Over the past 25 years, the number of school-age children in the U.S. who speak a language other than English at home has increased from 3.8 to 9.9 million. These students often lag behind their peers academically and schools are struggling to find ways to increase their level of achievement. The challenges in mathematics class are especially difficult.
Even when students can read, do they always understand? That is the concern of EDC’s literacy experts, who are exploring the use of technology in boosting three key aspects of reading comprehension: identifying themes, sorting information, and connecting ideas.
EDC’s Adult Literacy Media Alliance (ALMA) has developed “Health Smarts While You Wait,” a volunteer-based health literacy program implemented in clinic and hospital waiting rooms to help patients improve their health literacy and manage their healthcare more effectively.
The votes are in, and Jane Addams, the social reformer and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, has been selected as the “American History Idol.” Inspired by the hit TV show American Idol, EDC created a curriculum unit where students write persuasive essays on key historical figures, and the class then votes on who had the greatest impact. To gather, organize, and present information for their essays, students use the software program Draft: Builder, originally developed at EDC and now published by Don Johnston, Inc.
Alex Quinn, a project director at the Massachusetts-based Education Development Center (EDC), has been elected to serve on the board of the National Coalition for Literacy. Quinn was elected to a three-year term during the coalition’s membership meeting held on September 7, 2006.
Concerned about dating abuse among American teenagers, U.S. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) held a Washington press conference this spring to announce national distribution of Love Is Not Abuse, a curriculum developed by EDC for Liz Claiborne, Inc. Created by EDC’s Christine Blaber, with input from educators and a national advisory board, the program helps ninth graders recognize, respond to, and seek help for their friends and peers who may be victims of abuse.
On the third floor of Larsen Hall at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, thousands of video and audiocassettes line the walls of a room not much bigger than a closet. The cassettes contain data of an unusual sort—voices of children in ordinary conversation with each other and with adults at school, at play, and at home.
The most famous example of the linguistic theory known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the multiple words Eskimos have for snow. Similarly, Micael Olsson uses the theory to provide insight into his research and collaborations with the Barai people of Papua New Guinea. The Barai have 30 different words for “yam”—one of their staple crops—but only one word for any piece of furniture with a flat surface (i.e., bed, chair, table, bench, desk, counter, and cupboard).
“History is changing,” write Cornelia Brunner and Bill Tally in their new book, The New Media Literacy Handbook: An Educator’s Guide to Bringing New Media Into the Classroom. “Broadly stated, the change can be described as a shift from neat history to messy history. Neat history is characterized by a coherent, agreed-upon, linear narrative, and by delivery systems such as textbooks and lecture-and-slide presentations.
“People in Afghanistan are really hungry for learning and development,” says Cornelia Janke, a project director for the $10.6 million Literacy and Community Empowerment Program, managed by EDC in partnership with UN-Habitat. As the people of Afghanistan seek to recover from decades of civil war and repressive rule, EDC is reaching thousands of Afghans in their villages in a project to improve literacy, income generation, and local governance. The project, funded by USAID, works with locally elected councils, and employs hundreds of local Afghans.
Teachers know that the Internet is full of useful and creative
materials to improve reading, but often they are too busy
to find the best ones. To make these Web resources more
readily available, Judith Zorfass and her staff at EDC’s Center
for Family, School, and Community have developed the
Literacy Matters Web site. The site aims to improve the
literacy development of middle and high school students,
especially those who may be struggling.
Many Afghans who grew up during decades
of war and repressive rule are now in their
twenties, struggling to find their footing in a
dramatically altered and rapidly changing country.
Deprived of the opportunity for schooling in their
early years, many are unable to read; some can’t even
recognize letters of the alphabet. In rural areas, about
70 percent of heads of households cannot read or write.
EQUIP3/Haitian Out-of-School Youth Livelihood Initiative, or IDEJEN as the project is known locally, operates twelve youth centers. Each center provides 50 students between the ages of 15-20 with an education in basic reading, writing, and mathematics. Students also receive lessons in health, nutrition, conflict-resolution, and other life-skills. In addition, they learn a marketable trade such as sewing, woodworking, auto mechanics, handcrafts, hotel services, or agricultural businesses.
EDC’s Adult Literacy Media Alliance (ALMA) has been awarded a grant of $210,000 from the NASD Investor Education Foundation to produce investor education video programming that teaches key math concepts and makes investment language more meaningful to public television viewers, particularly women with low literacy skills.
This op-ed, written by EDC’s Cornelia Janke, outlines positive changes taking place in education and community development. Janke directs EDC’s Literacy and Community Empowerment Program in Afghanistan.
For years, Mary Manning, principal of the Collins Middle School in Salem Massachusetts, has seen children come into her school unable to read at grade level. After three years, many failed to catch up before moving on to high school. “After a few years of saying ‘isn’t this terrible,’ and wringing our hands, we decided to get some training and see if we could tackle this problem,” says Manning.
EDC has been selected by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as a lead organization to implement the Assistance to Basic Education (ABE/BE) initiative, USAID’s new Indefinite Quantity Contract mechanism to support quality basic education around the world.
In many communities across Ghana, local leaders, parents, and other citizens are coming together to recreate their own schools. Working from the ground up, community groups participate in every aspect of school decision-making, from identifying the learning needs of their children, to constructing a space to hold classes, to recruiting, training, and compensating teachers.
Teachers know that useful and creative materials are available on the Web, but they often don’t have the time to locate and experiment with them. To make Web resources more readily available, EDC’s Judith Zorfass and her staff at the Center for Family, School, and Community have developed the Literacy Matters Web site, an online resource for middle and high school teachers, parents, and students committed to supporting adolescent literacy.
In its efforts to improve the care and
education of young children in El
Salvador, EDC teamed up with Sesame
Workshop to create a series of public
service announcements featuring Lola,
a character from Plaza Sésamo, a
Mexican adaptation of Sesame Street.
The ads were part of the Early
Childhood and Family Education
(EDIFAM) project, an initiative
designed for children through age 6,
implemented by the Educational
Quality Improvement Program-1
(EQUIP1) and led by EDC.
EDC’s Center for Children & Families (CC&F) is the recipient of
two new grants that focus on improving the quality of teaching
and professional development for early childhood educators.The grants will fund two areas of
research, science education and literacy and language.
Three counties in West Virginia have been selected for a new language and literacy research program that will involve 110 pre-school teachers and more than 1,000 four-year olds. The program, to be conducted in pre-school classrooms in Mercer, Cabell, and Kanawha counties, is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the Department of Education, and will be carried out by the Massachusetts-based Education Development Center (EDC).
Improving the quality of teaching and professional development for early childhood educators is the focus of two new grants awarded to EDC by the U.S. Department of Education. The awards, which total about $4 million, were issued to EDC’s
Academy-award winning actor Tom Hanks has donated $50,000 to the Freeplay Foundation. The foundation will use the donation to purchase 1,000 Lifeline radios for a primary school distance education program in Tanzania developed by EDC’s International Education Systems Division.
First Lady Laura Bush visited the EDC-operated Women’s Teacher Training Institute in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday. Accompanied by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, Mrs. Bush was traveling with a delegation of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, which aims to strengthen partnerships between the two nations, especially to promote education for women. While at the Institute, Mrs. Bush participated in a roundtable discussion with students and teachers.
In the book, I Read it, but I Don’t Get It: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers, Cris Tovani tells the story of her transformation from a struggling adolescent reader to a high school reading teacher.
Every other Monday night, in a temporary office located in the Waltham (Mass.) Hospital, a one-of-a-kind Board of Directors convenes. The issues before the board on this night are typical of many social service agencies: the cost of tuition for the workshops they offer; the success of recent outreach efforts; the development of parent councils in the local schools; the new accounting software. But the board itself isn’t at all typical.