Tag Archives: Cultural Literacy and American Democracy

New social studies framewok

17 Sep

Moi wrote in Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful? Back in the day there was this book entitled “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy).http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracywhich was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA,Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.
Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’
The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries.http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile? https://drwilda.com/2012/03/12/cultural-literacy-is-there-necessary-core-knowledge-to-be-academically-successful/

Catherine Gewertz reported in the Education Week article, New Social Studies Framework Aims to Guide Standards:

A coalition of states and professional organizations today released a new social studies framework that is designed to offer states guidance when they revise their own academic standards.
The College, Career, and Civic Life Framework, dubbed “C3,” marks a major effort to represent the priorities of four of the social studies disciplines: geography, civics, economics, and history. The three-year project brought classroom teachers and subject-matter specialists from 22 states together with college faculty members and representatives of 15 professional organizations in the social studies to craft an overarching set of guidelines that states can use as they write more detailed sets of expectations for students.
Mindful of the political delicacy of specifying social studies content, the framework’s authors steer clear of subject-matter content, instead laying out an “inquiry arc” with four “dimensions” that span the disciplines: developing questions and planning inquiries; applying disciplinary concepts and tools; evaluating sources and using evidence; and communicating conclusions and taking informed action.
“The C3 framework focuses on inquiry skills and key concepts, and guides¬—not prescribes—the choice of curricular content necessary for a rigorous social studies program,” the document says. “Content is critically important to the disciplines within social studies and individual state leadership will be required to select appropriate and relevant content.”
The Silver Spring, Md.-based National Council for the Social Studies, which led the effort along with University of Kentucky associate professor Kathy Swan, published the 129-page document on its website today.
Leaders of the initiative emphasized that the framework is not a set of standards or a curriculum. Those are better left to states and districts, which vary in what content they want to emphasize in the classroom, they said. Montana, for instance, requires instruction about the culture and history of Native Americans, while North Carolina teachers might spend more time discussing the Civil War, since key events unfolded there, said Susan Griffin, the executive director of the NCSS…..
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/09/17/05socialstudies.h33.html?tkn=XRZFYBcduXD%2F1h5e%2BAw0XANzYTwlUAHTCFBK&cmp=clp-edweek

Here is a synopsis of the framework:

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards
Submitted by TimDaly on Wed, 09/11/2013 – 11:26am
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards: State Guidance for Enhancing the Rigor of K-12 Civics, Economics, Geography, and History

The result of a three year state-led collaborative effort, the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards was developed to serve two audiences: for states to upgrade their state social studies standards and for practitioners — local school districts, schools, teachers and curriculum writers — to strengthen their social studies programs. Its objectives are to: a) enhance the rigor of the social studies disciplines; b) build critical thinking, problem solving, and participatory skills to become engaged citizens; and c) align academic programs to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies.
What are the guiding principles?
The C3 is driven by the following shared principles about high quality social studies education:
Social studies prepares the nation’s young people for college, careers, and civic life.
Inquiry is at the heart of social studies.
Social studies involves interdisciplinary applications and welcomes integration of the arts and humanities.
Social studies is composed of deep and enduring understandings, concepts, and skills from the disciplines. Social studies emphasizes skills and practices as preparation for democratic decision-making.
Social studies education should have direct and explicit connections to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
What are the instructional shifts for social studies?
The C3 Framework, like the Common Core State Standards, emphasizes the acquisition and application of knowledge to prepare students for college, career, and civic life. It intentionally envisions social studies instruction as an inquiry arc of interlocking and mutually reinforcing elements that speak to the intersection of ideas and learners. The Four Dimensions highlighted below center on the use of questions to spark curiosity, guide instruction, deepen investigations, acquire rigorous content, and apply knowledge and ideas in real world settings to become active and engaged citizens in the 21st century.
C3 Framework Organization
Dimension 1: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries Dimension 2: Applying Disciplinary Tools and Concepts Dimension 3: Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence Dimension 4: Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action
Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries Civics Gathering and Evaluating Sources Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions
Economics
Geography Developing Claims and Using Evidence Taking Informed Action
History
Connections to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies
The C3 Framework changes the conversation about literacy instruction in social studies by creating a context that is meaningful and purposeful. Reading, writing, speaking and listening and language skills are critically important for building disciplinary literacy and the skills needed for college, career, and civic life. Each of the Four Dimensions are strategically aligned to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies.
Why do we need the C3 Framework?
There are a number of motivating factors that inspired this work:
Marginalization of the Social Studies – The loss of instructional time at the elementary level and the narrowing of instruction in response to multiple-choice, high-stakes testing has significantly impacted time, resources, and support for the social studies. The introduction of the Common Core provided an opportunity for social studies educators to re-frame instruction to promote disciplinary literacy in social studies in such a way as to allow social studies to regain a more balanced and elevated role in the K-12 curriculum.
Motivation of Students – Children and adolescents are naturally curious about the complex and multifaceted world they inhabit. But they quickly become disengaged when instruction is limited to reading textbooks to answer end-of-chapter questions and taking multiple-choice tests that may measure content knowledge but do little to measure how knowledge is meaningful and applicable in the real world. The C3 Framework addresses this issue in fundamental ways.
The Future of Our Democracy – Abundant research bears out the sad reality that fewer and fewer young people, particularly students of color and students in poverty, are receiving a high quality social studies educator, despite the central role of social studies in preparing students for the responsibilities of citizenship. Active and responsible citizens are able to identify and analyze public problems, deliberate with other people about how to define and address issues, take constructive action together, reflect on their actions, create and sustain groups, and influence institutions both large and small. They vote, serve on juries when called, follow the news and current events, and participate in voluntary groups and efforts. Implementing the C3 Framework to teach students to be able to act in these ways—as citizens—significantly enhances preparation for college and career.
Collaboration is Key
For these reasons and many more, thousands of social studies experts, curriculum specialists, teachers and scholars from across the nation, and the following organizations have been involved in the development of the C3 Framework.
http://www.socialstudies.org/C3

The National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (NCSS) makes the case for social studies standards.

In National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: Introduction, the NCSS states:

What Is Social Studies and Why Is It Important?
National Council for the Social Studies, the largest professional association for social studies educators in the world, defines social studies as:
…the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.1
The aim of social studies is the promotion of civic competence—the knowledge, intellectual processes, and democratic dispositions required of students to be active and engaged participants in public life. Although civic competence is not the only responsibility of social studies nor is it exclusive to the field, it is more central to social studies than to any other subject area in schools. By making civic competence a central aim, NCSS has long recognized the importance of educating students who are committed to the ideas and values of democracy. Civic competence rests on this commitment to democratic values, and requires the abilities to use knowledge about one’s community, nation, and world; apply inquiry processes; and employ skills of data collection and analysis, collaboration, decision-making, and problem-solving. Young people who are knowledgeable, skillful, and committed to democracy are necessary to sustaining and improving our democratic way of life, and participating as members of a global community.

The civic mission of social studies demands the inclusion of all students—addressing cultural, linguistic, and learning diversity that includes similarities and differences based on race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, exceptional learning needs, and other educationally and personally significant characteristics of learners. Diversity among learners embodies the democratic goal of embracing pluralism to make social studies classrooms laboratories of democracy.

In democratic classrooms and nations, deep understanding of civic issues—such as immigration, economic problems, and foreign policy—involves several disciplines. Social studies marshals the disciplines to this civic task in various forms. These important issues can be taught in one class, often designated “social studies,” that integrates two or more disciplines. On the other hand, issues can also be taught in separate discipline-based classes (e.g., history or geography). These standards are intended to be useful regardless of organizational or instructional approach (for example, a problem-solving approach, an approach centered on controversial issues, a discipline-based approach, or some combination of approaches). Specific decisions about curriculum organization are best made at the local level. To this end, the standards provide a framework for effective social studies within various curricular perspectives. http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/introduction

Resource:

C3 Framework – College, Career, and Civic Life

We desperately need an informed citizenry in this country.

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Is ‘texting’ destroying literacy skills

30 Jul

In Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful? Moi said:

Back in the day there was this book entitled “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy). http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.

Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’

The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/cultural-literacy-is-there-necessary-core-knowledge-to-be-academically-successful/

Sarah D. Sparks has an interesting Education Week article, Duz Txting Hurt Yr Kidz Gramr? Absolutely, a New Study Says:

Middle school students who frequently use “tech-speak”—omitting letters to shorten words and using homophone symbols, such as @ for “at” or 2nite for “tonight”—performed worse on a test of basic grammar, according to a new study in New Media & Society.

Drew P. Cingel, a doctoral candidate in media, technology, and society at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., conducted the experiment when he was an undergraduate with the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Penn State University in University Park, Pa. under director S. Shyam Sundar. The researchers surveyed 228 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in central Pennsylvania on their daily habits, including the number of texts they sent and received, their attitudes about texting, and their other activities during the day, such as watching television or reading for pleasure. The researchers then assessed the students using 22 questions adapted from a 9th-grade grammar test to include only topics taught by 6th grade, including verb/noun agreement, use of correct tense, homophones, possessives, apostrophes, comma usage, punctuation, and capitalization.

Mr. Cingel, who published the study while at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Mr. Sundar found that the more often students sent text messages using text-speak (shortened words and homophones), the worse their grammar—a concern as 13- to 17-year-olds send more than twice the number of text messages each month than any other age group.

Moreover, the more often a student received text messages using tech-speak, the more likely he or she was to send messages using that language. There was no gender difference after accounting for the amount of texting each student did, though teenage girls have been found in other studies to send and receive nearly twice as many messages per month as boys do: 4,050 texts on average, compared with 2,539….

“People get creative in terms of trying to express a lot. The economy of expression forces us to take shortcuts with our expression. We know people are texting in a hurry, they are on mobile devices, and so they are making these compromises,” Mr. Sundar said. “It’s not surprising that grammar is taking a back seat in that context. What is worrisome is it somehow seems to transfer over to their offline grammar skills. They are not code-switching offline.”

In that way, students who use tech-speak differ from those who speak multiple languages; multilingual children have been found to switch back and forth easily among their languages in different contexts and may actually be more flexible in other ways of thinking. Tech-speak is similar enough to standard English that researchers believe it may bleed over into different contexts more easily….

Likewise, teachers can help their text-happy students shore up their grammar skills, Mr. Sundar said, both by making them more aware of their grammar usage and by assigning writing tasks that differ significantly from their typical texting topics. So, for example, writing an essay debating a current issue or writing a letter to the president might be more likely to trigger students to switch into using more formal language, and thus cement their grammar skills. As students become more adept in grammar, they can be encouraged to think about their grammar choices in texting more consciously, he said.

The study found some evidence to back this approach: Students who texted the most did not have more trouble with capitalization and punctuation, although text messages also often contain less of either. Mr. Sundar theorized that capitalization and punctuation may be more resistant to the degradation of texting because they are taught in earlier grades than other grammar rules and thus have had more time to take root in students’ language. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/duz_txting_hurt_yr_kidz_gramr_.html?intc=es

Citation:

Texting, techspeak, and tweens: The relationship between text messaging and English grammar skills

  1. Drew P. Cingel cingdp0@wfu.edu
    1. Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, USA
  2. S. Shyam Sundar
    1. Penn State University, University Park, PA, USA and Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Korea
      Abstract

The perpetual use of mobile devices by adolescents has fueled a culture of text messaging, with abbreviations and grammatical shortcuts, thus raising the following question in the minds of parents and teachers: Does increased use of text messaging engender greater reliance on such ‘textual adaptations’ to the point of altering one’s sense of written grammar? A survey (N = 228) was conducted to test the association between text message usage of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students and their scores on an offline, age-appropriate grammar assessment test. Results show broad support for a general negative relationship between the use of techspeak in text messages and scores on a grammar assessment, with implications for Social Cognitive Theory and Low-Road/High-Road Theory of Transfer of Learning. These results indicate that adolescents may learn through observation in communication technologies, and that these learned adaptations may be transferred to standard English through Low-Road transfer of learning. Further mediation analyses suggest that not all forms of textual adaptation are related to grammar assessment score in the same way. ‘Word adaptations’ were found to be negatively related to grammar scores, while ‘structural adaptations’ were found to be non-significant.

In Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person, moi said:

There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the state of education in America. A lot of that dissatisfaction comes from the belief that the education system fails to actually educate children and to teach them critical thinking skills. The University of Maine at Augusta defines an educated person:

An educated person exhibits knowledge and wisdom; recognizes and respects the diversity of nature and society; demonstrates problem solving skills; engages in planning and managing practices; navigates the on-line world; writes and speaks well; acts with integrity; and appreciates the traditions of art, culture, and ideas. Developing these abilities is a life-long process. http://www.uma.edu/educatedperson.html

Essential to this definition is the development of critical thinking skills. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/critical-thinking-is-an-essential-trait-of-an-educated-person/

It is early and the analysis is just beginning, but the real question is whether some technologies adversely affect critical thinking skills.

Related:

Study: What skills are needed for ’21st-century learning?’ https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/study-what-skills-are-needed-for-21st-century-learning/

More research about the importance of reading https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/more-research-about-the-importance-of-reading/

What parents need to know about ‘texting’                  https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/what-parents-need-to-know-about-texting/

The slow reading movement                                   https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/the-slow-reading-movement/

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum                                                  https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/the-importance-of-the-skill-of-handwriting-in-the-school-curriculum/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Helping at-risk children start a home library

13 Jun

In Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful? moi said:

Back in the day there was this book entitled “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy). http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded….

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile?

Anna M. Phillips has an interesting New York Times article,Nonfiction Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills, Study Finds, which will do nothing to quiet the debate. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/nyregion/nonfiction-curriculum-enhanced-reading-skills-in-new-york-city-schools.html?emc=eta1

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/cultural-literacy-is-there-necessary-core-knowledge-to-be-academically-successful/

People who are culturally literate, are readers.

Justin Minkel, who teaches 2nd and 3rd grade at Jones Elementary in northwest Arkansas. He is the 2007 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, a 2011 National Board-certified teacher, and a member of the Teacher Leaders Network reports in the Education Week article, The Home Library Effect: Transforming At-Risk Readers about his library project.

Melinda started 2nd grade with everything against her. She lives in poverty, her mom is not literate in English or Spanish, and she was severely abused at the age of 6. At the beginning of the year, she owned only one book.

Despite these barriers, Melinda made extraordinary academic progress. She moved from a kindergarten level (a four on the Developmental Reading Assessment) to a 4th grade level (a 40) in the two years she was in my class. Her demeanor changed: She began smiling and laughing more often, and she became a confident scholar.

Part of the reason for Melinda’s growth is elusive—that combination of resiliency, strength, and utter grit that awes those of us lucky enough to teach these remarkable children. But another reason for her success is simple—instead of one book at home, Melinda now has a home library of 40 books.

The Project

We called our classroom adventure “The 1,000 Books Project.” Each of the 25 children in my class received 40 books over the course of 2nd and 3rd grade, for a total of 1,000 new books in their homes.

The project was simple to launch. Scholastic donated 20 books per child, and I purchased the other 20 through a combination of my own funds, support from individuals and local organizations, and bonus points. The kids received three types of books each month: copies of class read-alouds, guided reading books, and individual choices selected from Scholastic’s website.

Working with family members, each child chose a space to become a home library, ranging from a cardboard box decorated with stickers to a wooden bookcase. Through class discussions and our class blog, the students talked about everything from how they organized their libraries to their favorite reading buddy at home.

The total cost for each student’s home library was less than $50 each year, a small investment to move a struggling reader from frustration to confidence.

Growing Readers

These 25 students made more progress in their reading than I have experienced with any other class. By the end of the project’s second year, they had exceeded the district expectation for growth by an average of nine levels on the DRA and five points on the computerized Measures of Academic Progress reading test. And they made this growth despite formidable obstacles to academic success—20 of the 25 are English language learners, and all but one live in poverty.

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/06/12/tln_minkel.html?tkn=RNCCFBZesMUu%2FHLFXuXie61FaxwpDAC5G9Cd&cmp=clp-sb-ascd

Given the moderate expense of Minkel’s project, the academic gains are important for his children.

