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Struggling readers

Effective Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in the Classroom

When is inclusion done right? Sessions at education conferences where Lynn Fuchs is speaking on this topic (and others related to accessing the curriculum) are always packed.

In the video clip below, Fuchs — the Nicholas Hobbs Professor of Special Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University — has sage advice about effective inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms.

What Phonological Awareness Skill Should We Be Screening?

Teacher question: I read a research study (Kilpatrick, 2014) that questions the value of segmentation tests for measuring phonemic awareness, because such tests did not correlate well with first- and second-grade reading achievement. At our school we have used DIBELS in Kindergarten and Grade 1 to identify children at risk for reading difficulties. Is this really useful or are we identifying kids as needing help when they do not? Should we be using measures of blending and manipulation instead?
 
Shanahan's response:

Winning audiobook sources (but check for learning supports)

Creating access for learning through audiobooks may one day have full acceptance; yet changes are underway and options are improving so teachers, parents and students have choices about how students listen while learning.

Leadership and the Power of School Relationships

In the last few weeks I've visited five schools in four states. Each of them educates large numbers of students from low-income homes and students of color, and each is either high-performing or on an impressive improvement trajectory.

The schools are different in lots of ways, but one thing characterizes them all: Teachers, principals, and other administrators work hard at building trusting relationships that help create a sense of agency and purpose.

Here are three examples of what I mean:

Wimpy Kid Author Jeff Kinney Has Advice for Kids About "Ear Reading"

Super author Jeff Kinney, best known for his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and the Wimpy Kid movies, does not have dyslexia, nor do his children, but he champions reading audiobooks! In fact, he personally only reads audiobooks as an alternative to traditional print.

Listening to audiobooks is reading, says Kinney. This view refutes claims by some to the contrary. In the video clip that follows he talks more about that and offers other insights about the benefits for all of this book format.

"Falling Letters" Animated Short Depicts Learning Differences

The Swedish animated short, "Falling Letters (Bokstavsbarn)," (4:14 min) by Erik Rosenlund depicts a child who learns differently. In this case, some of the character's everyday actions turn out awkwardly or set them apart socially from peers.

The ending offers a heartwarming reminder of the power that parents, guardians, and teachers or helping personnel can have when simple support is needed for reassurance in trying times. The imagery can be especially valuable for young children who compare themselves with others and are saddened by their personal differences.

How Many Times Should They Copy the Spelling Words?

Two questions from teachers:

I have a question that was posed to me be an elementary principal. Her question was, "How many times does a student need to write a high frequency word before they feel secure with it?"  

[I must admit, I have never been asked this question before, and I cannot find research that addresses this specific question.] 

The teachers in my school have kids copying missed spelling words 15 times. Is this a good idea?

Shanahan's reponse:

For a Boost of Optimism, Read (and Watch) This

"I don't think there's a child out there who doesn't want to learn and be the best they can be."

Those are the words of Barbara Preuss, a veteran educator with more than 30 years of experience.

That is to say, she is no bright-eyed novice about to be confronted by reality. She is confronted by plenty of reality, every day. And yet she retains her belief that even the kids who act out and misbehave still want to learn and still need to learn.

She retains this belief because she has seen it again and again, in all the schools where she has worked.

Beverly Cleary, one of a kind

Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary has received countless awards. They include being named by the Library of Congress as a Living Legend; Cleary received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her lasting contributions to children’s literature; she is the recipient of a Newbery Medal and several Newbery Honors; and has been the American nominee for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award.

But perhaps the most significant honor to Beverly Cleary’s books is that they continue to be read by children.

New Open eBook App Just Out. Is It Accessible?

The Open eBooks app debuted this week creating access to digital books for children in need. Right out of the box, there are questions on social media about accessibility features. That is a good thing. Many ebooks are not accessible or accessible enough for seriously struggling readers.

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