Tag Archives: Reading

University of Buffalo study: Phonics is a useful tool in learning

30 Jan

PBS Parents has a very good primer on phonics:

What is phonics?
Phonics is simply the system of relationships between letters and sounds in a language. When your kindergartener learns that the letter B has the sound of /b/ and your second-grader learns that “tion” sounds like /shun/, they are learning phonics.

Why is phonics important?
Learning phonics will help your children learn to read and spell. Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of letters and letter combinations will help your child decode words as he reads. Knowing phonics will also help your child know which letters to use as he writes words.

When is phonics usually taught?
Your child will probably learn phonics in kindergarten through second grade. In kindergarten, children usually learn the sounds of the consonant letters (all letters except the vowels a, e, i, o, and u). First- and second-graders typically learn all the sounds of letters, letter combinations, and word parts (such as “ing” and “ed”). They practice reading and spelling words containing those letters and patterns. Second-graders typically review and practice the phonics skills they have learned to make spelling and reading smooth and automatic…. http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/reading-language/reading-tips/phonics-basics/

See, Phonics Instruction http://www.readingrockets.org/article/phonics-instruction and Understanding Phonics http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/understand-phonics

Science Daily reported in Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention:

A neuroimaging study by a University at Buffalo psychologist suggests that phonics, a method of learning to read using knowledge of word sounds, shouldn’t be overlooked in favor of a whole-language technique that focuses on visually memorizing word patterns, a finding that could help improve treatment and diagnosis of common reading disorders such as dyslexia.

“Phonological information is critical for helping identify words as they’re being read,” says Chris McNorgan, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, whose study, “Skill dependent audiovisual integration in the fusiform induces repetition suppression,” used MRI scans to observe how parts of the brain responded to audio and visual word cues. The results are published in the most recent edition of Brain & Language.

A better reader is someone whose visual processing is more sensitive to audio information, according to the study’s results.

“There are applications here not just for reading disorders, but also for how children are taught to read in the classroom,” he says.

Barring injury, McNorgan says, all parts of the brain are working at all times, contrary to the myth that it functions at only a fraction of its capacity. However, different parts of the brain are specialized for different types of activities that trigger some regions to work harder than others.
With reading, the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) is excited when it encounters familiar letter combinations. But most activities require communication between different brain regions and coordination with sensory systems, like an outfielder watching a baseball while the brain programs the motor system to catch it…..
Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150128141425.htm

Citation:

Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention
Date: January 28, 2015

Source: University at Buffalo
Summary:
A neuroimaging study by psychologist suggests that phonics shouldn’t be overlooked in favor of a whole-language technique, a finding that could help improve treatment and diagnosis of common reading disorders.
Brain Lang. 2015 Feb;141:110-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2014.12.002. Epub 2015 Jan 9.
Skill dependent audiovisual integration in the fusiform induces repetition suppression.
McNorgan C1, Booth JR2.
Author information
Abstract
Learning to read entails mapping existing phonological representations to novel orthographic representations and is thus an ideal context for investigating experience driven audiovisual integration. Because two dominant brain-based theories of reading development hinge on the sensitivity of the visual-object processing stream to phonological information, we were interested in how reading skill relates to audiovisual integration in this area. Thirty-two children between 8 and 13years of age spanning a range of reading skill participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment. Participants completed a rhyme judgment task to word pairs presented unimodally (auditory- or visual-only) and cross-modally (auditory followed by visual). Skill-dependent sub-additive audiovisual modulation was found in left fusiform gyrus, extending into the putative visual word form area, and was correlated with behavioral orthographic priming. These results suggest learning to read promotes facilitatory audiovisual integration in the ventral visual-object processing stream and may optimize this region for orthographic processing.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Here is the press release from the University of Buffalo:

Press Release
Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention

UB researcher’s findings point to the value of word sounds over visual processing during reading instruction or when diagnosing and treating reading disorders
By Bert Gambini
Release Date: January 26, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A neuroimaging study by a University at Buffalo psychologist suggests that phonics, a method of learning to read using knowledge of word sounds, shouldn’t be overlooked in favor of a whole-language technique that focuses on visually memorizing word patterns, a finding that could help improve treatment and diagnosis of common reading disorders such as dyslexia.

“Phonological information is critical for helping identify words as they’re being read,” says Chris McNorgan, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, whose study, “Skill dependent audiovisual integration in the fusiform induces repetition suppression,” used MRI scans to observe how parts of the brain responded to audio and visual word cues. The results are published in the most recent edition of Brain & Language.

A better reader is someone whose visual processing is more sensitive to audio information, according to the study’s results.

“There are applications here not just for reading disorders, but also for how children are taught to read in the classroom,” he says.

Barring injury, McNorgan says, all parts of the brain are working at all times, contrary to the myth that it functions at only a fraction of its capacity. However, different parts of the brain are specialized for different types of activities that trigger some regions to work harder than others.

With reading, the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) is excited when it encounters familiar letter combinations. But most activities require communication between different brain regions and coordination with sensory systems, like an outfielder watching a baseball while the brain programs the motor system to catch it.

How this communication happens while reading – which requires visual and auditory knowledge – and to what extent is less clear. So McNorgan’s study looked for what’s known as top-down influence of auditory knowledge in the VWFA.

Think of a bottom-up process as a flow of information that begins with the visual system feeding neurons that detect basic features in words such as line orientation that eventually leads to word recognition. A top-down process implies that some other information enters that flow of visual recognition – information like the knowledge of the word sounds.

“This auditory knowledge can be used to help rule out some letter combinations. For example, many words end in ISK or ASK. For a few milliseconds there may be some ambiguity among the neurons trying to figure out whether that last letter is a K or an X,” said McNorgan. “Since you don’t have any words ending in ISX in your verbal repertoire, this helps rule out the possibility that you read the word DISX and instead read the word as DISK.”

To find evidence of this top-down input, researchers presented subjects with wide ranges of reading abilities between the ages of 8 and 13 with word pairs. The subjects had to determine if the words rhymed while an MRI scanner monitored their brain activity.

The experiment used three sets of conditions when presenting the word pairs: subjects first read the word pairs (visual-only); then heard the word pairs (auditory-only); and lastly, a combination of sight and sound, hearing the first word but reading the second (audio-visual). The MRI scanner determined which parts of the brain were most active during each condition by displaying a three dimensional representation of the brain, made up of what look like a series of cubes, called voxels.

“Think of the voxels as LEGOS assembled together to make a 3D model of the brain. Each cube has a measurement of activation strength that allows us to understand of what’s happening in each area under all three of the conditions,” said McNorgan.

The resulting images, he said, comprise something like a movie reel, with approximately one frame passing every two seconds. Signal strength is then measured in each voxel under all the condition across all the snapshots in time.

“Looking at the voxels in a particular brain area, if the signal strengths associated with two different conditions differ, then you have some evidence that brain area processes information about the two conditions differently,” says McNorgan.

To make sense of the results through all the conditions, researchers take the sum of the auditory-only and visual-only signals and compare that to the strength of the audio-visual condition. This helps them distinguish between multisensory sensory neurons, which become excited by audio-visual information, and collections of heterogeneous unisensory neurons, a mix of visual-only and auditory-only that respond excitedly to one or the other.

“If the audio-visual response is greater than the sum of the auditory-only and the visual-only, this suggests that getting both types of inputs causes these neurons to fire for longer periods of time. This is a superadditive effect,” says McNorgan. “An audio-visual response less than that sum suggests that getting both types of inputs causes these neurons to fire for less time. This is a subadditive effect.”
This subadditivity is associated with higher reading scores and faster responses to similarly spelled words, the reading equivalent to having a head start in a race.

“As you learn how to read, your brain starts to make more use of top-down information about the sounds of letter combinations in order to recognize them as parts of words,” says McNorgan. “This information gives your word-recognition system a leg-up, allowing it to respond more quickly. The multisensory neurons are getting the job done sooner, so they don’t need to fire for as long. Better readers seem to have more of these neurons taking advantage of auditory information to help the visual word recognition system along.”

Early intervention and basic instruction would counterintuitively involve this auditory information, “thinking more about the sounds of different words instead of concentrating on recognizing words,” says McNorgan.
Media Contact Information
Bert Gambini
News Content Manager, Economics, Media Study and Psychology
Tel: 716-645-5334
gambini@buffalo.edu
– See more at: Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention – University at Buffalo
http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/01/028.html

This study shows that there are many things to be learned about how to effectively teach reading skills to those who are struggling.

Related:

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum

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

The slow reading movement

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

Why libraries in K-12 schools are important

https://drwilda.com/2012/12/26/why-libraries-in-k-12-schools-are-important/

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©

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Fonts to help dyslexics read

12 Nov

The National Center for Learning Disabilities described dyslexia in What Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia at a Glance

Dyslexia is the name for specific learning disabilities in reading. Dyslexia is often characterized by difficulties with accurate word recognition, decoding and spelling. Dyslexia may cause problems with reading comprehension and slow down vocabulary growth. Dyslexia may result in poor reading fluency and reading out loud. Dyslexia is neurological and often genetic. Dyslexia is not the result of poor instruction. With the proper support, almost all people with dyslexia can become good readers and writers.

As with other learning disabilities, dyslexia is a lifelong challenge that people are born with. This language processing disorder can hinder reading, writing, spelling and sometimes even speaking. Dyslexia is not a sign of poor intelligence or laziness. It is also not the result of impaired vision. Children and adults with dyslexia simply have a neurological disorder that causes their brains to process and interpret information differently.

Dyslexia occurs among people of all economic and ethnic backgrounds. Often more than one member of a family has dyslexia. According to the National Institute of Child and Human Development, as many as 15 percent of Americans have major troubles with reading.

Much of what happens in a classroom is based on reading and writing. So it’s important to identify dyslexia as early as possible. Using alternate learning methods, people with dyslexia can achieve success….

http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/what-is-dyslexia

Dyslexia is a neurological and genetic disease.

NPR reported in the story, For Dyslexics, A Font And A Dictionary That Are Meant To Help:

A designer who has dyslexia has created a font to help dyslexic readers navigate text, designing letters in a way that avoids confusion and adds clarity. And in England, two researchers are compiling a dictionary that favors meaning over alphabetical order.

Roughly 10 percent of the world’s population is dyslexic. And as NPR’s Nancy Shute reported in 2012, “People with dyslexia are often bright and verbal, but have trouble with the written word.”

The people behind two new projects hope they can help change that.

Dutch designer Christian Boer’s Dyslexie font has been around for a while, but it’s been getting new attention thanks to being featured in the Istanbul Design Biennial.

The font defaults to a dark blue color, which Boer’s website says “is more pleasant to read for dyslexics.”

“When they’re reading, people with dyslexia often unconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters in their minds,” Boer tells British design magazine Dezeen. “Traditional typefaces make this worse, because they base some letter designs on others, inadvertently creating ‘twin letters’ for people with dyslexia.”

To avoid confusion, Boer designed letters that have a heavier bottom half, making it less likely that a reader might flip them. He also made some openings larger, and slightly tilted some letters that closely resemble others — such as a “b” and a “d.”

In that sense, Boer’s font uses a similar approach to another font developed with dyslexics in mind. OpenDyslexic is a free, open-sourced font that’s also designed to help prevent confusion, as NPR reported last year….

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/11/11/363293514/for-dyslexics-a-font-and-a-dictionary-that-are-meant-to-help

See, Wider letter spacing helps dyslexic children http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120607105712.htm

Citation:

Journal Reference:

  1. M. Zorzi, C. Barbiero, A. Facoetti, I. Lonciari, M. Carrozzi, M. Montico, L. Bravar, F. George, C. Pech-Georgel, J. C. Ziegler. Extra-large letter spacing improves reading in dyslexia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1205566109

The Dyslexie Font describes the font at its site:

THE DYSLEXIE FONT
The typeface Dyslexie is a revolutionary font, designed to simplify life for those who have dyslexia. With a heavy base line, alternating stick/tail lengths, larger-than-normal openings, and a semi-cursive slant, the dyslexia font ensures that each character has a unique form.

Traditional fonts are designed solely from an aesthetic point of view, which means they often have characteristics that make characters difficult to recognise for people with dyslexia. Oftentimes, the letters of a word are confused, turned around or jumbled up because they look too similar.

When reading a text in the dyslexia font, people with dyslexia have a lot less trouble and fewer errors are made. Steadily, the font Dyslexie has acquired a large number of enthusiastic users, both private and business. Reading is faster, easier and above all more enjoyable.

The dyslexia font is primarily a functional font, but the importance of aesthetics has also been taken into account. The dyslexia font is therefore the perfect combination of form and function: optimal reading comfort with a great look….

http://www.dyslexiefont.com/en/dyslexia-font/

It can be downloaded for free:

http://www.dyslexiefont.com/en/order/home-use/

Abigail Marshall writes about the font in A Font for Dyslexia: To Pay, or Not to Pay?              http://blog.dyslexia.com/a-font-for-dyslexia-to-pay-or-not-to-pay/#.VGREjGet9dg

Getting a correct early diagnosis of dyslexia, which is a learning disability is crucial to a child’s academic success.

Resources:

From One Teacher to Another

http://dyslexia.yale.edu/1Teacher2Another.html

Dyslexia

http://www.readingrockets.org/helping/questions/dyslexia

Dyslexia and Reading Problems

http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/dyslexia.htm

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©

http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©

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Stavanger University study: Readers comprehend less on computer screens than paper texts

3 Oct

This is an absolutely jaw-dropping statistic. According the article, Opinion Brief: Detroit’s ‘shocking’ 47 percent illiteracy rate which was posted at The Week:

More than 200,000 Detroit residents — 47 percent of Motor City adults — are “functionally illiterate,” according to a new report released by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund. That means they can’t fill out basic forms, read a prescription, or handle other tasks most Americans take for granted, according to the fund’s director, Karen Tyler-Ruiz, as quoted by CBS Detroit. Her organization’s study also found that the education and training aimed at overcoming these problems “is inadequate at best,” says Jackie Headapohl at Michigan Live. http://theweek.com/article/index/215055/detroits-shocking-47-percent-illiteracy-rate

Illiteracy is a global problem, with some geographic areas and populations suffering more from illiteracy than others.

Education Portal defines illiteracy in the article, Illiteracy: The Downfall of American Society:

Most people think of literacy as a simple question of being able to read. But while a young child who can work her way through a basic picture book is considered to have age-appropriate literacy levels, an adult who can only read at the most fundamental level is still functionally illiterate.
The world requires that adults not only be able to read and understand basic texts, but also be able to function in the workplace, pay bills, understand legal and financial documents and navigate technology – not to mention the advanced reading comprehension skills required to pursue postsecondary education and the opportunities that come with it.
As a result, when we talk about the effects of illiteracy on society, we’re talking primarily about what happens when you have a large number of adults whose literacy skills are too low to perform normal, day-to-day tasks. However, it is worth keeping in mind that childhood illiteracy is, of course, directly correlated to adult illiteracy.
http://education-portal.com/articles/Illiteracy_The_Downfall_of_American_Society.html

The key concept is the individual cannot adequately function in the society in which they live. That means that tasks necessary to provide a satisfactory life are difficult because they cannot read and/or comprehend what they read.

The Guardian reported in the article, Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds:

A new study which found that readers using a Kindle were “significantly” worse than paperback readers at recalling when events occurred in a mystery story is part of major new Europe-wide research looking at the impact of digitisation on the reading experience.
The study, presented in Italy at a conference last month and set to be published as a paper, gave 50 readers the same short story by Elizabeth George to read. Half read the 28-page story on a Kindle, and half in a paperback, with readers then tested on aspects of the story including objects, characters and settings.
Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University, a lead researcher on the study, thought academics might “find differences in the immersion facilitated by the device, in emotional responses” to the story. Her predictions were based on an earlier study comparing reading an upsetting short story on paper and on iPad. “In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers,” said Mangen.
But instead, the performance was largely similar, except when it came to the timing of events in the story. “The Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order.” http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/19/readers-absorb-less-kindles-paper-study-plot-ereader-digitisation

Citation:

Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension
Anne Mangen
Bente R Walgermo
Kolbjørn Brønnick
International Journal of Educational Research 01/2013; 58:61-68.
ABSTRACT Objective: To explore effects of the technological interface on reading comprehension in a Norwegian school context.
Participants: 72 tenth graders from two different primary schools in Norway.
Method: The students were randomized into two groups, where the first group read two texts (1400 – 2000 words) in print, and the other group read the same texts as PDF on a computer screen. In addition pretests in reading comprehension, word reading and vocabulary were administered. A multiple regression analysis was carried out to investigate to what extent reading modality would influence the students’ scores on the reading comprehension measure.
Conclusion: Main findings show that students who read texts in print scored significantly better on the reading comprehension test than students who read the texts digitally. Implications of these findings for policy making and test development are discussed.

Educators have long recognized the importance of vocabulary in reading and learning. Francie Alexander writes in the Scholastic article, Understanding Vocabulary:

Why is vocabulary s-o-o important?
Vocabulary is critical to reading success for three reasons:
1. Comprehension improves when you know what the words mean. Since comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, you cannot overestimate the importance of vocabulary development.
2. Words are the currency of communication. A robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication — listening, speaking, reading and writing.
3. How many times have you asked your students or your own children to “use your words”? When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too.http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/understanding-vocabulary

The Slow Reading Movement is part of the “slow movement” which aims to decrease the pace of life and promote greater comprehension. Holly Ramer of AP reports on the slow reading movement. In the article, NH Professor Pushes For Return of the Slow Reading which was reprinted in the Seattle Times. http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2012137577_apusslowreading.html Wikipedia has additional information about slow reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_reading

The goal of reading is comprehension of the material. Begin to Read summarizes the goals of reading comprehension:

Reading Comprehension Components Include:
• word analysis (phonemic awareness, phonics)
• word recognition
• fluency
• word meaning
• background knowledge
A deficiency in any one of these areas will impede reading comprehension. http://www.begintoread.com/articles/reading-comprehension.html

Mangen’s study should prompt questioning about the rush to online reading in education.

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/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
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Indiana University study: Poor language skills at three can lead to later behavior problems

25 Jul

Educators have long recognized the importance of vocabulary in reading and learning. Francie Alexander writes in the Scholastic article, Understanding Vocabulary:

Why is vocabulary s-o-o important?
Vocabulary is critical to reading success for three reasons:
1. Comprehension improves when you know what the words mean. Since comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, you cannot overestimate the importance of vocabulary development.
2. Words are the currency of communication. A robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication — listening, speaking, reading and writing.
3. How many times have you asked your students or your own children to “use your words”? When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too.http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/understanding-vocabulary

A University of Chicago study, “Quality of early parent input predicts child vocabulary three years later,” published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlights the importance of parental involvement at an early stage of learning. See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2013/06/24/giving-children-non-verbal-clues-about-words-boosts-vocabularies#sthash.V4f1L1Vb.dpuf

Mark Prigg wrote in the Daily Mail article, How well can your toddler talk? Researchers warn poor language skills at age three could be a sign of behavioural problems in later life:

Poor language skills as a toddler could be a sign children will develop major behaviourial problems in later life, researchers have claimed.
They say that if children are lagging behind at thee and half years old, parents should seek help.
Researchers claim it could be a sign of ADHD and other disorders of inattention and hyperactivity.
The Indiana University study tracked the links between early language skills and subsequent behavior problems in young children.
Poor language skills, the study suggests, limit the ability to control one’s behavior, which in turn can lead to behavior problems such as ADHD and other disorders of inattention and hyperactivity.
HOW THEY DID IT
Researchers followed a group of 120 toddlers for a year, beginning when they were age 2 ½ and following up when they were 36 months and 42 months old.
At each of these points they tested the children’s language skills and behavioral self-regulation, using tests for verbal comprehension and spoken vocabulary, as well as three tasks measuring self-regulating abilities.
They also used parent and secondary caregiver assessments of behavioral problems. Their findings suggested that language skill predicted growth in self-regulation, and self-regulation, in turn, predicted behavioral adjustment…. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2703583/How-toddler-talk-Researchers-warn-poor-language-skills-sign-behavioural-problems.html#ixzz38MuinWd8

Here is the press release from Indiana University:

• IUB Newsroom »
• IU study links poor early language skills to later behavior and attention problems
IU study links poor early language skills to later behavior and attention problems
• July 15, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A new Indiana University study has tracked the links between early language skills and subsequent behavior problems in young children. Poor language skills, the study suggests, limit the ability to control one’s behavior, which in turn can lead to behavior problems such as ADHD and other disorders of inattention and hyperactivity.
“Young children use language in the form of private or self-directed speech as a tool that helps them control their behavior and guide their actions, especially in difficult situations,” said Isaac Petersen of the clinical science program in the IU Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. “Children who lack strong language skills, by contrast, are less able to regulate their behavior and ultimately more likely to develop behavior problems.”
Early childhood development has increasingly become a focus for public policy — in debates over universal preschool, recognition of a “word gap” between rich and poor children, and new pediatric recommendations on reading to infants.
“Children’s brains are most malleable earlier on, especially for language,” said John Bates, professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and co-author of the study. “Children are most likely to acquire skills in language and self-regulation early on. Many of the states are starting to focus on preschool, edging toward universal preschool. But early development specialists are not necessarily available. I would have programs more readily available to families — and focused on children most at risk as early as possible.”
The paper, “The Role of Language Ability and Self-Regulation in the Development of Inattentive-Hyperactive Behavior Problems,” appears online this week in the journal Development and Psychopathology. It is also co-authored by Angela Staples, research assistant professor at the University of Virginia.
Many previous studies have shown a correlation between behavior problems and language skill. Children with behavior problems, particularly those with attention deficits and hyperactivity, such as in ADHD, often have poor language skills. Whether one of these problems precedes the other and directly causes it was until recently an open question.
In a longitudinal study published last year, Petersen, Bates and several others concluded that the arrow points decisively from poor language ability to later behavioral problems, rather than the reverse. The current study shows that it does this by way of self-regulation, a varied concept that includes physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral control. Self-regulation is integral to children’s capacity to adapt to social situations and to direct their actions toward future goals. The absence of self-regulation abilities is a key predictor and component of future behavior problems.
A number of studies have sought to explain the role of language in the development of self-regulation in terms of the cognitive and neurological mechanisms by which they are linked. This study traces the way they unfold over time and the role of self-regulation in this process.
To do this, Petersen, Bates, and Staples followed a group of 120 toddlers for a year, beginning when they were age 2 ½ and following up when they were 36 months and 42 months old. At each of these points they tested the children’s language skills and behavioral self-regulation, using tests for verbal comprehension and spoken vocabulary, as well as three tasks measuring self-regulating abilities. They also used parent and secondary caregiver assessments of behavioral problems. Their findings suggested that language skill predicted growth in self-regulation, and self-regulation, in turn, predicted behavioral adjustment.
The study lends renewed force to the argument that early childhood may offer a pathway for reducing social inequality. For what makes the “developmental cascade” from language to behavior particularly troubling, the researchers point out, is that children most at risk for a deficit in language ability, those from lower-income households, are often the least likely to get the services needed to remedy the problem.
Studies, for example, have shown a “word gap” between children of low income and those in affluent families, who hear 20 million more words by age 3 than their low-income counterparts. This gap results in less developed verbal and reading skills. If, as this study suggests, poor language skills lead to problems with self-regulation and behavior, this can in turn contribute to the less easily reversible and more costly social or academic problems in adolescence and later, adulthood.
Petersen said the study indicates that we could look more closely at language skill earlier on. But, he advises, “Don’t expect all children to be at the same level early on. If their language is slow to develop and self-regulation is lacking, they are likely to catch up with proper supports.
“Among those who are slow, some could develop problems. If, by the age of 3½, a child is still lagging, it may be worth pursuing treatment for language and self-regulation skills — the earlier the better,” Petersen said.
For a copy of the paper or to speak with Petersen or Bates, contact Liz Rosdeitcher at rosdeitc@indiana.edu or 812-855-4507 or Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or traljame@iu.edu. The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences.
The research was supported by Indiana University and grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Petersen was supported by Clinical and Translational Sciences Award from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, and a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Related Links
• Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

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/

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

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

Why libraries in K-12 schools are important https://drwilda.com/2012/12/26/why-libraries-in-k-12-schools-are-important/

University of Iowa study: Variation in words may help early learners read better https://drwilda.com/2013/01/16/university-of-iowa-study-variation-in-words-may-help-early-learners-read-better/

Baby Sign Language: Does It Work? http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-sign-language-does-it-work

Teaching Your Baby Sign Language Can Benefit Both of You http://psychcentral.com/lib/teaching-your-baby-sign-language-can-benefit-both-of-you/0002423

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART© http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/
Dr. Wilda Reviews © http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

Mathematica Policy Research report: Poor kindergarteners NOT READY for school

17 Jul

Educators have long recognized the importance of vocabulary in reading and learning. Francie Alexander writes in the Scholastic article, Understanding Vocabulary:

Why is vocabulary s-o-o important?
Vocabulary is critical to reading success for three reasons:
1. Comprehension improves when you know what the words mean. Since comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, you cannot overestimate the importance of vocabulary development.
2. Words are the currency of communication. A robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication — listening, speaking, reading and writing.
3. How many times have you asked your students or your own children to “use your words”? When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too.http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/understanding-vocabulary

A University of Chicago study, “Quality of early parent input predicts child vocabulary three years later,” published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlights the importance of parental involvement at an early stage of learning. See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2013/06/24/giving-children-non-verbal-clues-about-words-boosts-vocabularies#sthash.V4f1L1Vb.dpuf

Rebecca Klein of the Huffington Post reported in the article, This Is How Behind Low-Income Children Can Be When They Enter Kindergarten:

A new analysis from Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group behind Sesame Street, looked at how four risk factors impacted the abilities of kindergarten students right as they entered school. The risk factors included whether:
• the child lived in a home where English was not the primary spoken language
• the child lived in a single-parent household
• the child’s mother had less than a high school education
• the child’s family lived with an income below the federal poverty line
The analysis looked at data from The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11. The study, which was funded by the Department of Education, followed a nationally representative sample of 18,000 kindergarteners — “both children in kindergarten for the first time and kindergarten repeaters” — though fifth grade.
Of the 15,000 students who had entered kindergarten for the first time, Sesame Workshop found that 44 percent had one or more risk factor. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the more risk factors a child had, the worse he or she did in math and reading school readiness assessments… Children with more risk factors also did worse on tasks that measured memory…..
The analysis found that students who had all four risk factors — dubbed high-risk children — were almost a year behind their risk factor-free peers in reading and math.
“To catch up, high-risk children would need to make almost twice as much progress during kindergarten as low-risk children,” the study said.
Still, students with these risk factors are often concentrated in the same classrooms. Other reports that have analyzed the same data have noted that kindergarten classrooms are largely segregated by race and poverty.
And finally, according to teacher reports, students with more risk factors were less ready for kindergarten. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/16/kindergarten-risk-factors_n_5589450.html

Here is the press release from Mathematica Policy Research:

ANALYSIS OF KINDERGARTENERS SHOWS WIDE DIFFERENCES IN SCHOOL READINESS SKILLS
Sesame Workshop Releases Educational Framework After Study Reveals More Than 40% of Children Enter Classrooms with One or More Factors That Can Negatively Affect School Success
New research shows there is still a strong relationship between socio-economic factors and how well American children fare when entering kindergarten. In fact, a new study finds 44 percent of children enter kindergarten with one or more risk factors based on their home environment. These risk factors are incrementally associated with lower school readiness scores for children than for those with no such circumstances. Despite an increase in programs to level the playing field by giving disadvantaged children opportunities for preschool education, these gaps persist.
The findings are part of the Kindergartners’ Skills at School Entry report released today by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street. The report, commissioned by the Workshop and written by Mathematica Policy Research, provides an analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 focusing on the school readiness and abilities of beginning kindergartners.
“Preparing children for school has been part of Sesame Workshop’s mission since the beginning,” said Dr. Jennifer Kotler Clarke, Vice President, Research & Evaluation, Sesame Workshop. “There has not been an examination of children’s school readiness of this magnitude in more than 10 years and it’s important to us to understand the needs of children as they enter school. Given the risk factors children face, which put them at a disadvantage for school success, we are continuing to find ways to use our educational content to help change these outcomes.”
The analysis examined four risk factors that have been shown to affect children’s development and school achievement: single parent households, mothers with less than a high school education, households with incomes below the federal poverty line, and non-English speaking households. High-risk children (those with all four risk factors) were found to be almost a year behind their peers with no risk factors in their reading and math abilities.
The researchers also created composite readiness scores based on teacher ratings of children’s academic and social skills. Based on the researchers’ calculation, less than one-third of children were rated by teachers as “in-progress” or better on both reading and math skills.
“These nationally representative data show that at-risk children start kindergarten well behind their more advantaged peers,” notes Jerry West, Senior Fellow at Mathematica and director of the study. “The evidence points to an opportunity to better support their healthy development before they enter kindergarten.”
Sesame Workshop is sharing its Sesame Street Framework for School Readiness in response to the findings of the Kindergartners’ Skills analysis. The Framework is a guide for content developers to use to better understand the features of a typical developmentally age-appropriate content experience in relation to the fundamental school readiness skills. Developed by the Workshop’s Education and Research Department, the Framework describes the developmental progressions across the preschool years for specific curriculum objectives within the 20 core school readiness skills. It guides Sesame Street content across all media platforms, as part of the organization’s mission to help children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. The Workshop is also encouraging developers to use this resource to enhance the educational benefits of their content.
Based on the findings of the analysis, Sesame Workshop will convene an advisory meeting with experts in education and child development to discuss potential uses for Sesame Street’s library of content, as well as other actions that can support school readiness and academic success.
Kindergartners’ Skills at School Entry uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which is a national examination of about 15,000 children who entered kindergarten in fall 2010, and uses direct child assessments in addition to interviews with parents, teachers and school administrators. The study will follow children through the fifth grade. The ECLS is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, which reaches 156 million children across more than 150 countries. The Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. Delivered through a variety of platforms, including television programs, digital experiences, books, and community engagement, its research-based programs are tailored to the needs of the communities and countries they serve. For more information, visit http://www.sesameworkshop.org.
Contacts
Jodi Lefkowitz, Sesame Workshop, 212-875-6497, Jodi.lefkowitz@sesame.org
Joanne Pfleiderer, Mathematica, 609-275-2372, jpfleiderer@mathematica-mpr.com
About Mathematica:
Mathematica Policy Research seeks to improve public well-being by conducting studies and assisting clients with program evaluation and policy research, survey design and data collection, research assessment and interpretation, and program performance/data management. Its clients include foundations, federal and state governments, and private-sector and international organizations. The employee-owned company, with offices in Princeton, NJ; Ann Arbor, MI; Cambridge, MA; Chicago, IL; Oakland, CA; and Washington, DC, has conducted some of the most important studies of health care, international development, disability, education, family support, employment, nutrition, and early childhood policies and programs.

Teachers and administrators as well as many politicians if they are honest know that children arrive at school at various points on the ready to learn continuum. Teachers have to teach children at whatever point on the continuum the children are.

Related:

Baby sign language https://drwilda.com/2013/07/28/baby-sign-language/

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

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

Why libraries in K-12 schools are important https://drwilda.com/2012/12/26/why-libraries-in-k-12-schools-are-important/

University of Iowa study: Variation in words may help early learners read better https://drwilda.com/2013/01/16/university-of-iowa-study-variation-in-words-may-help-early-learners-read-better/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART© http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews © http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

Common Sense Media report: Raising more ‘useful idiots,’ children don’t read enough and well

12 May

Moi wrote in High – low books: Custom reading texts may help challenged readers:
This is an absolutely jaw-dropping statistic. According the article, Opinion Brief: Detroit’s ‘shocking’ 47 percent illiteracy rate which was posted at The Week:

More than 200,000 Detroit residents — 47 percent of Motor City adults — are “functionally illiterate,” according to a new report released by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund. That means they can’t fill out basic forms, read a prescription, or handle other tasks most Americans take for granted, according to the fund’s director, Karen Tyler-Ruiz, as quoted by CBS Detroit. Her organization’s study also found that the education and training aimed at overcoming these problems “is inadequate at best,” says Jackie Headapohl at Michigan Live. http://theweek.com/article/index/215055/detroits-shocking-47-percent-illiteracy-rate

Illiteracy is a global problem, with some geographic areas and populations suffering more from illiteracy than others.

Education Portal defines illiteracy in the article, Illiteracy: The Downfall of American Society.

Most people think of literacy as a simple question of being able to read. But while a young child who can work her way through a basic picture book is considered to have age-appropriate literacy levels, an adult who can only read at the most fundamental level is still functionally illiterate.
The world requires that adults not only be able to read and understand basic texts, but also be able to function in the workplace, pay bills, understand legal and financial documents and navigate technology – not to mention the advanced reading comprehension skills required to pursue postsecondary education and the opportunities that come with it.
As a result, when we talk about the effects of illiteracy on society, we’re talking primarily about what happens when you have a large number of adults whose literacy skills are too low to perform normal, day-to-day tasks. However, it is worth keeping in mind that childhood illiteracy is, of course, directly correlated to adult illiteracy. http://education-portal.com/articles/Illiteracy_The_Downfall_of_American_Society.html

The key concept is the individual cannot adequately function in the society in which they live. That means that tasks necessary to provide a satisfactory life are difficult because they cannot read and/or comprehend what they read…. https://drwilda.com/2014/05/04/high-low-books-custom-reading-texts-may-help-challenged-readers/

Andrew M. Seaman of Reuters reported in the article, Reading Report Shows American Children Lack Proficiency, Interest:

Although American children still spend part of their days reading, they are spending less time doing it for pleasure than decades ago, with significant gaps in proficiency, according to a report released on Monday.

The San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media, which focuses on the effects of media and technology on children, published the report, which brings together information from several national studies and databases.

“It raises an alarm,” said Vicky Rideout, the lead author of the report. “We’re witnessing a really large drop in reading among teenagers and the pace of that drop is getting faster and faster.”

The report found that the percentage of nine-year-old children reading for pleasure once or more per week had dropped from 81 percent in 1984 to 76 percent in 2013, based on government studies. There were even larger decreases among older children.

A large portion rarely read for pleasure. About a third of 13-year-olds and almost half of 17-year-olds reported in one study that they read for pleasure less than twice a year.

Of those who read or are read to, children tend to spend on average between 30 minutes and an hour daily with that activity, the report found. Older children and teenagers tend to read for pleasure for an equally long time each day.

Rideout cautioned that there may be difference in how people encounter text and the included studies may not take into account stories read online or on social media.

The report also found that many young children are struggling with literacy. Only about one-third of fourth grade students are “proficient” in reading and another one-third scored below “basic” reading skills.

Despite the large percentage of children with below-basic reading skills, reading scores among young children have improved since the 1970s, according to one test that measures reading ability.

The reading scores among 17-year-olds, however, remained relatively unchanged since the 1970s.

About 46 percent of white children are considered “proficient” in reading, compared with 18 percent of black children and 20 percent of Hispanic kids.

Those gaps remained relatively unchanged over the past 20 years, according to the report.

“To go 20 years with no progress in that area is shameful,” Rideout said…. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/12/reading-report-_n_5307509.html?utm_hp_ref=education&ir=Education

Citation:

Children, Teens, and Reading
A Common Sense Media Research Brief
May 12, 2014
Download the full report (1.02 MB)
This research review charts trends in reading rates and reading achievement over time among kids and teens in the U.S. We focus on national surveys and databases for data on children’s reading habits and reading scores, looking at differences across time, and between demographic groups. We also examine the growing literature on ereading among young people, which has largely studied attitudes toward ebooks and ereading. We conclude with a discussion of key future areas of research on reading and ereading. http://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/children-teens-and-reading

Here is the Common Sense Media press release:

Press room
New Report from Common Sense Media Reveals Dramatic Drop in Reading Among Teens
Report highlights how the nature of reading is changing; addresses a critical need for more research to understand new media platforms’ impact on reading
For immediate release
Monday, May 12, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Common Sense Media today announced the release of “Children, Teens, and Reading,” a research brief that offers a unique, big-picture perspective on children’s reading habits in the United States and how they may have changed during the technological revolution of recent decades. The report brings together many disparate studies on children’s reading rates and achievement for the first time, summarizing key findings and highlighting where research is scarce, incomplete, or outdated, as well as offering suggestions for new areas of study.
Society has reached a major transition point in the history of reading. From children’s earliest ages, “reading” used to mean sitting down with a book and turning pages as a story unfolded. Today it may mean sitting down with a device that offers multimedia experiences and blurs the line between books and toys. At the same time, for older children, much daily communication is now handled in short bursts of written text, such as text messages, emails, Facebook posts, and tweets. All of this has led to a major disruption in how, what, when, and where children and teens read, and there is much we don’t yet know.
Though the report finds that reading is still a big part of many children’s lives — and reading scores among young children have improved steadily — achievement among older teens has stagnated, and many children don’t read well or often.
Among the key findings:
o Reading rates have dropped precipitously among adolescents.
The proportion of children who are daily readers drops markedly from childhood to the tween and teenage years. One study documents a drop from 48% of 6- to 8-year-olds down to 24% of 15- to 17-year-olds who are daily readers; another shows a drop from 53% of 9-year-olds to 19% of 17-year-olds. According to government studies, since 1984, the percent of 13-year-olds who are weekly readers went down from 70% to 53%, and the percent of 17-year-olds who are weekly readers went from 64% to 40%. The percent of 17-year-olds who never or hardly ever read tripled during this period, from 9% to 27%.
o A significant reading achievement gap persists between white, black, and Hispanic children.
Government test scores indicate that white students continue to score 21 or more points higher, on average, than black or Hispanic students. Only 18% of black and 20% of Hispanic fourth graders are rated as “proficient” in reading, compared with 46% of whites. The size of this “proficiency gap” has been largely unchanged over the past two decades.
o There is also a gender gap in reading time and achievement.
Girls read for pleasure for an average of 10 minutes more per day than boys, a gap that starts with young children and persists in the teenage years. It’s also reflected in achievement scores, with a gap of 12 percentage points in the proportion of girls vs. boys scoring “proficient” in reading in the eighth grade in 1992 and 11 points in 2012.
“Technology is playing an increasingly significant role in kids’ lives, and it’s changing the nature of how kids read and our definition of what is considered reading,” said Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media. “Used wisely, technology such as ereaders could help support ongoing efforts to reduce disparities, promote reading achievement, and fuel a passion for reading among all young people, but we need more research to better understand the impact of technology on kids’ reading.”
“Children, Teens, and Reading” is part of a research effort directed by Vicky Rideout, a senior advisor to Common Sense Media, head of VJR Consulting, and director of more than 30 previous studies on children, media, and health.
“This review brings together many different government, academic, and nonprofit data sets to reveal some very clear trends,” said Rideout. “There has been a huge drop in reading among teenagers over the past 30 years, and we’ve made virtually no progress reducing the achievement gaps between girls and boys or between whites and children of color. The bottom line is there are far too many young people in this country who don’t read well enough or often enough.”
This research brief reviews national surveys and databases for trends in children’s and teens’ reading and reading achievement. Studies covered include the National Assessment of Educational Progress by the National Center for Education Statistics, The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, Scholastic’s Kids and Family Reading Report (4th Edition), Northwestern University’s Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology, Common Sense Media’s Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013, and The Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America. For the full white paper with details on studies reviewed, the methodology of the review, and other findings, visit: http://www.commonsense.org/research
About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to: http://www.commonsense.org.
Press Contact:
Amber Whiteside
awhiteside@commonsense.org
415-269-8127
Alexis Vanni
avanni@commonsense.org
415-553-6728
###
Topics
Research/Survey Kids & Teens Media

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.

Resources:

National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) http://nces.ed.gov/naal/lit_history.asp

Illiteracy: An Incurable Disease or Education Malpractice?
http://www.nrrf.org/essay_Illiteracy.html

Living in the Shadows: Illiteracy in America http://abcnews.go.com/WN/LegalCenter/story?id=4336421&page=1#.Tt8XMFbfW-c

US Department Of Education Helping Series which are a number of pamphlets to help parents and caregivers http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/hyc.html

How Parents Can Help Their Child Prepare for School Assignments http://mathandreadinghelp.org/how_can_parents_help_their_child_prepare_for_school_assignments.html

Getting Young Children Ready to Learn http://www.classbrain.com/artread/publish/article_37.shtml

General Tips for Preparing for Kindergarten http://www.education.com/topic/preparing-for-kindergarten/

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading http://gettingboystoread.com/content/classroom-strategies-get-boys-reading/

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/brochure/meread/meread.pdf

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/4423.pdf

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-2/boys.html

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success http://www.k12reader.com/boys-and-reading/

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/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART© http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews © http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

High – low books: Custom reading texts may help challenged readers

4 May

Shannon Maughan wrote in the 2012 ALA article, ALA 2012: What’s Up with Hi-Lo?

Many librarians, teachers, parents—and even students—are aware of the grim, oft-cited statistic: only one-third of eighth-grade students in the U.S. read at or above the proficient level (source: the Nation’s Report Card/National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2009). While solutions to the problem are always being debated, those who work with struggling and reluctant readers every day want tools they can use right now. Hi-lo books frequently fit the bill.
A hi-lo book, broadly defined, is a title that offers highly interesting subject matter at a low reading level. A number of publishers have focused on producing these books, though they often take slightly different approaches to creating the products that best fit a particular market. The abiding goal, says Arianne McHugh, president and co-owner of Saddleback Educational Publishing, “is to offer age-appropriate content—something that will grab [readers’] interest—at a readability level that is accessible.” As examples, McHugh notes that for a struggling reader in middle school or high school, although The Hunger Games would generate enormous interest, it would be a discouraging undertaking. On the other hand, “You can’t give them Clifford; we don’t want to embarrass them,” she says. Somewhere in the middle is the book that’s just right, she says…. http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/52124-what-s-up-with-hi-lo-ala-2012.html

This is an absolutely jaw-dropping statistic. According the article, Opinion Brief: Detroit’s ‘shocking’ 47 percent illiteracy rate which was posted at The Week:

More than 200,000 Detroit residents — 47 percent of Motor City adults — are “functionally illiterate,” according to a new report released by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund. That means they can’t fill out basic forms, read a prescription, or handle other tasks most Americans take for granted, according to the fund’s director, Karen Tyler-Ruiz, as quoted by CBS Detroit. Her organization’s study also found that the education and training aimed at overcoming these problems “is inadequate at best,” says Jackie Headapohl at Michigan Live. http://theweek.com/article/index/215055/detroits-shocking-47-percent-illiteracy-rate

Illiteracy is a global problem, with some geographic areas and populations suffering more from illiteracy than others.

