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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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The New York Times
February 17, 2017

Mo Willems and Oliver Jeffers — two of the most beloved, and singular, creators of children’s picture books working today — have both seen their literary creations head to the stage. The musical “Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play!,” based on Willems’s Elephant & Piggie series, recently finished a run at New York’s New Victory Theater and is setting out on a national tour; “The Way Back Home,” a puppet production based on Jeffers’s book of the same title, will be at the New Victory in March. The two authors talked to Maria Russo, The Times’s children’s books editor, about the thrills and embarrassments of children’s theater and their books’ very different journeys to the stage.

Education Week
February 17, 2017

As a method of organizing efforts to help students who are struggling academically, response to intervention has seen widespread adoption. But as an improved method of identifying students with learning disabilities, RTI shows far less clear benefits, researchers are finding. The RTI instructional model is designed to identify students in need of extra assistance and provide them targeted and research-based lessons, or interventions.

News and Observer (Raleigh, NC)
February 17, 2017

The spotlight focused Thursday in downtown Raleigh on a group of students who don’t normally get to show off their academic competitiveness – visually impaired students. Seventeen students came to the Church of the Good Shepherd to compete in the Eastern North Carolina Regional Braille Challenge. The participants are hoping to score high enough to be among the 50 students nationally who will be invited to California in June to compete in the 2017 National Braille Challenge sponsored by the non-profit Braille Institute.

KQED Mindshift
February 16, 2017

As the national attention to fake news and the debate over what to do about it continue, one place many are looking for solutions is in the classroom. Since a recent Stanford study showed that students at practically all grade levels can’t determine fake news from the real stuff, the push to teach media literacy has gained new momentum. The study showed that while students absorb media constantly, they often lack the critical thinking skills needed to tell fake news from the real stuff. Teachers are taking up the challenge to change that. NPR Ed put out a social media call asking how educators are teaching fake news and media literacy, and we got a lot of responses. Here’s a sampling from around the country.

Education Week
February 16, 2017

Children enrolled for a year in an enhanced Head Start program known as Educare show better results on tests of auditory and expressive language skills, parent-reported problem behaviors, and parent-child interactions compared to children who were not able to enroll in the program, a new study has found. The report, published this month in Child Development, tracked more than 200 children under the age of 19 months. The children were either enrolled in Educare, a national program that blends federal, public, and private dollars to support children from birth to age 5, or in a "business as usual" control group of children who were not able to enroll in Educare. There are 21 Educare programs in 18 cities, serving rural, suburban and urban communities. The model includes embedded professional development for teachers, the use of data to guide decisionmaking, and high-quality teaching practices.

The Washington Post
February 16, 2017

One of the most important things parents can do, beyond keeping kids healthy and safe, is to read with them. That means starting when they are newborns and not even able to talk, and continuing well beyond the years that they can read by themselves. Study after study shows that early reading with children helps them learn to speak, interact, bond with parents and read early themselves, and reading with kids who already know how to read helps them feel close to caretakers, understand the world around them and be empathetic citizens of the world. We spoke with Liza Baker, the executive editorial director at Scholastic, which just released its Kids & Family Reading Report. Here, Baker shares highlights of the report and offers tips for parents on how to turn their babies and children into readers.

National Public Radio
February 16, 2017

The hugely successful fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials will be getting a "companion" trilogy, author Philip Pullman announced this evening. The first book of the new series, which will collectively be called The Book of Dust, is set for publication on October 19. The original His Dark Materials trilogy consists of three volumes (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass). The events of the first trilogy took place across several parallel worlds — including our own — and touched on disparate ideas related to theology, particle physics, and the loss of childhood innocence. Characters included a headstrong and fiercely intelligent young girl named Lyra Belacqua, and an armored, talking polar bear. The Book of Dust will return to the world(s) and characters of His Dark Materials, Pullman said, and Lyra will be integral to the new story — but not in the way she was before.

