Parent Resource Center Literacy Presentation September 19 th and 20 th Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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1 Parent Resource Center Literacy Presentation September 19 th and 20 th Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 1. How can you evaluate a grade level child and get individual and additional support? All students in Grades K 2 in Fairfax County Public Schools are assessed using the DRA2 Word Analysis (K) and the DRA2 (1 and 2). Information is shared with parents by the classroom teacher. If a parent has not received this information, (s)he can request the information at the upcoming Parent Teacher conferences in November. Students in Grades 3 6 are also assessed on reading. Check with your child s teacher to find out which assessment is used at your child s school and how you can get that information from the teacher. 2. How do you get the child away from just sounding the works and teaching him to find meaning? It s important that children are taught that reading is more than just sounding out the words. The bigger part of reading is understanding the author s message. To support this, it is important that students are taught to selfmonitor their reading by stopping occasionally and asking Does this make sense? If the answer is yes, the child can continue to read. If the answer is no, the child needs to return to the text and use fix-up strategies, such as re-reading, to make sure the meaning of the text is clearly understood. 3. How do I make sure my child s teacher has given my child and is giving/teaching him what he needs to know/learn from reading? FCPS has a reading Program of Studies (POS) for each grade level. Teachers are accountable for delivering instruction to students so that students can demonstrate mastery of the reading curriculum on the Virginia Standards of Learning Tests every spring. The POS meets all of the Virginia Standards of Learning as well as additional requirements set by the district. 4. How many minutes or hours should a Kindergarten child be reading or read to at home? Research shows us that the more time children spend reading or being read to at home, the higher their academic achievement is on things like the College Board s SAT exams, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), formal reading assessments, and reading achievement in general. For example, research shows that students who read at least 40 minutes per day score in the 90 th percentile on reading tests and read a total of 2,357,000 words per year. A student who reads at least 12.9 minutes a day scores at the 50 th percentile and reads a total of 601,000 words per year. Finally, a student who reads 1.6 minutes per day achieves at the 10 th percentile and reads a total of 51,000 words a year (What Really Matters : Kids Need to Read a Lot, Richard Allington, p. 46). A recommendation is that a K child spends at least 15 minutes a day reading to him/herself and additional time being read to outside of school. 5. Is reading on a tablet as good as reading a book? Yes. Reading is reading whether we read hard copy material or digital text. Electronic devices allow readers to carry many books, all in one. Many devices support the reader with options like highlighting and audio support, too. In the 21 st century our students will need to read and gather information from a variety of sources, and devices can help make that convenient. Hard copy books are not going away though. So, our 21 st century readers have the best of both choices. 6. How are advanced students supported (similar pyramid) in Advanced Academics Programs? Students receiving advanced academic services receive support similar to students in general education programs. Teachers who work with students receiving services receive training in the cognitive and affective

2 needs of students working at advanced levels that is part of the differentiation they provide academically and socially. Students in AAP levels of service also may require scaffolding to access the curriculum depending on their profile of strengths and background knowledge, and AAP teachers provide that just as a teacher in general education would. 7. Can you provide guidance on book choices for young children in Advanced Academics Programs? Book selection for students reading at an advanced level does require some extra attention. Many students may be reading at a level beyond themes that they are ready to read independently. Fortunately there is a multitude of high quality books available for students. A few suggested resources to help are: Some of My Best Friends are Books by Halstead school and public librarians websites such as: How do you teach letters to young children who speak English as a second language? Children need real, meaningful experiences to learn, such experiences should be provided when they re learning letters. This means that learning letters in a print-rich environment, with meaningful conversation, is ideal. Use children s names, their friends names, familiar objects and environmental print as a starting off point for teaching letters. Connecting letters to something children already know, as well as things that mean something to the kids, helps the process. 9. Scenario: At the end of Kindergarten my child was reading at a level 4. They have not yet been assessed in the first grade. Can you tell me what level books we should be targeting? Teachers are assessing students at the beginning of the year, and that assessment information can be provided by the classroom teacher. After the teacher has assessed the student, he/she will be more than happy to provide book recommendations for students at his/her independent reading level. Check with your child s classroom teacher to get recommendations for independent reading material. 10. Do we have a right to know where our children are reading at to help them improve? Parents can access their child s current level of performance in reading by contacting their child s teacher. Inquire about your child s specific strengths and weaknesses in language arts, and request recommendations to help with the home-school connection. 11. What can we do at home to support the teacher with our child s reading? Create strong literacy partnerships with your child s school by promoting good reading habits at home. Some ways include: reading aloud to your child, discussing books, providing access to books/digital text, visiting the library, scheduling a daily reading time at home, and by being a reading role model to your child by immersing yourself into books and print.

3 12. What are the steps to take to have your child to see if he/she has dyslexia? If you have concerns about your child s reading ability, start at the school level by conferencing with the teacher. Request information regarding your child s present level of performance in reading. If your child is struggling, ask what type of intervention is being given to target your child s specific needs and how your child is responding to the intervention. Parents can always refer their child to the school s Child Study Team or Local Screening Committee to discuss areas of concern/ determine if formal testing is necessary to determine the need for special education services. Above all, educate yourself about topics like dyslexia and advocate for your child should you suspect a problem. 13. Who handles reading comprehension within special education instruction? All teachers of students take responsibility for all components of reading instruction, whether it s phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, or comprehension. Teachers collaborate to meet the needs of students on a regular basis. 14. Is ecart being changed in FCPS to reflect the reading requirements in the new SOLs? Yes, ecart has already been changed in FCPS to reflect the new Standards of Learning (SOLs) 15. Do teachers need special training for each of the reading programs listed in tiers of support? Yes, teachers need special training by a company or certified trainer for each of the reading programs listed in tiers of support. 16. Is there any difference in learning to read between a non-native student (who speaks English as a second language) and a native student? Students benefit when exposed to a rich language environment. Use of the home language encourages communication and conversation between parents and children. Research finds that bilingualism and proficiency in the home language benefit academic achievement, and that home language skills transfer to English language development. Early literacy skills also transfer from the home language to English. Students may learn letters in their home language, and learn to spell their name. When the child understands that print represents words, like their name or names of favorite things that understanding transfers to English. A way to develop these skills, in both the home language and English is through songs and books. A solid foundation in basic literacy (opening books, talking about pictures, understanding that pictures go with words) is a foundational to learning to read. Skilled use of language can support thinking and learning. Using the home language also builds self-esteem, which promotes learning and gives students the foundation on which to tie new learning. 17. How do I encourage my second grader to get motivated to do his homework without me repeatedly asking him to do it? Many strategies can be used to motivate students to complete homework. Having a regular home routine that provides time for homework should be created in order for the student to have a clear understanding of the expectations. Perhaps a break and snack can be provided for the student before he/she begins homework each evening, or some sort of reward can be provided after homework has been completed. Taking a short break

4 between homework subjects could also be helpful so students don t fatigue after assignments. If necessary, a chart with simple steps that the student can check off could be provided for the student with a reward after a certain number of successful days. 18. What is more important for becoming a better reader fluency or comprehension? Both are equally important. The ultimate goal of reading is to understand the author s intended message (comprehension). From cognitive research, we know that when readers lack fluency, their short-term working memory is so tied up with decoding that there is not enough space left for processing meaning, and comprehension is undermined. In other words, lack of fluency affects comprehension. 19. What are some strategies to encourage reluctant readers? Making connections between what is read and their own interests and experiences is key to engage reluctant readers and motivate them to read regularly and for pleasure. 20. What type of question is better for pre-kindergarten literals or inferentials? All readers, regardless of their age, must be able to answer both literal and inferential questions. Text that is age appropriate and is related to their own experiences and background knowledge enables students to be able to answer both kinds of questions. For literal questions, students will be able to put their finger right on the text to show where the question is answered. For inferential questions, students will be able to tell why they answered the question as they did, bringing together information provided in the text with what they already know about the topic. 21. Can I have some tips on how to teach reading to children in Kindergarten? First and foremost, read to your child every opportunity you get. Select both fiction and non-fiction. Engage these early readers in a lot of talk about the books you share together. You can have them practice retelling the story in their own words and have them recall important elements like the setting (time and place), characters, events, problem and solution. Practice letter names and sounds playing games, using magnetic letters, or by identifying in print or in their environment. Students love to make letters/words using manipulatives like clay, letter tiles, etc. Practice identifying words in context. Read together in pairs taking turns or as an echo where you read and your child repeats back. 22. Are comic books okay for students in grades K-3? Comic books and even graphic novels for older students are appropriate reading for students to engage them in print. We promote exposing students to a balance of genre but comics are often a great hook to engage reluctant readers. 23. Are reading assessments publicly available? In order to maintain security, all reading assessments are available to parents/guardians who have signed a Test Security Agreement prior to viewing the assessment. Parents may make arrangements with their child s classroom teacher to view and go over their own child s individual reading assessments at a time and place that works for both parties. 24. Scenario: My son can read chapter books but when we go to the library he always chooses picture books which are for Kindergarten or first grade. He is in 3 rd grade now. What can I do?

