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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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Education Week
October 31, 2014

Students struggling the most in elementary and middle school showed the greatest gains in intensive summer programs that enrolled more than 9,300 children in 13 states and Washington, D.C., according to a new analysis. The students were enrolled in one of three types of summer-learning programs developed by Building Educated Leaders for Life, or BELL, a Dorchester, Mass., nonprofit, and run in partnership with schools and community organizations, such as the YMCA. More than half the students scored in the lowest quartile in math and more than two-thirds placed in that level in reading, based on assessments taken at the start of the summer. By the end of the six-week program, all students gained an average of 1.2 months of a school year in reading skills and 1.8 months for math. The improvements were twice as high for students who scored in the lowest quartile on the assessment before the programs began.

Ed Central
October 31, 2014

Last Friday marked the deadline to submit applications for the federal government’s new Preschool Development Grant competition. This $250 million grant program aims to expand access to high-quality early education programs for 4-year-olds in high-need communities. Thirty-five states and Puerto Rico applied for funding, signifying serious interest in early childhood education throughout the country and across party lines. The numbers reaffirm that there is strong bipartisan support for this issue.

Education Week
October 31, 2014

A new guideline for parents about children's "screen use," released today, dissects the available research and warns that many of the the "2-D" experiences provided by TV, tablets, and smartphones don't provide the kind of social interaction and real-world learning that proves especially beneficial to infants and toddlers — unless parents are engaged in that activity. The paper, titled "Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight" isn't advocating for one form of parent-to-child interaction, whether its print- or screen-based, said Rachel Barr, an associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University, and a co-author of the document. Instead, it points to research emphasizing the importance of a rich, interactive experience. Many parents wrongly assume that screen-based learning will take care of much of that interactivity for them, Barr points out. They're probably less likely to assume that of print resources, she noted.

Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, FL)
October 31, 2014

Successful reading and learning most often result from partnerships -- involving parents, educators, and the public and private institutions that help care for kids. To that end, it's encouraging that a community-driven effort is endeavoring to make Manatee County part of the Grade Level Reading campaign. Following months of planning led by the United Way of Manatee County, Manatee Community Foundation and USF Sarasota-Manatee, some 50 local leaders attended a gathering to learn more about the campaign and discuss the factors that enable most children to read adequately by the third grade.

Education Week
October 30, 2014

Public school teachers are divided on the merits of the Common Core State Standards, with 44 percent having a negative opinion of the shared academic goals and another 40 percent of teachers favoring it, according to a new poll released by Gallup this morning. Even more enlightening are the reasons undergirding those reactions: The more implementation experience teachers had with the standards, the better they appeared to like them. Fully 61 percent of teachers who reported working in schools where the standards were fully implemented have a positive opinion of them.

Vanderbilt News
October 30, 2014

Trans-institutional neuroimaging research at Vanderbilt University finds that the brain may be structured differently in children with dyslexia, a reading disorder that affects up to 17 percent of the population. The behavioral characteristics of dyslexia are well documented, including struggling to recognize and decode words as well as trouble with comprehension and reading aloud. Laurie Cutting, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Special Education, and professor of psychology and human development, radiology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development, is part of a transinstitutional team of researchers using neuroimaging to examine structural differences in connectivity in children with dyslexia as compared to typically developing readers. Study results were recently published by journals Brain Connectivity and Brain Research.

Arizona Central
October 30, 2014

This school season brought the first day of school for an unusual crowd: adults 50 and older. About 70 of them are hitting the books at 10 Phoenix elementary schools to help bring first-, second- and third-graders up to speed in reading. Organizers hope to expand the program to 20 more schools by 2020. The volunteers are part of a nationwide AARP program that sends trained tutors to inner-city schools to help struggling kids catch up to their grade level. Leaders said the project, called Experience Corps, helps fulfill the initiative called Read On Phoenix that helps third-graders achieve proficiency. The state requires that third-graders meet their grade level before moving to the fourth grade.

Galley Cat
October 30, 2014

The New York Times Book Review has unveiled its annual list of the “10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books” of the year. Shelf Awareness children’s editor Jennifer M. Brown, Caldecott Medal-winning artist Brian Floca, and Caldecott Medal recipient Jerry Pinkney sat on this year’s judging panel. Since 1952, the Book Review has convened an independent panel of three judges from the world of children’s literature to select picture books on the basis of artistic merit. Each year, judges choose from among thousands of picture books for what is the only annual award of its kind. Lists of past winners of the Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award can be found on NYTimes.com/Books, along with a slide show of this year’s winners.

