Friday, December 15, 2017

School Home Reading Connections

Warm winter wishes! Below are the links to the December School Home Reading Connections.  Be sure to check them out for ideas on how to keep reading fun and interesting during vacation!

School Home Reading Connection, Beginner

School Home Reading Connection, Intermediate

Don't Let Important Growth "Freeze" Over This Winter Break

I'm sure many of you are aware of the "Summer Slide" (see previous blog post of 6/13/17 - Summer Regression, aka "The Summer Slide") but did you know that a winter learning loss can also threaten your child's knowledge and academic growth?  You may think that this small break won't hurt, but it can lead students to lose valuable lessons they've worked so hard to master this past semester!

You may think that the difference between summer and winter break is huge and that it wouldn't be difficult for a student to lose skills after months of not putting them to use. Yet in fact, research has shown that the largest losses in some subjects are experienced within the first two weeks out of school.  Our school district's Winter Break is two weeks, meaning students have plenty of time to lose valuable skills, strategies, and information.  This can be the result of not putting their lessons to use and forgetting about school for a couple of weeks.

Don't take me wrong, it is important for students to have a break from a strict academic routine, but that doesn't mean they (we) should forget about school all together. Look for some fun activities the whole family can participate in that are also educational! Visit our local library, practice writing skills by keeping a winter break journal, play math games, and of course as a Reading Specialist I can't miss this opportunity to remind everyone to READ! Read with your child, read aloud, in the car, listen to books on tape, read new recipes together, anything to keep them reading! Be sure to check out the Home-School Reading Connections for additional ideas. 

Less than two weeks upon their return from winter break students at Cedarhome Elementary will be given winter benchmark assessments to determine if their academic progress is on track. These assessments are also used to determine if a student could possibly need additional reading support through the LAP program or within their classroom. So please, make sure your child(ren) continue reading throughout your holiday!  We would like their assessment results to show their true academic growth so far. Thank you and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Friday, December 1, 2017

School Home Reading Connections

Greetings!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and now it's just a few short weeks before Christmas is upon us! The Title I/LAP Coordinators have been anxiously waiting for our annual subscription to be filled for our School Home Reading Connection newsletters.  It's finally done!

This week we sent home the November newsletter with LAP students.  Yet I believe these newsletter share ideas and information ANY family can use to help encourage and inspire their student(s) to become life long readers. 

I would have liked to begin sharing these with you the end of September, but alas that was not to be. So below are links for the September, October, and November newsletters. Enjoy!

School Home Reading Connections - Bonus Edition, Beginner

School Home Reading Connections - Bonus Edition, Intermediate

October School Home Reading Connections, Beginner

October School Home Reading Connections, Intermediate

November School Home Reading Connections, Beginner

November School Home Reading Connections, Intermediate

Monday, November 27, 2017

Winter Break and Learning Loss

Just a little reminder for parents and families to keep in mind during the holidays from your Cedarhome Reading Specialist! 

     While research shows that children who do not read in the summer months can lose two to three months of reading development, those who do read tend to gain a month of reading proficiency. (1)   Although we don't see that much of a decline following a 2 week winter break, if elementary students disengage from learning activities such as reading or math facts we do see drops in student performance and some slowing of their education progress. I've personally seen it take a week or week and a half for students to get "back into the swing of things"!  Teachers at Cedarhome Elementary encourage their students to continue their nightly reading requirement and gather parent signatures on their reading calendars.  We also encourage them to continue practicing math facts, be it addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.

       Within two weeks upon their return from winter break students will be given winter benchmark assessments to determine if their academic progress is on track.  These benchmark assessments are also used to determine if a student could possibly need additional academic support through the LAP program or within their classroom.  So please, make sure your child(ren) continue reading throughout your holiday!  We would like their assessment results to show their true academic growth so far. Thank you!

(1) Richard Allington & Anne McGill-Franzen. The Impact of Summer Setback on the Reading Achivement Gap. The Phi DeltaKappan. Vol. 85, o.1 (Sept. 2003), pp. 68-75

Friday, November 3, 2017

Title I/LAP Parent Policy

Please click on the link below to view the Stanwood-Camano School District's Title I/LAP Parent Policy and learn more about Cedarhome Elementary's LAP Program.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What is the Learning Assistance Program? (LAP)

LAP is a state funded program which offers supplemental services for K–12 students scoring below grade-level standard in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. These services focus on accelerating student growth to make progress towards grade level. They may include academic readiness skill development or behavior supports. These services address barriers preventing students from accessing core instruction. The intent is for LAP students to increase academic growth during the period of time they are provided services. LAP emphasizes research-based best practices designed to increase student achievement.

Districts implementing LAP services must:
  1. Focus first on addressing the needs of K–4 students in reading or reading readiness skills;
  2. Use data when developing programs;
  3. Provide the most effective and efficient practices when implementing supplemental instruction; and
    Approximately 50 percent of LAP-enrolled students are in grades K-4 and receiving ELA or readiness services.

Excerpts from the OSPI website at

How did my child qualify for LAP services?

Stanwood-Camano School District uses multiple assessment measures in the fall, winter, and spring of each school year to assess all of our elementary students in reading. Students scoring below what is considered grade-level percentiles are eligible to take part in the Title I and/or LAP programs. Classroom performance and teacher input is also considered. Please contact your child's teacher or the LAP Coordinator, Cindy Phillips at Cedarhome Elementary if you have any questions about how your child performed on the assessments or to ask any questions you may have. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Welcome to Cedarhome Elementary's Reading Support and LAP Blog!

Welcome to Cedarhome Elementary's Reading Support and Learning Assistance Program (LAP) blog! My goal is to post ideas and resources for parents working with their students at home, who are just learning to read, or those honing their reading skills and strategies. I look forward to supporting you and your child as he or she learns to read this 2017-2018 school year!  

If your son or daughter is receiving additional support through the Learning Assistance Program, you will also find information about LAP here at Cedarhome. If you have questions, comments, or concerns about the program or about your child's progress, please email me directly, call to speak with me, or arrange for a private meeting.

Don't forgot to "bookmark" this web address for the easiest way to check for new blog posts!

Happy Reading!

Cindy Phillips
Reading Specialist
LAP Coordinator

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer Regression, aka "The Summer Slide"

As Reading Specialist and LAP Coordinator at Cedarhome Elementary my primary goal is to help students become proficient readers; being able to read fluently and comprehend at their grade level. Yet I do have a secondary goal...I want them to learn to LOVE to read! One of the biggest struggles we teachers have in September, when kids return to school, is facing the dreaded "Summer Slide". I describe it as "taking 9 steps forward (or months) and falling 2 or 3 steps (or months) back. Please take a moment to read the below information. My hope is for parents and families to understand the importance of and make a commitment to include reading during the summer!

Copied directly from's website:

10 Critical Facts about Summer Reading 

- an article from SCHOLASTIC

Losses from the "Summer Slide"

learning or reading skill losses during the summer months are cumulative, creating a wider gap each year between more proficient and less proficient students. By the time a struggling reader reaches middle school, summer reading loss has accumulated to a twoyear lag in reading achievement. 2
  •  Regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic level, or previous achievement, children who read four or more books over the summer fare better on reading-comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read one or no books over the summer. 1
  • Teachers typically spend between 4 to 6 weeks re-teaching material students have forgotten over the summer. 3
  • It is estimated that the "Summer Slide" accounts for as much as 85% of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their middle- and upper-income peers. 4
  • During the school year, lower income children's skills improve at close to the same rate as those of their more advantaged peers but over the summer, middle- and upper-income children's skills continue to improve, while lower income children’s skills do not.3
  • Reading as a leisure activity is the best predictor of comprehension, vocabulary and reading speed.5
  • 3rd graders who can't read on grade level are four times less likely to graduate by age 18 than a proficient reader.6
  • Having reading role-model parents or a large book collection at home has a greater impact on kids' reading frequency than does household income.7
  • An overwhelming 92% of kids say they are more likely to finish a book they picked out themselves.7
  • Ninety-nine percent of parents think children their child's age should read over the summer. 7
  • Parents think their children should read an average of 11 books over the summer, ranging from 17 books for children ages 6-8, to 6 books for 15- to 17-year olds. 7
  1. Summer Reading and the Ethnic Achievement Gap, Jimmy Kim, Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 2004.
  2. Ameliorating summer reading setback among economically disadvantaged elementary students, Richard Allington, April 2007.
  3. Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap, Karl Alexander, Doris Entwistle, Linda Steffel Olson, April 2007.
  4. Why Summer Matters in the Rich/Poor Achievement Gap, Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Frazen, August 2009.
  5. The Power of Reading, Stephen Krashen, Libraries Unlimited, 1993.
  6. Annie E.. Casey Foundation, Hernandez, Donald J., 2011.
  7. The Kids and Family Reading ReportTM 4th edition conducted by Harrison Group and Scholastic, 2012.
Additional Statistics You May Not Know:

"Research shows that children who do not read in the summers months can lose two to three months of reading development while those who do read tend to gain a month of reading proficiency."
-Richard Allington & Anne McGill-Franzen. The Impact of Summer Setback on the Reading Achivement Gap. The Phi DeltaKappan. Vol. 85, o.1 (Sept. 2003), pp. 68-75

Research Suggests…that children who read as few as six books over the summer maintain the level of reading skills they achieved during the preceding school year.  Reading more books leads to even greater success.  When children are provided with 10-20 self-selected children’s books at the end of the regular school year, as many as 50 percent not only maintain their skills, but actually make reading gains.
-McGill-Franzen & Allington. The IMpact of Summer Setback on the Reading Achievement Gap. (Sept, 2003)

All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in education activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer
-(White, 1906, Heyns, 1978; Entweisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).
Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months.
-Cooper, 1996

Monday, May 15, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

School-Home Reading Connections, April 2017

Reading Connections Newsletters

Please open the below links to view April's School-Home Reading Connections newsletters. Once again, I found many ideas that I think parents could use at home with their reading!

Beginner Reading Connections, April 2017

Intermediate Reading Connections, April 2017

Math & Science Connections, April 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Audio Books and Literacy

Did you know?... One of the Common Core Anchor Standards for grades Kindergarten through 5th grade is "Speaking and Listening"?  Since teachers at Cedarhome Elementary have been teaching toward the Common Core Standards they have discovered that students need practice listening to text being read aloud to them and then be able to participate in discussions or respond to questioning.   

Two articles I've recently read online are what prompted me to mention this Anchor Standard.  The first article was on the "Reading Rockets" website titled "Listen and Learn with Audio Books", by Rachael Walker (2017).  She stated that "Audio books are a wonderful way to expose your child to complex language, expressive reading, and fantastic stories." The second article was authored by Linda Flanagan in October, 2016 (  Her article was titled "How Audiobooks Can Help Kids Who Struggle with Reading". 

Flanagan shared educator Mary Ann Scheuer's opinion that exposing kids to the spoken word through rich stories improves literacy.  Books sometimes require readers to decode every word, while stories told aloud free up the listener to connect with the story and the storyteller.  Also, for students who are not exposed to a rich array of words over their lives, well-told stories can enrich a student's vocabulary.  

Another point made was that audiobooks make a marked change in those students who hate to read. Taking away the need to decode each word, reread for meaning, and then picture the story, struggling readers listening to a story can soon "fall into the book" itself.  They will be able to participate in class discussions about plot and character.  Fluency can also improve because students can hear the narrator's pacing, tone, and expression and try to match it in their own reading.

Walker suggested when introducing audio books at home look for familiar stories your child has heard you read or tell before. Hearing a story they are familiar with can help them enjoy hearing it from a different reader and become a willing listener.  Once you've got them hooked, try something fun and new you both can enjoy. 

Audio books are available on CD's and sometimes online.  A good place to start is your public library.  Sometimes you can find a picture book or early reader that has a CD with it.  I do know that through the Sno-isle Library you can check out audio books online as well.

If you have a struggling reader at home, or just want to enjoy a book with your child in a new and exciting way try an audiobook. 
Going on a road trip this spring or during the summer? How about an audiobook to pass the time?  Don't forget to discuss the story, too!  Share your thoughts on characters and their feelings and/or actions.  Was there a problem in the story, how was it solved?  If you could write a different ending, how would you write it?  There lots of ways a family can enjoy an audiobook together!

Friday, March 10, 2017

School-Home Reading Connections, February & March 2017

Hopefully spring is just around the corner for all of us.  I know the students at Cedarhome are eagerly awaiting dry, outdoor recesses.  Even a little sunshine would be nice, wouldn't it?

As spring nears, so do more activities that keep children busy outside of school hours.  Our hope is that families still put aside the time and effort to keep their children reading, getting their reading calendars/logs signed on a nightly basis, as well as completing any nightly homework.

Below are links to the Reading Connection Letters for February and March.  If you have the time, be sure to browse them!  I always seem to find one or two good ideas that could make the responsibility of completing schoolwork at home more fun and interesting.

Happy Reading!

Beginner Reading Connections, February 2017

Intermediate Reading Connections, February 2017

Math & Science Connections, February 2017

Beginner Reading Connections, March 2017

Intermediate Reading Connections, March 2017

Math & Science Connections, March 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

School-Home Reading Connections, January 2017

Happy New Year Cedarhome Families!  Below you will find links to three different "School-Home Reading Connection" Newsletters.  Each newsletter is filled with fun and interesting reading or writing ideas to try at home. Be sure to check them out!  I will be sharing these monthly for the remainder of the school year.  Enjoy, and happy reading!

Reading Connections, Beginning

Reading Connections, Intermediate

Math & Science Reading Connections