Education Portal defines illiteracy in the article, Illiteracy: The Downfall of American Society.

Most people think of literacy as a simple question of being able to read. But while a young child who can work her way through a basic picture book is considered to have age-appropriate literacy levels, an adult who can only read at the most fundamental level is still functionally illiterate.
The world requires that adults not only be able to read and understand basic texts, but also be able to function in the workplace, pay bills, understand legal and financial documents and navigate technology – not to mention the advanced reading comprehension skills required to pursue postsecondary education and the opportunities that come with it.
As a result, when we talk about the effects of illiteracy on society, we’re talking primarily about what happens when you have a large number of adults whose literacy skills are too low to perform normal, day-to-day tasks. However, it is worth keeping in mind that childhood illiteracy is, of course, directly correlated to adult illiteracy. http://education-portal.com/articles/Illiteracy_The_Downfall_of_American_Society.html

The key concept is the individual cannot adequately function in the society in which they live. That means that tasks necessary to provide a satisfactory life are difficult because they cannot read and/or comprehend what they read.

Christina A. Samuels reported in the Education Week article, For Challenged Readers, Custom-Tailored Texts:

The challenge is to work out a balance of engaging older readers while leading them to books that will stretch their skills, said Troy Fresch, the assistant principal of 2,200-student Tustin High School in the Los Angeles area, another school that uses these “high-low” books.
“When [students] can discuss a book and they have comprehended it, it really just boosts their self-esteem,” Mr. Fresch said. “And it allows them to get full credit for their assignments.”
Barbara Stripling, the president of the American Library Association, based in Chicago, said that “picking books that appeal to an older audience and use lower-level vocabulary is a really sound concept for teen readers. They don’t want to be reading about dogs and cats, they want to be reading about Beyoncé…”
“A lot of kids, they learn to read by reading, not so much by the instruction in the classroom,” Ms. Stripling said. “The more we can provide in the library that can appeal to their interests, the more we are contributing to reading instruction.”
Questions of Complexity
But do the books offer enough to move students to more complex works? They’re only useful if they are coupled with appropriate instruction in grade-level literacy, said Michael L. Kamil, a professor of education at Stanford University and the chairman of a federally created panel that examined interventions for struggling adolescent readers.
The problem, Mr. Kamil said, is that students are not just expected to read fiction. They have to grapple with reading in mathematics, science, history, and other subjects, and books for emergent readers don’t have the vocabulary students need to understand information written in those subjects. The common core expects that 70 percent of the texts a student reads will be informational.
“It’s almost a thought that everything on a topic is good, and that’s just not true,” Mr. Kamil said. “It’s got to be something that moves students beyond their own knowledge to a more sophisticated level of knowledge.”
And with struggling teen readers, it’s important to move quickly, simply because instructors don’t have very much time, Mr. Kamil said. “This isn’t Band-Aid care, it’s trauma care,” he said. Students reading at a very low grade level in high school “are not going to make that up in any kind of normal or easy way. The older the student is, the more critical it is that we get in there and do something that’s actually targeted to the difficulty they’re having.”
Specific Strategies
The panel that Mr. Kamil led produced a practice guide for teachers in 2008, “Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices.” Its suggestions included offering explicit vocabulary instruction, directing instruction in reading-comprehension strategies, and extending opportunities for discussing a text. Catherine E. Snow, a literacy expert and professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who served on the validation committee for the common standards, said that such books provide useful practice for students.
“Kids do get better at reading from reading, and they don’t read much if the texts are way too hard,” Ms. Snow said. “Of course, such texts do not by themselves solve the problem of bringing kids up to grade level. That takes well-planned instruction,” including figuring why the students aren’t reading well, and offering scaffolds that allow them to work with harder books, she said.
But teachers need to be careful about how hard students must be made to struggle. One concern Ms. Snow mentioned is the common core’s focus on “close reading,” a teaching approach that requires students to derive meaning from text by careful examination of language. Close reading is being turned into a thought that students need to work hard to comprehend a text, she said.
“The new lesson plans and the new curriculum guidelines often run the risk of overemphasizing the need for kids to struggle and underemphasize the need for adaptation,” Ms. Snow said…. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/23/29books_ep.h33.html?tkn=RXYFZwJw5L09q3rjssoTzhtGtDr2X4WBvPx8&intc=es

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.

Resources:

National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) http://nces.ed.gov/naal/lit_history.asp

Illiteracy: An Incurable Disease or Education Malpractice? http://www.nrrf.org/essay_Illiteracy.html

Living in the Shadows: Illiteracy in America
http://abcnews.go.com/WN/LegalCenter/story?id=4336421&page=1#.Tt8XMFbfW-c

US Department Of Education Helping Series which are a number of pamphlets to help parents and caregivers http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/hyc.html

How Parents Can Help Their Child Prepare for School Assignments http://mathandreadinghelp.org/how_can_parents_help_their_child_prepare_for_school_assignments.html

Getting Young Children Ready to Learn
http://www.classbrain.com/artread/publish/article_37.shtml

General Tips for Preparing for Kindergarten http://www.education.com/topic/preparing-for-kindergarten/

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading
http://gettingboystoread.com/content/classroom-strategies-get-boys-reading/

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/brochure/meread/meread.pdf

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/4423.pdf

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-2/boys.html

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success http://www.k12reader.com/boys-and-reading/

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/

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