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  Santa Cruz Parent Santa Cruz, CA

January 24, 2013

Surprising Tips That Help Kids Learn to Read

Why Third Grade Is So Important: The ‘Matthew Effect’

Suki: A Life Photographed

Science with Christine:
Beyond Talent and Smarts: Why Even Geniuses Struggle
Even Geniuses Work Hard
This Week
Cheetahs on the Run
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(Photos General) Learning5.jpgIn Santa Cruz County I keep meeting parents and educators who are passionate about the quality of education --from birth through college and ever afterward.  I recently discovered a scholar who researches and writes about a wide range of topics in the education field. Annie Murphy Paul provides a glimpse into current studies on learning and challenges some of our traditional ways of thinking.  New knowledge about the human brain is changing our historical notions about how we learn, who will succeed in life and why and the interrelationships between genes, hard work and how we are taught.

"Annie Murphy Paul is a book author, magazine journalist, consultant and speaker who helps people understand how we learn and how we can do it better.  She is the author of The Cult of Personality, a cultural history and scientific critique of personality tests, and of Origins, a book about the science of prenatal influences. She is now at work on Brilliant: The New Science of Smart, to be published by Crown in 2013."

From Carol Dweck comes the most welcome truth, "Let's give students learning tasks that tell them, "You can be as smart as you want to be."  This is an article that will be welcome to all parents.

If you have boxes of old photos, you'll want to read how Suki is solving that challenge!

Happy reading, Parmalee

  Surprising Tips That Help Kids Learn to Read

(Photos General) ReadingtoBaby_Dad.jpgBy Annie Murphy Paul

Parents, do you know how to read? More precisely, do you know how to read to kids?

Almost every adult who cares for young children knows that sharing books with them is an important way to promote their reading skills. But research shows that subtle features of the way adults act during story-time make a big difference in children's literacy-and that most grownups aren't using these simple but effective techniques.

The first step to becoming a better reader to children is to understand where our young audience is looking when we read. While we might assume that they're viewing the words, just as we are, eye-tracking experiments-which use special equipment to identify where subjects' gaze is

Adults rarely generate questions or comments about print, but it's a practice that's easy to adopt.

directed-reveal that preschool children are focusing on print only five to six percent of the time. Instead, they're mostly looking at the pictures, or looking up at our faces. Few of their questions or comments are about the words themselves, either; their interjections have to do with the illustrations, or with the content of the story. Yet studies have shown that it's "print knowledge," and not just general experience with books, that advances children's reading ability.

"Print knowledge" is an awareness of the mechanics of the reading process, like the fact that English is read from left to right and that written words map on to spoken ones. Adults often take this knowledge for granted, but research demonstrates that children benefit when these aspects of print are explicitly pointed out. In a study published in the May-June issue of the journal Child Development, for example, Ohio State professor Shayne Piasta and her coauthors report that when preschool teachers drew students' attention to print while reading to them, the children's skills in reading, spelling and comprehension improved. These positive results were long-lasting, too, still showing up a full two years later.

(Photos General) ReadingtoBaby_Mom.jpgThis accentuation can be non-verbal-pointing to letters or words on the page-or it can be spoken. Left to their own devices, research finds, adults rarely generate questions or comments about print, but it's a practice that's easy to adopt. Ask, "Where should I begin reading on this page?", and "Do you know this word?" Say, "I spot three capital letters on this page-see if you can find them," or "This dot here is a period, and it tells me I've reached the end of the sentence." Point out, "This is the title of the book-it's on the cover and also on the inside," and "This is the name of the author-she wrote all the words that you see."

Piasta proposes that such interventions encourage children's emerging reading abilities in two ways. First, they directly increase the amount of time kids spend attending to print. And second, they provide explicit information about the forms and functions of print, helping children to learn in the moment and remember in the future. Interestingly, Piasta notes, books that highlight particular words-by using different fonts, for example, or by putting characters' speech in bubbles above their heads-don't do much to enhance kids' print knowledge. What matters is that the grownups who read to children take the time to show them how it's done.

Annie Murphy Paul is the author of the forthcoming book Brilliant: The New Science of Smart. Visit her website and sign up for her monthly newsletter.

 

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  Why Third Grade Is So Important: The ‘Matthew Effect’

(Photos General) ThirdGrade.jpgby Annie Murphy Paul

Take a guess: What is the single most important year of an individual's academic career? The answer isn't junior year of high school, or senior year of college. It's third grade.

What makes success in third grade so significant? It's the year that students move from learning to read - decoding words using their knowledge of the alphabet - to reading to learn. The books children are expected to master are no longer simple primers but fact-filled texts on the solar system, Native Americans, the Civil War. Children who haven't made the leap to fast, fluent reading begin at this moment to fall behind, and for most of them the gap will continue to grow. So third grade constitutes a critical transition - a "pivot point," in the words of Donald J. Hernandez, a professor of sociology at CUNY-Hunter College. A study Hernandez conducted, released last year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, found that third-graders who lack proficiency in reading are four times more likely to become high school dropouts.


Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2012/09/26/why-third-grade-is-so-important-the-matthew-effect/#ixzz2IuU7J1tj

 

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Listen: 12 Secrets to Safe, Happy and Confident Kids in the 21st Century!

  Suki: A Life Photographed

(Photos General) SukiRedHead_138.jpgIn 2002, my husband and I got our first digital camera.

After my activity of the last couple of weeks, I am looking at our lives before that year as an enormous slog through boxes of faded memories.

(Photos General) SukisMom.jpgMy mother and I hatched a plan a few months ago to scan all of our family photos. She ordered a handy little scanner that sucks the photo through and saves it directly on a memory card. It's not the highest quality, but we knew that convenience was going to be a huge factor in whether we ever got the job done.

I unearthed this photo and wondered why a photo of me looked like it was taken in the 70′s. Then I read the handwriting on the back, my childish writing, "Mom doing strawberries." Not me, but something like the person I was going to become.

The scanner arrived, she put it away, and that was that. Until we decided that this time, we wouldn't put it off.

We have a long history of saying that we're going to "do something with all those photos." My mother depended on me for the impetus, as I am the only avid scrapbooker in the family. Or rather, was. Curiously, the further into the digital age we went, the less avid my scrapbooking became. Now I share photos online and occasionally...... Read more>>>

 

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  Science with Christine:

(Graphics) Sciencefun.jpgIf you read biology papers and texts, everything is about DNA. It is the gold standard of life. DNA is the blueprint of life and the ability to read DNA should give us the ability to know what a living creature will do. Or will it?

Researchers are discovering new techniques that the body uses to change how the body responds to a situation. DNA isn't always involved. This is sounding complicated. This new area of biology is called "Epigenetics" and it is changing every day.   Here is an example:

More Science Fun with Christine

  Beyond Talent and Smarts: Why Even Geniuses Struggle

by Annie Murphy Paul

"The struggle with writing is over."

That message, written on a Post-It note and affixed to his computer, brings the novelist Philip Roth great relief and contentment these days, according to a profile published earlier in the New York Times. At the age of 79, the author of more than 31 acclaimed books says he is finished with writing, and he couldn't be happier. "I look at that note every morning," he told Times reporter Charles McGrath, "and it gives me such strength."

Fans of Roth's books-which include Goodbye Columbus, Portnoy's Complaint, The Human Stain, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Pastoral-may be surprised to learn that he regarded writing as a struggle at all.

His words flowed so easily on the page, and his books arrived with such frequency in the stores: at times, close to one every year. But behind that proficiency and productivity was arduous, unrelenting work. Roth told his interviewer that he'd enjoyed spending time with friends at his house in Connecticut this past summer: "In the old days I couldn't have people in the house all the time. When they came for the weekend, I couldn't get out to write."

(Graphics) Struggle.jpgAmericans have a complicated relationship with this kind of relentless striving. We extol the virtues of hard work even as we idolize the "natural," the star who effortlessly achieves, who wins the race without breaking a sweat. The writer Malcolm Gladwell has called this tendency "the naturalness bias," and notes that we bring it to bear on individuals ranging from athletes to artists to "gifted" children. In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology last year, Harvard psychologists Mahzarin Banaji and Chia-Jung Tsay applied a scientific lens to the phenomenon, gathering a group of professional musicians as subjects. The experimenters first asked the musicians their opinion on the source of musical achievement: Was "effortful" training more important, they inquired, or innate ability? The former, the musicians replied, expressing "the strong belief that strivers will achieve over naturals."

Banaji and Tsay then described two pianists, equal in achievement but different in their paths to success: one was a natural, showing early evidence of high innate ability; the other was a striver, exhibiting early evidence of high motivation and perseverance. The investigators played an audio clip of each pianist performing, and asked the musicians for their judgments. Despite their stated belief in the value of effort, the naturalness bias won out: the musicians rated the "natural" performer as more talented, more likely to succeed, and more hirable than the striver. (In fact, the clips were played by the same performer, pianist Gwhyneth Chen.)

(Graphics) WorkingHard_Believing_HarryPotter.jpgResearch by another psychologist, Carol Dweck of Stanford University, has shown that children and adults who believe in the power of effort to overcome challenges (what she calls a "growth mindset") are more resilient and ultimately more successful than those who are convinced that ability is innate (the "fixed mindset"). Banaji and Tsay's experiment suggests that our faith in inborn talent "may operate less than consciously," leading us to make "suboptimal choices and evaluations"-because, as volumes of research show, elite performance really is the product of striving.

Take it from Philip Roth, who's spent a lifetime laboring to write perfect sentences. Or from Carol Dweck, who puts it more prosaically: "Even geniuses work hard."

RELATED READING
  Even Geniuses Work Hard

by Carol S. Dweck

Let's give students learning tasks that tell them, "You can be as smart as you want to be."

We can all agree that meaningful schoolwork promotes students' learning of academic content. But why stop there? I believe that meaningful work can also teach students to love challenges, to enjoy effort, to be resilient, and to value their own improvement. In other words, we can design and present learning tasks in a way that helps students develop a growth mindset, which leads to not just short-term achievement but also long-term success.

Why Foster a Growth Mindset?

During the past several decades, my colleagues and I have conducted research identifying two distinct ways in which individuals view intelligence and learning. Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence is simply an inborn trait-they have a certain amount, and that's that. In contrast, individuals with a growth mindset believe that they can develop their intelligence over time (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007; Dweck, 1999, 2007).

These two mindsets lead to different school behaviors. For one thing, when students view intelligence as fixed, they tend to value looking smart above all else. They may sacrifice important opportunities to learn-even those that are important to their future academic success-if those opportunities require them to risk performing poorly or admitting deficiencies. Students with a growth mindset, on the other hand, view challenging work as an opportunity to learn and grow. I have seen students with a growth mindset meet difficult problems, ones they could not solve yet, with great relish. Instead of thinking they were failing (as the students with a fixed mindset did), they said things like "I love a challenge," "Mistakes are our friends," and "I was hoping this would be informative!"

Students with a fixed mindset do not like effort. They believe that if you have ability, everything should come naturally. They tell us that when they have to work hard, they feel dumb. Students with a growth mindset, in contrast, value effort; they realize that even geniuses have to work hard to develop their abilities and make their contributions.

Finally, students with a fixed mindset tend not to handle setbacks well. Because they believe that setbacks call their intelligence into question, they become discouraged or defensive when they don't succeed right away. They may quickly withdraw their effort, blame others, lie about their scores, or consider cheating. Students with a growth mindset are more likely to respond to initial obstacles by remaining involved, trying new strategies, and using all the resources at their disposal for learning.

Read more>>>>>

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School Corner

Santa Cruz Montessori Pre-8, Open House 1/26

 

Gateway School K-8, Saturday Open House 1/26

 

Waldorf School K-8, Outdoor Class for Parent and Child (0-3) starts 1/30


Aptos Academy Pre-8, Open house Science Night 1/31

 

Santa Cruz Children's School K-6, Open House 2/5


Gateway School K-8, Open house 2/5


Chartwell School K-8, Open House 2/9

 

Santa Cruz Waldorf School K-8, Morning in the Kindergarten 2/9

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January 27

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 Cheetahs on the Run
Cheetahs on the Run
Seymour Marine Discovery Center
Ride along and get lost in the wonders of the world...
1/26/2013
 $18-$23

Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom

Join photographer Frans Lanting and videographer Chris Eckstrom on a remarkable journey to uncover the secret life of the cheetah--the fastest animal in the world, and the most vulnerable of all the big cats.

Frans and Chris traveled from the fabled Serengeti plains of East Africa to the remote deserts of central Iran, where Frans gained exclusive access to document the last wild cheetahs left in Asia--cats so rare that few people even know they exist. This show features images and video from a brand-new assignment Frans and Chris produced for National Geographic, and includes coverage of cheetah "supermoms" raising kittens on the run--and on the edge of survival--as well as the little-known cultural history of cheetahs in Iran, which dates back thousands of years.

"As a chronicler of natural history today, Frans Lanting is a singular, extraordinary talent," said Thomas Kennedy, former director of photography at National Geographic. "He has the mind of a scientist, the heart of a hunter, and the eyes of a poet."

Proceeds from this presentation will benefit the Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Laboratory. Located in Santa Cruz on the bluffs overlooking Monterey Bay, the Seymour Center provides exciting and engaging ocean education programs for the visiting public and for students of all ages. It is dedicated to educating youth, families, and the general public about the role science plays in the understanding and conservation of the world's oceans. The Seymour Center is open six days a week, year-round, and serves more than 65,000 people each year.

Show times: 3 PM / 7 PM (Will call and doors open 45 minutes prior to each show)
Tickets: $23 General Admission / $18 Seymour Center Members 831-459-3800

Tickets available at: Seymour Marine Discovery Center (100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, CA) or online at www.brownpapertickets.com

Information available at: www.seymourcenter.ucsc.edu or (831) 459-3800

Location: Rio Theater, 1205 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz Map
Phone: 831-459-3800 •website Santa Cruz 

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Whalefest Monterey
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  Whalefest Monterey
Old Fisherman's Wharf
Date: Every day (Jan 23-Jan 24) from 10:00am to 5:00pm
Details: Fun and educational, interactive family event for all ages celebrates the migration of the gray whales!
Special Instructions: Near Custom House
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Start Smart for Teen Drivers
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  Start Smart for Teen Drivers
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Date: 01/31/2013 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm
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YogaKids class (ages 3-5)
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Luma Yoga and Family Center
Date: Every Tues from 12:30pm to 1:20pm
Ages: Suggested age range: 3-5 years
Details: Come play, stretch + explore!
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