Santa Barbara Review
October 29, 2014

When you saw first read this headline, did it rhyme? Or did it sound like Reed/Dred? How well would you do in the classroom — where reading is everything — if you couldn’t figure out the sounds that letters make? “Just try harder.” “Just concentrate.” “Just care more.” That’s what struggling readers are told often told. Or even better, “Just sound it out.” Right. In fact, sound out the word right, tight, might. If you can’t remember that gh is silent, it’s not much help. Then if you do remember that gh is silent, it’s not much help when you encounter words like rough or tough or cough (oh, and by the way, rough and tough sound the same but cough doesn’t). Because in those words, the gh sounds like F. Remember that, too. ‘F’ like in the Feeling of Failure that surrounds so many students in school today. ‘F’ as in the grade too many of them receive. Kids who are smart, motivated and curious. Kids who have a neurological difference in their brains that can make the typical classroom tasks, like remembering all the rules of spelling, silent letters, and sight words, reasons for no end of their misery.

National Public Radio
October 29, 2014

Today, NPR Ed kicks off a yearlong series: 50 Great Teachers. We're starting this celebration of teaching with Socrates, the superstar teacher of the ancient world. He was sentenced to death more than 2,400 years ago for "impiety" and "corrupting" the minds of the youth of Athens. But Socrates' ideas helped form the foundation of Western philosophy and the scientific method of inquiry. And his question-and-dialogue-based teaching style lives on in many classrooms as the Socratic method. I went to Oakland Technical High School in California to see it in action.

Education Week
October 29, 2014

Former President Bill Clinton added heft to the push for early-childhood education last month when he chose it as the topic of the next $1 million Hult Prize for young social entrepreneurs. The international prize, named for Swedish billionaire Bertil Hult, goes to university students competing for a chance to launch their socially conscious business plan. Clinton is a "key partner" for the prize and is in charge of selecting the subject of the challenge each year. Last year, 11,000 teams submitted ideas for tackling health care in what they termed "urban slums."

Phys.org
October 29, 2014

Professor Anne Goulding, from Victoria's School of Information Management, together with Dr Mary Jane Shuker and Dr John Dickie from the Faculty of Education, has been observing story-time sessions run by public libraries and talking to librarians about their experiences, to see what kind of impact the sessions are having. According to Professor Goulding, children begin to develop literacy skills from an early age, with preschoolers as young as 18 months old learning to sit and listen, turn pages and engage with books. She says there are six key skills of literacy development in children that help determine a child's readiness to learn to read and write. These are print motivation (being interested in and enjoying books), print awareness, letter knowledge, vocabulary, phonological awareness (developing understanding of how words are structured and being able to play

The New York Times
October 28, 2014

Nonprofit groups specializing in children’s learning and attention issues will on Thursday introduce a new website and a public service advertising campaign that was created with the Advertising Council. The website, Understood.org, is intended to help parents better understand these issues and provide advice on dealing with them. According to the 2014 State of Learning Disabilities Report from the National Center for Learning Disabilities, one in five people in the United States age 3 to 20 has problems with reading, math, writing, focus and attention. “They’re trying as hard as they can, but it’s the way their brains are wired,” said Shelly London, president of the Poses Family Foundation, based in New York, one of the 15 groups behind the initiative.

Ed Central
October 28, 2014

It’s impossible to have a conversation about dual language learners in the United States without being drawn into questions about their “difference,” and just how much it should be taken into account at school. At the end of the day, your mileage on any of these lenses for thinking about DLLs will probably vary according to your ideological commitments on language and American diversity. But research efforts are also advancing our knowledge of just how different DLLs’ linguistic and academic paths are. Whatever your preconceived notions, this research should inform the policies that govern DLLs’ educational experiences. The most recent edition of Early Childhood Research Quarterly (ECRQ) has several useful reviews of recent research on dual language learners.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
October 28, 2014

In an effort to further promote reading in a local elementary school, students will face off in a reading competition that organizers hope will help them soar. All Connellsville Area School District's elementary schools have the Accelerated Reader program. Beginning in early November, South Side Elementary School will make the program a competition with the theme “We Soar When We Read More,” which will not only keep the same rules as the reading program, but with extra incentives to keep the students turning pages.

