Jumpstart’s Read for the Record: Otis

Join MetaMetrics®, We Give Books, Jumpstart, and record-breakers everywhere on October 3 as together we read Otis by Loren Long for Jumpstart’s Read for the Record®.

By taking part, you will not only help to set a new world record for the Largest Shared Reading Experience, but also help to model and encourage reading aloud to our children. Within The Lexile® Framework for Reading, Otis is an AD840L book. The AD code designates Otis as an “adult directed” book because such picture books are typically read to a child rather than a child reading them independently. Although seemingly easy reading, many picture books often make for a challenging independent reading experience to an age-appropriate reader for reasons of text complexity and book layout or design. Otis, then, presents a wonderful opportunity to share a great story with children and, at the same time, model for them how good readers navigate complex vocabulary and sentence structure.

The story of a fun-loving tractor and his unlikely friendship with a frightened young calf, Otis explores the themes of courage, determination, nostalgia, and usefulness. The story and its satisfying conclusion likely will appeal to readers both young and old. More information about Otis can be found by visiting the “Find a Book” feature on our website.   To read the book online, click here.

The beautiful illustrations and wonderful story provide readers the opportunity to engage the language, vocabulary, and close reading skills necessary for building success in early education and literacy. 

For example, younger readers might examine the use of prepositions as relationship words as the characters travel over the farm’s rolling hills, or through its haystacks, or even around Mud Pond. Older readers might consider the use of vivid, active verbs as the characters “leapfrog” rather than jump, or “explode” rather than run, or even “skirt” rather than avoid. And all readers can be more active in their close reading and re-reading of the story as they might:

  • keep track of and look up any vocabulary words they do not know;
  • note or mark key phrases or anything that strikes them as confusing or important;
  • keep track of the story as it unfolds;
  • note the repetition of words, phrases, ideas, images, events, etc.; and
  • write down questions they have about the text.

Read for the Record is a campaign that brings together millions of Americans to celebrate literacy by breaking the world record for reading the same book on the same day. This year, October 3 is the official Read for the Record day. More information about Read for the Record can be found here.

Recognizing the Value of Math

In a recent Gallup poll Americans were asked “Thinking about all the subjects you studied in school, which one, if any, has been the most valuable to you in your life?” The top three subjects were Math (34%), English/Literature/Reading (21%) and Science/Physics/Biology (12%). This is similar to the results from the August 2002 results where 34% of the respondents listed mathematics as the most valuable subject. 

With the emphasis now in school curricular standards on critical thinking, innovative problem-solving and effective communication skills, these results should be no surprise.  Many schools are emphasizing the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics),  education and attitudes towards these once-dreaded subjects are changing.  Many now recognize the importance of mathematics and science in the preparation for post-secondary studies and career training.

While many Americans believe in the importance of the “three Rs” (reading, writing, and arithmetic) in public schools, the demands of curriculum should be fashioned  to promote student focus on logic,  reasoning skills, and the ability to report and justify their conclusions. As a mathematics educator, it is good to see mathematics listed as a top priority.   With new frontiers in science, technology, and engineering opening up, it is imperative that mathematics and language arts go hand-in-hand as the classroom subjects that need the most emphasis.  But overlooking creativity, innovative and logical thinking must also be included in the daily expectations of student inquiry.

One Less Excuse

Those of us who like to believe we are artistic and creative because we are left-brained or that we are analytical and that we reason logically because we are right-brained may be disappointed to learn that these explanations may be more myth than fact.

With the ability to collect data from neuroimaging in brain scans, scientists have observed that the functional connectivity and networking within brain functions are not concentrated in a specific hemisphere of the brain based upon the type of activity a person is performing. In a study out of the University of Utah, researchers found that there is little evidence that one side of the brain has a stronger influence upon our personalities or interests than another.

In other words, the functional network system of the brain seems to be so interconnected that many personality traits, strategies for thinking or creating, or personal areas of interest cannot be attributed to the stronger lateral side of our “gray matter.”  It’s not uncommon to hear individuals use the mythic right-brain left-brain theory to support certain abilities or account for specific deficiencies, e.g. reading or mathematics.  This study, however, casts doubt on such claims.  In fact, both hemispheres of the brain are tightly connected and are necessary for proper functioning.  Remember that next time you hear someone say they ‘don’t do math’ because they’re a right brained person.  That reasoning appears to be a fancier, dressed-up version of the idea that they lack the ‘math gene’ or they lack mathematical reasoning as an innate ability.  Math and reading, like any skill, can be learned and improve with practice.

A Kinder, Gentler Start to the School Year

Pernille Rip, a fifth grade teacher in Middleton, Wisconsin has a new approach to starting her school year. She believes that she needs to “hold back and not give in to the pressure of pacing guides and classroom procedure gurus.” She plans a “kinder, slower, and more in tune with what I now understand my students really need; respect and a place to call their own.”  She will not pre-post rules, spend time writing a class constitution, or plan ice breakers. She will just be herself, share her life, laugh, decorate the classroom together, decide on expectations together, and start learning.

The first day and first week of school make huge impressions.  How great it would be if the students all realized that they matter, their voice matters, and that the year they are beginning matters.

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.