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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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Vancouver Sun (CA)
September 23, 2014

When it comes to raising readers and building strong literacy skills, opportunities are everywhere, especially for families with young children. “Research shows that experiences in infancy and early childhood make a big difference,” said Andrea Brown, the Vancouver Public Library’s assistant manager of early years programming. “It’s never too early to start reading and sharing literacy skills with your child.” Brown recommends five fun and simple activities that families can add to their daily routine.

School Library Journal
September 23, 2014

Dr. Robert Needlman, a pediatrician at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland and co-founder of Reach Out and Read, keynoted this year’s annual School Library Journal Fostering Lifelong Learners: Investing in Our Children conference at the Cuyahoga County (OH) Public Library on September 19. Needlman titled his address “Partnership with Pediatricians” and stated (in his PowerPoint slide) to the crowd of librarians seated before him that the “single most important activity for building the knowledge required to eventual success in reading is reading aloud to kids.”

Hechinger Report
September 23, 2014

The rigorous new Common Core standards represent both a daunting challenge and a promising pathway that could help close the achievement gap for the growing number of American students who enter school knowing little or no English. So concludes a new yearlong study released today by the California-based arm of Education Trust, a nonpartisan research and advocacy group that has repeatedly voiced concern that the new national standards might prove to be an additional burden for students whose native language is not English, particularly those who come from low-income families.

Seattle Times
September 22, 2014

On a recent afternoon, a 10-year-old girl with long, blond, curly hair, gave UW researchers a peek inside her brain. Lying flat on her back inside a machine that looks like a big doughnut, Shelter Gimbel-Sherr read individual letters presented on a video screen and then wrote the one that would come next in the alphabet on a special pad. All the while a scanner generated images of her neural tissue. University of Washington researchers Virginia Berninger, an educational psychologist, and radiologist Todd Richards, watched on a computer screen from a control room. They are at the forefront of brain research that’s illuminating what happens inside the brain as young children learn to speak, listen, read and write — and how to help those who struggle with those skills, like Shelter. That’s because our brains aren’t naturally wired for reading and writing (or multiplying and dividing). Infants aren’t born with the neural pathways needed for those skills.

Hechinger Report
September 22, 2014

Few programs have been studied as long or shown the lasting impact of Chicago’s Child-Parent Centers, which in 1967 became the nation’s first publicly funded education intervention serving preschool to third grade. The focus is on small class sizes, teacher training and a welcoming atmosphere that requires parent participation. Children can attend preschool for two years, beginning at age 3, in some cases for a full day. The Hechinger Report spoke with Arthur Reynolds, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development who has been following a class of 1,539 children from the Child-Parent Centers since 1986. He began as an evaluator and is now director of the ambitious Chicago Longitudinal Study, whose subjects are now in their mid-30s.

Vail Daily (CO)
September 22, 2014

The Reading Buddies Program, a collaboration between the Literacy Project of Eagle County and the Eagle Valley Library District, pairs teen volunteers with younger children (students in grades first through third grade) for an hour of one-on-one shared reading once per week for eight weeks. Big Buddies (teen mentors in grades nine through 12) receive training at the beginning and throughout the session. Teen mentors practice choosing appropriate books and materials, as well as, positive reinforcement techniques for helping a Little Buddy. Little Buddies are emerging readers, struggling readers and those who love to read. The program gives the Little Buddies extra reading practice with a caring, trained mentor in a fun and creative environment.

The Guardian (UK)
September 22, 2014

The Guardian children’s books site has won a World Young Reader prize from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers for its engagement with young people. The site, which is written by children and for children, features everything from reviews to author interviews, extracts and quizzes. Jeff Kinney, the author of the Wimpy Kid series, called the site’s content “fantastic”, adding that “a dedicated book site for kids, where they can also post their views and talk about their favourite books, is a wonderful thing”.

