By KRN Admin | Categories Educators | July 25, 2017

Motivating students is complicated. School staff knows what is required of the students by the state. The challenge has been to find a way to get the class to not only see that goal but to instill a desire to achieve it.

A healthy debate has existed for years whether or not rewarding student achievement is the right mechanism for this task. This means of motivation does work (as shown in a study by Robert Fryer, Jr.), but it is important that faculty use it properly.

Not all positive reinforcement is beneficial to students. Reinforcement generally falls into two categories: planned and unplanned. Planned motivation–offering a reward for performing certain tasks–can help students develop good habits over the years. It is the unplanned motivation, bribing a student to get them to perform, that ultimately harms students in the long run. There are distinct differences between the two.

This trail of breadcrumbs, filled with more books, more experiences, and more education about the joy of learning, can turn students focused on trudging from test to test to ones that understand the journey. Bribing students to prevent bad behaviors teaches them the wrong lesson. It shows them that they can get an advantage by using the right leverage, not by working for it.  A system of planned rewards makes the complication of motivating students into a learning mindset easier to do.


By KRN Admin | Categories Challenges | Educators | July 17, 2017

In the middle of the summer, it can be difficult to keep children motivated to read. There are pools to play in, friends running up and down the street, and for many, little desire to be reading anything.

School is not for another month, and there is not a scrap of homework in sight. They have a small stack of colorful and exciting books to read, and even more of them will be coming as they finish each one. Without the motivation of assignments or encouragement of teachers, reading over the summer could fall the wayside.

There are multiple ways to keep students motivated to read over the summer. These tips are just as valuable during the school year as well, encouraging students to read for pleasure as well as for homework and information.

 

Summer reading does more than preventing the summer slide. It is an opportunity to build their love of reading outside an environment where reading is required. Maintaining the momentum of reading through the summer will help students find an appreciation for reading they may not discover elsewhere.

 


By KRN Admin | Categories Parents | April 24, 2017

W.H. Auden said, “A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.”

For children, this love of language translates to an accessible introduction to literacy through poetry and a broader education on its beauty and intricacies.

Introduced early and often during a child’s journey with literacy, poetry can mean the difference between just knowing words and leveraging every aspect the word’s power.

Poetry raises a child’s awareness of words

 

In poetry, every word choice matters.

Whether it’s for the purpose of rhyming, alliteration, metaphor or a perfect way to describe something, word choice means more in the context of poetry. Every decision has a particular reason behind it. Every word fits, and it fits for a reason.

A child may not fully understand why the particular choice to use “go” instead of “walk” in “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” As she hears the poem over and over, she can soon understand that the poem is more pleasant because of that choice. Eventually, she will figure out why that decision happened and gain a greater understanding of word choice through that process.

Poetry grows a child’s vocabulary

 

Poetry exposes children to new words. On the quest to capture their meaning perfectly, a poet will travel highways of synonyms to find the perfect choice.

Think back to the first time you used a thesaurus or rhyming dictionary. For many, it was while writing a poetry assignment in school. The hunt for the perfect word choice can introduce young poets to a multitude of new words, with slightly different meanings to achieve the exact feeling the young poet hopes to make. If a child isn’t writing poetry and is just on the receiving end of a well-crafted masterpiece, they benefit from the exposure to new words and an expanded vocabulary.

Poetry designed for children is often rhythmical and rhyming. It makes it easier for children to memorize and figure out the meaning of new words.

Poetry makes children better learners

 

The musical structure of poetry makes memorization and recitation easier as well. Poetry improves children’s literacy by linking memory with audio and visual cues that help children recognize patterns, make logical next-step conclusions and give young students an advantage when learning anything from new languages to math.

Poems and rhymes also can be leveraged to help teach children rules, lessons and easy tricks for working through complicated problems. Some examples are how many days in the months, how long to brush your teeth, what to do when you are angry, and when to eat.  

The rhythms are light, and the rhyming is fun,

But the work of a poem is never done.

