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My daughter is learning to read and write at school and her teachers have said that she struggles at times and may be a little behind in her literacy.
In an effort to improve her reading and writing skills, I’m obviously spending more time with her practicing writing and reading books, spelling out words and playing I spy.
I may have tweeted or facebooked about this when I discovered the article in April, but recent research by Ohio State university shows that when teachers read story books in class, those that read and point to the words as they read them have children with higher reading skills than those who’s teachers do not point to the words.
There were 3 groups of children (300 kids spread across 85 different classrooms) with two groups using the text referencing and one group reading without any special training. Two years later, both groups that used the referencing as part of their reading sessions still had higher reading and literacy skills than the control group!
According to the research findings however, this referencing approach not only helps kids learn to read, but their results showed a stronger understanding of what the meaning behind each sentence and paragraph was. For me, this is the clincher: If these kids were understanding the the meaning of and behind the words better, it meant that the actual reading element was easier for them, thus giving their brains more resources to think about and make the connections between the individual words.
I came across an interesting site a week or two ago which promotes videos with same language closed caption sub-titles. BookBox is the name of the site and they come at this idea as a social enterprise helping children in India to improve their literacy by watching cartoons (termed ani-videos by BookBox). I’m always a fan of social enterprises, so was delighted to discover these guys doing something awesome around literacy for kids. I will certainly be sitting my daughter in front of a couple of BookBox’s videos next time she comes to stay and to see what she thinks of them. Checkout their own “About BookBox” video to find out more and support these guys!

The great thing here as well is that in the UK, all children’s television programs have closed captions for those kids who are deaf. Browse or search for articles on storytelling techniques, the best books to read with your kids as well as some free stuff like stories and poems. A good tip is to use the categories down the left to filter the articles shown and please do get involved and comment if you have something to add or ask. Instructional Rounds in Education is intended to help education leaders and practitioners develop a shared understanding of what high-quality instruction looks like and what schools and districts need to do to support it. Walk into any school in America and you will see adults who care deeply about their students and are doing the best they can every day to help students learn.
Inspired by the medical-rounds model used by physicians, the authors have pioneered a new form of professional learning known as instructional rounds networks. In instructional rounds, the front-line work of improving classroom practice becomes everyone’s work. By sharing real-life vignettes, the authors carefully detail the utilization of instructional rounds as a systematic and collaborative process to engage educators in meaningful reflections about what occurs daily in classrooms.
The two using referencing were then split between those that had 2 reading sessions per week and 4 sessions per week.
My concern was that it might help her appear to learn to read in the short term, but may hinder her longer term ability to learn new words.
In English, that means that they’re videos where the sub-titles you see are in the same language as the audio. Based in India, BookBox (I think) are using their products to help teach literacy (and have ani-videos for 30 different languages!) throughout India and they’ve won a good few awards for their work too!

They even talk about how useful such an approach is when learning a second language, which appeals to myself as I’ve always been envious of those who can so easily converse with the locals when on holiday. But you will also see a high degree of variability among classrooms—much higher than in most other industrialized countries. Through this process, educators develop a shared practice of observing, discussing, and analyzing learning and teaching. Drawing upon their experience in thousands of classrooms across the country, the authors provide clear direction to teachers, principals, central-office staff, superintendents, and others interested in forming school- or district-based networks with a laser-like focus on instruction. Applause to City, Elmore, Fiarman, and Teitel for providing a step-by-step approach that will yield significant results for colleagues who choose to network and grow together. City is Director of Instructional Strategy at the Executive Leadership Program for Educators at Harvard University and is a faculty member at Boston’s School Leadership Institute. Full of practical, specific, and compelling evidence, Instructional Rounds in Education will have a profound influence on educational leaders who are willing to invest the time to observe, listen, and learn.
Instructional Rounds in Education is a powerful resource for anyone interested in working smarter to make instruction effective for all students. This is a powerful, specific, accessible treatment of what it means to get in the classroom in order to make a difference in the daily lives of teachers and their students.

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