KQED MIndshift
October 27, 2014

What, exactly, is curiosity and how does it work? A study published in the October issue of the journal Neuron, suggests that the brain’s chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us better learn and retain information. “There’s this basic circuit in the brain that energizes people to go out and get things that are intrinsically rewarding,” explains Charan Ranganath, a psychologist at the University of California, Davis, and one of the researchers behind the study. This circuit lights up when we get money, or candy. It also lights up when we’re curious. When the circuit is activated, our brains release a chemical called dopamine which gives us a high. “The dopamine also seems to play a role in enhancing the connections between cells that are involved in learning.” Indeed, when the researchers later tested participants on what they learned, those who were more curious were more likely to remember the right answers.

The Hechinger Report
October 27, 2014

What’s the best way to teach writing? The experts have many answers — and they often contradict each other. Steve Graham, a professor of education at Arizona State University, has made a career out of monitoring research studies on teaching writing, to figure out which methods actually work. For a forthcoming article*, Graham and two colleagues, Karen Harris of ASU and Tanya Santangelo of Arcadia University, looked at approximately 250 of the most prominent studies on how to teach writing to students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Graham’s review of the research doesn’t resolve the age-old debate of whether students learn writing best naturally — just by doing it — or through explicit writing instruction. But there are effective practices where the research is unequivocal. Distressingly, many teachers aren’t using them. “We have confirmation of things we know that work, but are not applied in the classroom,” said Graham. Here are three.

Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
October 27, 2014

Our Utah public school population includes more than 600,000 students, and National Institutes of Health research shows that 20 percent, or 120,000 of these students, are affected by dyslexia. Recognizing that dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States, Gov. Gary Herbert has declared October as Dyslexia Awareness Month in Utah. Yet, rarely do we even encounter the word "dyslexia" in our school systems. As a mother to one child who is dyslexic, it is very disheartening to know that the majority of our students with dyslexia are left unidentified and are silently struggling. We must begin speaking about and screening for dyslexia in our schools. Only early identification and appropriate intervention will enable these students to succeed to their full potential.

The New Yorker
October 27, 2014

Neil Gaiman’s view that any book that is avidly embraced can serve as a gateway to an enduring love of reading is surely true: my own earliest literary love affair was with Enid Blyton, that mid-century spinner of mysteries and boarding-school stories, who is among the authors Gaiman lists as having been deemed bad for children. But the metaphor of the gateway should prompt caution, too, since one can go through a gate in two directions. What if the strenuous accessibility of “Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods” proves so alluring to young readers that it seduces them in the opposite direction from that which Gaiman’s words presuppose — away from an engagement with more immediately difficult incarnations of the classics, Greek and otherwise? What if instead of urging them on to more challenging adventures on other, potentially perilous literary shores, it makes young readers hungry only for more of the palatable same? There’s a myth that could serve as an illustration here. I’m sure my son can remind me which one.

Sanford Herald
October 24, 2014

Thursday morning at 10:40 a.m. means it’s reading time for three third-graders at Tramway Elementary. One of them, Zach Thompson, sits down at a small desk. He opens “The Runaway Racehorse,” the book he’s reading right now, and waits for his partner, Mikeal Basinger. Zach jumps into chapter five of a mystery unraveling why Whirlaway disappeared the night before a big race only to show up the next morning running unusually slowly. When the two turn the page and end a paragraph, Zach stops reading and Mikeal picks up. For about 20 minutes, they alternate, finishing one chapter and starting another. Occasionally, they stop to summarize the plot or debate what might happen next. Every once in a while, they pause on an unfamiliar word to make sure everyone knows exactly what it means. It all seems pretty routine. Until one realizes that Zach is reading in front of a laptop deep in the one-story labyrinth of Tramway Elementary, and Mikeal is sitting with his iPad, five miles away, in his office on the second floor of First Bank. Zach and Mikeal are participating in “I Read, You Read,” a new partnership among United Way of Lee County, Lee County Schools and local businesses for children who need more help learning to read.

Chicago Sun-Times
October 24, 2014

Parents may think reading to babies might seem like a waste of time in those early sleep-deprived months, but it’s far from it. Even though newborns won’t understand the meaning of the story or nursery rhymes, hearing the rhythms and syllables and tones develops brain cell transformations that last a lifetime. “Our brains develop most quickly between birth and age 3 ,” said Orland School District 135 Center School reading recovery teacher Kara Bonfitto. “Reading to children when they are this young stimulates brain cells and connections between brain cells. ... Research shows that reading to children from infancy boosts brain function and IQ.”

Johnston Sunrise (Warwick, RI)
October 24, 2014

Following Governor Lincoln Chafee’s signing of a proclamation that declared October as “Dyslexia Awareness Month,” local advocates and students took part in a rally at the State House over the weekend as part of their ongoing awareness and action campaign. According to organizers, one in five students struggles with dyslexia or another language-based learning issue. Dyslexia is a neurological language processing disorder that can take many forms, and it is not related to intelligence or work ethic. Those on hand for the rally said the main push of advocates is for awareness and for the taking of steps to identify and provide the tools those students need to overcome their difficulties and realize their talents.

School Library Journal
October 24, 2014

The winner of the first-ever 2014 Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature is Kate Samworth’s Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual: Renewing the World’s Bird Supply Since 2031 (Clarion, 2014). Modeled on mail order catalogs of the past and present, “Aviary Wonders Inc. is a picture book that widens the definition of the genre. While truly a picture book, it was created for readers aged 10 and up with well-developed sensibilities and senses of humor. Confronting environmental issues in a clever and whimsical way, it is original, highly unexpected, beautiful, and thought-provoking. Aviary Wonders Inc. is by far one of the most creative books we have ever encountered,” read the judges’ statement from the Kirkus press release.

Huffington Post
October 23, 2014

In traditional education, reading is taught through fiction and science is taught in science classes. Reading in science classes was limited largely to textbooks, which are not noted for high interest and engaging writing. ELA classes focused on the human experience in literature and on narratives, not on expository prose, reporting of events, or step by step instruction. There has been little or no integration of disciplines and literacy skills. Students don't read a variety of science books in science class. That could be about to change. The National Science Teachers Association and the International Reading Association have discovered each other and are partnering a new initiative focusing attention on literacy.

KQED Mindshift
October 23, 2014

While more teachers are using digital games in the classroom, how they decide which games to use and why is less standardized, according to a teacher survey of 694 K-8 teachers by the Games and Learning Publishing Council called Level Up Learning: A National Survey on Teaching with Digital Games. The report finds that teachers learn about games through informal means, such as peers within the school or school district, and could benefit from more explicit training programs. By not having a more formal process, the report finds that “teachers may not be getting exposure to the broader range of pedagogical strategies, resources, and types of games that can enhance and facilitate digital game integration.”

Modesto Bee (CA)
October 23, 2014

Stanislaus Community Foundation President Marian Kaanon started school in America at age 7 as a low-income immigrant who spoke no English. By high school, she was winning speech and debate competitions. Her success she credits to her parents, she told a Stanislaus County literacy task force at its first meeting two weeks ago. “They put a library card in my hand and filled our home with books,” Kaanon said. Now she is part of an effort to have every child reading well by third grade. Stanislaus READS, which stands for Ready, Engaged, Able, Determined Students, is tackling the sad statistic that only 39 percent of third-graders test as reading at grade level.

Education Week
October 23, 2014

While late-night screen surfing can drastically throw off students' sleep cycles and learning, boosting blue-light in the classroom may spark students' cognition, according to a new study in Germany. Last year, I told you about a flurry of new studies on how late-night screen time — via nearly ubiquitous laptops, some televisions, tablets, smart phones, and even high-efficiency lightbulbs — affects students' sleep schedules. In a word: Powerfully. Exposure to lights rich in "blue light," the same spectrum existing in natural sunlight, after dark can throw off students' circadian cycles, giving them the equivalent of jet-lag.

Education Week
October 22, 2014

Helping Georgia preschool and early-care providers support children who are learning English is the aim of a new training initiative by the state agency that oversees early-childhood education. The effort seeks to help early-childhood practitioners develop the skills and knowledge necessary to identify young English-language learners and support their English-language development in order to boost school readiness. Supporting childrens' home-language development will also be a major focus of the new training for practitioners and school district personnel.

Bellingham Herald (WA)
October 22, 2014

Reading to children is a longstanding part of many cultures, but multiple studies indicate that this practice is even more crucial than we thought. Research now shows that creating rich experiences in the earliest years of a child's life has profound and lasting impacts on their learning, throughout their school years and beyond. Early literacy is what children know about communication and language before they begin reading and writing. Through early experiences of talking, singing, reading, writing and playing, children develop essential skills that form the foundation for learning to read. The earlier and more frequently children are exposed to early literacy skills, the stronger this foundation is built. With a strong foundation, children enter school ready to learn to read and write and succeed. When they start kindergarten prepared, they require less remediation, grade repetition, special education and other services to boost their skills.