In Reading is a key component of learning, moi said:

The goal of parents, teachers, students, and society should be that all children succeed in obtaining a good basic education. In order to achieve this goal, children must come to school ready to learn. See, Illiteracy in America https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/illiteracy-in-america/

The University of Michigan Health Center explains why reading is important in the article, Reading, Literacy and Your Child:

What is literacy?

Literacymeans being able to read and write.

Why is reading important?

A child’s reading skills are important to their success in school and work. In addition, reading can be a fun and imaginative activity for children, which opens doors to all kinds of new worlds for them.  Reading and writing are important ways we use language to communicate….

There are many ways to include reading in your child’s life, starting in babyhood, and continuing through the teen years.  Focus on literacy activities that your child enjoys, so that reading is a treat, not a chore. http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/reading.htmhttps://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/reading-is-a-key-component-of-learning/

Education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), the teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be active and involved. Parents are an important part because they enforce lessons learned at school by reading to their children and taking their children for regular library time.

Related:

More research about the importance of reading https://drwilda.wordpress.com/tag/reading-literacy-and-your-child/

The slow reading movement https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/the-slow-reading-movement/

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/the-importance-of-the-skill-of-handwriting-in-the-school-curriculum/

Resources:

US Department Of Education Helping Series which are a number of pamphlets to help parents and caregivers

How Parents Can Help Their Child Prepare for School Assignments

The ABCs of Ready to Learn

Getting Young Children Ready to Learn

Ebony Magazine’s How to Prepare Your Child for Success

General Tips for Preparing for Kindergarten

Louise Hajjar Diamond in an article for the American School Counselor Association writes about preparing a child for middle school

Getting Your Child Ready to Learn

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful?

12 Mar

Back in the day there was this book entitled “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy). http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.

Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’

The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile?

Anna M. Phillips has an interesting New York Times article, Nonfiction Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills, Study Finds, which will do nothing to quiet the debate.

Children in New York City who learned to read using an experimental curriculum that emphasized nonfiction texts outperformed those at other schools that used methods that have been encouraged since the Bloomberg administration’s early days, according to a new study to be released Monday.

For three years, a pilot program tracked the reading ability of approximately 1,000 students at 20 New York City schools, following them from kindergarten through second grade. Half of the schools adopted a curriculum designed by the education theorist E. D. Hirsch Jr.’s Core Knowledge Foundation. The other 10 used a variety of methods, but most fell under the definition of “balanced literacy,” an approach that was spread citywide by former Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, beginning in 2003.

The study found that second graders who were taught to read using the Core Knowledge program scored significantly higher on reading comprehension tests than did those in the comparison schools.

It also tested children on their social studies and science knowledge, and again found that the Core Knowledge pupils came out ahead. Citywide, budget cuts and the drive to increase scores on the state reading and math exams have led many elementary and middle schools to whittle down their social studies and science instruction.

This data shows a promising option for principals to consider,” said Josh Thomases, the deputy chief academic officer for the city’s Education Department.

He said the new curriculum could be useful in helping achieve the new learning targets, known as the Common Core, that New York and most other states have adopted. “As we align curricula and materials with the new Common Core Standards, we look forward to working with this group and others toward a higher standard,” he said.

The pilot program and study were started in the 2008-9 school year by Mr. Klein, who worried that students suffered from what he called a “knowledge deficit.” The study was conducted by the Education Department and paid for with $2.4 million in private donations raised by the Fund for Public Schools, a charity that supports department initiatives.

But city officials said it was not an indication that balanced literacy methods should be abandoned. And several proponents of the longstanding approach, including Carmen Fariña, a former deputy chancellor, said the study focused on too few schools to be used in policy decisions.

I think it’s a very problematic study,” said Lucy Calkins, a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College and an architect of the city’s balanced literacy program.

As far as I can tell, they gave resources to 10 schools to support content literacy and then they tested all of the schools on content literacy,” she said, adding that there was no way of knowing with what fidelity the 10 comparison schools were using a form of balanced literacy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/nyregion/nonfiction-curriculum-enhanced-reading-skills-in-new-york-city-schools.html?emc=eta1

This debate will not be quieted anytime soon. Moi still likes the concept of “Cultural Literacy.”

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©