• The Big Picture: Challenges of Literacy in High School

    The Big Picture: Challenges of Literacy in High School

    By Guest Writer, Angelita Williams

    Last year, the scores on the critical reading portion of the SAT college-entrance exams dropped to record lows. Some are pointing to a more diverse student population as the culprit while others are blaming lax reading curriculums. Regardless of the demographics – or even the public school systems – the facts are clear: America's students are falling behind in literacy.

    The Impact of ESL Students and National Scores

    According to a Huffington Post article, the record lows in reading scores have bottomed out at a time in which 27 percent of the 1.65 million students who sat for the exam had a native tongue other than English. Some are pointing to an expanding Latino population as a factor in the decrease in scores.

    Regardless of the impact ESL students may have on national reading scores, teachers across America are discussing the unique challenges that ESL students and teachers face, especially when standardized tests are issued. Even at an elementary level teachers are expressing frustrations with the amount of testing that leeches quality classroom time away from students. ...

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    Oct 29 2012
  • Four Children's Books to Read to Elementary Students' During the Holidays

    Four Children's Books to Read to Elementary Students' During the Holidays

    Guest Post by Patricia Garza

    Are you looking for some new, interesting children's books to read to your students during the holidays? Aren't we all? I'm a fan of beloved classics like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "The Polar Express," but there are so many other great books out there that teachers miss out on every holiday season.

    During my years as a teacher, I'd read a list of unique book titles to my students as a means of getting them excited about the holidays, teaching them about different holiday traditions, and introducing them to the joys of reading. Over the next few months, teachers should make a consorted effort to make their class readings more engaging and diversified. It's unfair to focus on mainstream holidays like Christmas when there are a whole host of other celebrations taking place. Read further to discover four great children's books you can read to your students. ...

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    Oct 22 2012
  • The Role of Phonemic Awareness and Phonics in Reading Success

    The Role of Phonemic Awareness and Phonics in Reading Success

    Often times what seems like a complicated problem all hangs on one specific defect in the larger process. And if you fix that one specific defect – the seemingly complicated problem is solved. It’s always nice to discover the specific defect that is creating a big problem. In the case of the literacy deficit, the specific defect is a lack of teacher training and quality instruction in regards to the most basic reading skills: ...

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    Oct 19 2012
  • How Will iPads Transform the Classroom?

    How Will iPads Transform the Classroom?

    By Guest Writer, Melissa Maranto

    Technology is proving more and more to be an exciting evolution in the way students learn. It is something that many people anticipate and look forward to learning and growing with. If you put the latest iPad in front of a group of people, it is going to steal their attention and spur their fascination. Very seldom will someone with an iPad in front of them let it just sit there. In the case of education, there is no difference. It is more than likely that if you put a hardcopy textbook and an e-book in front of a student, he will gravitate toward the e-book. Although the educational material is identical in both mediums, formatting that same material on an iPad, or any other piece of recent technology, promotes learning in a way that has never been seen before. ...

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    Oct 18 2012
  • Why & How to Use Nonsense Words When Teaching Struggling Readers

    Why & How to Use Nonsense Words When Teaching Struggling Readers

    By the time most of us first encountered Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, we were fluent readers. However, I am sure that you can recall the sense of cognitive dissonance that the nonsense words in this poem created.

    `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

    All mimsy were the borogoves,

    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    Essentially, you were having the same experience that many beginning readers have when they see words on a page for the first time. When we encounter nonsense words, we are forced to rely on our knowledge of the alphabetic code, rather than memorization, to read the words. Phonics instruction supplies learners with strategies for approaching unfamiliar words in text. In fact, research has shown that using nonsense words in phonics instruction can increase a student’s ability to read words with accuracy and automaticity.  Here are a few benefits of using nonsense words. ...

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    Oct 17 2012
  • 3 Key Factors that Contribute to the Literacy Deficit

    3 Key Factors that Contribute to the Literacy Deficit

    With all the talk in the news about politics and education, it's good to look at what is really going on in regards to education and literacy:

    These statistics expose serious economic consequences for individuals, state governments, and the nation.

    In order to address these issues, we must first understand what is creating this great literacy deficit. There are three key contributors: ...

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    Oct 12 2012
  • How Could Your Students Benefit from a Flipped Classroom?

    How Could Your Students Benefit from a Flipped Classroom?

    As a pre-service teacher, my first classes in Educational Technology included how to use a DVD player in the classroom and how to build a HyperCard program (even then, HyperCard was pretty outdated). We have come a long way! The syllabi from today’s Educational Technology classes probably include things like internet safety, using social media in the classroom, database management tools, integrating software into classroom instruction and using web-based technologies to deliver instruction and communicate with parents and students.

    I just read a book that got me excited about the increase in learning that can happen when technology and teaching are combined. It also got to the heart of teaching; working directly and personally with each student to guide them in successfully applying what they are learning. This book illustrates the impact that technology can have in changing the face of traditional classroom instruction. The book is titled “Flip your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day” by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. These high school teachers have capitalized on the use of technology to create the best learning environment for each one of their students. Traditionally, classroom instruction is delivered during class and application happens in the form of homework (i.e. away from school). A flipped classroom is basically a classroom where ...

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    Oct 09 2012
  • How Should Sight Words Be Taught? Phonics or Memorization?

    How Should Sight Words Be Taught? Phonics or Memorization?

    How many words are there in the English language? A question with a complicated answer. Depending on your criteria, the answer can range from somewhere around a quarter of a million words to one million words, give or take a few hundred thousand. Even to the most enthusiastic logophile, that is an overwhelming amount of words to use when reading, writing, and speaking. Thankfully, relatively few of these words meet most of our basic reading, writing, and speaking needs.

    The English words needed for most communications are referred to by terms such as, sight words, high frequency words, and most common words. Researcher Edward B. Fry ranked these words in order of frequency. The first 25 words on the list make up about a third of all printed material. The first 100 make up about half of all written material, and the first 300 make up at least 65 percent of all written material (Fry, Kress, & Fountoukidis, 2000).

    To quickly illustrate this concept, let’s look at this twenty-word quote by John F. Kennedy: ...

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    Sep 24 2012
  • Four Reasons Phonics Has a Place in Middle School and High School Classrooms

    Four Reasons Phonics Has a Place in Middle School and High School Classrooms

    As I have traveled to different schools across the country to train teachers on Reading Horizons methodology, I have been reminded of why phonics has a place in the classroom for older learners and how these skills fit into the "big picture" of learning to read. Here are some specific reasons why phonics has relevance beyond K-3 classrooms.

    We know that reading is a critical skill. We know several students need to learn how to read better. We know that reading at an appropriate rate with adequate comprehension is necessary. So for struggling readers, including students who are non-native English speakers, what role does phonics play in this goal to acquire fluency and comprehension? ...

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    Sep 20 2012
  • Recent Trends in Literacy and Reading Instruction

    Recent Trends in Literacy and Reading Instruction

    By Guest Writer, Tricia Underwood

    In recent years, discussion has increased around the apparent decline of U.S. reading and literacy levels. Remarks like "Kids today aren't reading, they're on gaming consoles", "Reading comprehension in the U.S. is way down", and "Our education system has gotten significantly worse" seem to pepper many conversations around these topics.

    Different groups of children have different learning styles. Meanwhile, every teacher is unique and each classroom scenario is constantly changing. So educators are looking at hard data and seeking new solutions to help children improve their reading skills. In doing so, students will hopefully excel in grade school and high school, select higher education, choose their college majors, graduate and successfully push forward into their career lives. Here are a few examples of current work in the area of literacy and reading. ...

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    Aug 16 2012

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