Thursday, January 31, 2013

Students to Colleges: Take Our Money Out of Dirty Energy

by , Yes! magazine:

Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit - An interview with...
Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit - An interview with author Tom Rand (Photo credit: mars_discovery_district)
Sachie Hopkins-Hayakawa is an organizer with Swarthmore Mountain Justice. Sachie wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. 

Sachie is a senior at Swarthmore College and is from Portland, Ore. She has been working for fossil fuel divestment with Swarthmore Mountain Justice for the past two years and was an intern for YES! Magazine in the summer of 2012.

A divestment campaign led by students is changing the national conversation about energy, creating a market for sustainable stocks, and linking up students with communities facing off against the fossil fuel industry.

Over the last six months, students in the United States have launched a new strategy to change the national conversation on climate change and shift political power away from the fossil fuel industry.

We’re demanding that our colleges and universities take their money out of dirty energy and invest in a way that protects our future.

Fossil fuel divestment campaigns have taken off on over 200 college campuses, and two of them - Unity College in Maine and Hampshire College in Massachusetts - have already committed to remove fossil fuel stock from their portfolios. And it’s not just students who are taking action - whole cities such as Seattle are pledging to divest as well.

As a strategy, divestment is a form of economic non-cooperation. By untangling our institutions’ money from the fossil fuel industry, we declare that we will not be complicit with the industry’s dangerous and destructive practices.

Furthermore, divestment and socially responsible reinvestment create a sizeable demand for financial portfolios that are free from fossil-fuel stocks, and fundamentally change the way our institutions and governments do business. Students, churches, and city governments are taking decisive action and hoping that governmental leadership will do the same.

Old strategies meet new struggles

Divestment is not a new idea in politics. Students who developed the current strategy of divestment cribbed the concept from the movement in the 1980s against the racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

Then as now, businesspeople and politicians who had been insulated from hearing dissent suddenly listened when the people began to move their money. Grassroots campaigners utilized divestment as a way to take away the social license of corporations doing business in apartheid South Africa and thereby changed the political discourse around the issue.

We saw this begin to happen in our current campaign when Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) praised students working on fossil fuel divestment in a speech on the Senate floor.

“These students are imploring their schools to weigh the real cost of climate change against the drive for more financial returns,” Whitehouse said. “With American college and university endowments estimated to total more than $400 billion, this movement by students deserves significant attention.”

Not everyone has been so enthusiastic about the idea. Scholar and journalist Christian Parenti, who wrote one of the more widely read critiques of divestment for the Huffington Post, has said that real change cannot happen without significant federal leadership.

Parenti points out that our federal government is the world’s greatest consumer of energy and vehicles, and the nation’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. He believes that if the government begins purchasing renewable energy for its buildings and cars, the market will drastically shift towards clean energy and investments will follow.

Of course, fossil fuel divestment and Parenti’s “Big Green Buy” are not mutually exclusive. But there is no time to wait for government policies to change. Furthermore, as centuries of social movement history reveals, state power doesn’t shift until you push on it. A large-scale divestment campaign is one critical part of that push.

Students examine their institutions

Rather than waiting for elected leaders to take action, students are swiftly transforming their own universities and communities by standing up to the dirty energy regime. The group that I work with at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore Mountain Justice, has been waging a fossil fuel divestment campaign for the last two years.

Our campaign began with a trip down to West Virginia to see firsthand the impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining, and to meet the communities who are organizing against the dangerous practice.

Beyond Appalachia, there are numerous communities who face the destructive environmental and health impacts of extractive industries daily - from strip mining on the Black Mesa plateau to coal exports in the Pacific Northwest, from tar sands mining in Alberta to fracking in Western Pennsylvania.

In solidarity with these communities and with all of those who are directly affected by climate change, we have called on our Board of Managers to stop investing in 16 major coal, oil, and gas companies.

We have run into great resistance from Swarthmore board members who say that addressing climate change is important, but refuse to alter their portfolios at the risk of diminished returns.

Treasurer Sue Welsh, for example, told The New York Times that "The college’s policy is that the endowment is not to be invested for social purposes." The college does not screen any of its investments for political or social impact, and is invested in companies such as ExxonMobil.

By investing in these companies, our board members are betting on the financial success of mountaintop removal, drilling for oil in the Gulf, and other deadly practices, without acknowledging the human cost.

We have spent the last two years building student, alumni, and faculty support for fossil fuel divestment. Swarthmore College has a long history of leadership in social justice, and many of these values are integrated into the culture of the school.

Through our work, it has become understood within the larger Swarthmore community that we cannot protect students’ futures and be a leader in sustainability while still investing heavily in the fossil fuel industry. Bold action is necessary, and the transformation of our own institution’s endowment is the first step.

Divestment links diverse movements

In addition to divestment’s power as a tactic, it’s also helping students draw connections between their institutions’ policies and the larger movement for environmental and climate justice.

Kirsten "Sally" Bunner, a member of Earlham College’s divestment group, says that divestment campaigns are an opportunity to connect relatively privileged college students with people “whose lives are affected on a consistent and daily basis by the practices of the fossil fuel industry.”

Communities across the world, from Appalachia to Nigeria, have been organizing against extractive practices for decades. Within the last few months, we have seen a surge of resistance from Idle No More, New Yorkers Against Fracking, and the Tar Sands Blockade.

These groups aren’t pushing divestment - their tactics range from lockdowns on pipeline construction sites to occupations of elected leaders’ offices. But as they organize resistance on the ground, our divestment campaigns can help to erode the reputations of the companies they’re fighting.

“By connecting with these communities and finding out ways that we can support one another,” Bunner said, “we can make a greater impact than if we simply divest from fossil fuels alone.”

In order to facilitate these connections, students and activists from across the country will gather at Swarthmore College in February for the Power Up! Divest Fossil Fuels Student Convergence.

"One purpose of the convergence will be to examine divestment in the context of the larger climate justice movement,” said Bunner, who is one of the event’s organizers. Student-led, the convergence will bring frontline activists, students, movement allies, and climate organizers together to develop a cohesive vision and strategy for the next year.

The community at Swarthmore has given me an invaluable education and strengthened the conviction of my beliefs. But I believe my institution must do better. As a member of the younger generation, I recognize the profound weight of our planetary inheritance.

When I receive my degree in June, I will not be thinking about graduate programs or long-term employment opportunities. I will be thinking about the fact that carbon emissions must begin to decline by 2015, if we hope to prevent a change in global temperatures of more than 2 degrees, the tipping point beyond which catastrophic climate change begins.

Just two years from now, we risk passing that tipping point. The time to work together for climate justice is now. We cannot wait.
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Closing Doors: What do School Dropouts Cost Us?

