The Earlier the Intervention the Better

Early Reading First Project (ERF)

 The Early Reading First Project in Kansas City, Kansas has worked to reach two goals since its conception.  First goal is to take preschool aged children and sharpen their language and vocabulary skills.  The second goal is improving literary skills of children with the potential to have academic challenges when they begin school.  After participating in this program toddlers use more words and understand their meanings.  They also should have developed early reading skills, clear comprehension and recall skills.  These children have more reading success than children that are taught in traditional school settings.

 Other program goals are to teach parents and caregivers how to support children academically, emotionally and model linguistics.  The Programs provides screenings and early monitoring for early detection of children showing possible need for challenging reading impairments.  Those implementing the program are to use materials and literacy activates that have been found by researches to provide positive improvements for children in ERF.  For more information about ERF connect online to http://erf.ku.edu/

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Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

 

Dear Editors,

Now we know that the English language is made up of approximately 50,000 words.  Yet according to researchers Hart and Risley by the age of three children living in impoverished homes have head 30 million less words than children living in wealthy or professional homes.  Researcher named this phenomenon the 30 million word gap.

This research proved that children living in poverty here in America were experiencing such a deficit in their vocabulary, it would affect continue to cause them academic failure.  Many times these students would drop out of high school before completion due to their inability to catch up scholastically with their peers.

It has taken some years for American school systems to address this issue.  Yet educators, psychologist and researchers are trying to close this gap.  They are doing so by working to enrich the vocabulary of children and their parents living in poverty through educational programs, and special research projects.

I commended these men and women that desire to see every child properly educated.  As a nation, as a state and as a city we must attempt to educate our children no matter their economic status.  Let us not continue to create another generation of uneducated children.

Libraries are Magical

When I Fell in Love with the Library Part II

After my first visit to the library our father allowed us to return there once a week. I don’t remember which day of the week we went there. The library was not open every day but three days a week and one of the days was Saturday. So it may have been Saturdays when we went, all I can remember is that once a week I woke up very excited because around 10:00am my sisters and I were going to walk those three blocks and spend a couple of hours at the library.
My sister directly under me, (my Irish twin) and I found that we loved the same kind of books. We became classical book fans. We read, Charles Dickens; David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Mark Twain’s; Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn (my father did not approve of that title), and Puddin’ Head Wilson (Mark Twain wrote this one as Samuel Clemons), just to name a few, there were so many others. Out librarian was a pretty, kindly lady that was always happy to see us enter the building. She would meet us at the door, with books that she was saving for us to read. I never remember her charging us a late fee, even though I know that we were late with books many times, because we would read the same titles over and over again until we could recite them from memory.
Now that I think back our library was somewhat small, as I said two rooms with books ever where that a book would fit. Being about nine years old the place looked enormous to me and I was determined to read as many titles that I could read.
So here I am having a love affair with books and the Brainerd Library on 89th and Loomis. One day something happened that affected me for years to come. I arrived and the librarian was very excited. She took me by the hand and ran me to a section of the library where there were new (used) books stacked on the shelves. On the rib of the book it read in gold letters Ramona and Beezus. She explained to me in a hurried voice that these were some of the best books for children ever created. She said that the author really knew how to relate to children and the books were very popular. She said that she had been waiting for me to give me two books to read, they were Ramona and Beezus and Henry Huggins and Ribsy. She said that after I read those two I would be introduced to all the characters and she would give me more books to read. She told me that the characters were unique children that always had adventures. I took the books home and I was spellbound by the books. I must have read every title that was available and there were a lot of them. These wonderful books took me on a journey that lasted for years to come. If I remember correctly it took me at least a year or two to read all of the titles.
I still love libraries to this day. I love to walk amongst the stacks and touch every book that I walk by, fingering the bridges of the books and peeking inside to read random pages. Just to get a taste of the book that I plan to devour later. Good stuff.

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Read to your child everyday

When was the last time that you read to your child?

 A PRNewswire dated April 11, 2013 asked the question of parents, did you read to your child last week?  A online survey done by Harris Interactive, commissioned by MeeGenius an online library for children, addressed this question to parents of children 5 years or younger.  The survey followed the 20 years since Hart and Risley thirty million word gap study, found that child whose parents read to them were successful academically and had a much wider vocabulary then children who parents did not read to them. 

 The MeeGenius library is available to all with iPads, iPhones and iPod touch, Android tablets and phones and the web.  That gives exposure to MeeGenius to almost every home in American, even poor families.  Teachers are being given access to MeeGenius also for use in classrooms.  To test how MeeGenius is used in classrooms visit www.youtube.com/meegenius   

 The survey found that 4 out of 5 children, 5 years old or younger had been read a story by their parents within the last week.  The survey was conducted online in the United States from April 1-3, 2013.  Harrison surveyed 2,120 adults between the ages of 18 and older, 372 of those parents had children 12 or younger and 202 had children 5 or younger.  For complete methodology email, contactnick@meegenius.com

 

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Dictation and Nonfiction

Why Story Dictation is Useful as Nonfiction

 

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Reading nonfiction books is important to developement

Story Dictation is a strong way of closing the word gap.  It has been discovered that it is important that children create and have read to them non-fictional stories as well.  Reading nonfictional stories strengthens their exposure to historical events, bibliography, creating projects, and inference (what happens next).  Children that are exposed to nonfictional reading will also become good thinkers.  They can later join think tanks and exam the world around, becoming involved in solutions to problems. 

