. The shift to automatic word-processing, in which the brain recognizes whether a group of symbols constitutes a word within milliseconds, allowing fluid reading that helps the reader focus on the content of the text rather than on the words, may occur later than previously thought.

Ed Central
July 24, 2014

If the recession was difficult for adults, it was just as hard on young children. Between 2009 and 2013, enrollment in state-funded pre-K programs barely budged, up from 40 to 42 percent. Meanwhile, per-child spending on those pre-K programs fell, and Head Start programs felt the effects of sequestration more acutely than most, with 57,000 kids forced out virtually overnight and their parents stranded to scramble for child care. Policymakers continued to ignore the needs of a growing dual-language learner population. Achievement gaps between rich and poor kindergartners have grown, as have gaps in fourth-grade test scores for low- and high-income children. A new report my colleagues and I released last week, Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education, charts a path forward for early learning in America with a series of essential improvements–and a few bold ideas that, with enough political will, could fundamentally change the design of the birth-to-third-grade educational spectrum.

Journal Star (Lincoln, NE)
July 24, 2014

Is your child ready for kindergarten? It's the first rung on the academic ladder, and sometimes parents wonder whether their children are primed for the academics or the social interactions in a kindergarten classroom. At this stage, the two are woven so closely together, said Jack McCarthy, managing director of AppleTree Institute for Education. "It's like saying, 'What's more important, hydrogen or oxygen?' " McCarthy said. We talked to a few educators and experts in the field about areas parents can work on this summer to help prepare kids. We picked eight of them to share with you. Some may surprise you.

National Public Radio
July 24, 2014

With conservative commentator Glenn Beck renewing his fight against the Common Core State Standards, it's worth taking a bird's-eye view of the learning benchmarks. Where are they now being implemented, what challenges remain and what does the coming school year have in store?

Huffington Post
July 23, 2014

As I often do when I visit a school, I randomly selected a child in one of the early grades and asked him to read to me. He happily read a folk tale set in China, fluently and with expression. I was impressed. As I walked out of his classroom with the assistant principal who was showing me around, I asked what the school did to teach kids about China — the geography, the culture, the naming system, the flora and fauna -- in other words, the background knowledge that would help kids to understand a folk tale set in China. Oh, the administrator said, that wasn't necessary, adding that kids learn a surprising amount of background knowledge from television. And that's when I knew why the school's third-grade reading improvement hadn't translated into fifth-grade reading improvement. I was seeing in action what reading researcher Jeanne Chall wrote about decades ago: the "fourth-grade slump" of poor children.

THV11 (Little Rock, AK)
July 23, 2014

Schools in Arkansas are now following through with new requirements for all students with dyslexia. This comes after Arkansas lawmakers approved a measure ensuring that all children with the disability would have proper resources in public schools. This fall, every child in Kindergarten through second grade will get tested for dyslexia. The tests determine if a child may be at risk for literary problems. "I've had a lot of parents tell me their kids are seeing success in reading. Some of them were already at a point where they hated school and hated reading and once they started in the program, working with one of the intervention programs we use, than they start liking to read," said Lynn Cooper, Nettleton Special Education director.

The Dispatch (Lexington, NC)
July 23, 2014

Davidson County students participating in "The Summer R.A.C.E." camp have reached the halfway point. In eight days, third-graders will again take the Read to Achieve test in order to move on to the next grade level after attending the three-week sessions. This marked the first year students across the state had to attend a summer camp for not showing reading proficiency as part of the Excellent Schools Act. Educators in the district created the curriculum for students that included them working individually, in small group settings and as an entire group at the sites. The focus is to improve vocabulary, work on decoding or comprehension skills, understanding reading strategies and make sure the students understand complex text.

Akron Beacon Journal
July 23, 2014

In mid-June, after the second state reading test was scored and returned to Ohio schools, more than 16,000 elementary students faced another year in third grade after failing to achieve the cut score for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Two-thirds of those students attended eight large urban school districts and could not advance a grade until they achieved a higher score. Since then, though, some of these urban schools have made remarkable strides. The largest literacy gains have been reported in Akron and Cincinnati. Passing rates of about 80 percent in the spring have jumped to 99 percent and 97 percent, respectively, following summer tutoring and exemptions for special education and non-English-speaking students. Columbus, Canton, Cleveland, Dayton and Youngstown, while cutting in half the number of possible retentions, report a combined lower pass rate of 84 percent. Pass rates are likely to improve again when the results of a third test are returned in August.