Poetry is often incorporated early on and often in younger grades and for a good reason. The benefits of teaching poetry can set children up for a successful path to a better understanding of literacy and learning. Kids Read Now has witnessed the benefits of how poetry improves children’s literacy. That is why we offer some books of poetry on our Wish List every year! Poems can give children the tools they need to make the complicated simple and make learning fun!

 


By KRN Admin | Categories Educators | Parents | April 10, 2017

As an adult, when you hear about fables, you very often can point to a clear lesson you once learned from one. You may even find yourself repeating the lesson–or moral–like a mantra to yourself as you go about your day.

Slow and steady wins the race.

One good turn deserves another.

Birds of a feather flock together.

It’s not surprising that the lessons we receive from reading fables stay with us. Aesop’s fables have been passed down since well before the 1600s when they became widely distributed in print after the invention of the printing press. Before that, they were part of a rich tradition of oral storytelling. They were spoken from one generation to another, dating back to ancient Greece sometime between 620 and 560 B.C. Aesop, a slave and a storyteller, was credited with some the fables that stay with us culturally even today.

Not all fables we know and retell today were told initially by Aesop himself. That’s the beauty of the fable. They take a lot of twists and turns along the way as they are passed down, becoming more relatable. The stories change along the way but gaining power as they evolve.

If the presence of the lessons from fables likely to be sticking out to you right now as a reminder of your relationship with fables isn’t enough to convince you that these simple, yet often repeated stories have a profound staying power, you can also turn to the numbers as proof.

Aesop’s fables have been in circulation–orally included–for more more than 2,000 years. A search for Aesop’s Fables on Amazon.com still yields more than 7,400 results.

Fables have always held a special place in the young reader’s journey, though that is not how they initially began. Fables originally formed to begin discussions about philosophy or politics. Around the time of the Renaissance, they helped children make sense of the world around them, particularly what they are learning about morality and values. The tales emerged at a time in their lives when the decisions about what choices are right and wrong are often not yet as clear.   

Fables exist to help to make murky choices seem straightforward and clear, especially for young readers. Complex issues are translated into relatable and friendly terms.

What can we learn about morality from intriguing stories about lions, rabbits, mice or tortoises, for example, that may get lost from a seemingly boring lecture or lesson on morality from one’s elders?

It turns out a lot.  

Beyond the simplified lesson on morality that children can easily decipher for themselves from a fable, they are also learning a variety of other lessons and skills just from consuming the story. They may have been told the story orally, shown visually or read for themselves.

Because they are so simple, fables can be morphed or changed slightly to fit the audience. They can be told aloud, acted out or presented on paper, making them easily to deliver to a variety of audiences with different learning styles.

The stories themselves, also can be changed, making them more relatable by substituting different characters, settings or plot points, while keeping the base moral the same, so the lessons are absorbed more quickly.

The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages is preserved into perpetuity by a nation’s proverbs, fables, folk sayings and quotations. -William Feather

Through reading, hearing or watching them, children gain a sense of understanding about the world around them. They become more aware of human nature and feelings. They see the process that goes into decision making and the consequences that come as results of those decisions.  

Meanwhile, children also become better storytellers themselves, preparing themselves to become better readers of more complex stories. Stories turn them into better writers themselves because they’ve learned the basics of storytelling from the most basic of stories. They can begin to understand the basics of plot, an appreciation for character development and a greater proficiency in wrapping it all up with a clear conclusion that makes the audience think.  

Reading fables has quite a bit more to teach us than a quick lesson about how to outsmart a fox. These endearing stories have taught us a lot in the thousands of years they’ve been a part of our cultural traditions. We continue to learn more the longer we study them. But their presence begs the question: what else do they have to teach us in the millennia to come? Perhaps it is best not to judge them on moral alone.

Not everything you see is what it appears to be.


By KRN Admin | Categories Educators | Parents | March 27, 2017

For young readers, even those not yet reading, the value of libraries cannot be overstated. They open doors to a relationship with reading that can translate to well-rounded students and engaged citizens. By giving children space, opportunity and encouragement to lose themselves learning about any subject they desire, children can be made to feel comfortable and confident enough to be independent thinkers and decision makers. Knowing the benefits of choice is one of the reasons Kids Read Now allows the children to pick the books they want. When readers become freely engaged and entertained, they craft their journeys and following their path.

