LAUSD Elementary Schools to Receive 4,000 New Books

City National Bank's Reading Is The Way Up(r) program will provide 4,000 new books to four public elementary schools in Los Angeles during February. The bank will host a special event on Feb. 5 at Hancock Park Elementary School to present 1,000 new books to students and teachers for the school library.

Kindergarten students, as well as City National and Barnes & Noble representatives will be at the book donation event on Feb. 5, along with City Councilman Tom LaBonge. Children in attendance at the event will all receive a new hardback book to take home. "Information is knowledge and knowledge is power," said Councilmember Tom LaBonge, whose district includes both Hancock Park and Third Street elementary schools. "I'm proud to support City National Bank's "Reading is the Way Up" program because it puts information in the hands of some of our most important citizens: elementary school children."

The books were made possible through a grant from City National Bank, which matched the 2,000 books donated by customers of Barnes & Noble at The Grove, as part of a holiday book drive sponsored by the bank. Other schools that will receive 1,000 new books include Rosewood Avenue Elementary School, Third Street Elementary School and Melrose Avenue Elementary School.


Let's Break the Cycle of Low Literacy!

On the occasion of Family Literacy Day, observed each year on January 27th, the members of the Literacy Coalition call upon government decision-makers at all levels to do everything in their power to prevent the continuation of low literacy from one generation to the next.

The Coalition strongly feels that both the income and the literacy level of families influence how children face their future. The latest International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALLS 2003) for Quebec reveals that parents' schooling is a major determinant in children's acquisition of reading skills. According to the survey, children whose parents have little formal schooling are more likely to drop out of school and have difficulty reading. It is therefore essential to ensure that parents upgrade their skills and that they and their children have access to family literacy services that can help prevent later literacy problems.

According to the IALLS survey, approximately 800,000 Quebecers aged 16 to 65 have serious difficulties with reading, writing and counting in everyday situations. The survey indicates that more than 36% of Quebecers aged 16-25 fall under the accepted average education level. These statistics confirm the persistence of low literacy in Quebec and highlight the importance of prioritizing basic skills training for adults as well as activities to prevent low literacy.

Working with families, parents and children from underprivileged backgrounds, each member group of the Literacy Coalition contributes in its own way to enabling Quebecers to improve their literacy levels. Coalition member groups from the educational, community and business sectors offer diverse activities such as:

- Collecting and distributing children's books;

- Literacy and parenting workshops;

- Storytelling demonstrations for parents and their children;

- Guidance for parents in the supervision of homework and schoolwork;

- Family training and accompaniment to promote school readiness and success (including immigrant families)

- The development of initiatives to bring the family and schools closer together (notably by encouraging the collaboration of various organisations in the community)

These activities have proven effective, but because they rely on short-term project grants from a limited number of programs, they suffer from chronic under-funding. The Literacy Coalition advocates serious, long-term investments for community-based groups, for reading councils and for adult education centres. The Coalition favours structured and sustainable programs over short-term projects. We hope that the next government action plan for adult and continuing education will reflect this request.

Formed in 2006, the Literacy Coalition is comprised of 16 organisations from the literacy field, including community groups, resource centres, unions and school boards, from both the anglophone and francophone sectors. Coalition Address:

Adult Literacy Findings Highlight Need For Targeted Stimulus Funding

ProLiteracy today reiterated the need for substantial investment in adult literacy and adult basic education, as the findings of a federal study showed that nearly one in seven adults in the U.S. lack basic prose literacy skills.

The study, released by the U.S. Education Department's National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), revealed that many states have seen an increase in low-skilled adults since the last assessment in 1992. It estimates that an additional 3.6 million adults are now considered to have low literacy skills, bringing the total to almost 32 million adults in the U.S.

"The crisis of adult literacy is getting worse, and investment in education and support programs is critical," said David C. Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. "More than 1 million people lost their jobs in 2008 and the new unemployment figures are the highest in 16 years. A large number of the unemployed are low-skilled individuals who struggle with everyday reading, writing and math tasks. The administration wants to create new jobs with the stimulus packages, but to take advantage of those new positions, these adults need basic literacy skills."

