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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 Washington Post
July 29, 2015

Musical training has shown to lead to improvements in a wide variety of different skills, including memory and spatial learning for example. In addition, language skills such as verbal memory, literacy and verbal intelligence have been shown to strongly benefit from musical training. Musicians are also more adept at processing speech in environments where there are large amounts of background noise, possess a greater propensity for processing auditory signals that are in some way degraded and show an advantage over their musically naive counterparts when it comes to pitch detection in both music and language. Recent advances in technologies have also allowed researchers to probe into the neural (functional, structural and electrophysiological) underpinnings of these adaptations.

KQED Mindshift
July 29, 2015

Educators and students are quickly becoming more comfortable with classroom technology, allowing them to shift from thinking about the technical side of integrating a new tool to focusing on how it improves learning. While the sheer number of education apps is still overwhelming, increasingly teachers have found what works for them and are sticking to them.

PBS NewsHour
July 29, 2015

The wildly popular books of Dr. Seuss have sold more than 650 million copies in 95 countries. And many parents believe that his playful misuse of language helps young kids wrap their mouths around words. But not everyone’s sold on Seuss. Amid the adoration is a small but vocal group of parents who take issue with the author’s use of nonsensical language. Parents’ concerns over Seuss’s use of language are “legitimate,” said Amanda P. Goodwin, an assistant professor in language, literacy and culture at Vanderbilt University. But, she added, the silliness can drive useful conversations, fuel creativity and ultimately help children better understand language. “The more parents talk about the story with the kid, the better their literacy development,” she said. “It’s not just about reading from the beginning to the end.”

The New York Times
July 29, 2015

For his time and ours, Seuss was a revolutionary writer. He respected the inner life of the child. He was experimental with language. Still, the parents I know buy Dr. Seuss books not because he is revolutionary, but because he is familiar and famous. They’re just lucky that his stories are so good. But they’re also unlucky, because the humans in his books solidly represent only the dominant culture, when our world is so wide. Parents, I challenge you. Even if your family is part of the dominant culture, wake up! Your kids will first see the broader world through books, and its your job to provide them.

Time
July 28, 2015

Summer reading lists are great, and the world is full of them, including this one from the American Library Association. But how can parents get their kids to turn to books when there are so many other distractions that beckon them? With elementary age kids, says literacy advocate Jen Robinson, it’s good to read aloud – even long after kids can read for themselves. “Kids who are read to even after they can read on their own are more likely to continue to enjoy reading as they get older,” she says. And “reading together gives families a common vocabulary, and a springboard for all kinds of interesting discussions.” Parents can get their kids to think about the book with questions like “What do you think will happen next? Do you think that was a good ending?”

Education Week
July 28, 2015

The "flipped learning" movement is spreading — and not just in classrooms. The North Carolina Museum of Art has developed a pilot program modeled after a flipped classroom, in which the traditional instructional approach is reversed. In flipped classrooms, students prepare for class instruction at home with extensive online work, often through reading or videos, so that they can engage in more analytical, in-depth, project-based work during class time. The North Carolina museum is trying to order students' experiences in a similar way. The North Carolina museum's "flipped" model works this way: Students study and investigate art in their schools—sharing ideas online with students from other parts of the state—before coming together to stage a virtual exhibition at the museum. When they return to their classes, they create their own individual art projects, informed by the works they have seen.

KQED Mindshift
July 28, 2015

Architect Takaharu Tezuka observes that “children love running in circles.” That’s why he designed this Tokyo kindergarten in the round, with a roof that is basically one big running track, but low enough so kids can easily be seen from the ground. In this TED talk, Tezuka describes how he and his colleagues tried to get inside the minds of children to create a space that would spark learning, not happen in spite of it.Tezuka observes when you put children in quiet boxes “some of them become very nervous” and try to hide or act out. At this school, there are no walls between classrooms and children who need to move can wander off if the mood strikes them. Teachers don’t worry because they’ll always find their way back — it is a circle, after all. This delightfully funny talk emphasizes how design can promote the playful, fun-loving, movement-filled learning spaces that nurture young children.

The New Yorker
July 28, 2015

The Dr. Seuss book “Hop on Pop”—“the Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use”—is a whirlwind of staccato delights: a pup in a cup; Red, Ned, Ted, and Ed in bed; and the titular hop. (“HOP POP. We like to hop. We like to hop on top of Pop.”) It also taught me how to read. Dr. Seuss’s books have given millions of kids that freedom—the dizzying joy of literacy. They made reading feel like a game you wanted to play, or a joke you wanted to be able to tell. (As a friend with a young son said to me recently, “The ‘Fox in Socks’ tweetle-beetle-battle riff always makes me feel funnier than I am.”) The announcement of the publication of a new, long-lost Seuss book, “What Pet Should I Get?,” has been cause for celebration, and a little anxiety. Good news: “What Pet Should I Get?” won’t retroactively ruin your childhood. It’s an amiable stroll through Seussdom that might have seemed extraordinary if Dr. Seuss hadn’t published anything else. Lucky for us, he did.

Education Week
July 27, 2015

English-language learners are one of the nation's fastest-growing student populations. But when it comes to English-learners who may also have learning disabilities, states and districts are struggling both to identify these children and to steer them to effective programs. A document released this month from the federal Institute of Education Sciences outlines the challenges facing schools around English-learners and students with disabilities. The document offers examples of what some states are doing around student identification and support of English-learners with disabilities. But the report -- aimed at district and state policymakers -- also acknowledges that the research base in this area is thin. Thus, the policies currently in place may not be working all that well.

