Tag Archive for 'early childhood'

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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Is my teaching effective?

How does one know whether one’s teaching is working? That’s a dang important question. Over on myIGDIs, Scott McConnell provides a quick and clear introduction to the answer. In How Do I Know if My Classroom Practices Are Working?, Professor McConnell explains that one needs (a) goals or standards, (b) points of comparison against which to assess change or difference, and (c) trustworthy ways of measuring students’ performance, if one is to assess the effects of one’s teaching.

Although Professor McConnell’s analysis is aimed primarily at early childhood education, it’s base is general enough to be applicable across age groups. He’s talking about Individual Growth and Development Indicators, or IGDIs. Those are important tools in an effective educator’s apron. I’m thinking myIGDIs, which provides research-based, preschool language and literacy measures, looks like a valuable site. These link nicely to RtI, CBM, and other models that align with monitoring progress systematically.

Free gift from Education Consumers Foundation!

partial image of cover of Clear Teaching

Isn’t it unusual to get something for free that is actually worth a lot? The good folks over at Education Consumers Foundation (ECF) are giving away a small book that is quite valuable, and I encourage readers to download it, read it, and tell their friends to get it, too.

What are they giving away? It’s a book called Clear Teaching: With Direct Instruction, Siegfried Engelmann Discovered a Better Way of Teaching by Shep Barbash. As one can tell from the subtitle, it’s about Zig Engelmann’s work on education. I talked with Mr. Barbash as he worked on the manuscript for the book, read an earlier version of it, and am very impressed with this finished product. It’s even more impressive that the book is now out in the wild for free. Kudos to Mr. Barbash, John Stone, and all the others at ECF who made this happen.

Clear Teaching – The Book
Written by veteran journalist Shepard Barbash over a period of 10 years, Clear Teaching is a well-researched, highly readable introduction to Direct Instruction (DI), a systematic teaching approach which for more than 40 years has dramatically improved learning outcomes for students of all abilities and from all walks of life. The book looks at the development of DI through the early experiences of its creator, Zig Engelmann; explains the principles that underpin this approach; and looks at DI’s reception in the world of teaching, where it has been effectively shunned despite a formidable research base and example after example of transformative success.

The image at the top of the post is hot, but readers can also click here to go to the ECF page where they can download the PDF.

Teaching effectively and LD

Folks who are interested in effective teaching for students with Learning Disabilities (and other students as well) can learn a lot at the up-coming conference of the Division for Learning Disabilities in Baltimore (MD, US) later this month. Michael Gerber assembled a fine group of sessions, as shown at the end of this post.

Check out the all-star cast. Note the coverage of relevant topics ranging from RTI to math, primary to adolescent ages (with some adult interests included!), and skills to cognition. On top of the fine content, there will be excellent opportunities to mix and mingle with other people attending the conference as well as presenters and members of DLD’s executive board during social events that include breakfasts, a luncheon, and a reception. Lots of materials are included.

Learn more about the TeachingLD Conference 2010, including how to register on line.

  • Using Evidence-Based Interventions to Teach Primary Level Students Early Numeracy Concepts and Skills
    —Diane P. Bryant (University of Texas at Austin) & Brian R. Bryant (University of Texas at Austin)
  • The Math Learning Companion: An Individualized Intervention for Students with Math Learning Disabilities
    —Lindy Crawford (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs) & Barbara Freeman (Digital Directions International)
  • Responsive, Comprehensive, and Intensive Intervention for Older Struggling Readers
    —Lynn M. Gelzheiser (University at Albany) & Laura Hallgren Flynn (University at Albany)
  • Adults with Learning Disabilities: Current Research, Evidence-based Conclusions, and Emerging Directions
    —Paul J. Gerber (Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • Effective Rime-Based Instruction to Improve the Decoding Skills of Students with Learning Disabilities
    —Sara J. Hines (Hunter College), Jennifer T. Klein (Hunter College), & Kathleen M. Ryan (The Churchill School)
  • The Essay Writing Strategy: Helping Students Write More Organized and Complete Responses to Essay Questions and Prompts
    —Charles A. Hughes (Penn State University) & Bill Therrien (University of Iowa)
  • Strategy Training, Problem Solving, and Working Memory in Children with Math Disabilities
    —Olga Jerman (Frostig Center), Amber Moran (University of California at Santa Barbara), Cathy Lussier (University of California at Riverside), Michael Orosco (University of California at Riverside), Lee Swanson (University of California at Riverside), & Michael Gerber (University of California at Santa Barbara)
  • The Technology and Pedagogy of Universal Design for Learning
    —Peggy King-Sears (George Mason University)
  • Early Reading Intervention for Struggling Readers
    —Jill Marie Leafstedt (CSU Channel Islands) & Catherine Richards-Tutor (CSU Long Beach)
  • Response to Intervention Screening and Progress-Monitoring Practices in 41 Local Schools
    —Daryl F. Mellard (University of Kansas)
  • Strategic Instruction for Building Vocabulary
    —J. Ron Nelson (University of Nebraska, Lincoln)
  • Beyond Reading Words: Improving Reading Rate, Fluency, and Comprehension
    —Rollanda E. O’Connor (University of California at Riverside)
  • Growth in Literacy, Language, and Cognition in Children with Reading Disabilities who are English Language Learners
    —Michael J. Orosco (University of California at Riverside), Lee Swanson (University of California at Riverside), Michael Gerber (University of California at Santa Barbara), & Danielle Guzman (University of California at Santa Barbara)
  • Response to Intervention in Math: An Instructional Focus
    —Paul J. Riccomini (The Pennsylvania State University)
  • Developing Text Level Literacy Skills in Beginning Readers
    —Emily J. Solari (University of Texas Health Science Center Houston) & Alexis L. Filippini (San Francisco State University)
  • Reading Progress Monitoring for Secondary School Students: Reading-Aloud and Maze-Selection Measures
    —Renata Ticha (University of Minnesota) & Miya Miura Wayman (University of Minnesota)