How Will You be Remembered?
How Will You be Remembered? (Photo credit: eyewashdesign: A. Golden)
by Associate Professor Kitty Te Riele, Principal Research Fellow at Victoria University, The Conversation:

As students head back to school this year, it’s worth sparing a thought for the many students who won’t return.

In fact, each year thousands of young people leave school without a Year 12 qualification or vocational equivalent.

For their own sake, we should be concerned about what these kids go on to do (or not do as the case may be). But these school leavers also bring a cost to the economy - costs which are harder to measure than you might imagine.

Counting the loss

Retention to Year 12 has climbed from 46% nationally in 1985 to 79% in 2011. Despite this improvement, the fact remains 21% of students leave early without a Year 12 qualification.

In the short term at least, these early school leavers save the government money because each school student costs the government about $15,000 per year. Under the Compact with Young Australians a young person up to the age 21 who hasn’t completed Year 12 or equivalent cannot get Youth Allowance and their family loses the Family Tax Benefit Part A.

In some cases, parents (or young people themselves) are even fined if the young person is not in full-time school, training or work before they turn 17.

Despite these short-term savings, governments want young people to complete school or a vocational equivalent because when they don’t, it costs much more in the end.

Most research in this area is quite old but it can give an indication of the cost of early school leavers and the financial benefits of increasing school completion.

One 1999 estimation put the cost to each individual early school leaver at around $15,000 per year in lost income, while the total cost of early school leaving nationally is $2.6 billion per year.

Another piece of research in 2003 estimated that the benefit of increasing the proportion of young people with Year 12 or equivalent from 80% to 90% would increase GDP by $1.8 billion within 20 years.

In the US, where more recent research has been done on this, it has been estimated that each additional high school graduate is worth US $127,000 to the taxpayer.

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How Can Data Mining & Analytics Enhance Education?

by College

How Can Data Mining & Analytics Enhance Education?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

4 Reasons To Earn A Business Degree

English: MBA students pitch their ideas during...
The Elevator Pitch (Wikipedia)
by Jeremy P Stanfords

Acquiring a college education has become a standard requirement for many types of employment.

Business degrees are one of the most versatile programs available. Students have the option to receive a broad education that covers everything from economics to statistical analysis.

Some choose to take a more focused approach and become an expert in a specific field, such as accounting or marketing.

These degrees are an investment in the future that can help any candidate to stand out from other applicants when searching for employment. There are four main reasons why an increasing number of students are pursuing this type of degree.


Business degrees teach the skills that are necessary to manage and run a company. These skills are always in demand, regardless of the actual position within a company.

Graduates often receive more responsibility from employers because the degree indicates an increased capacity to handle complex situations. The general knowledge and skills taught in school make graduates a valuable asset in any position.

Career Advancement

Businesses that are looking for people to fill higher-level positions are looking for several specific qualities. These include leadership, initiative and reliability. Accredited business schools instill these qualities in every student. Companies that need managers, administrators or team leaders often require a degree as proof of ability.

Individuals who do not hold a college degree often become ineligible for promotions beyond a certain point. Some businesses even rely on the education level of employees in order to determine job grades that affect salaries for different positions.

Future Specialization

Even business degrees focused on a specific area, such as accounting or marketing, are valuable because they provide a platform for future specialization. Future educational needs frequently become quite clear after leaving college and working within an industry for a few years.

Any graduate has the option to return to school later in order to pursue a master of business administration (MBA) or another postgraduate degree to advance a career. A good undergraduate education in this field is even applicable to many other types of postgraduate programs, so an individual can steer their career in the right direction as employment requirements change.

Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Starting a new business is something that many people try. New companies may fail because of unexpected hurdles. Individuals who hold business degrees are uniquely qualified to start and run a company as an entrepreneur. College classes provide all of the knowledge needed about financing, accounting, budgeting and investment to avoid the mistakes that cause others to fail.

Author is a freelance writer. For more information on accredited business schools please visit

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College Prep: How to Prepare Your Child For College - And for Life

"Prepare for the future"
"Prepare for the future" (Photo credit:
by Susan Kruger

There are some forces in our society - some obvious, others completely hidden - that pull us toward trying to fix the world to accommodate our children.

We get the vague sense that we should constantly arrange our children's world around them. Sometimes these pressures are obvious and easy to resist, but sometimes they're as subtle as our own good intentions.

As a teacher, I've been prevented from giving students failing grades on their report cards; even students who refused to do any work at all! I was told to pass them. In fact, I was expected to inflate grades for all students. As my former principal explained, "We don't want to hurt their feelings."

But the real world won't care squat about their feelings!

As a parent, I've had to literally drag my child, kicking and screaming, out of the toy aisles of our local Target. I had to feel other shoppers' eyes burning into the back of my head as we made the long walk (well, drag) to the door. It sure would have been easier to just buy him that $14.99 toy - but, I'm trying to prepare my child for the world.

The Approaching Horizon

Every day, I remind myself of the Time Horizon of Childhood; the fact that my children have 18 or 20 years to learn, test decisions, and experience consequences with me before they end up in the Real World (thanks to Joshua Boswell,, for naming this concept so eloquently).

That's the time I have to prepare them for college and to teach them to be responsible adults. After that, I won't be able to give them what they want anymore, even if I want to. I won't be allowed to bend the rules for them. I probably won't even know how to do their work for them.

It's hard to remember that my itty-bitty children will soon be lumbering adolescents, who will then become adults. God-willing, they will actually spend 60+ years of their life without my direct influence and support. As much as I would love to protect them from bad decisions, heartaches, and challenges, I simply can't prepare the world for my children.

So, How Do I Prepare Them For The World?

By holding them to high standards and giving them freedom to make some of their own decisions... now. By allowing them to experience consequences for their decisions. By teaching them how to listen, how to make decisions, how to learn, and how to manage their lives.

We also need to teach them the skills to meet those standards. These are the skills they will need to survive on their own. They are also the skills they will need to prepare for school, college, living on their own, and managing a home and career.

Study Skills Are Life Skills

Yes, it all comes back to study skills. Understanding how to study strategically gave me the tools to learn how to succeed in school, build a business, and manage a family. Study skills allow me to make informed decisions. They give me the structure to get things done.

A few years ago my beloved hometown, Detroit, came to a grinding halt. Study skills prepared me to handle the world as it came crashing down. They allowed me to create my own living. I'm proud to say that Detroit is now rising from the ashes-but I was very fortunate to not be at the mercy of those external forces. I did not have to live in the fear that plagued nearly all of my neighbors during that unsettling time.

