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Archive for the ‘Language development’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This post was originally published on November 25, 2013.

“The time is now to redesign this country’s approach to language and literacy instruction, and governors who choose to can lead the charge,” according to the National Governors Association (NGA) report, “A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy: Getting all Students Reading by Third Grade.

Acknowledging the fact that only one-third of America’s fourth graders are reading proficiently, the report points out that America’s governors can help address this challenge. They can build a bridge between knowledge and action, connecting what researchers know to what policymakers do.

What the Research Says

To provide the research background on the literacy issue, the report points to three widely accepted research findings:

1. “Starting at kindergarten is too late.” Because literacy skills start developing at birth and because achievement gaps show up early, infants, toddlers and preschoolers need effective, high-quality early education and care programs that introduce early literacy concepts.
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The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) has an engaging video series on its website called “8 x 8” that gives viewers access to the latest thinking on education policy.

“As part of the Bold Ideas & Critical Conversations event on September 19, eight HGSE faculty members were each given eight minutes to discuss research-based ideas that will have a big impact on the field,” the website explains.

It’s like a mini collection of TED talks on education.

The eight faculty members who speak are:

- Karen Brennan, whose research looks at how learning communities can support young people as designers of interactive media

- Howard Gardner – senior director of Harvard’s Project Zero

- Tom Kane – faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Research

- Nonie Lesaux, author of “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” a report commissioned by Strategies for Children

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Research on how infants develop language skills is providing crucial insights on how language-rich environments benefit babies. And helping babies develop language skill is a crucial early step in helping them grow into proficient third-grade readers who can tackle the challenges of school and careers.

Two new studies that describe some of the fine points of boosting infants’ and toddlers’ language come from the University of Iowa, Indiana University, and the University of Missouri.

The research from the University of Iowa encourages parents to try to figure out what their babbling babies might be saying because doing so could help babies learn to communicate sooner.

“Pay attention, mom and dad, especially when your infant looks at you and babbles,” a university article explains.

“Parents may not understand a baby’s prattling, but by listening and responding, they let their infants know they can communicate which leads to children forming complex sounds and using language more quickly.”

This advice is based on a new study — “Maternal Responsiveness and the Development of Directed Vocalizing in Social Interactions” — conducted by researchers at Iowa and at Indiana University. The study, which was published in the journal Infancy, found that “how parents respond to their children’s babbling can actually shape the way infants communicate and use vocalizations.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

What’s the best way to teach children to read? The answers can spark heated debates.

That’s what happened in New York City when Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña called for “more schools to adopt aspects of balanced literacy, including its emphasis on allowing students to choose many of the books they read,” according to the New York Times. Balanced literacy programs use both phonics and whole language techniques to teach reading.

Addressing the debate, CUNY’s Institute for Education Policy hosted a discussion last month (now posted on YouTube) called “Teaching Children to Read: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.” It featured both Catherine Snow, an esteemed expert on children’s language and literacy development and currently a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Susan Neuman, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education and an education professor at New York University. (more…)

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“Our message is a broad, universal one. We can raise overall achievement in the United States if we get into preschool and take advantage of the magic and power of music.”

Maria Runfola, associate professor of music education in the Department of Learning and Instruction at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, in the news release, “Music curriculum aims to nurture preschoolers’ language skills,” July 29, 2014

 

 

 

 

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This post was originally published on May 2, 2013.

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

As someone who has been writing for a long time, I’m well aware how hard it is to write about something you only partially understand. Now, Education Week reports, there’s an increased focus on teaching writing as a way to improve students’ reading skills. The trend also responds to concerns among employers and college professors about young people’s writing and analytical skills. The article is part of Ed Week’s Rethinking Literacy series. (See “Writing Undergoes Renaissance in Curricula.”)

“The shift is still nascent, but people in the field are taking notice. It marks a departure from recent practice, which often includes little or no explicit writing instruction and only a modest amount of writing, typically in the form of stories, short summaries, or personal reflections, rather than essays or research projects on topics being studied,” Ed Week reports.

“On a literacy landscape that rarely features explicit writing instruction, and where the writing that does take place is often unconnected to reading, experts say, these kinds of projects are unusual for the way they connect writing and reading. Attention to reading has persistently been high, they say, but a focus on writing has waxed and waned in the past few decades. ‘Now we’re seeing a lot more attention to the idea that writing about a text can improve reading about that text,’ said literacy expert Timothy Shanahan, the chairman of the department of curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago.”

In one first grade class in Vermont, for instance, children read “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss, first for fun and finally to hunt for ways the protagonist protects the earth. They write a paragraph about the story’s theme supported by these examples.

Research supports the emphasis on writing. “’Writing to Read,’ a 2010 meta-analysis of 93 studies of writing interventions, found that writing had consistently positive effects on students’ reading skills and comprehension,” Ed Week reports. “Writing about what they read was particularly helpful to students’ comprehension, but so were taking notes on what they read, answering questions about it, and simply writing more.”

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Photo: Courtesy of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington

Photo: Courtesy of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington

Babies who babble are actually rehearsing, according to a new study. As early as seven months, those vocalizing babies are practicing the movements they will need to start forming words, Patricia Kuhl explained recently in an interview on NPR.

Kuhl is the co-direcor of the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

To do this research, Kuhl and her research team used a magnetoencephalography, a brain scanner also called MEG. Babies sat in the brain scanner, which “resembles an egg-shaped vintage hair dryer and is completely safe for infants,” according to a University of Washington news release, which adds, “The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences was the first in the world to use such a tool to study babies while they engaged in a task.” (more…)

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