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Interesting Articles

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"There are many rules of good writing, but the best way to find them is to be a good reader." Stephen Ambrose

I read the international press every day and come across interesting articles that relate to teaching, reading, writing & English in general. Here are a selection that I think you too might find enlightening...

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    This article from The Guardian presents ideas for reluctant bookworms...

    Photograph: Alamy

    It’s a challenge for teachers to get any of their students excited about reading, but it might surprise you to hear that the most reluctant bookworms are boys.

    The National Literacy Trust has noted that girls continue to outpace boys in their enthusiasm for reading for pleasure. Their latest study also found that nearly twice as many boys as girls said they do not enjoy reading at all, by 13% to 7%.

    “Too many boys still seem disinterested in reading, and far, far too many children simply never become readers at all. So we writers and illustrators and storytellers, and parents and teachers, and publishers and booksellers, must continue to play our part,” said the celebrated writer for young adults Michael Morpurgo.

    So what do teachers think we need to do to ensure more boys enjoy literature?

    read the full article here...

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    With many teachers not trained to spot dyslexia, Sally Bouwman shares her advice for detecting the disorder.

    Photograph: Alamy

    Dyslexic pupils use distraction tactics, such as breaking their pencils, to avoid reading out loud, says Sally Bouwman. The one thing my postgraduate teacher training course had simply not prepared me for was that more than a third of my first class of seven and eight year-olds might not be reading and writing with any degree of confidence.

    Granted, it was a school in special measures, and many of the pupils did not have the clear structure, support or guidance at school, or, in some cases, at home, that would help progress their literacy skills. But it seemed many of these children would do anything to avoid reading out loud or putting ideas onto paper, often with inventive, distraction tactics: "Miss, I need to go to the loo, I'm going to wet myself," "Miss my pencil keeps breaking."

    read the full article here...

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    Sally Gardner wins the most prestigious children's books prize with dystopic novel Maggot Moon and uses the prize-giving ceremony to slam Gove's 'outdated' new curriculum. Carnegie medal winner Sally Gardner: 'Politicians need to get out of schools and let teachers do what they do best - teach...we need to nurture imagination, not crush it with standardised tests, which don't mean a thing in the real world'.

    Dyslexic author Sally Gardner, who today won the Carnegie medal for her dystopian story of a boy standing up to a totalitarian state, has slammed Michael Gove's new curriculum for "exclud[ing] rather than embrac[ing]" those like her, "with a different way of seeing and thinking".

    Gardner, branded "unteachable" as a child and expelled by one of the numerous schools she attended, was 12 when she was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. The hero of her Carnegie-winning teen novel Maggot Moon, Standish Treadwell, is also dyslexic and is written off by teachers and bullied by his peers, who chant "Standish Treadwell / Can't read, can't write / Standish Treadwell / Isn't bright". But when his best friend Hector is arrested, Standish decides to take action against the oppressive power of the "monstrous Motherland" - an alternate version of 1950s England - where he lives.

    read the full article here...

     

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    The findings of the National Literacy Trust's report into boys' reading are announced today. It reveals again that boys are falling behind in reading and that attitudes to reading between boys and girls are widening even further. Incredibly three out of four schools in the UK are concerned about boys' reading, and 60,000 boys aren't reaching the required levels of reading at 11. But what can be done about it?

    Having just presented Radio 4's Reading Between the Lines which looked at how children have learnt to read over the last 70 years, I don't think it's all about how we teach children to read or the phonics versus whole language debate which educators and governments tend to get so bogged down with.

    read the full article here...

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    Breaking and making is at the heart of a great many stories and it reflects the journey that adolescents have to navigate as they grow into adulthood.

    "My 13-year old daughter seems to be reading nothing but stories set in horrible future worlds. In them, the land and the buildings are destroyed, laws are broken, rulers are corrupt and adults have either disappeared or been reduced to unreliable protectors. Wouldn't it be better to show children how to look after the world they live in rather than tell them that what exists is not worth saving?

    Following the success of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games but also many other dark novels set in uncomfortable futures, including Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy and Charlie Higson's The Enemy and its sequels, it is easy to think that the question "What if the world as we know it ended?" is the only question posed in books for 12+.

    read the full article here...

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    English council under attack for anti-apostrophe street-sign policy.

    Its an outrage.

    An English local authority has upset right-thinking lovers of grammar the world over with its policy of removing apostrophes from street names, to “avoid potential confusion”.

    Reports BBC Online: “Mid Devon District Council said its new streets had not contained apostrophes for many years, but the policy was now being made official.”

    read the full article here...

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    Homographs are words of like spelling but with more than one meaning.. A homograph that is also pronounced differently is called a heteronym.

     

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    A controversial treatment for people with learning disabilities is gaining traction in Australia.

    Life-changing … Debra Gilmore, left, says the Arrowsmith Program had a transformative effect on her son Robert, 17. Photo: Fred Thornhil

    Debra Gilmore knows better than most the anguish, despair and frustration felt by children with learning disabilities and their parents. It goes with her job, as head of diverse learning needs at the Catholic Education Office in Sydney. It also goes with her experience as a mother.

    read the full article here...

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    Cressida Cowell is battling dragons. Frightening, fire-breathing beasts that threaten her very status as one of this country’s most successful children’s writers. How else to explain her fear of telling me what she thinks about Michael Gove?
    She thumps the table. So hard that crumbs fly off the macaroon-and-flapjack-laden plate that greeted my arrival in her west London kitchen. “I have a feeling that I oughtn’t to say ... Well, I think it would be sensible to, oh, um, I think I’d rather not.”...

    read more here...

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    Exhausted teenagers are slumping at their school desks after a long night texting, gaming or obsessively monitoring Facebook.

    Photo: Eva Bradley / Fairfax NZ

    Sleep Well clinician Alex Bartle says he is seeing an increasing number of teenagers and young adults who seem "addicted" to their electronic devices.
    Using electronic media before bed could lead to disrupted sleep, he says, as the back-lighting on tablets and phones could suppress the production of melatonin, which was needed to sleep. Their interactive nature could also stimulate the brain more than "passive" television.

    read more here...