Building the ‘why’ into a districtwide literacy implementation

At Rockford Public Schools, we have a strong commitment to literacy growth. We take a comprehensive approach beginning with our foundational curriculum.

Foundational literacy instruction accounts for 50 minutes of the literacy framework; this includes up to 30 minutes for core instruction and 20 minutes engaged in the aligned software. Extended transfer beyond the Daily Core 4 is embedded within the framework as well. Other components of the RPS literacy framework include Integrated Literacy which integrates English language arts standards, Next Generation Science Standards, C3 standards, and some health standards. The elementary schools use Units of Study Writing as the core writing resource aligned to standards. 

Our students spend about 210 to 220 minutes per day in the area of literacy instruction and practice. One area we’ve recently been working on improving is the consistency of language and approach when it comes to explicit phonics instruction and the science of reading. We have a number of students with gaps in literacy. It is imperative that all of our teachers, instructional coaches , and administrators share a common language and instructional practices to support all students in the area of literacy.…Read More

2 teacher perspectives on ELLs and learning loss

Since the pandemic started, teachers and students have had to transition from brick-and-mortar classrooms to virtual environments, and back. During this time, learning loss–the reversal of academic progress due to disrupted formal education–has been of significant concern to educators. Unfortunately, studies show that English Language Learners (ELLs) have been disproportionately impacted by learning loss, as compared to their peers.

According to the OECD, school closures and distance learning measures have put ELLs at a greater disadvantage compared to the general student population. A learning gap, which existed prior to the pandemic, is widening across the United States. At the same time, the demands of virtual and hybrid learning have put incredible strains on teachers throughout the pandemic. 

This issue has become a point of controversy for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, who do not feel the term ‘learning loss’ accurately describes the complex situation faced by ELLs in America.  …Read More

BOOKR Kids Enters US Educational Market With BOOKR CLASS Next Generation ESL Learning App For Classrooms And Families

BUDAPEST/LOS ANGELES (October 1, 2021) – An acclaimed and multi award-winning English As A Second Language (ESL)appin daily use with over 20,000 classrooms across Europe is launching in the US.  Produced and distributed worldwide by Budapest-based EdTec leader BOOKR Kids ( For Schools – BOOKR Kids) BOOKR Class combines original animation, music, interactive games, storytelling, animated flash cards with 4,000 words and a vast library of children’s books from prestigious publishers including Oxford University Press, Albert Whitman & Company and Blue Apple Publishing to deliver a first-of-its-kind ESL tool for both classroom and home use.

According to BOOKR Kids Founder and Chief Executive Officer Dorka Horvath, BOOKR Class underscores the unique effectiveness of ability digital media as ESL learning tools for the classroom.  “The digital world is constantly evolving, and students nowadays are constantly connected to digital media. Thanks to these many digital stimuli, their stimulus thresholds have risen, making it an increasing challenge for teachers to arouse their students’ interest and maintain their attention. Immersive and interactive, digital learning tools can encourage new levels of creativity and concentration in the classroom,” said Horvath. BOOKR Class presents storybooks in a highly engaging format to focus on reading in English.  Contemporary children’s literature combined with the use of advanced digital technology allows unprecedented opportunity for interactivity and engagement.  “Experiential learning is the future of education.  Children have always been naturally curious and motivated by interactive activities, making them perfect partners for digital educational platforms. Experiential learning can induce curiosity and excitement, creating a dynamic learning environment that engages children by tapping into their natural abilities.”

Organized in multiple levels that specifically address all age groups from kindergarten through eighth grade, BOOKR Classutilizes Accidental Learning as a basis for its comprehensive approach to teaching English.  A burgeoning new category of instruction, Accidental Learning occurs when the student is immersed in a range of activities and experiences outside of the scope of traditional instruction that leads to learning.  BOOKR Class promotes learning English vocabulary and structure as a by-product of enjoying the app’s diverse interactive elements.  To continuously measure each child’s reading ability, BOOKR Classemploys Lexile® Framework for Reading learning measurement technology. …Read More

DreamBox Learning® Announces Record Expansion into New School Districts

BELLEVUE, Wash. — September 15, 2021 — DreamBox Learning, the leading education technology provider that in 2006 pioneered intelligent adaptive learning, today announced new expansions and partnerships with school district customers, including Prince George’s County Public Schools and East Baton Rouge Parish School System. The districts join DreamBox during a year of record growth and expansion into the K-12 English Language Arts market with the acquisitions of Reading Plus® and Squiggle Park. DreamBox now delivers personalized and adaptive math and reading learning experiences to nearly 6 million students.

As the only dual-discipline provider offering school districts solutions rated “Strong” by Johns Hopkins’ EvidenceforESSA.org in both mathematics and reading, school districts are selecting DreamBox as a partner to provide educators and students evidence-based learning solutions. New and expanded district and state department of education partners now using DreamBox’s math and/or reading solutions include:

  • Beaufort County School District, S.C.
  • East Baton Rouge Parish School System, La. 
  • Northside Independent School District, Texas
  • Prince George’s County Public Schools, Md.
  • Seminole County Public Schools, Fla.
  • South Carolina Department of Education, S.C.
  • Wake County Public School System, N.C.

“DreamBox Learning is the right choice to best support our teachers and serve the diverse needs of our students,” said Dr. Sito Narcisse, Superintendent of East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana. “We have learned not all education technology is created equal, so we are excited to offer our teachers an evidence-based solution proven to increase student achievement. In addition to impressive adaptive learning technology and real-time predictive analytics, DreamBox also provides our teachers actionable professional development – a necessary resource as we adapt to another uncertain school year.”…Read More

McGraw Hill Announces New Version of its Wonders K-5 English Language Arts Curriculum

NEW YORK, Sept. 13, 2021 — McGraw Hill today announced updates to its widely used and trusted Wonders English Language Arts program for grades K-5, building upon the program’s proven instructional approach while offering a multitude of enhancements designed to meet the needs of today’s classroom. Since its initial release eight years ago, Wonders has been used by millions of students and hundreds of thousands of teachers across the United States. For its ©2023 update, McGraw Hill has drawn upon decades of rigorous literacy studies, collaborated with preeminent reading researchers and experts, and listened to and incorporated feedback from educators and users.

This newest update focuses on student agency and social-emotional learning (SEL) to build student self-confidence by encouraging them to take an active role in their literacy journey. Further enhancements include:

  • A dedicated English Language Learner Small Group Guide to enable flexible delivery of small group instruction in or out of the classroom
  • The addition of stronger phonics instruction
  • Enhanced writing activities
  • Text sets that provide additional time to engage with works more deeply

For more information about Wonders, visit: Mheonline.com/wonders…Read More

Three tips to conquer bilingual barriers in the classroom

More than 10 percent of students in the United States are English language learners (ELLs) – that’s more than 4.8 million children nationwide. While these children don’t learn any differently than their native-English-speaking classmates, they do have educational needs that should not be overlooked or go unmet.

From a teacher’s perspective, it’s difficult not to notice how challenging navigating educational environments is for a child for whom English is not their native language. They often walk into the classroom feeling intimidated and afraid, struggle to communicate even the most basic needs, and avoid interacting with peers and teachers due to the language discrepancy. As teachers, it’s our responsibility to help bridge that gap to not only support students as they learn English, but help them navigate their education in the meantime.

Thankfully, we’re not up to the task alone. There are many solutions to the most common teaching challenges, all of which serve to enrich the lives of students, streamline communication between parents and teachers, and help kids learn how to communicate and excel in everything they do.…Read More

5 tools for classroom comic creation

While it may not seem a traditional learning tool, comic creation helps across an array of core subjects and learning objectives. Comics are engaging, fun, and help students take ownership of their learning.

Comic creation gives students flexibility for self-expression, while at the same time unleashing creativity and giving students a new way to demonstrate their learning.

And comics aren’t limited to art and English classes, either. Students can use comic creation to illustrate science concepts, translate historical events into informal stories, and break down complex topics into easily-digestible snippets.…Read More

IXL Wins 2021 CODiE Awards for Best Math and English Language Arts Solutions

SAN MATEO, Calif., July 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ —  IXL Learning, developer of personalized learning products used by more than 12 million students, announced that the IXL platform won two  SIIA CODiE Awards in the Best Advanced Mathematics and Best Foundational English Language Arts (ELA) categories.

The CODiEs honor the most innovative educational technology products around the world. IXL’s recent achievements mark its sixth CODiE win in five years: IXL secured a second consecutive Foundational ELA win and is also a three-time winner of the prestigious  Best Educational App award.

“It’s incredibly rewarding that IXL Math and English Language Arts are recognized by the CODiE Awards as the most effective ways for learners to master essential concepts,” said Paul Mishkin, CEO of IXL Learning. “These honors underscore IXL’s commitment toward addressing the evolving needs of educators and reinforce our deep sense of responsibility to inspire all students to excel.”…Read More

Lexia Learning Rebrands Award-Winning Rosetta Stone English as Lexia English Language Development

BOSTON (July 12, 2021) – Lexia Learning, a Cambium Learning® Group company, today announced the official rebrand of Rosetta Stone® English to Lexia® English Language Development™ (Lexia English). The name change follows Cambium’s divestiture of Rosetta Stone’s languages division.

Lexia English joins the robust Lexia suite of literacy products in helping all students to reach their academic potential, enhancing educational equity, and empowering Emergent Bilinguals to progress linguistically and academically. Lexia is now the sole source provider of the K-6 English language development solution.

“While the product’s name and look have changed, its curriculum remains the same,” said Lexia President Nick Gaehde. “In addition to renaming the product, we’re releasing version 2.0, which contains new tools to help Emergent Bilingual students as they learn academic English and empower educators to streamline instruction and ensure their efficacy.”…Read More

Data doesn’t talk–people do

A media friend was looking into a recent Vanderbilt study on six unidentified school districts across the state. The researchers found that “more students were chronically absent this fall than in previous years, and absenteeism increased the most among English Learners, students of color, and students who are economically disadvantaged.” I told her I was not concerned about the latest findings.

When pressed on the issue, I pointed out that the sample size was a little concerning. Only 6 districts were represented; my guess is they looked at the larger urban areas. I find the research misleading. There are 147 districts in the state, each with unique and distinct issues. If we rush in and try to apply a one size fits all solution to any issue, we would be making a mistake.

By failing to identify the six individual districts, the results from the research were problematic to me—as well as to other stakeholders and policymakers as well. The study has some interesting findings. It would be useful to those 6 unidentified districts. However, I am not certain there is a crossover for other districts.…Read More