Seven Tips From Knowing Your ABCs to Learning to Read for Early Literacy Learning


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Hooray! Your child can sing the alphabet like a pro! Now what? Once your child has mastered letter recognition, what can you do to help her get on the path to literacy? Here are seven important tips to consider after your child has learned the letters of the alphabet, but before she’s reading fluently.

Focus on the letters of her name. Names are the most important words for children, so it makes sense to begin literacy learning with the child’s name. Acknowledge the “child’s letter”—the first letter of his or her name—by pointing it out whenever and wherever you see it. Then do some letter scrambles using blocks, magnetic letters or letters on index cards. Mix up the letters of the child’s name and work together to put them back in the proper order. Repeat this often with your child’s name, and then introduce “Mom,” “Dad,” and the names of siblings, friends, family and pets.
Recognize each letter and know their sounds. It’s one thing for the child to know the letters in order, but it’s a bit harder for her to recognize each letter individually. When you see “her letter” on a sign, cereal box, or book, remember to point it out. Say, “Hey! Look here! I found your letter, Maddy! Here’s an M for Maddy. Mmmm, mmmm, Maddy!”
Talk about the sounds that letters make and return frequently to easily relatable objects or things that interest the child. For example, say: “There’s a letter B for ‘blankie.’ I know you love blankie and sleep with it every night. Blankie begins with the letter B, like ‘ball’ and ‘butter’ and ‘baby bear.’ What else can you think of that begins with the B sound?”

Introduce uppercase and lowercase letters. Your child will not likely be reading books that have all uppercase letters, so it’s imperative that you talk about uppercase and lowercase letters early on. Play games that involve matching uppercase and lowercase letters and spell her name using both cases.
Practice early writing techniques. If children practice creating several simple letters, they will most likely be able to write the majority of the alphabet. Begin with X and O and then move on to a square and a triangle. Encouraging kids to “write” on sand, paint with water, or use their finger in shaving cream will make creating these shapes fun, and before you know it, they’ll be ready to move on to the letters of their names.
Connect objects with words. Because reading involves creating meaning by combining words, pictures and prior knowledge, early readers lean on illustrations when reading—and that’s okay. Label everyday objects and point to the word as you say it. Play games where children connect simple words with pictures, like “cat” with a photo of a cat and “dog” with photo of a dog, etc. Model how to do it by pointing out the first letter of the word and saying the sound that the word makes, followed by the word, and then pointing to the picture.
Practice print referencing. Print referencing is a simple yet meaningful way to enforce early literacy skills. It involves pointing out print elements in texts: pointing to the title of the book as you read it, running your finger under the words as you read the text on a page, or talking about anything related to the text. This helps children learn the basics: every book has a title and an author (and sometimes an illustrator), and we read from left to right, followed by a sweep down to the next line. Later, consider touching on basic grammar conventions and punctuation marks, differences between fiction and nonfiction texts, and different genres (news, magazines, poetry, short stories, etc.).
Read, read, read! Read with your child every day, many times a day. Read books, signs, posters—anything with words. Read in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. Read at the park, in the living room, at the pool. Read print everywhere you can find it!
Most importantly, make an effort to celebrate your child’s successes, because learning to read is something to smile about!

What You Should Do When Your Child Hates Reading


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Would your child rather empty the dishwasher or fold laundry instead of reading a book? Do you have to beg your child to sit down and read—for school or for pleasure? When you see other kids with their noses in books, do you wonder why you never see your own children doing the same? It’s difficult to know how to react when your child hates reading, and even harder to figure out how to motivate children to read. Try these simple, but meaningful steps to help move your reluctant reader toward a book-filled future:

