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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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Slate
March 5, 2015

David Rose and his Universal Design for Learning (UDL) team have concluded that the most pervasive learning disability in schools, and the No. 1 challenge for UDL, isn’t physical or cognitive, it’s emotional — turning around kids who are turned off by school. “We’ve seen that technology can do a lot of stuff to support students, but the real driver is: Do they actually want to learn something?” says Rose. “If they do, kids will go through a lot of barriers to learn it. Creating the conditions that turn on that drive has become the major function of our work.” For example, one of Rose’s favorite new CAST projects is called Udio (the name’s a mash of UDL and studio), an online reading curriculum funded by the Department of Education. It’s aimed at kids in middle school, the grades where struggling readers start running into trouble in nearly every subject.

New Jersey On-Line
March 5, 2015

Why is cat spelled with "c" and not "k"? Most adults who memorized their spelling words wouldn't even think to ask that question, let alone know the answer. But go ask a Kearny first grader, or their teacher. "C" is followed by short "a," "o," and "u" sounds, Franklin School first-grade teacher Elizabeth Kubowicz explained. Thanks to a reading phonics program the district implemented this year in preK through second grade, Kearny's youngest children are getting way more than just the explanation for "cat." The "Orton-Gillingham" phonics program explains why English words are spelled as they are, and distinguishes sounds kids can easily confuse - like "b" and "d" - by explaining the different movement of the mouth and tongue for making each sound. Orton Gillingham itself isn't a new program but it was implemented this year in Kearny, full force, in an effort to reach a district goal: to get all children reading to grade level by third grade, Curriculum Director Flora Encarnacao said.

The Independent (U.K.)
March 5, 2015

Hermione Grangers, Gruffalos, Peppa Pigs and Hungry Caterpillars will trudge across the playground in vast numbers today in celebration of World Book Day. Students across Britain are donning their best fancy dress to promote reading and books in schools. All week panicked parents have been all over social media desperate to seek out the perfect Where’s Wally? bobble hat and bemoaning the lack of inspiration. While teachers and students have been rummaging through the back of their wardrobes to find the perfect thing to do justice to their favourite books and beloved characters.

Education Week
March 5, 2015

For something as geeky as a cognitive process, "executive function" is pretty sexy now. Interventions that run the gamut from physical exercise to focused computer games are being pitched as improving executive functions like attention, self-control, mental flexibiltiy, and working memory— all with the assumption that boosting these will, in turn, boost students' academic achievement. Not so fast. While better working memory, attention, and control are associated with higher academic achievement, so far there's no evidence that improving executive function causes a boost in academics, according to a new analysis in the Review of Educational Research of 67 studies of executive function.

Education Week
March 4, 2015

Over recent years, advocates of games in classroom settings have argued that games have great features for assessing student learning. Games present students with a series of challenges, and they can be instrumented to capture richly detailed data about how students deal with those challenges and how successful they are. What if instead of having students take tests, we had them play games with "stealth assessments" embedded within them that captured similar data about student learning. To inform this conversation, researchers from the University of Michigan, NYU, and the GlassLab have been investigating the question: when games are actually used for assessments purposes in classrooms, what does that really look like? Researchers fanned out over 30 middle school classrooms to investigate how teachers make use of eleven different games, and specifically how they used these games for formative assessment. They've released their report this week, "Case Studies of Game Features Used to Support Formative Assessment Practices."

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
March 4, 2015

The young students took turns before the microphone and explained that their teachers couldn’t teach them to read, made them feel stupid and often shuffled them into special education, where they fell further behind. Their parents joined them in a packed legislative conference room last week, organized by a new Minnesota movement aimed at helping the estimated 1 in 10 kids with a misunderstood learning disability. “Every day of the week, we have people contacting us,” said Rachel Berger, a founder of Decoding Dyslexia-MN, a group of parents, educators and students. “We have almost 900 followers on Facebook,” she said, “and not one person has said, ‘My child has received the services they need.’” The group held the first “Voices of Dyslexia Day” at the Legislature last week to put a spotlight on what it describes as a failure of schools to diagnose and provide appropriate services. (For the sake of full disclosure, my teenage daughter was among the students attending.)

