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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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Newsweek
March 27, 2015

When literate adults pick up a book, they don’t start sounding out each word letter by letter or sound by sound, the way their kindergarten or first-grade teacher probably told them to do when they were first beginning to read. Instead, as a new study shows, their brains recognize whole words they’ve seen before, which facilitates quicker reading. Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center’s Department of Neuroscience published their findings Tuesday in The Journal of Neuroscience. The paper, “Adding Words to the Brain’s Visual Dictionary: Novel Word Selectively Sharpens Orthographic Representations in the VWFA,” demonstrates the brain’s ability to adapt and learn to recognize new words. The brain can add new words to its “visual dictionary” even if they are made up and have no meaning attached to them, the researchers found.

National Public Radio
March 27, 2015

A stack of research suggests that all the classroom technology in the world can't compare to the power of a great teacher. And, since we haven't yet figured out how to clone our best teachers, a few schools around the country are trying something like it: Stretching them across multiple classrooms. "We'll probably never fill up every single classroom with one of those teachers," says Bryan Hassel, founder of Charlotte-based education consulting firm Public Impact. But, he says, it's important to ask: "How can we change the way schools work so that the great teachers we do have can reach more of the students, maybe even all of them?" Public Impact is working with schools in Tennessee, North Carolina and New York to build what it calls an "opportunity culture" for teachers. It's part of a broader turnaround strategy at schools like Bailey Middle Prep in Nashville.

KQED Mindshift
March 27, 2015

When students use their bodies in the learning process, it can have a big effect, even if it seems silly or unconnected to the learning goal at hand. Researchers have found that when students use their bodies while doing mathematical storytelling (like with word problems, for example), it changes the way they think about math. “We understand language in a richer, fuller way if we can connect it to the actions we perform,” said Sian Beilock, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago.

NewJersey.com
March 27, 2015

April is National Poetry Month, and maybe you didn't even know it. But 21 Harrison kids are prepared with poems in their back pockets. These students, all fifth grade students in one Hamilton Intermediate School class, recently took part in a cross-curriculum project combining art and poetry -- and blue jeans. They decorated old jean pockets and stuck poems that they wrote inside. The project honors Poem in Your Pocket Day, a national initiative of the Academy of American Poets encouraging people to keep poems in their pockets, to share with others throughout the day (this year, it's on April 30).

National Public Radio
March 26, 2015

When it comes to kids and exercise, schools need to step up and focus more on quality as well as quantity. And, says Dr. Gregory D. Myer, they need to promote activities that develop motor skills, socialization and fun. Myer is one of the authors of a recent paper and commentary on children and exercise. He's also director of the Human Performance Lab and director of research at the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Myer helped develop exercise guidelines for youth aimed at reducing sports-related injuries and promoting health. The guidelines call for greater focus on short, interval-like bursts of activity interspersed with rest. It includes core strength building, resistance training, agility and more.

Education Week
March 26, 2015

One of the lowest-performing schools in Washington State has moved to the top half of the state's elementary schools three years into a federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) that included lengthening the school day and year and replacing the principal. Lakeridge Elementary School in suburban Seattle's Renton School District ranked in the bottom 5 percent statewide and was labeled a persistently low-performing school when it received the $3 million SIG grant starting in the 2011-12 school year. Earlier this month, the state superintendent of public instruction and other state education officials paid a surprise visit to the school bearing cupcakes and balloons to congratulate students for surpassing the state average in math and 3rd grade reading, and coming close to the state average in 4th and 5th grade reading.

Michigan State University Extension
March 26, 2015

Did you know if you start daily reading at birth, and read with your child for 30 minutes a day, they will go to kindergarten with over 900 hours of literacy time? If you reduce that to 30 minutes a week, they lose over 770 hours of this critical “brain food” and go to kindergarten with just 130 hours of literacy time. Make a commitment to help your child be ready to succeed in school and commit to engaging in 30 minutes of daily literacy skill-building time starting at birth! Here are seven tips from Michigan State University Extension and ideas to support your young child’s literacy development.

Webster University Today (St. Louis, MO)
March 26, 2015

For three years, Webster University School of Education students have been teaching reading literacy to children at Edgar Road Elementary School as part of the Methods of Teaching Elementary Reading course. Tutoring elementary students is more than a class requirement – it is an opportunity to put theory into practice and grow as a future teacher. When Webster University students visit the school, they first observe the teacher by simply watching and listening. After making observations on the teacher’s style, methods and the material covered, the students then put their skills to the test, working with kindergarteners and first and second graders. They complete a variety of different exercises involving reading and comprehension over the course of the year with the younger students.

Education Week
March 25, 2015

Teach For America teachers in lower elementary grades (preschool though 2nd grade) were better at teaching students to read than other teachers, according to a study by the independent research firm Mathematica released March 4. Early-grade TFA teachers were the only ones who produced statistically significant benefits for their students above and beyond what their non-TFA counterparts produced at the same schools. The benefit to students was the equivalent of 1.3 extra months of learning, according to the stud

Hechinger Report
March 25, 2015

Often, educators and experts say, technology can help students become more engaged in the lesson, but sometimes it just gets in the way — especially when learning is best accomplished through kinesthetic experiences, which require being physically engaged in problem solving. The key to making the standards and tech work together, they say, is using technology to encourage critical thinking and classroom engagement — not replace them. The standards have an intense focus on technology and digital literacy. While some standards explicitly mention technology — including requirements that students be able to handle computer troubleshooting, new media presentations and online research — many schools find that technology can be useful to teach standards that do not require it.

Rutgers Today (NJ)
March 25, 2015

Marlene Veloso remembers struggling to read as a child. “I’m not 100 percent sure whether I spoke English when I started kindergarten,” said Veloso, 36, whose parents emigrated from Portugal. “So my reading wasn’t so strong, especially those first few years.” Today, Veloso is more than a strong reader. The Rutgers alumna is an award-winning writer and literacy advocate for inner-city children. She founded the Kids Research Center in New York City in 2008 after an eye-opening experience as a freelance teaching artist in Washington Heights, N.Y. “I was surprised to find the children I was working with at the YWCA were going through some of the same issues I was going through 20 years earlier as a child of immigrant parents,” said the Newark native. As a poetry and literacy instructor, Veloso knows a strong foundation in reading and comprehension skills are the key to her students’ success. But she also knows that the lower-income families they come from have limited access to the diverse literature they need to engage them.

ILA Literacy Daily
March 25, 2015

Kate DiCamillo is the perfect person to tap as an ambassador for literature and reading. As a child with chronic pneumonia, she poured herself into books when she wasn’t able to go out and explore the world. When she turned 29, DiCamillo began to write books herself and racked up the awards for Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and more. Writing every day and working for the Library of Congress as a “champion” keeps her busy, but DiCamillo was able to carve out some time to answer five questions.

Brookings
March 24, 2015

Girls score higher than boys on tests of reading ability. They have for a long time. This section of the Brown Center Report assesses where the gender gap stands today and examines trends over the past several decades. The analysis also extends beyond the U.S. and shows that boys’ reading achievement lags that of girls in every country in the world on international assessments. The international dimension — recognizing that U.S. is not alone in this phenomenon — serves as a catalyst to discuss why the gender gap exists and whether it extends into adulthood.

Education Week
March 24, 2015

How much fathers talk to young children has a direct positive effect on their kindergarten performance, according to a study by researchers in the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology in January, concluded that more-talkative dads are a benefit to their kids. That likely does not come as a surprise to anyone who has a kid. Previous research has shown that the size of a mother''s vocabulary and frequency of communication affect her child's vocabulary and preliteracy skills.

University of Kansas News
March 24, 2015

For years teachers have seen students who were promising readers in the primary grades begin to experience challenges in third and fourth grades as reading materials became more difficult. University of Kansas researchers conducted a study with the goal of identifying how to better predict in kindergarten who might have reading difficulties in the future and to determine what extra instruction should include in order to help ensure their later success as readers. The researchers also provided reading interventions focused on both aspects of learning to read words (phonics and letter identification) and comprehension (vocabulary and story understanding) with a group of students that showed some difficulties with language and reading-related assessments in kindergarten.

Circleville Herald (OH)
March 24, 2015

Westfall Elementary students and their families got a taste of the outdoors at the Camp Read S’More Literacy Night. According to Joy Sharrett, Title 1 second grade teacher, one of the requirements for Title 1 funding is to work on family and school connections. Sharrett said Literacy Night started four years ago as a positive event to bring families and the school together. Although literacy is the main focus, Sharrett said they also tie math and science into the activities. Families could attend the following stations: Reading Under the Stars, where the Pickaway Literacy Council shared a story; Reader’s Theatre, an interactive story; A Piece of Nature, where students received a free book and completed a nature craft; Letters From Camp, where students wrote a camp letter; Grab Your Life Vest, where the Army Corp of Engineers talked about water safety with Corey the Tugboat; and Let’s Have S’more Fun, where students had to read directions on how to make a s’more.

Ed Central
March 23, 2015

It’s not difficult to understand why more hours of quality instruction can be beneficial to children: more time in the classroom means more time for high-quality interactions with teachers and peers, which translates to more learning. However, there are other, maybe less obvious, benefits to full-day kindergarten. In last month’s webinar, University of Washington Education Professor Kristie Kauerz presented the comprehensive research supporting full-day kindergarten that goes beyond the positive impact on student learning. By explaining the research around full-day kindergarten from the perspectives of families, teachers, and economists, Kauerz made a strong argument for better policies in this area.

National Public Radio
March 23, 2015

When a 4-year-old comes home from pre-K proudly announcing that she spent her "choice time" playing on the computer, what's a parent to do? Among public school classrooms, 97 percent have at least one computer — a stat that dates back to 2009, light-years ago in technology time. More recently, a national survey in 2014 found that nearly half of all K-12 schools allow students to bring their own smartphones to class, which they're using to do research, shoot video and, let's be honest, to text the occasional emoji note. And still other schools are pursuing an entirely "blended" approach with students using devices for much or all of the day. But wait a second. Weren't we supposed to be worrying about the amount of screen time our kids get, not celebrating it? We came up with a list of questions that parents should be asking when they hear about new gadgets and gizmos coming to their kids' classrooms.

Crow River Media (Hutchinson, MN)
March 23, 2015

This is the time of year when parents inquire about how they can best prepare their child for the start of kindergarten. The best advice I can give is to Read — Read — Read. As a parent you can never read to a child too early in life (start when they are babies) or too often. The early years are so critical to a lifelong love for reading and are truly the foundation of success in school and in life. The main goal is to help your child become a happy and confident reader, so he or she will continue to learn and grow. Parents and caregivers play an important role in helping a child on the road to be a successful reader. Here are some parent-tested ideas on how to help your child be a successful reader and student.

Greenfield Reporter (IN)
March 23, 2015

Sometimes the best way for students to learn isn't from a teacher — it's from another student. A new blended learning program pairs transitional literacy students at Handley High School with struggling readers at Quarles Elementary School to help them improve their reading and writing skills while working together. For 30 minutes, the students read together in Quarles' library, working with the same "reading buddy" each week.

"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them." — Neil Gaiman