My parents taught me that you can learn your way out of nearly any problem. That lesson is what led me to discover study skills. If my parents had tried to prepare my world for me, my livelihood, happiness, and self-worth would always be at the mercy of politics, economics, and the direction of the wind on any given day.

But, as my dad once said, "I'd like to think I'm raising a young woman and two young men, not a little girl and two little boys." He and Mom clearly understood that they had to prepare us for the world.

Luckily, there is help for parents and teachers trying to help their children prepare for college and the world. Get a FREE guide, "Conquer the Chaos: How to Motivate and Organize Students for Success," at Susan Kruger, M.Ed. is a former struggling student, founder of, and the author of the best-selling study skills book in the world, SOAR Study Skills.

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The Future of Libraries


The Future of Libraries

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guidelines For Mastering The SAT

New Arrivals October 2012:  The Official SAT S...
New Arrivals October 2012: The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd Edition (Photo credit: theunquietlibrary)
by Liza Moye

Most teenagers must eventually buckle down and study for their college board exams.

The SAT, as it is widely known in the field, is designed to measure the verbal and math skills of all young men and women who would like to go to college and secure a formal degree.

Though studying will surely be needed, most youngsters can do well with the proper preparations.

Students who are verbally challenged will likely need to develop a sophisticated vocabulary base as quickly as possible. Making flashcards will probably help them remember things better. They should also practice general reading comprehension skills so that they can fit their new vocabulary words into the appropriate grammatical contexts.

While some people might have trouble with the verbal section, others may be struggling with math. In fact, the mathematical principles that are tested on the SAT are rather basic, and most men and women should be able to master them with a little study time.

Algebra and geometry will both be emphasized, so students should ensure that they understand both how to solve equations and how to manipulate triangles to come up with the proper angle measurements.

Of course, taking formal courses will be incredibly useful. Teachers who are skilled in the area will be able to provide a range of tips and guidelines that should help individuals succeed further down the road. Students may even meet some friends who they can study with on a regular basis.

Practice tests can also help. When individuals understand the format that they will likely see on the day of the exam, they will be less nervous and more likely to zip confidently through the questions. Practice tests also allow them to check their answers to see which concepts need a bit more work.

On the evening before examination day, people should get a good night's rest if at all possible. This will allow them to be fully alert and ready to attack the test when the morning arrives. Establishing a sense of confidence will also help. Those test takers who know they are ready for anything will generally perform better.

Ultimately, when looking for an SAT prep course Bayside students should look around until they find a class that caters to their whims. With an experienced teacher leading the discussion, the young adults in the course should make significant progress that will translate into high scores later on.

When there is a need to know more on SAT prep course Bayside students can view the related website for more info. Check out this homepage about prep courses by clicking on now.

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Advice for College Freshmen

C3 College Students
College Students (Photo: Wikipedia)
by Airrion Blake-Bey

This will serve as advice to students going to college for the first time. I want to share some of my experiences that can help you during your four year college education.

One of the biggest mistakes I made as a college freshman was trying to party like a rock star. I was always an intelligent individual so I felt that I could pass my classes in my sleep, literally.

I slept in my classes during my first semester 8 o'clock class on M,W, F. It was a bad idea for me to go to parties and meet new friends on weekdays instead of studying.

College is on a different level that takes hard work and effort, there will always be time to party and meet new friends. Classes only last a short time and it is very important to get good grades because the goal is graduating with a degree. Make sure you understand the main purpose of going to college.

There is nothing wrong with having fun, but make sure you work hard and party after the work is done. I however had this idea that professors could care less if students come to class so I skipped classes once in a while. This attitude led to a "C" average during my first two semesters.

It is very difficult to raise your grade point average in college, so the worst grades make it harder to get any movement in your G.P.A. During my second year in college there were programs and groups that I wanted to join but due to such a low grade point average I could not participate. A higher grade point average would have allowed me to receive money from different sources to help pay for school.

There were organizations on campus that required a certain grade point average to join but I was left out because of such a low average. A 2.0 grade point average is not a good average for any student in my opinion.

College freshmen need to understand that this is the first step of preparing for a career in the corporate job market and being average is not a position to brag about or to help you stand apart from others.

People usually like to praise accomplishments that were hard to achieve or took some effort. A 2.0 grade point average was not an achievement that got scholarships or scholarly praise, but was the result of being lazy and trying to coast in college.

My advice to incoming college students, try as hard as you can to accomplish scholastic achievements. Hard work actually makes your college years easier, because there are people and resources that reward hard work. It may sound cool to be a party animal but the party animals are the dropouts and no one should want to be a dropout.

Your college years go by so fast and there is no way to turn back the hands of time. Regret can follow you well into your adult life. I matured late and learned to love studying in the library thereby receiving grade point averages above 3.0, but my grade point average only moved small percentage points.

There are plenty of resources to help students on campus so take advantage of them. I finally learned the value of a good education and received a Masters in Business Administration with a 3.5 grade point average after taking a break for years. This advice for college freshman hopefully will put a bug in the ear of someone who is contemplating coasting through college.

You can save yourself a lot of time and disappointment if you put your nose to the grind stone in the beginning. You may land a great job with a good reputable company with a good salary to hopefully pay off those loans and a good place to stay and nice car!

Visit us at where we share ideas, knowledge, and business.

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Preparing For College: Choosing a School

Cambridge - Harvard Square: Harvard University...
Cambridge - Harvard Square: Harvard University - Memorial Hall (Photo credit: wallyg)
by Wendy L Nelson

Question 1 - What am I good at?

There are many different types of schools that specialize in different things. Understanding what you are good at may help to narrow down the school type.

Are you a great writer or are you really into history? A liberal arts college may be your best bet because you will spend a lot of time in these areas.

Are you interested in cooking, photography or digital media? A trade school or 2-year community college will give you a chance to take classes in these areas and bring your skills up to a level where you could make this a career.

Are computers your greatest love? Maybe you should go to a technical school where you can focus on computer technology and not so much on history, English and other traditional subject areas.
Are you certain what you want to major in? Many 4-year universities will allow you to go right into your content area without needing a well-rounded liberal arts base.

Question 2 - How much can I afford?

This will be critical for narrowing down different types of schools and finding schools where you have the best chance of financial aid. You need to look at three things to answer this:

1) What do you (or your parents) already have saved for college?
2) What can you (or your parents) afford to pay while you are in school?
3) How much financial aid can you qualify for?

The best ways to find out how much financial aid you can qualify for are by using the FAFSA Forecaster and going to college's Net Price Calculators. You can Google "FAFSA forecaster" to get some sites that provide this tool and tell you what it means.

Almost all college websites will have a link to a Net Price Calculator within their Admissions information. This is a great way to see what it may actually cost you to go to the college.