KQED Mindshift
July 22, 2014

Ani Patel, an associate professor of psychology at Tufts University and the author of “Music, Language, and the Brain,” says that while listening to music can be relaxing and contemplative, the idea that simply plugging in your iPod is going to make you more intelligent doesn’t quite hold up to scientific scrutiny. “On the other hand,” Patel says, “there’s now a growing body of work that suggests that actually learning to play a musical instrument does have impacts on other abilities.” These include speech perception, the ability to understand emotions in the voice and the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. Patel says that music neuroscience, which draws on cognitive science, music education and neuroscience, can help answer basic questions about the workings of the human brain.

National Public Radio
July 22, 2014

It's the first day of school at Hall Fletcher Elementary in Asheville, N.C. Principal Gordon Grant stands outside in a white suit and bow tie, greeting students. The kids arrive sporting fresh haircuts and new shoes. One even wears a tutu. But the biggest change on this first day of school may be the least obvious. It's July, and students are returning after just five weeks of break. This public school is beginning a three-year experiment, running on a year-round schedule for the first time. The students will get the same number of school days as others in the district, just distributed differently: five weeks in the summer, three-week breaks in September and March, plus a winter holiday vacation. A primary motivation for the change is to make sure kids don't fall behind academically over the long summer break — a phenomenon known as the "summer slide."

Ed Central
July 22, 2014

Recent efforts to reduce the “word gap” between affluent and low-income families in Providence, Rhode Island, and Chicago have garnered high-profile headlines and big bucks. Much of the media attention has focused on the technology involved — a tiny recording device and software that help parents and early childhood specialists measure the amounts of talk between parent and child occurring in the home. The system — known as LENA, for Language ENvironment Analysis — is more than the “word pedometer” it is often termed in news stories. “The key thing we’ve learned over the years is to measure the conversational turns,” said Terry Paul, the man behind LENA’s development. Conversational turns happen when one person says something and the other responds.

The Washington Post
July 22, 2014

Traniessa Wright slowly pronounces the word “road” and anxiously waits for a student in Room 2 of Pointer Ridge Elementary School to say whether the vowel sound is long or short. The exercise, designed to teach the fundamentals of reading and math, is part of a new, free, countywide summer school program for incoming second-graders who are reading below grade level in Prince George’s County. The students did not necessarily fail first grade, but school officials determined that they needed the additional instruction to perform well on assessments and to avoid falling further behind their peers when school begins in August.

Daily News Journal
July 21, 2014

As he floated between the rows of educators inside MTSU's College of Education Building, literacy trainer Ron Yoshimoto drew lots of laughter but also equal amounts of attention from a group of Tennessee teachers eager to help their struggling students with reading. Yoshimoto, the statewide special education literacy resource teacher trainer for Hawaii, conducted a 40-hour training program that ran July 14-18 and was hosted by the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at MTSU, according to a news release. Yoshimoto is considered a master trainer of the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach to reading, which emphasizes phonics-based, multi-sensory, hands-on learning. The training, attended by about 35 educators from throughout the state, focused on how to not only help students who may be suffering from dyslexia, but any students struggling with reading, spelling, writing and reading comprehension. Using a variety of training tools ranging from a bingo-themed game to index cards, Yoshimoto kept his class engaged.

NJ.com
July 21, 2014

Imagine trying to write something by hand but only being able to see the tip of your pencil in a mirror. For a person with dyslexia, trying to write a word or a number can be much like that, said Susan Lippman, professional outreach coordinator for the local site of Learning Ally, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those with learning disabilities. Lippman was among a group of parents, teachers and school administrators who sat in a classroom and took part in “Dyslexia: Making it Personal,” a hands-on simulated classroom experience that shows what it is like to have dyslexia.

The Guardian (UK)
July 21, 2014

Long car journeys can be transformed by good family listening — and by the conversations about the books afterwards. Think of yourselves as going back to the time of storytellers who told stories to whole communities together, assuming that everyone would get something out of them. Now, as then, all ages can be held spellbound by the same story even if they each take something different from the story they have heard. The combination of a dramatic story (which everyone can understand) and an important underlying truth (which may become more comprehensible and meaningful as you get older) lies at the heart of most folk and fairy stories going right back to Aesop's Fables. None of them were written with an age-specific audience in mind.

