Monday, May 16, 2011

Schoolkids Host ‘Alex’s Lemonade Stands,’
Fight Childhood Cancer

A group of students at Ralston Middle School in Belmont, California, literally turned lemons into lemonade. The students, who are members of Ralston’s student government, sold lemonade to raise money for Alex's Lemonade Stand, an organization that supports children afflicted by cancer. [see video above]

At Garnet Valley Elementary School in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, students ran an Alex’s Lemonade Stand event. They sold more than 1,000 cups of lemonade and raised $370. [read more]

One day last October, third-graders at Prairie Ridge Elementary School in Shawnee, Kansas, sold lemonade and cookies for 50 cents apiece. Their lunchtime effort ended up raising $1,303 for Alex’s Lemonade Foundation. The event helped students learn about childhood cancer, empathy, and how they each have the power to make a difference by overcoming obstacles they face in life, said teacher Brandi Leggett. [read more]

Last fall, members of the Key Club at Summer Creek High School in Houston hosted a lemonade stand at a local Chick-fil-A restaurant. They were so excited with the results that they set up another stand a couple weeks later at a Friday night football game. [read more]

Kathy Andrade’s second-graders at Our Lady of the Assumption/Holy Family School in Fairfield, Connecticut, have set up lemonade stands since 2008 to support the efforts of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. The monthly lemonade functions raised more than $2,000 last year. [read more]


Those are just a handful of hundreds of stories of schoolkids who have followed in the footsteps of a young girl named Alexandra (“Alex”) Scott.

When Alex was just four years old, she told her parents she wanted to set up a front-yard lemonade stand. Her plan: to give the money to doctors to help them find a cure for the cancer she had lived with since she was a year old. Her first “Alex’s Lemonade Stand” raised an astonishing $2,000 in one day. While bravely fighting her own cancer, Alex continued to set up lemonade stands every year. As news spread, people everywhere were inspired to start their own lemonade stands -- donating the proceeds to her cause. By the time Alex passed away at the age of eight, her stand and inspiration had raised more than $1 million towards finding a cure for the disease that took her life.

Alex's legacy lives on in Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, established by her parents in 2005. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $40 million to fund more than 150 cutting-edge research projects; create a travel program to help support families of children receiving treatment; and develop resources to help people everywhere affected by childhood cancer.


At Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, staff members know that young people can make a big difference. They saw it in Alex, and they continue to see it everyday as children hold fundraisers to keep Alex's dream of a cure alive. To support teachers and students, the Foundation team has created many resources to help teach important lessons about giving and to empower students to act.

“We want your school's experience to be rewarding for students, staff, and the entire community,” says the Foundation’s Connie Funston, “so we are proud to introduce our exciting new service-learning program, which aims to teach Alex’s inspiring message of making a difference, helping others, and overcoming obstacles.”

The curriculum comprises three units each for Grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5 and was developed with emphasis on enhancing the literacy skills of children while teaching them about the “Power of One.” It is also geared towards reinforcing key lessons from the Foundation’s children’s book, Alex & the Amazing Lemonade Stand. Lesson plans include supplemental handouts as well as special instructions for English-as-a-second-language learners, struggling learners, and gift-and-talented students. For teachers new to service-learning, materials explaining this method of teaching are also included.

Funston encourages anyone interested in creating an Alex's Lemonade Stand fundraising event in their school community to spend some time checking out these resources the site has to offer:
Lemonade from Lemons Service-Learning Program
Hold a Stand at Your School (and Other Fundraising Ideas)
Lesson Plans for Teachers
Schools & Service-Learning: Downloads
Request a Copy of the Book: Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand
Discussion Points
Getting Involved: Ways to Fundraise
Get Your School Involved: Register Now

Calling all kids across this great land!
You can help kids with your own lemonade stand.
As Alex once said,
“It’s easy and it’s fun.”
You need lemonade, ice, and a little bit of sun.
The money you raise can help kids who are sick.
A cure might be found, perhaps even quick!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Don’t Give Up:
Fun End-of-Year Activities
Keep Interest and Learning Alive

Over his years as an elementary school principal in Texas, Mark Lukert enjoyed sending his staff off with a bang! at the end of the year. The centerpiece of his end-of-year celebration was a cake tied to the year’s school-wide theme. Then he purchased plastic champagne glasses and several bottles of a beverage that looks like champagne -- sparkling apple cider, for example. He also purchased party poppers for each staff member. (Party poppers are little plastic bottles with strings attached. When you pull the string, streamers shoot out of the bottle. These inexpensive novelty items are sold at most party stores or you can purchase them online).

“I give a little talk about the year, we serve the ‘champagne’ and have a toast, then pop the streamers,” says Lukert. “Everyone enjoys the event and it is a nice way to wrap up a great year!”

The idea can be just as effective when introducing a theme and toasting the start of a new school year, Lukert adds. [learn more]

Education World columnist Diane Hodges offers dozens of fun ways to celebrate the school year's end in her books Looking Forward to Monday Morning and Season It With Fun: A Year of Recognition, Fun, and Celebrations to Enliven Your School.

Among Hodges’ end-of-year ideas is to hold a "Thanks a Latte" party. Obtain latte machines and make a variety of lattes for staff members. Serve biscotti, scones, or other treats as well, Hodges recommends.

Or maybe you can plan some special awards to present at an end-of-year gathering. You might have staff members vote in advance for special recognitions such as
  • Most Willing to Help a Team Member,
  • Most Positive Attitude,
  • After-Hours Award,
  • Cheerleader Award (pom-poms),
  • Adhesive Award (a bottle of glue for the person who held everyone together), or
  • Rookie of the Year Award.

    For more great ideas for all year long, be sure to sign up for Hodge’s free Looking Forward to Monday Morning newsletter, which is packed with practical ideas for motivating and recognizing your staff. [see a sample newsletter, then sign up to receive this free newsletter on Diane Hodges’ home page]


    The grounds of The Ellis School in Pittsburgh are covered with trees planted by the Arbuthnot family, who once lived on the school’s property. Identifying those trees was the job of some students who took part in last May’s “Ellis’ Trees Please” mini-course at the school. The task was not an easy one, since many of the trees were purchased abroad at the turn of the 20th century, when importing plant material into the U.S. was legal.

