Sunday, December 19, 2010

Writing Contest

Current Contest:
Kindergarten Story

A fictional story or nonfiction about family life or school for ages 5-6, up to 150 words. The story should be appropriate to five- and six-year-olds learning to read on their own. It should be fun, use vocabulary and syntax well, and have high interest for a kindergartener. Take great care not to write too high for this age. Know what a five- or six-year-old can and cannot read. Originality and the overall quality of writing will also be considered. Publishability is the ultimate criterion.

Entries must be received by February 28, 2011. Current subscribers to Children’s Writer enter free. All others pay an entry fee of $15, which includes an 8-month subscription. Winners will be announced in the July 2011 issue. Prizes: $500 for first place plus publication in Children’s Writer, $250 for second place, and $100 for third, fourth, and fifth places.
Now warm up your computer and write a $500-winning kindergarten story!
The contest rules are important. Please read them carefully.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Great holiday idea

A writer from the Chicago Tribune was recently highlighted in the Washington Post with a new holiday idea straight from the heart, done in the home and influential in the life of a child.  

This holiday season I am putting my column where my heart is, and so I'm asking readers to celebrate by giving a book to a child, through a homegrown campaign called "A Book on Every Bed."

Here's how it works:
Take a book. Wrap it. Place it on a child's bed so it's the first thing she sees on Christmas morning (or whatever holiday you celebrate). That's it.

For more info:  go HERE

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Teacher Evals Go Digital

Here are some excerpts from an interesting article in the New York Times about some changes being made in teacher evaluations led by Bill Gates.  
"Mr. Gates is tracking the research closely. The use of digital video in particular has caught his attention. In an interview, he cited its potential for evaluating teachers and for helping them learn from talented colleagues.
“Some teachers are extremely good,” Mr. Gates said. “And one of the goals is to say, you know, ‘Let’s go look at those teachers.’ What’s unbelievable is how little the exemplars have been studied. And then saying, ‘O.K., How do you take a math teacher who’s in the third quartile and teach them how to get kids interested — get the kid who’s smart to pay attention, a kid who’s behind to pay attention?’ Teaching a teacher to do that — you have to follow the exemplars.”
The meticulous scoring of videotaped lessons for this project is unfolding on a scale never undertaken in educational research, said Catherine A. McClellan, a director for theEducational Testing Service who is overseeing the process.
By next June, researchers will have about 24,000 videotaped lessons. Because some must be scored using more than one protocol, the research will eventually involve reviewing some 64,000 hours of classroom video. Early next year, Dr. McClellan expects to recruit hundreds of educators and train them to score lessons.
The goal is to help researchers look for possible correlations between certain teaching practices and high student achievement, measured by value-added scores. Thomas J. Kane, a Harvard economist who is leading the research, is scheduled to announce some preliminary results in Washington next Friday. More definitive conclusions are expected in about a year.
The effort has also become a large-scale field trial of using classroom video, to help teachers improve and to evaluate them remotely.

In addition to the cost — which many struggling districts may consider too high — another barrier could be teacher opposition. The Memphis teachers union, an affiliate of the National Education Association, has partnered with the foundation for the project. But Keith Harris, its president, said the use of videotaped observations in evaluations raised troubling questions.
“Whose eyes would see these videos?” Mr. Harris asked. “Who would own them? This seems like an ‘I gotcha’ kind of thing. We think these observations deserve a human being.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which has several affiliates participating in the research, also expressed reservations. “Videotaped observations have their role but shouldn’t be used to substitute for in-person observations to evaluate teachers,” Ms. Weingarten said. “It would be hard to justify ratings by outsiders watching videotapes at a remote location who never visited the classroom and couldn’t see for themselves a teacher’s interaction and relationship with students.”
Dr. Kane said doubts may disappear with time. “We’re not na├»ve,” he said. “We realize that most principals and teachers imagine an in-person visit from a human being when they think of classroom observations. But that could rapidly change. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that millions of classrooms could be using this technology within four or five years.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pretzels Anyone?

Auntie Anne’s Supports First Book

In October, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels launched a month long fundraising campaign to benefit First Book.  The campaign offered Auntie Anne's customers the opportunity to donate $1 to First Book in exchange for a bookmark - a keepsake that included a tear-off coupon for $1 off the next purchase.  Thanks to the tremendous support from franchisees and customers all across the country, Auntie Anne’s raised more than $20,000 for First Book.  A number of other franchise owners also raised funds through the use of coin canisters, personal donations and local events. 

To celebrate the success of the Bookmark campaign, Auntie Anne’s will host an event in their hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania on December 8th.  Children from the Boys and Girls Club of Lancaster will learn the history of the pretzel and the art of pretzel rolling from Auntie Anne’s employee volunteers.  Auntie Anne’s employees will distribute brand new books to participating children as part of a larger donation to each of the Boys and Girls Club of Lancaster’s three area locations.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Target's New Literacy Effort

Target has launched Target Read With MeSM, an initiative aimed at helping more U.S. children read proficiently by the end of third grade. Target is calling on you – parents and caring adults – to pledge to read with a child by visiting or texting READ to TARGET (827438). For every pledge received, Target and First Book will donate a book to children in need, up to one million books!

Information can be found at /

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Nonfiction Books that topped 2010

How I wish I weren't reading so many textbooks to get ready for spring semester because a lot of these nonfiction books from THIS LIST I've heard about, seen and want to read.  Particularly the bone one and the sugar one.

Anyone out there read them yet?  What is your evaluation?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Video Website

I decided to change the nightly routine where mom (that's me) sings to the kids.  Okay, I admit it.  I was just too tired to sing a note.  So, I looked up on my laptop for some christmas songs and came across this website that has not only the lyrics but also video for most of the songs we love.

The favorites song/videos of the kids so far are:

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Snoopy's Christmas (Snoopy vs. The Red Baron)
The Chipmunk Song
The Twelve Days Of Christmas

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Preschool Craft Idea

Like all good teachers, I love to beg, borrow and steal good ideas.  Here is one that is too cute from a blog I read.  It's about bathtub murals made from foam for all those young artists out there.  It would sure save my bathtub tons of space currently taken up by squirty toys and naked Barbies.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

One of my secret wishes

This may sound weird to some of you, but I have always loved puppets.  I took a class at college and discovered that there is a whole world out there of puppetry that I never new.  I love when the Muppets appear in everyday locations or on TV, I love puppet shows, and shadow puppet shows and pretty much any form of that unique art form.

One day I was watching the show Ace of Cakes on the Food Network and someone from Lemon Productions had sent the cast a puppet to their likeness.  I immediately told my husband that I wanted puppets of our family, which he thought was a little creepy.  I at least want one of me, to use as a teacher.  I still don't have one and honestly don't know how much it would even cost, but it's on my list to get one day when I'm a millionaire.

Here is the link to the Production company with a blog and photos of their visit to the set.  Now tell me that doesn't look fun!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Top Three Level of Teachers

I just read an opinion article in the New York Times about how the teachers in America stink and how other countries are leading in education.  Having worked with many, many schools, teachers and pre-service teachers, I wonder how many of these important people with such fancy sounding speeches and opinions have been in a school lately or met more than a handful of teachers.

Some points that were interesting I thought was the idea of a West Point type center for teachers.  I didn't say I agree with it, but it is an interesting idea.  And I liked the way the end of the article mentioned parents.  Teachers are not responsible for compensating for the the decline of family values.  Let me know what you think.

See the article HERE