Monthly Archives: June 2011

Does Technology have a Role to Play in Early Education?

WFSU knows that it does! Programs like Super Why! are leading the way in modeling responsible usage of technology that is appropriate for young children. Children see their older siblings and parents texting and on using the computer for all sorts of things. We found this interesting article about technology and early education and if you have a moment… please check it out! Here is an introduction to the blog, the link will follow:

Does technology have a role to play in early childhood education?  The debate about this question is escalating.  Into the debate comes a report from the Sesame Workshop (admittedly not an objective third party in the debate), “Families Matter: Designing Media for a Digital Age“.  This report documents how digital technology is changing the rhythm of family life. The report finds that families are in a transition period, one in which parents recognize the importance of technology in their children’s learning and future success, but don’t always grant them access to the newer forms of media transforming their own adult lives. Does Technology have a Role to Play in Early Education?

Local 2011 PBS Teachers Innovation Award Winner – Brenda Branch

Innovation Award Winner Brenda Branch - Bay County

2011 PBS Teachers Innovation Award Winner Brenda Branch on WFSU dimensions

WFSU, Florida. Winner: Brenda Branch – 2nd Place

PBS Teachers recently announced the first and second place winning entries for the 2011 PBS Teachers Innovation Awards and WFSU has a winner! Sponsored by The Henry Ford and SMART Technologies, the second annual PBS Teachers Innovation Awards honored teachers who continuously strive to inspire young minds and display creative and inventive use of public media to engage students and improve learning.

For the 2011 contest, PBS Teachers selected 12 first place and 28 second place winners across subject areas and grade ranges. First place winners will receive a unique weeklong “Innovation Immersion Experience” at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich., from July 31 to Aug. 5, 2011, a SMART Slate wireless slate, free enrollment in a national PBS TeacherLine online professional development course, and a tote bag of PBS educational resources.  Second place winners receive a tote bag filled with tools and instructional technology resources for the classroom from PBS. Prizes will be mailed to the winning educators at the end of June.

You can find out more about the contest and view the gallery of winning videos

View PBS_Innovation_Winners_Press Release (PDF)

Visit the St. Andrew School web site.


Sid the Science Kid Blogs for Teachers & Parents

Every Tuesday the Sid the Science Kid website offers new blogs on exploring science with preschoolers, one specifically for parents and families and one aimed towards educators and caregivers.  Read how each group is using science experiments from Sid the Science Kid to encourage the natural curiosity and fascination preschoolers have with science! This week in the parent’s blog, one family has their very own backyard campout adventure.

Helping to Prevent Summer Reading Loss

by Julie M. Wood, Ed.D.

Julie M. Wood, Ed.D.

Julie M. Wood, Ed.D.

Once upon a time, in a world before the Internet, smart phones and other wireless devices, there were books. And you’d go to the library all summer long and check out seven or eight at a time. You’d head for a shady spot under a tree, or a hammock if you were really lucky, and devour all sorts of books,fromThe Borrowers, to Mary Poppins, to Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

For me, it was entering into the world of Island of the Blue Dolphins, oblivious to the day of the week or chores that needed to be done. And whatever else I was doing over the summer, I’d be sure to find time to read. Ever since I learned to read, books were my touchstone — from age 5 throughout the rest of my life.

Now, of course, children have a wealth of books to choose from, many of which are even more entertaining and reminiscent of a larger world than those we had back then. From DK Eyewitness books to Harry Potter, children have a mind-boggling assortment of fiction and nonfiction choices.

As parents, one of our major roles is to make sure that children set aside time every day to read – to read for pleasure, for information, for the vicarious thrill of living in an imaginary world. Why is this so important?

  • Children need to engage with books every day so they can maintain, and ideally strengthen, all the literacy skills they learned during the previous school year. Assistant Principal Twana Santana-Embry compares reading to exercising, telling her students that any time they read they are “strengthening their reading muscles.”
  • The stakes for children who do not read over summer vacation are high. Substantial research on this topic shows it’s usually the students who can least afford to lose ground as readers who are most likely to suffer from summer reading loss and fall far behind their peers.
  • The few months of loss in reading skills compounds over the years; by the time children reach middle school, those who haven’t read during the summers may have lost as much as two years worth of achievement.

The good news is that if children read just six books over summer vacation, they will likely avoid summer reading loss. Here are a few ideas for reaching–and going beyond–this six book goal:

  • Take books with you and your child everywhere you go; to the doctor’s office, on picnics, on road trips, etc.
  • Let your child choose the books she wants to read (as long as they’re age-appropriate and are written at the just right level of difficulty).
  • Support his reading experience by talking about the books and helping him understand and interpret what he reads.
  • Read aloud to your child, even if he can read on his own. It helps build vocabulary and listening comprehension skills.
  • As you’re reading aloud, be sure to interact with your child by asking what she thinks might happen next, what a certain character is likely to do, whether the story is real or make-believe, and so forth. Above all, have fun!
  • If you are more comfortable reading to your child in a language other than English, by all means do so. What your child learns in his or her native language will help create a bridge to learning English.
  • Encourage your child to participate in a summer reading program. Many libraries host them. Some bookstores do, too. You might also consider the PBS KIDS/iVillage Summer Reading Challenge which runs throughout July.
  • In addition to reading books, children can practice their reading skills by engaging in many different online reading experiences. Literacy-building sites such as PBS KIDS Island for children ages 3-5, and the Great Word Quest for ages 6-8 (both of which are free) are great examples.

I truly believe that encouraging your child to continue flexing his or her reading muscles over summer vacation is the single most important thing you can do to help develop literacy learning. What do you think? How do you promote summer reading?