5 Things We’re Reading Now - September 2017

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Our 5 Things We’re Reading Now series continues this month with a variety of news stories, research and interviews covering topics such as OER, equity and fluency. What have you read recently that struck a chord? Share it with us on Twitter by mentioning @unboundedu and be sure to share our latest reading list with your friends and colleagues on Facebook.

1. Analysis: How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic

The 74 examines how a variety of school districts depend on open educational resources (OER) with content that can be adapted to meet their local needs. For example, Kotzebue, a remote Alaska community facing budget cuts resulting from decreasing oil prices, uses OER to maximize its resources and sustain the educational rigor necessary for all students to succeed. And the use of OER isn’t limited to geographically isolated communities. Author Layla Bonnot, collaboratives manager at CCSSO, interviews educators in schools from Washington D.C, to Washington state, and Utah who are using OER. These teachers have limited time to prepare for instruction, and OER provide easy-to access, up-to-date materials that they can diversify for all students. Bonnot writes, “By being able to serve all students — whatever their race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, or family income — OER supports the goal of educational equity.”

2.Determining Reading Fluency

In part three of a series about reading fluency, David Liben and David D. Paige discuss fluency intervention and how to determine the type of intervention your students might need. The two begin by pointing out the value of conducting assessments and the recommended protocol for doing so. They write, “Maintaining appropriate fluency is challenging as texts increase in complexity from grade to grade and it’s important to screen all students to ensure that proper fluency growth is occurring.” For students who have been assessed for fluency and identified as struggling readers, the two suggest further evaluation to determine if phonics could also play a role in their difficulties.

3. We’re All Born With Mathematical Abilities (And Why That’s Important)

NPREd sat down with Kristy vanMarle, an associate professor at the University of Missouri, to talk about her research in children’s early cognitive development. In the conversation, vanMarle discusses her thoughts on how humans’ math abilities and skills have evolved. She also goes into detail on her most recent project, identifying early predictors that indicate which students might be at risk for being behind their peers when they enter kindergarten. “We’re taking what we know and going back a couple steps to see if we can identify kids at risk in the hopes of creating some interventions that can catch them up before school entry and put them on a much more positive path,” said vanMarle.

4. Are systemic biases affecting literacy education?

A recent panel discussion at the International Literacy Association Convention explored how literacy can promote social change. The conversation was part of presentation that addressed violence that erupts from biased systems and inequities that harm students. “It’s that simple act of saying, ‘I’m recognizing that this system I have built allows certain kids to not perform, so how do I disrupt that system? I invest extra,” says Cornelius Minor, a lead staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Solutions presented included questioning the novels used in the classroom and creating an environment where students can identify and discuss prejudices they see in the text.

5. Why Students and Researchers Say Conversations on Race Should Begin with Humility

With the hashtag #CharlottesvilleCurriculum circulating after last month’s tragic events, EdSurge asks whether downloading resources or curriculum models is —in and of itself — enough preparation for educators who plan to start conversations about race in their classrooms. Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., says it is not, and educators must first acknowledge their own biases. “If you walk into a classroom with a lot of ideological baggage, you are not going to serve all those students in front of you,” says Costello. She also cautions that educators who fail to address their biases can lose their students’ trust.