What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

Recently Viewed

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 7 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Trends in Education, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 15 of 15
1. You Can Lead a Child to Books…

Language Magazine’s Editorial in the January 2010 issue focused on the importance of enjoying reading in order to develop literacy skills.  I really liked the editor’s viewpoint and got permission to reprint the article here for you.  If you’d like more information on or to subscribe to Language Magazine: The Journal of Communication and Education, please visit their website, www.languagemagazine.com.

Language and literacy are the tools with which knowledge is built.  Without their acquisition, no child has the chance to become an astronaut, a scientist, a doctor, a movie star, or even a musician.  Without aspirations, children cannot flourish and life loses some of its magic.  Yet, we continue to deny so many of our children the opportunity to develop their own language and literacy skills by refusing them access to books that are suitable for them and might even excite them.
According to a newly released study (see News, p. 10 by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), in more than 90 percent of school libraries, books in languages other than English account for less than five percent of the collection and, in nearly 60 percent of school libraries, they account for less than one percent. While nearly 14 percent of responding schools reported that at least 25 percent of their students were English Language Learners (ELLs) and a quarter of all respondents rated free-choice reading as the most effective ELL initiative.
Now, I can already hear the English-only brigade proclaiming that all books in school libraries in America should be in English because that’s the language spoken here, but even the most hardened English-only advocate must appreciate that children will never become literate in any language if they don’t enjoy reading. And reading in a second language is hard work at first —imagine being obliged to pick up War and Peace every night for your bedtime read.
Librarians consider “school-wide reading initiatives that encourage free choice reading” to be the most effective teaching strategy for ELLs. Many teachers and experts agree (see Opinion, p.26). Restocking our school and public libraries with books that will interest today’s kids is a relatively low cost policy with no drawbacks and an enormous upside. Not only is it a long term investment which will serve children for many years to come, but, for those who are counting, nearly all the money will end up with American publishers (yes, there are many American publishers of books in languages other than English) so the investment will satisfy stimulus package requirements.
Britain’s Cambridge University recently released the results of a three-year study (see News p.11) into elementary education, which warns “that prescribed pedagogy combined with high stakes testing and the national curriculum amounted to a ‘state theory of learning.’ Prepackaged, government approved lessons are not good for a democracy, nor for children’s education…Pupils do not learn to think for themselves if their teachers are expected to do as they are told.” This completely contradicts the blindly accepted notion that more standards and testing make better schools —the basis for the federal education funding.
Another $250 million was allocated to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teaching earlier this month. About the same amount of funding would buy an appropriate library book for every child in public school across the nation. Instead of pinning all its hopes of school reform success on standards, assessment, and incentive schemes, the government, like all wise investors, should spread its bets.

0 Comments on You Can Lead a Child to Books… as of 3/6/2010 5:38:00 PM
Add a Comment
2. NAEYC Themes, Part 6: Research, Facts and Things to Know about Dual Language Learners


In the last (a short and sweet one!) of our blog series on common themes from the 2009 NAEYC’s annual conference, we present a hodge-podge of facts we gathered throughout that week in D.C.  Enjoy!

–Language acquisition depends not only on adequate hearing, the ability to differentiate sounds, and the capacity to link meaning to specific words, but also on the ability to concentrate, pay attention, and engage in meaningful social interaction.

–Learning a second language and learning to read are complex tasks influenced by cognitive, environmental and social factors.

–Bilingual Children
-Exhibit the same language milestones as monolingual children
-May acquire language at a slower rate and have more limited total vocabularies in each language
-Have a combined vocabulary in both languages likely to equal or exceed that of a child who speaks one language

–Preschoolers actively listen to and separate out two languages.  So we can use both languages interchangeably.

–Development of language and literacy in the home language (or first language) facilitates development of language and literacy in the second language and cognitive development.  Academic language ability takes 5-7 years.  Social language ability (i.e. Hello, how are you?) is easy to accomplish.

–For more current guidance, check out:
-Head Start Performance Standards and Head Start Dual Language Report (2008)
-Tabors, Patton O. One Child, Two Languages: Children Learning English as a Second Language. Paul H. Brookes Publishing, 2008.
-Igao, Cristina. The Inner World of the Immigrant Child. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1995.
-Espinosa, Linda. Getting it RIGHT for Young Children from Diverse Backgrounds: Applying Research to Improve Practice. Prentice Hall, 2009.

Check out below for the sources of this blog:

1) Using standards-based curriculum to support language and literacy development for English-language learners.

Presented by:
Min-hua Chen, Education Specialist, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education;
Vicky Milstein, Principal of Early Education, Brookline Public Schools;
Min-Jen Wu Taylor, Pre-K Teacher, Brookline Public Schools;
James StClair, Kindergarten Teacher, Cambridge Public Schools;
Sandra Christison, Kindergarten Teacher, Boston Public Schools.

They haven’t posted their slides yet, but if they do, you can find it here.

2) Home Language or English?  Implementing program policies and teaching strategies that meet the needs of dual-language learners

Presented by:
John Gunnarson, Napa Valley College.

Click here for his handout.

3) Getting it right for young children from diverse backgrounds: Applying research to improve practice

Presented by:
Dr Linda Espinosa, University of Missouri-Columbia.

She hasn’t posted her slides yet, but if she does, you can find it here.

Previous Blogs under the NAEYC Annual Conference Theme:
Part 1:  NAEYC Themes, Part 1: Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s Presentation
Part 2:  NAEYC Themes, Part 2: Build Positive Relationships with Dual-Language Learning Children
0 Comments on NAEYC Themes, Part 6: Research, Facts and Things to Know about Dual Language Learners as of 1/1/1900

Add a Comment
3. NAEYC Themes, Part 1: Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s Presentation


Before I get to discussing the four themes mentioned in the last post by specifically looking at the various sessions I attended at NAEYC this year, I wanted to dedicate a blog posting solely to Secretary Duncan’s keynote speech at NAEYC.  His passion for early education was very evident.  It seemed clear to me that he was very serious and not just offering a speech that pandered to the audience.  Indeed, he is the first Secretary of Education to ever speak at NAEYC.

