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October 1, 2007
Vol. 65
No. 2

EL Study Guide / Early Intervention at Every Age

Are there certain crucial points in a student's education when the right intervention can mean the difference between success and failure? The authors in the October 2007 Educational Leadership offer a variety of perspectives on when intervention is most likely to be successful and what strategies are most effective in preventing student failure.

An Early Start

  • Why should K-12 educators be concerned about preschool education? What effects of preschool education have you seen in your students? Do the students who have been to preschool seem more prepared for school?
  • Zigler strongly supports providing universal preschool because “in a targeted program, you're never going to get funding to serve all the children who need it” (p. 12). Neuman, on the other hand, advocates targeting programs to serve the children at greatest risk because “targeted programs enable us to serve these [poor] children without diluting the quality of the intervention by spreading resources too thin” (p. 18). Which argument makes the most sense to you?
  • Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Georgia are among the states that offer some sort of preschool program (p. 12). What kind of preschool program does your state offer? Is it a universal program or targeted toward specific children? If your state does not have a preschool program in place, what efforts, if any, are underway to provide state-funded preschool?

Cultivating Readers

  • In “Preventing Reading Failure” (p. 22), Robert E. Slavin, Anne Chamblerlain, and Cecelia Daniels describe the Reading Edge, a literacy program for middle schoolers. Strategies such as team talk, think-pair-share, and learning logs are incorporated in the program. Have you tried any of these strategies in your classroom? What were the results?
  • Stephen Krashen and Jeff McQuillan, in “The Case for Late Intervention” (p. 68), advocate a more unstructured approach that emphasizes giving students access to lots of books and plenty of time to read them. Krashen and McQuillan suggest that when a student finds a “home-run book” (p. 72), that student will become a reader. Have you encountered a formerly reluctant reader who just needed to find the right book? (See “When Max Took the Plunge” by DJ Foley, published online with the October EL, for one teacher's story.) What books seem particularly appealing to your students? How can teachers help more students find their “home-run books”?
  • Slavin, Chamberlain, and Daniels encourage providing structured opportunities for students to read and discuss their reading. In contrast, Krashen and McQuillan support free choice and independent reading. Which argument seems most persuasive to you? Are there ways teachers can implement the best of both ideas?
  • In “Delivering What Urban Readers Need” (p. 56), Shobana Musti-Rao and Gwendolyn Cartledge state that “students should read many books that reflect their own culture as well as others' cultures” (p. 58). What cultures are represented among your students? What books have you found that connect to their cultures?

Praiseworthy Praise

  • Read Dweck's definition of the fixed mind-set and the growth mind-set (pp 34–35). Which understanding of intelligence have you encountered most often in yourself, your colleagues, and your students? What effects of this mind-set have you seen in your students?
  • Some students coast through school for years, successfully getting by with little effort. Others consistently work hard, but they continue to struggle. (See p. 37 for a description of each type of student.) How can you help both types of students persevere when they reach academic roadblocks?
  • Washington Post education reporter Jay Matthews wrote in his September 13, 2007, Extra Credit column, “I wish we could be more specific when we talk about individual children this way and more willing to see their gifts as the result of their labors rather than just dumb luck. . . . I have known too many gifted people who just sat and waited for the world to hand them the prizes so many people had told them they were entitled to” (<LINK URL="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/11/AR2007091102179_pf.html">www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/11/AR2007091102179_pf.html</LINK>). Do you agree with Matthews's comment? How well does his observation fit in with Dweck's findings? How might this notion change how you relate to gifted students?

Teresa K. Preston has contributed to educational leadership.

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