Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Becoming bookworms - Reading - even in the summer - is key

melissag@mywebtimes.com, (815) 431-4049

Students are putting away their books in preparation for summer vacation, but Zoe Cassady and Nancy Harris believe the summer break does not mean taking time out from reading.

"Any continued reading supports a student's learning by helping them to build background knowledge and comprehension," said Cassady, a Title I reading teacher at Streator High School. "When a student reads over the summer, it is usually for enjoyment -- which generally means he or she is likely to read more. As with any other activity, practice really does help to improve skills. Skills that are built over the school year should not just stop cold because it is summer."

"Students who do not read over the summer regress," agreed Harris, reading specialist at McKinley School in Ottawa. "They come back to school reading at a lower level than they were reading at the beginning of summer. Reading ability, or lack of it, has an impact on almost every school subject."

Both Cassady and Harris advised parents who want to encourage reading to sign up for summer reading programs at local libraries, which often offer prizes to reward reading and fun activities to ward off complaints of boredom. Another option is to let children pick out books at book sales or garage sales.

The key to promoting reading is to help children find books that pique their interests, whether it be sports, super heroes, animals or technology. When they choose the books, children are less likely to view reading as "school work."

"Students who read in the summer have a chance to read at their own level and pace and to choose books they are interested in, all of which help to make reading enjoyable and to increase their skills," said Harris.

Families can also read together from the time children are young to set a foundation that reading is important.

"Parents can read aloud to their children or just curl up on the couch together as they each read their own book," said Harris.

"Even very young readers can find books of interest that can be shared as you read together. My 2-year-old is 'reading' picture books that she has selected, but I also am reading the Chronicles of Narnia to her," said Cassady, who then advises families to talk about the books they read.

Parent involvement, said Harris and Cassady, is key. Parents who want their children to be good readers should become readers themselves.

"Showing your student that you enjoy reading will go a long way in supporting a life long reading habit," said Cassady.

Book lists for every age group and genre are available online -- at sites such as the International Reading Association, www.reading.org -- and plenty of recommended reading selections can be found at local libraries and from classroom teachers.

"The brain needs to work out just as much as the rest of the body," said Cassady. "The reading habit can help to keep the mind sharp over the summer."


How to cultivate the habit of reading

NT Bureau - Chennai, May 26:

'Reading is a habit to be developed by oneself and it cannot be taught by teachers,' said Richard R Day, professor, Department of Second Language studies, University of Hawaii.

He was speaking at a seminar jointly organised by English Language Teachers Association of India (ELTAI) and Office of Public Affairs US Consulate General in South India at M O P Vaishnav College for Women here yesterday.

Addressing a gathering of professors and lecturers of various colleges on 'Effective Strategies for Teaching and Learning,' Richard said reading is an interactive process between the readers and the text.

Stressing on knowledge he said, ' knowledge means a deep understanding of topics and the language that the reader has acquired.The more the student reads the more are the chances of becoming a good reader.

Richard said teachers should implement various strategies in schools to bring individuals with good reading skills, for which he proposed extensive reading of easy and interesting books that would create interest in students to read and simultaneously improve vocabulary.

He emphasised that strategy training would be effective only if the students at the intermediate level to begin their learning activity.

He further said the reader should not use dictionaries when he comes across a difficult word at the initial stage. Instead, the students should try to analyse and derive the meaning by correlating or associating meaning to the unknown word.

Giving more tips, Richard suggested vocabulary cards to help memorise unfamiliar words,and insisted on keeping a vocabulary journal.


Parents urged to read books

Parents should develop a reading habit so that their children would emulate them, said MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting.

“Reading does not only allow a person to gain knowledge and skills, it also exposes him to the outside world,” he said at the opening ceremony of Bookfest @ Malaysia at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here yesterday.

He said the country's education system had given most people the impression that reading meant doing revision for examinations.

“Most students don't enjoy reading as they are forced to do so most of the time,” he said.

He said students who did not enjoy reading would stay away from books and this would bring about negative consequences.

“Reading is part and parcel of lifelong learning,” said Ong, who hoped more book fairs would be held in the country and that the public would be encouraged to read more through these fairs.

Popular Holdings Pte Ltd chairman and managing director C. N. Chou said the Bookfest, from today till next Sunday, was aimed at cultivating reading as a source of pleasure.

He said the Bookfest, themed “Read to Learn,” would display over a million books imported from all over the world.

“We have prepared many events and activities such as cultural shows, creative contests, forums, motivational and inspiring talks that whole families can participate in, especially since it is being held during the school holidays,” he said.

Admission fee is RM2 for those above 18 while it is free for students below 18.


Don't let summer break erode child's skills

Reading, camps can stimulate minds - By Chris Kenning

It's called the summer slide -- the vacation learning loss that forces teachers to spend weeks repeating lessons in the fall.

Students can lose as much as two months of math and reading performance over the summer's "brain drain," educators and experts say.

Research shows it especially hurts low-income or at-risk children who don't spend summers visiting museums, traveling, attending camps or working through well-stocked bookshelves at home.

"It's critical they do something educational during the summer," said Carol Miller, principal of McFerran Preparatory Academy, 1900 S. Seventh St. in Louisville.

Summer reading is particularly important, and it helps develop the habit of reading for pleasure while sharpening literacy skills. Jefferson County Public Schools is currently working to get all students reading on grade level by 2008.