Secretary Duncan started off his presentation with a quote from President Franklin Roosevelt: “The destiny of American youth is the destiny of America.” He focused a lot on the issue that has plagued us for a long time: closing the achievement gap that exists before children even start kindergarten.  He referenced President Johnson’s vision to reach a day when “each child goes as far as his talents will take them.”

“Getting out of the catch-up business” represented a central theme in Secretary Duncan’s speech. He spoke of the Department’s development of a birth through age eight plan.  Modern research makes it clear that the most important years of child development is from birth through age three.  Yet our current approach has been to start focusing at age five in kindergarten.  Now the Department is making a major change since its World War I when it added kindergarten to every child’s public school education.  It seeks to align Early Childhood Education (ECE) with the K-12 programs.  Up until now, ECE has been highly fragmented and non-standardized, leading to unpredictable quality and further exacerbating the achievement gap.  But several programs have shown ways to succeed and offer scalable solutions that can be expanded throughout the country.

Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education (along with NAEYC and others in the education field) recognize that care and education cannot be thought of as separate entities in the education of young children.  He stated it’s time we acknowledged the evidence that social development and academic development are “inextricably linked.” As a result, the Department of Education has entered into a serious partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to integrate their foci on early child development and school readiness.

Secretary Duncan presented a huge task that he, the Department of Education, Early Childhood Educators and K-12 educators face today. Finally, though, he is leading the way to face this problem.  He outlined to fundamental challenges that we face in closing the achievement gap that starts before kindergarten.  1) There must be a coordinated system of early care that transitions to the K-12 program. 2) They must accelerate the shift from judging quality based solely in inputs to also basing it on outcomes. Secretary Duncan made sure to insist that inputs would not be ignored because they are important.  However, he wants to add outcomes to be a part of the criteria.

Finally, Secretary Duncan expressed his excitement about the changes underway in early education and child development. He acknowledged that mistakes will be made, but then he said, “I hope we never let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

I personally was moved by Secretary Duncan’s speech and am excited about this unprecedented attention and energy toward early childhoo

0 Comments on NAEYC Themes, Part 1: Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s Presentation as of 12/5/2009 9:32:00 PM
Add a Comment
4. NAEYC Themes, Part 2: Build Positive Relationships with Dual-Language Learning Children


A Safe Environment
The first common theme I gathered from the sessions I attended at the National Association for the Education of Young Children Annual Conference is that it is absolutely imperative that teachers build positive relationships with DLL children.  Help them to feel safe and included.

Have you ever been in an environment where you didn’t feel safe?  Heard some strange noises at night?  In the car with a reckless driver?  In a heated argument with someone physically stronger than you?  Or how about simply watching a scary movie?

Think about what was going through your head, the first thing you thought you needed to do.  Getting to safety, right?  Grabbing that bottle of mace, getting out of the car, calling the police, covering your eyes and hiding behind the friend sitting next to you. Anything to get you out of that situation. You focused on saving yourself, on self-preservation.

Some of these examples may seem extreme and unrelated to a child in a classroom (hopefully).  My point is that regardless of the situation, when you don’t feel safe, your first priority and thoughts focus on self-preservation, on getting to a place of safety.  The same feelings occur in a child who is in an unfamiliar environment, especially when they cannot communicate in your language.  If you’re in an environment where you don’t feel safe, you close down and only focus on self-preservation.  How can a child learn and prepare for kindergarten if she doesn’t feel safe?

Additionally, behavior issues can stem from this inability to communicate.  Think back to a recent meeting or presentation during which you did not pay attention.  The topic didn’t apply to you. The presenter was wretchedly boring and just kept droning on and on.  Or maybe it was a good presentation, but you were thinking about a looming deadline instead or what groceries you needed to get on your way home that night.  What did you do?  Pretended to listen, nodded in agreement during regular intervals and acted as if your grocery list were really notes from the material?

It’s okay, we’ve all done it!  John Gunnarson from Napa Valley College calls this “procedural display.”  We as adults know how to act like we are paying attention.  Children have not yet learned this technique.  If a child does not speak the language used in the classroom and, therefore, does not understand what is being said, what will he do? Act out?  Pursue activities that are interesting to him?  Can you blame him?  Over time, what message are we sending to DLL children who do not receive enough language support?  We are telling them that school does nothing for them.  Think about the long-term implications for this message.

Thus, teachers should focus on helping DLL children to feel safe and included by building a positive relationship with each one.  If a child feels safe in a classroom, she’ll take risks, like trying a new language.  Would you be more willing or less willing to jump out of an airplane if you were 100% sure the parachute would work?  How about 50% sure?  Helping a child to feel included and valued will encourage her to try new things such as speaking a few words in English.

Cognitive Growth
The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.  In our last blog, we mentioned how Secretary Duncan stated we can no longer ignore the evidence that social development and academic development are “inextricably linked.”  Academic development through social interaction becomes an even bigger hurdle for dual language learning children.  As a teacher, take the extra steps to show—and model—that you value the DLL children in your classroom.

Tips
Now, how do you go about doing this?  Of course myriad of tips and ideas exist.  Here are some gene

0 Comments on NAEYC Themes, Part 2: Build Positive Relationships with Dual-Language Learning Children as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

5. NAEYC Themes, Part 3: 10 Ways to Develop Meaningful Relationships with the Parents and Families of Dual-Language Learning Children


Another theme that presented itself throughout various sessions at this year’s annual National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference the need for developing and maintaining a relationship with the parents and families of non-native English speakers.  You might think this concept is rather obvious; however, several barriers exist to prevent this relationship from blooming.