Wausau Daily Herald (WI)
October 22, 2014

A child who hasn't mastered reading by third grade will face an uphill educational battle for the rest or his or her school days. And a kid who has a difficult time in school in today's world will be much more likely to have a difficult time in life later down the road, experts say. Those two realities, backed by numerous educational and even medical studies, are one reason libraries, school systems and parenting advocates across the country are focusing attention and resources on early childhood literacy. It's also why Gannett Central Wisconsin Media has chosen to focus on reading and children as its keystone project for Make A Difference Day.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 22, 2014

Picture book author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen believe that picture books aren’t a genre of easy reads for young children. They declare that picture books are a form, a way of telling stories, that can appeal to any age. “I loved picture books as a kid, and I never stopped loving them. When I was a kid and started reading novels, I kept my picture books out. I think it’s an interesting form, and it is a form, it’s a way of telling a story. You've got text and image, and this relationship [between the two],” said Mac Barnett. “Sam and Dave Dig a Hole,” the pair’s newest collaboration, is about two boys who dig a hole with the hopes of finding something spectacular.

Education Week
October 21, 2014

Digital learning games have officially gone mainstream, with nearly three-quarters of K-8 teachers saying they use the games for classroom instruction, according to a new national survey. But the rise of digital gaming within schools still pales in comparison to the advances seen in the commercial gaming sector, according to a comprehensive, 67-page report issued by the Games and Learning Publishing Council, a project of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, a New York-based nonprofit that studies digital media use and children.

Coos Bay World (OR)
October 21, 2014

Southwestern Oregon Community College will host 500 kindergartners this week for the state's roll-out of its new early literacy campaign. Gov. John Kitzhaber launched stORytime this month, a statewide literacy campaign to build awareness for the positive impact early literacy can have on lifelong success. It's a key effort in the state's effort to make sure students are proficient readers by third grade. "StORytime was created to meet families where they are and to empower them to use myriad ways to support their children that can be incorporated into daily life," according to a news release. "The program also is designed to fit easily into busy schedules, adapt to a variety of literacy levels and encourage teaching in multiple languages."

The New York Times
October 21, 2014

Last week, Motherlode sought “Books for Middle Schoolers Who Aren’t Yet ‘Teens,”’and amid that fantastic discussion, another question arose: What about the reader whose interests have overshot her reading ability? Can we help this parent out? As a side note, I’ll say that my child whose reading comprehension appears below grade level in school still reads many books that must challenge her — if she’s engaged. She loved “Matilda” recently and, at a slightly younger age, “The Little Leftover Witch” (a seasonal book that I loved as a child, too). Looking over the pages, I know there are many words she must not have known, and hearing her talk about the book, I know that there are things she didn’t understand, but I’d still count it as a win. I also want to suggest graphic novels (try the “Zita the Spacegirl” or the “Amulet” series) and comics, the best of which, like “Calvin and Hobbes” reach readers at all levels about sophisticated concepts.

Christian Science Monitor
October 21, 2014

While the celebrity book list may have its share of bad apples, there are those that shine as brightly as a celebrity at his or her pinnacle of success. Here are a few popular choices among children’s books written by celebrities for parents to consider: At number one, for being absolutely smart, moving, and a great life lesson about the dangers of gossip is Madonna’s “Mr. Peabody’s Apples.” The book is inspired by a 300-year-old Ukrainian folktale. For sheer brilliance, parents can pick up any book by actor John Lithgow. I personally love “Marsupial Sue” and also, “Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo.”

Wall Street Journal
October 20, 2014

Investments in early childhood education can pay for themselves because they substantially boost students’ chances of educational and economic achievement over the course of their lives. That was the finding of a paper presented at a conference on economic opportunity and inequality sponsored by the Boston Fed. The paper argues that strong educational guidance in the early stages of life has huge long-term payoffs. “The benefits of even a moderately effective early childhood education program are likely to be substantial enough to offset the costs of program expansion,” the authors say. The paper’s authors say their findings are rooted in scientific studies that back the importance of early brain development. “Environmental enrichment can promote cognitive development, whereas a variety of adverse experiences may shape cognitive development in ways that are ill-suited for later learning,” they said.

