February 20, 2013
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Accomplished Teacher Special Report:
Improving literacy learning and practice (Part I)
Learning to read is one of the most important skills a person can develop. The stakes are high because reading is critical to success in virtually all areas of life. With the implementation of Common Core State Standards in many states, reading is taking on an even larger role in schools with more nonfiction materials, including historical documents and reports, now part of the curriculum.

In Part I of this two-part special report, we look at the latest education news on ways to improve literacy learning and practice -- a topic inspired by the upcoming International Reading Association's 58th Annual Convention. This special report includes news on strategies and skills, engagement, and interventions and supports.

In Part II of this report, coming May 3, Accomplished Teacher SmartBrief will take a look at some of the literacy strategies shared during the IRA convention.

If you don't receive Accomplished Teacher by SmartBrief daily, we urge you to sign up for our timely e-newsletter. Accomplished Teacher by SmartBrief delivers the stories making news in your profession directly to your inbox -- for free.
  Skills and Strategies 
  • Program draws young readers, Chicago mentors together
    A workplace mentoring program in Chicago pairs elementary-school students and business professionals, with the goal of improving literacy and confidence among students. Through the Working in the Schools program, mentors visit younger students at school, but older students ride the school bus to visit nearby businesses to work with their mentors. Those involved with the program say students are thriving, with noticeable improvement in academic achievement. Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model) (1/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Schools need multiple strategies to meet reading mandates
    Facing the prospect of mandatory retention of third-grade students who aren't reading at grade level, schools need to do more than hire a reading specialist to work with their most struggling readers, writes Robert Slavin, director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University. In this commentary, Slavin argues for strong instruction for all students, small-group reading interventions for students who are just below grade level, and one-on-one tutoring for those who are most behind. The Huffington Post (1/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • What is social media doing to students' writing?
    With much of teenagers' writing today done on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook, professor David Abulafia, a historian at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge, England, finds that students' writing skills have been severely diminished. "What they do write tends to be short messages in a sort of meta-language, with meta-spelling, on Twitter and Facebook," he said. "We have to recover a mastery of prose." The Telegraph (London) (tiered subscription model) (1/20) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Essential Resources, New Merchandise, All at the IRA Bookstore
The IRA Bookstore will offer a wide selection of IRA’s practical, innovative, and research-based books, including new titles and bestsellers. Visit the bookstore for book signings by IRA authors, exclusive merchandise, weeklong promotions, and special Friday Sale. Join us at the IRA Bookstore in Bridge Hall during our 58th Annual Convention.
  • Building a love of reading among students
    Educators in all subjects need professional development to deliver reading strategies that allow students to access the different types of text used across all classes, transformational leadership coach Elena Aguilar writes in this blog post. Aguilar offers nine other strategies for teachers to grow a love of reading in students, such as organizing a read-a-thon, inviting authors into the classroom and being readers themselves. "We must give them the skills to read at the same time that we cultivate an attitude," she writes. Edutopia.org/Elena Aguilar's blog (2/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Readers' theaters develop students' literacy skills
    Having students, and even teachers and principals, perform in "readers' theaters" improves students' reading and fosters a positive school climate, elementary-school principal Peter DeWitt writes in this blog post. In the classroom, students read directly from scripts to improve fluency, inflection and intonation. Schoolwide, faculty and staff performances serve to model a love of reading. "Students who see their teachers and principal take risks up on the stage feel more comfortable taking risks in the classrooms," DeWitt writes. Education Week/Finding Common Ground blog (1/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Targeted instruction helps struggling readers in Neb.
    Kasey Hansen, an interventionist at Shell Creek Elementary School in Columbus, Neb., works with small groups of five or fewer students in 30-minute blocks to help them work on reading skills including fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. The targeted instruction, which began earlier this year, aims to improve test scores, but it also has helped students gain confidence, increased classroom participation and boosted grades in classes that require more reading such as social studies, said principal John Mlinar. The Columbus Telegram (Neb.) (1/24) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • A guide to successful project-based learning
    For successful project-based learning, teachers should use best practices from other schools, use real-world issues, allow time for feedback and revision, and build student ownership, writes education consultant Suzie Boss. In this blog post, she urges teachers to avoid making project-based learning an afterthought and not to forget to allow time for students to reflect on their work as a way to set goals for future projects. Education Week Teacher/Classroom Q&A blog (1/27) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Join IRA to Save up to $120 on Convention Rates
When you join IRA or renew your membership, you save $80 on registration for the 2013 Full Convention. And if you add an institute, your discount grows to $120—more than three times the cost of annual membership! Learn more about IRA membership or register and join at the same time!
  Interventions and Supports 
  • Students still need teachers' guidance with technology
    Many students have mastered entertainment technology -- such as Facebook and YouTube -- before their teachers have, but that doesn't mean they know how to use technology beyond play, teacher Bill Ferriter writes in this blog post. Instead, it is a teacher's job to show students what can be done with technology. "It's OUR job to help kids to realize how to leverage technology for something more than keeping themselves entertained," Ferriter writes. Teacher Leaders Network/Tempered Radical blog (1/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Nurturing self-awareness through the writing of memoirs
    The most meaningful writing students can do is to write their memoirs, notes Greg Graham, who teaches writing at the University of Central Arkansas. "Putting a narrative frame on our past -- especially our struggles -- promotes perspective and self-awareness that are otherwise out of reach for most people," he writes. The benefits of memoir writing are demonstrated through the movie "Precious," Graham writes, in which an abused teenage girl is able to make headway in life through writing. Education Week Teacher (premium article access compliments of EdWeek.org) (1/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Are computer-based reading interventions effective?
    Principal Peter DeWitt considers the effectiveness of computer-based reading interventions in this blog post. He quotes reading expert Dick Allington and a national study to explore the issue of whether popular software programs have a significant effect on students' reading scores and what role such programs should play in the classroom -- instructional or supplemental. Education Week/Finding Common Ground blog (1/20) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News

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