Question 3 - What are my goals?

Are you intent on getting both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree? If so, you may want to consider a lower cost 4-year college to start with. A state school in your home state could be your most affordable option.

Are you anxious to get into the workforce as soon as possible? In that case, it may make sense to start with a 2-year degree and then decide if you want to transfer right to a 4-year school or go out and work for a while.

Question 4 - Where do my grades and test scores best fit?

Look at the range of high school GPA and ACT/SAT test scores that a school says they admit. This will tell you how selective the school is. If you have great grades and test scores, you may be able to find a private college that will give you enough of a merit scholarship to make it the lowest cost option.

Question 5 - What school characteristics do I prefer?

Narrow down the type of campuses you want to look at.

- Small, medium or large?
- Close to home or far away?
- Very selective in who is admitted or not so selective?
- Rural, suburban or urban?

Once you can answer these questions, find a website that has a good college search tool and plug in your desired characteristics. This will give you a good list of colleges to explore further. Then start visiting schools and narrowing down your choices. Try to end up with a list of 3 - 8 schools you will apply to.

When you come down to making the final decision on a school, you need to look at where you were accepted, how much each school costs and how much you like each one. Determine what the deciding factor will be and go with the one that meets it best.

Wendy Nelson is a first-time college mom who has approached her daughter's college search process using her professional background in Project Management. She hopes to help others through the college choice process by sharing what she has learned.

For more helpful information to guide you in your college choice process visit You will find a great spreadsheet template to help you keep track of your college search on my Resources tab.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

How PBL Is Changing Education

Summer Reading: Reinventing Project-Based Learning
PBL (Schilling Elementary 4th Grade)
by Samantha E Stewart

How Project Based Learning Units are Changing the Way Our Students Are Taught

Many educational instructors firmly believe that what once worked in the classroom a decade ago - or longer - doesn't necessarily have the same effect on the learning environment in today's classroom.

Times have changed, and researchers are finding the contemporary educational institutions and students require something added to the classroom in order to make their educational experience more relevant to today's world.

Why Should Things Change?

Students should no longer be required to only take notes and memorize a certain amount of information provided during a learning session. Such almost 'mindless' learning doesn't necessarily prepare them for post-graduation responsibilities, nor does it adequately prepare them for real-world work and situations.

This is why project based learning is used more frequently as a resource for teaching our kids valuable information and lessons, as well as to help better prepare them for life after high school as functioning adults in a work environment.

Why PBL?

Although project based and problem based learning has been around since the time of Aristotle, modern project based learning came about in the 1960's by a team of colleagues in medical school at McMaster University.

These colleagues were observing how frustrated medical students were during their first few years of study, and how they really weren't engaged in their work. In order to change the usual method of learning, project based learning was introduced to help these students become much more interested, engaged, and involved in their projects.

Students involved in project based learning were placed in small groups where their collaborative and team efforts require them to come up with a solution to the problem they were assigned. This type of platform provided students with the opportunity to work cooperatively as a team, practice their critical thinking skills, and essentially become problem solvers.

These valuable skills are vital in the real world.

Students in elementary and secondary schools can also benefit greatly with PBL in the classroom in many ways, including developing:

  • High-level communication skills
  • Information retrieval skills
  • Idea generation - Imagination - Brain Storming
  • Critical thinking skills
  • The ability to apply new information
  • The ability to use information gathered to arrive at a solution to the problem
  • Collaboration skills
  • Presentation experience

How Teachers Are Affected by PBL

For teachers, no longer are they simply dictators of information to the students, but facilitators and guides. No longer are they simply standing in front of the classroom hoping that at least some of the students are paying attention.

With the advent of project based learning units, teachers take on a role as mentors and facilitators, which allows them to suggest resources, direct progress and watch progress. As teachers see their students become more engaged and interested in their work, their jobs become that much more rewarding.

For teachers interested in learning more about project based learning, they can visit the PBL Superstore and learn more about the history, benefits and results. PBL is also ideal for homeschooled students. Since preparing, testing and grading projects can be overwhelming; teachers may want to access ready-made units that they can implement into their classroom right away.

The PBL Superstore has ready to download projects for grades K-10. Research shows that introducing project based learning sparks engagement in students, and many schools have now made PBL a core part of the curriculum.

Samantha Stewart is a Canadian writer who loves fitness, health, hot tubs, investments, etc. She has written several works of health, home-safety, relationship, fitness, investment & business advice and asset protection.

To check more of her work, visit

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Is Homeschooling Beneficial to Students? Understanding Its Advantages

A mother and her homeschooled daughter, studyi...
Home Schooling (Wikipedia)
by Caroline Pierce

There are several ways to educate children. In a regular school setting, students are required to go to school in a specified time for several days a week. Students participate in class activities and discussions.

Parents are given the choice to enroll their children in either a private or public school. Another way to educate children is through homeschooling.

Homeschooling, which is also known as home-based learning, is an educational method that is typically done at home by tutors or by parents. More and more parents prefer to homeschool their children instead of sending them to a regular school. Some of them prefer this method of education because they are not satisfied with the teaching methods and techniques used in schools.

Other parents are concerned about the setting of the school and the safety it provides. Homeschooling is also being preferred by individuals who are living in rural areas where school transportation is not readily accessible.

Through homeschooling, students can have a one-on-one discussion with their tutors. They can freely ask them about certain aspects of the lesson that they do not understand without worrying about the reactions of their classmates.

Since most homeschooling programs involve homeschool activities and sports including music, art, and karate, students are given the opportunity to socialize with other people while pursuing their interests.

Parents are also given the freedom to raise or teach their children in accordance with their beliefs and culture. They can also strengthen the bond that they have with their children. Homeschooling enables parents to know their children on a deeper level and identify their bad and good characteristics.

Studies reveal that parental involvement in education increases the chance of children to excel in various aspects of academics.

Another benefit of homeschooling is the customized educational curriculum it provides. Tutors or parents can specially design a curriculum that suits the needs of the student. Customized education can help strengthen the weaknesses of the student and maximize their learning capabilities.

Since parents can monitor their children when being homeschooled, they can control the factors and issues that influence their children. Homeschoolers are less likely to experience peer pressure, bullying, and other violence that are experienced in school.

In terms of financial matters, homeschooling is more cost-efficient than attending a regular school. Homeschooling will prevent parents to incur additional cost for school transportation, snacks, and foods.

Compared with children who go to school everyday, homeschoolers tend to be more involved in the community. They have the chance to experience hands-on activities such as museum and library visits. These children also have the privilege to take a vacation while still studying.

