Archive for the 'Parents' Category

Teach reading effectively

head-and-shoulders shot snagged from video
K. Hempenstall

Professor Kerry Hempenstall wrote a literature review on teaching reading for Australia’s Centre for Independent Studies. It is an excellent resource, because it is true to the scientific evidence, but it is written in a way that is accessible to lay readers.

Parents, teachers, administrators, and interested others: You don’t have to put up with the statistics-ese and mumbo-jargon that we researchers often use when discussing scientific evidence. In Read About It:
Scientific Evidence for Effective Teaching of Reading
, Professor Hempenstall clearly explains the five fundamental features of reading competence and how to foster them in learners. Down load a copy of this excellent PDF or follow this link to learn how to purchase a hard copy.

ECF: Misdirected Teacher Training has Crippled Education Reform

In the summary for a recently released policy analysis, John Stone of the Education Consumers Foundation argued that developmentally appropriate practice (DAP), the widely promoted approach to early childhood education, has effectively prevented struggling students from achieving what educational policy makers have sought since 1983: The chance to close the gap. In the statement, Misdirected Teacher Training, Mr. Stone details the ways that DAP has hindered young children’s progress.
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Willingham on reading

Dan Willingham has a new book entitled Raising Kids Who Read: What Parents and Teachers Can Do, and he has published a précis of it in the spring 2015 issue of American Edcuator. It’s available on-line as “For the Love of Reading,” and people interested in reading should take the time to review it. Don’t expect to learn new and compelling teaching procedures, but do expect to have Professor Willingham make sense of some contemporary issues in reading.

ACLU suing schools for failing to teach students to read

The Michigan chapter of the US civil rights group, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLY), announced 12 July 2012 that it has filed a class action suit on behalf of children in Highland Park, Michigan, who the local public schools have failed to teach to read. The suit alleges that the schools’ failure to teach students to read violate Michigan laws.

“The capacity to learn is deeply rooted in the ability to achieve literacy. A child who cannot read will be disenfranchised in our society and economy for a lifetime,” said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. “Highland Park students want to be educated. However, their hopes and dreams for a future are being destroyed by an ineffective system that does not adequately prepare them for life beyond school.”

The ACLU contends that this is a first-of-it’s-kind lawsuit, and it may be a true assertion, depending on how one defines “kind.” It’s a class action, which is the first of that theory that I’ve seen—and the class-action approach may be a very good path to pursue because the injury is more clearly widespread than it is for an individual, and the harm to society is easier to show. There have, however, been previous suits alleging that schools failed to discharge a duty to teach reading. Alert readers of Teach Effectively will recall a post about “J.K.” suing his schools for failing to prepare him for post-secondary education (“Ex-Student sues school“) and may also recall that in that post I listed notes about the Peter Doe case from the 1970s as well as some other resources about educational malpractice that have discussed this topic.

Let’s see what happens. For right now, here’s a cheer for the ACLU for raising this important issue. Too many students are being neglected, shunted aside, left for lost. Students who can read and write (and compute and do science as well as sing and do other things, too) will have a better chance to make more and more lasting contributions to society than they would were they if they are left ill-educated, as is happening too often in our public schools. So hooray for the ACLU shining a light here.

Meanwhile, here is as the press release from the ACLU, entitled “Highland Park Students File Class-Action ‘Right to Read’ Lawsuit” (follow the link embedded in the end of the release that points to many additional material) as well as a list of selected examples of coverage of the current story in various press sources:

Something odd going on?

As a parent of a child with reading problems, what would you think if a nearby college or university offered a special summer reading program that sounded especially promising? What if you went to a Web site branded with the university’s trademark “logo” and saw well-produced videos with testimonials from parents and phrases such as these: “Your child will get excited about learning to read, and the program will lay the foundation for a strong start in reading and school?” And, your child can benefit in as few as 10 hours!

Would you be tempted? Over on Reading and Other Learning Disabilities, Professors Howard Margolis and Gary Brannigan are skeptical about the possibilities. They explain in their post, “Rutgers University’s 10-Hour Summer Reading Program: Serious Concerns.” Writing for the team blog, Professor Margolis, reported his skepticism about the claims after reading a mailer describing “a summer reading programs [that] would quickly ‘turn poor readers into good readers.'”

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Funnix is free for a few more days

Until 31 January 2011, one can download a copy of Funnix a tutorial program for teaching beginning reading skills just for the asking. Yes, you have to submit a name and an e-mail address, that’s the catch.

Funnix, authored by Siegfied Engelmann, Owen Engelmann, and Karen Davis, is composed of 120 30-minute lessons delivered via compact disk on a computer. An adult coaches the child as she learns fundamentals of decoding (e.g., letter-sound correspondences, blending), practices reading words (lists, sentences, and passages), and develops basic comprehension skills (e.g., literal connections). Children answer some questions verbally, click answers to others directly on the computer, and write responses to others in workbooks. The adult monitors and provides feedback. (The package includes materials guiding the adult’s support.)
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“Our teachers think they’re all effective.”

According to Stannis Steinbeck, principal of Broadus Elementary School in Pacoima (CA, US), this is the view of the members of her faculty. According to data about the teachers’ effects on student achievement, not all teachers are effective. It should come as no surprise that some are more effective than others and some are woefully ineffective.

Jason Felch, Jason Song, and Doug Smith of the Los Angeles Times aggregated achievement test data over seven years and across many students assigned to 6000 teachers to assess which teachers consistently improved and which consistently diminished their students’ outcomes.
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Tutoring the right way

Over on Facebook Martha Gabler announced the opening a private tutoring center in Silver Spring (MD, US): Kids’ Learning Workshop. The focus is on what she calls “fluent foundation skills” by which she means rapid, accurate performance on such tasks as reading aloud, writing answers for arithmetic facts, and answering questions about academic content.

Readers might wonder why I would post a note about such a private enterprise on Teach Effectively. There are at least three reasons:
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