Reading Round-Up, 22 September

Happy Autumn! It was a glorious weekend here, and the blue skies and crisp mornings just begged us to go apple picking. So we did! In full disclosure, the lure was also hot-out-of-the-fryer apple cider donuts, too! 

Mark Your Calendar

Put Me In Coach! In Reading Today Daily (International Reading Association blog), John Micklos has a post about a Literacy Coaching Summit in the US. This is the first time such an event has been held, and it is planned for April 3-4, 2009 at Texas A&M (Corpus Christi). One topic bound to be mentioned is the results of a Rand Corporation study about the value of reading coaches in Florida middle schools. These coaches are intended to be school-based “master teachers” who provide on-site support, preferably in the classroom. While coaches have been widely used, it is uncommon to use them in middle schools. Here is a tidbit from the study: “middle school coaches were particularly effective when they spent time with individual teachers reviewing student data and devising strategies for meeting student needs.” You can read Kathleen Kennedy Manzo’s article Middle School Coaches Found to Build Teacher’s Skills in the September 11, 2007 online edition of Education Week to get more details.

te necesitamos (We Need You) DC Learn is a non-profit family services and literacy organization in Washington, DC. They need volunteers to translate a website from English to Spanish. Read the posting to get more details.

News, Tidbits and New Finds

A Novel Algorithm in Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine, Gene Weingarten’s Below the Beltway column caught my eye. This one is titled “Illiterature: Can a Computer Judge Fiction.” Weingarten’s essay opens with this:, a software company, is seeking manuscripts to test a “software system that can electronically analyze the quality and commercial viability of a work of fiction and prompt changes that will make it better.” Go to the Zirdland News page to get more about the beta test of their software. 

Hump Day Every Wednesday, you can find SoCalVal’s Weblink Wednesday post at her Homeschooling with Encouragement blog. Thanks to a Google Alert, we found out we were the Weblink. That let us to two new places.

  • SoCalVal runs Weblink Education, a website “designed to help provide helpful information on all educational subjects through weblinks.” UPDATED to include link to website.
  • In her Weblink Wednesday post, Sonshine told us about the EasyTestMaker website. This is a free, online test generator that helps you create questions that range from fill in the blank and matching to short answer and multiple sections. You can read more at the Glimpse of Sunshine blog.

A Picture is worth … The American Library Association has posted its new, basic standards for the “21st Century learner.” Yes, you can read them on the ALA website, but I personally recommend Cloudscome’s Wordle version … much more effective, and far more 21st Century!

Failure Rates: Failing our Kids I found three distinct articles talking about high school students. The bottom line is nothing new: kids need to finish high school.

  • John Micklos’ post Diplomas are key to economic success (Reading Today Daily, IRA blog, 18 September 2008) draws on analysis by the Alliance for Excellent Education. The Alliance just published a report, Dropouts, Diplomas and Dollars: U.S. High Schools and the Nation’s Economy.
  • Christina A. Samuels has an article in the September 3, 2008 edition of Education Week that focuses on the high school drop-out rates of students with behavioral problems; 32% of emotionally disturbed students graduated from high school in 2002, and 56% of those students dropped out. The graduation/drop-out rates haven’t changed in ten years. The problem is significant enough that a group of seven universities have received a (collective) $9.6 million, 5-year grant from the US Department of Education to assess the problem. You can read her article, “Behavior Disorders in Teens are Focus of New R&D Effort” in the online edition of Education Week. LehighUniversity, JamesMadisonUniversity, and the University of Missouri (Columbia), will pilot a number of programs for the first two years of the grant.  Once pilot studies have been finished, researchers from the University of Maryland (College Park), University of Kansas (Lawrence), University of Louisville, and Miami University of Ohio will roll out the strategies to about 500 students.


  • When I first saw Debra Viadero’s article Returning Dropouts Said to Face Too Tough a Road to Graduation (Education Week Online 17 August 2008) , I thought about my cousin who, after having a baby, was ridiculed by her teachers (yes, more than one) for even trying to come back to graduate. A study by the Regional Educationsl Laboratory at WestEd looks at the push-and-pull factors that influence these students’ decisions. The study, Reenrollment of High School Dropouts in a Large Urban School District, slices and dices the drop-out/reenrollment data a number of ways: gender, grade, ethnicity, and language ability.

Become a Teacher A new survey by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation finds that 42 percent of college-educated Americans (ages 24 to 60) would consider becoming a teacher. The deterrent is the same as it has always been: the salary. Maybe we could mail them a poster of Al Roker and his favorite teacher. has an ongoing public service campaign, “Behind Every Famous Person Is a Fabulous Teacher.” Visit the Teachers Count website to learn more about the campaign, get posters, and last but not least … find out how to become a teacher. We found the survey results in John Micklos’ post Celebrating the Impact of Teachers (Reading Today Daily, 17 September 2008)

Brrrr! Thanks to Meredyth Kezar for her post in the Late Literacy blog for introducing us to a new blog, the Joy of Children’s Literature and a new (at least to us) online magazine. Beyond Polar Bears and Penguins is an “online polar and literacy magazine” for elementary teachers (Kindergarten to fifth grade)

Yum, Yum! Last week, if you ate out in Seattle, you had the opportunity to support Page Ahead, a non-profit that distributes books to readers-in-need throughout WashingtonState. By partnering with restaurants, the organization’s Dish Up Literacy! Campaign raises funds when you eat out. You can also visit Page Ahead to get ideas on how to help promote reading.

Still Superbowl Champs I am a New York Giants fan (by marriage), so when I saw the link to Justin Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy in Jen Robinson’s Children’s Literacy Round-up: September 22, I had to (pun intended) rush over. Sixth- and Seventh-grade students from four Title I middle schools in New York City are participating in a reading challenge, where they read one book a month during football season. They are also required to write a book report, which will be submitted for review and judged by a panel that includes Tuck and his wife.

Learning is Universal In a post this morning at Reading Today Daily (IRA blog), John Micklos summarizes an article about working with learning-disabled (LD) students.A report by the National Center for Learning Disabilities suggests that “[b]y making broad changes to how information is presented to all students and the ways in which all students are able to show what they know, the horizons for students with LD will be expanded from a “student deficit” approach to a “student success” approach. You can read the article, Universal Design for Learning on the NCLD website and/or participate in a talk on the subject 24 September 2008 at 1:00 PM (EDT).

Kumon, not Cumin Brian Scott has a fascinating post called Kumon – Teaching Children to Learn (Literacy and Reading News, 18 September 2008) I loved how he opened the article: “The fad of creating super-genius children may be out, but concerned parenting will always be in.” At Kumon learning centers, visit twice a week and work on lessons in reading in math. Unlike school, where their papers are corrected and the kids move on to new material anyway, at Kumon, the kids will continue to work through a lesson until they do it without error. There is no set schedule, so the kids learn at their own pace. There is a Jr. Kumin for preschoolers and kindergarteners … that sort of hints of a desire for super-genius, no?

Education Grants In June, Sylvan Dell announced its new educational resource grant to promote math and science. We mentioned it in a previous round-up. So far, 1,000 schools have applied in this program to grant one elementary school in every US district “a free, one-year site license, providing unlimited access to all 35 Sylvan Dell eBooks, featuring flipviewer technology with selectable English and Spanish text and audio.” The first 25 private schools in a district can also apply and receive a grant.  Here’s the online application. We read about the update in John Micklos’ post at Reading Today Daily (IRA blog, 19 September 2008)

 Thanks for Sharing I just love great finds!  So here are my thanks …

Great Kids, Great Books Tomorrow, the Kids Picks Carnival for September kicks off at 5 Minutes for Books. This is a chance for everyone to share the books they’ve been reading – and which their kids loved – in the previous month. Mr. Linky is set up so that bloggers tell you the ages of the children so you don’t have to go to every connection to find reviews of books you’ll want to share with your kids.