It is estimated that illiteracy costs American businesses more than $60 billion each year in lost productivity and health and safety issues. However, almost 90 percent of adults who need access to literacy programs cannot obtain the services due to a lack of funding at the federal, state and local levels.

Program funding would inherently benefit the overall economy, as it provides additional tax income, more employment, reduced welfare payments and greater citizen involvement.

ProLiteracy recently made a call to action for Congress and the new administration to include at least $100 million of the economic stimulus package for Title II of the Workforce Investment Act, the federal government's largest discretionary program that supports adult basic education and literacy programs throughout the U.S.

ProLiteracy works with adult new readers and learners in partnership with local, national, and international organizations, providing training, professional development, and advocacy. It also develops and distributes materials used to instruct adults in reading, writing, math, and English as a second language through its publishing division, New Readers Press. ProLiteracy has member programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and works with 125 nongovernmental international agencies. For more information, please go to and

Teaching Children Time Management and Productive Computer Use

Parents world wide are striving to keep ahead of the rapid technology growth and maintain a moral standard to raise their kids by. Traditional options of seeking advice from parents and grandparents is falling to the way side as parents face the technology children of today and aim to find a new way to maintain traditional standards. The publishers of Unique Parenting offer free access to their solution to the technology craze with a new computer use contract, Computer Use and Time Management Contract (

"In our home I am equally concerned with how much time my children spend on the computer playing games as I am with accessing the internet" shared Michedolene. "I want to teach them how to manage their computer time in a more constructive way than passive play so we developed a time management contract that our children can be actively involved in."

Michedolene is the publisher and co-author of, a website that aims to provide parents with simple solutions to building strong families today. "On average our children will spend 3 - 4 hrs a day on the computer" stated Michedolene. "This level of involvement further supports passive learning and separates the family during leisure time."

In her efforts to discourage passive learning and further strengthen her family as a whole she put together the Computer Use and Time Management Contract. The contract outlines the parents expectations and consequences for computer use. Michedolene shared her belief that three things need to be in place when parents desire to limit their child's computer use and this contract is the beginning.

In December 2008, Unique Parenting made available for download their contract on social networking and a parents method for protecting their kids online. Michedolene shared that this new contract takes parents one step closer to teaching their children responsibility with computer use. Be sure to visit and get your copy today.

Westinghouse N-Vision Announces Science Video Contest

Westinghouse Electric Company is sponsoring a science video contest for middle and high school students focusing on energy.

Administered through the company's speaker's bureau, N-Vision, the contest is designed to encourage young persons to think about energy in the context of worldwide political, economic and environmental realities.

The contest is open to all middle and high schools in the United States. To be eligible, each video must outline three key advantages of nuclear power and two other forms of energy. The video can be staged as a short play, commercial, news broadcast, talk show, music video, documentary, etc. Students are encouraged to be creative, yet informative.

There are two categories of entry -- middle school and high school levels. The winning videos in each category will receive the following: the school science department will receive $3,000 for its educational needs; and each student who took part in assisting with the video will receive $100 for school supplies. Specific guidelines can be found on the Contest Application on Westinghouse's website at: and under the "Communities" section/Student Video Contest on Forms of Energy. Teachers and schools are encouraged to enter interested students in the contest and turn their videos in by May 8, 2009.

Westinghouse's N-Vision Program encourages education of youth in science, technology and mathematics.

Classroom Strategies for Economic Crisis

As a new president takes the helm of a country facing an historic economic downturn, the Southern Poverty Law Center's Spring 2009 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine offers classroom strategies to help teachers address the pressures that students, families and school systems inevitably face during harsh economic times.

The magazine, released today, is being distributed free of charge to more than 400,000 educators nationwide.