The New York Times
October 20, 2014

Elmo and his “Sesame Street” buddies could soon be having two-way conversations of sorts with children. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of “Sesame Street,” and the children’s speech recognition company ToyTalk plan to announce Monday that they have signed a two-year research partnership agreement to explore how to use conversational technology to teach preschool literacy. The agreement formalizes work the two have been undertaking for more than a year. Sesame Workshop has been testing prototype mobile apps that use ToyTalk’s proprietary PullString technology, a combination of speech recognition meant to understand children’s speech patterns, artificial intelligence and prewritten scripts responding to what a child has said.

Hechinger Report
October 20, 2014

Two-thirds of Mississippi’s youngest learners are starting the year unprepared, according to results from a new test examining the reading skills of kindergarten students. Kindergartners took the STAR Early Literacy exam during the first month of the current school year to gauge their reading abilities. Over 40,000 students from 144 school districts took the computer-based exam that measures what the students know as they enter kindergarten. It was the first time the state gave the test. The results of the exam, created by Renaissance Learning and released Friday, come at a time when reading at grade level is a critical goal for Mississippi. This school year the Literacy Based Promotion Act was introduced into the classroom. Under this act, students who are not reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade will not be promoted.

Publishers Weekly
October 20, 2014

We Need Diverse Books, the grassroots group of authors and others that coalesced around the lack of diversity in BookCon’s initial children’s author lineup this past spring, continues to advocate for more diversity in contemporary children’s literature by introducing new initiatives. The organization announced exclusively to PW this week that it is launching an award and grants program in 2015. Also, Walter Dean Myers’s literary estate has granted WNDB the rights to name the award and grants in memory of the late children’s book writer, who was outspoken in his lifelong advocacy for multicultural children’s books. The Walter Dean Myers Award, which WNDB representatives have already nicknamed The Walter, will recognize published authors from diverse backgrounds who celebrate diversity in their writing and “[allow] children to see themselves reflected back” in those works.

The Washington Post
October 17, 2014

Now, as a writer myself, I still believe that the best way for students to become writers is by reading as much good writing as possible and internalizing the various structures and techniques they encounter. For extras, the habit of reading will also increase their vocabulary, improve their spelling, and help them grasp the fact that many of the conventions of written language are different from those of spoken language. More than lessons on how to write an effective argument or an informational piece students need to immerse themselves in the worlds of stories, poems, myths, fables, business letters, opinion and information essays, advertisements, instructional manuals, newspaper articles, memoirs, biographies, and whatever else captures their interest. Although only a very few will become professional writers, almost all of them will be able to do the kinds of writing needed for success in “college and careers” and every day life.

Hechinger Report
October 17, 2014

Teacher Valyncia O. Hawkins knew she needed extra time with students who arrived in her classroom behind grade level, but slowing down the whole class risked boring the more advanced students. But even after 20 years as a teacher, Hawkins still didn’t have a good method to keep everyone moving forward. The 21 children in her classroom at Anne Beers Elementary School shared the label of fifth grader, but they arrived with different needs. It was clear she was losing some of them. It was disheartening. Convinced there had to be a better way, this D.C. Public Schools Teacher took a fellowship with the CityBridge Foundation in 2013 to research and develop a new teaching method. Today, she is no longer standing in front of the room for a whole class period, trying to keep everyone on the same page. She developed a new style of teaching that gives students a mix of technology and small-group instruction. Online tools, most of them free, helped her customize lessons for students. She periodically checks progress through the year to adjust.

School Library Journal
October 17, 2014

Three-time Newbery Honoree Zilpha Keatley Snyder died on October 8. She was 87. Beloved in the world of children’s literature, Snyder received her Newbery Honors for The Egypt Game (1967), The Headless Cupid (1972), and The Witches of Worm (1972, all S. & S.), vivid, evocative, and dark works for middle-grade readers. One of her earliest titles, The Egypt Game, is centered on the intense fantasy life of a group of children who reenact ancient Egyptian practices and rituals in an empty lot, while in the background, a child murderer lurks. The novel was remarkable not only for its eerie, absorbing narrative but also for its inclusivity. Snyder’s editor Karen Wojtyla, vice-president and editorial director at Simon & Schuster’s Margaret K. McElderry Books, praised the author’s commitment to diversity: “[Snyder created] for The Egypt Game a multiracial cast of characters that was unusual in the 1960s.

