- Teaching Foundational Reading Skills
“Knowledge of how students with ID take in, interpret,store and retrieve information is crucial for teacherswhen planning literacy assessments and instruction.” Check out our article on Teaching Foundational Reading Skills to Students With Intellectual Disabilities, recently published in TEACHING Exceptional Children.
- Why we should teach handwriting
I was excited to read this article today about the return of cursive writing instruction in my home state of Connecticut. I’ve been lamenting the disappearance of cursive, and in some cases, handwriting in any form, as keyboarding has become the method of choice for written expression. For children with disabilities, the switch from writing to keyboarding seems to happen at younger and younger ages. So, as Diana Hanbury King wrote, why bother with cursive? As it turns out, there is a growing body of evidence that handwriting –print or cursive–facilitates readingContinue reading “Why we should teach handwriting”
- Great article on how oral language influences reading development
Timothy Shanahan and Christopher Lonigan explore the connection between early oral language development and later reading comprehension success Supporting young children’s language and literacy development has long been considered a practice that yields strong readers and writers later in life. The results of the National Early Literacy Panel’s (NELP) six years of scientific research synthesis … Source: The Role of Early Oral Language in Literacy Development
- Tim Shanahan on Putting One’s Underwear on First
This is a great blog post by Tim Shanahan on the role of a research-based Scope and Sequence in teaching phonics. We know from research that children with Down syndrome benefit from structured, systematic approaches to teaching in general. I have found this to be particularly true when it comes to reading instruction.
- /twərk/ is an r-controlled syllable
Learning to read is hard work and for many kids, slow going. Knowing this, I always ask new students, “Why do you want to learn to read?” The answers are often poignant (“I want to read the birthday cards from my grandma”), sometimes practical (“I want to be able to tell the difference between the shampoo bottle and the conditioner”) or surprising (“I want to read the subtitles of a foreign movie”). For teens, the answers almost always do NOT match their parents’ ideas of why reading is important. Some ofContinue reading “/twərk/ is an r-controlled syllable”
- I’ve got reading on the brain
I took a seminar once called “The Reading Brain.” It was a required part of my Orton Gillingham training. I remember being a bit concerned when the instructor handed out a two-page “Brain Word Bank” and I didn’t recognize 90% of the terms, but I was reassured when the first activity was coloring in different areas of the brain with florescent markers. While initially intimidating, neuroscience soon captivated me. I was fascinated to discover the individual “jobs” of various brain parts, and how the parts work together to accomplish the complex taskContinue reading “I’ve got reading on the brain”
- Is my child reading on grade level?
We often discuss reading achievement in terms of grade level, but we rarely acknowledge how imprecise the term “grade level” is. What exactly does it mean? How are “grade level” skills determined? In fact, there are no universally accepted criteria for establishing grade level reading skills and there are at least two good reasons to avoid using grade level to measure reading achievement. First, schools differ in their approach to reading instruction as well as the timetable by which children are expected to master certain skills. A kindergarten-level skill in one state mightContinue reading “Is my child reading on grade level?”
- As fast as you can, as slow as you must
Parents often ask me, “How long will it take my child to learn to read?” I wish I had a nice, neat answer to that question, but the truth is, I don’t know. Children learn at different rates, and my experience in teaching reading to children with Down syndrome is that concepts are often acquired at an uneven pace. You may work on blending a consonant and short vowel sound together for months (until even the most optimistic person begins to wonder, “Is this ever going to happen?”) and then one day,Continue reading “As fast as you can, as slow as you must”
- Summertime reading
Two years ago, Penelope came to our first assessment clinic for a Pre-K literacy screening. Here she is today, enjoying that popular activity: Reading Yourself to Sleep. One of the many little joys in a reader’s life.
- Reading Aloud to Children From Birth
via Pediatrics Group to Recommend Reading Aloud to Children From Birth – NYTimes.com. Photo: Dr. Leora Mogilner, a pediatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital, gave a book to Kaylee Smith, 9 months, and guidance to her mother, Tameka Griffiths, 33. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
- Big batch of books!
This week, we will be sending out more than 75 donated books to families all over the world as part of Gabriella’s Birthday Book Giveaway! Thank you to all the people who donated books and a big thank you to R. J. Julia Booksellers for all your help (and the discount!). Most of all, thank you Gabriella for choosing to celebrate your birthday by sharing your love of reading with so many children and families.
- Celebrate reading!
Recently, we received an email from Gabriella, whose 16th birthday is coming up in May. In celebration of this happy occasion, Gabriella wanted to share something with others that brought her joy. Since reading is an important part of Gabriella’s life (and coincidentally, her birthday falls during Get Caught Reading Month), she chose to promote early literacy by donating read-aloud books to families of young children. We are beyond excited that Gabriella selected Open Books Open Doors to distribute these books. Below, Gabriella shares a bit about her love of reading: OneContinue reading “Celebrate reading!”
- Happy World Down Syndrome Day!
Celebrate the day by sharing a book with someone you love!
- Picture of the week
From Mallury Pollard’s blog, where he writes: ” I promise she did not pose like that for the camera. ‘Horton Hatches the Egg’ really is that surprising!”
- Techno Bytes!
One of the things I love to do is travel around the U.S. and see what other teachers are up to. I love to share ideas, grapple with challenges, and stretch my thinking. Sometimes, I am lucky enough to land in a place that so buzzes with positive energy, I leave inspired and rejuvenated. This was the case recently, when I visited RSU 21 in Maine. I was invited to do a workshop on literacy for students with significant disabilities, and one of the first things I noticed was that my audienceContinue reading “Techno Bytes!”
- And the survey says…..
Thanks to all of you who wrote in to ask about the results of the survey I recently conducted on the literacy experiences of children with Down syndrome. I am still combing through the volumes of data but want to share some of the preliminary results. The response to the survey was phenomenal–we heard from more than 700 families from all over the world. Hundreds of you took the time to write in detail about your child’s experiences and I spent many summer afternoons reading your stories and feeling that the world is a very smallContinue reading “And the survey says…..”
- Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day!
In celebration of World Down Syndrome Day, I’d like to share a link to the National Down Syndrome Society “My Great Story” campaign. While you’re there, check out Elmo Care!
- Shanahan on Literacy: Too Fluent by Half
To kick off a series of posts on building reading comprehension, here is a link to Timonthy Shanahan’s blog where he describes a great strategy called “intensive questioning”: Shanahan on Literacy: Too Fluent by Half.
- Love this article by Beverly Beckham
Although it doesn’t pertain to reading, I can’t resist sharing this story from Beverly Beckham about her grand-daughter, Lucy: Pictures can’t capture what love sees – South – The Boston Globe.
- Pre-schoolers with iPads
I want to share a link to a great post about a pre-schooler learning letter identification from iPad apps. His mother writes that he has not been taught letter names or sounds at home or pre-school so it looks as if he may have learned them from “playing” with the iPad. Check it out:Techno Kid | Life As I Know It. Below is a video from the post:
- and even MORE free literacy stuff!
A reader just wrote in to remind me of the extensive selection of high quality FREE resources for teachers, parents and administrators available from the Florida Center for Reading Research. Teachers can check out the Student Center Activities for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. In addition to free, printable materials there is also a search tool that allows you to match instructional routines to activities by grade level. For parents, there is a grade-by-grade guide for supporting your child’s literacy development at home. The section for administrators includes an excellent Principal Walkthrough Checklist to make the most of classroom visits to evaluateContinue reading “and even MORE free literacy stuff!”
- More FREE Literacy stuff!
The Get Ready to Read! website is a treasure trove of free literacy resources. Designed to support both educators and parents, the site provides online games, activities, webinars, tool-kits, checklists, and more to support literacy development for preschool and kindergarten children. I especially love the Activity Cards , which are divided into levels so you can match activities to the needs of individual children. There are also Group Activity Cards for educators to use in the classroom. A drop down menu on the side of each page provides access to information in Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Arabic. The easy-to-navigate,Continue reading “More FREE Literacy stuff!”
- Learning the Aleph-bet
This past Saturday, I attended my first B’nai Mitzvah ceremony. I was not very knowledgeable about this Jewish tradition, so I checked with a friend beforehand for advice to be sure I wouldn’t commit a terrible faux pas at this important event. She kindly sent me a task analysis on How to Behave at a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony, and I was very grateful for that because there was a lot to know. I learned that when a boy reaches the age of thirteen, he becomes a Bar Mitzvah—and accepts responsibility for himself,Continue reading “Learning the Aleph-bet”
- Guest post: Back to school tips from Sheryl Knapp!
Many parents have written in to ask how they can support their child’s literacy development at home, particularly in the area of reading comprehension and vocabulary development. I turned to Connecticut reading expert, Sheryl Knapp, who graciously agreed to write a guest post on this topic. To read more about Sheryl’s work, check out her website at Literacy Best Practices. 5 Ways to Support Your Child’s Literacy Development at Home by Sheryl Knapp, M.Ed., A/AOGPE It’s the end of summer recess and with the new school year comes new teachers, a new curriculumContinue reading “Guest post: Back to school tips from Sheryl Knapp!”
- Big benefits from shared reading
One of the most effective ways to jump-start early literacy development is to read to children early (beginning by about 9 months) and often (at least 3 times a week). For toddlers and older children, interactive or shared reading is more effective at building language and literacy skills than simply reading aloud. There are many ways to make reading more interactive but one method in particular–Dialogic Reading—has been shown to have significant positive effects on oral language development. Pioneered by Dr. Grover Whitehurst and based on extensive research, Dialogic Reading involves repeatedContinue reading “Big benefits from shared reading”
- Long shots
Last weekend, I was tutoring a 21-year-old young woman with Down syndrome (I’ll call her Hannah) who had gone through her entire public school career without learning to read. Hannah is an engaging, bright and social person who is living a full life. She likes to dance (Hip Hop), she’s active in sports, and she definitely knows how to rock a party dress. How, I wondered, is it possible that this capable young woman received 18 years of “special education and related services” and never learned to read? When I met HannahContinue reading “Long shots”
- Great story from The Boston Globe
Beverly Beckham: Who wouldn’t want this child? ~The Boston Globe Nine years after her granddaughter Lucy was born, Globe columnist Beverly Beckham reflects on what was the best of times and the worst of times.
- Free literacy stuff!
One of my favorite sites for free literacy resources is Ed Pubs, the U.S. Department of Education online catalog of FREE publications. They have everything from research briefs to toolkits to DVDs–even bookmarks! Topics include literacy, technology, academic achievement, assessment and behavior, to name just a few. The searchable database is easy to navigate. And, did I say everything is free? Delivered right to your door. Check out their postcards–colorful, durable cards with synopses of research on reading comprehension, response to intervention and preventing problem behavior. Here are a few other sites that offer free stuff: PBS Kids–FreeContinue reading “Free literacy stuff!”
- Would you mind going over that phonemic awareness thing again?
For the past few days, I have been trying to write a short, simple post on phonemic awareness. I start out fine, but by the third paragraph I am mired in the tongue-twisting vocabulary needed to describe this important area of literacy development, and I give up. Today, I had the great idea to find someone else’s blog explaining phonemic awareness so I could finally take advantage of that nifty “Press This” button on my blog (probably created for just this sort of situation). But that didn’t work out, so here is my not-quite-short-nor-simpleContinue reading “Would you mind going over that phonemic awareness thing again?”