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Text Complexity

A lot of educators today, including myself, are talking about text complexity. The basic assumption here is that as readers grow they need to be able to read and comprehend increasingly complex texts. Without a doubt, becoming a better reader is an important step in the literacy development of all children. However, as an educator, I have a very strong concern that we are measuring text complexity in the wrong way. Since the 1920s we’ve been quantifying text complexity though readability formulas, the most familiar are the Fountas and Pinnel, the Lexile, and the Accelerated Reader. While leveling books in this way can be helpful for students as they begin to understand their own reading abilities, it is important to be clear that these levels are not the only way we should judge the complexity of texts.  Because these formulas rely on only a limited view of a text and they don’t take into account the reader themselves, these numbers should only be used as a starting place for book selection. Since no experimental studies have established standards that reveal the optimal level for learning, comprehension, interest, and efficient reading, we cannot rely on formulas to help us find the right books for the right readers. As an educator I’m against using any type of system that forces children to read books that fall into the narrow category of their perceived reading ability. Preventing students from checking out a library book because it was not on their level or not allowing them to receive credit for a reading a book above their level, only prevent children from exercising the same freedom that we have as adult readers to choose the books that are right for us. Let’s let kids find the books they enjoy, and put the use of readability formulas in their correct place. Because complexity, while important, is not something we should use to prevent kids from reading.

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING

DISCLAIMER: 

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

Tips for a Green Holiday

Is the tree up at your house? Wreath on the door? Poinsettias by the hearth? Let’s get some tips on how to keep your holidays green and your indoor plants thriving until spring, when you can head back out to the flower beds.

Thanksgiving Point’s expert gardener Michael Caron offers simple tips to keep your Christmas tree fresh through the holiday and your poinsettias blooming into the New Year. 

Did you know poinsettias will bloom for months if you water them right and keep them away from the doors or heating vents? This simple trick will get your poinsettias blooming bolder and longer. 

Water is the key to a bright and festive holiday: A fresh Christmas tree needs to be sitting in a gallon of water at all times and never dry out. But your poinsettias need to be doused in the sink and then allowed to dry out between watering. 

Did you know that your big indoor houseplants need an occasional shower? Put them in the tub and give them a good soaking, then let them dry out fully before watering again.

Need more tips to keep your trees and flowers blooming? Listen to the whole conversation on Top of Mind here!


Book Review – Suite for Human Nature

Based on a musical composition by lyricist Lampert and musician Wynton Marsalis, this folkloric allegory tells the tale of Mother Nature and her children. Mother Nature wants to have a child, so she creates a boy and names him Fear. Leaving him with the humans to tend to the earth, she returns to find all in turmoil. Determined to make things right, she creates Envy. But finds the outcome is not as expected. Again, she tries with Hate and Greed. Then again with a sister, Fickle. Nothing turns out. And born down by grief, she finally listens to the advice of the Winds and creates a set of twins named Love. Mother Nature finds that it is Love that finally tempers the others. And while they are not always completely successful, everything is as she hoped it would be.

Written to celebrate humanity in all its aspects, this story offers a poignant look at the weaknesses and strengths of humankind. Given its musical origins, the text has a very lyrical quality even though the majority is comprised of very brief sentences. The personification of the virtues is captured beautifully with the words but is even more powerful with the combination of the stunning illustrations. The illustrations have both a highly realistic style balanced by the stylized caricatures of the virtues that works perfectly to balance the lyrical quality of the text. While the story and illustrations are approachable for children, the deeply contemplative theme and message will likely resonate most clearly with adults.

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING

BOOK REVIEW: Suite for Human Nature by Diane Charlotte Lampert, illustrated by Eric Puybaret.  Atheneum/Caitlyn Doluhy Books, 2016.

Find this and other book reviews at: http://byucbmr.com/

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

Beauty and the Beast

As a children’s literature scholar, I’ve been very excited about the development of Disney’s live action version of Beauty and the Beast that made me think about one of the main reasons I love fairy tales. For me, one of the most exciting things about fairy tales is that they exist in a kind of expansive,  collective existence that is for everyone. This means to me that fairy tales change and develop over time. They become something new in the hands of a new teller, or they transform when they are developed for a new medium. As a lover of stories, I find joy in each new invention. So to share my enjoyment of reinvention, here are some of my favorite versions of Beauty and the Beast. Along a more traditional route is the illustrated version by Marianna and Mercer Mayer. The Mayer’s embraces a fully romantic vision of the tale. The illustrations are lush and complex, capturing the emotional connection that Beauty makes with her Beast. Fans of young adult fantasy may be well acquainted with Robin McKinley’s 1978 retelling called Beauty. Still a classic today, McKinley’s Beauty is strong and makes her choices out of her own free will. The writing is rich and picturesque, making this one of the best loved novel versions of the tale. Another young adult version that takes a contemporary look of the story is Alex Flinn’s Beastly.  Set in New York, the Beast lives in a Brownstone and was cursed by a teenage witch. The Beast, who is spoiled rotten, must learn how to not be so much of a jerk, but it will take his own Beauty to do it. If you’re looking for other retellings that take the story out of the normal context, then also check out Donna Jo Napoli’s Beast, an elaborate and very harsh retelling of the story set in Persia.  It’s also interesting to note that both of these versions are told from the perspective of the Beast, a point of view twist that adds richness to both versions. So if you and the children in your life also like how fairy tales can change, why not take a moment to check out some of these amazing retellings.      

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING

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Beauty and the Beast by Marianna and Mercer Mayer. Four Winds, 1978. (For readers of all ages)

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley.  Harper Teen, 1978. (For mature teen and adult readers)

Beastly by Alex Flinn.  HarperTeen, 2007. (For mature teen and adult readers)

Beast by Donna Jo Napoli. Simon and Schuster, 1999.  (For mature teen and adult readers)

DISCLAIMER: 

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

Grade Skipping A Gifted Child

The American school system puts students in grades based on age. However, for a some students, being with same-age peers in the classroom might not be the best option. Dr. Susan Assouline discusses her work as an expert in ‘academic acceleration’:

“One effective way to help talented students remain intellectually challenged and engaged in school is to have them skip a grade. Research shows that about 1 percent of students grade-skip. Students can skip grades at any level, and they can even skip multiple grades. Grade-skipping has led to many concerns. In particular, concerns have been raised related to students’ social adjustment and emotional health.

We are scholars of gifted education. Our research – A Nation Empowered – shows many advantages to grade-skipping for talented students. However, students skipping grades need to be socially and emotionally ready for it.” 

 – Dr. Susan Assouline 

Listen to the rest of the podcast here

Matt talks with Dr Susan Assouline, director of the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. Dr. Assouline earned her PhD in Education at the University of Iowa where she is currently a Professor of Psychology.

Multiracial Marriages

The new film Loving tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving. He was white, she was black. Their marriage was at the center of the landmark of US Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia, some fifty years ago, challenging anti-miscegenation laws.

They won, and mixed-race romance has become widely accepted in America. Pew Research analysis of Census data finds, that about 1 in 8 people who get married chose someone of a different race. 

What was it like to live when it was illegal in certain states to marry out of your own race? Many woman were put into mental institutions and others had to move to states that had legalized such marriages. Countless couples were forced to move to states where interracial marriages were legal. 

Today, mixed-race marriages are culturally acceptable. Yet, there are still some barriers for these couples to face. Listen to BYUradio’s Top of Mind to listen in on the full conversation.

http://bit.ly/2g1wk5Z

Listening

At Worlds Awaiting we define literacy very broadly. We understand that literacy is about anything we do to communicate with or interact with our world—reading, writing, thinking, speaking, and listening are all a part of the literacy process. Today, let’s talk a little bit about listening. I think we all know that being a good listener is an important skill. And this is so true that the Common Core Standards that have been adopted in most states include listening as a part of the English Language Arts Standards. Here children are asked to learn about listening as part of the communication process - by taking turns (so you can listen to others) and listening closely (so you can ask and answer questions). Listening is part of being a good communicator. But being a good listener is not just about the communication process—it’s also about having good social skills. Listening is just a part of having good manners and it helps people to know that we care about them and want to be their friends. Helping children to learn and understand these social aspects of listening are an important part of their literacy development. At the very basic level, a good listener is someone who looks at a person while they are speaking, does not interrupt, and who pays attention to what is being said. Certainly, as with all literacy endeavors, teaching listening skills to children is a very complex process. But certainly, one of the best ways to teach listening skills is to be good listeners ourselves. Modeling the good manners of listening as we communicate with our children and other adults can go a long way to help children understand how to be good listeners themselves. For other resources, check out books like Teaching Children to Listen or look for other resources aimed at teachers and other professionals that will help provide fun activities and strategies to help your children develop the critical skill of listening.

By Rachel Wadham, host of Worlds Awaiting 

Common Core State Standards for Speaking and Listening.  Retrieved from: http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/SL/K/

Say What? 5 Ways to Get Students to Listen by Rebecca Alber. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/five-listening-strategies-rebecca-alber

Teaching Children to Listen: A Practical Approach to Developing Children’s Listening Skills by Liz Spooner and Jacqui Woodcock. Bloomsbury Academic, 2010.

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DISCLAIMER: 

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.


The Benefits Of Not Forgiving

Sometimes it’s really hard to have the courage and strength to forgive someone who has really hurt you, or done wrong to you. According to Kim Giles, there are actually some benefits to not forgiving, and also some setbacks:

“Holding onto anger and judgment is like reaching into a fire to grab a hot coal to throw at your enemy, even though you are the one being burned. It would make a lot more sense to pour water on the whole thing and let it wash away. A trust and forgiveness mindset is the water. Staying in condemnation of others is like choosing to be the warden guarding the prisoners at the jail (making them stay guilty) even though neither of you can ever leave. If you stay at your post to keep them in, you are still there with them (in prison) the whole time. Let yourself out of prison, even if it means letting them leave too! Choose to let everyone out and do it for selfish reasons — because you want a better, happier life, free from pain.

Remember, forgiveness is not about pardoning the guilty or saying it’s OK that they hurt you. It is about choosing to see life as a classroom and seeing all human beings as divine, amazing, scared students in the classroom of life whose poor choices are driven by misconception, fear, confusion and stupidity but whose value is the same no matter what. It is about choosing to see every experience in your life as something that happened to serve your education. If the hurtful experience served you on some level, does it make sense to stay mad about it?

If you insist on staying in judgment and condemnation, you will be giving power to the idea that humans can fail and not be good enough, and this will have to be true for you too.”

Listen to the rest of the podcast here!

Matt talks with Kim Giles, President and founder of Clarity Point Life Coaching. Named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. Writes a regular column on KSL.com every Monday in the Happy Living Section. Author of the Book Choosing Clarity: A Path to Fearlessness. Kim Giles shares her article on The Benefits of Not Forgiving.

Traveling to Newport Beach

Small town diners, waves crashing outside your window, feeling the sand between your toes, it all sounds pretty idyllic. And let’s face it- it is. Growing up with the beach in your backyard is a fantasy many little kids have. Especially when it’s Newport Beach that’s right next door. There’s always something going on from biking down the boardwalk to a local art exhibit. Newport has something for everyone.

Balboa Island is a favorite destination for many. All you have to do is take the ferry over and you’re just a short walk away from their famous Balboa Bars. It’s vanilla ice cream in the shape of a square, dipped in chocolate. You even have the choice of rolling it in nuts, Oreos, sprinkles, or anything else delicious! Thank goodness you can bike around afterwards…

If you happen to be there during the Christmas holiday, be sure to check out their famous boat parade. Every year yachts, boats, kayaks, and canoes are elaborately decorated and paraded around the harbor. It’s something you won’t want to miss.

Be sure to mark this town on your California “must visit” list. Relaxing on the beach alone speaks for itself! Take time to enjoy the beautiful views and a tasty treat.

From the desk of Maren Owen, a producer of Traveling with Eric Dowdle on BYU Radio.

Learn more about some of your favorite places with Eric, Wally and Autumn on Traveling with Eric Dowdle. Weekdays 11am-12pm ET except Tuesdays on BYU Radio (Sirius XM Channel 143).

Working Out Together vs. Couples Therapy

Many couples today enlist to start couples therapy, to strengthen their relationship and to fix premature or potential problems. But is there another – and cheaper – way to repair emotional damage and to develop stronger feelings for one another? According to Kelley Kitley,

“While it doesn’t necessarily replace couples therapy, psychologists agree that working out with your significant other acts as a great supplement. “Exercising together is a good place to start to rebuild a connection and have fun together, which is often times why I suggest it in my work with couples who are having conflict,” – Psychotherapist Kelley Kitley

Listen to the rest of the podcast here!

Matt talks with Kelley Kitley, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice and has treated patients in Santa Monica and Chicago for the past fifteen years. She’s a columnist for Fitness Magazine and is launching a new autobiography on survival in December called, “My Self.” When you think of strengthening your relationship and your significant other’s perception of you, the last thing you think of is probably having them see you dirty and sweaty, but maybe that is just what it takes. Kelley Kitley teaches us how working out with our significant other might be as good as couples therapy.

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