Barriers

Oftentimes, there is a perception that these parents lack interest in their child’s education and growth.  However, this perception can often be misguided.  In many cultures outside the United States, teachers are revered and getting involved in the classroom is seen as interfering with the teacher’s expert intentions and processes.  Therefore, parents try to stay out of the way of their children’s teachers.  You see that as lack of interest and involvement; they see it as respect.

Also, the notion of family involvement differs for social classes.  Just because a parent is not at a bake sale doesn’t mean they are not involved in their child’s education.  Work may prevent them from attending; however, they may still be reviewing their child’s homework every night.

Immigrant families also face unique needs than other families in America.  Not only may there be a language and culture barrier, but also family tensions can exist as each member adjusts and adapts to their new life in America.  Their identities as a member of a group before may have now changed to one of an outsider—an “alien”.  Perhaps they were a leader in their hometown and now they are a laborer trying to climb the socio-economic ladder.  Further, they may have to rely on their children as their English improves more quickly, which degrades their role as provider in the family.  These adjustments can cause tension in the family that may prevent as much involvement as they’d like in their child’s education.  Think about the time you studied abroad in college.  Imagine moving there by yourself, without the school’s help, without your host family there to meet you at the airport.  Imagine trying to figure everything out on your own, in a foreign country with a language you thought you could speak. Imagine doing so with your family there too, all looking to you for guidance.  Do you think you could have done it? Perhaps, but with a whole lot of stress involved, too!

For instance, what do the following symbols mean to you (assuming you don’t speak Chinese)? 优, 良, 中, 可,  差。If your child brought home these symbols on their report card, would you know what they mean?  One presenter at NAEYC told a story of how a Chinese father was disappointed in his daughter because she brought home a grade of “S” (for Satisfactory).  He thought grades went in order from A all the way down to Z—because it does seem that way since it starts off A, B, C, D…—and so S seemed pretty bad.  We must remember that nearly everything may be unfamiliar to immigrant families!

The Importance of Developing this Relationship with the Family

The school or childcare center is a key location in cultural transition.  This place may often be the first place children are exposed to cultures other than their own (this goes for all children).  It may be the first place a child realizes he is “different.”  Further, it is the place that will help prepare him to succeed in America.   If there is not enough language support for her to learn, she will associate school as something that doesn’t do anything for her.

Parent involvement is a critical component in a child’s success in school and in society.  We must do what we can to remember that inability to communicate does not mean a person is incapable or uneducated.  In fact, new legal immigrants are as well educated as native-born citizens, on average.  We must discover and overcome whatever may be preventing a relation

0 Comments on NAEYC Themes, Part 3: 10 Ways to Develop Meaningful Relationships with the Parents and Families of Dual-Language Learning Children as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. NAEYC Themes, Part 4: Communication Strategies for Working with Dual Language Learners


Another common theme that surfaced at the National Association for the Education of Young Children Annual Conference dealt with plans and strategies for working with dual language learners.  This blog posting provides some tips you can actually use, along with recommendations on how to create a more explicit strategy.

Strategy

Regardless of what you choose to do, the key is to be deliberate, intentional and integrative in your strategy.  Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Create an explicit plan to integrate the needs of your dual language learners with the overall needs of your center.  Check out these steps below to aid in developing your plan.

  1. Consider completing a self-assessment checklist to help you determine where you are in your DLL strategy.  You can access the checklist here.
  2. Find out about the current guidelines for dual language programs.
  3. Analyze your current program needs, specifically the demographic makeup of your students, staff and maybe even growing trends in your area.
  4. Develop a policy for supporting and a plan on how to support dual language learners.  Get buy-in from management, staff and parents.
  5. Pursue and offer professional development for staff who work with dual language learning children.
  6. Collaborate with other services and supporters.

General Tips

Following are 10 tips for communicating with DLLs. Remember to develop a relationship with the child and their family (see Themes, Parts 2 and 3) in order to maximize that child’s potential.  From birth to age 3, children need face-to-face social interaction for language development.  DVDs do not work.

  1. Pair visual tools with oral and print cues.  For example, if you display the daily schedule in printed words (English), place visual pictures of the activities next to their corresponding words.  You can combine these cues in everything you do.  For example, use pictures, gestures and movements when talking to maximize all the cues.

For new language learners:

2. Simplify your language and slow down.
3. Do not assume that a child understands what you say.
4. Do not force the child to make eye contact with you.
5. Do not raise your volume when speaking or force the child to speak.
6. Allow plenty of time for the child to answer a question or wait a bit and then rephrase the question in simpler language.

A little later:

7. Listen for intent not grammar.
8. Accept all attempts.
9. Don’t overcorrect.
10. Never ask a child to say something in English. Let it be spontaneous.

Actual Tactics

Below are some tactics that other centers have used and that I found interesting.

  1. Create a bilingual book with the photo and name of every student in your center.  This book helps all the students—and even parents—get to know the names, including unfamiliar and foreign, of everyone else.
  2. If you have more than two languages in your center, consider using a word wall.  For example, display the word, hello, in every language represented (along with its Romanized pronunciation if it’s not a language with a Latin alphabet).  Also, during morning meeting, have the class say hello or good morning in each language represented in your class.
  3. Bring family members in to share things from their country. Take a photo and post it in the classroom.
  4. If you have a listening cen

    0 Comments on NAEYC Themes, Part 4: Communication Strategies for Working with Dual Language Learners as of 1/1/1900
    Add a Comment
7. 5 Easy Activities for Summer Learning


Colorin Colorado

Colorin Colorado

Below is an article taken from Colrín Colorado, a bilingual (Spanish and English) website for families and educators of English Language Learners.  It offers five tips for helping your child continue to learn over the summer break.  Scroll down for the English version.  Enjoy!