School Library Journal
March 4, 2015

The Youth Media Awards announcements on February 2, during the American Library Association’s (ALA) Midwinter Meeting, were in many ways historic. Diversity was in full view, graphic novels came into their own, and for the first time, a Latina illustrator—Yuyi Morales—was honored both as a Pura Belpré Medalist and a Caldecott Honor recipient. This was a huge step forward in terms of people of color getting recognized for their distinguished work on its own merits, divorced entirely from their ethnicity, or the themes of their book. ¡Viva, Yuyi! This year’s Pura Belpré winners and honor books provide the ideal opportunity to get to know these authors and illustrators better, look back at some of their previous children’s books, and use these distinguished titles in a library or classroom setting.

Daily Republic (Fairfield, CA)
March 4, 2015

But Seuss lives on each year when the nation celebrates his birthday March 2 with Read Across America and its associated activities in order to foster a love of reading. The Cordelia library hosted reading events all day with Fairfield Mayor Harry Price doing some reading, John Young, the morning disc jockey on KUIC, also reading a bit, along with the firemen from Cordelia Fire Protection District. Dean Vogel, the president of the California Teachers Associations, himself a former Vacaville elementary school teacher, entertained Janet Robertson’s first-grade class in the morning at the Suisun Library with several books, including “One” by Kathryn Otoshi – a favorite of Milan Byrd, 7, who said she likes to read for a specific reason. “It makes my brain smarter,” she said, before she went back to class.

Sacramento Bee (CA)
March 3, 2015

In the tradition of politicians reading to children – and inviting TV stations to come see – Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom turned up at Sierra Oaks K-8 on Monday with a copy of “The Cat in the Hat.” The occasion was Read Across America Day, the book a Dr. Seuss classic. Newsom is an avid reader, but also dyslexic. He told the kindergarten students it’s hard to read out loud. Newsom is not prone to flubs, but he figures to draw bigger audiences running for governor in 2018. Reading from a teleprompter, he said, can be challenging.

The Recorder (Greenfield, MA)
March 3, 2015

“You don’t need a fancy office. That’s what’s great about being an author. You just need a paper and pencil,” said Natasha Lowe, a popular children’s book author, to a roomful of Newton School students. Lowe, author of the “Power of Poppy Pendle,” series was among six renowned local children’s book authors to read to students and parents at Newton School Monday night as part of Read Across America Day. It was a chance for students to meet the people behind the books they read in class and learn about the writing process. Along with the writers, the Cat in the Hat traveled up and down the school hallways to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Writers included Jane Yolen, author of the “How Do Dinosaurs” series, Josh Chalmers, author of “Change the World Before Bedtime,” Heidi Stemple, author of Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep,” Jeff Mack, author of the “Clueless McGee” series and the “Hippo and Rabbit” series, and Ellen Feld, author of “Shadow: The Curious Morgan Horse.”

Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
March 3, 2015

Teenagers Jarita Bustamante, Kyra Ayala and Catalina “Cat” Romero didn’t expect wild applause when they finished signing “Scrambled Eggs Super!” by Dr. Seuss for an audience of elementary school students at the California School for the Deaf, Riverside. And they didn’t get any. But if the waving hands held aloft – the American Sign Language symbol for applause – smiles and squirming bodies signaled anything, it was overwhelming approval from the pint-sized spectators. “My favorite author is Dr. Seuss. He’s funny,” third-grader Tiernan Booth said through an interpreter. “He writes funny stories. I enjoy reading them.”

National Public Radio
March 3, 2015

Today we explore the simple, powerful tool that is still alive and well in some early learning classrooms: the wooden block. You might call it the anti-app. Measurement. Balance. Math. Negotiation. Collaboration. And fun. The smooth maple pieces need no recharging, no downloading. Several early childhood studies have shown that children who play with blocks have better language and cognition skills than control groups. Others have looked at the power of blocks to help teach math, as well as the relationship between unstructured play materials and learning. Research has shown that math skills are the biggest predictor of later academic success.

The Elkhart Truth (IN)
March 2, 2015

Monday, March 2, is a day about reading — it marks the 111st birthday of children’s author Dr. Seuss and it is also celebrated as Read Across America Day by the National Education Association.Margaret Kownover, children’s librarian at Goshen Public Library, thinks the Dr. Seuss celebrations and associated activities are a great way to increase literacy. “I just think anytime you have a focus on reading, it’s wonderful,” she said. “They get excited about reading, and Dr. Suess is fun and teaches a lot of lessons. He does it in a good way, not a preachy way.” Here are five ways to celebrate.