"My boys like athletics, and we tell them they need to read during vacation or they can't play," said Herbert Houston of Louisville, who has two sons, 11-year-old Jeff and 6-year-old Jalen.

The Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University and education advocacy groups suggest the following strategies for parents:

Visit the public library regularly and join library summer programs. The Louisville Free Public Library has a program that gives children who read 10 books by July 29 rewards, including a backpack, a Louisville Bats baseball ticket and more.

Practice math skills in everyday situations, such as using cooking to teach fractions, tracking weather or playing math-oriented board games. Buy number puzzle books.

Check out educational camps held by groups such as the YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club and schools. McFerran, for example, offers a summer program that mixes math and reading with recreational activities.

Visit parks and museums. Foster your child's hobbies. Limit time in front of television and video games.

Last week, McFerran librarian Joan Frazure read "Mr. Wiggles" and other books to more than 20 kindergartners, taking the opportunity to urge them to join a summer reading program.

"Raise your hand if you have been to the public library," she asked, after which about half the group's hands shot up. "They have a summer reading program. If you read 10 books, they give you cool stuff."

Dakota Emmett, 6, said she participated in the program last year.

"My cousin helps me read," she said. "It helps me because then I can read all kinds of books."

A Johns Hopkins study showed that summer learning helps fuel the academic achievement gap between affluent and low-income students.

That's partly because children's learning loss can build up over the years. Research indicates that children who read six books over the summer will maintain their skills, but those who read 10 to 20 will improve them.

Ursula Tarrence of Louisville, who works as a preschool teacher, said she requires her 9-year-old daughter to read many books over the summer.

"Things you don't use, you lose," she said.
Reporter Chris Kenning can be reached at (502) 582-4697.

Source: http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060529/NEWS0102/605290357/1008/NEWS01

Friday, May 19, 2006

Reading challenge may leave principal marooned on island

Those put in control of motivating young people are faced with finding ways to encourage the learning process. School faculty and staff must create ways to entice students, whether it be with incentives or repercussions.

But what if, when students were challenged to read a certain amount of books, they did?

For the past three years, Stella May Swartz Elementary School students have been given a lofty reading goal that they have accomplished, forcing the principal to sleep on the roof of the school, spend the night in jail, and this year, become marooned on "Principal's Island."

"I wanted to do something that would last all year and not just something with a week- or a month-long focus," said Scott Jackson, Stella May Swartz principal. "I am trying to get kids to develop reading as a habit. To become a really good reader, you have to practice."

Jackson, who has been the principal at Stella May Swartz in Oakbrook Terrace for the past four years, decided in his second year that he wanted to do something to encourage students to read.

Each year, Jackson challenges students to read a certain number of books. During the first year, it was 10,000. The second year, he challenged them to read 12,000 books and for the third year, it was 13,000 books.

The students are then given cards that have 10 little books on them. As they finish a book, an adult (parent, teacher, grandparent, etc.) initials one of the books on the card. When they read 10 books and fill the card, the students bring it to the office and get a book charm to collect. They get a new card to fill up so they will keep reading.

According to Jackson, if the students meet the challenge, as they have again this year, he promises to do something in return.

"I have to keep up my end of the deal," said Jackson. "This year I said I would spend the night marooned on 'Principal's Island.'"

In designing "Principal's Island," Stella May Swartz had a boat dealer bring a 26-foot boat on which Jackson will spend the night.

He will have to stay on it all night on May 18 until the students arrive back at school in the morning.

During the evening, families are invited back for a cook-out, book fair, ice cream social and dance, and the children all get a chance to read Jackson their favorite bedtime stories.

"The students have a great time reading, learn a lot, become much better readers and most of them gain a love for reading," said Jackson. "Most of all, they really enjoy seeing me spend the night outside."

Last year, Jackson spent the night in a jail facility that staff and students built in front of the school.

"It was cold, windy and wet," added Jackson. "It was a very long night, but fun."

When it comes to reading, Jackson believes it is important to motivate the students to do something like this because reading is an important skill that they will use their entire lifetime.

The reading challenge also gives staff an opportunity to see students who are excited to read and work hard at it for an entire year.

According to Jackson, not only are the students learning to enjoy reading, but the school has also seen positive results during the challenge's three-year existence.

"There is nothing they can't learn about or do by reading," said Jackson. "As a building, we have seen a steady increase in our reading test scores during the three years we have been doing this challenge."

In making the decision on how many books Jackson challenges his students to read, he says that setting the bar high is very important to motivate the students to do something more.

Having only 163 students in second, third and fourth grade, which is 20 students less than last year, Jackson believes that 13,000 is a pretty high goal.

During the challenge, said Jackson, he looks forward to seeing students who are better readers with a lifelong love for reading.

"It's interesting to watch the students come into the office for a variety of things," added Jackson. "If they need to wait, the first thing they do is pick up a book and read from our basket."

Jackson also stated that faculty and staff have recorded a CD for each event thanks to one of the school's parents who owns a recording studio; this year's song is entitled "Principal's Island."

Through the reading challenge, Jackson stated that it has been a total team effort.

Jackson believes that without the help and the drive of faculty and staff at Stella May Swartz, there is no way the challenge could have happened.

According to Jackson, the annual challenge has become a staple in the school's drive for excellence and has turned out to be a win-win situation for all who are involved or participate.

"It's a good feeling when even the parents come up to me in the beginning of the school year and ask what we have up our sleeve for this year's challenge," added Jackson. "I enjoy watching the kids come to the office to hand in their reading cards and ask, 'Did we make it yet?'"


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Amazon's views on Reading Habits

Did you know that reading can keep your mind active and engaged well into old age?
Several years ago when I was working as a newspaper reporter, I interviewed a woman who was a resident at a local nursing home. She was 100 years old. And she read at least one book per week. Mostly novels. She was bright, intelligent and fun to talk with.

"I love to read. It helps me keep up with what's going on in the world," she said. "A friend of mine brings me a new book every week. I look forward to her visits and I look forward to the books. We talk about the books we've read."

Reading has other benefits, as well.

For one thing, reading a good story can help you forget some of the problems in your own life.

"I can't get around much anymore," said the 100-year-old woman who lived in the nursing home. "When I go somewhere, I have to go in a wheelchair now. But when I read, I can go anywhere, anytime I want. And no one has to help me!"

Reading also sets a good example for younger generations.

From my own experience as an English teacher, and as a substitute teacher in many elementary classrooms, I have observed that the best readers are those students who see their parents reading. And I'm not talking about only reading novels or nonfiction books. Newspapers and magazines are important too. It's the reverse of the old saying, "Do as I say and not as I do." You can talk about the virtues of reading until you are so hoarse you cannot speak another word, but if you do not read yourself, your actions will communicate more to your children and grandchildren about how much you value reading than anything you could ever say.

But why is reading so important? In this day and age, with television to give us news, and movies and videos to keep us entertained, who needs to read?

The answer to that is -- everyone.

Developing good reading skills does not only mean that you can read a novel or a nonfiction book or a magazine or newspaper, it also means being able to read -- and understand-- a credit card contract or an insurance policy. Or the directions for putting together that new shelving unit you just bought. Or the instructions for how to install a new printer to use with your computer. Or the qualifications you need to apply for a job or to take out a loan to buy a house. Or that article you found on the Internet advising consumers about the best, most economical car to buy.

Possessing good reading skills also means you can read and understand a product label. Or the directions for taking medication. Or the warnings printed on a bottle of household cleaner.

In addition, developing good reading skills means that you can think for yourself. That you can read about the advantages and disadvantages of anything from breastfeeding to homeschooling to taking a vacation to Ireland. And then you make up your own mind about what's best for you and your family.

If the opportunity presents itself, I urge you to take the time to read to a child. Or take the time to let a child see you reading. Everyone will benefit. The child. You. Our society. The world as a whole.

And if you're looking for books to read that tell good true-life stories, that focus on old-fashioned family values, and that present some of the history of rural America in narrative memoir form, check out my books 'Give Me A Home Where The Dairy Cows Roam: True Stories From A Wisconsin Farm' and 'Christmas in Dairyland: True Stories from a Wisconsin Farm' (sample chapters available on the World Wide Web at ruralroute2.com)

LeAnn R. Ralph graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Arts in Teaching. She is the author of the books "Give Me a Home Where the Dairy Cows Roam" (September 2004) and "Christmas in Dairyland (True Stories from a Wisconsin Farm) (July 2003).

Other books about the benefits of reading include 'Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever'; 'Literacy Is Not Enough : Essays on the Importance of Reading' ; 'Reading All Types of Writing: The Importance of Genre and Register for Reading Development (Rethinking Reading)' ; 'The relative importance of factors of interest in reading materials for junior high school pupils'

Source :http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/guides/guide-display/-/1SZBLBQQC6PV6/103-7877982-6883865

Amazon's views on Reading Habits

Did you know that reading can keep your mind active and engaged well into old age?
Several years ago when I was working as a newspaper reporter, I interviewed a woman who was a resident at a local nursing home. She was 100 years old. And she read at least one book per week. Mostly novels. She was bright, intelligent and fun to talk with.

"I love to read. It helps me keep up with what's going on in the world," she said. "A friend of mine brings me a new book every week. I look forward to her visits and I look forward to the books. We talk about the books we've read."

Reading has other benefits, as well.

For one thing, reading a good story can help you forget some of the problems in your own life.

"I can't get around much anymore," said the 100-year-old woman who lived in the nursing home. "When I go somewhere, I have to go in a wheelchair now. But when I read, I can go anywhere, anytime I want. And no one has to help me!"

Reading also sets a good example for younger generations.

From my own experience as an English teacher, and as a substitute teacher in many elementary classrooms, I have observed that the best readers are those students who see their parents reading. And I'm not talking about only reading novels or nonfiction books. Newspapers and magazines are important too. It's the reverse of the old saying, "Do as I say and not as I do." You can talk about the virtues of reading until you are so hoarse you cannot speak another word, but if you do not read yourself, your actions will communicate more to your children and grandchildren about how much you value reading than anything you could ever say.

But why is reading so important? In this day and age, with television to give us news, and movies and videos to keep us entertained, who needs to read?

The answer to that is -- everyone.

Developing good reading skills does not only mean that you can read a novel or a nonfiction book or a magazine or newspaper, it also means being able to read -- and understand-- a credit card contract or an insurance policy. Or the directions for putting together that new shelving unit you just bought. Or the instructions for how to install a new printer to use with your computer. Or the qualifications you need to apply for a job or to take out a loan to buy a house. Or that article you found on the Internet advising consumers about the best, most economical car to buy.

Possessing good reading skills also means you can read and understand a product label. Or the directions for taking medication. Or the warnings printed on a bottle of household cleaner.

In addition, developing good reading skills means that you can think for yourself. That you can read about the advantages and disadvantages of anything from breastfeeding to homeschooling to taking a vacation to Ireland. And then you make up your own mind about what's best for you and your family.

If the opportunity presents itself, I urge you to take the time to read to a child. Or take the time to let a child see you reading. Everyone will benefit. The child. You. Our society. The world as a whole.

And if you're looking for books to read that tell good true-life stories, that focus on old-fashioned family values, and that present some of the history of rural America in narrative memoir form, check out my books 'Give Me A Home Where The Dairy Cows Roam: True Stories From A Wisconsin Farm' and 'Christmas in Dairyland: True Stories from a Wisconsin Farm' (sample chapters available on the World Wide Web at ruralroute2.com)

LeAnn R. Ralph graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Arts in Teaching. She is the author of the books "Give Me a Home Where the Dairy Cows Roam" (September 2004) and "Christmas in Dairyland (True Stories from a Wisconsin Farm) (July 2003).

Other books about the benefits of reading include 'Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever'; 'Literacy Is Not Enough : Essays on the Importance of Reading' ; 'Reading All Types of Writing: The Importance of Genre and Register for Reading Development (Rethinking Reading)' ; 'The relative importance of factors of interest in reading materials for junior high school pupils'

Source :http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/guides/guide-display/-/1SZBLBQQC6PV6/103-7877982-6883865

The Really Big List of Education Quotes

Good schools, like good societies and good families, celebrate and cherish diversity.
-- Deborah Meier

Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way.
-- George Evans

That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.
-- Doris Lessing

What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers.
-- Martina Horner

Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.
-- Plato

As a teacher I feel I have a moral obligation to help the children in my classroom grow toward becoming full human beings and to feel successful. Teaching cognitive skills is not enough...
-- Jean Medick

Learning to teach is a bigger job than universities, schools, experience, or personal disposition alone can accomplish.
-- Sharon Feiman-Nemser

In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have.
-- Lee Iacocca

Don't set your wit against a child.
-- Jonathan Swift

It must be remembered that the purpose of education is not to fill the minds of students with facts... it is to teach them to think, if that is possible, and always to think for themselves.
-- Robert Hutchins

The secret of teaching is to appear to have known all your life what you learned this afternoon.
-- Anonymous

They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.
-- Anonymous

The job of an educator is to teach students to see vitality in themselves.
-- Joseph Campbell

I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.
-- Chinese Proverb

In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.
-- Mark Twain

Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.
-- W. B. Yeats

The objective of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.
-- Robert Maynard Hutchins

There is a brilliant child locked inside every student.
-- Marva Collins

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
-- Henry B. Adams

Information cannot replace education.
-- Earl Kiole

We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.
-- Anonymous

When will the public cease to insult the teacher's calling with empty flattery? When will men who would never for a moment encourage their own sons to enter the work of the public schools cease to tell us that education is the greatest and noblest of all human callings?
-- William C. Bagley

The kids in our classroom are infinitely more significant than the subject matter we teach.
-- Meladee McCarty

Teaching is not a profession; it's a passion.
-- Unknown

Your heart is slightly bigger than the average human heart, but that's because you're a teacher.
-- Aaron Bacall

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.
-- David M. Burns

A professor can never better distinguish himself in his work than by encouraging a clever pupil, for the true discoverers are among them, as comets amongst the stars.
-- Linnaeus

A teacher effects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
-- Henry Adams

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
-- Mark Twain

It is books that are the key to the wide world; if you can't do anything else, read all that you can.
-- Jane Hamilton

An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.
-- Bill Bernbach

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
-- Aristotle

It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.
-- Alec Bourne

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten
-- B. F. Skinner

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.
-- Gail Godwin

Education is the best provision for old age.
-- Aristotle

Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.
-- Confucius

The mark of a true MBA is that he is often wrong but seldom in doubt.
-- Robert Buzzell

If I were asked ... to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of Americans ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply: To the superiority of their women.
-- Alexis de Tocqueville

Children need models rather than critics.
-- Joseph Joubert

The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence. He inspires self-trust. He guides their eyes from himself to the spirit that quickens him. He will have no disciple.
--Amos Bronson Alcott

It is the responsibility of every adult... to make sure that children hear what we have learned from the lessons of life and to hear over and over that we love them and that they are not alone
-- Marian Wright Edelman

Education is more than filling a child with facts. It starts with posing questions.
-- D.T. Max

If people did not do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in.
-- Abraham Lincoln

It's okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are our teachers -- they help us to learn.
-- John Bradshaw

It's not what is poured into a student, but what is planted.
--Linda Conway

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.
-- Albert Einstein

Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner; put yourself in his place so that you may understand… what he learns and the way he understands it.
-- Soren Kierkegaard

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
-- Thumper's father (Bambi 1942)

A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him.
-- James Baldwin

We're going to have the best-educated American people in the world.
-- Dan Quayle.