 

Cinco consejos gratuitos y sencillos para el aprendizaje de verano

Por: Brenda McLaughlin y Jane Voorhees Sharp (2008)

Existen estudios bien documentados sobre cuánto de lo ya aprendido pierden los niños durante el verano. Harris Cooper de la Universidad Duke observa que “en general, durante el verano los niños experimentan una pérdida promedio de lo aprendido en lectura y matemáticas que equivale a un mes de aprendizaje” (1996).

La cuestión es que los niños no tienen por qué perder nada de lo aprendido durante el verano. En realidad, usted puede alentar a su hijo a disfrutar del verano y a aprender siguiendo estos cinco consejos gratuitos y sencillos. ¡Pruébelos!

1. Leer todos los días

Estudios de investigación

A nivel de la escuela media, leer cuatro o cinco libros durante el verano influye de manera positiva en el nivel de lectura que puede alcanzar el niño en otoño, comparable con la asistencia a la escuela de verano. (Kim, 2004)

Sugerencias

Lleve a sus hijos a la biblioteca con frecuencia y permítales que escojan sus propios libros. Escuchen libros en audio. Suscríbanse a una revista. Túrnense para leerle el uno al otro. Permítales a los niños quedarse despiertos hasta media hora más si es para leer.

2. Usar las matemáticas todos los días

Estudios de investigación
 

El área donde se registra la mayor pérdida que sufren los niños durante el verano es en el área de los cómputos matemáticos, a un nivel de 2.6 meses promedio de aprendizaje. (Cooper, 1996)

Sugerencias

Practiquen las tablas de multiplicar aumentando 7 veces (o hasta 8 ó 9) el valor de cada punto en un juego de baloncesto. Pídales a los niños que pidan cambio en la ventanilla de autoservicio. Enséñeles a los niños cómo ingresar en www.coolmath.com en inglés) para jugar juegos de matemáticas. Invente problemas de matemáticas cuando viajan en automóvil o durante la cena.

3. Salir a jugar

Estudios de investigación

Los programas de actividad física intensa tienen efectos positivos en los logros académicos, además de mayor concentración, mejores calificaciones en pruebas de matemáticas, lectura y escritura, y menos casos de mal comportamiento. (Journal of School Health, 1997)

Sugerencias

Busque opciones para que su hijo haga actividad durante 60 minutos por día. Sugiérale pasear el paseo del vecino, ir a nadar, jugar al badminton o al fútbol, salir a caminar o andar en bicicleta en familia. Busque formas seguras y divertidas de salir a jugar durante todo el año. Visite los sitios de Internet Los niños en su casa, PBS Padres, y los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades para consultar más ideas y información en español.

4. Escribir todas las semanas

Estudios de investigación

La mayoría de los estudiantes de primer año que ingresan en instituciones postsecundarias para cursar un título de grado deben tomar clases de refuerzo de escritura más que clases de lectura. (NCES 2003)

Sugerencias

Pídale a su hijo que les escriba una carta por semana a sus abuelos, parientes o amigos. Anímelo para que escriba un diario de verano. Pídale que escriba la lista de las compras para la familia. Organice un proyecto del amigo invisible por carta para adultos y niños en su iglesia o comunidad.

5. Hacer una buena acción

Estudios de investigación

Los estudiantes aprenden más y “actúan” menos cuando participan en actividades que ayudan a su desarrollo socioemocional, como el servicio comunitario. (The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning, 2004)

Sugerencias

Incentive a su hijo para que ayude a sus vecinos o amigos. Puede ofrecerse como voluntario de un grupo local o participar de un proyecto educativo de servicio. Sugiérale que reserve parte de su asignación para donarla. Miren juntos el sitio de Internet Big Help de Nickelodeon (en inglés) y el sitio de Parent Link Rhode Island (en español) para tener más ideas.

 

Five Free and Easy Tips for Summer Learning: Research Pointers and What You Can Do

 

By: Brenda McLaughlin and Jane Voorhees Sharp (2005)

Research about how much children lose ground over the summer is well documented. Harris Cooper of Duke University notes, “Overall, children experience an average summer learning loss across reading and mathematics of about one month” (1996).

The thing is, though, kids don’t have to lose over the summer. In fact, you can encourage your child to have a summer of fun and learning with these five free and easy things to do. Try them out!

1. Read Every Day

The Research

At the middle school level, reading four to five books over the summer has a positive impact on fall reading achievement comparable to attending summer school (Kim, 2004).

Suggestions

Take your kids to the library often and let them choose which books to check out. Listen to books on tape. Subscribe them to a magazine. Take turns reading to each other. Allow your kids to stay up a half hour later at night as long as they’re reading.

2. Use Math Every Day

The Research

The largest summer learning losses for all children occur in mathematical computation, an average of 2.6 months (Cooper, 1996).

Suggestions

Practice the multiplication tables by making each point in a basketball game worth 7 points (or 8 or 9). Ask your kids to make change at the drive-thru. Show your child how to go to Cool Math to play math games. Make up math word problems in the car and at the dinner table.

3. Get Outside and Play

The Research

Intense physical activity programs have positive effects on academic achievement, including increased concentration; improved mathematics, reading, and writing test scores; and reduced disruptive behavior (Journal of School Health 1997).

Suggestions

Find ways to ensure your child is active for 60 minutes each day. Have him or her walk the neighbor’s dog, go swimming, play badminton or soccer, take walks, or go for family bike rides. Look for safe, fun ways to play outside together year-round. Go to Family Corner Magazine and PBS Parents for more ideas.

4. Write Every Week

The Research

More freshmen entering degree-granting postsecondary institutions take remedial writing courses than take remedial reading courses (NCES 2003).

Suggestions

Ask your child to write a weekly letter to his or her grandparents, relatives, or friends. Encourage him to keep a summer journal. Have her write the family’s grocery list. Organize a secret pal writing project for adults and kids at your church or in your community.