    Ellis School faculty and friends have offered mini-courses since 1972 as a way to keep learning alive between final exams and the end of the school year, according to Jack Gaddess, a Spanish teacher and the school’s mini-course coordinator. The courses offer students time to explore nontraditional topics of study or a particular topic more in-depth, Gaddess told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazettte. Besides “Ellis’ Trees Please,” last year’s courses included offerings that explored the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, mountain biking, traditional West African dance, and personal finance. [read more ]

    Education World columnist Larry Ferlazzo has many favorite activities for the final days of the school year. In one of those activities, he has students draw and write a simile about themselves (I am like a _______ because _______) that he will pass along to their next teacher. “I explain this will be the first impression their new teacher will have of them,” Ferlazzo wrote in his Teacher Magazine blog. “This is one more way students can reinforce a positive self-image. It also opens the way for the student and new teacher to make an early personal connection when they meet in the fall.” [read more ]

    Educator Elena Aguilar encourages teachers to give kids time and tools to reflect on their school year. “They can write, make scrapbooks, record a video piece, or create drawings,” writes Aguilar in her Edutopia blog. “Prompt them to think about what they learned, how they learned, what was challenging, how they dealt with those challenges, what they feel proud of, how they changed, what advice they have for kids entering that grade next year, and so on.” [read more ]

    For more ideas from teachers, see these Education World articles:
    Closure Activities for the End of the School Year
    Favorite End-of-Year Activities


    Over the years, Education World has shared numerous ideas for end-of-year lessons that provide fun and learning – and help bring the year to a close on a high note. The links below will take you to some of those lessons.

    Wind Up Learning as the Year Winds Down: Activities For The Last Days of School
    The last few days of the school year are upon you, and you're at a loss for what to do. Do you emphasize fun or attempt to squeeze in some last-minute learning? Education World offers suggestions for keeping kids focused during the last hours of the school year. Included: More than a dozen great end-of-year ideas.

    End-of-Year Lessons -- Volume #3
    You're tired, and you're eager to get through the last few days, but you feel guilty about showing videos or letting the kids play games. Education World offers five more end-of-year activities that will engage students, and maybe even include some new learning.

    Making the Most of End-of-School Days
    "No more pencils, no more books, no more..." No more time? The last days of school may be upon you, and your students may already be chanting the traditional end-of-school cheer, but that doesn't mean that you have to succumb to the temptation to start summer early. Blow your students away with some cool end-of-year activities that combine fun and learning.

    More End-of-Year Lesson Ideas
  • Reviving Reviews: Refreshing Ideas Students Can't Resist
  • A 'Boring' Lesson in Geography
  • Invent Your Own Poetry Form: An End-of-the-Year Activity
  • Mystery States Game
  • It's Up for Debate
  • Math Fun -- Volume 1
  • Math Fun -- Volume 2
  • Make the 'Write' Impression
  • Ten Games for Classroom Fun
  • Don't Waste a Minute
  • Crisscrossing the Country: Scavenger Hunts for Kids of All Ages
  • Rock or Feather: A Critical-Thinking Activity
  • ABC Books Aren't for Babies
  • Summer Reading Lists Abound on the Web
  • Student Essays Describe 'Perfect' School
  • Wax Museum Biographies Teach and Entertain
  • Students Create a Virtual Tour of Their Community
  • Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    BLOG BITS #6:
    Sun Safety
    Suicide Toolkit
    Full-Day K
    Principal’s Cookbook
    Civil War Lessons

    Did you know that there are more cases of skin cancer each year than cases of breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancers combined! That adds up to more than one million Americans getting skin cancer annually.

    To help reduce the rising rates of skin cancer, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before Memorial Day – May 27, 2011 – as Don't Fry Day. The Council's goal is to encourage sun safety awareness by reminding everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors on Don't Fry Day and every day.

    The Council provides many free resources to help educators recognize Don’t Fry Day in their classrooms and throughout their schools. Visit the Don’t Fry Day website to learn more about how schools across the U.S. can recognize this special day. Don’t miss the Don’t Fry Day Resources for schools, which include

    As many communities closely examine school budgets for possible cost savings, some are considering cutting all-day kindergarten programs back to half days. A new report from the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children illustrates the connection between full-day kindergarten enrollment and later success in elementary school. School districts that provide full-day kindergarten see improved performance on standardized assessments, the report notes. For example, Pennsylvania school districts with full-day kindergarten saw third-grade math proficiency scores rise nearly twice as much as districts with part-day programs when compared to overall district performance three years prior.

    First-grade teacher Katie Richter, of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District in Allegheny County, has witnessed the difference in reading skills between full- and part-day kindergarten students. “My experience is the full-day K students are better readers in first grade than the part-day students were,” she said. Students who come from full-day kindergarten can jump into lessons at the start of a new school year without having to spend prolonged time on letter names and sounds, she added.


    After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools

    A new free resource, After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools, is available to help schools cope in the aftermath of a suicide. The guide was created by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the American Foundation for Suicide Preventions (AFSP), two of the nation’s leading organizations devoted to suicide prevention. Developed by a team of national experts, including clinicians and crisis response professionals, the online toolkit draws on scientific research and best practices.

    “Suicide can leave a school struggling with tremendous uncertainty about what to do next,” said Joanne Harpel, AFSP’s senior director for public affairs and postvention. “We also know that schools worry about the possibility of further suicides. This toolkit will answer frequently asked questions and help put school personnel at ease.”

    “Our toolkit also advises schools to treat all student deaths in the same manner, and not to inadvertently romanticize suicide,” added Peggy West of Education Development Center, Inc., a senior advisor for SPRC. “This is especially important as school communities consider how to handle events such as memorial services and graduation, and student activities such as the yearbook.”

    Free Civil War Lessons

    As we recognize the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the Civil War Trust recently unveiled free lesson plans that explore the causes of the Civil War as well as its impact on the political, economic, military, and cultural life of the times. Separate sets of nine standards-based lessons were developed by teachers for students in elementary, middle, and high school grades.

    The Principal’s Cookbook

    The Principal’s Cookbook has arrived! The Cookbook is filled with more than 100 recipes for you to try out at upcoming end-of-year staff events or at this summer’s school/family cookouts or picnics. Click to order your copy.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Ten Contests Inspire Student Learning

    With National Poetry Month winding down and National Pet Week (May 1-5, 2011) just around the corner, what better time could there be to get kids writing poems about the animals that are so near and dear to them? Post some of those poems in your next newsletter or on your school’s website. Or, better yet, watch the American Pet Products Association’s Pets Add Life Poetry Contest page and enter your students’ poems in next year’s contest. Who knows, one of your students’ poems could be a winning entry, like this poem by a fifth grader from Newton, North Carolina.
    Where do I go to feel joy all around?
    I always go play with my trusty hound.
    What do I do when something troubles me?
    I always go see my sweet dog, Jolly.
    Who do I tell all my secrets to?
    I always tell my dog, there, now I've told you.
    If ever I'm feeling a little blue,
    I always know just who to go to.
    She's my best friend,
    Always loyal to the very end.
    Everyone I know has been told,
    She always has a gentle heart, pure as gold.
    She's such a treasure,
    I will always love her forever and ever.