Wall Street Journal
September 19, 2014

Tyeast Fullerton sat close to her 3-year-old son, Tahji, on the floor of their small Brooklyn apartment on a recent afternoon, singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider," reading "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom'' and drawing trees with crayons. All that may sound simple, but for Ms. Fullerton, a single mother on public assistance, such playful engagement marked a leap from the days when she didn't know her son would learn faster if she talked with him a lot and stopped speaking "Baby-ese." "I didn't speak to him like an adult," she said. "I didn't think he would really get it." What changed her mind was a program that sent a literacy specialist to her home for 30 minutes, twice a week, for the past year to show her how to spur Tahji's language development. New research done at New York University found positive effects from this long-standing effort for 2- and 3-year-olds in poverty called the Parent-Child Home Program.

National Public Radio
September 19, 2014

More than 40 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards, new national academic benchmarks in reading and math. But the Common Core has become the center of a highly contentious debate nationwide. Proponents say the Common Core was designed to ensure that children, no matter where they go to school, are prepared to succeed in college or the workplace upon graduation. Opponents argue that many of the standards are not age or development-appropriate, and that they constrain the ability of teachers to adjust their teaching to their individual classrooms. In a recent Intelligence Squared U.S. debate, two teams of education experts squared off on the motion, "Embrace The Common Core." In these Oxford-style debates, the team that sways the most people to its side by the end is the winner.

Information Week
September 19, 2014

Speech synthesis, commonly known as text-to-speech (TTS), is the artificial production of human speech. Nowadays you can find a number of apps and programs that use a speech synthesizer to provide a text-to-speech service. Perhaps the most famous beneficiary of speech synthesis is the physicist and author Stephen Hawking, who communicates through a speech-generating device. A number of apps can turn text into speech, but a few have been specifically designed to assist children and adults with learning disabilities such as dyslexia or alexia. I spoke with Ben Baror, CEO of Root Applications, the Israeli company that developed Voxdox, a text-to-speech app designed to help children with learning disabilities.

Science World Report
September 19, 2014

Brain scans may now be able to help predict how early children can start learning to read. Recent findings published in the journal Psychological Science show that it may be possible to diagnose certain reading difficulties early, such as dyslexia. "We show that white matter development during a critical period in a child's life, when they start school and learn to read for the very first time, predicts how well the child ends up reading," said Fumiko Hoeft, MD, PhD, senior author and an associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at UCSF, and member of the UCSF Dyslexia Center.

School Library Journal
September 18, 2014

In 2012, a group launched a simple call to action: Read Aloud for 15 Minutes, with a decade-long commitment: partnering with other organizations and businesses that are invested in child development and education to make reading aloud every day for 15 minutes the new parenting standard and thereby change the face of education in this country. So my hope for everyone who is reading this column? I want you to get your library to partner with this organization and help spread this message. Read Aloud for 15 Minutes has three main campaign “pulses” during the year. March is “Read Aloud” month, July is “Seize the Summer,” and coming up in October? “Let’s Talk! Nourishment of the Brain for Babies.”

Auburn Citizen (NY)
September 18, 2014

The International Literacy Association recommendation is to increase reading time 60 seconds for 60 days. The Peachtown version is to partner-read for 10 minutes every morning before classes start, for 60 days. These partnerships are between the older and younger students, so a 6-foot-tall eighth-grader might read with a prekindergarten student. Promoting literacy, sharing and patience, and fostering a sense of community, are all accomplished with the reading of a book. Creating a culture of literacy is one of the most critical elements in successful schooling, and creating positive role models for young children is a giant step in the right direction.

Education Week
September 18, 2014

Charter schools have a reputation for enrolling students with disabilities at a far lower rate than traditional school districts. But some charter schools see these students as a potential growth market. My colleague Arianna Prothero, who covers charter schools, this week explored the world of charter schools created to support students with autism, learning disabilities, and other special needs. Such schools also raise questions about the inclusive environment that is promised to students with disabilities under federal law. The article explores what the role of such schools can be when students are supposed to be educated in the "least restrictive environment," and how they maintain their enrollment balance when charter schools are supposed to be open to the general student population.

