Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Story Telling: Developing Language and Literacy Skills

Telling a story about telling stories

This is a 6 minute video from PBS demonstrating how story telling facilitates development of oral language and literacy in preschool.

A short excerpt:
APRIL BROWN: This classroom is where Lori Espinoza brings stories to life, as her pre-K students are eager to go along for the ride.
Espinoza teaches at the school’s OWL Lab, the Oral and Written Language Laboratory, which uses storytelling and dramatic play to get kids talking. It builds on research that shows a storytelling curriculum can significantly improve vocabulary and literacy. That’s especially important for students whose families don’t speak language at home, where language skills first develop…
DEBBIE PAZ, Rice University: We know that oral language is the foundation for everything that will happen later on. It’s what they will need for reading and writing later on.
APRIL BROWN: Debbie Paz is the associate director of early literacy and bilingual programs at Houston’s Rice University, which worked with the school to create the OWL Lab five years ago….”

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Still Need to Work on the Achievement Gap

 5 Classroom Strategies

We ignore these ideas at the expense of children who need our ONGOING SUPPORT!

Some short excerpts:
·         “A vocabulary gap between children from professional families and children from families on welfare is a major contributor to the achievement gap
·         In a child's early years, the quality of conversational opportunities is just as important as the quantity of words spoken
·         Teachers can foster better conversations in the classroom to help close the achievement gap and encourage academic success for all students”
Classroom strategies to boost conversation
“How can teachers help close the achievement gap? A careful focus on exposing all students to high-quality conversational give-and-take and varied vocabulary can make a big difference. Teachers of early learners in kindergarten through third grade should consider incorporating the following 5 activities into their daily routines:
1.    Model appropriate conversation, including asking questions and taking turns. Children without much experience in give-and-take discussions at home will need support in engaging in deep conversation….”

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tune In, Talk More, Take Turns: 30 Million Words To Grow On

I encourage/implore you to read about and listen to Dr. Dana Suskind as she talks about the urgency of helping young children learn by talking!  I have recently purchased her 2015 book, Thirty Million Words and will offer future posts on her work and ideas from the book. 

Dr. Suskind’s 50 minute video on 30 Million Words

A few additional resources
Dr. Dana Suskind, a surgeon at the U of Chicago and founder of the Thirty Million Words Initiative, as reported in USA Today/Burlington Free Press on Sunday October 18 2015.
 A short excerpt from the article by Kim Painter.
 “In a new book, Thirty Million Words: Building a child’s Brain, Suskind says she first encountered the apparent effects of the word gap among deaf children she treated with cochlear implants.  In general, she says, those from poorer homes struggled much more to develop language and other skills.
Her hope is that teaching parents and other caregivers to talk more, and talk more effectively, will help all sorts of children reach their potential….”
As a starting point, she recommends three simple guidelines:
“Tune In:  Notice what the child is focused on and talk about that.  Respond when a child communicates –including when a baby cries or coos.
Talk More:  Narrate day to day routines, such as diaper changes and tooth brushing.  Use details “Let Mommy takes off your diaper.  Oh, so wet.”
Take Turns:  Keep the conversation going.  Respond to your child’s sounds, gestures and, eventually, words—and give him or her time to respond to you.  Ask lots of questions that require more than yes or no answers.”

Dr. Suskind’s interview on public radio

Q and A with Dr. Suskind