Waiting For Superman

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Susan Godsland
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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Nov 11, 2010 5:29 pm

I would expect parents to see warning signs if children have enjoyed having stories read to them but then apparently turn against books when they are of an age to start reading to themselves
Perhaps the parents put it down to peer pressure rather than an inability to read.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Nov 11, 2010 8:19 pm

You only really notice these things when you are knowledgeable in the first place.

Also, it's not that children cannot read at all, or write at all, it's that they struggle and you don't realise how much they struggle.

As a parent, you also don't know what they are like compared to their peers.

And when they get results like level 5 for end of key stage national tests, then this indicates, presumbably, that the child's literacy ability is fine.

Then, there is the mother/child thing where the children just aren't cooperative and really don't want to have their mother, or parent, or carer, fussing over them and digging deep into apparent capability.

It's very, very easy to be duped that everything is OK by both the school and the children themselves.

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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by yvonne meyer » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:04 pm

I would still expect there to be everyday situations which might arouse parents' suspicions, however - situations where it would be natural for a child to read something (shop signs, bus destinations, TV subtitles etc.) and the child doesn't.
In my son's case, he started 'reading' words like Macdonalds, Qantas, Holden, Kit Kat ect well before he started school. I thought I was letting him watch too much television because he appeared to be picking up these words from TV ads. I did not understand he was sight-memorising these words. At school, in lieu of phonics instruction, he continued to sight memorise words and could, therefore, more or less 'read' whatever was required of him. Of course, his teachers did not require reading accuracy so if he could not read a word and subsituted another word which made sense in the contex, the error was not corrected.

The warning sign that I picked up on was his 'Cheshire Cat' coping strategy. He would disappear in the classroom leaving a smile behind. All the teacher saw was the smile. I saw a kid who was strident and demanding at home but kept getting smaller and smaller at school.

While my son could 'read' everything required of him at school, my next warning sign was his handwritten work. He was in Year 4 and couldn't even write his own name properly. However, about the only handwritten work that was required of him was putting his name on top of a worksheet. The masses of 'work' that came home from school was either posters with stuff cut out of magazines and glued onto paper (the Crayola Curriculum) or computer generated cut & paste text.

His spelling was a nightmare because he would have a 10 word spelling test every Friday. I would practice with him in learning 10 words as letter strings ( :evil: ) the night before. I would then test him and he would get all the words right. In the test at school the following day, he would get about half the words wrong.

When I asked about his handwriting, I was given the '21st Century' spiel and told that handwriting was unnecessary.

It was the difference between his ability to 'read' and his lack of ability to handwrite or spell that caused me to go on the Great Scotch Mist LD Expedition! I took him to every 'expert' who was prepared to take my money and they all diagnosed him with some LD or other. I think they made up new ones when they saw me and my cheque book coming.

During one of the battery of tests, the person interrupted the test to tell me that my son had scored zero on the test of phoneme/grapheme correspondences, so how can he read? I said I don't know but he can. What I didn't say was that I didn't know what phoneme/grapheme meant. However, I knew it was important so I made a point of bringing this information to the teacher's attention. Neither she, the Special Ed teacher nor the Principal knew what it meant either although they didn't tell me at the time.

In other families that I have spoken to, both parents are working and there is more than one child in the family. Parents might have a gut feeling something is wrong but the kid gets through primary school OK and doesn't hit the wall until secondary when all that can be done is to try and manage the crisis day by day. Of course, our secondary teachers are even less able then our primary teachers to get to the source of the problem, let alone fix it.

In the case of the family in this current discussion, there is another child 2 years older who can read. When I interogated the mother about this, we realised that the older boy had a teacher who taught the Letterland program but this teacher had retired and left the school by the time the younger one started. The retired teacher was the only one at the school and probably the only one in a 100 schools who had taught phonics.

Thanks Maisie, for the suggestion about the nonsense word test. I do suggest this for the parents that I think understand the concept behind it. I have some parents who do not have good enough decoding skills themselves to be able to implement the test.

I have another problem with the nonsense word test which I have discussed with Max Coltheart & Kevin Wheldall. Max developed a short 30-word nonsense word test but there are some kids who can read aloud nonsense words without decoding. Yes, I know this is counter to everything we know about reading/decoding but it does happen. I've seen it twice, once with my own son and once with another child. This other child is very bright, had taught herself to read before she started school and was an avid reader. I tested her on Max's 30 nonsense words and she zoomed through them with ease. I knew she had not been taught phonics so I asked how she could read them and when she broke down her process for me it was what I think you would call, 'part-word assemby'. She would compare parts of the nonsense words to parts of words that were in her sight word bank. Kevin Wheldall described this as an "internal algorythm" that she was able, through determination and practice, to apply with great speed.

Yes, the nonsense test helps some parents, but it is still not a safety net when so few of our teachers know how to teach reading.

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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by chew8 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:58 am

At least though, Yvonne, you did spot some warning signs, and this is what I would expect most parents to do, especially if they themselves are reasonably literate and remember what they were capable of at the same age as their children.

Re. reading nonsense words by part-word assembly: although this may not be ideal, if a child scores well on such a test I would regard it as a sign that the strategy is working for that child - it's only if the strategy is not working that there's a problem. Within the past few days, I have heard over 90 children, mostly aged 7, read the word 'glove' on a test. Many of the better readers read it as /gloave/, but one of the weaker ones read it correctly. I asked him how he had managed it - he said that he had seen 'love' after the 'g' so had just added a /g/ sound at the beginning. Ironically, he read it better by seeing an analogy between it and a word which he knew than the better readers did by applying a more obvious phonic guideline.

Jenny C.

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Susan Godsland
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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:46 am

Waiting For "Superman" opens in UK cinemas this week:

Review - Polarised picture of US education shouldn't provide blueprint for us

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6064222

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palisadesk
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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by palisadesk » Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:49 pm

Joanne Jacobs' blog has a thread running on "Waiting for Superman" here:

http://www.joannejacobs.com/2010/11/fin ... ent-144261

Joanne Jacobs is an experienced and knowledgeable participant and observer of the U.S. education scene. Last time I checked hers was the top-rated education blog in the U.S. Her commentators tend to be a well-informed and incisive crew as well.

It appears from some of the information posted that "Waiting for Superman" has some of the same flaws as "An Inconvenient Truth" including manipulation of facts and data (and even some outright falsehoods) in order to make a more compelling drama. Joanne Jacobs' observation -- that we need an emphasis on what makes effective schools effective and what is replicable -- is bang on.

Susan S.

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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by Susan Godsland » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:24 pm

Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America
When Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin signed up for Teach for America right after college and found themselves utter failures in the classroom, they vowed to remake themselves into superior educators. They did that—and more. In their early twenties, by sheer force of talent and determination never to take no for an answer, they created a wildly successful fifth-grade experience that would grow into the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), which today includes sixty-six schools in nineteen states and the District of Columbia.

KIPP schools incorporate what Feinberg and Levin learned from America's best, most charismatic teachers: lessons need to be lively; school days need to be longer (the KIPP day is nine and a half hours); the completion of homework has to be sacrosanct (KIPP teachers are available by telephone day and night). Chants, songs, and slogans such as "Work hard, be nice" energize the program. Illuminating the ups and downs of the KIPP founders and their students, Mathews gives us something quite rare: a hopeful book about education.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Work-Hard-Nice- ... ap_title_0
Available in Kindle format too.

geraldinecarter
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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by geraldinecarter » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:59 pm

I wish someone could pinpoint the plus side and minus side of KIPP schools. Comments/analysis seems to go from demonstrating high success rates to demonstrating failure. I haven't followed the arguments carefully.

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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by yvonne meyer » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:21 pm

Geraldine,

The Thomas Fordham Foundation has published several excellent papers on the pros & cons of charter schools. In a nutshell, the biggest difference between US charter schools and public schools is that it is easier (not easy, just easier) to close bad charter schools than to close bad public schools. the following paper from Fordham is worth reading although it does not address KIPP specifically.
Ohio's Education Reform Challenges: Lessons from the Frontlines
by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Terry Ryan, Mike Lafferty

Fordham has been both an advocate of choice and an authorizer of charter schools serving some of Ohio's neediest students. This book describes and analyzes our efforts, successes and failures, and what we think it means for others committed to school reform.
.
“This book is a real battlefield memoir. The Fordham team names names – and fesses up to their own foibles as well – providing the kind of insight you can’t find in most plain-vanilla volumes on education reform.”
Also from Fordham,
Are Bad Schools Immortal?
by David A. Stuit

This study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute finds that low-performing public schools—both charter and traditional district schools—are stubbornly resistant to significant change. After identifying more than 2,000 low-performing charter and district schools across ten states, analyst David Stuit tracked them from 2003-04 through 2008-09 to determine how many were turned around, shut down, or remained low-performing. Results were generally dismal. Seventy-two percent of the original low-performing charters remained in operation—and remained low-performing—five years later. So did 80 percent of district schools. Read on to learn more—including results from the ten states.
http://www.edexcellence.net/publication ... hoice.html

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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by Susan Godsland » Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:26 pm

The Crisis in Education: Let's Not Wait for Superman
by Dr. Marion Blank, Director of the A Light on Literacy Program at Columbia University

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-marion ... 23211.html
When we examine the reading curriculum, the reasons for the failure become clear. Since the formal teaching of reading began, it has been dominated by what is termed "phonics," or sounding out. But the simple fact is that the vast majority of words in English cannot be sounded out.

This is true even in a classic phonics book such as Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat. It begins:

"The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day."

In this quintessential phonics-based text, only eight of 23 words (the bolded words) can be sounded out. The other 15 (or 65 percent) cannot. To get around this problem, phonics has almost 600 rules that are impossible to memorize and riddled with exceptions. Put simply, if phonics worked, the word would be spelled "foniks." These limitations do not even touch on the fact that phonics has no systematic means for teaching spelling, writing or comprehension. The system is set up for children to fail.
bold in original text.

:shock:

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Re: Waiting For Superman

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:31 pm

John Walker has blogged on the Huffington anti-phonics article by Dr. Blank:

http://literacyblog.blogspot.com/2011/0 ... lanks.html

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