5. Do a Good Deed

The Research

Students learn better and “act out” less when they engage in activities to aid in their social-emotional development, such as community service (The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning, 2004).

Suggestions

Encourage your child to help out neighbors or friends. He or she can volunteer with a local group or complete a service learning project. Suggest that your child set aside part of his allowance for charity. Look at Nickelodeon’s Big Help web site together for more ideas.

Adapted from a presentation by Brenda McLaughlin, Director of Research and Policy, Center for Summer Learning, Johns Hopkins University and Jane Voorhees Sharp, Office of Early Care and Education, New Jersey Department of Human Services.

0 Comments on 5 Easy Activities for Summer Learning as of 7/9/2009 12:01:00 PM
Add a Comment
8. More tips for reading at home with your child


I enjoyed these tips so much I had to share them with you.  They were written by Deanna Lyles, cofounder of Bilingual Readers, a brand new publishing company which provides resources for bilingual and multilingual families and communities.  This article was taken from www.SpanglishBaby.com.

A very patient Spanish speaking mom has been reading her daughter Sara’s favorite book Yo Tigre out loud to her in Spanish every night at bedtime for the last month. But tonight Mom’s out with some friends, and it’s English speaking Dad’s turn to read Sara to sleep. He dutifully pulls out adorable children’s book after adorable children’s book, but it’s no use: Sara wants Yo Tigre, and Where the Wild Things Are just isn’t going to cut it. What’s a bilingual Dad to do? Is it alright for a parent in a One Parent One Language home to break his commitment to speaking to his child only in his native language when the child’s love of reading is at stake?

Most of us are aware that reading aloud to small children is one of the greatest tools parents have for helping their children’s language development along. But when it comes to reading aloud in a bilingual home, many questions arise as to who should read to children in what languages. In OPOL homes the easy answer is that each parent should read to the child in his or her native language, but putting this principle into practice is often anything but simple.

Although they are sometimes hard to find for certain language combinations, bilingual books are one of the best tools for getting the most out of storytime in a OPOL home. While reading monolingual books to your children is certainly beneficial, bilingual books are an especially useful tool for bilingual families. Bilingual books allow both parents to take turns reading the same book to their kids, each parent in his own language. If one parent reads a book to a child in English and the other parent reads the same book in Spanish, the child will automatically begin to associate both languages with the stories and objects on the pages of the book. We all know that children love to read and be read the same stories over and over again, so hearing the exact same text in each language every time a book is read is an easy way to reinforce vocabulary and sentence structure for the bilingual child.

In addition to taking advantage of bilingual books, there are also other strategies for reading consistently to your kids while sticking to the OPOL method. Regardless of whether or not you read monolingual or bilingual books (most families will read both),establish a routine to make sure that each parent is reading to the kids in his or her language every single day. If you stick to this routine, it’ll be a great tool for developing your child’s language abilities in both languages. You can also make recordings of your voice reading your kids’ favorite stories out loud. This way your child can still listen to Mom’s soothing voice read a story in Spanish or Dad doing all the fun voices in English anytime, anywhere. (A friend confessed that these recordings are also great for long trips in the car).

Last but not least, if you’ve broken the rules and read a story to your child in your second language, don’t beat yourself up over it. While consistency is key in any bilingual home, nobody’s perfect and slipping up every once in a while will not scar your child for life. The same thing goes for those of you who may not have been consistent readers in the past. Thankfully each day is a new opportunity to read to and with your children. Happy reading!

0 Comments on More tips for reading at home with your child as of 7/24/2009 11:45:00 PM
Add a Comment
9. Getting your preschooler ready to read


A man reads with his son

As the start of school approaches, you and your preschooler may be nervous!  So many firsts will occur during the preschool years—how exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.  One of those many firsts will include learning to read.  Below is a checklist from the National Institute for Literacy that offers ways to help your child “get ready to read” during the ages of 4 and 5.

√ I help my child hear and say the first sound in words (like “b” in boat), and notice when different words start with the same sound (like “boat” and “book”).

√ I help my child hear words that rhyme (like moose, goose, and caboose).

√ I introduce new words to my child, like “bow” and “stern,” which mean the front of a boat and the back of a boat.

√ I talk with my child about the letters of the alphabet and notice them in books, like “c” for canoe.

√ I point out signs and labels that have letters, like street signs and foods in the grocery store.

√ I encourage my child to find the joy and fun in reading.  Usually, I let my child choose the books we read.

√ I let my child pretend to read parts of the books when we read together.

√ I talk with my child about stories and make connections to things that happen in our own lives.

√ I ask “what,” “where,” and “how” questions when I read with my child to help her follow along and understand the stories.

√ I help my child write notes or make books (like an alphabet book), even if his writing only looks like scribbles or marks.

For checklists on other age ranges and for more information, visit the National Institute for Literacy at http://www.nifl.gov/nifl/publications.html

Literacy begins at home!

0 Comments on Getting your preschooler ready to read as of 8/6/2009 2:26:00 PM
Add a Comment
10. Getting your toddler ready to read


Hello there! This blog posting serves as a ‘prequel’ of sorts to the last blog posting and focuses on getting your toddler (2 or 3 years old) ready to read.  Below is a checklist for you as you help your toddler grow with strong reading skills.  And REMEMBER: you can follow this checklist in the language YOU feel most comfortable!  Literacy skills transfer across languages, so be sure to expose your children to your native language.

√ I read with my child every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

√ I encourage my child to bring his favorite books to me so that we can read together.

√ I point to pictures and name them out loud, and encourage my child to point to pictures while we read.

√ I watch to see if my child sometimes makes eye contact with me when I read aloud.  That tells me she is paying attention to me and the story.

√ I talk with my child throughout the day about things we are doing and things that are happening around us.

√ I try to be patient when my child wants to read the same book over and over again.

√ I encourage my child to “play” with books—pick them up, flip them from front to back, and turn the pages.

√ Sometimes I listen when my child “pretends,” to read a book—he holds the book, goes from page to page, and says words, even though they’re not the words on the page.

√ I give my child paper and crayons so she can scribble, make pictures, and pretend to write.

This checklist was taken from the National Institute of Literacy.  More information can be found at www.nifl.gov/nifl/publications.html.  Happy reading!

0 Comments on Getting your toddler ready to read as of 8/10/2009 10:11:00 PM
Add a Comment
11. Teaching your kindergartener to read


As school swings into session, we thought we should continue the learning to read checklists.  Below you’ll find Part 3 in our series.  Your child should develop the following skills throughout her kindergarten year.   Keep in mind, she won’t have these skills right away, but usually develops them by the end of kindergarten.  Be sure to talk with your child’s teacher for more details or if you have any questions while your child enters the magical world of reading!

√ My child listens carefully to books read aloud.

√ My child knows the shapes and names for the letters of the alpahbet and writes many uppercase and lowercase letters on his own.

√ My child knows that spoken words are made of separate sounds.

√ My child recognizes and makes rhymes, can tell when words begin with the same sound, and can put together, or blend, spoken sounds.

√ My child can sound out some letters.

√ My child knows that the order of letters in a written word stands for the order of sounds in a spoken word.

√ My child knows some common words such as a, the, I, and you, on sight.

√ My child knows how to hold a book, and follows print from left to right and from top to bottom of a page when she is read to in English.

√ My child asks and answers questions about stories and uses what she already knows to understand a story.

√ My child knows the parts of a book and understands that authors write words and text and illustrators create pictures.

√ My child knows that in most books the main message is in the print, not the pictures.

√ My child predicts what will happen in a story and retells or acts out stories.

√ My child knows the difference between “made up” fiction and “real” nonfiction books and the difference between stories and poems.

√ My child uses what he knows about letters and sounds to write words.

√ My child writes some letters and words as they are said to her and begins to spell some words correctly.

√ My child writes his own first and last name and the first names of some friends and family.

√ My child plays with words and uses new words in her own speech.

√ My child knows and uses words that are important to school work, such as the names for colors, shapes, and numbers.

√ My child knows and uses words from daily life, such as street names and the names for community workers–teacher, mail carrier, etc.

This information is provided by the National Institute for Literacy.  For more, please visit www.nifl.gov/nifl/publications.html.

0 Comments on Teaching your kindergartener to read as of 8/14/2009 12:47:00 PM
Add a Comment
12. Tips for teachers of English language learners


As teachers get ready for school to start in the fall, they might consider a few tips on making students welcome who don’t speak English as a native language. More students speak Spanish as their first language than any other group in the U.S., but there are over a hundred other mother tongues spoken by kids from kindergarten to twelfth grade around this country. No one teacher can possibly know all of these. So, what’s a teacher to do? Two websites offer some practical advice:

http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3747021&FullBreadCrumb=%3Ca+href%3D%22http%3A%2F

and http://www.colorincolorado.org/educators/reachingout/welcoming

There is plenty of research demonstrating that English language learners (or ELLs for short) learn best by drawing on what they already know. That means, they learn best when they start with the language they already speak, their native language (or L1). Children are not blank states when starting kindergarten. This tends to be an unpopular notion in many places, as it was in the Word Geek’s childhood. The idea back in the Olden Days was to punish a child for speaking anything but the “best” meaning the textbook or Standard version of English. The result was, predictably, that kids who didn’t already speak a pretty standard version quit talking altogether in school and made very little progress, then stopped going to school as soon as they could get away with it. This tended to be around the fourth grade (age 8 or 9). Or, because these children struggle to learn math and science in their L2, they get placed in special education classes in which they become bored and disgruntled. This pattern is NOT recommended!

Instead of following this mournful and unsuccessful pattern, consider the tips described by David and Yvonne Freeman at the first site above:

1. Pair a newcomer (an ELL with little or no English) with a partner who speaks his or her L1 as well as some English. Make sure the partner knows this buddy position is a prestigious job and you are very impressed at how well he or she carries it off. The buddy’s job description should include making sure the newcomer knows the class rules, gets the class assignments, and, hopefully, this buddy does some translating.

2. Invite a parent volunteer into the classroom to read aloud to the class in the L1 of the newcomer(s). If this involves showing lots of pictures, even the English speakers should get something out of it. Plus, they’ll get some idea of what it’s like to be unable to understand every word of what’s going on – empathy, in other words. Not a bad idea!

3. Let the kids speak in their L1. The Word Geek wishes to put this one up in lights, so she will repeat it in capital letters and add an exclamation mark: LET THE KIDS SPEAK IN THEIR L1! Maybe she should throw some firecrackers in to get some people’s attention here, adding extra exclamation marks for more emphasis. LET THE KIDS SPEAK IN THEIR L1!!!

4. Build a class library in the students’ L1s. It’s especially helpful if some of these books are what we once called “ponies,” in the Olden Days. That means, there is the L1 on one page. On the facing page, the same text is in English. This way, a student sees that his or her native language is respected and supported, and the child can go from the known (L1) to the unknown (L2), with a lot less pain and hassle. The Word Geek was once very fond of such ponies and still has a few in her possession.

5. Organize bilingual tutoring, for example by partnering with a teacher of a class a year or two older than your own, in which there are students who speak the same L1 as your students. These older kids who presumably also speak a little more English can help tutor your students, do a little translating. It’s good for their education and self-esteem as well as helping your students along. A person never learns better than when helping someone else learn.

6. Provide students pen pals, whether in their L1 or L2, and whether through e-mail or by means of old-fashioned pen and paper. Go to the first website above to find a couple of online sites to locate e-mail pen pals. This type of writing is a lot more interesting than writing boring sentences in response to even duller reading exercises.

7. Encourage writing in a journal, whether in the L1 or L2. Sometimes, writing about the acquisition of L2 (namely English) in the L1 is one of the best ways to get a student to think about it after school.

8. Create books of students’ own writings. That is to say, with the computer it is relatively easy to type up things that students write, duplicate them, print them out, and even bind them in inexpensive ways. These can be done in the L1 or L2. “Ponies” created in this way can be distributed to the entire class, giving a newcomer a new feeling of being part of a class, not an outsider. Many of the fonts required to print, say, Vietnamese or Arabic or whatever are already available on the internet for free – or relatively cheaply.

9. Use L1 storytellers to support the ELLs language and culture and share with the rest of the class. The teacher can help bring in the rest of the class by teaching a story ahead of time, or having the class read the story or act it out, if they are too young to read it yet. That way, no one need feel left out when the storyteller comes and speaks another language.

10. Put up the signs that are displayed in the classroom in both English and any L1s spoken by students. This shows that the L1 is valued and, therefore, the student who speaks it is also valued.

Time for an object lesson:  When the Word Geek took an introductory linguistics class in college, years ago, the professor told of taking a rabbit in a cage to a first grade classroom. The children in the classroom seemed inordinately quiet and the regular teacher agreed, saying that the kiddies were all “culturally deprived” (using the parlance of the times).

The linguistics professor said that she had a cure for that dread condition. The rabbit was part of it. She put the cage on the teacher’s desk and told the silent students that she and the other teacher had to leave the classroom for a moment. “But I need you kids to help me out,” she told them. “Mr. Bunny will get very, very sick if I go away and nobody talks to him. So, while we’re gone, you need to talk to him and keep talking until I get back. Will you do that for me?” 

The kids silently nodded.

The professor and the teacher silently left the classroom. The kids did not see, but the professor had silently started a tape recorder behind the desk.

When the professor got back, as soon as she opened the door of the classroom, the kids were quiet, so she had no idea if her plan had worked. But later, when she played the tape for the teacher, the two adults heard a great cacophony of noise. The whole time the grownups had been out of the room, all the children had been talking to that rabbit, calling him “Mr. Bunny,” telling him not to be scared, letting him know he would be all right. They did not speak perfect Standard English. But they could speak all right and their meaning was clear enough.

Why wouldn’t they talk when their teacher was there? As the professor pointed out to us, when someone gets onto you every time you open your mouth, you stop opening your mouth. So, at the risk of beating a dead horse, LET THE KIDS SPEAK IN THEIR L1. They’ll eventually get to L2 that way. But if they stop talking altogether, they’ll never get anywhere.

This article was written by Diana Gainer, the Word Geek Examiner, on www.examiner.com.  Laura Renner added some of her own thoughts as well.

0 Comments on Tips for teachers of English language learners as of 9/13/2009 3:15:00 PM
Add a Comment
13. An Inspiring Story for Reading


Donors ChooseWe decided to post this thank you letter not to boast, but because the author, a teacher in a public school, offers a first-hand view of what we at bububooks strongly believe.  We like to say, “L is for literacy, not language.”  This is why we advocate for English Language Learner programs in our schools.  Please read this teacher’s note below for a perspective on what non-native English speakers face while trying to grow up.

This thank you letter comes from Donorschoose.org.  This website connects teachers in public schools who need funding for specific projects and willing donors.  Check it out at www.donorschoose.org!

Dear Laura,

Thank you so much for your generous donations. Reading is so important, and is essential in becoming successful in today’s society. Many of my English language learners are not thought of as the bright kids that they truly are because they struggle with reading. I have learned through my classes that most of my students can read and write in Spanish (their native language). The importance of reading–in any language–is immeasurable!

With the ability to read (in any language) comes vocabulary development; fluency; comprehension; and critical thinking skills, such as, prediction and sequencing. Reading in Spanish will help students transfer their knowledge, and learn more readily in English. Research has shown that students who continue to read and write in their native language, will find it much easier to learn to read and write in a new language.

These bilingual books will help my students this year–and in coming years–by allowing them to continue to read and learn in their native language, while acquiring new English skills. The books will also allow parents who feel “left out” the opportunity to engage in their children’s’ education and help them to develop a love of learning.

Once again, thank you for your generosity and compassion towards my students and me!

With gratitude,
Ms. R.

Thanks for reading.  To see the specific project, visit http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=314515&pmaId=409319&pmaHash=-973939887&utm_source=dc&utm_campaign=ity&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Project#bus

Have a great weekend and feel free to share projects you’ve donated to on DonorsChoose.org!

0 Comments on An Inspiring Story for Reading as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Bilingual babies learn better!


A man reading with his sonResearch has shown that bilingual babies learn two languages at the same pace as monolingual babies learn one language, even though they’re learning twice as much.  Even better, two researchers recently learned in their scientific study that bilingual babies are ‘flexible learners’ and use their learning skills more efficiently.  They pick up on skills faster and can apply them to other aspects in their learning. Read the article we’ve posted below by Jean Mercer, Ph.D. from Psychology Today to see her full explanation of the study and its findings.

What great encouragement to raise your kids bilingually!!

Taken from: Child Myths
Straight Talk About Child Development

by Jean Mercer, Ph.D.

Jean Mercer is a developmental psychologist with a special interest in parent-infant relationships.

Bilingual Babies: Another Myth Busted

Surprise! Bilingual babies do better at learning.

In my last post, I commented on some preferences and behaviors that help babies pay attention to talking adults and learn about language from what they hear. Babies’ social interest in other people and their attentiveness to high-pitched, emphatic speech are factors that help them learn from baby talk. When adults talk to other adults, or when television or an audiotape provides speech experience, babies don’t learn as much as they do from baby talk.

