Category Archives: Education

Education

Millions Have Dyslexia, Few Understand It

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Part 1 of our series “Unlocking Dyslexia.”

“It’s frustrating that you can’t read the simplest word in the world.”

Thomas Lester grabs a book and opens to a random page. He points to a word: galloping.

“Goll—. G—. Gaa—. Gaa—. G—. ” He keeps trying. It is as if the rest ­­of the word is in him somewhere, but he can’t sound it out.

“I don’t … I quit.” He tosses the book and it skids along the table.

Despite stumbling over the simplest words, Thomas — a fourth-grader — is a bright kid. In fact, that’s an often-misunderstood part of dyslexia: It’s not about lacking comprehension, having a low IQ or being deprived of a good education.

It’s about having a really hard time reading.

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States. It touches the lives of millions of people, including me and Thomas. Just like Thomas, I spent much of my childhood sitting in a little chair across from a reading tutor.

Today, Thomas is working with his tutor in an office building in northwest Washington, D.C. The suite they’re in is an oasis of white couches and overstuffed pillows. In the waiting area, a kid is curled up sucking her thumb, and a mom reads a magazine quietly.

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Education

Bilingual Education Returns To California. Now What?

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Voters in California officially ended the era of English-only instruction in public schools and lifted restrictions on bilingual education that had been in place for 18 years. Proposition 58 passed by a 73-27 percent margin. What happens next though, could get complicated.

Classrooms won’t change this school year because the measure doesn’t kick in until July 2017. Until then, state and school district officials need to figure out three big things:

1. How many schools will actually begin to offer bilingual or dual language instruction?

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Education

How To Teach A Sea Lion Who’s Fussy About Grammar

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When it comes to sentence structure, Rocky, a sea lion, was a stickler.

“It really mattered to her, what’s going to be the direct and indirect object,” says Kathy Streeter, an animal trainer.

For Sierra, it isn’t the grammar that interests her. It’s the vocalizations. This California sea lion loves experimenting with her vocal range, and she hates being interrupted.

More than 1 million people visit the New England Aquarium in Boston each year. Before walking through the front door, they watch Atlantic harbor seals play. Inside, visitors watch sea lions cruise around the open-air pool.

What these visitors may not know is that the aquarium’s 10 seals and two sea lions go to school each day; Streeter is one of their teachers.

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Education

Boosting Attendance In Preschool Can Start With A Knock On The Door

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There’s a lot of attention right now on improving attendance in schools — making sure kids don’t miss too many days. But what about the littlest students — those 3 and 4 years old? New research shows that if kids miss a lot of preschool, they’re way more likely to have problems in kindergarten or later on.

Researchers and many top preschool programs are focusing on one solution as a way of getting pre-K attendance up: Home visits at the beginning of the year, before kids start missing and before parents have a chance to feel skeptical about the school.

“No parent or family member wants the first contact to be, ‘Hey, you need to come to school for a parent meeting and it needs to happen now,’ ” says Rachel Wessler, a teacher at Burrville Elementary School in northeast Washington, D.C. Wessler trains other teachers at Burrville to do home visits, which are a big part of the school’s overall strategy.

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Education

When The Students On Campus Have Kids Of Their Own

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The young women in this story have labels. Three labels: Single, mother, college student. They’re raising a child and getting an education — three of the 2.6 million unmarried parents attending U.S. colleges and universities.

Getting a degree is hard enough for anyone, but these students face extra challenges. And when it comes to helping out with their needs, Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., is considered one of the best in the country.

It’s a liberal arts school with 1,100 students. There’s a large farm, an equestrian program, and 15 students in the Single Parent Scholars program. This year all are moms, though men are welcome too.

They live in apartments that once were dorm rooms. And they are easy to notice on campus.

“We have children running around the dining hall while everyone else is trying to eat,” says Heather Schuler. She’s 25, a sophomore psychology major and the mother of a 2-year-old son.

Schuler is sitting outside the dining hall with her friend Michelle Rogers, who has a 4-year-old daughter. Rogers, 27, a senior environmental studies major, says being a parent and a student requires some adjustments.

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Education

Freedom To Explore: 2 Schools Where The Students Call The Shots

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An 8-year-old named Ben is sitting quietly by himself in a bean bag in a classroom in Mountain View, Calif. He’s writing in his journal, an assignment he created himself.

“This one was, ‘What I Wish We Would Have More Of,’ ” Ben says, reading to me from his notebook. “I hope we have more field trips.” He stops and looks up. “I have more entries, but I don’t want to share them.”

That’s cool; it’s your journal, Ben.

I ask him, What is it you like about your school?

“You can move at your own pace,” he says. “You don’t have to be with everyone else. I like that.”

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