WBEZ | reading http://www.wbez.org/tags/reading Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Global Activism: ConTextos expands literacy programs to El Salvador prisons http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-contextos-expands-literacy-programs-el-salvador-prisons <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/GA-ConTextos Prisoners.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-155d2028-16ca-6861-496d-14f15cdaca8d">When we first met Chicagoan and Global Activist, Debra Gittler, she wanted to &ldquo;create conditions on-the-ground through literacy education, opportunity and advocacy&rdquo; to help children in Central America thrive. To do this, Debra started the organization <a href="http://contextos.org/">ConTextos</a>. She now lives in El Salvador. For our </span><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism">Global Activism</a></em> segment, Gittler is back in Chicago and will update us on how her work has expanded into El Salvador&rsquo;s justice system.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/179980678&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Debra Gittler told us some of what she&rsquo;s been up to since her <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-contextos-aiding-children-central-america-through-literacy">last Worldview appearance</a>:</em></p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">ConTextos has expanded into the Justice System in El Salvador and are now working with inmates in prisons, juveniles delinquents in the &quot;foster&quot; system, and the teachers and guards who work with both of these populations. The &quot;foster&quot; system in El Salvador is tangled octopus that oversees foster care, orphans, victims of child and sexual abuse, child criminals (including homicide), gangs, and deportees. Child deportees arriving back in El Salvador pretty much get off a bus and have to walk home; those without families end up in foster care.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">...we are overwhelmingly moved by the healing power of story to address issues of trauma in a country plagued by generations of violence. Many of the inmates we are working with are gang-affiliated and directly affected by the reality of transnationalism-- some inmates are English-speakers who spent most of their life in the US. We are just starting to work more and more with the juvenile population...It&#39;s been a fascinating journey to confront stereotypes about this population...</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">At the same time, ConTextos is just about to publish our student reading metrics. We use the Early Grade Reading Assessment to evaluate student reading outcomes; this is the same tool that USAID implements all over the world. Our results are stunning...</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">Finally, we are thrilled to start partnering with <em>Worldreader</em>, based in Africa, to bring e-readers into our schools.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">...We&#39;ve been working with iPads for quite a while as a tool to motivate writing, but e-readers provide a unique opportunity to bring unlimited numbers of text through an accessible, teacher-friendly (and rural-friendly) technology. We&#39;re still seeking funding to launch the initiative.</p></p> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 09:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-contextos-expands-literacy-programs-el-salvador-prisons State releases school test scores, other new data http://www.wbez.org/news/state-releases-school-test-scores-other-new-data-111029 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/7674804806_7bd5ff8688_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s 2014&mdash;the year when No Child Left Behind stated 100 percent of public school children in America were to be proficient in math and reading.</p><p>Spoiler alert: that didn&rsquo;t happen. Not here and not in any other state.</p><p>Scores released today by the Illinois State Board of Education show the percentage of grammar school children considered proficient in reading dipped to 56.8 percent from 58.5 percent, while the percentage of students meeting state standards in math inched up to 58.9 percent from 57.9 percent.</p><p>The percentage of high school juniors meeting standards in reading and math rose from 53.3 percent to 54.3 percent. The average ACT score increased slightly, from 20.3 to 20.4.</p><p>Next year, Illinois will replace the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, or ISAT, for grammar school children and the Prairie State Achievement Exam, or PSAE, for high school juniors with the PARCC exam, a computer-based test aligned to the Common Core.</p><p>But in a conference call with reporters, State Superintendent Christopher Koch said looking at only reading and math scores to measure a school&rsquo;s success isn&rsquo;t really healthy.</p><p>&ldquo;That was far too crude,&rdquo; Koch said. &ldquo;We shouldn&rsquo;t have been doing that as a measure to indicate whether a school was good or bad. It&rsquo;s just not that simple or straightforward.&rdquo;</p><p>Koch pointed to the new data added to the report card this year&mdash;like how many students are enrolling in college within a year of graduation and how many teachers stay at a school each year. Statewide, 66.3 percent of high school graduates are enrolled in college within 12 months of graduation and overall, 85.6 percent of teachers stayed teaching in the same school they taught in last year. A school-by-school breakdown is available at <a href="http://illinoisreportcard.com">illinoisreportcard.com</a>.