Detroit Free Press
March 2, 2015

Alex Pomeroy points his small finger underneath the first word in the sentence, then glides it across the page as he reads out loud. Sitting at a small table with reading consultant Lauren Boruta in the hallway at Doherty Elementary School in West Bloomfield, Alex provides a fitting example of the powerful difference early intervention can make for kids struggling with literacy. How did he get there? Months of intervention that included one-on-one sessions with Boruta — a reading specialist for 10 years with a master's degree in reading and language arts — where he got additional instruction in the areas where he was struggling. Gov. Rick Snyder wants to see more of this. He's introduced a budget proposal that includes a $48-million third-grade reading initiative that is focused on investing more on early identification, intervention and training.

Boston Globe
March 2, 2015

I am a believer that it’s especially important to put a physical book into the hands of a kid. A kid connects to the ideas and the words on the page when they can hold it and feel the pages in their hand. Also, I think when a kid reads on a screen, there’s always something more interactive right there on their home screen, so it’s tough for books to compete in that space. Everybody knows at an instinctive level that a book in a kid’s hand is a good thing. It’s a good thing in the hands of an adult as well. I’m all for e-readers, and I have my own books on e-readers, but they’re a good supplement to reading physical books.

The New York Times
March 2, 2015

A new wave of standardized exams, designed to assess whether students are learning in step with the Common Core standards, is sweeping the country, arriving this week in classrooms in several states and entering the cross hairs of various political movements. In New Jersey and elsewhere, the arrival has been marked with well-organized opposition, a spate of television attack ads and a cascade of parental anxiety. Almost every state has an “opt out” movement. Its true size is hard to gauge, but the protests on Facebook, at school board meetings and in more creative venues — including screenings of anti-testing documentaries — have caught the attention of education officials.

Education Week
February 27, 2015

In a show of the growing popularity of early education among politicians, 11 governors have included early learning in their 2015 State of the State addresses so far, according to an evaluation by the Education Commission of the States, a non-partisan, Denver-based think tank. The commission reviewed the 37 State of the State addresses that had been given by the time the report was published on Feb. 24 and counted the number of times particular education policies were mentioned. Early education came in third, tied with teaching quality and workforce education, if you want to rank it that way.

PBS NewsHour
February 27, 2015

According to many teachers, experts and advocates of the Common Core, traditional curriculum sources haven’t been meeting the demands of the new set of math and English standards that have been rolled out in more than 40 states in the past few years. More and more teachers are scrapping off-the-shelf lessons and searching for replacements on the Internet or writing new curriculum materials themselves. The Center on Education Policy (CEP), a nonpartisan research group, reports that in roughly two-thirds of districts in Common Core states, teachers have developed or are developing their own curricular materials in math (66 percent) and English Language Arts (65 percent). In more than 80 percent of districts, the CEP found that at least one source for curriculum materials was local — from teachers, the district itself or other districts in the state.

The New York Times
February 27, 2015

Ever want your students to slow down and notice details when they read — whether they’re perusing a book, a poem, a map or a political cartoon? Young people often want to hurry up and make meaning via a quick skim or a cursory glance when a text can demand patience and focus. Closely reading any text, whether written or visual, requires that students proceed more slowly and methodically, noticing details, making connections and asking questions. This takes practice. But it certainly helps when students want to read the text. We’ve selected 10 photos from The Times that we’ve used previously in our weekly “What’s Going On in This Picture?” Below, we offer ideas from students and teachers who have engaged with these images for ways to use them, or images like them, to teach close reading and visual thinking skills.

School Library Journal
February 27, 2015

Throughout the long winter and the still-cold months of early spring, many listeners are seeking a promise of warmth, comfort, and contentment and a sense of well-being. For those who are ready to make a commitment to snuggle down and listen to a good story, the selection of titles here offers excellent narration paired with recent and classic tales that will provide respite from long, cold winter nights. Stories of a gorilla, a bear, science, magic, and more combine to satisfy the yearning for a tale well told. If the medium is the message, this medium — the audiobook — delivers a message of pure delight to happy listeners.

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." — Walt Disney