What shall we do with this gap?

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A Narrative
Mrs. Angle’s voice boomed out of my phone’s speaker “can you come to my office Ms. Rizzo, it’s very important that I speak to you.” As I walked down the hall I thought “I hope we don’t have another case of peanut up the nose, last time that was brutal! “
I am the Parent Liaison for Buckingham Middle School here in Houston Texas and Mrs. Angle is my principal and supervisor. Mrs. Angle was always looking for projects that we could use to strengthen the academics of our students; projects that would ensure our parents participation.
I wondered what she had for me to research this time, “oh well,” I thought” as long as it did not involve killer whales,” because after what had happened at Sea World previously I had decided never to get in a tank with a killer whale no matter how many lunches or how much comp time that Mrs. Angles promised me. Chuckling to myself, I opened her office door and peeked inside.
“Come in,” she said waving her hand toward a chair, “please sit down, I have something to discuss with you.” I gingerly sat on a soft cushioned chair, balancing myself on the edge of the seat. She came straight to the point. “Have you heard of the thirty million word gap?” she asked. I shook my head and said, “no, I have not.” She continued explaining, “A Chicago University has done a new study that found that children from poverty are exposed to thirty million fewer words over their first 3 years of life, than children that are born into wealth! “This gap continues to widen throughout their school years, on into adult hood and is passed from generation to generation!” she exclaimed. “I want you to find this study, and determine how our families here at Buckingham can benefit from this knowledge.”
I just looked at her, not because I found the idea preposterous, on the contrary, I was so stunned by excitement that I felt as if my insides were turning into lemon jello (it would have to be lemon, I cannot tolerate any other kind), all giggly inside. “Someone has been doing their research,” I said, and since 90% of the children attending our school lived in impoverished homes this immediately caused me to wonder what steps we could take to raise their academic levels here at Buckingham.
Holding my emotions inside, I looked her straight in the eye, and said “let’s do it, tell me more.” Little did I know that we were embarking on a fabulous adventure that would bring the families at our school to new heights academically? Nor did I know that our parents would avail themselves and support our efforts with such sacrifice to help their children reach their goals. Lastly I did not know the city of Houston would involve itself in an incredible way. Anyway, let us see what happens in chapter 2.

The Gap

30 Million Word Gap
Informative

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There is an old saying that children should be seen and not heard. Even today, people who aren’t educated believe that a child that does not speak is a good or well behaved child. These people have the impression that the child that does not speak has more intelligence than children that are talkative.

A research study done in the1995 by Hart and Risley proved just the opposite. This study discovered that a child that does not speak may have a limited vocabulary and low IQ. They also discovered these children that used limited language later had a limited vocabulary, and experienced difficulty reading when they became school aged.

Children that were born into well to do families were most likely to have a vocabulary of 30 million words in three year, while children born in poverty had only experienced 15 million words by age 3. This phenomenon is referred to as the 30 million word gap.

Researchers began by observing 42 families one hour a month for 2 ½ years. Children 0-2 years old were the test subjects. Researcher observed that all families have different amounts of time and experiences when having daily conversations with their children. It was also noted that the children in the study had different experiences that directly affected their usage of language by the time that they were three years of age (Hart and Risley, 1995).

The researchers recorded “everything” that happened within the child’s day. Though there was growth in each child’s language usage during each experiment the growth in language did not continue after the experiment was completed (Hart and Risley).
Parents of children living in poverty had many “inequities in parents’ language input.
A few examples were significantly less talk and gesture, shorter and less complex phrases, less use of open-ended questions and greater use of directives. It was also noted by the researchers there were profound “disparities in early language environments”. The absence of parent speaking to or engaging their children in playful exercises, lead to children showing low development skills in vocabulary, grammar, narrative skills and early literacy skills.” It was noted by researchers that “disparities in language skills are seen from infancy through high school, and the gap widens with age.”

It was learned by researchers that if a child has an begins to hear language—and parents are using direct language—and they continuously engage their child parents are able to modify their child’s ability to be successful academically. Such parents are powerful instruments, and exercise a strong influence on their children’s development through their words. As researchers continue to study child development to find solutions to close the 30 million word gap, it is obvious that one answer is to educate parents of low socioeconomic families to widen their vocabulary. See link for demonstration.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8p9B78CjXk

When I first fell in love with the library

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I first fell in love with the library when I was in the fourth grade.  Before fourth grade I can’t remember ever going to the library at all. My father had always purchased our books from the store.  He would buy us any books that we wanted, usually whatever was part of the selection from the Woolworth’s store or sometimes Sears & Roebuck.  Our grandparents had purchased a set of encyclopedias for us, that we read often because no one had told us that encyclopedias weren’t good reading.  So the first time that I was able to walk to the library on my own with my two younger sisters following behind, I felt so excited.  Maybe it was because I was in love with books or it could have been a feeling of maturity that I was experiencing.  I was now old enough to lead my sisters, on an expedition to the library, on a hot summer’s day, three blocks  away from our home.  The nearness of the library did not matter to me, those three blocks seemed like three miles as far as I was concerned.

