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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Fifty-five years ago this month, thousands of African-American school children began a peaceful march in Birmingham, Ala., to protest segregation, and were met with attack dogs and water hoses. Images of violence and brutality against the protesters shocked the nation, inspired international support for desegregation efforts, and ultimately paved the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For a new generation of students, traveling to Birmingham has made that moment in history come alive. In this video, which originally aired on PBS Newshour, Education Week correspondent Lisa Stark accompanied students from Polaris Charter Academy in Chicago, Ill., who traveled more than 600 miles to hear first-hand accounts from civil rights activists who were part of the original Children's Crusade in Birmingham.
When Jeremy Baugh took the helm as principal of School 107 three years ago, staff turnover was so high that about half the teachers were also new to the struggling elementary campus, he said. For his first two years, the trend continued — with several teachers leaving each summer. But when he surveyed his staff this year, Baugh got some unexpected news: about 97 percent of teachers said they plan on returning. "I was thrilled," he said. Staff say the change is heavily driven by a new teacher leadership program Indianapolis Public Schools has rolled out at 15 schools. Known as opportunity culture, some teachers are paid as much as $18,300 extra per year to oversee and support several classrooms. Educators at School 107, which is also known as Lew Wallace, say opportunity culture helps retain staff in two ways: It gives new teachers, who can often feel overwhelmed, support. And, it allows experienced teachers to take on more responsibility without leaving the classroom.
Teaming up with your school librarian can be a great way for teachers to increase meaningful use of technology that strengthens student literacy development. Yet teachers may be unaware of all the ways school librarians can serve as instructional partners. A couple reasons for this could be that educator preparation programs rarely focus on collaboration with school librarians and, more significantly, the role of the school librarian has evolved so much that people’s understanding of their role may be outdated.
People of all ages can learn important life lessons from history. In this week’s column we review recently published books, some nonfiction and some works of revisionist history, speculative history, and historical fiction, that inform and engage readers and encourage them to further explore topics of interest.
Teach This Poem, a free resource that helps educators and students infuse poetry into learning, has won the 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation (NBF). The Academy of American Poets, which launched Teach this Poem in 2015, will receive $10,000 along with the prize, with support from the Levenger Foundation.
A team of four education researchers, led by Susan B. Neuman at New York University, conducted an in-depth study published in April 2018 of 100 of the most popular videos that claim to be "educational" and stream over Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and Google Play. The researchers found that the majority of the videos taught specific vocabulary — more educational content than critics might assume. They also found that 4-year-olds were actually paying attention and learning new words. But Neuman also found a lot of problems with the current field. A full third of the ostensibly educational videos didn't teach any vocabulary at all. In addition, the pacing was universally too fast for most kids to absorb.
New York City has named 17 teachers winners of Big Apple Awards, a competitive prize that rewards "exceptional success" in instruction, impact on student learning, and overall contributions to school communities. The winners were culled from a pool of more than 6,500 nominees. The winners include a special education teacher who had her students’ artwork exhibited at MoMA, a dual language teacher who wrote her own Chinese literacy curriculum, and an early education teacher who uses an app to communicate with parents.
Michelle Schira Hagerman is assistant professor of educational technology in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. In this blog post, she writes, "Madelaine called me on a Tuesday. She needed advice for her fifth-grade project on internet safety. With her teacher’s help, she put me on speaker phone and asked my permission to record the conversation. Her questions were important. Among them, 'How can kids stay safe online?' and 'What advice do you have for teachers and parents about how to teach kids to be safe on the internet?' Toward the end of our conversation, Madelaine's teacher noted that it is difficult to know what resources to use or where to seek advice on internet safety. Her comments made me wonder whether other teachers feel this way, so I decided to use my post this week to share research that can help teachers and parents minimize risks while preparing children to practice smarter, savvier, and safer internet use."
Heidi Thomas adapted Little Women for the new PBS take on the beloved story. She tells NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro that both men and women will identify with the story of the family.
Laura Fleming is the Library Media Specialist at New Milford (NJ) High School and author of "Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School" and "The Kickstart Guide to Making GREAT Makerspaces." She writes, "In 21 years in education, I have seen many trends come and go. I am on a mission to keep makerspaces from being added to that list. That’s at the core of everything I do now. Makerspaces are an educational philosophy, foundationally solid, and we can’t allow them to be cast aside by cynics who might suggest they were just a fun fad that has run its course. We must work to secure the future of makerspaces. Their fundamental purpose is too important, the impact on students too significant."
"The Distance Between Us" is a poignant memoir about the author’s life before and after immigrating from Mexico to the United States as a young girl. The book recently won the ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award. Members of the award committee recently interviewed Grande about how she sees "The Distance Between Us" being used in classrooms and how specific books, authors, and teachers influenced her journey.