    Contests are a fun way for students to earn recognition as they learn. Here are ten additional contests in which your students might participate.

    Doodle for Google
    You’ve missed this school year’s deadline (March 16), but your K-12 students will be invited again next year to use their artistic talents to think big and redesign Google’s homepage logo for millions to see.

    ‘Kids Are Authors’ Contest
    Scholastic offers this annual contest designed to encourage students to use their reading, writing, and artistic skills to create their own books. Open to students in Grades K-8. This year’s deadline (March 15) has passed, but watch this site for information about next year’s competition.

    Bridgestone America’s Safety Scholars Video Contest
    A great way for student ages 16-21 to have fun, be creative, and win money for college. Videos must be 25 or 55 seconds in length. Contest deadline is May 13.

    ‘Together We Play’ Essay Contest
    Do you dream about creating a playground where children of all abilities can play together? Your essay could win $100,000 in inclusive playground equipment and $50,000 in project development, design services and comprehensive educational programming. Contest deadline is August 1, 2011.

    National Handwriting Contest
    Click the link above to sign up for an email notification about next year’s contest. Open to students in Grades 1-8 in schools that use the Zaner-Bloser program.

    ‘Listen to Life’ Essay Contest
    This contest is an opportunity to develop important skills in areas that include interviewing, listening, writing, and technology as it fosters connections between young and old. Open to students ages 8-18. New contest cycle begins in September.

    SchoolTube Video Contests
    SchoolTube offers a variety of contest opportunities that provide great ways to integrate media into your school’s classrooms. The site offers many tips and tools for producing effective videos, too.

    Emerging Writers Short Story Contest
    The Young Voices Foundation offers this contest for students in Grades 3-12. Submissions accepted through May 31, 2011.

    ‘Save the Frogs’ Art Contest
    Maybe you missed the opportunity to recognize Save the Frogs Day (April 29), but your students can submit their art to this contest through October 15, 2011.

    EdSteps Creativity/Problem Solving Contest
    This contest from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is open to students across the globe. Contest ends May 14.


    Pet Week Lessons from Education World
    Pet Week Lessons from Crayola

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Celebrate Your Entire Team During
    Staff/Teacher Appreciation Week

    Education World columnist Diane Hodges has great ideas for improving school climate all year long. Her free Looking Forward to Monday Morning newsletter is packed with practical ideas for motivating and recognizing your staff. If you were on her mailing list last April, you received the Teacher Appreciation Week ideas below -- and more -- in your e-mailbox. [see a sample newsletter, then sign up to receive this free newsletter on Diane Hodges’ home page]


    Teacher Appreciation Week was established in 1985 by the NEA [see National Teacher Day 2011] and National PTA [PTA Teacher Appreciation Week 2011] and takes place annually during the first full week in May.
    Many school districts have changed the week to Staff Appreciation Week in an effort to honor teachers as well as all other staff members -- school nurses, custodians, paraprofessionals, and so on -- who play a role in supporting students. Some even designate a different day of the week as Support Professional Day or Bus Driver and Crossing Guard Appreciation Day or Custodial/Maintenance Appreciation Day… Holding all those celebrations in one week promotes team spirit.

    One of the most appreciated gifts is to not have to go home after work to make dinner. For the day or the week, give staff members a dinner break. Seek assistance from community and parent volunteers to prepare homemade dinners that staff members can simply heat and eat. Dinner ideas include lasagna, chili, or casseroles. Be sure they are presented in disposable packaging so staff members don’t have to worry about returning bowls and dishes. Be sure to include heating instructions with the item. You could also arrange for pizza delivery or give take-out restaurant coupons for a dinner for the whole family.


    Supply the staff lounge with gourmet teas. Put notes on the teas that incorporate the use of the word tea. Some examples include
    • Our staff is Tea-rrific!
    • We appreciate your creativi-tea more than you know
    • Have a break and enjoy the tranquili-tea
    • You generosi-tea toward students is appreciated
    • This is said with all sinceri-tea: Our staff is great!
    You could also host an after-school tea party in which you serve tea sandwiches and cookies.


    Set a festive, tropical theme for the week. Encourage staff members to wear tropical clothing -- flowered shirts and dresses, straw hats, and so on -- that reflects the theme. Decorate the staff lounge with palm trees, parrots, and tiki lights. Have daily drawings and award the winners with tropical items such as pineapple, flamingo décor, and other fun, inexpensive prizes.
    Decorate a cart with fresh fruit and summer beverages such as tropical punch and lemonade. Go to the various classrooms and serve staff members a tropical treat.
    Host a festive gathering that continues the theme. Dress up the lounge with summer décor and give leis to staff members as they enter. Serve tropical fruit smoothies to everyone. Be sure to put a little umbrella in the glass!


    Organize a week that’s filled with myriad special scents. Each day, give staff gifts such as candles, lotions, or bath salts. Ask a local Bath and Body Works, The Body Shop, or spa top have one of their employees visit the school to host a scent-sational foot massage event. Have hot, homemade bread waiting for the staff members when they arrive in the morning. Be sure to have peanut butter, jams, jellies, and butter (make it real butter!) available. Have fresh, hot just-baked scent-sational (or is it sin-sational?) chocolate chip cookies delivered for an afternoon treat. Serve popcorn -- another favorite aromatherapy -- in the lounge.


    Visit Diane’s web site to sign up for her free monthly newsletter or to learn about workshops she offers. You can order her books there too, including Looking Forward to Monday Morning and Season It With Fun: A Year of Recognition, Fun and

    Diane Hodges on EducationWorld
    Award-winning educator, highly acclaimed speaker, and bestselling author Dr. Diane Hodges' weekly Looking Forward to Monday Morning columns present a wealth of ideas administrators can use to drive staff members happy!


    Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas from Education World
    Education World's "Principal Files" principals share 65 things they have done to show their appreciation. Plus Teacher Appreciation Week cards and letters and more ideas. Also

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Plan a Heroes Fair for
    National Heroes Day

    At Arthur Rann Elementary School in Galloway, New Jersey, students look forward to the annual Heroes Fair. Every fifth grader participates in this event that brings together the entire K-6 school community for a celebration of heroes and the character traits they possess.

    The Heroes Fair idea is one that Ginny Bisignaro, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, admits to “stealing.” She got the idea from a college professor who had students choose and report on a hero as part of a Teaching Social Studies class she took at Millersville University.