School Library Journal
September 18, 2014

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Ken Burns’s seven-part documentary film about the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, recently premiered on PBS (visit the website for video excerpts, a photo gallery, and related lesson plans). Whether viewed in the classroom or at home, this fascinating look at three members of perhaps the most influential family in American politics is sure to generate interest among young readers. Ranging from picture-book accounts to more in-depth biographies, the books featured here will both inform and inspire.

Library Journal
September 17, 2014

The Pew Research Center Internet Project issued a new report September 10 on the library habits of Americans under 30. “Younger Americans and Public Libraries” examines the ways Millennials — those born between 1985 and 1998 — engage with libraries, and how they see libraries’ roles in their lives and communities. Millennials read about as much as older adults, with 43 percent saying that they read a book in some format (print, audiobook, or ebook) every day. As a group, they are also as likely as older adults to have used a library in the past 12 months, and more likely to have used a public library website. Nonetheless, the report warns, their levels of engagement vary in a number of ways.

National Public Radio
September 17, 2014

Nestled between Julia Auster's fantasy football app and Facebook Messenger is a relatively new bucket of apps: the education tools she uses in the French classes she teaches at Robert Adams Middle School in Holliston, Mass. Auster isn't alone. With more students bringing their own tech into the classroom, teachers are finding that apps aren't just fun — they're valuable tools to help manage student behaviors, to communicate with parents and to connect learning with social media. In short, they help inform how and what to teach. And the best part: Many of these apps are free. As the new school year gets underway, NPR checked in with school technologists and teachers to see what digital tools they're using.

WTSP News (Tampa, FL)
September 17, 2014

A state exam used to measure reading comprehension has been suspended, at least for the youngest of students,after mounting unrest with Florida's so-called "testing culture." According to the Tampa Bay Times, the state suspended the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading on Monday, also known as the FAIR test, for students in kindergarten through second grade. Instead, teachers will observe students through a less formal measurement than sitting for an online test. That's a victory for testing opponents, who say that students take too many tests — and that state exams play too large a role in educational decisions.

The New York Times
September 16, 2014

People disagree, quite strenuously, on the best curriculum for teaching children to read. But all participants in the reading wars agree on some other things: Early reading is crucial — a child who does not read proficiently by third grade will probably fall further and further behind each year. American schools are failing: two out of three fourth graders don’t read at grade level. And they agree on something else: any reading curriculum works better if children who are struggling get the chance to work, one on one, with a tutor. “If I were a principal, I’d spend my money on tutoring,” said Robin Jacob, an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan’s School of Education.

Wall Street Journal
September 16, 2014

Once a week, members of a Wellington, New Zealand, book club arrive at a cafe, grab a drink and shut off their cellphones. Then they sink into cozy chairs and read in silence for an hour. The point of the club isn't to talk about literature, but to get away from pinging electronic devices and read, uninterrupted. The group calls itself the Slow Reading Club, and it is at the forefront of a movement populated by frazzled book lovers who miss old-school reading. Slow reading advocates seek a return to the focused reading habits of years gone by, before Google, smartphones and social media started fracturing our time and attention spans. Many of its advocates say they embraced the concept after realizing they couldn't make it through a book anymore.

Kansas City Star (MO)
September 16, 2014

Going back to school means making some adjustments. New classrooms. New classmates. New problems. Several new kids’ books feature young characters struggling with — and overcoming — obstacles from bullying and stage fright for younger readers to adoption and troubled parents for older readers. And for beginning readers who may just need a laugh, Kate DiCamillo introduces a new series featuring cowboy Leroy Ninker and his horse Maybelline. Here’s a look at some new titles, just in time for young people who may be facing challenges.

The New York Times
September 15, 2014

Technology companies are collecting a vast amount of data about students, touching every corner of their educational lives — with few controls on how those details are used. Now California is poised to become the first state to comprehensively restrict how such information is exploited by the growing education technology industry.

The Washington Post
September 15, 2014

Why are girls underrepresented in STEM classes and careers? What can be done about it?

School Library Journal
September 15, 2014

The long list for the National Book Award in the Young People’s Literature category was announced this morning. The list of 10 titles represent a range of genres: from fantasy, memoir and mystery, to nonfiction and science fiction.