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, it was not always recommended that you go outside and play.  Our back yard was full of flowers, big beautiful, red roses that were my mother’s pride and joy.  She forbid us to touch those roses, and she knew that if she allowed us, at least one of us would try to see what the roots of the plant looked like. So we had to play on the front of the house on the side walk.  My father did not have a favorable view of his children running up and down the streets by themselves–so he encouraged us to stay inside of the house–where he knew that we would be safe.  I don’t remember ever being bored at home as children say they are today.  Our house was filled with books. radio, and R & B albums.  We each (4 girls) had our own television to watch and skates, bikes and friends were always welcome to play in our basement.

But now I digress, back to the library and the day that I fell in love with it.  I traveled quickly down the street so it was sometimes hard for my younger sister (she was two years younger than me) to keep up, so I hoisted her onto my back and continued my trek.  My other sister was less than one year younger than me (we were Irish twins) so she did not have any trouble keeping my pace.

When we finally arrived at our destination we both hesitated outside the door.  My sister and I peered in through the glass door.  I didn’t know then that our library was considered small when compared to other libraries.  It was a store front library.   Two large glass windows made up the front of the building.  There were two large rooms with books shelved in every space. Looking back now there couldn’t have been more than a couple thousand books at that library, but to me, it looked enormous.  I took my sister from my back and stood her in front of the door so that she could see inside.  I then took her by the hand, motioned for my other sibling to follow and pushed the heavy glass door open.  A gust of cool air brushed my face as I stepped inside, and I instinctively knew that I would always like a placed filled with books.  Yes I would always love a library.  It has never changed.

 

Radio Piece

Intelligence is not genetically inherited
Part I

 

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There have been many studies conducted by Psychological Associations that questioned the possibility of intelligence being inherited through genetics. So far all that have researched this claim have later been found to be wrong in their findings. It has been proven time and again that environmental factors not genetic factors determine intelligence. Many of the positive are very simplistic, but if a parent/or guardian would take time to engage children the child will have positive results.

Here are a few of the positive factors. Parents should read to child at an early age and reading to children should happen often. Children show developmental advances when parents read to them, it has been proven that a parent’s level of educations does not effect the results in small children. Nationality, ethnicity, financial status, gender, order of birth, parents verbal abilities, or parental warmth had no ruling on the results. All measured the same if parents read to their children.
As Hart and Risley found in their study, http://centerforeducation.rice.edu/slc/LS/30MillionWordGap.html
later confirmed and conducted again by the University of North Carolina’s Abecedarian Project http://abc.fpg.unc.edu/major-findings that speaking to children at an early age, even before the age of 1 year is beneficial to their reading development.
Children should have positive words spoken to them about their intelligence and character. Hart and Risley found that children from professional homes had 560,000 positive words, children from middle class homes had 100,000 more positive words and children from welfare homes received 125,000 negative words than positive words. Once again proving that children are in need of positive words and feedback from caregivers in order to thrive.
There are numerous studies that have the same findings as these. If a child is has a nurturing environment not so much a financially positive, but one with loving caregivers they are more likely to be academically successful. It is environment not genetics that determine intelligence.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/03/the-32-million-word-gap/36856/

Intelligence

Intelligence is not genetically inherited
Part II

 

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Stanford University’s most prestigious psychologist Carol Dweck
conducted studies that prove people are not born with intelligent but it grows as a child’s abilities develop. http://www.mindsetonline.com/abouttheauthor/index.html
If a child believes that his/her abilities can grow, the more successful that person will be when they attempt mastery of different projects.

Intelligence can not be measured by IQ, SAT or other so called intelligence test according to psychologist Robert Sternberg. Dr. Sternberg believed that these test measure achievements not genetic intelligence. http://www.famouspsychologists.org/robert-sternberg/

In 2005 when asked what is intelligence Dr. Sternberg stated, that intelligence is nothing more than a representation of the competences of development. That means that anyone has the potential to be intelligence if they are given the correct tools of development.

So to sum it up intelligence isn’t a thing, it isn’t fixed, or a generalized to certain groups of people. There is a process that human beings must go through to become intelligent.

Measuring intelligence is not like measuring a table, or bed. David Shenk likened it to measuring a 5 year old child’s weight. It will fluctuate from day to day and how much he /she weighs on any given day is up to the child and how much he/she eats that day.

David Shenk’s The Genius in All of Us: Insights Into Genetics, Talent, and IQ.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7012191-the-genius-in-all-of-us

 

George Orwell

Today I am supposed to blog about two George Orwell short stories entitled “Shooting an Elephant” and “A Hanging.”  When reading these stories something stirred in me, but I am not exactly sure what it was.  I am unable to identify it.  Mr. Orwell appears to be extremely self-centered.  He talks about how he hated, being hated yet not once does he mention one kindness that he offered to the people of Burma while he was stationed there.  I puzzled about his intention to the people.  Even though he said that he hated imperialism and was against their oppressors.  He speaks as if he is the victim in the situation and he is the one being oppressed by an empiralist  government.  Its possible that he feels this way because he as been stationed in a place that he hates.  He just doesn’t want to be there. 

Yet I liked reading these short stories because his wring makes me feel that I am right there within the story.  For instance in the hanging, I felt like I was also walking along side the prisoner as he was going to the gallows.  I felt a little cheated that Orwell did not concentrate on telling us about the poor man’s crime.  I wanted to make sure that he was guilty of death and the government was justified putting him to death.  I needed to know that the prisoner had committed a crime, like the murder of an innocent person and deserved what was happening to him.  Knowing this would have satisfied my sense of justice and I would have not felt sorry for this poor native.  

Orwell’s writing is brillant.  He descibes the scenery of his writing in so much detail that I drew a picture in my head of what it must have been like to walk through the soggy streets witht he man due to be executed.  Or to watch the elephant as it swayed back and forth under its massive weight, deciding if it would charge again or lay down and take it fate.  This was such excitement  Orwell is capable of giving a reader what they want. 

Play Can Strengthen A Child’s Academics

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Researchers began to discover since the 1960s that play helps in a child’s development.  Through play children development academically, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.  All of these category of develop are needed in order for children to  Fine motor and gross motor skills are all developed during play  Fine motor skills are dexterity of the hands and fingers.  Fine motor skills develop through exercises like finger painting, coloring and drawing pictures, writing stories.  Playing with dolls and toy soldiers dressing and undressing them will also strengthen fine motor skills.

 Gross motor skills involve the development of muscles in the body.  Children will jump, run, dance, kick a ball, swing on a swing, skating,  physical activities that exercise the larger muscles in the body help children develop gross motor skills.   But how is this closing the 30 million word gap. 

During play children are speaking and communicating with one another this means that cognitive skills are being shaped. The exchange of language is strengthening each child’s vocabulary skills.  They are learning from each other as they play.  To explore the subject of learning through play look to http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=462

Home Environment Matters

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When a child leaves his home for school it matters what type of environment his is leaving whether he will have a productive day.  Children that live in dangerous or stressful environments are more likely not to retain scholastic information during a day at school.  Living in impoverished conditions is one of the major reasons that children are unable to learn.  Children that live in dangerous neighborhoods, the home is a drug environment, the family is constantly moving, and their parents are young, not educated, and/or  unemployed. The presence of any of these factors will cause children to fall behind in their studies or experience failure . 

Sometimes with improvised families these factors can not immediately be changed but there are other home factors that if added to a home’s environment it will help raise a child’s  educational experience.  For instance a family that reads together.  Parents can turn off televisions or retreat to bedrooms and enjoy a book with their children.  Reading to children strengthens their vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.  Trips to libraries, playing in parks (if safe), visiting museums, and listening to music together, are all ways to change a child’s environment from a negative to a positive one.

Children should also have a quiet study space so they can concentrate while doing home.  For example parents could turn off radio and television for an entire hour after dinner and every family member independently read while others do home work.  A parent should never forget that praise and encouragement is always beneficial to a child’s growth and education. http://www.ehow.com/list_6472166_effect-home-environment-learning-html  

Aside

Children want to Read

Early Intervention in Reading Programs Want To Help

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 Another program, The Early Intervention in Reading Program is working with educators, psychologist and researchers to close the 30 million word gap. Developed by Professor B. Taylor at the University of Minnesota the program has been raising the reading level of 1st through 3rd graders for years. 

 Training for teachers to implement this program is very important to its success.  These teachers are taught strategies that have been successful in raising reading levels for children in 1st through 5th grades.  The ratio of student to teacher instruction is 7 to 1. 

 The program is based on books that are read to and by the students.  Oral reading by both student and teachers (auditory learning) is important to the success to the lower grade students.  The books are especially chosen for the enjoyment of the students.  Non fictional stories are chosen that relate to the children’s lives.  Children are prompted to write stories, rhyme, phonetic and sound of letters, as well as identifying letters.  To find out about this and other programs go online to

info@earlyinterventioninreading.com.

Looks like Early Intervention Will Close The Word Gap

Early Intervention in Reading Programs Want To Help

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 Another program, The Early Intervention in Reading Program is working with educators, psychologist and researchers to close the 30 million word gap. Developed by Professor B. Taylor at the University of Minnesota the program has been raising the reading level of 1st through 3rd graders for years. 

 Training for teachers to implement this program is very important to its success.  These teachers are taught strategies that have been successful in raising reading levels for children in 1st through 5th grades.  The ratio of student to teacher instruction is 7 to 1. 

 The program is based on books that are reading to and by the students.  Oral reading by both student and teachers (auditory learning) is important to the success to the lower grade students.  The books are especially chosen for the enjoyment of the students.  Non fictional stories are chosen that relate to the children’s lives.  Children are prompted to write stories, rhyme, phonetic and sound of letters, as well as identifying letters.  To find out about this and other programs go online to

info@earlyinterventioninreading.com.