    “When I was hired at Rann nine years ago, I jumped right in and organized a Heroes Fair with my homeroom,” Bisignaro told Education World. “The students do most of what I had to do in college, but on a level they can handle and at which they can succeed.”

    The college professor from whom Bisignaro stole the idea is Dr. Dennis Denenberg, a national expert on the use of heroes in the classroom. “Heroes can change a kid’s life because they expose kids to positive character traits,” says Denenberg, whose Heroes4US website should be the first stop for anyone interested in learning more about Heroes Fairs. Denenberg is also the co-author of 50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet. [view a related video]

    As it turns out, Dr. Denenberg has inspired other teachers to start Heroes Fairs, too. It was a graduate class with him that spurred two teachers at Denver (Pennsylvania) Elementary School to introduce a fair there.

    “A Heroes Fair is the ultimate form of subject integration -- social studies meets communication arts, math, science, music, art, and physical education,” Georgette Hackman, a fifth-grade teacher at Denver Elementary, told Education World. “Since students choose heroes based upon their own passions and interests, multiple disciplines become integrated into the project.”


    Interest in the annual Heroes Fair at Rann Elementary has “exploded,” Bisignaro told us. A few years after she first organized a classroom Heroes Fair, another fifth-grade teacher joined in. By 2008, the entire fifth-grade team participated. Now students come into fifth grade looking forward to their chance to put on a Heroes Fair – and the entire school body visits the fair. [view video coverage of Rann’s 2008 Heroes Fair]

    “Younger students write thank you notes to share what they have learned about the heroes,” said Bisignaro. “One of the moms actually shared with me that her son has been looking forward to doing the fair since third grade.”

    In the seven years since the Heroes Fair debuted at Denver Elementary, Hackman and her colleague, Rebecca Culbert, have had several younger students approach them in the hallway to announce who they want to "be" when they come to fifth grade.

    “The fair is a school-wide event that also brings in people from other schools and the community at large,” noted Hackman. “Any event that brings so many varied individuals into our school and showcases the hard work our students do is a good thing.”

    The Denver Elementary Heroes Fair has also grown over the years. It began with two classes and now it’s up to five classes in two schools. The fair has also changed to reflect best practices in education. “For example, we have integrated a primary document piece into the project," explained Hackman. "Each student must include at least one primary document in their presentation.”

    The Heroes Fair is one of those “perfect” events. It involves teachers, students, and families in learning together as it helps contribute to a positive school climate. But Bisignaro said the biggest benefit is its impact on students.

    “Students learn about individuals who hopefully will inspire them to greatness,” she told Education World. “The heroes that are chosen exemplify determination, compassion, perseverance, courage, generosity, and many, many more wonderful qualities. At the conclusion of the Heroes Fair preparation, students know their heroes so well. Their knowledge of those heroes, along with what they can learn about life from their heroes, is the biggest benefit of the Heroes Fair.”


    National Heroes Day
    It has become fashionable to overstate the idea of heroes in our culture today. Historically, there are countless heroes who have become lost or forgotten. The major goal of National Heroes Day is to inspire students of all ages to rediscover the forgotten heroes from the past and bring them back into the spotlight. Heroes Day aims to plant the seeds for the growth of real heroes for the future.

    Dr. Dennis Denenberg’s website serves as a nice starting point for anyone interested in learning more about heroes and Hero Fairs. The site includes photos from a Heroes Fair as well as Tips for Organizing a Heroes Fair.

    Heroes Fair Project PowerPoint
    This is a PowerPoint presentation that Pennsylvania teacher Georgette Hackman created to motivate her students’ participation in a class Heroes Fair. The presentation includes a definition of a hero, the process students used for choosing a hero, project requirements, pictures of exemplary projects from years past, and a quiz that ensures students understand the project's goals and requirements.

    Education World Special Archive: Honoring Our Heroes
    Where are the real heroes for today's children and young adults? The major goal of National Heroes Day is to bring them back into the spotlight they deserve. Education World has put together some lesson ideas and other resources to help you do just that. Join us as we pay tribute to those individuals who inspire us by their great strength, courage, and perseverance in facing challenges.

    Is a Digital Library in Your School’s Future?

    These days, the library at Lamar High School in Houston, Texas, is looking a lot more like a café than a library. And Principal John McSwain has never seen so many kids in the library before. As a matter of fact, the library’s hours have been extended; it is now open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Kids are showing up in droves to grab a laptop, an e-book, a cup of coffee, and a snack as they dive into books – online. The library’s newest additions include hundreds of e-books and a bunch of large databases for academic research.

    "This place will be full at lunch, full before school, and even after school," McSwain told Houston’s Fox TV station. "The resources we now have are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere in the world for all of our students." [read more]

    A handful of private schools are taking the leap too. After a lightning fire destroyed the 100-year-old library at the Hackley School, a K-12 boarding school in Tarrytown, New York, school leaders decided to switch from print to digital.

    "We went to the different departments and said, 'This is your chance to create a perfect collection. You tell me what you think we need on our shelves,'" Laura Pearle, head librarian, told THE Journal. "When they said, 'We need these reference books,' I looked to see if we could purchase them digitally."

    The decision to go digital wherever possible was not hugely popular with the faculty at first, Pearle said. “Now the majority of teachers feel that, for reference, digital is absolutely the way to go." [read more]

    Lamar High and the Hackley School are leaping into territory where few schools have gone before. But lots of other schools are taking steps in that direction too. A 40-minute drive north of Houston, the library at Wilkerson Intermediate School in The Woodlands, is planning some changes. Librarian Jennifer Minichiello says the school's library will become more interactive, provide a variety of e-books, and adopt a café style.

    "We're going to make it a little more interesting," she told the Houston Chronicle. "We want it to be more active, with a variety of things going on. If we want [students] to keep coming in, we have to use the technology they are used to." [read more ]


    April Is School Library Month
    School Library Month (SLM) is the American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) celebration of school librarians and their programs. The 2011 theme is "Create Your Own Story." This year, AASL will help school librarians tell their stories and advocate for the value their school library program brings to their school and local community.

    National Library Week
    National Library Week (April 10-16, 2011) is an annual celebration of the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate in this celebration spearheaded by the American Library Association (ALA). Are you looking for ways to raise awareness about libraries and library services during National Library Week? Check out the ALA’s free promotional tools for new ways to promote the message of National Library Week.

