Discussion of reading instruction — which started with a look at the Core Knowledge Reading Program (CKRP) being piloted in NYC this year — has really taken off, with commenters raising important questions: How does the content in CKRP differ from what's being read now? What about helping children understand syntax? Does vocabulary development in Science differ from other subject areas? While I look into those issues, here's a technique one Queens teacher uses to help her students learn new words. Katie Kurjakovic, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at P.S. 11 in Queens, illustrates the problem with an anecdote: A second-grade teacher was preparing to read a story about George Washington's wife, Martha, to her class. She anticipated all the unfamiliar vocabulary she thought they would encounter. She told them what colonies and colonists were. She spoke of the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. Then, shortly after she began reading, a girl raised her hand with a puzzled look on her face. "What's a wife?" she asked. Kurjakovic uses a six-step process to explicitly teach vocabulary to her English Language Learners. Before reading a text, she identifies and introduces ("previews") new vocabulary for her students, then she reads the text, uses the words in the context of the text and then in a new context, and finally gives her students an opportunity to use the words.
<em>Photo by ##http://flickr.com/photos/wencheung/417851981/##wendelling##</em> Four days into the new school year, I thought I'd check in with the city's teacher-bloggers, who give us a unique look at everyday life in schools. Alicia, a midwesterner new to the city, but not new to teaching, experienced a little culture shock — uniforms, unpronounceable names, mice?! — and reflected on another teacher's advice not to be too nice: I am torn and a little sad at the thought that these students cannot handle me being me as a teacher. They've had strict disciplinarians in the past, and it's probably the best way to ensure for a successful school year. It's just a bit more intense than I had hoped or planned. When would I have ever imagined that being called "nice" would backfire on me?! Hopefully in the next few months I can be nice again, but for now, I'm all business, and I'm going to start making sure that a few particular boys are aware of this... Starting at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow. Jose Vilson also feels like his teaching self is a "persona," but finds that kids react well to his "incredible swagger" and strict expectations for order and productivity. "If I thoroughly believe in that persona, then that’s exactly what I’m going to get … and sometimes to a fault," he says.
Julia Gillard with Australian students Courtesy of ##http://www.theage.com.au/##The Age## It's no secret that Michelle Rhee, down in Washington, D.C., is faithfully replicating New York City's recent school reforms. But it might be more of a surprise that some of Joel Klein's ideas have gained traction with leading education officials in the land down under. After a trip to New York earlier this year, Julia Gillard, the deputy prime minister tasked with carrying out the Australian Labor Party's promised "education revolution," returned home sold on Klein-style school reform. She told the Australian Council for Education Research conference last month: We can learn from Klein's methodology of comparing like-schools with like-schools and then measuring the differences in school results in order to spread best practice. Something Joel Klein is personally and passionately committed to is the identification of school need, the comparison of like-schools and the identification of best practice. Since that speech, when Gillard's ministry proposed ranking Australian schools publicly according to the methodology used to create the controversial report cards released last year for New York's schools, Gillard has sworn to restructure failing schools by removing school heads and firing teachers; proposed financial incentives to attract good teachers to weak schools; and promised more money to low-performing schools, although states that refuse to carry out the national reforms will have their funding withheld. Klein told the Australian, a newspaper, that he's pleasantly surprised by how quickly Gillard adopted his ideas. But school advocates in Australia aren't letting Klein-style reforms be implemented without question.
<em>Screenshot originally posted at the ##http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2008/august20/teachsci-082008.html##Stanford News Service##</em>. <em>Screenshot originally posted at the ##http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2008/august20/teachsci-082008.html##Stanford News Service##</em>. Photosynthesis, glucose, chloroplasts: the language of science…
In response to yesterday's post about the Core Knowledge Reading Program, reader Smith asks, Is he saying their is a core set of content that would prepare a student to understand a randomly selected reading passage on a standardized test? Could someone explain this idea to a non-ELA teacher? I’ve always assumed those reading passages could range from “The Mysteries of Ancient Egpyt” to “Sally’s Bad Day at School” to “Roger’s Time Machine Adventure”. How is content selected? Great question. It's true that the content of test reading passages varies, and I don't think anyone believes that a child can be prepared with content knowledge specific to every possible topic. Rather, some children enter school knowing thousands more words than others, and this difference compounds over years of schooling in a "rich get richer" scenario called the "Matthew Effect" by researchers. (Don't take my word for it: this study, one of many, found that by age 3, children of parents with smaller vocabularies not only knew fewer words, used fewer words per hour, and used a smaller variety of words per hour, "but they were also adding words more slowly.") Hirsch summarized this effect in a 2006 article in American Educator: Many specialists estimate that a child (or an adult) needs to understand a minimum of 90 percent of the words in a passage in order to understand the passage and thus begin to learn the other 10 percent of the words. Moreover, it’s not just the words that the student has to grasp the meaning of—it’s also the kind of reality that the words are referring to.... When a child doesn’t understand those word meanings and those referred-to realities, being good at sounding out words is a dead end. Reading becomes a kind of Catch-22: In order to become better at reading with understanding, you already have to be able to read with understanding.
If a small group of consultants gets its way, Chancellor Klein could make a move from Tweed to City Hall next year when term limits push Mayor Bloomberg out of office. Joel Klein A group of eight political consultants is exploring the prospects for a Klein mayoral bid, reports Elizabeth Green in today's Sun. Although DOE spokesman David Cantor says the chancellor isn't planning to run for mayor, Klein himself hasn't told the group to count him out, Green reports, and the group members have concluded that he would have a good chance of winning should he enter the race, which so far has attracted only candidates that many consider uninspiring. With Mayor Bloomberg's interest in changing the law to allow himself a third term roundly criticized by even his own staffers, a Klein mayoralty could ensure the continuity of the last seven years of Children First school reforms as well as bring the DOE's emphasis on accountability to other city agencies.
A week after Sol Stern argued in City Journal that New York City should create an office of reading improvement and provide low class sizes and scientifically-based reading instruction in high-poverty, low-scoring schools, the DOE announced a new reading initiative: teachers at 10 pilot schools will implement the new Core Knowledge Reading Program (CKRP) in grades K-2. Education historian Diane Ravitch wrote in favor of the program in the Post on Monday, saying it's a smarter choice than the "unproven" Balanced Literacy curriculum that Klein introduced in 2003. "Balanced Literacy doesn't stress content knowledge, vocabulary or phonics. And we now know that it didn't work," she says, citing flat reading scores on the 4th and 8th grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). What will the new reading program look like?
The GothamSchools Time Machine With Chicago schoolchildren in the midst of a three-day school boycott, I thought the GothamSchools time machine might take a jaunt through school boycotts in New York City's history. The biggest boycotts took place in 1964 to protest racial segregation in the city's schools. After school officials produced an integration plan that rejected busing as an option and lacked a timeline for implementation, civil rights leaders called for a one-day school boycott. To organize the protest, black leaders tapped Bayard Rustin, fresh off organizing the March on Washington at which Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" address. On Feb. 3, 1964, 464,362 of the city's 1 million schoolchildren stayed home, making the boycott "the largest civil rights demonstration in U.S. history," Time Magazine reported at the time, noting that black leaders initially considered the protest "a whoopee success" while at the same time the president of the city's Board of Education disparaged it as "a fizzle." A smaller boycott in March, which only some of the first boycott's organizers supported, drew about a quarter of all students in favor of integration. About the same number of students also boycotted the start of school that fall — but they were spearheaded by Parents and Taxpayers, a group that opposed busing and the dissolution of neighborhood schools. Over the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court had released its landmark Brown v. Board of Education opinion, but because New York's schools were segregated because of residential segregation, not an official city policy, the ruling barely registered in the ongoing boycott saga. Ultimately, not even the city's limited integration plan ever went into effect. The 1964 school boycotts were certainly the largest, but they weren't the first, the last, or the most effective.