</p><p>That information&mdash;and a lot more&mdash;was added this year after the federal government granted Illinois, and many other states, flexibility from the federal No Child Left Behind law, which focused almost entirely on test scores.</p><p>In order to get flexibility, states had to outline a specific plan for measuring school performance that would replace the requirements of No Child Left Behind. The federal government granted waivers to 41 states and the District of Columbia.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-releases-school-test-scores-other-new-data-111029 Global Activism: Keeping kids in school in India http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-keeping-kids-school-india-110625 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ga-pratham.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>According to UNICEF, in India, more than 70 percent of children drop out before finishing school. <a href="http://www.prathamusa.org">Pratham USA</a>, co-founded by Yogi Patel, is dedicated to youth education, literacy and vocational training in India and it reports that over half of India&rsquo;s children in the 5th grade can&rsquo;t read at a 2nd grade level. We&#39;ll talk with Raj Rajaram, president of Pratham USA, about the work they&#39;re doing to try to improve education and opportunity for children in India.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Pratham USA Chicago Walk-a-thon:</strong></p><p><strong>Walk or Run For Literacy</strong></p><p><strong>Sunday, August 17, 2014, 9:00 AM</strong></p><p><strong>Harms Wood Forest Preserve (Grove 3), Morton Grove, IL</strong></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/160137303&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 09:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-keeping-kids-school-india-110625 Morning Shift: How to get boys on board with reading for fun http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-15/morning-shift-how-get-boys-board-reading-fun-110186 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/books Flickr sleepyneko.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We delve into why boys are reading less and discuss some solutions for getting them more enthusiastic about books. Also, the co-chairs of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration join us and a we hear a tribute to jazz vocalist Mose Allison.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-how-to-get-boys-on-board-with-readin/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-how-to-get-boys-on-board-with-readin.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-how-to-get-boys-on-board-with-readin" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: How to get boys on board with reading for fun" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 15 May 2014 07:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-15/morning-shift-how-get-boys-board-reading-fun-110186 Morning Shift: Media myths and misperceptions surround Chicago violence http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-26/morning-shift-media-myths-and-misperceptions-surround <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/PhilCLogo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago has been called the nation&#39;s &quot;murder capital&quot; - but the title isn&#39;t really accurate. WBEZ&rsquo;s Natalie Moore and Dr. Rosalind Blasingame-Buford of BUILD, Inc. break down the myths and the national perceptions of violence in Chicago.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-48/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-48.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-48" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Media myths and misperceptions surround Chicago violence" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 26 Nov 2013 08:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-26/morning-shift-media-myths-and-misperceptions-surround Morning Shift: Get your summer book bag ready http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-21/morning-shift-get-your-summer-book-bag-ready-107794 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Reading Books Train-Flickr-mootown.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Literary critic Donna Seaman is always excited to share new book ideas. Summer is officially upon us on Friday so she discusses some titles that you can take on road trips or to the beach. What are you excited to read this summer?</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-get-your-summer-book-bag-ready.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-get-your-summer-book-bag-ready" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Get your summer book bag ready" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 08:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-21/morning-shift-get-your-summer-book-bag-ready-107794 Teacher brings library close to home for her Little Village neighbors http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/teacher-brings-library-close-home-her-little-village-neighbors-106825 <p><p>The enclosed porch behind Rachel Perveiler&rsquo;s Little Village apartment is crammed with shelves stuffed with books and games. It&rsquo;s also filled with children from her neighborhood.</p><p>Perveiler&rsquo;s porch is the meeting place for &ldquo;La Biblioteca del Personas,&rdquo; or the People&rsquo;s Library. Meeting here has become a weekly ritual for Perveiler and the children in her neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Okay boys, are you turning in books?&rdquo; Perveiler asked brothers Joaquin and Jose Camacho.</p><p>&ldquo;I want to still keep this one, but I&rsquo;m returning this one back.&rdquo; Joaquin said.</p><p>&ldquo;Okay, go ahead, put it back,&rdquo; Perveiler said.</p><p>As the children looked through the shelves, pulling out books, Perveiler asked 9-year old Jaylene Rios what she thought of her most recent selection.</p><p>&ldquo;Did you like Charlotte&rsquo;s Web, or no?&rdquo; Perveiler asked.</p><p>&ldquo;Oh yeah. I&rsquo;m barely right there,&rdquo; Jaylene said, as she pointed to a place toward the beginning of the book.</p><p>&ldquo;The first chapter? Okay, so you liked it?&rdquo; Perveiler asked.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah,&rdquo; Jaylene said.</p><p>Since the library began two years ago, the teacher said she&rsquo;s watched the kids develop what she hopes will become a life-long reading habit, and she&rsquo;s seen their reading skills improve.</p><p>She points to Jaylene, who started with Frog and Toad are Friends and has now moved on to Charlotte&rsquo;s Web.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve seen their interests grow,&rdquo; Perveiler said. Rather than just coming over because I&rsquo;m here and I&rsquo;m a new person, they come over actually to check out books, and they want to get a new book or they want to get a book that they know their friend just read.&rdquo;</p><p>The library began when the 23-year-old moved to Little Village back in 2011 to be close to her first job as a special education teacher at nearby Finkl Academy.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Porch%20Library%202%20-%20Rachel%20and%20Joaquin%281%29.JPG" style="float: right; height: 263px; width: 350px;" title="Joaquin Camacho talks with Rachel Perveiler as she checks in books. Perveiler uses a spiral notebook to keep track of what books are currently checked out. (WBEZ/Rebecca Kruth)" />Perveiler was moving into her apartment when some of the neighbor kids saw her carrying boxes.</p><p>&ldquo;They offered to help carry the boxes in. When they found out they were children&rsquo;s books, they were curious to see why [I had] all these children&rsquo;s books,&rdquo; Perveiler said.</p><p>The books were for her classroom, but since it was still summer, the kids asked if they could borrow them. They sat on her porch, read the books and returned them the same afternoon.</p><p>Word about the books soon spread in the neighborhood, and the children began coming to Perveiler&rsquo;s regularly. As the library evolved, the group members decided they needed to have some rules and expectations for members. They even developed a pledge, which greets visitors as they enter the library.</p><p>Joaquin Camacho, 9,&nbsp; read the hand-lettered poster out loud.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;As a member of the library, I pledge to be a role model. I promise to [show] respect and responsibility,&rdquo; Joaquin said. &ldquo;I promise these in the name of leadership, because the world needs leaders.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Before they can use the library, kids must also complete a special task. Each new member makes a bookmark to take home. After a week, they have to bring it back to Perveiler in good shape to prove they&rsquo;re responsible. If it&rsquo;s ruined, they have to do it again before they can check out a book.</p><p>Today, the library has around 500 books, mostly donations from friends and family. But, as Joaquin said, not all of the books come from outside sources.</p><p>&ldquo;My brother, Jose, and I are going to make a comic book, The Adventures of Big Fist and Lightning Man,&rdquo; Joaquin said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to put it in the library with the other comics.&rdquo;</p><p>The library doesn&rsquo;t just have books for children: Leslie Luna, 9, said her father uses the library to improve his English.</p><p>&ldquo;He talks Spanish, and so he&rsquo;s practicing his English,&rdquo; Leslie said. &ldquo;When he was in Mexico he almost dropped out of school, because he needed to work for his family, so he didn&rsquo;t get to do a lot of education in his life.&rdquo;</p><p>Leslie said she chooses books for the two of them to read together. &ldquo;I like to help him, a lot,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>When Perveiler isn&rsquo;t available at the makeshift library, her boyfriend, Michael Aumiller, helps fill in. He said he&rsquo;s also the unofficial homework helper.</p><p>&ldquo;They have limited access to internet and that sort of thing, so they like to borrow my encyclopedias. I&rsquo;ll flag things down that are important,&rdquo; Aumiller said.</p><p>Aumiller said in neighborhoods facing challenges like Little Village, it&rsquo;s important to have an involved</p><p>network of neighbors.</p><p>&ldquo;Since the library started, I&rsquo;ve noticed we just have a greater sense of connection to the community,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I just think that is something that is very important to the overall health of Drake Avenue.&rdquo;</p><p>As for Perveiler, she hopes that sense of community spreads to the kids, along with improved literacy skills.</p><p>&ldquo;I would like to see their interest in reading and their interest in each other socially, as friendships in their community, continue to grow,&rdquo; Perveiler said. &ldquo;If the space remains on the back porch always, that is perfectly fine with me.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Rebecca Kruth is a WBEZ Arts and Culture Desk intern. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/rjkruth" target="_blank">@rjkruth</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 03:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/teacher-brings-library-close-home-her-little-village-neighbors-106825 Teachers engage teens with realistic fiction, 'street literature' http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/teachers-engage-teens-realistic-fiction-street-literature-99695 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/teen_reading_flickr_holtsman_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Front and Center visited classrooms around Chicagoland to hear what gets teens excited about reading.</p><p>Amy Correa teaches sixth and seventh grade at Agassiz Elementary School in Chicago. She thinks the classics are important, but is worried that the new <a href="http://www.corestandards.org/" target="_blank">Common Core</a> standards emphasize this type of literature too much. She says her students gobble up realistic fiction novels, and they can learn how to model behavior by reading stories about teens in tough situations. Listen to Correa&#39;s classroom and hear more about how she gets kids excited about reading:</p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1339608200-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Amy%20Correa%20WEB.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Mike Henry is a literacy coach and teacher at Reavis High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois. His approach to getting high school students excited about reading relies on student choice in reading materials. He says giving students options of realistic fiction gets them more engaged in reading. Listen to Henry&#39;s classroom and hear more about how he gets reluctant readers to build up their reading stamina:</p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1339608220-3" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Mike%20Henry%20WEB.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 15 Jun 2012 08:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/teachers-engage-teens-realistic-fiction-street-literature-99695 A high school confronts its reading struggles head on http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/high-school-confronts-its-reading-struggles-head-99710 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_2081.JPG" title="A freshman is flanked by vocabulary words at Fenger Academy High School in Chicago. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /></div><p>Fenger High School is in a rough area on Chicago&#39;s South Side. Poverty and safety are some of the school&#39;s major concerns. Reading is another.<p>&quot;Well, I&#39;m not a good reader at all,&quot; says junior Mia Weathington.<p>More than halfway through high school, Mia still struggles. Today, she tackles a newspaper article.<p>&quot;Are rich people &ndash; I don&#39;t know that word&hellip;oh&hellip; unethical,&quot; Mia stumbles over the words and admits she doesn&#39;t know what unethical means. She also doesn&#39;t know what ethics are.<p>&quot;It&#39;s like sometimes I just don&#39;t get the words. And even if I know the word, it just doesn&#39;t click with me sometimes. So I wasn&#39;t a good reader up in grammar school. I really don&#39;t pass spelling tests,&quot; she adds.<p>Mia has a big smile. Her teachers say she&#39;s a sweetheart and a teacher&#39;s dream. But she says her grammar school teachers didn&#39;t notice she couldn&#39;t read well.<p>They would ask her: &quot;Do you want to read this paragraph?&quot; She says she would reply, &quot;No.&quot;<p>&quot;They don&#39;t ask why &ndash; they just go on to the next person. I always said no, &quot; Mia continues. &quot;I was above the standards in reading and math and science. Don&#39;t know how, but I was. Most times, you ain&#39;t gotta read to know the answers to the question. I read the question, match the words up in the passage &ndash; there go your answer.&quot;<p>Kids enter Fenger High school at a fifth or sixth grade reading level. So, this year, principal Elizabeth Dozier is trying out a radical plan: a school-wide focus on reading.<p>&quot;Reading is a fundamental right,&quot; Dozier says, &quot;I mean, you can&#39;t really function in society if you cannot read.&quot;<p>Dozier&#39;s plans include sending every 9th grader to a daily, double period reading class. It&#39;s not an English class. There is no <em>Romeo and Juliet</em> read here. This is just a straight-up reading class.<p>Teacher Thomas Goodwin&#39;s room is set up like a first grade reading class might be.<br /><br />Four students circle Goodwin around a small table. All their books are open to the same page.<p>While relaying a story about holiday spending, Goodwin asks students for the phonetic spelling of calculate.<br /><br />The students sound out each syllable. Cal-cu-late.<br /><br />Their textbooks deal with subjects targeted to teenagers but are written at a lower reading level, with pictures and large font.<br /><br />Around the rest of the classroom, little &quot;centers&quot; are set up where students are reading silently or working on vocabulary or spelling on computers.<br /><br />Marquis Green clicks on the words the computer tells him to find. He says the practice has helped him memorize the words.<br /><br />&quot;Because they keep doing it over and over until they think you got it right or something. I notice a difference,&quot; he says.<br /><br />Mia thinks Fenger&#39;s efforts with the junior class are helping her, too. She boasts that she now reads at her grade level.<br /><br />Assigning 9th graders to 90 minutes of reading &ndash; and cutting English lit to do it &ndash; is&nbsp; controversial at a time when new standards are pushing schools to ramp up the difficulty of texts they give students. Dozier says it&#39;s common sense. She says it doesn&#39;t make sense to put children in English classes just because that&#39;s the curriculum most schools offer.<br /><br />&quot;It makes sense to teach the child <em>how</em> to read. So they can actually then &ndash; when they go into an English class or a social studies class or science or math or whatever it is &ndash; they can access what they&#39;re reading,&quot; Dozier says.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMAG0304.jpg" style="float: left; height: 187px; width: 300px;" title="Social studies teacher Dustin Voss helps a student read a question on a class test. Voss says he realized quickly he had to figure out how to teach reading as well as social studies. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /></div><p>She wants all staff to teach reading.<br /><br />Economics teacher Dustin Voss is well on his way. Voss describes himself as a government and economics teacher <em>and</em> a reading teacher. Today, he kicks off&nbsp; his junior-level class with vocabulary. His room is wallpapered with words, handwritten in magic marker, each with a definition and example sentence: entice, precarious, glutton, phobia.<br /><br />Adolescent literacy experts would like more social studies teachers and science and math teachers to teach reading. There&#39;s a push to get all subject-area teachers in high schools to teach the literacy skills needed for their discipline.<br /><br />But most high schools are ill-equipped to handle reading issues &ndash; especially those as severe as<br />Fenger&#39;s. High school teachers aren&#39;t trained in teaching reading. Materials can be hard to find. Few high schools have literacy experts on staff. Fenger has one. The former French teacher is getting a master&#39;s in reading, prompted by the need she saw.<br /><br />Many students have struggled with reading for years. That can affect their view of themselves as students, it can impact their self-esteem.<br /><br />Take Mia, for instance. She blames herself for her reading struggles. She says it&#39;s always been her problem.<br /><br />&quot;If I didn&#39;t understand, then I think I should have asked. But I didn&#39;t,&quot; she admits, &quot;The teachers don&#39;t know what to tell you if you don&#39;t ask. They can&#39;t read your mind. You got a room full of 30 kids. You can&#39;t get to everybody, so I don&#39;t blame them.&quot;<br /><br />Andres Henriquez of the Carnegie Corporation in New York says high school reading problems is a nation-wide issue. He adds that people aren&#39;t as aware of the problem as they should be.<br /><br />Henriquez worked on a 2009 report that called for high schools to pay much more attention to reading. It said schools in poor urban areas are not the only ones with struggling readers.<br /><br />&quot;We have seen, unfortunately, that not enough high schools are actually doing anything about their poor readers,&quot; Henriquez says.<br /><br />He says that&#39;s begun to change over the past several years. Fenger is just one example.<br /><br />The school has folders full of student test scores that show its efforts are improving students&#39; reading-sometimes by years. Dozier believes that as kids understand more, they&#39;ll be more likely to stick with school, and dropout numbers will go down.<br /><br />But the intensive efforts haven&#39;t come soon enough for Mia. She had such a low score on her ACT, she&#39;s worried she might not get into a good college. She says she&#39;ll take the test again, and hopefully the school&#39;s efforts will help inch her upward.</p></p> Fri, 01 Jun 2012 09:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/high-school-confronts-its-reading-struggles-head-99710 In this first grade, knitting and stories are the focus, not phonics http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/first-grade-knitting-and-stories-are-focus-not-phonics-99638 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMAG0347.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Apollonia Bingham-Bianco, at work on her first-grade knitting project: the hat. (Linda Lutton/Front and Center)" /></div><p>In a sunny classroom, first graders at the Chicago Waldorf School are not picking up books.&nbsp; Instead, in every student&rsquo;s hands are two wooden knitting needles.</p><p>Seven-year-old Henry Gordon is carefully wrapping the yarn around one needle, then pulling his stitch through with the other hand.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really hard when you start your hat&mdash;it&rsquo;s like, complicated,&rdquo; says Henry. &ldquo;And then, pretty soon we all got better at knitting and we started finishing our hats and going on to our scarves and then doing our sleeping bag.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Most schools in the United States begin teaching students to read from the time they enter kindergarten. It&rsquo;s not hard to find 4-year-olds learning the letters of the alphabet and even reading easy words in preschool. But the Chicago Waldorf School wants to work full-time on developing kids&rsquo; imagination&mdash;through knitting, stories, and play&mdash;before turning to phonics.</div><p>Teachers say knitting teaches skills children need to be good readers.&nbsp;The process of knitting is like threading a story. Kids are learning focus and concentration. They&rsquo;re gaining fine-motor skills, needed for writing. They&rsquo;re seeing patterns. They&rsquo;re moving from left to right, the same way you read. They&rsquo;re gaining confidence.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_2130.JPG" style="width: 180px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Puppets crocheted by third graders at the Chicago Waldorf School.(Linda Lutton/Front and Center) " />&ldquo;I think I&rsquo;m really good at it,&rdquo; says 7-year-old Julia Scott. &ldquo;I can go really fast. And I can do it without looking.&rdquo; As she knits, she tells herself a little story to narrate the complicated movements of her fingers, the yarn, and the needles:&nbsp; &ldquo;In the front door, around the back, peek out the window&mdash;out jumps Jack!&rdquo;</p><p>Teacher Claude Driscoll says the goal of the little rhyme is to create a picture in kids&rsquo; minds of what is happening as they form each stitch.&nbsp; And, she says, creating a mental picture is a skill used all the time in reading.</p><p><strong>No Books</strong></p><p>To help kids create &ldquo;inner pictures,&rdquo; Waldorf takes a radical approach: there are no books in the first grade. There are not even picture books, because teachers want students to come up with their own ideas of what things look like.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">In schools nearby, first graders are reading 100-page chapter books already. At this private school where tuition is upwards of $15,000, parents and teachers are content to let the school focus on cultivating students&rsquo; sense of story.</div><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re reading &lsquo;cat&rsquo; and &lsquo;bat&rsquo; and &lsquo;sat&rsquo;&mdash;all those three-lettered words,&rdquo; says Julia.</p><p>Maybe kids read books on their own?</p><p>&ldquo;No. We don&rsquo;t,&rdquo; Julia says. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not professional yet&mdash;we&rsquo;re just learning,&rdquo; she explains.</p><p>But while there are no books in the first grade, there are lots and lots of stories.</p><p>One recent day, Waldorf first graders helped their teacher re-tell a story. There were no props, no illustrations. Students took turns telling the story, about an old la<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_2144.JPG" style="float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; height: 135px; width: 180px;" title="Gil Ron and Eve Thiry play scissors, paper, rock as part of their morning work at the Chicago Waldorf School. The school believes movement—including singing and dance—help children learn vocabulary and the rhythm of language. (Linda Lutton/Front and Center)" />dy and some bothersome goblins. Afterward, students drew a picture of the story. In clumsy capital letters, they copied a sentence about the story their teacher had written on the chalkboard.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The goal is to get kids to hear stories, internalize them&mdash;and polish students&rsquo; understanding of plot, conflict, and character. Essentially, the school is focusing on comprehension before turning to phonics.</div><p>Waldorf also puts a big emphasis on movement and song. With their desks pushed to the sides of the room, the first graders dance and sing every morning. They recite poetry&mdash;including Tennyson the day I visit. It&rsquo;s poetry they&rsquo;ve only heard, never read.</p><p>Waldorf teachers say all this helps develop vocabulary and a sense of rhythm in language.</p><p><strong>Reading Late</strong></p><p>Waldorf teachers say when students finally do sit down to learn the mechanics of reading in second grade, most will pick it up at lightning speed.</p><p>Early childhood education expert Barbara Bowman says there are whole countries that share Waldorf&rsquo;s philosophy of teaching students to read late. In Sweden and Japan, kids learn to read when they&rsquo;re 7 or 8.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no question that if you start a little later you get fewer developmental problems. All the children are pretty much at the same developmental stage by the time you get to 7 or 8, so you don&rsquo;t have to worry about any immaturities as a major problem,&rdquo; Bowman says. &ldquo;But it doesn&rsquo;t seem to make a huge amount of difference at what age you start. They all pretty much reach the level of &lsquo;reading for information&rsquo; at about 9.&rdquo;</p><p>Even though Waldorf parents know their kids won&rsquo;t be picking up books right away, it can be nerve-wracking for some.&nbsp; Brian Chambers has three kids at Waldorf, and his wife teaches in the preschool. Even with that, he did worry at one point.</p><p>&quot;Around eight and a half years old I started getting nervous and anxious,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Like &lsquo;What is this? How could it be that she&rsquo;s not reading at grade level?&rsquo; Over the next six months after that it just took off.&rdquo;</p><p>Chambers says at age 11, his daughter now reads constantly. But he does see issues. His second child has dyslexia. That went undiagnosed about two years longer than it might have in a school that starts kids reading earlier.</p><p>Seventh graders at Waldorf are putting on Dante&rsquo;s Inferno this month. Their teacher, Carol Triggiano, says no one would know these kids were not reading until age 8 or 9.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the fact that these children have not been pressured at a young age to learn how to read has allowed it to unfold in a very natural way,&rdquo; Triggiano said. &ldquo;As a result they&rsquo;ve become kids that really love books.&rdquo;</p><p>Triggiano says all the things her students learned by knitting and singing and hearing stories are still with them, helping them read.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="left" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="375" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/43126978" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 31 May 2012 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/first-grade-knitting-and-stories-are-focus-not-phonics-99638