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Articles: Language Arts

Professor Tim Shanahan, director of the University of Illinois’ Center for Literacy, is keynote speaker at the IRA conference in May.

Take it from one expert: Implementing Common Core literacy standards will be “hell” if district administrators can’t answer questions from educators, parents and policymakers about how the new standards will help students learn.

Online literacy programs are made more engaging by interactive activities and can personalize learning by tailoring reading assignments to students’ interests. Here are some programs to help struggling readers reach grade level:

In "Reading in the Wild," author and reading expert Donalyn Miller focuses on how to instill lifelong reading habits in students.

Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits

Jossey-Bass

In this follow-up to her best-selling book “The Book Whisperer,” author and reading expert Donalyn Miller focuses on how to instill lifelong reading habits in students. Based in part on survey responses from adult and student readers, this book offers strategies on how to develop and encourage the key habits that lead to a lifelong love of reading. Also included are lesson plans and recommended book lists for students.

Lindsey Hill, a two-time teacher of the year honoree is the lead for reading engagement innovation at Evanced Games.

Do we know why third graders in America are not reading at grade level? More than 50 percent of children in affluent homes and 80 percent of children growing up in less affluent homes are not reading proficiently. Reading drops off significantly after age nine. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent focusing on the act of reading, but little progress is being made when it comes to identifying the root of the problem.

The results of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were “encouraging but modest,” according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Eighth graders made small gains in reading and mathematics, while fourth graders improved slightly in math but not reading.

Opponents of the Common Core State Standards say they have a variety of concerns about the effects the standards will have on school districts’ curriculum.

Math standards under Common Core will push the teaching of algebra back a year, from eighth to ninth grade, in many districts, say Lindsey Burke, educational policy fellow at the Heritage Foundation and Jim Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute. Both also insist that the teaching of literature will take a backseat as emphasis shifts to informational texts.

Amplify's Lexica sends students into a virtual library that has a collection of classic literature.

The most cognitively challenging and intellectually stimulating video games are more immersive and can take several hours to play, says Justin Leites, vice president for games at Amplify. That’s why the company, which is developing 30 such educational video games for the 2014-2015 school year, wants to take advantage of students’ time outside the classroom, Leites says.

“There’s a huge amount of research, some recent, some going back decades, showing that what kids do outside the classroom is hugely important to their success,” he says.

The Common Core State Standards are no longer coming—they are already here.

“The Heart of Matter," by Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, says competing nations are focusing on humanities.

Reduced emphasis on the humanities in school could threaten the nation’s ability to innovate and compete internationally, and leave students less prepared to participate in the democratic political process, according to a new report by the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Two kindergarten classes are speaking Spanish throughout most of their days in a successful opt-in, dual-language program in the Tigard-Tualatin (Ore.) School District.

Joseph Lopez, El Paso ISD’s associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, talks with the district’s Texas Literacy Initiative administrators. The program has been implemented in 39 of El Paso’s 94 schools to promote better reading and writing skills.

With more than 30 years of education experience, Joseph Lopez brought grant money and state funding to help grow student achievement.

Students in the Allegheny Valley (Pa.) School District use robotics kits to build moving dioramas that integrate poetry and engineering. Robotics and poetry aren’t an ordinary combination.

Chinese teacher Dun Zhang presents a lesson to three different Dublin City, Ohio high schools at once via interactive video conference.

At Dublin (Ohio) City Schools, Chinese teacher Dun Zhang teaches class in three different high school buildings—at the same time. With a shrinking budget and a desire to keep the foreign language program, the district moved to a blended model this year, with a combination of in-person, online, and video conference classes, to save money while reaching as many students as possible.

Starting this April, 1,500 eighth graders across nine middle schools in the Ouachita Parish School System in Monroe, La., will learn the keys of character building and life skills through a new pilot program based on a fantasy fiction novel.

In 2014, elementary students in 45 states must know how to type on a computer when the new Common Core State Standards are implemented, but some states are holding on to an old, basic skill—the art of cursive handwriting.

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