Please note that I am compensated by DLD as its executive director so this is, indeed, a shameless promotion!

Merrow on reading

Over on Learning Matters in his blog, Taking Note, John Merrow published an entry entitled “On Learning to Read” that raises some good points, but nearly omits a terrifically important one. I suspect regular readers (whom I’ve neglected terribly in the recent months—sorry) can guess which one was omitted.

Here’s Mr. Merrow’s lead:

Why children want to be able to read is not open for debate. It’s for the same reasons that they want to walk: to control their own destiny. It’s purely pragmatic; children understand that, when they know how to read, they are better able to navigate their environment successfully, just as they intuitively understand that walking is better than crawling or toddling.

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Evidence-based education in Head Start?

Isabel Sawhill and Jon Baron published an editorial in Education Week calling for a new approach to the venerable Head Start program, one founded on evidence about effectiveness. They argue that in the wake of the discouraging Head Start Impact Study reported by US Department of Health & Human Services, it’s time to bring research into the nation’s play pre-schools.

A new approach is needed. One that has been suggested—defunding these programs—would amount to giving up the fight against major social problems such as educational failure and poverty that damage millions of American lives. A far better alternative is to use rigorous evidence about “what works” to evolve Head Start and other federal efforts into truly effective programs over time, and to use sophisticated models to trace their longer-term effects on children’s life prospects.

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Read the Rose Report on reading

Those readers from the UK are almost surely familiar with the “Rose Report,” but readers in other parts of the world may not know about it. Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties: An independent report from Sir Jim Rose to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families was published in June 2009 and is available for free.

Overall, this the Rose Report presents a clear, sensible, and valuable understanding of reading problems and dyslexia, including many valuable recommendations for instruction. It is not perfect, to be sure. For example, there is a strong endorsement of Reading Recovery, which I find unwarrented given its record and costs. Still, a well-informed reader will find much to like in this document.
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PreK pays

According to a report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), a study examining the benefits of providing pre-kindergarten programs in New Mexico (US) revealed that there were significant and important benefits for children. Jason Hustedt and colleagues found that there were significant improvements in children’s language, literacy, and math competence associated with attending pre-k programs.

[Their] results show that New Mexico PreK produces consistent benefits for children who
participated in PreK, compared to those who did not, across all three years of the study. Positive impacts of PreK were found in each of three content areas important to early academic success – language, literacy, and math. Findings in literacy and mathematics were statistically significant in analyses for each school year of New Mexico PreK. Findings specific to our measure of early language were statistically significant for the first two years of the study, and using a combined, multi‐year data set.

I had to wonder what curriculum the New Mexico pre-k programs followed. It appears that about half of the sites do not report the curriculum they use. However, one uses Bank Street, nine use High Scope, and the remaining 60-some use Creative Curriculum. Imagine what kind of effects these pre-k programs could achieve if they used more effective curricula!

Hustedt, J. T., Barnett, W. S., Jung, K., & Goetze, L. D. (2009). The New Mexico preK evaluation: Results from the initial four years of a new state preschool initiative. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.

The report is available for free. See the Website for the New Mexico PreK program.




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