5 Many picture books are actually quite sophisticated and address topics and concepts that are more developmentally appropriate for older elementary children. Contact your child s teacher and ask for recommendations for books that are appropriate for your child s independent reading level. 25. What reading program would be used for a dyslexic student to teach phonemic awareness and phonics? Does anyone use the Orton Gillingham program? In Fairfax County, the Office of Special Education Instruction trains teachers in a program called FUNdations that targets phonemic awareness and phonics. This program is based on Orton- Gillingham principles. Additionally, Read Well and Language! are based on instruction that is explicit, systematic, cumulative, multi-sensory, and cognitive-all of which espouse similar principles. 26. Once a child learns to read, how long do you continue reading to him/her? Research shows that many parents discontinue reading to their children once the child has learned to read him/herself (about age 6). This unfortunately limits the child s reading to words that (s)he can decode and are in their background knowledge. When parents continue to read to their children beyond age 6, they expose those children to a wider variety of authors, topics, and genres. For example, a 10 year old child would probably not choose to read the Child s Version of Classics such as Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde on his/her own, but would likely be captivated by having the book read to him/her and then making predictions at the end of each chapter about what will happen in the next chapter and reading on to see if the prediction is confirmed. 27. How does the time for guided practice work with reading (steps?)? Once a child has been taught a specific reading skill or strategy, it is essential that (s)he has multiple opportunities to apply that skill or strategy when reading independently. In school, teachers document student s use of strategies during independent reading with application time. Parents can do the same thing at home with their children. Talk with your student s teacher to find out which skills or strategies your child should be practicing when reading independently. 28. What is the recommended time to spend reading with a primary level child? Research shows that regardless of how time spent reading is measured, there exists a very strong relationship between time spent reading and reading achievement. It is clear from these studies that students should spend a minimum of 90 minutes reading in-school. Additional time reading at home is also related to reading achievement. The more time spent reading, the higher the reading achievement. See answer to question #4 above for some time/achievement correlations (What Really Matters: Kids Need to Read a Lot, Richard Allington, pp ). 29. How does a parent find the instructional level? Ask your child s teacher to share assessment information determining your child s instructional and independent reading levels. 30. Does having a child read the same age-appropriate book repeatedly help or hurt? Any kind of reading is always a plus, even when re-reading the same age-appropriate book multiple times. 31. What is the CARS reading comprehension program? CARS is a reading comprehension intervention program that provides individualized, explicit, and targeting instruction in comprehension for students in grades K-8. This program is used in Fairfax County for students with disabilities when it is the instructional match based on the student s needs.

6 32. How do you know what books are suitable to child s reading level? Books that match the child s instructional level are appropriate for reading during instruction with the teacher. Books that match the child s independent level are appropriate for children to read when reading alone or with a buddy. 33. Is there a program for vocabulary building? There are many vocabulary building programs available commercially. Research shows that time spent reading a wide variety of genres is the strongest vocabulary builder there is stronger than any vocabulary building program that teaches words in isolation (Six Steps to Effective Vocabulary Instruction, Robert Marzano, 2004).

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