Children that using nonfiction when story telling children are asked to tell a real life story or a story that could really happen.  They may talk about riding their new bikes, the birth of a new sibling, how they feel about their parents, how the family expresses love, watching a playground being built in their community or there are any number of topics.

Why Story Dictation is useful as Nonfiction

Story Dictation is a strong way of closing the word gap. It has been discovered that it is important that children create and have read to them non-fictional stories as well. Reading nonfictional stories strengthens their exposure to historical events, bibliography, creating projects, and inference (what happens next). Children that are exposed to nonfictional reading will also become good thinkers. They can later join think tanks and exam the world around, becoming involved in solutions to problems.
Children that use nonfiction when story telling are asked to tell a real life story or a story that could really happen. They may talk about riding their new bikes, the birth of a new sibling, how they feel about their parents, how the family expresses love, watching a playground being built in their community or there are any number of topics.

Closing the 30 million word gap

Children that Create Stories Learn New Words                                      

 

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It is essential that Parents read to their children when they young

A vocabulary gap begins early in a child’s life that has fewer words spoken to him/her in conversation.  By the age of three some children have already fallen behind others as far back as 30 million words by age 3. These children are exposed to less words, when they begin school immediately have difficulty with reading comprehension and if their vocabulary is not strengthen will continue to fall further behind others in their academic achievements.

 It is important that parents, caregivers and educators work together to create chances for these children to learn new words with the knowledge of how to use these words in their everyday language.  One of the simplest ways this can be done is to help children create stories or story dictation.  Using this method, researchers are able to introduce new language to preschoolers and eventually shorten or even close the word gap. 

 Story dictation means a child works one-to-one with an adult.  As the child tells the story the adult writes the story, new words are being introduced, and the children must use the new word in its proper context.  After the introduction of the new word the child is encouraged to use the new word more than once while creating their new story.  As the teacher uses the new words in his/her speech, the children will begin to use the new language as they become familiar with its use and its meaning.  As the new words are being used repeatedly in different sentences the children begin to have a profound understanding of the word and ways to use it in the context of their language. As the children become comfortable with the words new words can be introduced and vocabulary is broadened without a strain on the child’s learning because he/she is doing it while telling a story.  This method is nonintrusive and many times comfortable to a young child as he creates a story for others to hear that expresses his understanding of the world around him.

 Teaching new words one-to-one using story dictation is effective in many ways.  One way is that the children after hearing the words used in their read aloud stories; teachers can then ask the children questions about the words as he/she uses the words while telling their own story.  Teachers will able to identify and understand how much a child really knows about the word when using it in the story and can determine if more definition is needed.  Children are know to repeat words that are new or unfamiliar.  Children should be asked to repeat a word that they are struggling to learn out loud.  This helps the children to place the sound of the word in their memory.  Adults can also model the word’s usage and sound for the child.  Whenever the child uses the word the adult should praise the child, encourage repetition anytime that the child uses the new word, and continue to introduce new words whenever possible.

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Learning to write

Developing Your Writing Style II

woman-thinkingWhy would writers use language difficult for readers to understand in an attempt to sound clever? These men and women desire that the reader, after finishing their writing, will leave with the feeling that they (the writer) has shared some type of deep message that no one else could have written. That is usually not true. Instead the writer has attempted to hide the fact that he/she doesn’t really know much about their subject. So they try to hide this fact from their reader by using a lot of abstract words, in long complicated sentences. If the reader is unable to deciefer the writer’s message it appears the reader is unintelligent.

Writing complicated sentences just for the sake of writing them is not a good practice. Joseph Williams and Joseph Bizup addressed this issue in their book Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. Williams and Bizup thought there were several reasons that writers would express themselves in that way. The writer may be afraid of making errors, so he/she does not see writing as a way of sharing ideas with their readers. These writers fear each word as a chance to make a mistake instead of focusing on giving their readers a pleasant experience.

Williams and Bizup said another reason could be that when writing an author knows what they want to say so the writing seems to be exactly what they want to say. These type of writers feel that there message is clear to others because they know what they are trying to say. So as soon as the writings read as the author desires it to read they see it as complete. These writers never read their writings from the vantage point of the reader. These writers are sometimes selfish and only care about their own perception of their writings.

For whatever reason a writer would use abstract words and long sentences, it does not usually profit their readers. This type of writing should be used only in instances when they are expressing ideas to a specific group of learned scholars that share knowledge of the topic.

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Train Your Child’s Mind to Think

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 positive environmental factors not genetic factors determine intelligence. Many of the positive factors are very simple, but if a parent/or guardian would take time to engage children the child will have great success.

 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 effect on the results when measuring intelligence.  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/