Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blog Bits #2:
Welch's Garden Grants
Parent Engagement Toolkit
Math Fun for Students

My files are full of ideas to share, so from time to time I will clean out my files by sharing a few “bits” --- things of interest, things to think about, or things to share with your staff or students. Following is my second batch of blog bits of principal concern and interest.


Welch's® and Scholastic Parent & Child® Magazine have launched a unique Harvest Grants program to help 100 winning schools nationwide grow fruit and vegetable gardens. Thousands of school children nationwide will have the opportunity to participate in this unique, hands-on learning experience that can help bring to life subjects such as science, math, and even literacy.

Starting this month, K-8 teachers are invited to apply to win one of 100 Harvest Grants through the Scholastic Web site http://scholastic.com/harvest/. Entries will be judged by experts at the National Gardening Association, who will select two schools in every state to receive a Welch's Harvest Grant: Welch's will award 100 garden packages, together valued at $35,000, to the winning schools. Five schools will receive $1,000 packages; 25 schools will receive $500 packages; and 70 schools will receive $250 packages. Each package will be filled with a variety of tools, seeds, and educational materials that will help students connect with nature and better understand the origins of their food supply. Deadline for submission is February 6, 2010. For complete details and official rules go to http://scholastic.com/harvest/.


How many U.S. students drop out of school each year? Would you have guessed more than a million? Approximately 1.3 million students drop out each year. That’s more than 7,000 students each school day, or nearly one in three students. Nearly 50 percent of African American and Hispanic students do not complete high school on time.

In an effort to attack that national disgrace, America’s Promise Alliance has teamed with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to create a Parent Engagement Toolkit. The kit aims to engage parents and community leaders together to solve the dropout problem. The kit is based on three priorities that are critical to student success throughout a child’s academic. Those “3 A’s” are

Attendance Every Day -- ensure children go to school regularly;
Achievement Every Year - monitor and help children make satisfactory progress each year; and
Attainment Over Time - set high expectations for children and plan for attaining their long-term goals.

Those three priorities were identified because each one is critical to student success throughout a child’s academic career. Each one is heavily influenced by the actions and thinking of parents as well as educators, community-based providers and students themselves.

The kit provides parent and teacher surveys, a blueprint for involving parents in focus groups that identify barriers and challenges to student success, and more ideas for involving parents in the school improvement process.


If your school includes students in the upper elementary or middle school grades, provide them with the math problem below to solve. (Answers are shown in orange.) Do students notice the symmetry of the answers that result?

1 x 1 = 11
11 x 11 = 121
111 x 111 = 12321
1111 x 1111 = 1234321
11111 x 11111 = 123454321
111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321
111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321

Before presenting the problem, you might set a few ground rules:

Name please. Write your name at the top of your paper.

“Show me the work!” The detailed math must be shown for all steps of the problem.

Watch for the Prize Patrol. All correct answers will be entered into a contest. One winner’s paper will be drawn at random and the winner will be presented with a special prize. (If you have a deep prize drawer, you might even have multiple winners. How about a winner at each grade level?)

What a fun -- and educational -- way to keep kids engaged on a rainy indoor-recess day!

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