Background knowledge

Teacher question

The National Assessment of Educational Progress says that only 37% of 4th graders are reaching reading proficiency. Why is it so low?

Shanahan's response

Why do so few American kids read well?

There seems to be plenty of blame to go around. Parents? Society? Too much screen time? Poverty? Immigration? You and me?

Teacher question:

I don’t get the reason for trying to make students read “like historians” or read “like scientists.” Many of my students aren’t likely to even go to college and even if they did they probably won’t be historians or scientists. I understand why it makes sense to teach students how to study a history or a science textbook so they can pass the tests on those, but “read like a…” Why?

Shanahan's response:

Becky Koons is a Senior Resident Services Manager with AHC Inc. at the Woodbury Park Community Center in Arlington, Virginia. AHC’s Summer Camp program is designed to prevent learning loss — a particular challenge for low-income students — through both educational and enrichment experiences.

How can we teach children about one of our most important natural resources? Gaynelle Diaz combines lots of reading with art, hands-on activities, and field trips to jumpstart a summer full of learning about water and our local rivers.

James Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome have been writing and illustrating together and individually for many years. And their work continues to grow and evolve. Perhaps James said it best: “What makes illustrating books so exciting is that because each book has a special voice, my approach toward each is different. Whether it be through my choice of palette, design or perspective, there is always a desire to experiment and explore what makes each book unique.”

Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

Question:

This may be the season for celebrations, family travel, and out-of-town guests, but it is also a great time of year to engage kids in all kinds of joyful and meaningful learning experiences. To help make the most of winter break, Reading Rockets’ sister project, Start with a Book provides parents and caring adults with ideas and activities for fun and meaningful interactions around books and things of kid interest.

I always feel like I’m one step behind around this time of year which makes me realize — sometimes with a start — that the end of another year will be upon us very soon.

What can I give my friends and family that will not only slow us down but create a memory that will last longer than the moment? I’ve decided this year that I’ll share my favorite books and take time to share them. Each book will come with a promise (to myself as well as to the book’s recipient) to to share it in person, by phone, or Skype.

It’s the season when we think about giving thanks. Occasionally, we take things for which we should be grateful for granted. Sometimes a fresh look can help us gain greater appreciation.

That’s just what happened when I read a recent book by Khizr Khan entitled This Is Our Constitution (Knopf).  It’s an introduction to the U.S. Constitution, its government, and the freedoms afforded American citizens.

How was your summer?

Young girl in the garden

Like most summers, it went by way too quickly for me. But there are a couple of things I think will be helpful to do to preserve this summer’s bounty of reading and learning.

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"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain