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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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KQED Mindshift
September 2, 2014

When elementary school teacher Erin Klein sat in one of her students’ desks last year, she noticed a few things about her classroom space. For one, the room itself was long and narrow, and the space was awkward. Large, clunky student desks crowded the classroom. And the desks themselves got in the way of students being able to comfortably work together. Even though Klein had the desks in groups of four, her second-grade students were far from each other because the compartments in the desks for student supplies were large, forcing the kids to communicate and work together over a vast span of desk space. "The desks didn’t allow for much collaboration or comfort," said Klein, who teaches at an independent elementary school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. What she wanted was a classroom where students could move around freely, sit comfortably, and work together.

National Public Radio
September 2, 2014

Two years ago, the Chicago Public Schools budgeted for 454 librarians. Last year, the budget called for 313 librarians, and now that number is down to 254. With educators facing tough financial choices, having a full-time librarian is becoming something of a luxury in Chicago's more than 600 public schools. It's not that there's a shortage of librarians in Chicago, and it's not mass layoffs. The librarians are being reassigned. "The people are there, they're just not staffing the library; they're staffing another classroom," says Megan Cusick, a librarian at Nancy B. Jefferson Alternative School. She says all across the district, certified librarians are being reassigned to English classrooms, world languages or to particular grade levels in elementary schools.

Marshall News Messsenger (TX)
September 2, 2014

There is a little library in the front yard of Eddie and Betty Waugh in Marshall. Earlier this year, Betty Waugh was watching a television program when she heard about the Little Free Library program from TV personality Rick Rowe. According to Waugh, the story of the Little Free Library is wide. It began in 2009, when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books, put it on a post in his front yard, and had a sign on it, that said, "Free Books — Take One, Return One." It didn't take long for the project to become viral.

Jackson Sun (TN)
September 2, 2014

Last year, Arlington Elementary School started Literacy Night, one night a month for parents and students to come to school to read. Kristen Craig, a reading interventionist at Arlington, said the events started as a way to get parents to encourage students to read. Parents were encouraged to read with their children for 20 minutes every day. Arlington held its first Literacy Night of the new school year Thursday. Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam attended to read to the children. Haslam started the Read20 Family Book Club for the same reason Arlington started its literacy nights: To encourage reading.

The Hechinger Report
August 29, 2014

Students in the Santa Ana Unified school district in Orange Country, California tackled very different challenges during their summer school programs, but they shared a common experience. Their classes were individually crafted by teachers in a first-of-its kind program for the district, in which 90 percent of students come from low-income families and about half are learning English. Educators wanted to create classes where students chose their own activities, worked on projects with classmates and where presentations and performances, not tests, demonstrated achievement — all with an eye to inspiring those most at risk of falling behind during the summer to learn. The result: classes that engaged 4,000 elementary and middle school students in hands-on activities such as dissecting cow eyes; handling worms, snails and pill bugs; designing theater sets and costumes and holding performances for the community; researching global warming solutions; taking field trips to zoos and museums; and delivering PowerPoint presentations on their findings.

The New York Times
August 29, 2014

For the 16 million American children living below the federal poverty line, the start of a new school year should be reason to celebrate. Summer is no vacation when your parents are working multiple jobs or looking for one. Many kids are left to fend for themselves in neighborhoods full of gangs, drugs and despair. Given the hardships at home, poor kids might be expected to have the best attendance records, if only for the promise of a hot meal and an orderly classroom. But it doesn’t usually work out that way. According to the education researchers Robert Balfanz and Vaughan Byrnes at Johns Hopkins, children living in poverty are by far the most likely to be chronically absent from school (which is generally defined as missing at least 10 percent of class days each year).

National Public Radio
August 29, 2014

Kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens, and it may be inhibiting their ability to recognize emotions, according to new research out of the University of California, Los Angeles. The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that sixth-graders who went five days without exposure to technology were significantly better at reading human emotions than kids who had regular access to phones, televisions and computers.

New Scientist
August 29, 2014

A new project is printing Braille picture books for visually impaired children. Each page turns the pictures from the original book into raised 3D shapes alongside traditional Braille text. “The advantage of 3D-printing is really about making one-of-a-kind objects,’ says Tom Yeh, who heads up the Tactile Picture Books Project at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Later this year, Yeh’s group will work with the National Braille Press in Boston to offer children a copy of Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin that has a page customised with the child’s name in Braille.

Medical Xpress
August 28, 2014

The use of non-invasive functional neuroimaging tools has helped characterize how brain activity is disrupted in dyslexia. However, most prior work has focused on only a small number of brain regions, leaving a gap in our understanding of how multiple brain regions communicate with one another through networks, called functional connectivity, in persons with dyslexia. This led neuroscience PhD student Emily Finn and her colleagues at the Yale University School of Medicine to conduct a whole-brain functional connectivity analysis of dyslexia using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They report their findings in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry. Dyslexic readers showed decreased connectivity within the visual pathway as well as between visual and prefrontal regions, increased right-hemisphere connectivity, reduced connectivity in the visual word-form area, and persistent connectivity to anterior language regions around the inferior frontal gyrus. This altered connectivity profile is consistent with dyslexia-related reading difficulties.

Ed Central
August 28, 2014

In the rural town of Milbridge, Maine, visiting with several families whose primary home language was Spanish, I saw example after example of creative, intentional use of new technologies for language learning. Not only were the children excited and engaged in learning, but their parents were confident in guiding them to these learning opportunities using new technologies.

School Library Journal
August 28, 2014

Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) will begin delivering bins of carefully selected books to 16 elementary schools in the Columbus City Schools (CCS) district. This new service is part of a larger CML effort to impact early literacy and third grade reading. CML piloted the book delivery program with Groveport-Madison’s six elementary schools during the 2013-14 school year, and will seek to expand this service based on its success. Each classroom in the schools below will receive a bin that contain fiction and nonfiction books that are identified as being “high interest” — books students in each grade level will be interested to read.

Huffington Post
August 27, 2014

Back to school is happening around the country. Exciting times for students and teachers. So what can we do differently and better this year? Here is one idea. Teaching writing has been a challenge for teachers for years. That is one of the reasons why many adults are poor writers; they did not get the training they needed in elementary school and high school. So is there a way to break this trend? The answer is yes. There are many ways and here is one way that works effectively and has a great track record. Engagement is the KEY. This program is called Being a Writer series and it is a flexible writing curriculum for grade K-6. It is based on building a community of writers---kids write together about literature they find interesting. It is part of the "interest-based learning" curriculum. Kids want to read books about things of interest to them. No one gets excited about "See Spot Run" type of books.

School Library Journal
August 27, 2014

The academic-year cycle is upon us again and teachers and librarians are searching for fresh ideas to engage students. Although the discussion of efficacy of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) — with its focus on informational texts — continues, the framework provides a national springboard for guiding instruction. More and more nonfiction titles are becoming widely available as audiobooks, many with the same exceptional narration and attention to production detail that we have come to expect from fiction titles. From urban farming and bird migration to World War II history and providing medical care to the poor, these audiobooks offer learning extensions across many grade levels for research, class discussion, and group projects.

Miami Herald
August 27, 2014

After reading to my students, we’d walk around the library and I’d tell them: ‘Look at all of these books; soon you’ll be able to read every single one. And if you can read every book here, you can learn anything you ever want to learn. And that’s what we are going to do together,’ ” said Alvin Blake, the former vice mayor for the City of North Bay Village. Blake is among 400 reading volunteers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties who set aside time each week to help preschoolers improve their literacy skills by instilling a love of reading. He is a member of ReadingPals, a partnership among The Children’s Movement and 10 United Ways in Florida. Over the course of 28 weeks, the volunteers will work with pairs of young children to help them build vocabulary and other literacy skills by reading high-quality books and engaging them in interactive learning activities.

Ed Central
August 26, 2014

Apps for social communication, learning, and play are a prominent part of nearly every family’s life today. Are they having a similar impact on how families and educators help their children learn to read? And if so, what kinds of apps are they using? We wanted to take a deeper look at the kinds of apps available to families with children 8 years old and younger by coding additional aspects of the app descriptions and content.

PBS NewsHour
August 26, 2014

As the new school year approaches, teachers know that their students may have regressed over the summer. But one program has made strides in preventing summer learning loss by enlisting parents as partners to help teach children. Special correspondent for education John Merrow reports on Springboard Collaborative, a non-profit organization that makes parents and teachers into partners.

The Ledger (Lakeland, FL)
August 26, 2014

As we get closer to the end of another summer vacation, I want to encourage parents to continue reading to your children every day. I believe parents are a child's first and most important teacher. I have been a preschool teacher for more than 30 years. Reading to your children is not only a wonderful way to bond with them, but also to grow their brains. Phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension can be taught by you as you read a story, rhyme or sing a song together.

The Cabin
August 26, 2014

Jennifer Hillman of Vilonia describes her 10-year-old daughter, Molly, as a poster child for dyslexia. She’s smart, extremely talented but has low self-esteem. She also has problems with reading and spelling. Molly, Hillman said, struggles daily with self-confidence — a common symptom of dyslexia. Molly was tested in January 2012 when she was in the second grade. Early intervention, Hillman said, is crucial to a child with dyslexia. Hillman is a cheerleader for an education bill that was passed in Arkansas in 2013 and will require school districts to be in compliance by next year. That bill requires a dyslexia specialist in school districts. Also, it requires teachers to receive awareness training and requires schools to screen children in Kindergarten through second grade for dyslexia. Any child identified as having dyslexia will also receive intervention or treatment.

Go Local Worcester (MA)
August 25, 2014

Research continues to show that attendance at all ages is exceedingly important and as mentioned is correlated to student success and graduation rates. Many times parents think my child is only in the kindergarten so if they miss school for a week what’s all fuss about? Well, researcher Hedy Chang found that when students are chronically absent (Absent 10% of the school year or over 18 times during the year) during the kindergarten years that the students perform lower academically in first grade. This is true “regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.” According to the report it is especially strong for Latino children who had a much lower first grade reading scores if they were chronically absent in the kindergarten. The report also showed that children living in poverty suffer more academically when they miss school during the early years. Among poor children, chronic absence in the early grades predicts the lowest levels of achievement at the end of fifth grade. In addition, these same children have trouble mastering reading and math by the end of the third grade. A common sense approach suggests that attending school regularly helps develop a strong foundation for learning and during the elementary years, children are gaining basic social and academic skills critical for further learning.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
August 25, 2014

Julie King, a second-grade teacher at Pittsburgh Colfax K-8, is returning to the classroom this year with new goals in mind for her students. After the students arrive today, Ms. King will focus on helping them read more fluently out loud. She’ll incorporate songs, poetry and partner reading into her daily instruction and monitor her students’ progress along the way. Teaching her students to read is just one part of Ms. King’s job, but according to Brian Smith, Pittsburgh Public Schools’ executive director of strategic priorities, it’s critical. A child’s third-grade reading level is a key predictor of later academic success, and as the school district strives for more of its students to read proficiently by third grade, it’s refocusing efforts on the literacy of its youngest students.

School Library Journal
August 25, 2014

At the Nature Explorium in Centereach, New York, children can taste and smell flowers and herbs, build boats and float them down a creek, and try playing musical instruments from different cultures. This is not an amusement park or a private museum with a pricey entrance fee. Rather, the Nature Explorium is part of the Middle Country Public Library (MCPL) in Centereach and is free to all patrons. The 5,000-square-foot outdoor garden and learning space is a dramatic example of how libraries are creating gardens to expand their mission. A little dirt under the fingernails can go a long way toward teaching nutritional literacy and environmental awareness. Library gardens also provide opportunities for literary tie-ins or a primer on aquaponic farming. Other times, these oases simply offer a place to rejuvenate the soul.

The New York Times
August 22, 2014

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced on Thursday that states could delay the use of test results in teacher-performance ratings by another year, an acknowledgment, in effect, of the enormous pressures mounting on the nation’s teachers because of new academic standards and more rigorous standardized testing. Using language that evoked some of his fiercest critics, Mr. Duncan wrote in a blog post, “I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools,” and he added that teachers needed time to adapt to new standards and tests that emphasize more than simply filling in bubbled answers to multiple-choice questions.

National Public Radio
August 22, 2014

When you think about a sentence, you usually think about words — not lines. But sentence diagramming brings geometry into grammar. If you weren't taught to diagram a sentence, this might sound a little zany. But the practice has a long — and controversial — history in U.S. schools. And while it was once commonplace, many people today don't even know what it is. So let's start with the basics. "It's a fairly simple idea," says Kitty Burns Florey, the author of Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences. "I like to call it a picture of language. It really does draw a picture of what language looks like." I asked her to show me, and for an example she used the first sentence she recalls diagramming: "The dog barked."

New Jersey On-Line
August 22, 2014

In the third grade, students take a battery of tests and exams to gauge just how well they read. But according to school officials, there’s a crucial problem with such a scenario: Oftentimes, third grade is too late. The school board next week will consider a proposal to institute a “reading recovery” program for first-grade students, meant to bridge the gap for children who may have fallen behind in language arts and literacy before they reach a critical age. Without extra help, those students could become part of the 44 percent of district third-graders who were unable to read at their expected level, Parla said. “It’s really meant to fill in gaps,” elementary language arts supervisor Kelli Eppley said at the school board meeting.

Education Week
August 21, 2014

Can limited speech silence the better angels of students' nature? In the cartoons, a little angel and devil pop up on the shoulders of a character about to make a decision, arguing in favor of good or evil. In my 2-year-old son, I can eavesdrop on his real decisionmaking process as he talks himself through why he shouldn't hang on his baby brother's swing: "No, mommy says it can fall so I can't swing on the swing, but I want to swing on it a little …"

The Brooklyn Reader (NY)
August 21, 2014

“Literacy prevents violence,” said Betty Davis, a retired educator and Crown Heights resident. “What it boils down to is, most people who commit violence have no hope. Reading develops a person inside so that they have a vision of themselves as something other than hopeless.” Davis, who has a master’s degree in library science and has worked for many years as a principal in the New York city public schools, said that underlying concept is the reason she has formed the Youth Volunteer Literacy Development Project, an intergenerational reading project that pairs teens with preschool-aged children to encourage reading in the home. The teens volunteer to hold reading circles — a way to encourage them to become active contributors to their community as they carve out their own roles in life while also engage children early in the love of books.

School Library Journal
August 21, 2014

When librarian K.C. Boyd first came to Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago in 2010, it was ranked second to last among schools in Illinois. Since then, test scores have jumped, especially reading: 18.2 percent of students are meeting or exceeding state standards, compared with 6.5 percent in 2012, and the school has moved from a level three rating to a level one, (or an “Excellent Standing”). Boyd has transformed the school’s reading culture and pioneered the school’s use of social media. And while she isn’t entirely responsible for the school’s turnaround — the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit organization that helps chronically low-performing schools, became involved in 2010 as well — she’s definitely had an impact.

The Guardian (UK)
August 21, 2014

A new study which found that readers using a Kindle were "significantly" worse than paperback readers at recalling when events occurred in a mystery story is part of major new Europe-wide research looking at the impact of digitisation on the reading experience. Anne Mangen of Norway's Stavanger University, a lead researcher on the study, said "the Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order." The researchers suggest that "the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does".

National Public Radio
August 20, 2014

Two new polls this week attempt to quantify the public's feelings for the Common Core State Standards. The K-12 benchmarks in English and math were little known this time last year. But they've since become the subject of a high-profile political fight. Now a majority of the public opposes them. Or do they? Poll No. 1, out today, puts support for the Core at just 33 percent. But Poll No. 2, released yesterday, puts it at 53 percent. That's a big difference. Which one is wrong? Or can they both, somehow, be right?

Ed Central
August 20, 2014

It’s clear that children of mothers with low educational achievement are at a disadvantage. While providing high-quality educational opportunities can help children overcome such barriers, helping mothers attain higher levels of education may also help to improve children’s outcomes. Higher levels of education are associated with gainful employment and greater economic stability. And since most children spend the majority of their time with a parent, a stable home environment is important for reinforcing the benefits of high-quality early education. It isn’t possible to determine causation in this case, but the strong correlation depicted in the graph between parental education and children’s proficiency suggests that educating parents could improve children’s academic outcomes.

WLBT (Jackson, MS)
August 20, 2014

No more fun and games. Kindergarten through third grade students will have to pass a fundamental test in order to advance. Lawmakers believe a new program could limit the number of students falling behind and it provides a way to get them targeted for help early. Kristen Wells is a regional literacy coordinator. Her job and others were born out of legislation passed in 2013. It's come to be known as the 3rd grade reading gate. The new law won't allow kids to pass 3rd grade if they can't read at or above the grade level. Schools won't wait till that year to test. The state literacy director says they'll test the kids a total of three times throughout the year. Literacy coaches are currently in 67 target schools across the state this year. Those are the schools with a high percentage of struggling readers. But the work begins with teachers.

The Ledger (Lakeland, FL)
August 20, 2014

Gibbons Street Elementary watched its school grade drop each year, starting in 2011. Last school year, it was sitting at a D and on a list of 100 public and charter elementary schools in the state with the lowest reading scores. Students at the Bartow school spent 180 minutes each day working on their literacy skills with a two-hour literacy block and one additional state-mandated hour for reading comprehension — a model 20 other Polk schools have to adopt this year. When scores came out this summer, Gibbons Street's passing rates for FCAT reading increased, and the school climbed to a C grade.Gibbons Street moved off the list of elementary schools with the lowest reading scores.

Education Week
August 19, 2014

Results of a poll released on Tuesday show strong public support for the idea of shared academic standards, but much weaker support for the standards that have been put in place by 43 states and the District of Columbia: the Common Core State Standards. The poll of 5,000 adults, conducted this past spring by Education Next, a journal published by Stanford University's Hoover Institution, shows that more than two-thirds of adults support the idea of shared academic standards. But when they were asked about the "common core" specifically, support dropped by 15 percentage points.

NBC News
August 19, 2014

New gadgets and mobile apps introduced in the past few years are making reading, writing and math more accessible to students with learning disabilities. Text-to-speech apps like Voice Dream Reader and Notability have changed the way students comprehend lessons in areas they normally struggle, said Karen Janowski, an assistive technology consultant in Boston. The apps magnify and "create more white space" around text or recite text to readers. Smart pens like Echo transcribe written word in specialized notebooks or the corresponding tablet app into digital documents and record voice notes the writer may leave. "These gadgets are essential," said Janowski. She believes moving away from paper and into digital formats, where text can be manipulated, is vital for students with learning difficulties.

School Library Journal
August 19, 2014

While you may already be familiar with the free Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum provided by Common Sense Media (CSM) you might not be aware of Graphite, the platform created to provide parents and teachers with unbiased reviews of apps, games, and websites. CSM uses a rubric that evaluates these tools according to their learning potential, rating each product in terms of engagement, pedagogy, and support. If a student shares a new app they’ve discovered and you want to know whether the app is educational, go to the Graphite website and search for the app under "Reviews and Ratings." In need of a fun app to motivate students? Graphite allows users to search by subject, level, cost, and type. Reviewed products are also mapped to the Common Core Standards to help users focus on particular curricular areas. The site also includes reviews from teachers who have actually used the product in the classroom, as well as suggestions of how to incorporate the tool into lessons.

The Notebook (Philadelphia, PA)
August 15, 2014

READ by 4th is an ambitious campaign to have almost all Philadelphia students reading on grade level by the 4th grade. Now, just about half do — a troubling statistic because data indicate that students who don't reach that benchmark are many times more likely to fall behind and drop out of school. READ stands for Ready, Engaged, Able, and Determined. The goal is for all 4th graders here to be proficient in reading in six years — by 2020. City leaders including Superintendent William Hite came to McVeigh Recreation Center for the official launch of READ by 4th, which is Philadelphia's piece of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, launched by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and underway in some 150 cities and towns and 39 states.

Los Angeles Times
August 15, 2014

It's bath, book and bed for 5-year-old Nathan Flores. No TV. His parents learned the importance of routine and reading when they began taking him to a local family literacy program two years ago. Now, a sibling is on the way. Leslie Flores, Nathan's mother, said the program would be great for the whole family. "If they're still around, I'll definitely be taking my baby there," she said. Whether the program that Flores knows is still around, however, remains to be seen. Grants for it have expired. The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to foot the bill for the Family Literacy Project but is proposing some cuts in an effort to keep it sustainable. This year, it's expected to serve 144 families, many of which are low-income and learning English, compared with 200 last year. In a district that enrolls about 650,000 students, the program is tiny but its supporters are passionate.

WBUR (Boston, MA)
August 15, 2014

Before the Hunger Games, before Divergent, before young adult dystopia became the next big thing, Lois Lowry published “The Giver.” It’s the story of a seemingly utopian society where there is no suffering, no pain, no hunger. But there is also no love or individual freedom, no color, no emotion. Spouses, children and jobs are assigned. Everything and everyone is the same. In this world, only one man holds all the memories and emotions of the past, until a young boy named Jonas is chosen to become the next person to receive those memories. The book won the 1994 Newbery Medal, and to this day is deeply popular among kids and adults around the world. Now, 21 years after it was published, the first movie adaptation of “The Giver” is coming out.

WJCT (Jacksonville, FL)
August 14, 2014

Under a revised statute, the 300 lowest-performing schools in the state, must add an hour of reading instruction to their schedule next year. The law is an expansion of a previous law requiring only the 100 lowest performing schools to add an extra hour. However, in an effort to improve literacy scores across the county, the district added 11 more schools to the list. It was move met with some highly-publicized resistance from parents at Holiday Hill Elementary, who questioned the merits of the extra hour.

The Hechinger Report
August 14, 2014

In April of 2012, Mark D. Shermis, then the dean of the College of Education at the University of Akron, made a striking claim: “Automated essay scoring engines” were capable of evaluating student writing just as well as human readers. Shermis’s research, presented at a meeting of the National Council on Measurement in Education, created a sensation in the world of education — among those who see such “robo-graders” as the future of assessment, and those who believe robo-graders are worse than useless.

New York Magazine
August 14, 2014

Kids who spend their early years lost in the imaginary worlds of children’s fiction — Where the Wild Things Are, Corduroy, Beatrix Potter’s stories of Peter Rabbit — may be getting more out of the stories than pure entertainment. Narrative fiction seems to make young children more empathetic, according to research presented at this weekend’s American Psychological Association convention in San Francisco. Fiction, of course, lets you see the world through another set of eyes, and that isn’t lost on young children, argued York University psychologist Raymond Mar. Some research has suggested that adults who read narrative fiction also tend to be more empathetic, but so far, the research is inconclusive, Mar said. But between the ages of 3 and 5, kids are just starting to understand the difference between their own thoughts and desires and those of other people. And kids who read fiction with their parents seem to be better at those early stabs at empathy than kids who don’t, the research suggests.

KQED Mindshift
August 13, 2014

Allowing students to bring their own devices to class can be a cost-effective way to quickly get access to the internet and to the many useful tools those devices carry. But students don’t always get the chance to use their devices, especially in low-income schools. As we previously reported, a 2013 Pew study revealed that only 35 percent of teachers at the lowest income schools allow their students to look up information on their mobile devices, as compared to 52 percent of teachers at wealthier schools. And while 70 percent of teachers working in high-income areas say their schools do a good job providing resources and support to effectively integrate technology into the classroom, only 50 percent of teachers in low-income areas agree. The bottom line for any teacher: technology works best as an extension of what’s already happening in class.

Billings Gazette (MT)
August 13, 2014

Twins Ty and Alec D’Aigneau each fingered sets of colored tiles into five-letter words, then counted off each sound as they spoke it, slowly, to their tutor. Their tutor is TerraBeth Jochems, a Billings high school teacher by day who for the past decade has also provided free, specialized tutoring to students with reading disabilities. She takes in the toughest cases, the students who are falling far behind their peers — usually despite other interventions — and are in danger of never catching up. This summer Jochems worked with 10 students, her largest group yet, thanks to a grant from the Downtown Exchange Club. Many of her students have been diagnosed with dyslexia, a reading disability in which the brain has trouble connecting language sounds and symbols, despite normal intelligence levels.

Trussville Tribune (AL)
August 13, 2014

I thought I would delve into an eye condition that affects children in school, and is one that makes learning difficult. A child can have this condition and still have 20/20 vision. The condition is called convergence insufficiency, or CI. Convergence insufficiency is present in one out of every 10 children, suggesting that in a typical classroom one or two children may have this condition. Studies have demonstrated that children with this problem are likely to experience performance-related symptoms (e.g. loss of place, loss of concentration, re-reading the same line, reading slowly, trouble remembering what was read or feeling sleepy) as well as eye-related symptoms (e.g. blur, headache, double vision or eye strain).

School Library Journal
August 13, 2014

Madeline turns 75 this year, though you would hardly know it. Her adventures are as fresh as when the first Madeline book was published in 1939 by Simon & Schuster. It’s a time for celebration — and for some revelations about the old house in Paris that was covered with vines, its smallest inhabitant, and Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline’s creator. Most wouldn’t assume that Bemelmans and his little Parisian schoolgirl had a strong connection to New York City. But the current exhibit at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans, reveals otherwise.

Education Week
August 12, 2014

If we want learning technologies to benefit all learners, not just the children of the affluent and technologically-savvy, we need to think about teaching villages and not just children. Ricarose Roque, from the MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Group, has released a fabulous new guide for Family Creative Learning Workshops: an out-of-school program that introduces entire families to creative learning through Scratch and Makey-Makey. Scratch is a block-based programming language for learning to code and creating games, animations, and other cool stuff, and Makey-Makey is a tool for creating novel physical interfaces for computing systems, like turning a bunch of bananas into a piano. The Famliy Creative Learning Guide is a blueprint to help other facilitators run a series of five two-hour workshops, and the guide offers lesson plans, journals, and other resources.

WJCT (Jacksonville, FL)
August 12, 2014

This year, nearly half of Duval County public elementary schools will add an extra hour of reading to their day. Most of these schools are required to do so by state law. Under a revised statute, the 300 lowest-performing schools in the state, must add an hour of reading instruction to their schedule next year. The law is an expansion of a previous law requiring only the 100 lowest performing schools to add an extra hour. However, in an effort to improve literacy scores across the county, the district added 11 more schools to the list. It was move met with some highly-publicized resistance from parents, who questioned the merits of the extra hour. Since then, the controversy over the extended day of instruction has subsided, but the question of its effectiveness still remains.

Daily Comet (Lafourche Parish, LA)
August 12, 2014

As children return to the classroom, the libraries in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes are wrapping up summer activities intended to keep children active while out of school. The 2014 Summer Reading Program, an annual program motivating children to read and improve their reading skills during the summer vacation, enrolled more than 28,000 children and teens from Lafourche and Terrebonne. According to Trinna Holcomb, youth service coordinator for the Lafourche Parish libraries, about 23,178 children and teens in Lafourche participated in this year’s Summer Reading Program compared to the 12,869 children and teens who enrolled in 2013.

KQED Mindshift
August 11, 2014

Most people agree that implementing game-based learning makes sense for older students, but what about really young kids? Do screens have a place in early childhood education? How young is too young for screen time? If you have small children, you know that this is a hot topic among new parents. Some moms and dads believe that screen time will ruin their children. Others see tablets as an exceptional parenting gadget, a tool that can teach, distract, and educate.

Statesman-Journal (Salem, OR)
August 11, 2014

United Way wants to raise $500,000 to boost early literacy in the Mid-Willamette Valley, organizers announced Thursday at a kick-off campaign. The nonprofit will continue to support existing programs throughout Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties, but this year organizers want to raise additional money for programs that help children ages birth to third grade. "Our goal is to own third-grade reading," said Bud Pierce, major gifts chairman. Four out of 10 third graders do not read at grade level in the Mid-Willamette Valley, said United Way Executive Director Randy Franke, which increases their risk of dropping out. United Way already supports Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality's literacy program, which teaches parents how to boost their kids' reading skills kindergarten through third grade. But the coalition's executive director, Annalivia Palazzo-Angulo, hopes the new push will help her launch a preschool with the same idea.

"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." — Margaret Fuller