"Teaching in the Downturn" offers strategies for addressing the symptoms of an economic crisis that can spill into the classroom, such as parental substance abuse, classroom behavioral problems, school budget cuts and growing neighborhood poverty. Psychologist Melanie Killen discusses how educators can help their students cope during hard times, and social critic Meizhu Lui offers her take on where the crisis may lead us.

"There is no doubt that we are living in perilous times, but just as with each generation, change for the better can happen," said Lecia Brooks, director of the SPLC's Teaching Tolerance program. "This issue highlights the challenges educators face in the classroom and offers help for navigating these uncertain and challenging times."

The issue also includes an excerpt of President-elect Barack Obama's historic March 2008 speech on race, "A More Perfect Union," and provides questions to help teachers foster classroom discussions that can lead to a deeper understanding about race and diversity.

The latest issue of Teaching Tolerance can be read at

Education, race and social class also are examined in "Crossing the Gap," which shows how students in a racially and socially segregated Chicago school system organized a diverse grassroots movement that crossed barriers as they demanded equality in school funding. Their courageous deeds are reminiscent of the 1969 Mexican-American student-led revolt against unfair school regulations in Crystal City, Texas, that set the stage for the Latino civil rights movement. That story is revisited in "Walkout in Crystal City."

Teaching Tolerance magazine, published twice a year by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is the nation's leading journal serving educators on diversity issues. In 2007, the magazine was named Periodical of the Year by the Association of Educational Publishers for the second consecutive year. Teaching Tolerance films have garnered four Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a nonprofit civil rights organization that combats bigotry and discrimination through litigation, education and advocacy. For more information, see

Clues For Unlocking Life-long Learning and Literacy

Learning to read and write opens doors to progress and prosperity across a lifetime. The years before kindergarten are a particularly fertile and profitable time to prepare young children to read and learn by teaching them essential literacy skills. The challenge of helping all children become successful readers requires early teaching, using home and school instruction built upon proven research and effective practices.

This is the message being delivered today as the National Institute for Literacy (the Institute) releases findings from the much-anticipated report, Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel, A Scientific Synthesis of Early Literacy Development and Implications for Intervention. The National Early Literacy Panel's (NELP) report serves as the basis of several powerful, research-based recommendations to the early childhood community - educators, caregivers, Head Start providers, and parents - on promoting the foundational skills of life-long literacy.

"Literacy skills start developing the moment we're born and it is literacy that enables a person's ability to participate in society. This new report shows the scientific validity of earlier and more targeted investments in literacy development," said NELP chairman Dr. Timothy Shanahan, a professor of urban education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and director of its Center for Literacy.

Some of the key findings of the report reveal the best early predictors of literacy which include alphabet knowledge, phonemic awareness, rapid naming skills, writing (such as writing one's name), and short-term memory for words said aloud. Instruction on these skills may be especially helpful for children at risk for developing reading difficulties. More complex oral language skills also appear to be important.

"These are very important findings," Dr. Shanahan added. "We can use the report to shape educational policy and practice, determine how teachers and families can best support young children's development, and guide future literacy research initiatives. This is the most comprehensive synthesis of published literacy research ever conducted by scientists on children from birth to age 5, and it provides an important basis for actionable recommendations."

In addition to presenting findings on which early measures of a child's skills predict later decoding, reading comprehension, and spelling achievement, Developing Early Literacy identifies a wide-variety of interventions and instructional approaches that improve a child's early literacy skills. NELP researchers also looked at the role of environment and at child characteristics that may link to future outcomes in reading, writing, and spelling.

Said Shanahan: "We have accomplished a major goal by synthesizing the scientific evidence to better understand what matters when the youngest of children are developing literacy skills. This report provides clear evidence that early literacy interventions work. However, we need more investment and research from government, business, philanthropy, and academia to continue to build and strengthen the connection between scientific evidence and strategies used in classrooms, early learning centers, and at home to make children better readers and learners."

The Institute convened the nine-member National Early Literacy Panel in 2002 in consultation with The National Center for Family Literacy, and was supported by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. Developing Early Literacy bridges a large gap in the early-literacy research knowledge base. By synthesizing research on language, literacy, and communication, the report clearly identifies which critical early skills or abilities and proven instructional practices are precursors of later literacy achievement. It provides important clues and insights into emergent literacy from birth through age 5 and points the way for future literacy research and scientific inquiry.

