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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
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.

National Public Radio
February 26, 2015

Studies, research papers, doctoral dissertations, conference presentations — each year academia churns out thousands of pieces of research on education. And for many of them, that's the end of it. They gather dust in the university library or languish in some forgotten corner of the Internet. A few, though, find their way into the hands of teachers, principals and policymakers. Each year the American Educational Research Association — a 99-year-old national research society — puts out a list of its 10 most-read articles. We've looked over that list and compiled a summary of some of what we learned from the ivory tower in 2014.

The Hechinger Report
February 26, 2015

The original standards presented a challenge and an opportunity for states to review and amend them to make the standards their own. In Florida, parents, teachers, students, and community members were given the chance to review, comment, and make recommendations on the standards. Florida’s Department of Education adjusted the original standards based on that input. We did not accept the standards as presented, but customized them to meet the needs of Florida’s students. The parent, teacher, and student voices in addition to those of the business community and the community at large added to the standards’ viability. Florida has been extremely transparent in its rollout of the Florida Standards and the Florida Standards Assessments. We have a robust online curriculum planning tool that enables teachers to create a pacing guide and to share links to lessons and resources. There is also a portal that has resources for students, parents, and teachers to assist with the implementation of the new standards.

Bakersfield Now (CA)
February 26, 2015

"The Cat in the Hat," "Green Eggs and Ham" and "Oh, the Places You’ll Go." These are just a few of the books by the beloved author Dr. Seuss. In honor of his birthday, Bakersfield is celebrating with tons of Read Across America events. The eighth-annual Read Across Bakersfield Celebration began downtown on Sunday. It's part of the National Education Association’s Read Across America Event, aimed to get children excited about reading. "We make it fun! Instead of just, you know, going to get a book and sitting down to read it. We say, 'Go get a book that you love ... something that you're interested in,'" said Michelle Johnson, the president of the Bakersfield Elementary Teachers Association. Community members, teachers, volunteers, parents and children all came out for a day focused on reading. There was face painting, a petting zoo, celebrity readers, and a special screening of "The Tale of Despereaux."

School Library Journal
February 26, 2015

This year, summer reading participants all over the country will explore the ways in which “Every Hero Has a Story.” In libraries, heroic journeys can be found on every shelf, from epic fantasies to realistic family dramas. The hero is one of the oldest and most familiar protagonists to children and, indeed, to stories. Throughout history, humans have venerated and honored their heroes, be they Odysseus on his legendary voyage in long-ago Greece or the first president of the United States, a mere 200 or so years past. Heroic stories have taken many forms, and the summer reading theme is broad enough to be interpreted in different ways. Yet recent media successes point squarely at a uniquely American invention: the superhero.

Public Radio International
February 25, 2015

Babies raised in bilingual households spend significantly more time watching the mouth of the person speaking to them than their monolingual counterparts, according to a new study. The find­ings have “impor­tant impli­ca­tions for under­standing how infants acquire speech and lan­guage and shed light on how bilin­gual infants — despite their neural and behav­ioral immaturity — manage to learn two dif­ferent lan­guages as easily as mono­lin­gual infants learn one language,” according to a Northeastern University press release.

CentralMaine.com
February 25, 2015

The Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee on Thursday will consider a bill that aspires to change how our schools deal with children who have dyslexia. The bill includes provisions for training teachers and improving the screening, identification and treatment of dyslexia. It also calls for the appointment of a dyslexia consultant for the Department of Education to oversee the implementation of improved systems and to train educators and administrators in each school district. Nobody in my immediate family has dealt with dyslexia, and I didn’t know much about it until I got to know a child who is inspiring me to learn about the topic. He is in third grade, although he is reading at a first grade level. He has never been tested specifically for dyslexia, and the more I learn about it the more I wonder, “Why not?”

Understood
February 25, 2015

Mentors can have a huge impact on kids with learning and attention issues. Holly Mainiero, a college student at Temple University, knows that firsthand. Once a week, Mainiero closes the books on her busy schedule. She leaves the comfort and security of the classrooms at Temple University in downtown Philadelphia. And she travels to the tough neighborhoods of North Philadelphia, where childhood poverty is widespread. There, Mainiero and about 30 other Temple students serve as mentors to students at two elementary schools that primarily serve poor and disadvantaged students. The mentors are part of Temple’s Eye to Eye chapter, the largest in the country. Eye to Eye is a national nonprofit organization that pairs college students who have a learning disability or ADHD with younger students who have similar challenges.

School Library Journal
February 25, 2015

With just a few weeks to go until the first Battle of the Kids’ Books (BOB) match on March 9, schools, parent groups, and librarians across the country are gearing up for this year’s March Madness–style tournament. The following are a few examples of how BOB is being celebrated as a fun, educational, and community-building event. Christina Keasler, tween librarian at the Glen Ellyn Public Library in Illinois, stumbled upon BOB through Pinterest. Building upon an already established relationship with the local independent bookstore, The Bookstore, Keasler has set up a Mock BOB tournament for the fourth to eighth graders in her community. Students can submit their bracket predictions from March 1–8 for the chance to win a gift certificate for the bookstore.

National Public Radio
February 24, 2015

In kindergarten, kids are learning really important stuff. Basic reading skills. Numbers and math concepts. And to keep from falling behind, one of the major things they need to do is make it to school every day. In Los Angeles, the nation's second largest school district, kindergarten absence is a big problem, with some students missing 10, 20, 30 days or more. In 2012, district officials say that almost 10,000 students were chronically absent from kindergarten. It's a problem around the country as well, and research confirms the academic peril chronic absence creates for the youngest students. And so the Los Angeles Unified district has mounted a big push, putting educators in schools whose mission is to get these children to school every day.

Dallas Morning News (TX)
February 24, 2015

The way dyslexics see words varies dramatically, affecting their ability to learn. A group of Plano middle schoolers wants to help those with the reading disability by developing a mobile app that will allow users to customize text to their specific needs. “Dyslexia is a really big problem in the world,” said David Yue, 13. “It doesn’t mean that someone is not smart. They just have a disability or a neurological misfiring that doesn’t allow them to read as well as other people. We wanted to give every dyslexic a chance to be able to excel in school and all the activities they do.” Yue and fellow eighth-graders from Rice Middle School developed the concept for an app called Mind Glass as part of a Verizon Innovative App Challenge. The team was one of eight national winners, earning $20,000 for the school and the opportunity to work one-on-one with professionals from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to build the app.

Lane Report (Lexington, KY)
February 24, 2015

Teach For America announced today the launch of the Kentucky Literacy Campaign. Created to promote reading comprehension and spotlight Kentucky’s rich literary tradition, the campaign will provide books to over 700 students across Eastern Kentucky. Through March 16, individuals can support the campaign by visiting YourSchoolsYourCall.org to vote on a single question: What’s the one book all Kentuckians must read? All voters will be entered to win a Kindle. At the conclusion of the campaign, Teach For America will purchase sets of the winning book for its 24 partner schools in Eastern Kentucky. Over 750 Kentuckians have already participated in the campaign, including Jane Beshear, First Lady of Kentucky.

Huffington Post
February 24, 2015

Most policy and industry experts who study the educational technology sector realize that the growing ethnic and racial diversity in the United States is creating a tremendous opportunity. Recent studies show that Hispanic families are early adopters of new communications technologies and are eager to reap the benefits of wireless access and interactive learning products. Wise deployment of technology has some potential to deliver a digital dividend. A growing body of evidence confirms that accelerated technological innovation and adoption rates are transforming family routines across the economic spectrum.

Ed Central
February 23, 2015

In a recent post on the growing media attention towards multilingualism, Lara Burt highlighted California’s paradoxical English-only approach to serving Dual Language Learners (DLLs). Yes, that’s right, the state with the largest population of DLLs in the nation mandates English immersion language instruction. Despite this dispiriting policy context, there are pockets of innovation around how to best educate and serve these students. The Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) program is emblematic of this sort of creativity. SEAL is a research-based PreK-3rd grade program designed to develop the language and literacy skills of DLLs and to close the achievement gap between language learners and their native-English speaking peers by 4th grade. The program has been implemented in 31 Silicon Valley schools; evaluation results suggest that SEAL is having a measurable impact on students’ academic growth and achievement.

WHYY News (Philadelphia, PA)
February 23, 2015

Three Pennsylvania school districts are rolling out a pilot program to screen kids for dyslexia -- and to offer teaching resources. The Pennsylvania Dyslexia Literacy Coalition assisted then-Rep. Ed Neilson and the state Department of Education in developing the pilot. Diane Reott, a Newtown Square mother, helped found the coalition after her son, Matthew, was diagnosed with dyslexia 13 years ago. At the time, his school district offered very little in terms of specialized tutoring. "The pilot is not just about having these kids get better services. It's really about helping teachers to be better trained to know what to do in a classroom," said Reott. "We really want the teaches to be helped as much as the children."

Michigan Live
February 23, 2015

Only six-months-old, the literacy group RX for Reading Detroit is teaming up with a national literacy non-profit program to get books into the hands of children in low-income families in Detroit. RX for Reading has set up libraries at Children's Health Center in Midtown and at the University of Detroit Mercy Pediatric Dental clinic. At both of the small libraries -- which are fully-stocked bookcases -- families and patients are invited to take a book home with them after their check up. RX for Reading Detroit is driven by the recent find that literacy begins with children simply having access to books.

Pottstown Mercury (PA)
February 23, 2015

I love the captivating creativity of the Dr. Seuss books, and I cherish any opportunity to promote childhood literacy. Read Across America Day and similar events aimed to help children become lovers of literature are certainly encouraging. But like anything else, there’s another side of the literacy story. The journey to literacy shouldn’t be something to fear or fret about when you have a baby or toddler. Help your child experience their developmental stages. Let babies learn to crawl and grasp objects while exploring the world around them. Let toddlers play, climb and enjoy gross-motor play. Yes, you should absolutely read to your babies and young children any opportunity you have. Visit your local library, and embrace a routine of reading bedtime stories. So even if your baby — or toddler — can read, it’s not always about today. As a parent, you’ll want to foster a love of reading in your child that lasts a lifetime.

"You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." — Paul Sweeney