6 tips for tech-enabled instruction in the early literacy classroom

There are plenty of reasons that K–3 teachers tend to be less likely than their middle and high school peers to use technology in the classroom. From their focus on hands-on learning to a lack of district-provided devices in the lower grades, the reasons are both pedagogical and budgetary. However, by incorporating technology into their classrooms, K–3 teachers can add flexibility and personalization to their instruction—and even get some of their own time back.

That said, not all technology is created equal, and even well-made tools can be counterproductive when used improperly. Here are a few tips and tricks for integrating technology into your reading lessons.

1. Get to know the tech you already have.…Read More

Arizona Department of Education Names 95 Percent Group an Approved K-3 Reading Improvement Program

Lincolnshire, Ill. – 95 Percent Group LLC, a leading provider of literacy solutions and instructional strategies for K-12 schools nationwide, announced today that the Arizona Department of Education approved its 95 Phonics Core Program™ as a supplemental literacy curriculum and its Phonological Awareness Lessons, Phonics Lesson Library™ and Phonics Chip Kit as early literacy intervention resources. Schools in Arizona can now find 95 Percent Group’s evidence-based products on their state list of reading improvement programs and begin using them immediately. 

The approval was based upon new, state-reviewed efficacy research confirming that 95 Percent Group’s foundational reading products meet Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Level 1-3 evidence requirement for reading instruction. The criteria were established by the Arizona Department of Education as part of its Move On When Reading initiative, an effort to provide all readers with specific, targeted instruction and interventions so that they are reading at or above grade level by the end of the 3rd grade. 

“95 Percent Group believes that evidence-based reading instruction is essential in schools. We have long invested in research that demonstrates the efficacy of our offerings,” said Brad Lindaas, Chief Executive Officer. “The Arizona Department of Education has been a key partner for us for many years, and today’s news will only strengthen our ability to support educators state-wide in promoting the development of early reading skills for all students. With this development, we expect it will be easier for more districts in Arizona to learn about and benefit from our evidence-based products,” he added. …Read More

Kentucky Department of Education Approves Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready® Assessment for Grades K–3 as a Universal Screener for Early Literacy

NORTH BILLERICA, Mass.—The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) recently named Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready Assessment for Reading as an approved universal screener for early literacy. Now, districts across the state can use data from the online program as part of a multi-tiered system of supports for students in Grades K–3 as outlined by the state’s Read to Succeed Act. Today, i-Ready serves more than 11 million students and approximately one-third of all students in Grades K–8 in the United States, including more than 80,000 students across Kentucky.

“Early screening is the first step to helping young learners on their path to reading success,” said Rob Waldron, CEO of Curriculum Associates. “The data from our i-Ready Assessment will help Kentucky educators understand where students are in their reading and develop a reading improvement plan, if needed, to help students meet reading goals.”

As part of the Read to Succeed Act, all superintendents in the state must select at least one universal reading screener to administer to all students in Grades K–3 by January 1, 2023. Superintendents can choose from the approved list of screeners, all of which underwent a rigorous review by the KDE. KDE’s approval process, which is guided by the National Center on Intensive Intervention at American Institutes for Research’s Screening Tools Chart Rating System and the Institute for Education Sciences, examined measures for classification accuracy, reliability, validity, and representative sample.…Read More

Madison Metropolitan School District Selects Open Up Resources And Kiddom To Provide K-5 English Language Arts Blended Learning Program

MADISON, WI – Today, Open Up Resources and Kiddom announced Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) has selected its top-rated EL Education K-5 Education Language Arts (ELA) curriculum for its 31 elementary schools in support of the district’s efforts to prioritize early literacy and beyond. Open Up Resources, a nonprofit, works to increase equity in education by making the highest quality curriculum accessible to educators, and Kiddom is the first all-in-one education platform for high quality digital curriculum.

MMSD’s investment will provide its teachers the ability to utilize the ELA curriculum to:

●      Share assignments digitally;…Read More

After Successful Pilot, Schools Adopt EarlyBird Game-Based Screener to Identify Children at Risk for Dyslexia and Reading Difficulties

BOSTON — Aug. 12, 2021 — After participating in a pilot trial of the new EarlyBird game-based early literacy assessment, schools and districts across the United States have chosen to adopt EarlyBird for the 2021-22 school year. Developed and scientifically validated at Boston Children’s Hospital in partnership with faculty at the Florida Center for Reading Research, EarlyBird brings together all the relevant predictors of reading in one easy-to-administer assessment, and provides teachers with customized action plans and resources for each student.

