Friday, March 23, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Santorum Writings Voice Strikingly Consistent Views"

That's the New York Times' headline. The Times writes:

Over the last decade, Mr. Santorum has been a prolific writer of op-ed articles, letters to the editor and guest columns in some of the country’s largest and most influential newspapers. All the while he displayed many of the traits that define him as a presidential candidate today: a deep and unwavering Catholic faith, a suspicion of secularism and a conviction that the country was on a path toward cultural ruin.

A review of his columns and letters going back 10 years reveals a striking consistency in his conservative political views and spiritual guiding principles.
I guess his wife, Karen Santorum, knows him well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"A two-man race"

That's how both the New York Times and the Washington Post are emphatically describing the Republican primaries now that Rick Santorum has won Mississippi and Alabama. That phrase appears in the first paragraph of the NYT article. The headline for the WaPo article on the homepage (though it doesn't show up at the link) is:

GOP battle effectively a two-man race
Translation: the media is giving itself permission to finally stop talking about Newt Gingrich.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kids learn how to read better with nonfiction.

Two years ago, I posted this: "Could teaching nonfiction as literature improve American kids' reading ability?"

The answer seems to be: "Yes." The New York Times reports:

Children in New York City who learned to read using an experimental curriculum that emphasized nonfiction texts outperformed those at other schools that used methods that have been encouraged since the Bloomberg administration’s early days, according to a new study to be released Monday.

For three years, a pilot program tracked the reading ability of approximately 1,000 students at 20 New York City schools, following them from kindergarten through second grade. Half of the schools adopted a curriculum designed by the education theorist E. D. Hirsch Jr.’s Core Knowledge Foundation. The other 10 used a variety of methods, but most fell under the definition of “balanced literacy,” an approach that was spread citywide by former Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, beginning in 2003.

The study found that second graders who were taught to read using the Core Knowledge program scored significantly higher on reading comprehension tests than did those in the comparison schools.

It also tested children on their social studies and science knowledge, and again found that the Core Knowledge pupils came out ahead. . . .

Under the balanced literacy approach, which was used by seven of the comparison schools and remains the most popular method of teaching reading in the city’s schools, children are encouraged to develop a love of reading by choosing books that are of interest to them. Teachers spend less time directing instruction, and more time overseeing students as they work together.

Reading nonfiction writing is the key component of the Core Knowledge curriculum, which is based on the theory that children raised reading storybooks will lack the necessary background and vocabulary to understand history and science texts. While the curriculum allows children to read fiction, it also calls on them to knowledgeably discuss weather patterns, the solar system, and how ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia compare.