KQED Mindshift
September 15, 2014

There’s no such thing as a “normal brain.” In fact, there’s a lot of diversity in how different brains process information — a challenge for educators tasked with teaching a diverse group of learners. Dyslexia is a common variation that affects how kids read, but what’s really going inside the brain of someone affected by it?

The Washington Post
September 15, 2014

Embrace the Common Core State Standards? Do not embrace the Common Core? That was the question in New York when four people — two for embracing and two against — participated in a recent debate about the controversial initiative.

PBS NewsHour
September 15, 2014

When Liz Woody’s son Mason was in third grade, he struggled to read basic words. After Woody moved Mason to a specialized school, she set out to transform techniques to reach struggling readers.

KQED Mindshift
September 12, 2014

Even for educators who are excited about using games in the classroom, questions inevitably come up around the very real obstacles to implementation, and strategies for overcoming them. A recent survey from the Games and Learning Publishing Council asked 700 teachers to identify and rank the major barriers to using games in the classroom. Here are the top 10 obstacles they list and ideas about how to overcome each one.

NPR
September 12, 2014

Indiana has just approved a license that clears a new pathway to the teaching profession. It allows anyone with a bachelor's degree, a B average, and approximately three years of related work experience to become a middle or high school teacher in a subject such as math, science or music, provided they pass a content test. The new teachers, called "career specialists," are required to enroll in a program to acquire teaching skills, but they'll essentially be learning on the job.

NPR
September 12, 2014

Musical training doesn't just improve your ear for music — it also helps your ear for speech. That's the takeaway from an unusual new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers found that kids who took music lessons for two years didn't just get better at playing the trombone or violin; they found that playing music also helped kids' brains process language.

PBS NewsHour
September 12, 2014

At one school in West Virginia, administrators, teachers and parents swear by a year-round calendar that has the same number of teaching days as any other school, but spread throughout the year.

Education Week
September 11, 2014

The American public education system needs more science, technology, engineering and math teachers, must do a better job encouraging female students to pursue those fields, and should embrace new technology in the classrooms, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Tuesday afternoon.

The Hechinger Report
September 11, 2014

About 70 percent of America's elementary schools still rely on slow Internet connections. But in rural areas, the challenges—and costs—make getting broadband particularly complicated.

NPR
September 11, 2014

There are an estimated 6.4 million children in the U.S. with a disability and for these kids the simple ritual of playing outside can get very complicated. This app aims to make it easier to find accessible places for everyone to play.

Education Week
September 10, 2014

States applying for the newest federal early-learning grant competition will be more likely to clinch the federal funds if the proposals include a strong parent-engagement component, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

KQED Mindshift
September 10, 2014

Julie Graber, an instructional technology consultant in Iowa, is working with her colleagues to try to codify specific traits that coaches can look for to determine if technology in the classroom is having the transformational impact that many hope it will.

PBS NewsHour
September 10, 2014

A teacher reflects on how she handled discussing the events of 9/11 with her students

The Huffington Post
September 9, 2014

While many elementary, middle and high school students are already accustomed to technology-enabled classrooms, educators continue to incorporate digital learning innovations into their teaching styles. Even the most tech-savvy parents can find it difficult to keep up with all of the trends and terminology.

TechCrunch
September 9, 2014

Amazon announced this afternoon that it will be expanding its Kindle Direct Publishing business to support the needs of children’s books authors through a new program it’s calling “KDP Kids.” Along with the program, which is aimed at helping authors prepare, publish and distribute books in the Kindle Store, Amazon is also releasing a new tool, the Kindle Kids’ Book Creator.

The New York Times
September 9, 2014

Across the country, teaching is an overwhelmingly female profession, and in fact has become more so over time. More than three-quarters of all teachers in kindergarten through high school are women, according to Education Department data, up from about two-thirds three decades ago. The disparity is most pronounced in elementary and middle schools, where more than 80 percent of teachers are women.

KQED Mindshift
September 8, 2014

There are so many great reasons to include digital games among classroom activities. But the landscape of learning games is very confusing and many teachers understandably have no idea how or where to begin. Though every educator can find her own way, here are ideas for the first four steps to getting started with digital games in the classroom.