During the 2020-21 school year, schools and districts from Maine to California tested EarlyBird with approximately 2,000 children. Maine School Administrative District No. 11 (MSAD #11), for example, began piloting EarlyBird in one elementary school in March, then expanded to a second school in May. This fall, it will implement EarlyBird in all kindergarten classrooms district-wide.

“As soon as we began using EarlyBird, we realized it had a lot of power in terms of the experience it offers students and the actionable data it provides to classroom teachers,” said Angela Hardy, director of curriculum and instruction for MSAD #11. “This data not only helps teachers respond to the needs of the students in front of them, it also helps them think about how they might change their practices or scope and sequence in years to come.”…Read More

DreamBox Learning® Enters ELA Market with Acquisitions of Reading Plus® and Squiggle Park

BELLEVUE, Wash. —July 19, 2021 — DreamBox Learning, the leading education technology provider that in 2006 pioneered intelligent adaptive learning, today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Reading Plus, an evidence-based online reading program for grades 3-12 designed to help students boost their literacy skills and reading confidence. This move complements DreamBox’s recent acquisition of Squiggle Park, a K-2 reading solution designed to help students gain proficiency in early literacy. The combined programs offer school districts the only dual-discipline solution rated “Strong” by Johns Hopkins’ EvidenceforESSA.org in both mathematics and reading.

“These strategic additions to the DreamBox family represent a significant milestone toward achieving our mission to radically change the way the world learns and unlock learning potential for all students – regardless of race, gender or zip code,” said Jessie Woolley-Wilson, President and CEO of DreamBox Learning. “We believe the winning formula to shape the future of learning has three components:  dual-discipline offerings that cultivate a strong foundation in mathematics and reading; strong data and analytics solutions that leverage formative data to personalize the learning experience; and professional development to help educators develop their blended learning knowledge and skills.” 

Currently, DreamBox supports over 5 million students and over 200,000 educators in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated DreamBox’s growth as most district administrators rapidly adopted and scaled blended learning solutions to support remote learning. During this time, teachers’ attitudes towards blended learning changed and they began to see it as a powerful and effective strategy to deliver engaging, personalized, and effective learning experiences that enabled them to keep learning “on” even when schools were closed.…Read More

Zaner-Bloser Partners with Listenwise to Sell Its Listening Skills Platform

Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of early literacy resources, has entered into an agreement with ed-tech company Listenwise, an award-winning platform that brings podcasts to the classroom, to promote and sell its listening skills platform of the same name to the K-5 market.

Launched in 2014 for secondary grade students and in 2020 for elementary school students, Listenwise harnesses the power of listening to advance literacy and learning in all students by using podcasts as classroom texts, amplifying content and providing students practice in required listening skills. It uses a curated collection of compelling, nonfiction podcasts and stories from National Public Radio and other trusted sources, paired with learning tools and comprehension assessments, to engage students while advancing their literacy skills. Aligned with all states’ English Language Arts standards, it’s a unique listening skills platform for the K-12 school market.

“We’re excited to promote and offer this program in alignment with our mission of providing joyful learning opportunities for all students,” said Amanda Stedke, Vice President of Product for Zaner-Bloser. “Listening to podcasts is an engaging way for all students to build their literacy skills.”…Read More

5.3 Million Star Assessments Show the True Impact of the COVID Slide

Renaissance, a global leader in pre-K–12 education technology, has released How Kids Are Performing: Tracking the Impact of COVID-19 on Reading and Mathematics Achievement, a report detailing the learning effects associated with COVID-19 school disruptions. Designed to end the speculation and provide guidance for educators as they address learning gaps, the report is based on the results of more than five million student assessments.

Student assessments from all 50 states and the District of Columbia were included in the sample, which consisted of students in grades 1–8 who took Star Early Literacy, Star Reading, or Star Math assessments during both Fall 2019 and Fall 2020.

Key findings of the report include the following:…Read More

Student achievement begins with the family

At Wichita Falls Independent School District in Texas, we believe every student deserves to begin their academic career at the same starting line. It’s an issue of fairness and equity, certainly, but it’s also a practical matter. When students fall behind in the earliest years of their education, around ages 5–7, it becomes much more difficult to bring them to grade-level reading as they grow. Simply put, the biggest bang for our buck in developing strong students across grade levels comes from starting early and making sure they have a solid foundation.

Related: Can technology help teach literacy in poor communities?

The students who need the most help, however, often face a slew of other challenges in their lives, from unstable home environments to poverty and hunger and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). We’ve found that committing to focus on school readiness, partnering with community organizations, and looking to technology for an assist when needed, can go a long way toward helping provide students with the right tools to succeed.…Read More