The Conversation (U.K.)
July 18, 2014

Direct Instruction is a teaching method developed in the United States in the 1960s, focused particularly on the needs of children with learning difficulties. Building on behaviourist learning theory, Direct Instruction breaks each learning task down into its smallest component and requires mastery of simpler skills before proceeding to more difficult skills. Students are grouped according to their achievement, teachers are provided with closely scripted lesson plans, students respond to the teacher orally and as a group, and the group does not move on until everyone understands the material. Direct Instruction is a family of approaches, rather than a single approach.

The New Yorker
July 18, 2014

Soon after Maryanne Wolf published “Proust and the Squid,” a history of the science and the development of the reading brain from antiquity to the twenty-first century, she began to receive letters from readers. Hundreds of them. While the backgrounds of the writers varied, a theme began to emerge: the more reading moved online, the less students seemed to understand. There were the architects who wrote to her about students who relied so heavily on ready digital information that they were unprepared to address basic problems onsite. There were the neurosurgeons who worried about the “cut-and-paste chart mentality” that their students exhibited, missing crucial details because they failed to delve deeply enough into any one case. And there were, of course, the English teachers who lamented that no one wanted to read Henry James anymore. Wolf’s concerns go far beyond simple comprehension. She fears that as we turn to digital formats, we may see a negative effect on the process that she calls deep reading. Deep reading isn’t how we approach looking for news or information, or trying to get the gist of something. It’s the “sophisticated comprehension processes,” as Wolf calls it, that those young architects and doctors were missing.

School Library Journal
July 18, 2014

In a tutoring session to help students organize story ideas, Erika Orlowski, elementary education major, directed four boys seated around a table at the Southeast Regional Library, part of the Jacksonville (FL) Public Library system, to write a topic sentence on the top of a hamburger bun. The three main story ideas were to be written on a leaf of lettuce, a slice of tomato and a rather thick burger, with the finishing thought to be placed on the bottom of the bun — all drawn on paper, of course. Orlowski, a junior at the University of North Florida (UNF), is one of 15 tutors participating in a unique collaboration between the university and the Jacksonville Public Library, initiated last year by Anita Haller, children’s services senior librarian at Southeast.

Time
July 18, 2014

Looking for an engaging summer read for your child? TIME For Kids Magazine asked its kid reporters to review the season’s hottest new books. The result is a list of kid-approved page-turners.

Education Week
July 17, 2014

Fixing the birth-through-grade 3 care and education system requires streamlining disparate programs and funding sources, and a renewed focus on high-quality interactions between young children and the adults around them, says a report issued Tuesday by the Washington-based New America Foundation. The policy brief, "Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education," includes eight overarching recommendations, and within each are steps that can be taken by federal and state lawmakers, school districts, teachers, and principals.

National Public Radio
July 17, 2014

You're 4 years old, building a block tower. Another kid runs up and knocks it down. What do you do? A) Tell her that's against the rules. B) Go tell a teacher. C) Hit her. D) Start to cry. E) What did you say again? According to a large national study just released, it's possible to teach kids in preschool to give better answers to that question — not only when asked by a researcher, but in real life. And these improved social and emotional skills, in turn, can help them spend more time engaged in learning. The study looked at Head Start programs. And for the first time, it shows that teaching aimed at social and emotional learning can be effective on a large scale. While many programs have traditionally focused on academic readiness, a shift has been building toward an emphasis on social and emotional learning.

Houston Chronicle
July 17, 2014

Scattered across a row of blue beanbags in a shaded courtyard between two brick buildings, 22 kindergartners sit at attention. "Today, I'm going to read to you about a monster," librarian Christin Banes tells the kids seated in front of her. But story time isn't the main attraction. That's on the bus waiting some 10 feet behind the row of beanbags. Instead of the usual vinyl seats, this bus is filled with rows of books, with titles in English and Spanish. Banes and the Reading Express, as the retrofitted bus is known, stop at Eiland Elementary every Monday morning as part of a summer reading program organized by the Klein Independent School District. It's meant to keep kids, particularly those who might have limited access to books, reading even after the school year ends.

Dayton Daily News (OH)
July 17, 2014

Sarah Burns is thrilled her children love getting free books in the mail this summer. “They don’t see it as learning, it is fun,” Piqua resident Burns said of Charlotte, 8, and Marshall, 6. The children are among thousands participating in the Troy-based Kids Read Now summer reading support program. Burns, a self-described “big reader,” said the program is attractive because the children got to pick out what books they would receive and love getting mail addressed personally to them. “They get the book in the mail, set down and read their books and ask questions,” she said. “If they read during the summer, they won’t lose everything they learned during the school year. They are keeping their minds active, which is good.”

Time Warner Cable News (Buffalo, NY)
July 16, 2014

Many local libraries are going high-tech with their summer reading programs, which has many avid readers excited. “I’ve always thought of a book as like a ticket, and this ticket can take you wherever you want to go, and the books are just full of adventure,” said student Lorena James. The summer reading challenge at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System already started going digital a few years ago, but Mary Jean Jakubowski, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library director, said the program really started picking up, just last year. “Look around — our libraries are not your grandfather’s libraries. People read differently and access their information differently so we’re keeping up with the times in order to do this and making our reading program digital,” said Jakubowski,

Framingham Patch (MA)
July 16, 2014

The United Way of Tri-County, based in Framingham, is launching Ready to Read, its early literacy initiative. Ready to Read provides children from low-income families with 12 new
books to keep each year from birth to the time they enter kindergarten. Increasing access to books in homes effectively helps children develop early literacy skills necessary to enter kindergarten ready to learn how to read. Similar programs report that more than 70% of children who begin reading at home report increased home literacy activities and increased success when entering school. United Way is partnering with the Framingham Housing Authority to ensure that new books reach children at an early age from birth to 5 who are most in need.

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA)
July 16, 2014

If ever a librarian has faced adversity, it is Laurence Copel. In spite of limited resources, a leaky roof and squirrels in her attic, she has managed to bring thousands of books and thousands of smiles to the children of New Orleans. So it is no surprise that the founder of the Lower 9th Ward Street Library was awarded the first ever Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity.

Lafayette Journal and Courier (IN)
July 15, 2014

Students attending Battle Ground, Cole, Hershey and Mintonye elementary schools can expect to receive a little extra reading help when they return this fall. The United Way of Greater Lafayette and its partners plan to expand their Read to Succeed program to all 19 public schools in Tippecanoe County. This is an increase from 15 schools last year. The program’s objective is to help struggling readers reach or exceed a third-grade reading level by the end of third grade by pairing volunteers with individual classrooms. “Reading at the third-grade level is the pivot point between learning to read and reading to learn,” said James Taylor, chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Lafayette.

Joplin Globe (MO)
July 15, 2014

Local libraries are reporting great success so far this summer with the Racing to Read program, an early childhood literacy initiative from the state. The program, established by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, is designed to help strengthen and expand the quality and availability of library services to address early literacy needs in Missouri. The Springfield-Greene County Library District developed the program before Kander’s office launched it statewide.

CBS St. Louis
July 15, 2014

A new state law aims to help Illinois students with dyslexia. The law entitles dyslexic students to special education services. It also creates a reading instruction advisory group that will train educators on how to identify and teach students with dyslexia. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the measure on Saturday. The law is effective immediately. The Illinois House and Senate unanimously supported the measure. Sen. Melinda Bush is a Grayslake Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill. She says dyslexic students can fall behind quickly if their disability isn’t identified.

School Library Journal
July 15, 2014

The amount of cleverness in children’s literature never ceases to amaze me. While some decry the sameness of picture books, I believe that there are plenty of bold and unique books coming out, once you start looking around. What follows are a few 2014 books that made me and Salvador Dali double take — in a good way.

PBS NewsHour
July 14, 2014

By age four, toddlers in low-income families hear 30 million fewer words than those in high-income families, according to researchers. As a result, these children tend to have smaller vocabularies and fall behind in reading. Learning Matters reports on one program in Providence, Rhode Island, that gets low-income parents talking more to their toddlers. 2.5-year-old Nylasia Jordan is part of a closely watched experiment in language development. To boost the number of words she hears, under her shirt she’s been wearing a small electronic word counter. Called digital language processors, they have been given to some 55 toddlers whose families are on public assistance through a city program called Providence Talks.

Ed Central
July 14, 2014

When Alexiss Evans enrolled in the Ounce of Prevention Fund’s Parent University literacy program, she did so because she believed in the organization and because she wanted to give her daughter every possible opportunity to learn. “I’m one of those parents who, if [the Ounce says] something, I’ll do it,” she said. “I want to show support and be a team player.” Evans received text messages each weekday for six weeks. These texts suggested activities for Evans to do with her 5-year-old daughter, from playing “I spy” with letter sounds to making an alphabet chart. They also offered general words of encouragement and empathy for parents, like “After you put the kids to bed take a few moments to have some alone time. You deserve it!”

