An Inspiring Reminder

We’ve long-known that, despite socioeconomic differences, all students have the ability to learn and often proceed at the same rate of growth in reading and math during the academic year.  Unfortunately, there are a number of factors – language learning differences,  summer learning loss, lack of differentiation – that can stall or derail a student’s learning progress.  With intensive remediation or intervention, however, most students have the ability to catch back up with their peers, to regain a foothold on the trajectory toward college and career readiness.  For all of us that work in education, this story offers an inspiring reminder on the importance of targeting each and every student and on each student’s tremendous capacity to learn, despite a host of disadvantages and diverse backgrounds.

Math Education: Start Early, Start Now

Because a high number of parents report feeling intimidated by math concepts we can assume that uncertainty and unease translates into a failure to routinely discuss math skills and concepts with their own young children.  Even parents not steeped in the technical details of reading comprehension and literacy development often spend time reading with their children; and informal literacy activities, e.g. asking a young child to sound out a word, look at an illustration for context clues, or pick their favorite book are a regular part of many parent’s nightly routines.  So it’s not surprising that math discussions and activities often get left behind.  As this recent article by Annie Paul makes clear, failure to introduce young minds to mathematical concepts at an early age can have serious impact on the student’s readiness to learn math skills later in life:

But speaking to them about numbers, fractions, and decimals? Not so much. And yet studies show that “number talk” at home is a key predictor of young children’s achievement in math once they get to school. Now a new study provides evidence that gender is part of the equation: Parents speak to their daughters about numbers far less than their sons…

The frequency of number talk in the children’s homes had a big impact on how well the youngsters understood basic mathematical concepts such as the cardinal number principle, which holds that the last number reached when counting a set of objects determines the size of the set (“One, two,
three—three apples in the bowl!”). A subsequent study by Levine found that the kind of number talk that most strongly predicted later knowledge of numbers involved counting or labeling sets of objects that are right there in front of parent and child–especially large sets, containing between four and ten objects.

Paul goes on to offer a set of helpful suggestions for introducing ‘number-talk’ early on in a child’s development and urges that parents attempt to incorporate number talk at least as often as they talk about words and letters:

  • Note numbers on signs when you’re walking or driving with children: speed limits and exit numbers, building addresses, sale prices in store windows.
  • Ask children to count how many toys they’re playing with, how many books they’ve pulled out to read, or how many pieces of food are on their plate.
  • Use numbers when you refer to time, dates, and temperatures: how many hours and minutes until bedtime, how many weeks and days until a holiday, the high and low the weatherman predicts for that day.
  • With older children, math can become a part of talking about sports, science, history, video games, or whatever else they’re interested in.

We couldn’t agree more.  Mathematics has received far less attention than literacy at both school and at home.  It’s our hope that parents will recognize the importance of numeracy and that lessons that important must start at home.

More Choice, More Books, More Growth

We’ve written before on the remarkable success of myON reader and Capstone Digital’s intent to provide myOn through mobile devices like the Kindle Fire.  Well that initiative has taken off and it appears to be paying dividends for students around the country.  Students in Cheatham County, Tennessee, in particular, are excited about being able to access targeted reading material on their Kindles:

At ACES, Jonet Williams has been thrilled with the response of her students, who look forward to activating their Kindles each day.

Williams likes being able to manage her class work through the Internet.

“I can find out what they’ve read, how much time they’ve spent reading, and see their assessment scores,” she said.

The teachers are also able to see their students’ successes and challenges, using the myON reader as a tool for flagging needs and reflecting ability levels.

“We can choose libraries for them that correlate with what we’re studying,” said Williams, citing a recent reading assignment on Benjamin Franklin and American symbols to reinforce what her students are learning in social studies.

MyON seamlessly blends assessment and instruction for young readers in a digital environment, allowing students to receive updated Lexile measures through their reading experiences.  Based on those updated Lexile measures, students continue to be presented a wider range of targeted texts.  Not only do students receive targeted text, but they exercise choice as well.  MyON allows students to self-select topics of interest to them and students can choose from a long list of subjects.

On a related note, the world of education software has also recognized Capstone for the contribution they’ve made to reading.  MyON recently won a Bessie for the ‘Best Reading Website’ award for upper elementary students.  Congratulations to Capstone on achieving so much in such a short period of time.  We’re proud to partner with an organization so dedicated to getting more students reading everywhere!

In Her Own Words: The Lexile Framework for Reading

We love hearing from teachers on the ways they’ve utilized the Lexile Framework for Reading to support reading growth.  Of special significance to us is hearing teachers describe their successes and their understanding of the Framework in their own words.  That’s why we were thrilled to read this recent piece (subscription required) from educator, Margaret Reed in Kodiak, Alaska:

Last month, I talked about three key ingredients that, when mixed together by a student, create a recipe for reading success.  First is reading practice, third is feedback concerning the effectiveness of the reading practice.  I’d like to focus on the second ingredient:  awareness of the level of text you are choosing to read.

When you pick up a book, how do you know if you will understand most, all, or none of what you are reading? If you are told you are reading at the third grade level, how do you use that information to help you choose text you know you will understand? When you look at a book, what can you use to predict how well you will understand that book?  The Lexile Framework provides a tool to help answer these questions!

Margaret goes on to do a nice job describing some of the more technical aspects of the Framework and even includes information on using the Lexile measure in an instructional setting.

If you’ve seen instances of great ways to introduce educators and parents to the Lexile Framework for Reading, feel free to pass along.  We’re always eager to hear how our metrics are being put to use and helping students around the globe.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.