PBS NewsHour
September 8, 2014

It’s an image that many remember of America’s agrarian past: Kids toiling away on family farms during the long, hot summer break between school years. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that the origin of the school calendar is often linked to these images — by policy makers and in the media.

NPR
September 8, 2014

Today is the first day of school in New York, and experts suspect that only a sliver of the city's roughly 1,000 new preschool teachers — hired to meet the demands of this expansion — are men. Nationally, barely 2 percent of early education teachers are men, according to 2012 labor statistics.

Ed Central
September 5, 2014

This summer, the School Library Journal stoked a debate long simmering in libraryland. Print books or ebooks: Which are better for helping children learn to read? Children’s librarians have strong opinions on the subject, as shown in essays published last week with battling headlines. Given the emotions stirred on both sides, it would be easy miss the point on which all writers agreed: Children’s librarians and school librarians can play — and should play — a huge role in modeling what it looks like to read with children and to help build discriminating tastes in quality books, e- or otherwise. We need twenty-first-century librarians to become what I and others have come to call "media mentors" for children and families.

The New York Times
September 5, 2014

On Thursday, more than 50,000 public school children in New York embarked on their formal education as the city officially began its expanded prekindergarten program, the marquee undertaking of Bill de Blasio’s mayoralty. Under the stewardship of Carmen Fariña, the schools chancellor, who has spoken frequently about her commitment to joyful learning, more and more poor children will theoretically be taught as the city’s affluent children are, which is to say according to the principles of immersive, play-based, often self-directed and project-driven learning.

School Library Journal
September 5, 2014

Student Achievement Partners (SAP), a nonprofit founded by lead writers of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that creates and disseminates free education resources, has announced its first training dates for its Text Set Project. The project brings together teams of librarians, educators, and suppliers to develop units of instruction — or "Text Sets" — to support teaching college readiness and the CCSS. The initial sets will be annotated bibliographies of recommended multimodal, multi-genre collections of free materials on a range of topics to use in the classroom.

Time
September 5, 2014

When Deborah Loewenberg Ball arrived at the Spartan Village school in East Lansing, Michigan, in the fall of 1975, it did not take long for the other teachers to size her up. “A natural-born teacher,” said Mindy Emerson, the teacher across the hall. Other new teachers went through a predictable litany of challenges. They couldn’t get the students to listen, they tried too hard to be the students’ friends, they doubted whether all the children could really learn, they struggled to feel comfortable in the new role. But if Deborah felt any of the typical jitters, she did not show it. She had a calm, gentle way with the children, connecting even with the ones who came unable to speak English. Her discipline struck that rare balance, leaving the children both happy and well behaved.

PBS NewsHour
September 4, 2014

This is a story about parents making a difference, how a mother’s experience united an entire community and transformed the way children learn in school. When Liz Woody’s son Mason was in third grade, he struggled to read basic words. After Woody moved Mason to a specialized school, she set out to transform techniques to reach struggling readers.

WUWM (Milwaukee, WI)
September 4, 2014

The man who connected millions of American children with a love for reading will soon bring his message to a Milwaukee audience. LeVar Burton hosted "Reading Rainbow" on PBS for twenty-three years. The show was less about teaching reading skills, and more about instilling a love for reading. It featured stories — picture books whose drawings were gently enhanced with animation, read by famous actors and other personalities. It also featured segments in which Burton traveled on field trips, connecting the message of the stories with a real-life experience. And shows closed with short book reviews and recommendations, recorded by young people.

KQED Mindshift
September 4, 2014

One of the best ways for frustrated parents, students and teachers to convince school leaders that it’s time for a reboot is with amazing student work. An unconventional learning community of "makers" — people who like to figure out and fix problems with their hands — stands ready to demonstrate a hands-on learning style in which students engage problems that matter to them, taking agency and displaying creativity along the way. The Maker Movement is slowly infiltrating schools across the country with the help of dedicated educators and inspirational students proving with their creations that they can do incredible things when given a chance.

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald