You are here

Articles: Language Arts

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.

I have been drawn to the power of satire and parody throughout my life and career, and learned early on that humor can make points more forcefully than other kinds of expression. As a child, I studied how the Jewish comics in New York used humor to emerge from poverty, and later followed black and Hispanic performers who carried on those traditions to triumph over prejudice and injustice.

Whatever approach is used, writing that upholds the standards of Common Core is demanding, acknowledges Gretchen Schultz, principal assessment editor for ELA at CTB/McGraw-Hill and a content specialist in developing ELA assessments.

In the YouTube video, “Keeping Up With the Common Core: the Latest from the Field,” Schultz spells out how teachers must shift their focus to meet the requirements of the Common Core.

Back in 2010, then-elementary school Principal Catherine White focused on writing in the Attleboro (Mass.) Public Schools. And with that, the school’s fourth graders beat the state average for long composition on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (2011). Foreign language enrollments in K-12 Public Schools: Are Students Prepared for a Global Society? www.actfl.org/files/ReportSummary2011.pdf

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (2012). The Role of Technology in Language Learning. http://www.actfl.org/news/position-statements/role-technology-language-learning

According to an American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) survey, in 2007-2008:
18% of U.S. public school students were enrolled in foreign language courses
40% of those enrolled in a foreign language were in California, Texas, New York, Florida, or Pennsylvania
17 states, half of them in the northeast, reported a decrease in the number of students enrolled in a foreign language

While education research has long suggested that studying second languages in K12 schools boosts student achievement in other content areas, the current testing emphases on mathematics and reading has placed foreign language instruction relatively low on district priority lists. However, a growing body of research indicates that second-language learning should be bumped up significantly, as demonstrated particularly in the following areas.

Mary Beckman, a now-retired special education teacher in the Elk River (Minn.) School District, says that new discoveries in neuroscience, and the face-to-face and online approaches they have helped create, aren’t the only way to influence the developing brains of young students.

Beckman argues that there’s a longstanding approach that does its part to develop the brain—handwriting. Eight years ago, that belief led Beckman to co-develop the ez Write Handwriting Program and start her own consulting company.

With a vast number of new software and Web-based reading programs on the market, students of all ages and abilities can target specific reading skills, such as comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness and vocabulary. In addition, access has changed greatly over the last couple of years. Students no longer need to be in a computer lab to use Web-based programs; they can use laptops or tablets as part of a one-to-one computing program or their own devices if their school has a bring-your-own-device policy.

According to new research from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), U.S. schools will need broadband speeds of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students by the 2014-2015 school year to meet increasing demand for Web-based lessons and the growing number of mobile devices used in the classroom. –Source: SETDA (2012)

 

Springfield (Pa.) Literacy Center, sustainable schools

Imagine a school with classrooms on only one side of the building, windows that look out onto picturesque landscape, a path outside that features the ABCs, and a forest area with a tree house where a classroom of kids can read. The Springfield Literacy Center is that place, and 600 kindergartners and first-graders in the Springfield (Pa.) School District gather for school there every day.

“Ninety-one percent of teachers reported having access to computers in their classrooms, but only 22 percent said they have the right level of technology.” – Source: PBS Learning Media (2012)

 

For the people of Hillsborough County in Florida, an effort to make digital books available to all children was a true community partnership focused on improving literacy rates across the county.

When Connie Dopierala was hired as the media services administrator for the Charleston County (S.C.) School District, one of her tasks was to update the district’s library books. “I was shocked by how dated some of the books were,” she says. “One school had a biography on Nelson Mandela that was written while he was still in prison.”

Pages