There are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S., according to the association, which reported a total of 17,566 locations, including branches.

Librarians are an important part of the network of adults tasked with creating and nurturing young readers. They ignite this passion within them as they grow. Crafting summer reading programs and library contests can act as incentives that help fill young readers with pride and a sense of accomplishment by rewarding their interest in literacy. Librarians can help children overcome obstacles and open up paths to answers. They guide them and provide them a way to independently discover solutions, knowledge and creative experimentation that becomes the foundation for a healthy relationship with learning.

According to the American Library Association, reference librarians in the nation’s public and academic libraries answer nearly 6.6 million questions weekly. There are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S., according to the association, which reported a total of 17,566 locations, including branches. Nearly 100% of public libraries provide Wi-Fi and have no-fee access to computers, giving patrons of all ages access to a valuable resource.

For students, libraries can play a major role in achievement. Research shows the highest achieving students attend schools with well-staffed and well-funded school libraries. Students make almost 1.3 billion visits to these libraries during the school year, which is on par with attendance numbers for movie theaters in 2014.

Libraries have had a significant influence on the majority of Americans’ lives. According to a recent Pew Research Center study on the future of libraries, 78 percent of Americans say they’ve ever been to a local public library, and 76 percent of Americans say that libraries serve the needs of their community well.

[bctt tweet=”Librarians are an important part of the network of adults nurturing young readers.”]

Of those who continue using libraries, 97% of those who used a library or bookmobile in the past 12 months would describe themselves as lifelong learners and a similar share of library website users (98%) also strongly identified with being lifelong learners.

From these statistics, it’s easy to see the value of libraries in establishing positive experiences at a young age and how that can translate into a greater appreciation for reading as an adult. What’s less able to be put into hard numbers, however, are the memories–the smell of books, the mazes of shelves, the memories of adventures through books–those things not tracked by statistics, that can ignite an ongoing passion in children that lives well into adulthood.

 


By | Categories News | February 16, 2017

Children absorb much more than we give them credit. And they start to absorb it far earlier than we think they do. Studies show that babies are taking in information as early as in the womb, and their development only accelerates from there. As early as four months your child was reacting to the sound of your voice. They were not processing the information, but they did understand the tone you were using. Speaking to your child introduces them to the phonetic components of the language, components they will spend time trying to reproduce. It is not a coincidence that many toddlers first word is “No.”

Reading out loud to babies, while they may not understand the story, benefits them in other ways. The pictures in the books give their young eyes an area to focus. Reading with inflection can introduce them to different emotions and ways to use the language, as well as speech patterns. Children that are read to, and spoken to, at a younger age often have a larger vocabulary. There is a positive association made with reading; it is a comfortable place and they spend time with daddy or mommy. At younger ages (up to one year), the material itself does not matter since they do not understand the words. You can catch up on your own reading as you read to your child!

I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp. -JK Rowling

Taking the time to read with your child is an important step in reinforcing the benefits of reading. You do not have to have a great deal of time to get into this habit. A little bit a bedtime, a few pages after dinner, or maybe some time on the weekend while at a sibling’s special event can be all the time you need to start developing a love of reading. Even while shopping or cooking there are ways to incorporate reading into the activity! Make trips to the library a part of your weekly errands. Many libraries have programs to help young readers find books they will enjoy, and you can read the books together.

As they get older and want to read, the role of the parent shifts from reader to teacher. You can help them sound out words they do not understand, and explain the meanings of those words. After they are finished reading the story, ask them questions about what they just read to help them with reading comprehension. When you start to discover the books they enjoy reading, there is an opportunity to help them find similar authors. Websites like What Should I Read Next and  Your Next Read can aid in finding books that are similar to the ones they enjoy. By selecting books that your child enjoys reading, it encourages them to read more.

One of the many benefits of Kids Read Now is the opportunity to find the books your child enjoys and reading it with them over the summer months. We know that book selection is critical in encouraging reading, and we send only the ones you choose. Those books are sent directly to your home on a regular basis, along with lessons to help you both get the most out of each book. They offer the ability to either read along with your child, or to allow them to read to you. Building the enjoyment of reading is something that is developed over time, by modelling the behavior early and reinforcing it as they grow. Before you know it, you will have another avid reader and lifelong learner in the house!


By KRN Admin | Categories Educators | February 11, 2017

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law in 1965. President Lyndon B. Johnson saw the need to help schools with students that were struggling, but not dictate how that aid was provided. Title I of the Act stated that grants would be given to schools to help low-income families. The grants would be distributed to the state education agencies (SEA), who would then distribute them to the local education agencies (LEA). The LEAs would then allocate the Title I funds to the appropriate schools, who would spend them at their discretion. Over the years the grants have been spent in a variety of ways, from adding more teachers to classes to purchasing technology to help students learn outside the classroom. However, studies have shown that these methods have limited effects on improving test scores.

[bctt tweet=”The average class size in Ohio elementary schools is just over twenty-one students to one teacher.”]

Many school districts use their title one grants to add paraprofessionals, teachers aides with limited training, to the classes with struggling students. The objective of the aides is to relieve some of the pressure that is put on the teachers to help the students. This may be the case for the teachers, but for the students it is a different story. In Tennessee, Project STAR used funds to add paraprofessionals to the classroom. It was found that adding these aides, while giving teachers more time to focus on the students, did not significantly help with test scores. When asked at the end of the study about smaller class sizes or adding aides, 71% of teachers preferred a smaller class size (Boyd-Zaharias and Pate-Bain, 1998).

Another drawback of utilizing paraprofessionals is the varying degree of training they bring to the classroom. In a 1999 assessment of the Title I program, the U.S. Department of Education found that “paraprofessionals in high-poverty schools tend to have less formal education than those in low-poverty schools, and they are often assigned to teach-sometimes without a teacher present.” The report acknowledges their contributions to the community, but also notes that utilizing them as extra hands to do paperwork or meet with parents should be phased out. It does not directly help students improve their skills, which is the function of a Title I grant.

Even with the addition of other sets of hands and additional time for teachers to be with the students, there is nothing that can substitute the benefits of having smaller classes.

Schools add the aides to help manage the ever-increasing class sizes in some areas of the country. This does give teachers the ability to provide a little more attention to students that are falling behind in reading. However, that attention does not translate into higher scores. The additional time added was, on average, just twenty-five more minutes a day over the course of a week (Rowan, B. and L. F. Guthrie, 1989). Even with the addition of other sets of hands and additional time for teachers to be with the students, there is nothing that can substitute the benefits of having smaller classes. Project STAR also showed that when the number of students in a class rose above eighteen, teachers has less time to spend with lower performing students. This can disproportionately hurt low-income students. According to a 2007 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, the average class size in Ohio elementary schools is just over twenty-one students to one teacher.

The cost of intervention is much higher, and less effective, than the cost of prevention. Utilizing Title I funds on programs that stop the slide from happening, like Kids Read Now, can give local education agencies and schools more fiscal flexibility. The funds saved can then be used for other programs or technology to help students learn math and reading. There are movements to help that money be used for in school WiFi and other methods to secure internet access at student’s homes to further reduce learning gaps. What could you do at your school with more funds?


By KRN Admin | Categories Educators | February 9, 2017

Kids Read Now is here to stop the summer reading slide and help struggling readers become proficient readers. Our summer reading program produces remarkable results for school districts seeking to raise K-3 reading scores, and we do it for about 10 percent of the cost of traditional intervention programs. Even though Kids Read Now is far less expensive than traditional intervention, we know that school districts must still stretch tight budgets for funding programs. The good news is that funding for the program that raises reading scores is out there, and Kids Read Now can help schools find it.

Here are some places to start!

