Focus on teacher training


January 07, 2001

Advice and strategies to help your children read

For the past five years the International Reading Association has published the results of a survey about what topics in the research and practice of teaching reading are the most popular and which ones are fading. The study is conducted by Jack Cassidy, professor of education at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Drew Cassidy, adjunct instructor at Texas A&M. They polled a representative sampling of literacy leaders from various locations, who were asked to rate a topic as "hot" if it was receiving positive attention and being more widely incorporated into school programs. Conversely, a rating of "not hot" meant the topic was receiving negative or little attention. The 29 topics on the list reveal a portrait of literacy education in the new millennium. Here are some of the highlights:

What's hot: Some trends from previous years still remain "very hot" issues, meaning that at least 75 percent of those filling out the survey were in agreement. These include balanced reading instruction, early intervention, guided reading and research-

based practice. Two new hot topics were added by the respondents this year: adolescent literacy, which includes middle school reading and literacy and high-stakes assessment, which refers to those tests in which important decisions are made about a student, a school or a school district. The issue of teacher education for reading was not only noted as "hot," but the group unanimously felt it "should be hot." More emphasis upon reading instruction in the very early and middle school grades means a trend toward more teacher training in various age levels. Phonics and phonemic awareness were both rated "very hot." However, about 50 percent of the respondents indicated that they felt that these topics "should not be hot."

What's not: Not surprisingly, respondents agreed unanimously that the topic of whole language was out in the cold. There was also a tendency to de-emphasize the teaching of basic skills. This was most obvious with skills instruction, which received a rating of "cold" and spelling, which was "very cold." Despite the fact that those polled thought that comprehension and word meaning /

vocabulary were "very cold," the overwhelming majority felt that vocabulary and comprehension should be getting more attention. For more information about the topics and the disparities between what is hot and what is not, log on to: and search "Jack Cassidy" for the June 2000 article entitled "Literacy at the Millennium."

-- Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Just add a warm nook for reading

As one of the coldest winters in recent memory comes roaring into our neck of the woods, venturing out of doors may be the last thing on your to-do list. But in the event of a snow-in, there is no better resource for hours of entertainment and self-elucidation than a book. If you have a computer with Internet access, think about ordering online and getting the goods delivered right to your doorstep. Try these bookstores: Newly launched, this online version of Columbia's favorite indie children's bookstore categorizes holiday favorites, local talent and Book Sense picks, as well as giving patrons information about store activities. As an added incentive, most of the inventory is offered at a discount. This online giant is steadfast in its shipping, abundant in its selection and reasonable in its pricing. Support independent bookstores by buying from this pillar of new and used, hardcover and paperback books. Orders over $50 are shipped free.

-- Athima Chansanchai

New York Times Children's Paperback Best Sellers

Editor's Note: Best-seller lists for children's picture books, children's chapter books and children's paperbacks, respectively, are published in rotation in succeeding weeks.

1. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling (weeks on list: 59)

2. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling (16)

3. "Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul III" compiled by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Kimberly Kirberger (25)

4. "Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul" compiled by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen and Irene Dunlap (10)

5. "Life Strategies for Teens" by Jay McGraw (3)

6. "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens" by Richard Carlson (14)

7. "Holes" by Louis Sachar (16)

8. "Rugrats in Paris: The Movie" adapted by Cathy East Dubowski and Mark Dubowski (9)

9. "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" adapted by Louise Gikow (8)

10. "The World Almanac for Kids 2001" (13)

Contact us

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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