Education Week
February 15, 2017

Jane M. Quenneville, the principal of a public school that serves children and youths with severe disabilities, was among the parents and educators invited to the White House Tuesday for what was billed as a listening session with President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The guests—which also included teachers, parents who have children enrolled in public and in private schools, and home-schooling parents—did much of the listening, Quenneville said. But Quenneville said she did have conversations with staff members before and after the session about two areas that concern her: special education teacher shortages and children with disabilities educated separately from their general education peers. Quenneville also said that she renewed the Council for Exceptional Children's invitation to DeVos to meet with its leadership. "She was very receptive," Quenneville said. "We're looking forward to another conversation."

Education Week
February 15, 2017

How do you take a practice that's working in one classroom and share it with a team of teachers, a school, or an entire district without turning it into "one more thing" for already-busy teachers to do? Leading for Literacy: A Reading Apprenticeship Approach is a new book for teachers, coaches, school and district leaders, and others interested in using the Reading Apprenticeship approach that combines theoretical ideas with practical suggestions and stories from schools. Reading Apprenticeship encourages teachers to learn and model "expert" reading strategies in different academic disciplines. Teachers examine their own approaches to reading and comprehension through an inquiry-based approach and work on challenging texts in their fields, and then help their students do the same. The goal is to develop students' disciplinary literacy, an idea that has gained traction in recent years, as is evidenced by various sets of standards: The Common Core State Standards include standards for literacy in science and social studies, and the C3 Framework for social studies and the Next Generation Science Standards both focus on inquiry and learning through texts.

School Library Journal
February 15, 2017

Some problems are so persistent and complex that only a whole new approach can break open the potential for a solution. That may just be the case with so-called book deserts, where reading materials are so scarce as to be nearly impossible to find. The recently announced national Book-Rich Environment Initiative promises to be a critical step toward that much-needed new perspective on this intractable problem—with libraries as key partners in the coalition. Libraries are a critical infrastructure asset at work in realizing the goals of the Book-Rich Environment Initiative. To make the essential impact that is so needed, those worthy goals deserve our attention, support, and ongoing commitment to bringing the riches of books to every community.

KQED Mindshift
February 15, 2017

In order to help teachers learn and and become proficient in relevant skills, a nascent movement of nonprofits, states, districts and educators are exploring what a competency-based professional learning system could look like using micro-credentials. Digital Promise, a nonprofit with a mission of “accelerating innovation in education,” has been a strong proponent of micro-credentials, describing them as competency-based, on-demand, personalized and shareable. Micro-credentials have the benefit of being rooted in classroom practice. In this model, teachers can no longer attend a workshop and receive credit for merely being there. Instead, they must take their learning back into their classrooms and try it out, submitting evidence, receiving feedback from peers and refining their approach. They also have to reflect on what they learned through those experiences.

University of Kansas News (Lawrence, KS)
February 14, 2017

For years, minorities have been disproportionately placed in special education classes, and figures available indicate the complexity of this issue for one group. National estimates reveal that English-language learners may be over-represented in the learning disabilities category due to the fact that neither a method for accurate identification nor a consistent definition of learning disabilities across states exists. This underscores the need for better tools and methods for accurate identification of those with special needs. A new study co-authored by a University of Kansas professor shows the development of accurate and stable assessment tools for the identification of learning disabilities in English-language learner children and documentation of the rate of cognitive, language and reading growth as a function of instructional practice.

Iowa Reading Research Center (Iowa City, IA)
February 14, 2017

Simply put, background knowledge is what you already know or have learned about a topic. When good readers begin reading, various information about the topic in the text is stimulated in their brains. They begin to connect that existing knowledge with new knowledge they are encountering in the text, adding to or making new categories of information in the brain to be accessed in the future. When this happens, readers are able to increase their reading comprehension. With each new reading experience, readers can continue linking and growing their knowledge, thus increasing their ability to understand a wider variety of texts. The goal of building background knowledge is to take advantage of that curiosity and channel it to support students’ reading comprehension. Revealing all the information to them prior to reading cuts the journey short. But giving students enough to get them started will facilitate building knowledge, learning new things, and enjoying the process of reading.

