Archive | Community Involvement

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Linking Arms and Growing Readers

Fort Morgan, Colorado, is a farming community where crops like wheat and sugar beets grow. Farming can be challenging there, however, as the eastern plains of the Rocky Mountains are a literal water-deprived high desert. Fort Morgan is also historically challenged to grow more important crop—that of young readers. Morgan County, with only 27% of homes […]

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How to Become Proficient in English…or Not

A few years back I spent time in Navajo schools, working for various teachers, coaching them on literacy instruction and inserting as much support as I could for their ongoing professional growth. One visit coincided with the annual English Proficiency Test administered to students. Hearing that, my first response was, “Wait! These kids were raised speaking English. […]

African American Family Eating Meal At Home Together

The Cost of Free Books

I’m currently working with the Kentucky Humanities Prime Time Project in a school in my home town. The fabulous librarian coordinates this project which has invited 40 of the school’s Hispanic families (parents AND kids) to enjoy a light meal, some picture-book read-aloud time and participate in demonstrations of humanities-based conversations about the books once a week. Humanities conversations focus […]

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Reading. What’s It to You?

Teachers and parents might get confused by research reports that claim to focus upon reading, even research reported by highly respected scholars. One problem is the varied definitions of reading that editorial boards seem to ignore in their constant efforts to find solid studies on literacy to publish. “Reading” has many possible definitions, and each definition has value in […]

A young cowboy steps up onto the steel panels around the permiter of the corral on the Melin Ranch near Pray, Montana.

Who’s Responsible for Literacy?

Last week, the New York Times reported that a federal judge “dismissed a class-action lawsuit brought by students at troubled schools in Detroit and found that ‘access to literacy’ is not a constitutional right…” My organization and I easily qualify as pro-universal literacy. So, should we be happy or distressed by this legal determination that […]

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Let’s Talk About YOU!

The best thing that parents can do to support their children for success in school isn’t helping them with their science project or in figuring out fractions. Those are, of course, terrific ways to convey to children the value of school success. However, these content-rich activities are most educational when the conversation that goes along with them […]

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Are You A Sneak Reader?

The ultimate goal of any enlightened program of reading instruction must be the development in each student of a self-determined habit of lifelong daily reading. That’s because this completely personal disposition paves the way to joyful lifelong inquiry and learning—the ultimate goal of a good education. Right? Sadly, at least not in many schools that consider […]

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Love Thy Neighbor–Learn Their Language and Culture

For bilingual children in the U.S., having just a sufficient grasp of the English language to succeed in school doesn’t work well the rest of the time. These children often can only fully communicate their  wants, needs and values when they are at home speaking their native tongue. This is not okay for a country of immigrants and […]

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The Primacy of “Mother Language”

This week the world celebrates International Mother Tongue Day. February 21st is the date designated in 1999 by the United Nations to recognize the primacy of the home language in everyone’s culture. That language in turn is the most comprehensive path to the full understanding of a people and their values. The commitment of this […]

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The Magic of Letters

Letters are magic. No, not alphabet letters. I mean  “snail mail.” Handcrafted letters are slow motion conversations across space and time that share emotions, events and ideas using paper and print. They have the gravity to split time into “before the letter arrived” and “after the letter arrived.” They provide us with an invisible asynchronous connection with other people. The first time a […]