Zero in on the child’s interests. Before you do anything, take a step back and examine what interests, excites or intrigues your child. Knowing what interests him can help you pinpoint what types of texts he may enjoy reading.
Start small. Just because your child likes to ride horses doesn’t mean he needs to start by reading The A-Z History of Horseback Riding; that may be intimidating—especially for a reluctant reader. Instead, consider watching a horse race with your child. Talk about the jockeys, the scores, the owners and the trainers. The next day, read the box scores in the newspaper or watch a movie about horses, like Seabiscuit. Then, closely examine the box scores or find a short nonfiction article about a related topic, like the Triple Crown or famous jockeys like Red Pollard or George Woolf. An interactive, reliable, and safe resource online, such as American Experience: Seabiscuit, can also be an engaging and interesting bridge toward books for reluctant readers.
If the topic of interest doesn’t lend itself to watching a related program or movie, start small by finding a magazine or graphic novel at the library that relates to the subject. Reading doesn’t need to begin with a chapter book; many other texts and various genres can be worthwhile for these readers.

Practice shared reading. Shared reading or reading as a collective experience could entail taking turns reading pages, sections or chapters, or you and your child silently reading the same book. Shared reading can vary depending on your child’s age and needs.
Shared reading is an often-overlooked and underappreciated technique for engaging reluctant readers. Most kids really want to spend time with their parents, but once children reach seven or eight years old, many parents don’t view reading together as an option; they think that’s reserved for preschool or early elementary school days.

For the ideal shared reading experience, choose texts that are rich, engaging and sure to lead to discussion. Part of the “sharing” in shared reading involves talking about the book. Perhaps several of your child’s friends and their parents can start a book club where texts read through shared reading are discussed in a welcoming environment. If book groups are not an option, find a reliable, child-safe website where your child can post a review of that book or encourage him or her to start a book review journal.

Reluctant readers are often struggling readers, so creating safe, comfortable environments where fluent reading is modeled and where children are set up for success is key. Though there is definitely not an easy answer, with a little focus and direction, you can help give your child the reading boost he needs. It’s not magic, but every little step helps.

Something Should Not Say to Emerging Readers


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Through the whole, sometimes long and painful process, it‘s easy for parents to become impatient with emerging readers. We want our children to feel comfortable and successful when they read, and to love reading. So when kids struggle to sound out every word on a page, insist on reading books that aren’t the “right fit” or read a whole page fluently but are unable to recall what they’ve just read, it’s frustrating.

Don’t get discouraged! We’ve listed common mistakes that some parents make, along with better ways to support your early reader. Here’s hoping it leads to relaxing read-alouds and stronger readers:

Do not say, “Stop. Reread this line correctly.” If the mistake didn’t interfere with the meaning of the text (for example, if it was “a” for “the”or “fine” for “fun”), let it go.
Do not interrupt your child reading. Ever. You want your child to be comfortable reading. If necessary, make the correction when you read it the next time.
Do not say, “C’mon, speed up. You have to read a little faster!” Or “Slow down, you’re zipping through this!” Instead, model appropriate pacing and fluency. Fluency or reading with appropriate speed, pacing and intonation is something that is best taught through parent or teacher modeling and tons of practice. Fluent reading sounds like conversation or natural speaking, and it’s something that has to be learned.
To help your child gain fluency, grab a level-appropriate book to read over and over again. Begin by having your child read the entire book from cover to cover. On the second day, have your child read the entire book again. Then echo read—read a paragraph or a page, then have your child repeat what you’ve just read. You may also want your child to track what you’re reading with her finger. On the third day, read the book the first time, and then read together in unison—this helps your child to learn pacing. On the fourth day, read the book first and then have your child read it by herself. Day five is all about showing off your child’s skills! Have her read the book again by herself to practice. Then it’s time to videotape or Skype faraway friends and relatives.

Do not laugh. Think about something serious and ugly and breathe deeply until you regain composure. If you can laugh together, that’s okay—most likely if your kid reads aloud “butt,” she’ll break out into hysterics and you will too. But if she’s working hard and trying her best while making a mistake that tickles your funny bone, then just move on.
Do not say, “You know this.” Help break it down for her by asking her if she recognizes parts of the word. Most likely she will recognize the “b” or “at” part of “bat” or the “th” or “ick” part of “thick.” If she can pick up either part, help her put the parts together: “You got it! That does say ‘ick.’ Now let’s put the first part, ‘th,’ together with ‘ick’: th-ick. Thick!” Then put that word into the sentence and give her a high-five for getting through it.
Do not say, “You’re wrong. That says, (insert correct word).” Instead, say nothing. As hard as that may be, remain silent. Unless it’s a mistake that interferes with the meaning of the text, let it go. If every time your child gets stuck, she looks to you for the word, she’ll never get to practice decoding skills.
If, however, she made a mistake that alters the meaning, at the end of the page, ask your child to reread the passage carefully. If she reads it incorrectly again, ask her to look at the pictures to help her decode the word or ask her if what she read makes sense. If she still misses the error, ask her to point out the tricky section. If she doesn’t know where it is, point it out.

Once you resume reading, ask her on a page she reads correctly if she was correct. This isn’t to annoy your child; it’s to help her become a better self-monitor. As self-monitors, we’re constantly checking and rechecking to make sure that what we read made sense.

As parents, it’s important to make our children feel comfortable reading with us—and to want to read with us—at home. They need the practice, and they need to know that reading with Mom and Dad is safe, natural and enjoyable.

Designing Engaging, Interactive eLearning for the Virtual Classroom


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Cindy Huggett advises eLearning practitioners on choosing and using virtual classroom technology. She is the author of The Virtual Training Guidebook: How to Design, Deliver, and Implement Live Online Learning. Her next book, due out in the summer, will discuss designing and facilitating engaging virtual-classroom training. Huggett is a frequent presenter at eLearning Guild events. We spoke in January about converting in-person training to successful eLearning. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Pam Hogle (PH): Many of our readers are new to eLearning and might be moving from face-to-face to eLearning. You’ve done a lot of work around that transition, helping people do it successfully. What are the first or most critical steps an instructional designer or instructor needs to take?

Cindy Huggett (CH): It’s so much more common to convert a classroom program to online than it is to start from scratch, so it’s a great question. It is a common question, and my answer is a little bit untraditional or perhaps not what you would expect.

I believe the very first step is to remember everything that you already know about what makes really good training. I think that people, organizations, trainers, designers think, ‘OK, I’ve got to design for this new modality, so what’s the first step? … What’s the process to follow?’

The very first process to follow is the one you already know. Design is design. Adult attention spans are adult attention spans. Adult learners are adult learners. You’re still trying to meet a business need, solve a business problem, get results; it just so happens that technology can help you reach an audience that maybe you didn’t reach before. It’s a different type of modality. That’s really step number one: remember everything you know about good design and adult learners.

Once you remember that—I’m going to talk specifically about the virtual classroom, live, online synchronous, facilitator-led—the next step is to start asking yourself: What of this belongs in that online classroom? Of all the content I have, of the eight-hour program, or the three-week program, or whatever length of time it is—what needs to be done with a facilitator versus what of this can they do on their own? What can they read? What can they watch? How do I chunk this program into segments, into components that make the most sense for learning? That’s really the next step; step back and look at your big-picture design from the lens of, ‘I already know what makes good training; I already know what makes a good learning experience.’

Think about, ‘How can I leverage the technology?’ Not: An eight-hour classroom program means an eight-hour online program. It doesn’t translate that way.

What can they just read? So that, when we come together, with the facilitator and other learners, we need to talk about it or we need to practice or we need to do hands on. That’s where you’re going to get the best value and the best benefit from it.

The question then always comes up: ‘But my learners don’t do stuff on their own. What do you mean, have them read it and then show up?’

Well, you always start with an in-person component. … Session one is: What we are going to do; what’s the program? What are you expected to do? Here’s the platform. And then you make an assignment. So, think of it a different way.

Some Reading Tips for Parents


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Even if your child is motivated to read, supporting her with a variety of ways and options will keep her momentum going. Here are 7 tips to open up the wonderful world of reading for your child.

Reading Tip for Parents: What’s “Just Right”? Children feel confident and competent when they read books that are “just right.” But how do you find a “just right” book? Have your child read the back and front cover, and first page of the book. If there are more than five words that he cannot pronounce or understand in context, the book may be too challenging. Be supportive about finding a more perfect fit. Choosing the right book will help your little reader feel successful.
Reading Tip for Parents: Map it Out It’s important to provide your child with a variety of fiction and non-fiction reading. A fun way to do this is to get a map and show them the way from your house to the grocery store or another familiar destination. Have your child write out the directions, street by street, and then read them to you as you walk or drive to the store – like a living GPS!
Reading Tip for Parents: Card Tricks Do you think effective reading only takes place at libraries and book stores? Think again! There are reading opportunities everywhere. Go to a greeting card store with your child and read the greeting cards together. Later, vote for the ones whose words convey the best birthday wish or get-well sentiment.
Reading Tip for Parents: Picture This! During your next outing or gathering, take action-packed photos, then have your child create captions to go with each picture. Assemble the pictures and captions in a picture book or album, and add speech and thought bubbles to create a personalized – and probably hysterical — graphic novel.
Reading Tip for Parents: Last Comic Standing Take time to read comic strips together. Share favorites from your own childhood and have your child put his favorites on the fridge. Read them aloud, and often — repetition is a great way to build reading skills. Soon, he’ll love looking forward to the “Sunday funnies” each week.
Reading Tip for Parents: Become a Fan Your child will soon develop a love for particular authors and illustrators. Nurture her fan-ship by helping her write a letter to her favorite author. Many authors have their own websites with contact information, but here’s a great place to start your search (http://www.scholastic.com/kids/stacks/authors/all.htm). You can also contact the book’s publisher, the mailing address for which can often be found on the back of the title page or on the publisher’s Web site.
Reading Tip for Parents: Labels of Love Word recognition and vocabulary are important parts of reading. On a rainy day, get some paper and tape and start labeling everything in your home — from furniture to small knick-knacks. Reading these labels repeatedly will build your child’s mental word bank. If your family is bilingual, create labels in both languages.

What is Phonics and how to learn to read?


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Many parents of beginning readers have heard about phonics, and many have questions. What does my child’s teacher really mean when she talks about phonics? Does my child need to learn phonics to learn to read? Is phonics most effective if taught at a certain age? How can I tell if my child’s teacher teaches phonics?

In the articles below, you will get answers to these questions and more. You will learn the facts about phonics, why it is important for your child to learn phonics , how to tell if your child’s teacher includes phonics in his beginning reading program and what the most recent research on phonics says. You can also test your own phonics knowledge with our phonics quiz and explore further resources on phonics.

Pearson Shares Its Learning Design Principles Under A Creative Commons License


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In December 2016, Pearson published a set of 45 learning-design principles under a Creative Commons license. A company blog post calls them the “nexus of education research (i.e., products based on research) and product efficacy (i.e., research-based products that evidence impact on outcomes).”

Pearson is an international company that creates educational courseware, publishes textbooks, and sells a variety of technology-based learning services and products. From its place at the center of the US battle over “privatization” of public education, the multibillion-dollar company is not without controversy, particularly for its dominance of the standardized testing market. Pearson designs curriculum, creates learning materials and standardized tests, trains testers, runs tutoring centers and online education programs, and more.

According to EdWeek Market Brief editorial intern Leo Doran,the publication of the learning design principles is “part of a company-wide push for transparency in evaluating the efficacy of their products.” The company simultaneously released a report on how it uses learning design. Transparency is certainly valuable, as is insight into how Pearson and other instructional designers “make the sausage,” so to speak.

The principles are grouped into six themes:

Foundations (eight principles)
The nature of knowledge (ten principles)
Practices that foster effective learning (eleven principles)
Learning together (five principles)
Learning environments (seven principles)
Moving learning sciences research into the classroom (four principles)
They are presented as “cards,” each filling the front and back of a full sheet of paper. Each includes a description, list of capabilities, sample design implementations, learner impacts, and a “self-assessment instrument.”

What Is The Keys to Engaging Virtual Classroom Training? Planning, Design—and Channeling Oprah


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When Cindy Huggett envisions a great online training facilitator, she’s thinking about Oprah.

A key skill is “building rapport with an audience that you don’t have visual contact with. People do this all the time. Think of a television personality like Oprah. She’s the master of creating that connection. And how many of us have ever met her in person? But we feel like we know her. She just draws us in,” said Huggett, a virtual training consultant and a dynamic, experienced presenter.

But being a great presenter is only a starting point; online training is very different from presenting information, Huggett emphasized. In training, facilitators—instructors in the virtual classroom—should engage with learners every few minutes.

That’s a far cry from a lot of learners’ virtual classroom experiences, where a facilitator drones on … and on, and on, maybe grudgingly squeezing in a poll question or two.

In a recent conversation, Huggett emphasized the need for frequent, varied interactions—every three or four minutes. She gets pushback from instructors on this; people say they don’t have time to do that much interaction, or they ask a question and get no response.

Huggett’s response is to tell facilitators to look at the design of their virtual class session. “ A presentation is not the same thing. It’s not the same thing in person, and it is not the same thing online,” she said.

“If you have a design or you have a facilitator or delivery person who goes 15 minutes of lecturing and then asks a question—of course they [learners] are not going to respond,” Huggett said. “You are thinking of it as, ‘I need to fit this into my presentation.’ But really, it’s about engaging them from the start.”

Set expectations for learners up front

When designing training, Huggett emphasizes that facilitators have to let learners know that they are expected to participate—even before they enter the virtual classroom.

“It’s a little bit of an art, when you think about how to sculpt a class or design an online class so that the interaction is natural and it feels like a collaboration, instead of feeling forced. A lot of it goes back to setting the expectation that this is going to be interactive,” she said. “It’s learning—it’s not a meeting, it’s not ‘Let’s hop online for a conference call.’”

Developing an On-Demand eLearning Solution: Update the UK School Workforce


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Within the UK, a record number of teachers are leaving the profession. In 2016, schools recorded a loss of 9.5 percent of staff, the highest level for more than ten years. In addition, the number of people choosing the teaching profession is in decline, with fewer people applying for teacher training schemes. The impact of this has been an increased need for temporary staffing solutions; schools now spend over £1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) annually with education staffing agencies.

Many of these substitute or “supply” teachers are unqualified, requiring only simple compliance procedures—such as background checks—to be able to work in a classroom setting.

The staff working in the 25,000 schools across the UK, many of whom are now from overseas, require continuous professional development (CPD) to maintain standards outlined by OFSTED, the Office for Standards and Education, the school regulation and inspection body. The high turnover of staff has increased the pressure on schools and education staffing agencies to ensure individuals have opportunities to access personalized CPD when it is needed most.

Schools do offer CPD, and education supply agencies do endeavor to train supply teachers before they are placed. However, the challenge has been attracting sufficient attendance to face-to-face sessions, with feedback being that the location and duration of classes can make them difficult to commit to, particularly when they are not mandatory.

The skill gap/need

Having no teaching experience and being placed in a school to cover a teacher’s class can be very daunting. A wet and windy Friday afternoon combined with a group of 35 14-year-olds and a word search to deliver can prove difficult, even for the most experienced teacher.

Knowledge of how students learn, strategies to engage a class, and techniques to build effective professional relationships are essential. Without this, behavior will deteriorate, which has a direct impact on the progress and achievement of children and young people, which in turn drives down educational standards.

Tsuji Culinary Institute In Japan


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How to Survive In Japanese Culinary School

Wanted to share with you this incredible video found on CBS online with Seth Doane visiting a famous and renowned culinary school in Osaka, Japan called the Tsuji Culinary Institute. I think you will find the school’s absolute attention to detail quite remarkable.

The Tsuji Culinary Institute was founded 54 years ago and over 130,000 culinary students have graduated of which more than 2,000 of them are now independent entrepreneurs. They offer two courses including Culinary Arts and Management, a two year course plus a one year course for just Culinary Arts. The school teaches a wide range of cuisines including Japanese, Chinese, Italian and French.

When you graduate, you qualify for the National Chef’s License.