The National Institute for Literacy, a federal agency, provides leadership on literacy issues, including the improvement of reading instruction for children, youth, and adults.

A copy of Developing Early Literacy, and related NELP information and products, can be found at

Free Lesson Plans, Teacher Resources and Student Activities on Presidential Inauguration

As the historic Inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama approaches, is featuring a rich collection of free lesson plans, teacher resources and student activities highlighting many facets of the Inauguration and its significance, and some of the key issues the new president will face.

The educational resources featured on the homepage provide teachers with a wealth of classroom activities on everything from stories of children who grew up in the White House, to an online activity that allows students to determine what priorities they would set as president, to a recording of Barack Obama's 2004 speech that launched him into the national spotlight. is the Verizon Foundation's comprehensive Web site containing more than 55,000 educational resources, including standards-based, grade-specific, K-12 lesson plans, online educational games and videos for teachers, students and parents.

Among the free lesson plans, teacher resources and student activities on the presidential inauguration featured on the home page are:

Presidential Inaugurations: A Capital Parade on a Cold Winter's Day -- This resource from the National Endowment for the Humanities EdSITEment will provide an overview of the history of the Inauguration including information on the first Inauguration, the oath of office and inaugural balls. The resource also includes links to several other related resources.

All the Presidents' Children -- In this online interactive from Smithsonian's History Explorer, students learn about the lives of many of the children who grew up in the White House, such as who received a dog as a gift from a Soviet premier, and who was nicknamed "Dynamo."

If I Were President -- In this online activity from the Council for Economic Education's EconEdLink, students decide how they would structure the federal government's budget if they were president, determining how much to spend on schools, hospitals, roads, the military and the environment. The activity, along with a complimentary lesson plan, can be found at:

Barack Obama President-elect and Author -- In this resource from the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English's, students review the works of Barack Obama, specifically focusing on his experiences with media messages and his understanding of his identity. Students are asked to examine the way people of different ages, race and gender are portrayed in the media.

Science at the White House -- In this activity from the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Science NetLinks, students view a video of President-elect Obama discussing plans to hold White House events on such topics as space exploration and physics to raise awareness of the importance of science and inspire a sense of discovery. Students then participate in an online poll to offer topic suggestions.

Say it Plain: A Century of Great African-American Speeches -- In this partner-reviewed resource, students can read and listen to the keynote speech that Barack Obama gave at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and that launched him into the national spotlight. Students can also review speeches of 11 other prominent African-American leaders including Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. and Clarence Thomas.

Using Technology to Enhance the Writing Skills of Students With Special Needs

Don Johnston announced the publication of a new and independent research study by The Journal of Special Education Technology (JSET), a Division of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). The study "Using Software to Enhance the Writing Skills of Students with Special Needs" examines the impact of assistive technology on the writing skills of students with disabilities. This research compared students' writing outcomes using word prediction and talking word processor tools to their handwritten work samples.

Jennifer Cullen, Dayton Ohio Public Schools, Stephen B. Richards and Catherine Lawless-Frank; University of Dayton, performed the study to measure the impact of assistive technology writing tools on 5th graders' writing skills over a 7-week period at an urban elementary school. Don Johnston's Co:Writer® word prediction program and Write:OutLoud® talking word processor were chosen as the writing accommodations to support students during their daily district-mandated writing activities. The study demonstrated that the technology helped students improve their writing outcomes in four key measures: writing rubric scores, accuracy, spelling and number of words written.

The complete research study is available in the October 2008 JSET Issue, Volume 23(2), pg. 33-43. The online summary is:

Ben Johnston, Director at Don Johnston, said, "A high percent (65%) of students referred for learning disabilities have a writing disability. (Mayes, Calhoun, Crowell, 2000). Many of these students have physical, cognitive, or learning differences and can't reach their potential with conventional writing tools. This study demonstrates that students can thrive in the right environment provided they have the right tools. Over 20% of school districts use Co:Writer and Write:OutLoud as accommodations to support students who struggle in writing. We are pleased that more research is being done to match students to the right learning environment where they can excel."

In 2006, JSET published another study on the "Impact of Word Prediction Software on the Written Output of Students with Physical Disabilities", Volume 21, No. 3, prepared by Pat Mirenda and Kirsten Turoldo at the University of British Columbia and Constance McAvoy, Special Education Technology-British Columbia (SET-BC) Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This research examined the impact of Co:Writer on the written output of 24 students with physical disabilities. The study included surveys from students, teachers and adults after observing ten-minute writing samples in three modalities: handwriting, word processing, and word processing with Co:Writer. Two-thirds of students and over half of the adults believed that Co:Writer helped students spell better; use a wider variety of words; write faster; produce neater, easier-to-read work; and write more correct sentences. Another two-thirds believed that Co:Writer helped students write more with less fatigue and frustration and read what they had written. This research concluded that using word processing and Co:Writer together resulted in higher percentages of legible words, correctly spelled words, correct word sequences; and longer lengths of consecutive sentence sequences than by writing by hand alone.

Additional research and case studies about the benefits of assistive technology to support students with disabilities can be found at the Don Johnston website at and at the Journal of Special Education Technology's website

Resource Links:
Download this case study at:

Watch Co:Writer demo:

Read a summary of this and other Co:Writer research and case studies:

Adult Literacy Findings Highlight Need for Targeted Stimulus Funding

ProLiteracy today reiterated the need for substantial investment in adult literacy and adult basic education, as the findings of a federal study showed that nearly one in seven adults in the U.S. lack basic prose literacy skills.

The study, released by the U.S. Education Department's National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), revealed that many states have seen an increase in low-skilled adults since the last assessment in 1992. It estimates that an additional 3.6 million adults are now considered to have low literacy skills, bringing the total to almost 32 million adults in the U.S.

"The crisis of adult literacy is getting worse, and investment in education and support programs is critical," said David C. Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. "More than 1 million people lost their jobs in 2008 and the new unemployment figures are the highest in 16 years. A large number of the unemployed are low-skilled individuals who struggle with everyday reading, writing and math tasks. The administration wants to create new jobs with the stimulus packages, but to take advantage of those new positions, these adults need basic literacy skills."

It is estimated that illiteracy costs American businesses more than $60 billion each year in lost productivity and health and safety issues. However, almost 90 percent of adults who need access to literacy programs cannot obtain the services due to a lack of funding at the federal, state and local levels.

Program funding would inherently benefit the overall economy, as it provides additional tax income, more employment, reduced welfare payments and greater citizen involvement.

ProLiteracy recently made a call to action for Congress and the new administration to include at least $100 million of the economic stimulus package for Title II of the Workforce Investment Act, the federal government's largest discretionary program that supports adult basic education and literacy programs throughout the U.S.

For more information, visit and

Elementary school students earn $1,000 toward college through summer reading program

The Read to Succeed Summer Program has completed its inaugural effort with 70 percent of participating students earning $1,000 college savings accounts. Those students received certificates at ceremonies today at their respective schools.

Conducted by Read to Succeed, Inc. and funded by the Papitto Foundation, the Program encourages students from three inner-city Providence schools to read during their summer vacation. Students must read six books selected by their teachers as appropriate for their ability. They must also pass a computer-administered test on the books, provided to them at no cost, during their summer vacation. Those who pass six tests receive $1,000 accounts in the Rhode Island CollegeBoundfund(R), the state's tax-advantaged 529 plan.

In the summer of 2008, the Program included fourth graders in the current school term at Highlander Charter School, Bishop McVinney School, and Community Preparatory School. All are located in South Providence, and all serve primarily minority, inner-city, low-income students. Thirty-nine of the 55 students enrolled in the program earned their $1,000 accounts.