At the start of the lesson in her Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) small group, a Sunset Elementary second grader arrived before her classmates, sat at a table with her reading intervention teacher, Lara Lesuer, and began recounting her reading assignment from the previous lesson. The book she read detailed certain animal footprints, and she told Lesuer about her favorites along with some facts she found interesting. When she needed help recalling something specific, she flipped through her book until she found the relevant passage and read it to Lesuer. This 40-minute lesson is for a small group of students who require additional assistance with their English Language Arts (ELA) subjects, and who test below their grade level in reading and writing.
“Consider with me, what is the true use of reading,” begins Sarah Fielding in the preface to her 1749 book The Governess. “If you can fix this truth in your minds, namely, that the true use of books is to make you wiser and better, you will have both profit and pleasure from what you read.” The readers Fielding addressed, and the characters in her book, were all girls.At a time when the literacy rate for women in England was around 40 percent, author Sarah Fielding wanted a different future for women. She not only wanted girls to read, but also to organize that knowledge in their minds to their own benefit.
Finn McLaren was a shy teen who never showed an interest in sports or school clubs. He hadn’t quite found his place or an activity that sparked his interest. But when a group from the University of Michigan conducted a maker workshop at his local library in the summer of 2016, his mother saw “a total transformation.”
A group of fourth graders were piling magazines atop paper pillars of different shapes: triangles, circles, squares and pentagons. The young scientists and engineers guessed which would hold the most, and tested their theories until each pillar came crashing down, prompting shrieks of surprise. In this skyscraper lesson, the students at Throggs Neck, a subsidized housing development in the Bronx, used the scientific method to test their theories, said Carlos Montoya, a teacher with the Salvadori Center for the past three years. Children can see buildings all over New York, but until they try using different materials themselves, they might not understand what holds them up.
The early-childhood initiative of the Clinton Foundation has released a newly revamped, free online professional development program designed to help teachers promote early learning. The STRIVE for 5 website allows early-childhood educators to go through five online lessons on topics such as creating a literacy-rich environment and engaging children in playful learning. It also provides educators with resources such as posters for the classroom and tip sheets in English and Spanish for the educators to share with parents. Early-childhood educators who participate in the program will be able to earn training hours toward a Child Development Associate credential, which is awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition.
Lack of access and availability for both low-income and middle class families means that many parents never enroll their children in preschool at all, despite knowing about the academic and social benefits. Just 43 percent of 4-year-olds go to public preschools in the U.S., and only six states have public programs that meet basic quality standards, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. Private preschools, which are expensive, poorly regulated and hard to find, enroll the rest. To help you better understand the challenge parents face in finding a safe, stimulating place for their children, The Hechinger Report created “Preschool Challenge,” an illustrated, interactive story. Stepping into the shoes of a parent, you will try to determine where you can send your child, whether or not you can afford it and what you are willing to put up with once your child is enrolled.
A recent article titled, “Hey Prof, no one is reading you,” highlights the dilemma of literacy professors whose annual evaluations depend on publishing research in peer-reviewed academic journals. Such journals are rarely, if ever, read by or written in language for practitioners, parents, elected officials, or the public at large. In the midst of a community literacy coalition initiative launched by our local United Way chapter, our university research team wrestled with how to share our related research outcomes with a range of audiences. Invited by the coalition to conduct a five-year study documenting the impact of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library on kindergartners’ school readiness, we were asked to share our findings with elected officials, university groups, and community audiences. Thus, we shifted from writing research grants and articles in academic language to creating at-a-glance snapshots of our research findings.
Ludwig Bemelmans grew up hearing stories about a young girl who attended a boarding school where the students “slept in little beds that stood in two rows” and “went walking in two straight lines.” That young girl was his mother, Franciska. Today we might recognize her in Madeline, the smallest of the French schoolgirls in colorful little dresses and bows. “But,” his grandson wrote after his death, “certainly it was also part Bemelmans himself — the smallest in class, the one always in trouble.”
In August 2011, the Ohio Department of Education found the Upper Arlington Schools in violation of the law when it came to promptly and properly identifying students with learning disabilities and finding them eligible for special education services. "We felt vindicated," parent Christine Beattie recalls. "Like, we aren't crazy. We know what we're talking about." In its decision, the state ordered the Upper Arlington Schools to train teachers and staff on how to identify and evaluate students with learning disabilities. But the parents said this was more than a special ed problem. They say it was a problem with the way kids were being taught to read. People with dyslexia have an especially hard time learning to read because their brains are wired in a way that makes understanding the relationship between sounds and letters difficult. Research shows that they learn to read better when they are explicitly taught the ways that sounds and letters correspond. And research shows that even students without dyslexia learn better this way.