School Library Journal
February 14, 2017

Nonfiction graphic novels can seem like a weird hybrid. After all, the term “nonfiction novel” is an oxymoron. How does that even work? But set nomenclature aside and add in a skilled author and/or illustrator, and nonfiction graphic works can be a superb blend of fiction and nonfiction, imagination and facts. The first thing you have to remember when looking for great nonfiction graphic works is that there’s always going to be an element of fiction. Very few of these titles will work as research sources, but they do inform, educate, and entertain readers, introducing them to narrative nonfiction at its finest and inspiring them to further research and reading.

School Library Journal
February 14, 2017

A divisive election has shown us that there remains much work to do to help promote a deeper understanding and acceptance of our human differences. At Bank Street, learning about identity—including race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more—is key to our curricula. We strongly believe that educators and librarians have a heightened responsibility to create safe and meaningful learning environments that nurture thoughtful, empathetic, and productive citizens of tomorrow. The following booklists are intended to be a starting place (not a comprehensive list) to help educators and librarians create a supportive space to explore these issues and help promote an inclusive, democratic, and just society.

Ed Source
February 13, 2017

With her wide smile and eager expression, Oakland 3rd-grader Weiying Wu looked a bit like a princess herself earlier this week as she pored over her new book titled “Real Princess Diaries,” thanks to a multistate effort to get books into the hands of low-income children who come from homes where books are often in short supply. In an age when older children, especially, are drifting away from reading the old-fashioned way, Weiying is carrying on a time-honored practice of reading an actual book. In this case, the book is not one that belongs to the school to be read as part of a class exercise or assignment, but rather to take home and read on her own. She got the book that day when representatives of Book Trust, a nonprofit Denver-based organization working with districts in 18 states, including four in California.

International Literacy Association Daily
February 13, 2017

Reading aloud is my favorite way to create community and joy. A profound, magical connect forms between reader, text, and listener. Through the books we choose and the people we read with, we deepen relationships and create memories that will last a lifetime. In 2007, my colleagues and I created World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) through LitWorld in response to one little boy in a classroom who yearned for more time for his teacher to read aloud. This year WRAD falls on February 16. WRAD is a soaring global, grassroots movement that shares the power of words and stories and has created a connected community of caring people who come together as a positive force for love and learning and celebrate something beautiful and good.

Indiana Gazette (PA)
February 13, 2017

My husband and I have read to them every night since they were babies, but as my oldest began to read on his own, it somehow became less fun to him. I think part of it was those blasted daily-reading logs he was forced to fill out starting in kindergarten. Suddenly, our nightly ritual became more work than pleasure — a major buzzkill for us all. Books should make you laugh and smile, transport you to faraway lands, and transform you into dragon-slaying sleuths, making you feel all the feelings along the way. “If we treat books like they’re magical, kids will grow up believing that too,” says Shanna Schwartz, lead senior staff developer at Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in New York City. Start with these expert- and mom-approved ideas and the magic will follow.

Philadelphia Sun (PA)
February 13, 2017

The African American Children’s Book Fair drew about 4,000 parents and children came to get their purchased books autographed by their favorite authors and/or illustrators. For more than two hours, educators picked up learning materials at the “Our Educator’s Book Giveaway” for school libraries. Families stood in line for coloring books, posters and other freebies. Elected officials greeted greeting children who were sitting in drawing workshops, or spoke to parents carrying armloads of books waiting for the rows of cashiers to ring them up. While the hours were long, the energy was high at the Children’s Book Fair.

Understood
February 10, 2017

Having a new president always leads to change at the Department of Education. That includes the appointment of a new secretary of education. For many parents, this can raise a host of questions. Here, Lindsay Jones, chief policy and advocacy officer for the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), answers some common questions parents may be having.

"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb