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January 4, 2018

posted Jan 7, 2019, 5:52 AM by Christine Roman
Dear Parents and Guardians,

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had some time over break to rest and recharge. I spent most of my time in Nashua with my parents. I did take a few days to visit friends in Vermont and Keene. One thing I enjoy about vacation is additional time to read more blogs, articles, and books. For pleasure I read Becoming by Michelle Obama. My professional reading included articles from Education Week, NAESP and ASCD.

Here are some interesting points from Daniel Willingham, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia:
 “Reading tests are knowledge tests in disguise.”
 (paraphrasing)—Reading is like a suitcase that needs two keys to open it. The first key is word-level decoding skills that become automatic and fluent. The second key includes language, vocabulary, domain-specific knowledge, and the micro comprehension skills to build a good mental model.
 (paraphrasing)—It is not just the number of words a child recognizes that drives reading comprehension. Making good connections and inferences depends on the richness of the word network he/she has built.

So what does this mean to parents and educators?

We need to provide students/children with a variety of things (i.e., books, games, and videos) and experiences (i.e., museums, libraries, conversations, skiing). We need to teach them specific skills. We need to increase their vocabulary and use of language. Invest time in exploring new places and have different experiences.

Over vacation, I watched one of my godchildren play a virtual reality PS4 game. It was fun and kept him entertained but there was very limited language and vocabulary in the game. Another day I watched a different godchild watch Sesame Street. During this 30-minute video, she was dancing, singing the songs and asking me questions about numbers and the characters in the show.

Can you guess which one of my godchildren is finding more academic success? Which one enjoys school? Which single parent doesn’t have to fight about their 20-minutes of required reading each night?

Just some pondering thoughts as we start 2019!