Blogs about Reading
Sound It Out
Dr. Joanne Meier
Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.
As I think about the Common Core State Standards and the recommendations for increased nonfiction reading, I must confess that my own reading choices (for pleasure reading) are quite narrow. I read fiction, and that's pretty much it. Sometimes an occasional piece of historical fiction creeps in, but by and large, my Kindle is full of regular 'ol fiction.
It's a different story during the day. Then, my reading is almost exclusively nonfiction. Newspaper articles, journal studies, press releases, and reports fill my screen. I know how to read each one with skill, and do so strategically. (Thank goodness for the grad school prof that taught me to read research studies from end to beginning to charts and then middle!)
It's important for kids to read widely — from lots of different genre — in order for them to gain experience and practice reading different types of text. Think about your students or your children. If given the choice, would they read the same type of book over and over and over again? If your answer is yes, maybe some sort of genre tracking chart would be helpful to encourage more variation in what they're reading. Something quick and easy to use, on which a child keeps track of the different types of books he's read that month.
I gathered a few examples on our Genre Pinterest Board. Check it out, and please comment in if you use one we should add!
Our hearts are heavy during this time for our neighbors in Connecticut. During tough times, I find comfort in returning to simple pleasures and traditions. This is our third year for "a book on every bed," and it's a tradition that I love, and one part of my shopping that I actually look forward to!
Two years ago, the Family Reading Partnership and Ask Amy from the Chicago Tribune launched a homegrown, grassroots literacy campaign with a goal to raise a generation of readers. The idea was inspired by the author David McCullough, who says he woke to a wrapped book at the foot of his bed every Christmas morning during his childhood.
Here's how it works:
Take a book.
Place it on a child's bed so it's the first thing the child sees on Christmas morning (or the morning of the holiday you celebrate).
"A Book on Every Bed" is an appeal to spread the love of reading from parents to children. It also encourages families to share books by reading aloud.
As I wrote last year, one of my favorite parts of this tradition is that the book can be new, or it can be a beloved copy of a childhood favorite. In the past, we've given our girls copies of The Giving Tree, and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Those were familiar stories, but now they are the proud owners of their own worn and loved copies. I hope one morning they'll be wrapping up those books for their own growing readers.
While those choices were highly sentimental for me, last year's were just for fun: Are You "Normal"?: More Than 100 Questions That Will Test Your Weirdness (National Geographic Kids) and The Encyclopedia of Immaturity: Volume 2.
This year, Molly will open Thirteen Gifts by Wendy Mass (her favorite author) and Anna will get a Garfield Fat Cat 3-Pack. Anna's taken to reading some heavy historical novels lately, and often needs a light diversion before bed. Garfield never lets us down!
Every year I hope the book on the bed will keep them in bed Christmas morning! So far it hasn't worked, but it's been nice to have a book to curl up with once the bustle of Christmas morning has passed.
Happy holidays to you and your family. I'll see you again in 2013!
I came across a great website, Mapping Media to the Curriculum, that could help teachers and students demonstrate what they have learned using digital media. By asking the simple question, "What do you want to CREATE today?" teachers can choose from a graphic menu of options, including Interactive Writing, Puppet Video, Simulation, Geo-Map, and others. Within each choice, teachers can read a definition, get a sense of the workflow required to create the product, and a list of tools (both free and for purchase) that can be used. Finally, and perhaps most helpfully to teachers new to a technology, finished examples of projects real kids have done.
Mapping Media to the Curriculum could be of great help to teachers working within the Common Core State Standards, especially the standards related to developing students who "use technology and digital media strategically and capably."
Some of my teacher friends are nervous about the call within the Common Core State Standards for more informational texts in the classroom. Couple informational texts with recommendations to have students read widely and deeply from increasingly challenging texts, and I've got a couple of worried friends!
There's nothing quite like working with a group of students with a text that is (1) hard for them to read, and (2) doesn't immediately grab their attention. Thanks to Emily Stewart, our new blogger who will share about implementing the CCSS into her classroom, we'll get an insider's look at how one teacher navigates the challenges.
One resource that can help teachers think about text complexity is 7 Actions that Teachers Can Take Right Now: Text Complexity from TextProject. Today I'll share about creating connections, one of the actions described by Dr. Hiebert, and encourage you to read the rest of the article to learn the other actions.
We all remember learning about schema theory, and the value of helping kids make connections between something they know and something new. These are the cognitive "hooks" that we have children "hang" new knowledge on. With the CCSS, teachers are encouraged to emphasize the text as the source of knowledge. While this is true, there is still value in helping students make the connection between a text and something they already know.
Dr. Hiebert recommends using the acronym KNOWS as a way to guide students in making connections:
K: Did I draw on students' existing knowledge and experience?
N: Did I identify what new knowledge can be gained from this text and guide students in gaining it?
O: Did I support students in organizing their new knowledge with their existing knowledge/experiences?
W: Did I show students ways to widen their knowledge?
S: Did I support students in sharing their knowledge?
Of these, I find the "widen" element the most compelling. I hope to write more about that later. I've shared this article and talked about KNOWS with my friends. How about you? Does this framework for thinking about making connections with new knowledge seem useful to you?
This November, I'm thankful for the teachers who work tirelessly day after day with our kids. Teachers are very special people. I'm thankful for principals and school specialists who recognize that good teaching is sometimes loud and messy, and it's rarely easy. I'm thankful for parents who do their part in raising curious and prepared students. And I'm thankful to those who find their way to my blog in their search for information about struggling readers.