The New York Times
July 14, 2014

Re "The Fallacy of 'Balanced Literacy'" (Op-Ed, July 7). Too often, educational debates become simple, reductive arguments against the imagined orthodoxy of the other side. We see this once again in Alexander Nazaryan's critique of "balanced literacy" and his call for "muscular teaching." He sees balanced literacy as a complete abdication of any direct instruction. It isn't. Classrooms will always need a balance between independence and direct instruction, and few "experts" claim otherwise. There is no simple recipe for success. And Mr. Nazaryan's assertion that "independent reading" doesn't work because it failed in his classroom when he was a first-year teacher is tantamount to claiming that bicycles don't work because you fall the first time you try to ride. In my years in the classroom, I was constantly shifting the amount of independence and direct instruction, as every teacher should. Instead of silly arguments over which flavor of curriculum is best, our children would be much better served if we focused on a commitment to attract and train high-quality teachers whose judgment we can trust.

Hechinger Report
July 14, 2014

The job of differentiating instruction to meet the needs of the variety of learners in my class belonged to me, their teacher. I did so by designing a rich curriculum and managing my classroom in ways that kept my students engaged — never bored. My students designed architectural renderings of cityscapes as part of a unit on volume. They explored literary devices by writing “Where I’m From” poems in the style of George Ella Lyon. As part of a unit on data analysis, they used Google Maps to help calculate the range, mean, and median for their morning commutes. They learned how bias influences history by reading a biography of Claudette Colvin, the teenage girl who refused to stand on a Montgomery bus months before Rosa Parks. All of these lessons were grounded in the Common Core, the standards for math and English that will go into full effect in Mississippi next school year. Common Core gave me the flexibility to teach to my students’ individual needs without compromising essential learning goals that ensured they would be ready for college or careers upon graduation.

The Oregonian
July 11, 2014

Forty years of educational research conclude that summer learning loss is one of the most important causes of the achievement gap in America. Beyond its deleterious impact on student achievement, summer learning loss has enormous negative consequences for school finances and efficiency. Despite the scope of this problem, the issue of summer learning loss has few champions – it seems to be one of those problems that policymakers find easier to ignore than to deal with. At the federal level, there are no programs with dedicated funding for summer education. At the state and local level, funding constraints limit the number and size of summer programs. You could even say that summer learning is missing entirely from the school reform agenda. Yet, innovative school districts, program providers and community-based organizations have shown that creative solutions abound. In places like Grand Rapids, Mich., Birmingham, Ala., and Newark, N.J., program leaders are working with school district officials, local funders and community partners to design new approaches to summer learning.

School Library Journal
July 11, 2014

Just 17 percent of parents believe reading should be a top priority during summer months, according to a new study from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), sponsored by corporate partner Macy’s, which interviewed 1,014 parents with children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old who are enrolled in school. Eighty-three percent of parents stated that it was “extremely/very important” for their child to read during the months away from school. But when asked where they prioritized reading against other activities, 49 percent stated that playing outside was the most important thing kids can do during those dog days, with just 17 percent who say that they think reading books is more important and “relax and take it easy” in third.

Columbia Daily (SC)
July 11, 2014

Reading, writing and ‘rithmetic are valuable concepts learned by kids across the Midlands each school year. But many children likely aren’t practicing them this summer. To ensure students return to the classroom with their minds sharp, local educators shared their tips and advice that can be implemented by families of all sizes, ages and schedules. “My No. 1 suggestion is reading widely and frequently,” said Mary Gaskins, coordinator of professional learning for Lexington School District One. “The more access to reading material, the better.” Educators also advise parents to take the extra step to ask their children questions about what they’re reading and even pick up the title themselves.

Indianapolis Recorder
July 11, 2014

Having dyslexia is tough. Just ask nine-year-old JeRay Owens. “My brain scribble scrabbles,” said the young boy who is headed to the fourth grade this fall. When reading, Owens skips over words and letters, and sometimes guesses at words he is unsure of. He also relies heavily on his memory. These factors have resulted in poor reading comprehension. Though his reading suffers, he does well in math. Not only does Owens have dyslexia, he also has dysgraphia meaning he’s unable to write well. Oftentimes the young student has a hard time dealing with his disorder, but his mother Janet Lewis is right there with him in the fight.

"Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks." — Dr. Seuss