What are some other relevant factors about babies’ experience with the spoken language? One situation of considerable interest is the experience of two or more different languages, whether spoken by the same person or by different people. Many of us would guess that life could be very confusing for bilingual babies and that they might be slowed down in their general language learning. At least, that’s what many people would guess in the United States, where a large proportion of the population is monolingual, and where language learning is generally regarded as difficult. Assumptions are probably different in the many parts of the world where most people are fluent from an early age in two, three, or more languages. Different groups treasure different myths, and the one about the language difficulties of bilingual babies is one that belongs primarily to monolingual English-speaking Americans.

A recent article by Agnes Kovacs and Jacques Mehler ( “Flexible learning of multiple speech structures in bilingual infants”, Science, 2009, Vol. 325, pp. 611-612) includes some surprising reports about bilingual 12-monh-olds. For starters, Kovacs and Mehler point out previous research showing that bilingual children achieve language developmental milestones at about the same age as learners of a single language, even though that means they have to learn about twice as much. Whether they are learning one language or two, babies say their first words at an average of about 12 months ( although there are many individual differences in this, and that average is made up of babies whose first word comes anywhere from 9 months to perhaps 18 months).

Can it be that bilingual babies learn more than just language from their bilingual experiences? Kovacs and Mehler were interested in this question and wondered whether the bilingual children’s experience might help them become more efficient in understanding and using information from speech. The researchers set up a situation in which 12-month-olds could learn that the structure of a “nonsense word” would tell them whether an interesting toy was going to appear on the left or on the right. There were two kinds of nonsense words, each consisting of three syllables. For one kind, the first and the last syllables were the same, and the middle syllable was different for (instance, “lo-vu-lo”). For the other kind, the first two syllables were the same, and the last one was different (for instance, “lo-lo-vu”). The babies saw and heard the appearance of the toy and the sound pattern associated in a consistent way. “Lo-vu-lo” could mean that the toy would be on the left, and “lo-lo-vu” could mean that the toy would be on the right, for example. Kovacs and Mehler had a device that measured the babies’ eye movements and showed in which direction a baby was looking at a given time, so they could see whether each baby learned to look in the direction indicated by a particular sound pattern.

Now, here’s the myth-busting surprise: although all the babies learned that one pattern (such as “lo-lo-vu”) meant that the toy was in a particular place, only the bilingual babies learned both associations– that “lo-lo-vu” meant “look left”, and “lo-vu-lo” meant “look right.” In a further experiment, the monolingual babies could learn that a male voice saying the nonsense word meant to look one direction and a female voice meant to look the other direction, so they were capable of learning something about speech sounds and directions. But the monolingual babies did not manage to learn at this early age that different but similar sound patterns had different meanings.

Kovacs and Mehler concluded that the experience of bilingual life had made these babies “flexible learners” who could apply their very efficient learning skills to get a lot of information out of the speech sounds they heard, selecting the right response out of the two they had learned. Of course, choosing the right response is an essential part of much school performance. If you subtract even though you see a plus sign, or add even though you see a minus sign, you won’t get the right answer, no matter how many facts you know.

Watch for the first commercial application of this research– but don’t buy it unless there’s good evidence that it helps facilitate flexible learning outside the laboratory!

Thanks for reading. By the way, October 3, 2009, was the Mid-Autumn holiday in China and many other countries. We hope you enjoyed the festivities!

0 Comments on Bilingual babies learn better! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. Be an advocate of your child


A few weeks ago, I heard Dr. Pauline Clardy, coordinator of the Bilingual/Bicultural Program at Illinois State University, speak about bilingual education in elementary schools.  She started by telling the story of a family who came to Illinois when the two children were in elementary school.  The parents were advised to speak only English at home and the children, a son and a daughter, were placed into English-only classes.  The daughter, who picked her English name to be Sarah, was eventually placed into a special education program, even though she did not have a learning disability.  She simply was not yet strong enough in English to use it as a vehicle to learn the other subjects in school.  In high school, Sarah spent most of her free time watching television and working at a fast food restaurant.  She had no intention of attending college.  The son did not finish high school and joined a gang.  The two kids had also grown apart from their parents once their English skills began to surpass those of their mom and dad. 

I may not have recounted the story exactly as Dr. Clardy told it, but the message is clear.  Maintaining native language skills helps your child to learn at school and promotes a family connection and cultural identity at home.

Unfortunately, too many teachers still recommend to parents that they only speak English at home. Families are broken apart and cultural traditions are lost when children’s native language and culture are ignored.  Children are not blank states; they begin learning as soon as they are born.  The best thing to do is to continue to build on the foundation you’ve already established.

ADVOCATE FOR YOUR CHILD!  Don’t let the school take your child out of the English Language Learners program too early.  Wait until they are ready.  Get involved with the school and your child’s class.  Volunteer, join the PTA and the Bilingual Parents Advisory Council (BPAC).  You are your child’s first teacher…always.  Maintain the connection with your child through the ways most comfortable to you so that you will have a long lasting relationship.

Every culture values and respects teachers in different ways.  Latino families show respect by giving distance to teachers.  They view the teacher as the professional who knows what they are doing; they don’t need interference from parents.  From the view of the teacher, this respect comes across as lack of involvement and, perhaps, lack of interest.  To further exacerbate the issue, many monolingual teachers do not understand the needs of bilingual students while bilingual teachers are hired only for their language skills and are otherwise unqualified to teach.  Don’t be afraid to say something!  No one will look out for your child like you do.

To get more involved, share your cultural traditions with your child’s first teacher.  Offer books and other materials at home in your language as well as English.  Look online (i.e. other posts from this blog) for ways to interact with your child that will promote their learning and language skills.  Together, let’s ensure your child the brightest future he or she can get!

0 Comments on Be an advocate of your child as of 5/29/2009 6:47:00 PM
Add a Comment