Homeschooling is another way for parents to educate their children. It helps parents instill their own values, beliefs, and morals to their children. However, homeschooling is not applicable to all children.

Parents need to be responsible enough to weigh the situation and determine which method is best for their children. Whatever their decision is, parents should make sure that they choose the one that best suit the emotional, academic, and social needs of their children.

Learn what educational method is best for your children. Visit MomsWise for more tips on education, parenting, and motherhood.

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Using Creative Research Methods to Study Doctoral Writing

Writing My Thesis
Writing My Thesis (Trinesh Champaneri)
by Thesis Whisperer, Doctoral Writing SIG:

Thinking of doing some research on doctoral writing?

There's a lot of work about writing and the doctoral experience, but much of it relies on interview or survey data.

There's plenty of scope, in my view, for using different methods to study writing behaviour and practice.

My friend Jason Downs and I are planning a small study about how students approach the task of planning their thesis, using creative research methods, so I have been trawling the literature for ideas.

In this post I wanted to share three papers I have been reading which use methods on the more creative end of the spectrum, where the data is created by the participants, not in response to questions by the researchers.

These methods have strengths and weaknesses, but in my experience of working with these methods and trying to get work published, creative methods are not well understood in the higher education research community.

In this post I will outline the methods used in the papers, and the kind of knowledge that was gained using these methods. I'll then ponder some of the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches, especially when subjected to the peer review process, where they may not get a very generous reception.

Syles, I and Radloff, A (2000). Affective reflections: Postgraduate students' feelings about their theses. Presented at the Quality in Postgraduate Research Conference "Making ends meet".

In this paper Styles and Radloff report on their analyses of student's drawings as a way to understanding the way students feel about their thesis.

The rationale for this study is that affect - or feelings towards the work - has an impact on student performance and that drawings are a way of analysing affect.

The authors asked students in focus groups and interview settings "What metaphors come to mind when you think of your thesis?" and encouraged them to write and draw a response. Then the participants were given a list of 18 positive and negative adjectives and asked to pick the ones that described their feelings towards their work.

The participants then chose from 8 different colours of crayons and used these to create a colour wheel showing the extent to which they were experiencing each emotion. Students were then interviewed about what they had drawn and coloured.

21 metaphors were identified and 6 themes were generated: uncertainty, anticipation, effort, menace, creation/growth and orderliness. Women picked more adjectives than men and there was a tendency for women to express stronger positive emotions and men to express stronger negative emotions. Students earlier in the process seemed to be less negative than those at a later stage.

This creative mixed methods approach seemed to be fruitful and the authors have a range of suggestions at the end of the paper for universities to use the results of the study in supporting research students, especially with emotions related to uncertainty.

Some might object to the conclusions drawn about discipline and gender based on the small sample size (around 20). However, it is very difficult to do this kind of research on a larger scale, which is one of the limitations of such an approach.

Ward, M.-H. and West, S. (2008). Blogging PhD Candidature: Revealing the Pedagogy. International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society, 60–71.

In this paper Ward and West explore an extract from one of the blogs kept by a PhD student, participating in Ward's ongoing study of PhD students in Australia. The extract includes comments from other PhD student bloggers.

The extract is used, along with some supporting literature and personal reflections from the authors, to analyse the role that blogging can play in supporting doctoral candidature. The authors conclude that blogging is used to: record insights and thoughts, create lists of resources or tasks, store important documents, record events and put ideas 'out there' for comment from others.

Blogs, the authors state, are a "new kind of text" (p.64) that can link ideas of the same author together and link the ideas of the author with other ideas and people online. They go on to ponder whether the 'collaborative knowledge creation' which blogs allow has the capacity to reduce the role of the supervisor to more of a 'guide on the side' (pg 65).

They conclude that aspects of PhD supervision could be supported through blogging, including developing research plans, reflecting on meetings, creating lists of action items and encouraging peer-to-peer contact.

The advantage of looking at blogs as data is that they are in the public domain, but many ethics committees are confused about the nature of research online. You may have trouble with your application if you plan to use your own blog to solicit data or survey participants.

My view is that a blog is like a newspaper, but I've had many heated arguments with ethics committee members who feel that the interaction aspect of blogging constitutes a personal relationship of some kind and, therefore, should be subject to normal ethics committee processes.

Tierney, W. G., & Hallett, R. E. (2010). In Treatment: Writing Beneath the Surface. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(8), 674–684. doi:10.1177/1077800410374028

This paper uses a narrative enquiry approach to studying the supervisor/student relationship. The authors use Laurel Richardson's "writing story" approach, generating narratives about the PhD process from both the student's and supervisors' points of view.

Parts of these narratives are interspersed with analysis of the themes which are highlighted in them: trust, communication, time, identity and reflexivity. The narratives highlight the complexity of the relationship and interactions which can occur in the practice of writing.

The use of the narrative method allows very concrete and particular details of lived experience to be communicated - it does not smooth out the roughness of the data, but celebrates it.

In this paper the interpretive text which appears between the narrative segments is solidly grounded in other literature, so the narrative can be seen to enhance current knowledge and provide insights which help scholars to build on previous research.

The strengths of narrative accounts are also their weakness. The particular, situated nature of the data can cause confusion in peer reviewers who can be concerned about "generalisability". Is a narrative account anecdote or data? In my view, it depends on the choice of the narrative and how it is treated by the researcher.

Where to method?

I hope this short survey of creative research methods is helpful to others who are thinking of working in the deep end of the methods pool. I'd like to think that if the researcher carefully addresses the fears of peer reviewers, publication might be easier, but in my experience this is not the case.

If you want to work with creative methods be prepared for lots of rejection letters. No matter how carefully you mount an argument, some peer reviewers and journal editors will reject papers using creative methods on principle alone.

What do you think? Have you used any creative methods in your research? What has been your experience with the publishing process?
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Project Unschool Peru: A Natural Learning Retreat in the Sacred Valley

by Lainie Liberti, Escape from America magazine:

You may remember an interview that I did with Lainie and her son Miro a while back. This mother-son duo who are slow-traveling the world together continue to inspire me. 

When I heard that they ended up in Peru’s Sacred Valley for a while to explore their mutual dream of creating a natural learning retreat, I knew I wanted to share the opportunity with as many people as I could. 

If you, your family, or your teenage kids are looking to be inspired, to learn to love to learn again, read on:

So, give us a one or two sentence summary of your latest project.

Project Unschool Peru is a life-changing event designed to inspire teens and families who wish to experience the magic of Peru’s Sacred Valley during a 4-week “natural-learning” retreat.

Designed as a temporary learning-community, participants follow their own interests individually and as a group, focusing on archaeology, history, ethnobotany, sacred plants and medicines, agriculture, arts and music, sustainability, Andean mysticism and so much more.

Is this a retreat or an educational gathering?

The retreat centers around the magic of co-creation and embodies the spirit of a “learning community”. Therefore it is both a retreat AND an educational gathering. Never knowing exactly what will happen, “discovery” holds the key, resulting in knowledge gained and lessons learned.

Venturing to Peru’s Sacred Valley to experience the rich cultural beauty, history and mystery, one cannot help but to be deeply inspired and learn a little.

The Project Unschool Peru retreat is an invitation to go where the magic happens, and when a committed community is created, who knows what will transpire! Each participant has a special gift, a special perspective, and so much to explore.

Project Unschool Peru participants learn from the environment and teach/mentor one another. Participants give as much as they receive and experience the greatest gift: the gift of learning, co-creating, and experiencing the magic of life.

What was the inspiration for this retreat?

Project Unschool Peru was born from an inspired idea between myself (an unschooling mom) and my unschooled teen son, Miro. Over the last four years, my son and I have transitioned into a unique lifestyle, one in which we do not have a permanent home, nor are we tied to any set schedule or follow any formal learning curriculum.

We travel based on our inspiration and learn naturally along the way. Both my son and I have witnessed the world transformed into our classroom based on our individual interests and collective experiences.

Peru is a special place for both of us. Miro and I have both fallen in love with the country’s unique offerings. Together we have been inspired to share Peru’s unique history, archeological sites, models of sustainability, expressive arts, and the deep mysticism contained in the traditions, as our lives have become enriched and forever changed.

The inspiration for the retreat? To bring these experiences to an engaged group of interested learners, who support one another as we reflect on our own relationship to the surrounding culture. It’s a powerful invitation to look at our own humanity and learn about others. With inspiration, the idea to create a retreat in the form of a temporary natural learning community in Peru’s Andes was born. 

What is a temporary learning community?

A learning community is a group of people who share common emotions, values or beliefs, whom are actively engaged in learning together, from each other and through collective experiences.

The community is temporary in the sense that it will exist in a certain point in time, and relies on all of its participants to come together and to breathe life into it. Somewhat within the vein of other temporary communities such as Burning Man, when the magic happens in a singular point in time, but the effects remain for a lifetime.

Combining the concepts behind a learning community and the deliberateness of temporality will create an intentional experience. 

4 weeks is a lot to some people – can you explain why so long?

We have designed a 4 week retreat that requires the entire four weeks to experience. Beyond the natural flow of subjects introduced each week, building upon the previous weeks, there are other fundamental reasons.

Not only are the participants traveling to high altitudes which requires time to properly acclimatize, the necessity to have time to fully immerse into the culture and develop relationships within the learning community requires at least 4 weeks to be effective.

What might people expect to take away from this experience?

We can’t anticipate all the things participants will take away from Project Unschool Peru, however we’ve designed the retreat to so that all have a taste of: adventure, magic, shamans, sacred ceremonies, healing, consciousness, excitement, love, friendship, laughter, inspiration, the Andes, the unknown, plant spirits, ancient temples, ancient technologies, ancient wisdom, sustainable agriculture, places of power, history, humanity, culture, community, yoga, Machu Picchu, inspiration, being alive, and learning naturally in a supportive community environment.

What is the cost, and what does that include?

The retreat costs $3800 USD. The cost covers a flight from Lima to Cusco (and back), all accommodations and ground transportation for the four weeks of the retreat.

The cost also includes tea, snacks and 3 meals a day, Monday through Saturday; all tickets and admission costs to archeological sites throughout Cusco and the Sacred Valley; all talks, lectures, documentary screenings, improv theater class, yoga classes, craft, music, and cooking workshops.

Also included in the price are daily hikes, led by a professional guide, guided mediation and some surprise guests and events. The retreat price also includes a 5-day guided trek to Machu Picchu, all amenities. Lastly, the price includes fun, learning, community and individual transformations (for more details, be sure to visit the website,

What are your guidelines for accepting people into the program or not?

We are looking for people who are familiar with the principles of natural learning, and who are open-minded and wish to experience both learning as a community and enjoying the sights, sounds and flavors of Peru. First and foremost, participation is required. The retreat is designed for solo teens ages 13-19, couples or any formation or families.

Do you only accept kids who are currently homeschooled or unschooled?

No, we are open to all kinds of schooled, home-schooled, world-schooled or unschooled teens. However the retreat does take place during the traditional school year, June 2nd through the 30th, so there’s that consideration.

We apply the principles of “radical unschooling”, so if a participant is not familiar with those philosophies, we would ask that they become familiar with it before the retreat.

In essence, we encourage attendance by teens who are responsible for their own experience (which doesn’t necessarily depend on their style of educational background).

Although the retreat is designed with many activity choices, participants don’t have to choose to participate in activities that don’t interest them, which is part of the unschooling principles of empowerment. We encourage all the teen participants to make their own choice about the experience they wish to have.

Whether the teen is schooled traditionally or unschooled, we hope each person comes to the retreat with a driven desire to participate in as many activities that interest them. We also hope participants will discover many more areas of interest that they didn’t have a prior interest in, and we believe they will become ‘inspired’ to see the world through new eyes!

Is fluency in Spanish required?

No, Spanish is not required to participate in the retreat. All discussions, workshops and tours will be conducted in English. If a participant wishes to learn or practice their Spanish, however, this is the place to do it!

Tell us a little about the group of leaders you have gathered to work with …

We have assembled a talented group of facilitators for the Project Unschool Peru retreat. Each staff member is bringing their own unique blend of talents to the retreat, each focused in a specific field. We have a seasoned yoga instructor, a theater improv teacher, a teen leader, a professional hiking guide, an ethnobotanist and teen mentor.

Additionally, we have engaged the guidance of one of the leading voices within the Radical Unschooling movement, Dayna Martin, to advise us on all matters relating to natural-learning. We have also invited local Peruvian artisans, musicians, shamans and farmers to lead workshops within their selected interests.

Lastly, we’ve engaged a well-known researcher to share his knowledge on the ancient cultures of Peru, explore alternative technologies and encourage all of us to look at our collective human history a little differently. 

What are you most excited about in regards to this project?

We are so excited to share the magic of Peru, the cultures and traditions within the context of a powerful learning experience. Because Project Unschool Peru focuses on the magic of co-creation and embodies the spirit of a learning community, one cannot predict what will be discovered, uncovered or experienced.

The commitment to being open to all the retreat has to offer with the intention to experience the grandest version of ourselves is what I’m most excited about. To experience that, especially in a community setting is pure magic. My son and I have been planning this retreat for almost a year and seeing it come to fruition is our dream.

What have been the biggest challenges so far?

This is a fair question, however, there really isn’t an answer. My son and I have been dreaming about creating Project Unschool Peru from the first time we visited Peru’s Sacred Valley. We recognized the opportunity and decided to move to Cusco to start planning the retreat in June of 2012.

We gave ourselves a year from inception to launch and in that time, we’ve met exactly the right people, found the perfect places, made the most perfect relationships and engaged the most incredible companies to help us out. We have had no challenges or obstacles and we are financing the project ourselves. The cost of the retreat covers the expenses and this is being produced as a labor of love for us.

How do interested people contact you, and what are the steps they have to take to apply?

We have a retreat web site here: We have all the information for the application process, payments, retreat details, background and contributors. Please visit the site for more information and details about participation and registration. We guarantee this will be a once in a lifetime experience and would love very much if you joined us. The retreat takes place June 2 - June 30th, 2013

Lainie Liberti is a recovering branding expert whose 18-year career once focused on creating campaigns for green/eco businesses, non-profits and conscious business. In 2008, California’s economy took a turn and Lainie decided to “be the change” instead of a victim. 

She and her then 9-year-old son, Miro, began the process of redesigning their lives, with the dream of spending stress-free quality time together. And in mid-2009, Lainie and Miro did just that and hit the road for a permanent adventure.

Three and half years, 13 countries and many personal changes later, Lainie and Miro are continuing to slow travel around the globe, living an inspired possession-free lifestyle, and committed to learning naturally in the world.

Lainie and Miro are both following their interests as they live in various places on the planet, as the world has been transformed into their classroom. Often you will hear Lainie say “we are blessed to be accidental unschoolers” and has become an advocate for “life learning” at any age. 

Lainie and Miro describe their greatest accomplishment as the ability to participate in the world without fear. You can read more about unschooling, life-learning, travel and inspiration on their blog: Raising Miro on the Road of Life.

Do Not Just Contemplate Teaching Online

Teaching via Skype
Teaching via Skype (Photo credit: shareski)
by Michael Greene

The current state of post-secondary teaching employment on traditional campuses is unreservedly poor as the percentage of adjunct college and university faculty members working in physical college and university classrooms increases at an exponential rate.

This should come as no surprise to any college instructor attempting to stitch together a living wage by providing instruction on two or three campuses and outright failing as a result of not being able to earn enough money to support a reasonable lifestyle that includes the time and space to engage in scholarly research activities.

More to the point, the emergence of more online classes each semester provides an object lesson in the thinking and actions of administrators scrambling to effectively serve college and university students with the rapidly decreasing budgetary funds available for that purpose.

Since there seems to be no end to the explicit transition to distance education over continuing to maintain traditional classrooms, it is past time for academics to simply contemplate teaching online as a smart career choice as opposed to learning how to use the online college degree programs to generate an academic income worthy of their educations and intellects.

While many educators with earned graduate degrees have earnestly considered teaching online there are not all that many who have taken the leap and learned that it is possible to generate a full time living from a personal computer accessing online bachelor degree programs and online master degree programs.

Some non-academics would be stunned by the knowledge that in the face of mass layoffs in public education at every level a teacher with a Ph.D. or master's degree and decades of classroom experience would simply not be motivated to actively pursue online teaching a secondary or primary career opportunity, but those same non-academics are understandably unaware of the difficulty of transitioning from a public employee situation where all aspects of the teaching profession are managed by administrators to that of an academic entrepreneur responsible individually for the generation and management of income from the delivery of post-secondary instruction.

Of course, on a practical level this hesitancy on the part of languishing teachers is completely understandable in light of the sheer newness of distance learning and how it is literally changing the academic employment landscape.

To be fair, public school teachers, including traditional adjunct college faculty members, have not really been given the necessary tools during their intellectual voyage through graduate school to be successful as a self-employed academic.

This lack of essential understanding that creates the intellectual tools required to make the needed career adjustments prevents educators from taking even the first step to transition out of an employment arrangement that is no longer economically viable. In order to correct this problem the teacher needs to learn as much as possible each day about the technical navigation of academic websites and the online degree programs located inside them.

At the same time, it is of paramount importance to realize at a basic level that the first step to successfully building a complete online teaching portfolio is an acceptance that online teaching employment is the new academic brass ring.

Distance education technology is all the rage with academic administrators and new and returning college and university students for the simple reason that it is extremely inexpensive to deliver and maintain, which is in direct opposition to the high costs of maintaining physical college classrooms and university campuses, and is much easier and less costly for students enrolled in online college courses to access online college degree programs on the Internet than it is to use a motor vehicle to drive to a traditional campus on the edge of town in order to sit for long periods listening to a lecture and then having to drive back home.

The same convenience and cost-efficiency is available to the prospective online adjunct instructor that makes the serious effort to learn as much as possible about the availability of online teaching employment. After all, the market for an academic entrepreneur, an intellectual with the appropriate academic credentials and technical skills, is growing larger each passing day.

The administrators who are so eagerly deploying online degree programs leading to an online bachelor of nursing degree, an elementary education degree online or an online criminal justice degree, which they have no intention of teaching themselves, are desirous of large pools of academic labor than can be depended on to take control of multiple online college courses at the moment an e-mail is sent offering an invitation to teach online.

The college instructor that is ready to start teaching from a personal computer can develop a reputation for being able to manage the offered online courses and eventually experience more offers from administrators of online degree programs than traditional academic programs.

These offers will develop into individual income streams that collectively represent more money than can possible be earned by teaching in a physical classroom on campuses that can only be arrived at by traveling geographical distances.

The combination of growing student populations at the post-secondary level of the academy and the genuine need academic administrators have for online adjunct instructors that can immediately enter an online class and start teaching is the sweet spot, so to speak, for any educator wanting to acquire the mobility and financial prosperity associated with teaching online for multiple online degree programs.

While it is true that graduate school will not inform a teacher how to react to massive layoffs of public education employees, it is entirely possible for the alert intellectual to master the use of a personal computer and the associated navigation of the Internet in order to locate plenty of online teaching employment that will serve as an economic platform for increased prosperity.

Michael Greene is a full time online teacher. Greene has learned that the academic wanting to continue earning a living from teaching should recognize the growing popularity of distance education programs at the post-secondary level of the academy. His posts about online teaching as a career can be read here. The best advice about finding a variety of online teaching jobs is located right here and can be accessed with a simple click.

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What Are the Stages of Reading Development?

English: Buittle Tower Library The Scottish Bo...
Buittle Tower Library (Wikipedia)
by David Pino

What are the Stages of Reading Development?

Reading development can be broken down into two major stages: Learning to read and reading to learn.

Learning to read involves mastering the sound structure of spoken language, understanding the alphabetic principle, decoding words, and becoming fluent.

Once readers begin to become fluent the cognitive demands of reading shift from trying to decipher sound-symbol relationships and decoding words to comprehension, understanding another or multiple points of view about a topic, and gaining knowledge.

The stages of reading development progress on a continuum throughout a lifetime of reading. Positive early exposure to print and word play sets the stage for initial reading success. This often translates into more frequent reading and readers who are able to integrate new learning with their own knowledge.

Learning to Read

1. Pre-Reading

Reading development actually begins before children are aware of printed letters and words. Prior to learning about the alphabet, children have to be successful with their oral language skills. These oral language skills begin with exposure to nursery rhymes that help children develop and ear for the sounds of words.

Once children get their ear for word sounds they begin to focus on the components that make them similar or different. This is called rhyme and alliteration. Rhyme and alliteration provide the foundation for the development of phonological awareness.

At this point, pre-readers' understanding of how word sounds and patterns allows them to focus on smaller units of speech sounds. These units are called phonemes. Phonemes are speech sounds that are approximately equal to a letter or a combination of letters but not as big as a syllable.

When children become proficient with phonemic awareness they are able to blend letter sounds, segment phonemes in words, and manipulate phonemes to make new or nonsense words.

Being comfortable with sounds produced in isolation, being able to break words down into their small, meaningless components that are phonemes, and being able to manipulate the sound structure of words are all necessary pre-reading skills.

Pre-readers also need to be proficient with letter naming. Children who are able to rapidly and accurately identify letters find it easier to learn letter sounds and word spellings than children who are not as familiar or accurate. This is because knowing the names of letters allows children to learn their sounds quicker.

That is, it hastens the pre-reader's ability to understand the alphabetic principle which is simply the understanding that letters and words are made up of corresponding sounds. This understanding provides pre-readers the key for them to "unlock the code" and begin reading.

During this stage of reading development pre-readers gain mastery over the sound structure of spoken language, pretend to read, retell stories from picture books, enjoy having stories read to them, and recite the alphabet. The pre-reading stage typically lasts until the end of pre-school to the middle of kindergarten.

2. Emergent Readers

Emergent readers are able to begin learning how to connect sounds to printed letters and words. They soon realize that letters represent sounds and notice that combinations of letters produce different sounds.

Parents and teachers often notice the beginnings of this stage when children use invented spelling. This occurs when emergent readers write words the way they sound, which is a typical part of this developmental stage as these beginning readers are over-generalizing their new skills because they have only a rudimentary understanding of the reading rules.

Emergent readers often memorize the visual, i.e., orthographic, components of words or whole words and develop a "sight" vocabulary. Therefore, this stage is characterized by increased sound-symbol correspondence, increased visual memorization of high frequency "sight" words, and invented spellings.

Children in the emergent reader stage read high frequency words as well as phonetically regular words, continue to enjoy having stories read to them, enjoy stories that are predictable and relevant to them, need to be exposed to new vocabulary to increase their comprehension, and are usually able to sound out one syllable and sometimes two-syllable words. The emergent reader stage usually lasts until the end of kindergarten or the middle of first grade.

3. Early Readers

Early readers are at the beginning stages of becoming fluent. They are usually more efficient at sounding out words and are becomingly increasingly automatic at recognizing the parts of words and decoding them. During this stage readers learn how to chunk common parts of words (e.g., re-, un-, -ed, or -ing) which they can transfer among words increasing efficiency.

As their fluency increases, early readers have more cognitive processes available to direct at understanding what they are reading. Therefore, they increasingly direct energy toward comprehending what they read.

Early readers soon realize that there is more to understand than what is explicitly being stated in the text, and they may recognize that they have to reread a sentence or passage to understand what was being inferred.

This is an important step in reading development as readers begin to become strategic, recognizing that they are reading for a purpose. The early reading stage typically lasts until the end of second grade.

4. Transitional Readers

Transitional readers refine and expand their decoding skills, increase automaticity of word recognition, increase their rate of reading, increase their vocabulary knowledge, and increase their level of comprehension. This stage can be looked on as an extension of the early reader stage or as a prequel to the fluency stage. The transitional reader stage may last until the end of third grade. 

Reading to Learn

5. Fluent Readers

Fluent readers are comprehending readers. At this stage they shift from learning how to read to reading to learn. Reading at this stage becomes more purposeful. Students are able to access their background knowledge to gain insight into and connect with written text.

At this stage readers began to more fully develop their understanding of meanings that are not explicitly stated. They are able to read into more subtle nuances in the text. Fluent readers are exposed to strategies that they can use to increase their understanding of what they read and they continue to learn new words that help with comprehension.

Fluent readers are usually only able to take or see one point of view in the text they read. This stage may last until the end of ninth grade.

6. Multiple Viewpoints Readers

Readers in the multiple viewpoints stage are able to critically analyze the text they read from different perspectives. They usually read a broad range of styles and topics. Multiple viewpoints readers have an understanding of metaphors and allegories which they use to draw meaning from text.

They continue to develop their vocabulary and use multiple strategies to increase comprehension. Students in this stage learn how to write creatively and persuasively. The Multiple viewpoints stage typically lasts until the end of high school.

7. Construction and Reconstruction Readers

Construction and reconstruction readers usually read for their own purposes (either to get knowledge or for pleasure). These readers are generally very fluent and efficient in their approach to reading. They have multiple strategies that they can draw upon to get meaning from what they read.

Construction and reconstruction readers are able to read multiple viewpoints, critically analyze the viewpoints and information in each of them, and then synthesize and extend that information with their own thoughts.

Readers at this stage of development are experts. How far a reader develops at this point depends upon his/her motivation, needs, and interests. The more practice one has, the better one will become.

This article outlines the 7 stages of reading development classifying them into two categories: 1. Learning How to Read, and 2. Reading to Learn. The main goal of reading is to obtain information from text, therefore readers need to able to rapidly identify individual words to have enough cognitive resources available to comprehend words, sentences, and paragraphs.

The early stages of reading development focus on developing sound-symbol relationships, decoding skills, sight word identification, and fluency. Once these skills become automatic readers have more cognitive resources available for the comprehension stages of reading development.

As readers progress through the Reading to Learn stages they become increasingly more sophisticated in their comprehension skills. Finally, when readers enter the construction and reconstruction stage they use their critical analytical skills to become producers of new knowledge and not only consumers.

David Pino school psychologist has worked in education for the last 20 years. He has significant experience and expertise with learning disabilities, psychological evaluations, behavior, and special education.

He is currently serving as an educational advocate to assist families with the special education process.

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