Title I Funding

The federal government has been contributing Title I funding since 1965. The purpose of these grants is to help schools with large populations of low-income and disadvantaged students boost academic achievement. The U.S. Department of Education states that Title 1 provides “financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.” Assistance for reading programs is part of that deal, too. Title I money can be used for additional instruction in summer reading programs that “extend and reinforce the regular school curriculum.” Kids Read Now also offers free webinars with our expert, Laura Bemus. It is an opportunity to ask your questions to an expert on the application process for Title I funding.

Read more about Title I.

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

Dollar General’s charitable wing sets aside grant money primarily to promote K-12 literacy. The foundation has five grant programs that support adult and family literacy, strong libraries, and reading programs for schools.

The foundation’s Youth Literacy Grant is an especially valuable resource for school districts seeking help from organizations, such as Kids Read Now, that aim to boost reading proficiency for struggling readers. The Youth Literacy Grant provides funding for the following initiatives:

Grow Your Giving

Kids Read Now works together with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to bring grant opportunities to school districts. The mission is to provide matching grant money to enhance existing Title I funding.

This grant opportunity is for school districts that set up the Kids Read Now program for three years and track spring and fall reading scores, measuring the growth over time for program analysis. The grant then covers fifty percent of the first program year, and with additional funds for years two and three, the grant eventually covers one full year out of the three of the program.


By KRN Admin | Categories Educators | January 31, 2017

Reading is considered the most important skill people acquire. It’s the foundation for further learning. From Kindergarten through third grade, children learn to read, and from grade four onward, they read to learn. If kids don’t master reading by third grade, they eventually run into some serious limitations and challenges in life. There are, however, ways to lay the groundwork for educating readers and make reading part of life-long learning.

Drill the Alphabet

Not fully understanding the letters of the alphabet and their relationship to sounds can deeply hinder reading proficiency. Students need clear instruction for how to identify, name, and write letters. They need to practice letter-sound relationships and review those relationships as they learn new ones. Activities like singing alphabet songs and viewing and reciting rhymes help them acquire alphabetic knowledge. Students have to be immersed in the world of the alphabet so that they can use letters in as many activities as possible.

Focus on Phonemic Awareness

Students need to be aware of the sounds of words and syllables in our alphabet-based language. The lack of this awareness trips up a majority of students who become non-proficient readers. To unlock the meaning in words, students need to know the sounds in those words and letters. Activities should focus on learning specific sounds, such as b in bump, and have students practice these sounds in as many words as possible. Students can then begin identifying and saying all the sounds in a word. From there, further strategies help students build on what they keep practicing and learning.

[bctt tweet=”From Kindergarten to 3rd grade, children learn to read. From grade four onward, they read to learn.”]

Boost Their Vocabulary

Gaining a large vocabulary is essential for unlocking meaning in written text. A limited vocabulary makes it difficult for readers to make all the connections among words, phrases, and sentences. Introducing and teaching new vocabulary in reading materials should be an ongoing strategy. Use word-learning strategies such as finding meaning from context, locating word parts to decode longer words, and searching the old standby: a print or online dictionary.

Read to Them

One of the best ways to teach something is to show it in action. Share stories and informational writing, and get students to think about the ideas and visualize what they hear. This is definitely something parents can do at home and teachers can do in classrooms. Reading to kids reinforces that reading is part of life, and it exposes kids to language and vocabulary that they might not experience in normal conversation.

Make Sure That They Read

Reading is a skill, and it takes practice to become proficient. Setting aside daily reading time at home or in the classroom is a good start. It’s important to have students read and reread stories and then gradually introduce them to more challenging texts. Use comprehension strategies that get them to ask and answer questions about the reading, visualize what’s happening, and make connections to what they’ve read. Also let students be responsible for choosing their own reading—they are likely to read more if they find something that interests them.

One of the best ways to teach something is to show it in action.

Let Them See You Read

This is especially important for parents. Children learn much by what they see happening around them. When they see adults reading regularly, they see that it’s what people should be doing. Modeling reading at home, or anywhere, increases the chances of a child becoming a proficient reader. After all, it may be difficult to sell the importance of reading if children don’t see others doing it, too.

Visit a Library, or a Bookstore

Show students the places in which they will see a vast amount of reading material and the nearly endless possibilities of what they can discover. Arrange a field trip so that students see what these places offer and how they can satisfy the reading interests of nearly everyone. Chances are, most libraries and bookstores have plenty of people browsing the aisles and inspecting books. This also shows students that people in general believe that reading is important.


By KRN Admin | Categories Events | January 11, 2017

A Reading Problem

Lack of parental involvement

Poor test scores

Low graduation rates

Those are the answers you get when you ask school superintendents and administrators what keeps them up at night. They’re also directly linked to poor reading performance in children at early grade levels. From Kindergarten through third grade, children learn to read; from grade four onward, they read to learn. Unfortunately, many students close their books at the end of the school year and don’t open one again until the following school year. That two to three months of inactivity comes with a cost in reading proficiency and, ultimately, learning.

Another cost to consider is that of the intervention specialists who must help struggling learners keep pace. Summer programs from camps to summer school cost from $1,500 to $3,500 per student and school budgets are tight.

 

[bctt tweet=”Statistics say that 77 percent of children whose parents read to them are more likely to read on their own.”]

Disadvantages

The summer reading slide mostly affects low-income students. The Wallace Foundation notes that “the data tells a consistent story: children who might benefit the most, are least likely to participate in summer programs.” Children without access to libraries and with single parents swamped with making ends meet can quickly fall behind. By fourth grade, these students are a full year behind their reading-proficient contemporaries. By fifth grade, they are two to three years behind. This progression doesn’t stop there either. It will continue throughout students’ entire lives. Non-proficient readers are four times less likely to graduate by the time they finish third grade.

A Solution

One question to ask in all this is What would it take to help these students? Leib and Barb Lurie crafted an answer: Kids Read Now, a 501(c)(3) founded in 2010 by Leib, a serial entrepreneur, and Barbara, a reading specialist and educator. Kids Read Now is a K-3, in-home summer reading program that gets kids to read, pass proficiency exams, and stops the summer reading slide. The program restores confidence in kids and boosts their achievement. It gets them wanting to read and wanting to learn all summer long. The program engages parents, and eases burdens on teachers and school staff. Kids Read Now has caught traction and is hailed as one of the best programs in the country by the Clinton Foundation and South by Southwest.

The basics of the program are pretty simple:

Parental Involvement

Statistics say that 77 percent of children whose parents read to them are more likely to read on their own. That’s why parental involvement in Kids Read Now is essential. Because of the engagement parents must offer, the program likely would not succeed without them. Kids Read Now empowers parents to participate in their children’s reading. Parents receive a bilingual Parent Guide to explain the summer reading slide and grade-specific tips to keep kids excited about reading. The guide ensures parents know how to keep their children reading all summer long. Every book also comes with Discovery Sheets, discussion questions that keep comprehension levels up.

The results so far are excellent: Eighty-nine percent of parents in the program say their children read more, and 94 percent who have participated in the program recommend it.

Effective, Affordable, and Guaranteed

Kids Read Now is getting kids to read and helping school districts raise reading proficiency scores. That’s why Kids Read Now stands behind the following assertions:

It’s effective: Dr. Richard Stock, Executive Director at the University of Dayton Business Research Group, says students achieved “significant and substantial improvements in reading scores, especially in high poverty populations.”

It’s affordable: At about $60 per student, Kids Read Now can help 33 students at the same cost it takes to shuffle one student through a typical summer reading camp. State funding and foundation money are also available.

It’s guaranteed: Kids Read Now refunds one-third of cost if the program does not reverse the summer reading slide.

Do you need more information about this program? Over the next four weeks, Kids Read Now will be hosting a series of webinars to better explain our program, and to answer any questions you may have. We will be announcing on Facebook, Twitter, and this website the webinar schedule. Finally, with all this good news, the Kids Read Now webinar series hopes those superintendents and administrators will get some much-needed sleep.