For a limited time, Education Week is offering a free digital edition of Rethinking Literacy: Reading in the Common-Core Era. There are several articles within the edition worth reading, each taking its own look at how the Common Core State Standards are changing the way we think about reading and writing, with a keen eye on informational texts.
In the introductory article Common Standards Drive New Approaches to Reading, P. David Pearson sums up Common Core this way:
"I think these standards have the potential to lead the parade in a different direction: toward taking as evidence of your reading ability not your score on a specific skill test — or how many letter sounds you can identify or ideas you can recall from a passage — but the ability to use the information you gain from reading, the fruits of your labor, to apply to some new situation or problem or project," he said. "That's a huge change."
Huge change, indeed. As someone who lives in one of the (only) four states (!) that has not adopted the Common Core, I am having my own struggles and questions. Are my kids missing out? Will they be less 21st century literate? Or is this just another educational phase that we'll ride through? (p.s.: It doesn't seem like it.)
If you have time this week, head over to Rethinking Literacy: Reading in the Common-Core Era and read a few of the articles. I think you'll be glad you did.
Important professional books — you know, the sort you need to have close at hand, come along every once in a while. We've gathered many of those titles in our Research by Topic section. Look for those listed under Foundational Research. There you'll find the citations for important work such as Chall's Learning to Read: The Great Debate from 1967, Marilyn Adams' 1990 book Learning to read: Thinking and Learning About Print, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (1998, Snow et al), and many more.
The foundational work keeps coming. In 2002, the National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) was formed and sought to review the research on teaching literacy to preschool and kindergarten children. Their report came out in 2008 (full report; summary). The NELP report quickly became the go-to resource for current findings and best thoughts about teaching our youngest learners.
A new book, Early Childhood Literacy, edited by Timothy Shanahan and Christopher J. Lonigan, promises to add itself to the list of foundational reading for those who study early literacy. The book uses the NELP report as its point of departure, and relies on the field's top experts as chapter contributors. Through reading, you'll be up to date on the impact of federal research, know the latest research on how to share books with children, understand how to best educate parents, appreciate the value of oral language, and understand what is known about interventions for kids with special needs. And more! With each topic you'll learn key takeaways and recommendations for future directions in policy and practice.
Brookes Publishing is generously offering our Reading Rockets readers a 20% discount on Early Childhood Literacy. Just use the offer code READ2012 when checking out. The offer is good through 12/31/2012.
There's a new educational documentary that I can't wait to see, and I hope you'll try to see it as well. It's called The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, and is directed by James Redford. Redford shares the story of his son Dylan who, by the age of ten was "barely able to read and write. To say that school was difficult for him is beyond understatement." The film shares the Redford's story, as well as three other families, and insights from successful leaders in law, politics, and business, like Charles Schwab and Richard Branson, as well as from experts like Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz.
Early reviews call it an "exemplary example of educational documentary filmmaking," and a film "filled with hope." Sounds great, doesn't it?
It's possible to schedule a screening in your hometown; I've asked my school's PTO if they'd be willing to host something for our community. If that happens, I'll take some pictures and share them with you!
Below are a few links to learn more about the movie:
I don't know what to be! Every day my girls have a different idea for their Halloween costume. One year, Anna changed her mind around 5 PM! Thankfully a stocked dress up box meant she could throw something together last minute. That year she went as a … hmmmm … someone wearing crazy mixed-up clothes!?!
If your little one is still trying to decide what to be, check out our Pinterest board for some very cute book-inspired costumes. I love, love, love the Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs & Ham ones, as well as the very cute Wild Things! Have a picture you'd like to see added to our board? Let me know!
I have a good friend with a 7 month old daughter. Through his video clips on Facebook, I have watched E react to new toys, try all sorts of new foods, and learn to sit up. Around our house, we're way past soft foods and teethers, so I watch with joy as E happily gums spoonfuls of bananas and sweet potato. But every time I watch, I'm struck by the silence. There are no adult sounds, just the occasional grunt or gurgle from baby E. When I finally asked E's Mom and Dad about the silence, it turns out to be plain 'ol stage fright — Mom and Dad are too shy to have their voice heard on video.
For those of us who worry, study and think about literacy development, we know the power of conversation and talk. We know about the heartbreaking 30 million word gap by age 3 (Hart & Risley) and take pains to share what we know with others, even if it's at inopportune times.
Vocabulary is back on the front burner this week with Before a Test, a Poverty of Words from the NY Times. Bellafante writes about the topic through the lens of middle-schoolers in New York preparing for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, the multiple-choice exam used "as the sole metric for entrance into some of New York City's elite public high schools." Bellafante suggests that studying for such an exam may be too little too late, citing E.D. Hirsch's belief that "there is strong evidence that increasing the general knowledge and vocabulary of a child before age 6 is the single highest correlate with later success." Middle schoolers who did not have the benefit of talkative adults using interesting words will have a much harder time on the test.
An interesting follow up to Bellafante's piece is Demographics Isn't Destiny. Vocabulary is Destiny from the Core Knowledge blog. Pondiscio, the author, thankfully has two messages: good conversation can happen in any home, not just affluent ones. And that skill and drill (and kill) with vocabulary worksheets is not the answer. The answer lies within our frequent conversations filled with interesting words. And I would add "even if the camera is rolling."