Pittsburgh Tribune
October 17, 2014

Fox Chapel Area junior Olivia Van Dyke loves to settle down with a good page-turner to learn a new skill, be inspired or just to escape. The 17-year-old realizes that not everyone has that privilege. As a member of the high school's community outreach committee, Van Dyke has spearheaded a book drive to benefit local elementary and middle school students. Books will be given to All of Us Care in Sharpsburg to benefit its literacy program through which children can sharpen their skills over the summer. All of Us Care is a program of Volunteers of America that aims to keep children safe from crime and substance abuse by providing positive afterschool activities and homework help.

Library Journal
October 16, 2014

“Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries” explores how public libraries can respond as the digital age increases the demand for high-speed information access, changes in our education systems, innovative job training models and additional community services to help people and communities compete in the new economy. The “Rising to the Challenge” report recommends communities leverage three important library assets: connecting people and fostering relationships to strengthen the human capital of a community; using the both the physical and virtual spaces of libraries in new and innovative ways; and tapping into high-speed interactive platforms to curate and share ideas and knowledge. The report highlights a number of examples of groundbreaking work and new ways public libraries are meeting the needs of their communities.

PBS NewsHour
October 16, 2014

In the first eight months of 2014, nearly 60,000 school-aged children entered the United States, undocumented and unaccompanied by a family member. These recent immigrants are eligible to enroll in U.S. schools and to be given access to the same school-based resources as children born in this country. These resources require professionals who are skilled in teaching as well as other seemingly unrelated fields like nursing, nutrition, speech and language, occupational and physical therapy, psychology, psychiatry and social work, just to name a few. Individuals working from these disciplines have field-specific training and certification, yet all have to acquire new skills in order to understand how the background of their new students impact successful instruction. How can professionals facilitate school success for these undocumented students, and what do they need to know about them?

Ed Central
October 16, 2014

The conversation on reducing the “word gap” in early childhood has reached new heights: Today the White House Office on Science and Technology is hosting a group of policymakers, researchers, and early childhood advocates to exchange ideas on how to help foster language development. The event is titled “Federal, State and Local Efforts to Bridge the Word Gap: Sharing Best Practices and Lessons Learned.”

WUNC (Chapel Hill, NC)
October 16, 2014

First published in 1939 by UNC Press, the picture book Tobe was a rare children's story featuring an African-American protagonist. The book follows a boy who works hard on his family farm. The story uses the real photos of people who lived in an African-American township just outside of Greensboro called Goshen. The book gave a historical glimpse into African-American communities in North Carolina, but left open questions about what happened to these families in the decades to come.

School Library Journal
October 15, 2014

Kathleen Krull’s many picture books exemplify the best kind of narrative nonfiction for our students—accurate, well-researched, lively texts enhanced by large, handsome illustrations. Her exemplary biographies “take old stories of famous people and…make them new for kids today.” In an interview the author commented, “We’re all secretly People magazine readers at heart” and confessed to salting her biographies with “gossipy details” about her subjects, using them as “hooks” to teach her readers about history and “things that [educators] want them to know about … famous people — why they’re so respected, what their accomplishments were.” Highlighted here is a sampling of Krull’s titles suited for shared reading in the upper elementary grades.

Chicago Parent
October 15, 2014

In preschool Lucas Baronello of Antioch had difficulty learning the alphabet, even though his mother Angela faithfully read to him every day and tried to teach him. In kindergarten, Lucas dreaded going to school, and by first grade he complained of daily headaches and stomach pains. Lucas, 10, has dyslexia, but he wasn’t formally diagnosed until the end of first grade — missing out on much-needed services. About 20 percent of people in the United States have dyslexia — a language processing disorder — but the disability is often misunderstood and services are lacking, Baronello says. Baronello, and others who have joined the national movement Decoding Dyslexia (which aims to raise awareness of the learning disability) hope all this will soon change. New legislation now includes dyslexia in the Illinois education code and is expected to help by identifying dyslexia as a learning disability. It also establishes an advisory board to develop teacher and school administrator training for teaching students with dyslexia.

CBS Baltimore
October 15, 2014

This is the fourth annual Michael Carter Men Reading in School Day, and this is the first year Edgewood Elementary School participated. Shalik Fulton is spreading an important message to a class full of eager kindergartners. “Not seeing African American males, positive males, so we are driving home the fact that we do exist, positive males, and we are coming in and care about our young people,” Fulton said. The tradition honors the late Michael Carter, an influential leader in education.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss