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Literacy and Reading

Rebuilding a Culture of Literacy in Schools

April 11, 2013
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One of my lasting memories from teaching is the moment I walked into my first classroom. Hidden amidst the desks and chairs, I pulled out a brown paper grocery bag with maybe two dozen fifth-grade level novels.
In a school without a library, teaching 30 students that were primarily English Language Learners – many of whom were reading below grade level – I discovered that brown paper bag of books was to be my foundation for building a classroom culture of literacy learning.

Media, Language Development and Cascading Effects

January 31, 2013
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Until I became immersed in research on child development, I thought learning to read was a project confined to the years of kindergarten, first and second grade. But as countless studies have shown, preparing the brain to read starts long before a child has formal reading instruction. No wonder, then, that our country is full of campaigns to encourage parents to read books with their toddlers. No wonder parents today are told to engage their kids in back-and-forth conversations about pictures on the page. 

Early Ed’s 10 Hot Spots to Watch in 2013

January 4, 2013
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Each January, Early Ed Watch predicts where we will see the most action, innovation and consternation in the year ahead. Here are the hot spots we see for 2013. Notable is the absence of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind. Prognosticators don’t give the bill much chance of making progress this year, given stalemates between the two houses of Congress.

The Child Care Development Block Grant, on the other hand, could see some action on Capitol Hill.  Debates on how to evaluate teachers will likely continue to dominate, as they did in 2011 and 2012. And at least one topic has popped up consistently since 2010 when we started this exercise: Head Start reform via the new "re-competition” process.

First Thoughts on Study of Head Start's Impact on 3rd Graders

December 21, 2012

On a day that many educators and office workers are madly finishing tasks or already traveling to prepare for the holidays, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released results from a long-awaited study on whether children's gains from Head Start still show up four years after students have exited the program. 

13 Issues That Dominated Early Ed News in 2012

December 20, 2012

Before taking a holiday break, Early Ed Watch has a tradition of looking back at the most significant issues we have covered over the past year.  Many of these topics generate worry and a feeling of discouragement, especially over the lack of funds to improve children’s access to high-quality pre-K and full-day kindergarten programs. But some signal hope, providing educators and policymakers new ideas for making improvements despite constrained resources.

Educational Apps Alone Won’t Teach Your Kid To Read

  • By
  • Lisa Guernsey,
  • New America Foundation
  • and Michael Levine, Joan Ganz Cooney Center
December 13, 2012 |

As touchscreen tablets become the hot holiday gift for children—even for tots still learning to walk and talk—parents can be forgiven for feeling a little confused and skeptical about this new trend, especially when it comes to claims about education. The iTunes App Store boasts more than 700,000 apps and, as the Joan Ganz Cooney Center discovered earlier this year, nearly 80 percent of the top-selling paid apps in the education category are aimed at children. Many of these apps make claims about helping children learn to read.

Podcast: Apps, Reading, Head Start and Kindergarten

December 10, 2012
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The Education Watch podcast this week covers a lot of ground that pertains to early education. We talk about a forthcoming Head Start brief, news from the U.S. Department of Education on Race to the Top (including five new winners of Early Learning Challenge grants) and new commentary in Ed Week on half-day kindergarten and the mismatch with the Common Core. 

In TIME: Background TV, Toys, and Toddlers

December 4, 2012

The holiday season can lead parents to fixate on finding the perfect toy. But it's worth thinking not only about the toy, but about the environment around it. In a piece for TIME's Ideas column this week, I write about research on background television's impact on how 1-, 2- and 3-year-old children play with toys.

Upcoming Webinar on Using Data on Children's Progress to Inform Teaching

November 29, 2012

Anyone who has grappled with questions of what to do with data from child assessments  whether based on observations of children's development over months or simple snapshots of early literacy learning  will want to tune in to the next webinar coming from the PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group.

Podcast: What Makes a Toy Educational?

November 27, 2012
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Why are so many toys today labeled "educational"? How could parents be more empowered to size up toys and choose the ones that will be best for their children's play and learning? In honor of holiday shopping, Early Education Initiative Director Lisa Guernsey and Claire Green, President of Parents' Choice, discuss trends in children's toys.

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