    Education World Special Theme: Library Week
    Education World presents dozens of book-themed activities, lessons, and projects from our archive. Included: How to write better book reports, stage a "Literature Day," compose Harry Potter haiku, plus additional classroom activities for teaching about fairy tales, folk tales, biographies, and more.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Infusing Math Each Day
    Builds Students’ Math Competency

    ”In this changing world, those who understand and can do mathematics will have significantly enhanced opportunities and options for shaping their futures. Mathematical competence opens doors to productive futures. A lack of mathematical competence keeps those doors closed.”
    -- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
    In her role as executive director of the Northeast Foundation for Children/Responsive Classroom, Roxann Kriete spends a fair amount of time in classrooms where she frequently observes Morning Meetings, a staple of the Responsive Classroom® approach. After one such day of observations, Kriete returned to her office excited to share how engaged students were. She talked enthusiastically about the vocabulary and language development she’d seen happening in their Morning Meetings, only to be taken back when a friend posed a question about her school visit:
    Did you see any math going on?
    “His question stopped me for a moment as I reflected,” Kriete said. “I had to acknowledge that I had not seen any math in the meetings I’d observed.”

    In the weeks ahead, Kriete repeated the question she’d been asked to many colleagues who work with teachers. They related terrific stories of classes collecting, charting, and discussing data about aspects of classroom life. Colleagues also told her of activities that students clamored to “play” that developed fluency with math facts or encouraged deductive reasoning. But even those colleagues had to admit that it wasn’t all that common to see math skills embedded as part of the daily Morning Meeting routine.

    Those conversations made clear a need that the Foundation has met with the publication of its latest book, Doing Math in Morning Meeting.

    “We know that in math, as in all areas, we are powerful models and our students are astute observers who take their lessons and shape their own attitudes from their observations of us,” Kriete writes in the introduction to the book. “It’s critical that we find ways for our students to see us using math and enjoying doing so.”

    In the pages of Doing Math in Morning Meeting, co-authors Margaret Berry Wilson and Andy Dousis have gathered dozens of ideas to create a practical guide that any teacher – even a self-proclaimed “math phobe” – can use to engage students and infuse math into their daily routines. The activities were chosen to match the community- and confidence-building purposes of Morning Meeting. The true beauty of the activities lies in the fact that they
    • are brief;
    • require few materials;
    • are easy to manage;
    • are varied;
    • emphasize familiar concepts;
    • emphasize questions with many correct answers; and
    • ensure feelings of mathematical success.
    The book’s classroom-tested ideas for incorporating math will help teachers prop opens the doors to math pleasure and math competence among their students, added Kriete.


    Add a copy of Doing Math in Morning Meeting to your school’s professional development library this month. It’s the perfect gift to your teachers for Math Awareness Month!


    Morning Math
    Principal Larry Davis emphasizes the importance of math by making Morning Math part of his school's morning routine. Two days a week during morning announcements, he poses "Mr. Davis Math Questions" to the students at his Florida elementary school. Now you can do the same in your school! Each week, Davis and Education World present two new sets of math questions for you to use to engage students and build math skills.

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Is It Time You Went to Social Media Bootcamp?

    Everyone is talking about Facebook and Twitter and YouTube. If you aren’t taking advantage of those resources to tell your school’s stories – and to connect with students, parents, faculty, and alumni – you’re really missing out. Maybe you should go to social media bootcamp!

    Administrators and some staff members at The Webb Schools in Claremont, California, recently attended a day-long social media bootcamp, and they’re glad they did.

    “The days are gone where people will come to you for information. You have to be where they are, and they’re on social media,” Karen Bowman, the private school’s director of marketing and communications, told the San Bernadino Sun. [read more]

    The school’s bootcamp was hosted by edSocialMedia, a company started as the natural evolution of four friends’ conversations about the direction of social media in schools.

    Many of the bootcamps that edSocialMedia has led to date involved private schools where contact with potential students and alumni is crucial, said Jesse Bardo, director of edSocialMedia and a former admissions counselor and communications coordinator at Northfield Mount Hermon School. However, Bardo tells Education World, more and more public school systems are approaching the company about training their district leaders in the benefits of using social media to create connections with their wider school communities.

    “What we are hearing is that not only are districts interested in facilitating better communication between their schools and parents, they’re also keenly focused on bringing social media technologies into the classroom to enhance and grow portfolio based learning,” said Peter Baron, an edSocial Media partner and founder of AdmissionsQuest.


    “Social media happens every day, and it is happening with you or without you,” Bardo added. For those who are willing to jump in, he has some practical thoughts and tips:

    Content is king. Using social media is not about Facebook or Twitter or YouTube. It is about the content you put up there. Nothing is going to happen if the content is not good.

    Make connections and develop relationships. Creating good content is all about finding the right people willing to tell the right stories. Reach out and find those people on campus who are enthusiastic about social media and willing to share stories worth telling.

    Don’t inundate. If you choose to use Facebook, post something new just three or four times a week. When you do post, be concise.

    Show it rather than tell it. Whenever possible, let images – photos, art, or video – tell the story.

    Don’t try to do it all. There are dozens of tools out there to help you connect with your wider school community. Instead of trying to use them all – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blogger, and the list goes on – and spreading yourself too thin, choose one form of social media and become good at it. Do what you do best and then branch out from there.

    Involve your fans. It is vital to involve your fans if you hope to create an authentic reflection of – and buzz for – your your school! If you are able to create authenticity you will experience the “fireworks effect” – those little bursts of attention that follow after you send out the initial big plume.

    Highlight all that’s good about your school. Just because the football team is having a great year doesn’t mean that every post should be about the football team. Do that and you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with everyone else.

    Make time for social media. Don’t think of social media responsibilities as “one more thing” on your plate that’s already piled high. Instead, think of it as simply adding one more short conversation to your day, except that this conversation is taking place online.

    Don’t be afraid. You know you need to do this! Being afraid of social media just means you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to build enthusiasm within your school and engage people outside its walls.


    Social Media Bootcamps
    edSocialMedia’s full-day workshop provides an in-depth introduction to social media technology for school leaders and administrators, complete with an opportunity for them to create content and get their hands dirty.

    Designing Your Social Media Strategy
    Social media strategies are not “one size fits all.” This webinar explores how to utilize popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Flickr to build a successful social media strategy as unique as your school.

    The Conversation Prism
    This dramatic visual illustrates some of the social media tools that are available for use. The graphic is already out of date as new services evolve and emerge.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    More Schools Make the Move to
    Recess Before Lunch

    Has your school joined with others that are putting recess before lunch? Principals who have done this say kids are calmer when lunch comes after recess, they throw away less food, and they return to their classrooms more ready to learn.

    A growing number of elementary schools in Colorado’s Douglas County School District have jumped on the bandwagon and are seeing good results.

    “Our decisions are always driven by what is best for our kids,” Principal John Guitierrez told the Denver Post last week. A recess-before-lunch pilot program at his school, Cougar Run Elementary, has helped teachers get kids back on track after lunch. The practice is resulting in an average of 10 minutes additional teaching time each day. [read more ]

    Katie Bark, a dietician who is director of Montana Team Nutrition Program, told Education World that her group devised a recess-before-lunch program that was piloted at four elementary schools in the spring of 2002-03. Baseline studies showed that when recess was held before lunch, plate waste -- the amount of discarded food -- went way down and milk consumption went way up.

    The team also noted that when students came in from the playground, the noise level in the cafeteria was high. Then they settle down. "And if they had a dispute on the playground, they tend to forget about it when they get to class," Bark said. [read more]


    Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer, Ed.D., founder of Peaceful Playgrounds, is another fan of recess before lunch.

    “The playground is an essential part of any school and every community,” Bossenmeyer says. “Children spend many hours of their day occupying themselves with what the playground has to offer.” To that end, Peaceful Playgrounds offers a kit that can be used to transform school, church, or park playgrounds into colorful arrangements of games kids love to play. [learn more about the program]

    The benefits of recess-first are many, Bossenmeyer adds. Among them are the following:
    • Improved cafeteria behavior
    • Calmer, more relaxed students in the cafeteria
    • Students return to the classroom calmer and ready to learn
    • Students eat more, drink more milk, and throw away less food
    • Fewer discipline problems are encountered
    • Fewer visits to the school nurse are recorded


    Recess Before Lunch Can Mean Happier, Healthier Kids
    Recess follows lunch almost as predictably as four follows three, because it always has been that way. Principals who have put recess first, though, have noticed children eat more and behave better after lunch.

    Peaceful Playgrounds: Recess Before Lunch
    The Peaceful Playgrounds website shares what principals and the research have to say about recess before lunch. Included: Information about the organization’s Peaceful Playgrounds Program Kit.

    Schools Say Recess Before Lunch Helps Kids Focus on Meals, Learning
    This Denver Post article details how a growing number of elementary schools in the area are scheduling recess before lunch, a policy the district has been encouraging since 2006.

    Recess Placement Prior to Lunch in Elementary Schools: What Are the Barriers?
    A study published in The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management provides useful information for school personnel and parents to consider.

    The Benefits of Recess Before Lunch
    This printable brochure concisely describes the benefits of recess before lunch and offers tips for making it happen in your school.


    Kansas Schools Try Separate Lunches for Sexes
    Middle school lunch periods can be a free-for-all of teasing, rough-housing, and flirting among boys and girls trying to impress or intimidate. But what if schools had separate lunch periods for boys and girls? That is not a hypothetical in Wichita, Kansas, where three middle schools have gone to single-sex lunches. Principals say the new lunch system has reduced misbehavior and helped students focus on eating.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Groovin’ Groceries Combines
    Music, Nutrition Education

    • Two-thirds of K-8 teachers say students in their classes regularly come to school hungry and 63 percent say the problem has increased in the past year, according to a survey released last week. [read more]
    • In Maryland, state lawmakers are considering legislation that would require public schools to publish calorie information for all school-lunch menu items. [read more]
    • In Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, one teacher is leading the effort to provide healthier snack choices in the school’s store and vending machines. [read more]
    Nutrition is certainly in the news -- and it isn’t only because March is National Nutrition Month. Statistics about America’s childhood obesity epidemic make headlines every week. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative is drawing needed attention to the issue. And schools are helping to lead the way when it comes to making nutrition education a year-round focus.


    As Lori Cook wandered the grocery aisles with her 3-year-old son Nate, she was struck by the fact that he was already responding to cartoon characters on product packaging. “I didn’t realize it started so early,” Cook thought. “Then I wondered why there weren’t advertisements for healthy foods that would get kids equally excited.”

    One of Cook’s first thoughts was that memorable cartoon characters combined with catchy music could help get positive nutrition messages out to kids. That’s when Cook -- an award-winning lyricist -- teamed up with two-time Grammy Award winner David Blamires to create the characters and songs that comprise the timely and very affordable Groovin’ Groceries program. (Recognize Nutrition Month by giving each of your teachers a copy of the CD! They are sure to find ways to work it into their classroom curriculum.) The Groovin’ Groceries characters sing and dance their way to lessons about the five basic food groups that are part of the USDA food pyramid. The program’s cast of characters includes
    • Bobby Broccoli and the Hip Hop Crops (hip hop music);
    • Banana Jamma and the Fruity Party (reggae music);
    • Betsy Bread and the Grainiacs (country music);
    • Max Milk and the Disco Dairy (disco music); and
    • Fiona Fish and the Lean Machine (R&B music).
    Take a look -- and a listen!

    Of course there are temptations addressed by characters such as Junk Food and the Sugar Monster (blues music) as well as a tune about the importance of exercise called Stinky Shoe – Peeyew! that gets kids plugging their noses and dancing about the room.

    In addition to a music CD, the Groovin’ Groceries program also offers print materials, including stickers and -- soon to come -- a scavenger hunt perfect for a grocery store field trip and a Groovin’ Groceries placemat.

    “Kids need help when it comes to making smart eating decisions,” says Lara Field, a pediatric dietitian who has endorsed the Groovin’ Groceries program. “Groovin’ Groceries is a fantastic way to promote healthy eating in a fun, entertaining way. The approachable reminders of how to make healthy choices in this well-designed program are a great way for kids to learn foods to choose and those to avoid.”


    Groovin’ Groceries Program
    Groovin’ Groceries Characters and Songs
    Groovin’ Groceries Products

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    K-5 Students Celebrate 1 Million Books Read

    Students at New York City’s Harlem Success Academy had a big reason for celebrating last week. The banner unveiled in the school auditorium that day tells it all: 1,000,000 Books Read!

    “Our scholars and their families have been reading up storm,” said Eva Moskowitz, CEO and founder of the schools that comprise the Success Charter Network. Scholars at those schools have been reading and logging books read outside the classroom since 2006 -- and the one-millionth book was logged earlier this month.

    “Our goal is that all our scholars love reading, think deeply about the books they read, and are able to debate topics,” added Moskowitz.

    As part of the celebration, three fifth graders presented mini-essays about books that had the most impact on them. Individual honors were awarded to other scholars for “Going Beyond Z,” which refers to a phrase from Dr. Seuss's On Beyond Zebra. In that book, Seuss urges young readers to think what possibilities may lie beyond the letter “z” if they work hard enough, are creative enough, and are open to what might not immediately meet the eye.

    The reading program at SCN schools gradually increases scholars’ reading stamina, according to Moskowitz. For example, kindergartners read 10 minutes a day at the beginning of the school year and eventually work their way to 30 minutes of independent reading. Fifth graders begin reading 30 minutes a day and ultimately read for one hour at a time on their own.

    Harlem Success Academy 1, located at 34 West 118th Street, is the flagship school of the Success Charter Network. It is the number one public charter school in New York City and has been ranked in the top one percent of all public schools in New York State for two consecutive years. Excellence in education and inspiring children to love learning are the mandates of the Success Academies. They believe other schools can accomplish their goals by
    --- focusing on ensuring children love to read by helping them choose the right books for their level and interest;
    --- focusing on comprehension and critical thinking;
    --- using data to individually assess students’ progress;
    --- informing parents of their children’s progress and partnering with parents to have them play a key role in their children’s education; and
    --- setting high expectations for everyone in the school -- teachers, students, parents, and administration.

    “There is nothing more important than reading,” stated Moskowitz. “By far, making reading our top priority is the best bang for the buck that we see in our schools.”


    These articles from the Education World archive share stories of principals whose students are achieving reading success because of programs put in place in their schools.

    Getting Kids to Read by Keeping Their Eyes on the Prize
    Educators know that children who read and are read to are more likely to become life-long readers. That's why many schools are using reading incentives -- from reading honor rolls to "prize patrols" -- to encourage kids. And they're reading more as a result.

    Principals' Feats Fuel Fabulous Reading
    What would students do to see a principal camp on the roof, become a human sundae, kiss a pig, or get slimed? Turns out they will do a great deal -- of reading! Many principal are capitalizing on students' desire to see them do wacky stunts and build reading skills.

    Principals Make Reading a School-Wide Goal
    Students pledge to read thousands of pages. First- and fifth-graders buddy up for reading. Those events and others are part of school-wide reading programs at two Minnesota schools. Included: Additional activities help make reading a school-wide goal.

    Reading Fun
    Are you looking for a special project that will excite your students about reading? You’ve come to the right place! On this page, we have gathered dozens of Education World articles that offer unique lessons and ideas for teachers of reading at all levels. Make every week Book Week with these fun and "novel" reading lesson ideas.

    Red Carpet Readers
    It was "A Night at the Oscars" and many of the students and nearly all staff members donned formal attire for the event that highlighted the connection between reading and the silver screen. The celebration was the latest take on the school's annual "Family Reading Night," and its theme was created by the students themselves.

    School Makes ‘Community Read’ Its Own
    A local library’s community reading program has given rise to a month-long family reading program at Meadow Glens Elementary School in Naperville, Illinois. The program, which is focused on family literacy, has been a big success.

    Program Hauls In Huge Catch of Reading
    Challenged to create a program that encouraged young students to read in school as well as at home, Betsy Lepak created "Hooked on Books." Classes kept track of every book they read in exchange for the privilege of caring for two fish in a bowl.

    Literacy Efforts Over the Long Haul
    When staff members at one Maryland school discovered that students' reading scores weren't improving as hoped, they took action to motivate the students to read and to get parents involved. A continuous focus on literacy is helping the school make the grade.

    ‘Reading Buddies’ Pair Up for Literacy
    A "Reading Buddies" program at an Illinois school pairs education students from North Central College (NCC) with fourth and fifth graders. Each twosome reads an assigned book and works together to create a final project to share with the entire group.

    ‘Together We Can’ Motto Spurs Columbia Elementary's Success
    Columbia Elementary School's motto is "Together We Can!" Together principal Lori Musser and staff members have adopted initiatives such as after-school clubs and intensive reading instruction to help students achieve.

    Principals’ Classrooms Visits Help Build Better Readers
    When principals and literacy coaches understand what students are learning and teachers are teaching -- and participate in literacy lessons -- they set a positive tone for the school that can lead to improvement in reading, says author and educator Dr. Beth Whitaker.

    Photos courtesy of Success Charter Network

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    School Wellness Policies Are Making a Difference

    Valentine’s Day parties looked a bit different this year in New Canaan (Connecticut) Schools. In the past, the party menu would have included cupcakes and brownies, but this year carrot sticks, fruit slices, and other healthful treats were the snacks of choice.

    The change in menu is all part of the district’s new Wellness policy, which aims to ensure that students are getting the same messages about nutrition and physically active lifestyles from the lunchroom to the classroom as well as in the gym and at home.

    “There's a call in this to everyone who works in the system to be role models," Deputy Superintendent Mary Kolek told the New Canaan Patch. “We made this commitment because experts and experience tell us that sound nutrition and physical fitness are important factors connected to readiness for learning and other school and life activities.” [read more]

    Aside from party choices, the cafeteria menus in town have changed, too. Lunch is prepared fresh each day and local produce is used whenever possible. In the gym, elementary students are learning the basics of yoga, and all high school gym classes begin with stretching exercises aimed at improving flexibility and reducing the potential for injury.

    Wherever possible, New Canaan’s efforts involve local community groups, businesses, and the town’s recreation department. An “Open Gym” is held each Sunday at the high school.

    The state of Connecticut requires all districts to provide student fitness test results on a yearly basis, but New Canaan’s wellness plan calls for those results to be sent home in order to educate parents, too. The FitnessGrams sent home to parents of students in grades 4, 6, 8, and 10 report the child’s fitness in four areas: aerobic capacity, flexibility, muscular strength, and muscular endurance.


    FitnessGrams are also sent home to students as part of the wellness program at Friendship Elementary School in Buford, Georgia. Principal Berry Walton hopes his school’s program will eventually become the program of choice in all the district's schools.

    The fact that Georgia has the second-highest childhood obesity rate in the country -- about 24 percent of third-graders are obese -- was one of the motivating factors behind the program. “Our goals are to focus on childhood obesity, nutrition, and academic performance,” Walton told the local school board this month. [read more]

    Friendship Elementary’s program was developed last summer by a school-wide committee that researched best programs and practices. The program includes opportunities for the staff to get fit; about 20 staff members work out with a fitness trainer twice a week. And Pilates balls have replaced desk chairs in some classrooms. Such “active sitting” helps develop muscles and keep students alert and focused, Walton explained.


  • Principals Launch School-Wide Wellness Programs
  • Schools Where Wellness Is a Way of Life
  • Wellness Policies Promote Healthy Choices
  • Some Schools Replace Desk Chairs With Ball Chairs
  • Teachers Trade Space, Traditional Fixtures for Fitness
  • Monday, February 14, 2011

    Schools to Shine Spotlight on Reading
    On Read Across America Day, March 2

                There are so many books that you find ’round here.
                Don’t know which one to choose – I’m confused, I fear.
                The shelves are really full – the message is clear
                Just Read It! Just Read It!
    This Just Read It! video parody of Michael Jackson’s Beat It! was created by students and staff at Indian Pines Elementary School in Lake Worth, Florida. I'm sure you will agree that this video display of the students’ collective enthusiasm for reading is contagious -- and especially timely too, since Read Across America Day is just around the corner.

    Each year on March 2 (which also happens to be Dr. Seuss's birthday), students across America share their love of reading with special events and activities. Sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), 2011 marks the 13th year for Read Across America festivities. The NEA provides plenty of resources, including certificates, poems, and booklists to help schools plan special celebrations. Perhaps all the students in your school can gather to take the Reader’s Oath. Or maybe you will plan special activities, such as these offered on the Read Across America website:

  • Have your mayor, school board, or legislators issue a proclamation. You can use this sample proclamation or create your own.
  • Ask your local radio disc jockey to read or even broadcast from your school.
  • Invite parents and students to don their pajamas and snuggle up and read in an overnight readathon.
  • Put reading on parade or hold a book lovers' ball.
  • Invite local authors and illustrators and showcase their books and characters in style.
  • Contact your local sports team for guest readers and invite high school marching bands to welcome your students.

    Whatever you do, don’t miss this opportunity to put the spotlight on reading in your school!


    Reading Fun
    Are you looking for a special project that will excite your students about reading? On this page, we have gathered dozens of Education World articles that offer unique lessons and ideas for teachers of reading at all levels. Make every week Book Week with these fun and "novel" reading lesson ideas.
  • Monday, February 7, 2011

    School Videos Share Inspiring Student Stories

    If you look beyond the headline-making news stories on the major TV networks, you’ll often find inspiring clips about ordinary people in all walks of life who do extraordinary things. But if you’re looking to be truly inspired, the video library on the SchoolTube Web site reveals more inspiration than the major networks could hope to generate.


    At Taylor High School in Katy, Texas, the Best Buddies program is enhancing the lives of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities by pairing them with their peers from the general education population. Buddies hang out outside of school by enjoying movies, sporting events, bike riding, and more. In addition, special activities -- including parties and an annual poinsettia sale -- provide opportunities for Best Buddies to connect as a group.

    Students who serve as buddies say they get more from the program than they could possibly give their special buddies.

    “My friendship with [my Best Buddy] Nick is a lot different than most of my other friendships,” says Jacqueline Jones, a student participant in the program. “He has taught me a lot about how to see life in a different light. It’s really encouraging to see how much he loves his life.”

    Indeed, Best Buddies is changing the lives of all its participants. It teaches the value of friendship and an appreciation for all people no matter their appearance or abilities.

    The Best Buddies program at Taylor is part of the international Best Buddies organization.


    Madison Pixley proves that what some might see as a disability doesn’t need to be that at all. In spite of being born with just one arm, Madison doesn’t think about her arm at all -- especially when she is on the court with her volleyball teammates at Dexter (Missouri) High School.

    “I’m just like any other 15-year-old girl,” says Madison. “I go through all the same experiences as everyone else.”

    Madison’s parents have never treated Madison’s arm as a disability either. “She can do anything that anybody else can do,” says her father, who happens to be the school’s football coach. “She may do some things a little bit differently, but she acts the same, she is a popular kid, she has a good attitude, she’s athletic.”

    Madison proves one good arm is enough every time she takes the court. Her activities and interests off the court are worthy of note, too. She was recently awarded the Make a Difference Challenge Award for her work at an area camp for children who have hand deformities. In addition, her “Give a Helping Hand” effort raised $4,000 to ensure that kids in need will be able to attend the Shriner Hospital-sponsored Hand Camp next summer. [read more]


    The Community Blood Center (CBC) in Kansas City provides 580 units of blood each day to 70 area hospitals. And 20 percent of that blood is contributed at blood drives held at area high schools.

    A recent blood drive at Mill Valley High School in Shawnee, Kansas, helped restock the Center’s supply, according to the video.

    One hour of a student’s time can save lives in our community, a CBC spokersperson said. “We consider a three-day supply to be a good supply, and we usually hover around a one-day supply,” she added. "About 60 percent of the population is eligible to give, but only about five percent do."

    “I always give every time the blood drive comes around,” one student said. “I think it’s a really good thing to do. It saves lives. It’s part of your civic duty.”

    In order to encourage high schools to participate, the CBC has created a High School Blood Drive Planning Guide and instituted a Gallon Grad Program that recognizes students who give blood eight times before they graduate. Before a student can participate, his or her parents must complete a Blood Donor Parent Consent Form.

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    Survey Says...

    A handful of interesting surveys have come to light in the past month. The surveys shed light on test stress, young kids and video games, and the impact ereaders have on the amount of reading people do.


    Wether your choice of e-reader is Kindle, iPad, or Nook, chances are you are likely to read more and buy more books than people who don’t own an ereader. Twenty-one percent of Americans say they have not bought a single book in the past year, while only 8 percent of ereader users have not bought a book.

    Percent who
    read11+ books
    a year
    Percent who
    read21+ books
    a year
    Percent who
    have not bought
    1 book in past year
    Book Readers40 percent19 percent21 percent
    Ereader Users36 percent26 percent8 percent

    According to this survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 53 percent of people who own an ereader say they read more now than they did six months ago; only 18 percent of non-ereader owners say they are reading more. [read more]

    While adults ages 18 and up were the subject of the Harris Interactive survey, might ereaders boost reading frequency among grade-school kids too? A 2010 survey by Scholastic indicates that technology could be a positive motivator to get kids reading; 57 percent of kids (age 9-17) say they are interested in reading an eBook, and a third of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had access to eBooks on an electronic device. That includes kids who read 5-7 days per week (34%), 1 to 4 days per week (36%), and even those who read less than one day per week (27%). [read more]


    University of Chicago researchers say that students who write about their fears before taking an exam perform better than students who do not write beforehand. “It’s getting negative thoughts and worries down on paper that seems to be the benefit,” says study co-author Sian Beilock, who is author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To. Giving students time to write about the stress they feel seems to “clear the working memory” of worries that might get in the way of test success, she added. [read more]


    According to an online survey by Internet security firm AVG, young kids seem to be more adept at playing video games than they are at important life skills. While 58 percent of children ages two to five can play a basic computer game, only 20 percent can make an emergency phone call and 11 percent can tie their own shoelaces. Kids are mimicking their parents’ attachment to computers, so it is important that parents take responsibility for some digital training. “We need to look at making sure that we give our children a balanced life and a mix of both life skills and technical skills,” AVG’s Tony Anscombe told technology columnist Larry Magid. [read more]