Ed Central
July 27, 2015

What are the benefits of dual immersion programs for dual language learners? It’s not only about holding onto their home language and culture which is obviously important, but it gives students metacognitive flexibility — which is why we have so many native English-speaking students on waiting lists for really good dual immersion programs. Our brains get wired differently when we’re bilingual. We have so much research that supports the fact that being bilingual is always better than being monolingual. For DLLs, dual immersion is the program that closes the achievement gap and that research has been proven over and over and over again.

Greensboro News and Record (NC)
July 27, 2015

This summer, struggling third-grade readers returned to school for extra, more intense instruction in state-mandated camps. They worked in smaller-than-normal classes with teachers picked for their ability to boost literacy skills. They also studied math and science, but even those lessons incorporated reading. Some got one-on-one reading time with adult volunteers.

School Library Journal
July 27, 2015

Publisher of Chronicle’s Handprint line of innovative books and creator of high-concept early learning titles like Alphablock (2013) and Countablock (2014, both Abrams), Christopher Franceschelli has worn many hats from editor to creator to book packager. The busy bookmaker discusses his new work, what makes a great board book, and how these tiny works of art are for more than just babies.

The New York Times
July 24, 2015

In the early 1990s, about 50 kindergarten teachers were asked to rate the social and communication skills of 753 children in their classrooms. It was part of the Fast Track Project, an intervention and study administered in Durham, N.C., Nashville, Seattle and central Pennsylvania. The goals were to understand how children develop healthy social skills, and help them do so. This month, researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke published a study that looked at what had happened to those students in the 13 to 19 years since they left kindergarten. Their findings warrant major attention because the teachers’ rankings were extremely prescient. They predicted the likelihood of many outcomes: whether the children would graduate from high school on time, get college degrees, have stable or full-time employment as young adults; whether they would live in public housing or receive public assistance; whether they would be held in juvenile detention or be arrested as adults. The kindergarten teachers’ scores also correlated with the number of arrests a young adult would have for severe offenses by age 25.

The Atlantic
July 24, 2015

Some advocates say the notorious law actually improved outcomes for special-ed students—and they fear that Congress's rewrites to the law could put an end to that progress. The prospective law would likely retain the same general testing requirements, but it could give schools and states more leeway to determine which students take the tests — and thus determine a school’s compliance with the state-determined accountability measures. Critics say the prospective amendments could create loopholes in which schools allow, or even encourage, parents of special-needs children and other struggling students to opt them out of testing. Strict federal mandates involving both testing and penalties for schools that don’t include students with disabilities, critics argue, ensure all kids are getting access to the mainstream curriculum alongside their general-education peers.

Education Week
July 24, 2015

The achievement gap can be bridged, but we have to be more strategic about how we present the information to struggling learners. We have to look for ways to make them faster at acquiring vocabulary. Otherwise, they will continue to fall behind. Technology is one solution. With research-based software programs used in schools and homes, we can create student-driven learning experiences that surpass those of a normal classroom or small-group environment. Students also need interventions that target the root cause of their language and reading difficulties, rather than accommodations or more of the same interventions that haven’t helped in the past.

The Hechinger Report
July 24, 2015

Saniyah Barthelemy, 11 years old, is one of several students participating in a summer water-management class at Ashe, one of five charter schools run by FirstLine Schools. Besides digging the drainage ditch, they’re designing and building a rain and vegetable garden. It’s all part of Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, FirstLine’s program that teaches real-world problem solving. The water-management class is an example of the many hands-on learning experiences the program provides to kids at FirstLine Schools.

School Library Journal
July 23, 2015

When Fred Rogers wanted to teach children something new, he rarely had to travel far. In the TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968-2001), aimed at children ages two to five, life lessons were never more than a few blocks away. For the last 12 years, the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, based at St. Vincent College in Rogers’s hometown of Latrobe, PA, has been carrying on his life work of emotionally supporting and educating very young children. The Center hosts symposia, including the biennial Fred Forward Conference, and sponsors career fellowships. Its many resources include publications and curriculum toolkits. The stated mission: “Staying true to the vision of Fred Rogers, we help children grow as confident, competent, and caring human beings.” The organization also uses Rogers’s own archives to inform its current work. Executive director Rick Fernandes says that he challenges his team to consider, “How do we bring Fred back into it?”

Ed Central
July 23, 2015

Pam Bejerano is the federal programs supervisor of a small school district on the east side of Portland, Oregon.1 And her experience with language diversity is expansive — Centennial’s 6,300 students speak 52 different languages! The language diversity in Centennial School District is a testament to the demographic changes the city has undergone as a result of its rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods and re-emergence as an immigrant gateway. Bejerano has witnessed those changes firsthand: “It’s not uncommon for a teacher to have 10 languages in [their] classroom…but even just 10 years ago that was significantly different. We were predominantly white and Hispanic and now we’re white minority with 52 languages and within our ELL population we’re seeing a lot more students come from refugee situations.”

Daily Herald (Provo, UT)
July 23, 2015

There’s an old proverb that says “Fire is a good servant but a bad master,” meaning, of course, that even the best tools can be detrimental if used improperly. For many parents, finding the balance between the undoubted benefits that come from technology and the harmful effects of its overuse can be challenging. Fortunately, there are several local resources that can help parents use technology to promote one of the most important skills a child can develop — literacy.

The New York Times
July 23, 2015

This week, for the first time ever, the Book Review featured a picture book on its cover — a book that, for all of its 32 pages, holds fewer words than the first page of an average novel. “’What Pet Should I Get?’ will remind us, delightfully, that Dr. Seuss, over half a century ago, made learning to read an adventure, a club children would actually want to belong to,” Ms. Russo writes in her review. “And, not least, he made reading aloud something parents, too, could reliably enjoy.” ... I think all readers of The Times like to be reminded that they, too, one day long ago picked up a book on their own for the first time and marveled as they came to decode symbols into great, big imaginative ideas. And became readers.

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