"We are proud and extremely happy that, in just its first summer, the Program enabled 39 students to reinforce their studies from the previous year, prepare themselves for the 2008-2009 school year, and begin earning and saving for their college education," said Barbara Papitto, President, Read to Succeed, Inc., Cranston, Rhode Island.

"When students read during the summer, they reinforce the learning of the previous school year," said Robert J. Shapiro, Superintendent Emeritus, Warwick, Rhode Island, Public Schools. "That, along with the college savings account, of course, is the immediate benefit. In the long run, if they become lifelong readers, they give themselves a tremendous advantage over students who read only what it required, and only during the school year." Shapiro is a consultant to the Read to Succeed Summer Program.


Blue Zoo: A New Blog for Young Writers

Attention: teachers, librarians, parents, grandparents . . . do you know a young writer you want encourage?

Here's a great new resource: Blue Zoo Young Writers blog. It offers practical help and inspiration for middle school and young teen writers.

Blue Zoo ( offers lots of fun ideas and activities to help young writers with all sort of writing projects: poetry, stories, articles for a school paper, book reviews, and lots more.

The ideas range from story starters to samples to quick exercises for a writing journal, all designed to teach writing techniques used by successful writers.

Want to get young writers' work published? Blue Zoo gives details on places to submit work for publication (recommended print magazines or online sites), plus news about good writing contests.

Blue Zoo is focused on fun and good writing. It has application for homeschooling assignments or in classroom literary arts programs. But the focus is on motivating young writers to write well for their own satisfaction.

Blue Zoo offers a path to writing success and enjoyment.

Please help us! Pass on the Blue Zoo link to local teachers, librarians, and parents . . . and online to friends and bloggers interested in writing and encouraging young writers.

Reading Habits of Teen Boys

One of the senior literature program consultants from Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, the leading provider of print and digital educational materials for middle and secondary students, recently studied adolescent boys and their reading, attitudes, aspirations, and the opportunities available to them to increase literacy.

The goal of Jeffrey Wilhelm, Ph.D., in launching the study was to find ways to support students who are often considered to be reluctant or resistant to reading. He discovered that as students go through school they are expected to read more challenging text, but receive less support for reading that text.

Dr. Wilhelm is an award-winning author, researcher, and university professor. He served as a school language arts teacher for 13 years, and published such books as Reading Don't Fix No Chevys: Literacy in the Lives of Young Men and You Gotta BE the Book: Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading with Adolescents.

During the interviews, almost every boy described himself as "not a reader." Dr. Wilhelm discovered just the opposite, he saw male adolescents reading comic books, magazines, and Web sites. The students thought they were non-readers because they accepted the school definition of a reader as a reader of traditional types of literature.

"In addition to introducing students to classic literature, there should also be an introduction to the types of literature that appeal to adolescents," Dr. Wilhelm said. "I noticed that many of the boys in our study didn't want to only read books off a list. They wanted to read material that mattered to them, material with a functional value that is in the here and now."

Dr. Wilhelm also found that many adolescent students view the literature taught in class as not relevant to their lives and because of that many teen students became cynical about reading. While Dr. Wilhelm supports teaching classic literature in class, he challenges teachers to make the literature relevant and come alive in the classroom.

"If a teacher can relate a piece a literature to what is happening in a student's life, the student will be engaged," he said.

Dr. Wilhelm's experience working with teen boys as well his knowledge of best practices in reaching all students are put to use in his co-authorship of Glencoe Literature: California Treasures, an all-new program for Grades 6-12 for California aligned with both California's language arts content and English language development standards.

For more information about Glencoe Literature: California Treasures, visit

Storybooks On Paper Better For Children Than Reading Fiction On Computer Screen

Clicking and scrolling interrupt our attentional focus. Turning and touching the pages instead of clicking on the screen influence our ability for experience and attention. The physical manipulations we have to do with a computer, not related to the reading itself, disturb our mental appreciation, says associate professor Anne Mangen at the Center for Reading Research at the University of Stavanger in Norway. She has investigated the pros and cons of new reading devices.

Mangen maintains that reading on a screen generates a new form of mental orientation. The reader loses both the completeness and constituent parts of the physical appearance of the reading material. The physical substance of a book offers tranquility. The text does not move on the page like it does on a screen.

"Several experiments in cognitive psychology have shown how a change of physical surroundings has a potentially negative affect on memory. We should include this in our evaluation of digital teaching aids. The technology provides for a number of dynamic, mobile and ephemeral forms of learning, but we know little about how such mobility and transience influence the effect of teaching. Learning requires time and mental exertion and the new media do not provide for that," Mangen believes.

"We experience to day a one-sided admiration for the potentials in the technology. ICT is now introduced in kindergarten without much empirical research on how it influences children’s learning and development. The whole field is characterized by an easy acceptance and a less subtle view of the technology," the researcher says.
Would you warn against the use of digital teaching material?

"Critical perspectives on new technologies are often brushed aside as a result of moral panic and doomsday prophecies. I will not warn against it, but I think there is generally little reflection around digital teaching material. What we need, is a more nuanced view on the potentials and limitations of all technologies – even of the book. Very often important discussions about technology and learning have a tendency to reduce a complex field to a question about being for or against," Mangen explains.

The development of digital media leads to a need for more sophisticated concepts of reading and writing and a new understanding of these activities.

"Many people say that children read less and not so well as earlier. With which technology do they read less? What types of text do they read less well? What conceptions of reading are we talking about," Anne Mangen asks.

Even if children and young people do not read as many novels in book form any more, one may still argue that they actually read more than before. Most of what they do on a computer or on their cell phones, is exactly reading and writing.

"Swedish researchers believe we understand more and better when reading on paper than when we read the same text on a screen. We avoid navigating and the small things we don't think about, but which subconsciously takes attention away from the reading. Also texts on a screen are often not adapted to the screen format. The most important difference is when the text becomes digital. Then it loses its physical dimension, which is special to the book, and the reader loses his feeling of totality."

Mangen has mainly been looking at hypertext stories. These stories exploit the multimedia possibilities of a computer and use both hypertext, video, sound, pictures and text. They are constructed in such a way that clicking one's way around them comes close to a literary computer game.

As a researcher, Mangen is interested in the physical aspect of reading and applies theories from psychology and phenomenology linked to the relationships between motor functions and attention in order to highlight the difference between reading a novel and a hypertext story.

"The digital hypertext technology and its use of multimedia are not open to the experience of a fictional universe where the experience consists of creating your own mental images. The reader gets distracted by the opportunities for doing something else," Mangen says.

Source: The University of Stavanger,

Houston Students 'Read for the Record' to Help Close the Literacy Gap

More than 30,000 children from the largest school district in Texas took part in a major effort to set the record for the number of people reading the same book on the same day across Houston.

The day-long event was designed to bring attention to the importance of reading early in a child's life in conjunction with Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign. The Houston Independent School District (HISD) was slated to participate in Read for the Record, the world's largest shared reading experience, on Oct.2 but had to postpone its participation as a result of Hurricane Ike.

HISD and Pearson officials planned the record-breaking event to bring awareness to the literacy gap and to demonstrate the importance of reading to young children.

"Our goal was to help children and their families get excited about reading. Every child's academic success begins with reading," said Dr. Abelardo Saavedra, HISD Superintendent. "Pearson's generous book donation is helping us to drive home the message about the importance of reading, and we appreciate their support of this effort."

Superintendent Saavedra and Paul McFall, senior vice president of curriculum for Pearson, kicked off the day by reading the popular children's book Corduroy, the Read for the Record Campaign's official book, to pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students. The students were enthralled by the children's classic and had many questions and comments for the guest readers.

At other HISD schools across Houston, parents, public officials, business executives from companies such as Pearson, and even Santa Claus read Corduroy to children in their classrooms.

The Pearson Foundation provided 1,800 copies of Corduroy in English and Spanish and related online instructional resources such as lesson plans and classroom activities to help HISD reinforce early literacy skills.

The publication of Corduroy was underwritten by the Pearson Foundation, ensuring that 100% of the proceeds directly benefit Jumpstart's work with at-risk children. Additionally, each book purchased online was matched with a donation from the Pearson Foundation to support Jumpstart's early education programs for children in low-income communities across the nation.

"Research shows that poor reading skills early in a child's life contribute significantly to the widening of the achievement gap. Children are more likely to struggle in school if they rarely or ever are read to at home," said Pearson Foundation President Mark Nieker. "Pearson was privileged to work with HISD on this important effort to raise awareness of the literacy gap--a national problem that can be overcome."

Website: Jumpstart's Read for the Record, visit

Schools Shake-up Fails to Learn Lessons from the Past

The government is preparing a generation to fail by ignoring the need for compulsory financial literacy in its proposed education reforms, according to one industry expert.

Sara-Ann Burgess, the managing director of independent specialist protection insurer Burgesses, is alarmed that there is no mention of pupils having to learn about day-to-day financial matters such as interest rates and mortgages.

"I find it incredible that at a time when the economy is rapidly going down the drain that the interim report makes no mention of any formal requirement that pupils be grounded in the essential financial knowledge they will require when they eventually move into work and onto the property ladder.

"Part of the reason why the country is in such an economic mess at the moment is that many people did not understand the consequence of their actions when they maxed out their credit and store cards, oblivious to the fact that high interest rates would put them in extreme financial difficulties if they could not make full repayments each month.

"Financial ignorance made some people easy prey for loan sharks and that in turn lead in many cases to familial breakup and all the social welfare issues that go hand-in-hand with this that create a drain on the public purse, and ultimately undermine fiscal policy.

"And it is not just an 'underclass' that has suffered from financial ignorance. Many so-called educated people have fallen victim to boiler room or Ponzie schemes because they did not possess the financial know how to see through the sales patter and lost a lot of money."

Under the proposals presented to the Schools Secretary Ed Balls, some subjects will be lost to be replaced in the curriculum by lessons deemed more inclusive and true to life.

But Burgess argues that without a strong grounding in basic finance tomorrows consumers will simply be fodder for unscrupulous product providers and dodgy brokers and bankers.

"Those who fail to learn the financial lessons of the past are condemned to repeat them in the future. If we really want to create a new inclusive financial world order we must start by arming people with the knowledge that equips them to make the best choices about their financial well-being," Burgess added.

"We do not want to see a return to a time when lenders took advantage of customers by flogging them single premium payment protection insurance when much cheaper cover was available but consumers lacked the knowledge to calculate that they would save hundreds of pounds by simply going to an independent provider like British Insurance."


Mattel Children's Foundation Awards $10,000 Grant

Spread the Word Nevada: Kids to Kids, is the recipient of a $10,000 grant awarded by Mattel Children's Foundation. The grant will allow Spread the Word Nevada, children's literacy project, to continue the mission of adopting elementary schools in the Clark County School District deemed at-risk, in order to serve the disadvantaged children and their families in southern Nevada. After the adoption, new and gently used books donated by individuals, community organizations, local businesses, and corporations are distributed to the at-risk youth. At this time, sixteen elementary schools benefit from monthly book distributions.

Mattel Children's Foundation received over 1,100 applications for the grant from organizations through out the United States. The Domestic Grant program supports "healthy lives and active play, literacy, girls' empowerment and joy for children in need" - visit Spread the Word Nevada was one of twenty organizations awarded with the grant. Mattel recognized Spread the Word Nevada, as an effective and innovative program serving the community.

Kids to Kids, a flagship program of Spread the Word Nevada, Inc., a nonprofit, 501(c) (3) corporation, serves at-risk children and helps them create home library collections of books to read and share with family members. While developing a love of reading, these libraries promote future academic achievement and higher self-esteem, which impacts lifelong success. Since 2001, the program has distributed over one million books and has served more than 109,000 children in the Las Vegas Valley and Clark County School District. Website: