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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With benchmarks reached and curricula completed, the final months of the school year often bring opportunity for projects that harness students’ true interests and passions. Looking for ways to inspire your students to become instruments of positive change? Here are four literacy-based global education programs that empower students to become informed, engaged, active members of our diverse world.
My third graders helped me redesign my library. How? It started when our K–5 school in Albemarle County, VA, adopted STEAM-integrated Project-Based Learning (PBL), which engages students in learning through planning and completing a project. This was part of a a larger strategy to embrace 21st-century learning. We needed to evaluate our learning spaces so they could accommodate and invite PBL through application, creation, making, and tinkering. I took a leadership role in transforming our elementary school library into a model learning space, as well as a center of information. Collaborating with a third grade class, we attacked the challenge of transforming the library with a five-step design process.
Nationwide, students lose about one month of learning over the summer according to Oxford Learning. This learning loss is commonly called the "summer slide", and affects students of all grade levels. Suzanne Ryals is the principal of Bramlett Elementary in Oxford. She says summer learning loss is a big issue in Mississippi. Ryals says making sure students continue to read over the summer can help combat the issue. Nathan Oakley is with the Mississippi Department of Education. He says parents play an important role in preventing the summer slide. "There are also great opportunities for parents to foster that same kind of love for learning and desire to continue learning in the summer through family trips to the library or family trips to museums."
"Decoding Dyslexia is grass roots; we're families helping families," says Allison Quirion of Hebron, founder of the Connecticut chapter and mom of a dyslexic son. "We formed to bring families together to have a voice for our students with dyslexia and to empower our parents to advocate for our students." According to the International Dyslexia Association, 15 to 20 percent of the population has a language-based learning disability, but many families statewide believe true understanding of the learning disability is lacking, Quirion says. Recently, parents and students testified before state lawmakers in support of Bill 7254 requiring special-education teachers to complete a program of study in evidence-based literacy interventions for dyslexic students. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Dannel Malloy, who was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child.
A half-century ago, a girl and brother ran away to New York City from their suburban Connecticut home. And the Metropolitan Museum of Art hasn’t been the same since. If visions of Claudia and Jamie bathing—and collecting lunch money—in the Met’s Fountain of Muses bring up fond childhood memories of your own, you’re among the legions of readers who grew up loving E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The classic children’s book turns 50 in 2017, and the tale of the Kincaid siblings spending their days wandering about the paintings, sculptures and antiquities, and their nights sleeping in antique beds handcrafted for royalty, is as popular as ever. The 1968 Newbery Medal winner has never been out of print.
Early-childhood advocates have been concerned for some time that the academic expectations of elementary school are filtering down to kindergarten. Now, there's a bit of pressure from the other direction. Teaching Strategies, creator of a project-based preschool curriculum called The Creative Curriculum, has created a kindergarten course of study that it says will bring back the play, hands-on activities and center-based work that has started to disappear from some classrooms. The Creative Curriculum for Kindergarten was piloted in fall 2016 in more than 50 public and private kindergarten classrooms in Alabama, Alaska, New York City, and Washington state and is now available for other schools. Like the preschool curriculum, which is used by more than 2 million children each year, the kindergarten curriculum focuses on child-driven social studies and science topics that integrate math and literacy skills.
A new data tool lets parents, educators and community members see how Fort Worth third-graders are performing in reading based on state testing results. Users of the data dashboard can review reading proficiency for all students or use demographic filters including economically disadvantaged and race, Superintendent Kent Scribner said Tuesday during a demonstration of the tool for school board trustees. The dashboard, on the Fort Worth Literacy Partnership’s website, is part of a continuing effort to fight childhood illiteracy.
Many states will be using the Collaborative Summer Library Program’s (CSLP) summer reading theme this year: Build a Better World. Many librarians are going the literal route, planning lots of engineering programs and Lego events. Others, however, are finding inspiration by focusing on a social justice angle, developing programs that tap into ways kids can change the world around them for the better. But where does one begin? How do you put lofty ideas into practical form? How can librarians help kids become community-minded volunteers, get involved, and help others? It’s time to explore the oft-neglected 300s of your nonfiction section!
School is almost out, which means it's the season for millions of students to be sent home with summer reading lists. As someone who loves and values books and reading and also has been teaching college writing for the past 16 years, I have a request: Please don't do that. Seems paradoxical, I know. Why would a book lover like me discourage schools from requiring students to read over the summer? Nurturing good reading habits is a long game, and whenever we tether reading to school, we hinder, rather than help, students. The National Counsel of Teachers of English has a list of best practices when it comes to effective reading instruction, including this: "Provide daily opportunities for students to read books of their own choice at school." I'd like to add a personal recommendation: When not in school, let students read whatever the heck they want.
According to education expert Richard Allington, summer slide accounts for as much as 85 percent of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their middle to upper income peers. Additionally, teachers may spend more time at the beginning of the school year re-teaching previously covered material and strategies that were forgotten or under-used over the summer. This delays the teaching of new material, putting a strain on the already limited teaching time needed to teach the rigorous content of the Iowa Core Standards. While it may seem like a complex problem, the solution to summer slide is surprisingly simple. Read! Children of all ages need to read over the summer. There is no need for special programs, workbooks, or fancy flashcards. A library card with regular trips to the colorful shelves of the public library can do the trick. According to the Journal of Education for Students at Risk, regardless of ethnicity, income level, or previous achievement, children who read four or more books over the summer do better on fall reading comprehension measures than their peers who read one or no books.
The research is conclusive and long standing that there exist instructional systems and designs that assure every child can be a competent reader. Considering the largest study of reading instruction was a federal research project, you might assume that the general approach to reading uses this enormous amount of research to inform it. But, despite the research, this has not happened – even in wealthy towns like Hingham or Cohasset, reading instruction is not implemented well or consistently in the early grades. As a result, we overspend on special education and fail to provide excellent instruction within the general education programs. The Fluency Factory and other tutors mask the problems that would otherwise show up on MCAS or other measures.
Pairing adult education services for parents with early learning for their children shows some promising signs to help families out of poverty, according to the first study of a Tulsa, Okla. intergenerational program. After a year, children whose parents were in CareerAdvance had attended more days of Head Start and were significantly less likely to be chronically absent than children in the control group. Participating parents reported less stress and significantly more career commitment and optimism than parents in the control group. And 49 percent of the participating parents had gotten jobs in the healthcare industry by the end of the year, compared to 31 percent of the comparison group.
Margarita Engle was writing rhymed poetry at age 6 – a love that extended into her adult life and has won her an array of national awards. She now has a new honor to add to the list: Young People’s Poet Laureate, an honor given to her by the Poetry Foundation. The title of Young People’s Poet Laureate is given every two years along with $25,000 to a living writer who has devoted their career to young readers. Henry Bienen, president of the Poetry Foundation, said he is glad Engle has accepted the position and will now be a part of the Poetry Foundation Community.
Teachers know from experience that quality student talk in a classroom improves depth of thinking and reflection. Organizations including the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) encourage teachers to use the power of student talk through best practices like teacher–student conferencing, literature circles, Socratic seminars, and student-led parent–teacher conferences. Lately I’ve extended that power through two video tools that facilitate robust student-to-teacher and student-to-student exchanges: Recap and Flipgrid.
Hungry for some good data? Then dig into a new report called The State of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the 1 in 5. It was published this week by one of Understood’s founding partners, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). The State of LD uses the latest statistics to shine a light on key challenges facing the 1 in 5. It also includes field-leading research and new opportunities to help these children succeed in school and in life. Here are five ways parents can use the report to help kids thrive.
It's completely possible to develop and deliver quality PD for teachers, and it’s as straightforward as putting intentionality behind these 5 Ws: 1. Who is included in the planning, execution, and follow-up? 2. What learning experiences will occur (workshops, coaching, classroom observations/videos, school visits, research, etc.), and what dialogues might be helpful for introducing and reflecting on the experience? 3. When will larger and smaller goals be achieved, and when will assessments, surveys, or reflections be used to measure success? 4. Where are the best spaces to encourage collaboration among PD participants or facilitate other learning goals? 5. Why are participants engaged in this particular PD?
For years, it has been considered best practice to teach students to evaluate online resources for their validity. In elementary school, educators coach students on information and digital literacy basics: Is this a trustworthy URL? What is your source? Who is the author of the article? Is the Web page trying to sell you something? Will these verification skills hold up in the snap-judgement world of social media link-sharing? Or will these new contexts cause students to drop their armor and wander, completely vulnerable, into the world of online news sharing? Our idea was to approach the subject of fake news with students before they reached the age of browsing social media independently with their cell phones and laptops (typically around fifth or sixth grade) making them confident and educated digital users from the start.
TED Fellow Karim Abouelnaga explains the importance of summer school, especially in low-income communities where students can fall months behind after summer break, and how he's working to make summer school interesting and appealing.
Four new picture books bring the outside in, taking young readers on adventures in illustrated forests. Strange, inscrutable creatures live there. These are unruly tales that conjure mystery and a little fear, bringing the wildness of nature to the cozy couch.
Multiage education is not a return to the one-room schoolhouse of yore, in which students of all ages learned different subjects in one space. Instead, students from (typically) two grades learn together in an environment that, advocates say, encourages cooperation and mentoring while allowing struggling students enough time to master material. Multiage advocates say the traditional approach of dividing students into single grades based on an arbitrary birth-date range is illogical. Today, multiage classrooms remain an anomaly in America. Little research is being done on them in elementary schools—and the results are inconclusive—while virtually no research has ever investigated the effects of multiage classrooms in middle and high schools, likely because so few exist.