That is the difference between good teachers and great teachers: good teachers make the best of a pupil's means; great teachers foresee a pupil's ends.
-- Maria Callas

A word as to the education of the heart. We don't believe that this can be imparted through books; it can only be imparted through the loving touch of the teacher.
-- Cesar Chavez

The highest result of education is tolerance.
-- Helen Keller

My heart is singing for joy this morning. A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil's mild, and behold, all things are changed.
-- Anne Sullivan

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.
-- Unknown

You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.
-- Clay P. Bedford

Take a deep breath, count to ten, and tackle each task one step at a time.
-- Linda Shalaway

Nothing is ever achieved without enthusiasm.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Learning is not a spectator sport.
-- Anonymous

In an effective classroom students should not only know what they are doing, they should also know why and how.
-- Harry Wong

The important thing is not to stop questioning.
--Albert Einstein

The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.
-- Mary McLeod Bethune

A gifted teacher is as rare as a gifted doctor, and makes far less money.
-- Unknown

A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.
-- Thomas Carruthers

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
-- William Arthur Ward

All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talent.
-- John F. Kennedy

The man who can make hard things easy is the educator.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.
-- Confucius

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
-- Gandhi

I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
-- Eartha Kitt

You learn something every day if you pay attention.
-- Ray LeBlond

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.
-- Chinese Proverb

I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me.
-- Dudley Field Malone

You don't understand anything until you learn it more than one way.
-- Marvin Minsky

The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.
-- John Lubbock

People learn something every day, and a lot of times it's that what they learned the day before was wrong.
-- Bill Vaughan

Nothing is more powerful and liberating than knowledge.
-- William H. Gray III

Education cost money, but then so does ignorance.
-- Claus Moser

The liberally educated person is one who is able to resist the easy and preferred answers not because he is obstinate but because he knows others worthy of consideration.
-- Allan Bloom

Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows or is capable of knowing.
-- Albert Einstein

Freedom of teaching and of opinion in book or press is the foundation for the sound and natural development of any people.
-- Albert Einstein

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book! The book exists for us, perchance, that will explain our miracles and reveal new ones.
-- Henry David Thoreau

Grade school is the snooze button on the clock radio of life.
-- John Rogers

The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.
-- B.B. King

Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
-- Benjamin Franklin

What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.
-- George Bernard Shaw

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.
-- B.F. Skinner

The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.
-- Ralph M. Sockman

Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics. I can assure you that mine are still greater.
-- Albert Einstein

How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it.
-- Alexander Dumas

I think the world is run by C students.
-- Al McGuire

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
-- Abraham Maslow

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.
-- Aristotle

Higher education must lead the march back to the fundamentals of human relationships, to the old discovery that is ever new, that man does not live by bread alone.
-- John A. Hannah

I teach therefore I am.
-- Anonymous

Effective teachers seek feedback and consensus on their decisions and make sure that students understand.
-- Linda Shalaway

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
-- Margaret Mead

There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.
-- Thomas Jefferson

The role of parents in the education of their children cannot be overestimated.
-- Mexican American Legal Defense Fun

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Read-a-Thon has lasting effect on students

They traveled to distant lands. They met with fairies, goblins and ghosts. They came across kids who could fly and animals who could talk.

Their passport to these adventures? Books.

In a four-month Read-a-Thon that culminated recently, students at Maie Ellis Elementary School sprinted past their goal of reading a million pages.

The final tally was 1,132,850 pages read by 550 students in kindergarten through third grade.

The Read-a-Thon was uppermost in the minds of Denise Leonard's students, who achieved the distinction of reading the most among all first-grade classes with a total of 105,000 pages. They kept close tabs on their progress during visits to the library, Leonard said.

“They were very excited. They would check the chart to see how they were doing,” she said. “They would bring their books to share, talk about what they read and how many minutes they read.”

Sierra Gleason, 6, said she gave up playing with Barbie dolls and Sponge Bob video games to read more.

“You get smart, you learn new things and you get entertained when you read,” she said.
Though the Read-a-Thon is over, Leonard sees its impact every day. Many students continue to bring in their logs daily. They talk about books they are reading.

In the past, reading programs at Maie Ellis School spanned no more than three weeks and were conducted by school volunteers. Principal Charmian Francis brought Read-a-Thon to Maie Ellis three years ago. The program is part of California Reads, a statewide initiative to promote recreational reading.

“The goal is to expose children to different literary genres and to show that independent reading is fun and enjoyable,” Francis said.

Since then, the school has raised the bar for its students each year. The goal for the first year was 700,000 pages. Last year it was 900,000. It was bumped up to a million pages this year. Francis promised her students she would come to school in her pajamas if they reached their goal.

This year's theme was “Journey Through Books with the Magic of Imagination.”

“Not every child can leave our town. With books, they can go anywhere in the world,” said library technician Deanne Wheeler.

Students read alone and to parents and siblings. Family members read to kindergartners and first-graders. Wheeler spent several hours each day poring over daily reading logs turned in by students.

“My shelving went by the wayside,” joked Wheeler whose enthusiasm for books and reading catches quickly.

Students received prizes for each 150 pages they read. The school's PTA chipped in with funding for pencils, sharpeners, erasers, coloring books and kaleidoscopes.

But the rewards that students coveted most were not something that money could buy, Wheeler said.

“They wanted the coupon to be first in line or for that extra book that they could check out,” she said.

Wheeler, like other staff members, has observed the ripple effects of the reading program.

“I see them reaching into their backpacks for books when they are waiting for their parents. A lot of chapter books are getting checked out,” she said.

On a recent morning, the entire school gathered to blow a million bubbles to celebrate the success. Wheeler came in a polar bear costume. And true to her word, principal Francis showed up in her pajamas.


Reading by age 2: Father develops program

By Stephen Elliott, selliott@qconline.com

At 4, the little girl can draw stares from adults who overhear her reading out loud to her dad, Steve Van De Walle, of Silvis.

The child, Amaris Van De Walle, is an impressive reader, and she should be. She's already had two years of practice.

Mr. Van De Walle, a teacher at Buchanan Elementary School in Davenport, and his wife, Kari Oliva-Van De Walle, have also taught their second daughter, Kiera, 2, to read, and they fully expect their baby boy, due in September, to read at an early age.

Teaching babies how to read is something Mr. Van De Walle, a teacher and a former amateur boxing champion, wants to teach everyone.

"The genius is in the child already," Mr. Van De Walle says after school Thursday in his classroom. "We, as parents and educators, just need to bring it out."

Amaris was born nine weeks premature, weighing only 3 pounds. Pictures in a family photo album show Mr. Van De Walle holding his tiny daughter in his hands and sleeping on his chest at the hospital.

"Every book I've ever read about (premature babies), medical books, say when they're born, they typically will be cognitively delayed and behind a couple of years," he explained. "There may even be a chance of learning disabilities."

Mr. Van De Walle couldn't accept this. Defeat isn't something he easily bears.

Mr. Van De Walle father died while he was young, the loss touches him even today. At 18, in 1994, Mr. Van De Walle was involved in a near fatal accident that stopped any dreams of becoming an Olympic boxer or a future world champion. Even today, he can point to guys he fought in the amateurs who now fight on HBO and Showtime for big purses. He doesn't dwell on what could have been.

His children, his life, his job as a teacher, make him thankful for what he has now.

From his own studies, he put together ways to make reading fun. Using a series of techniques, he had Amaris reading words and sentences at 2 years old. A home video shows her reading word cards and sentences placed in front of her shortly after she turned 3.

"They just love to learn," he said. "The one-on-one attention, they love it. I used a series of techniques to get her to master her reading. A lot of it is lap reading.

"She would sit there and let me read to her. Reading to her at least 15 minutes a day.

"She understands what she reads. If she couldn't visualize an apple, it wouldn't make sense to teach her the word apple."

Mr. Van De Walle is in the process of producing a program and curriculum for teaching babies to read called Believe It Baby Literacy Program. He is currently contacting school districts to discuss implementing it in area school districts.

What he did simply to help his own children may now turn into something that helps others.

He published a booklet of inspirational quotations earlier this year, called, "Seeds of Greatness," and spoke at graduation ceremonies at Sandburg College in Galesburg and at an Award to Excellence program at Black Hawk College.

On the back of his book of inspirational quotes, Mr. Van De Walle said his life began to slip away in 1994, and he "begged for one more chance to discover true greatness."

In the classroom with third-graders reading their assigned books or at home with his little girls, he believes his chance to give back is through literacy.

"Our true greatness lies within the seeds we have planted in others," he said. "The fruits of those seeds are the impact they have on your life and the lives of those around you."

Teach your baby to read

Believe It Baby is a program third-grade teacher Steve Van De Walle has developed to teach babies how to read.

Some suggestions he has for parents include:

— Parents should read to their babies as soon as possible. It builds a bond between parent and child.

— Get familiar with word patterns and rhyming words.

— Develop letter recognition. That's what all parents can start with.

— Expose children to a wide range of visual images and pictures. Children have a thirst for knowledge.


Students learn from each other in reading program

A program is not only benefiting young students within the Brush School District, but several high school students as well.

"Its fun to read to the children so you feel like you teach them something," stated Jose Canamar, with Lucy Torrez adding, "Reading to children is fun because it helps you to become a role model for them. As they see you doing well, they will do well."

Now in its sixth year, freshmen and sophomore students in Laura Krob's Academic Literacy Class have been spending time reading to and with students at Thomson Primary School. "It is fun and you can learn something from them," Matthew Jarrell said of the program.

Currently, 55 students from Brush High School, including those enrolled in English as a Second Language classes, walk to the primary school once a week to share reading experiences with those in Head Start, kindergarten and second grade.

Although students are in the process of winding up the school year, the program began mid-way of the school year, Krob stated. "They start reading with partners in the second quarter after having been taught the reading process," the teacher of approximately 20 years explained.

Providing assistance with the program are several teachers, she added, including literacy coach Amy Ely, along with school officials and principals who match their younger students with high school participants.

According to Krob, the reading teams are paired for the entire length of the program, with some high schools students having two younger readers due to numbers.

While Amanda Alfaro has learned responsibility from participating in the program, Mario Diaz commented, "It makes you feel good because you're showing another kid to read."

Additionally, Edwin Barrandey feels, "Reading to children improves their reading and a child read to at a small age is more likely to do better when he or she is older."

For Juan Piceno, the program "makes me a better reader and I learn more words from the kid books," with Adrian Rocha noting, "It gives me a boost of confidence when they pay attention and get into the books."

Bianca Nava has found that "Reading to children is fun. You learn new things about things you thought you already knew. You meet new kids," while RaeAnna Krehymeyer has found, "You can learn while you're teaching someone else."

If there is one thing the older students have found through the program, it is, "You have to be very patient and you have to get the kids interested in the story before you read it," Rhiannon Steib explained.

Added Nattalie Weaver, "At points it can be difficult to get them to pay attention and listen, but at the end it's very rewarding."

And although Jovanny Valles feels, "It's alright, but sometimes it gets hard," Stephanie Garcia has found that, "I like to read to kids at Thomson. They are really good listeners."


Monday, May 15, 2006

Make time to read with each child 20 minutes a day

Six years ago I decided to make a career change promoting something I love: reading. As director of the South Sound Reading Foundation, a local early literacy nonprofit, I soon discovered I had the best job in the world giving away free books, reading books to kids, dressing up like a yellow bear and encouraging caregivers to read with a child every day.

I wrapped my arms and life around this message, making sure my own daughters had full bookshelves and nightly bedtime stories from my own favorites like “Little House on the Prairie” or “Ramona the Pest.” They learned that trips to work with Mommy meant new books to look through. It was fun!

But then life got busier. Child #1, now a passionate reader, entered school and started reading on her own — at breakfast, in the car, after school and before bed. It was a tad obsessive, but what could I say? Obviously our “20 minutes a day” with her had paid off.

Unfortunately, the second child never seems to get as much attention as the first. This motherly guilt made me examine the mission of my organization: Was “20 minutes a day” too much? I began getting creative and reading to her in the bathtub at night, or before cooking dinner. But it was tough. It was so much easier to turn on “Arthur” or “Clifford.” And after all, weren’t these books too?

I am lucky enough to have a supportive spouse who also understands the bonding, academic and brain development benefits of reading to a child from birth. But recently he took a much-needed hiking vacation, leaving me to lead the single-parent life for a week.

It was a whole new, exhausting world. Life would often begin at 6 a.m., and we’d come stumbling home from school, grocery shopping and a softball game at 8:30 p.m. I had a whole new appreciation for the military families whose spouses were stationed abroad, the divorced parents whose three nights a week felt like eight, and the grandparents who were parents all over again due to unexpected life circumstances. How did they get through work, feeding, driving and laundry and still find time to read?

Our national organization recently looked at ways to “Take 20” — but not all at once. Remember that 20 minutes a day can be broken down in several smaller increments, like 5+5+10 = 20. The average child watches three hours of television a day, so surely one-ninth of this was doable? What parents don’t realize is that you do not have to teach your three-year-old to read. That will come, hopefully, with daily reading at home, quality child care and school.

What you can do is have them arrange magnetic letters on the refrigerator or look through cookbooks while you are cooking dinner. Or sing the baby a nursery rhyme and give her a board book to gum and play with while you change her diaper. Or have older siblings read to younger siblings. When you’re traveling, try to read road signs together, and always take books in the car in case you have a few minutes between appointments or school activities. The key is do your best and try to make reading a fun, daily family habit. And if you were not raised as a reader or do not speak English, then make up a story while looking at a picture book, magazine or photo album. Or ask questions of your child while reading — it can turn a 12-page picture book into a special 20-minute experience in no time.

Is all of this extra effort really worth it? Undeniably yes. The National Commission on Reading showed that the “single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success is reading aloud to children.” Just think, if every parent or provider read with their child 20 minutes a day starting at birth, they would have more than 600 hours of reading under their little belts before starting school. Compare this with the five hours of piano practice a week or 10 hours of playing catch and hitting for baseball. “Take 20” doesn’t seem so hard in the big picture.

So just like you “Buckle up for Safety” or “Put your Baby Back to Sleep,” please “Take 20” to help your child read and succeed when they grow up. It’s a third of an hour out of 24 well spent.

Courtney Schrieve is the executive director of the South Sound Reading Foundation. She can be reached at read2me@nthurston.k12.wa.us. The Web site is www.readingfoundation.org.

Reading's a hot topic among young readers, who have tons of choice in Canada

VANCOUVER (CP) - The Grade 8 students have faraway looks in their eyes. Some are resting their heads on desks that are joined in a circle as a teacher reads from a book about a young boy's harrowing tale of survival.

Makara Auhm's imagination seems to be in full gear as he listens to the story of 12-year-old Santiago, who must flee his Guatemalan village after his family has been executed.

"I was feeling sad," Makara said later. "I wanted to cry."

Makara's classmate, Tarandeep Bhatti, was also engrossed in the story told in Ben Mikaelson's book Red Midnight, which is based on real events during Guatemala's military dictatorship in 1981.

Tarandeep said she enjoys reading and especially being read to because "you can imagine it better."

Teacher Pam Hansen is a lifelong book lover and gets a real kick out of hearing her students talk about their favourite novels.

Standing beside a box full of books, Hansen said she's always telling teens what a pleasure it is to read and how reading improves writing and takes people to worlds they couldn't otherwise experience.

Brenda Halliday, a librarian at the Canadian Children's Book Centre, said books for young people are hotter than ever these days.

"The Canadian children's book scene has blossomed," Halliday said from the Toronto-based not-for-profit organization that has been promoting reading for 30 years.

"When the book centre started, there were fewer than 50 books being published in Canada for children and teens every year, and now we get 500 books submitted," she said.

"There were only about 10 authors that were writing for children in the 1970s and now ... there are well over 100, and that's people with a whole, big body of work."

They include award-winning scribes like Ann-Marie MacDonald, who this year participated in the Walrus Bookshelf.

The national program runs until May 18 and is funded by the Walrus Foundation, publishers of The Walrus Magazine.

It's a tour by 21 Canadian authors from Victoria to St. John's and includes a night of readings for teachers who each get a gift of 20 books, to be given away to graduating students.

As for Canadian writers, they're among the best in the world, Halliday said.

"There are internationally renowned authors here in Canada. The quality is so well regarded."

There's also a lot of crossover between books for adults and young readers, for whom book covers are being repackaged, Halliday said.

For example, author Miriam Toews's book A Complicated Kindness won the 2004 Governor General's Literary Award and also fetched the young adult Canadian book award last year.

Currently, fantasy and graphic novels - a longer form of comic book involving a team of artists - are making a big splash among young adults.

"The art work is phenomenal," Halliday said. "It's a huge trend in teen fiction right now."

Then there are the so-called teen high-low books for those with a lower vocabulary level.

"They are carefully plotted, they've got good characters but they are written at a vocabulary level that is better designed for the reluctant reader," Halliday said.

"We know that there are teens who are not reading at their grade level but they want to read books that are not as long but are well written and address their concerns.

"To read a book that is less difficult you don't necessarily want to read a book that talks down to you or is childish."

The slim books with attractive covers have a similar look and provide a sense that they're part of a series, Halliday said.

"They've got some of Canada's best writers writing for them. People who've written longer books for teens are also writing for the market of the teen high-low." Another recent change that's made a big difference for high school readers is the growing field of librarians specializing in young adult books, split off from those handling children's books, Halliday said.

And most provinces now have book awards voted on by teens.

This year, the book centre's annual book week will be held between Nov. 18 and 25 and will feature 29 authors and illustrators who will tour the country to read to young adults.

"It's just like bringing in a rock star," recalled Halliday from her days as a school librarian.

"The kids are just talking about their books and the authors for weeks afterwards. It really does encourage reading, if you have the real-life author."


New chapter in childhood

FANTASY rules supreme with young readers with Harry Potter, Narnia, Eragon and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory being voted tops by 23,000 Australian children aged five to 17.

The Angus & Robertson Top 50 book poll will be released this morning.

It reveals many of the most popular books have recently been made into films, begging the question of whether their popularity spurred the film or a film version fuelled book sales.

Most of the top authors are foreign, with the highest-ranked Australian author, Emily Rodda, coming in at No. 7.

Rodda's Deltora Quest has not been filmed, but is being made into an anime television series in Japan.

Eragon, a magic fantasy about a boy and a dragon by 22-year-old American author Christopher Paolini, is set for a film release later this year.

Classics such as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and the more adult Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen made the list, along with one Enid Blyton favourite, The Magic Faraway Tree.

The month-long poll was conducted in bookshops and online.

The survey was conducted online and in stores, with young readers from five to seventeen were given a month to vote for their all-time favourite books.

In the voting, girls only slightly pipped boys in the number of nominations for favourite books, and the highest number of votes came from children aged 10 and 11.

Rodda – who became a full-time children's writer after completing an honours MA in English literature from Sydney University, editing The Australian Women's Weekly and working in publishing – said she was honoured to be the top Australian writer on the list.

Rodda, 58, the mother of four adult children, including twins, has sold more than seven million copies of her Deltora Quest series alone.

The series, a fantasy incorporating ancient folklore and the purported powers of gemstones, has been translated into more than 20 languages, with the biggest sales achieved in Japan, the US, Italy and Australia.

Ms Rodda said the phenomenal popularity of the Harry Potter books, and the movie versions of classics like Narnia had been strong positives for children's reading.

"I think there is a crop of good books around at present which are encouraging children to read," Rodda said.

"A decade or so ago, I think there was a danger that some children were seeing reading as boring or a bit wussy – especially boys and that some children thought television and videos were the only source of good stories.

"But now children are taking up the reading habit in their thousands and enjoying lots and lots of good books."

Rodda, who was rarely without a book in her hand herself as a child, especially remembers the Anne of Green Gables and Wind in the Willows stories with affection.

Angus & Robertson general manager Dave Fenlon said the list suggested that Australian children might be "switching off the TV and video games" in order to read a diverse range of complex books.

"This overwhelming response can only be a sign of the true passion for reading by our kids," Mr Fenlon said.

"Sitting down and reading a good book is obviously still shaping childhoods.

"Not only do we find a significant number of Australian authors amongst the top 50, but it is extraordinarily positive to find that movies are actually feeding kids' desire to read."

1. Harry Potter Series, JK Rowling
2. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
4. The Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis
5. Eragon, Christopher Paolini
6. A Series Of Unfortunate Events: Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket
7. Forests Of Silence Bk 1 Deltora Quest Series 1, Emily Rodda
8. The BFG, Roald Dahl
9. Tomorrow, When The War Began, John Marsden
10. Matilda, Roald Dahl
11. The Cat In The Hat, Dr Seuss
12. Just Crazy, Andy Griffiths
13. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, JRR Tolkien
14. The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey
15. Just Disgusting, Andy Griffiths
16. The Day My Bum Went Psycho, Andy Griffiths
17. Just Stupid, Andy Griffiths
18. The Twits, Roald Dahl
19. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfe
20. Eldest, Christopher Paolini
21. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
22. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
23. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Ann Brashares
24. Specky Magee, Garry Lyon and Felice Arena
25. The Witches, Roald Dahl
26. Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah
27. Green Eggs and Ham, Dr Seuss
28. Ruby The Red Fairy: Rainbow Magic, Daisy Meadows
29. Rowan of Rin, Emily Rodda
30. Go Girl! Sister Spirit, Thalia Kalkipsakis
31. Dragonkeeper, Carole Wilkinson
32. Just Annoying, Andy Griffiths
33. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
34. The Bad Book, Andy Griffiths
35. Holes, Louis Sachar
36. Looking For Alibrandi, Melina Marchetta
37. Possum Magic, Mem Fox
38. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
39. Just Tricking, Andy Griffiths
40. Pride and Predjudice, Jane Austen
41. Hover Car Racer, Matthew Reilly
42. The Power of One: Young Readers Edition, Bryce Courtenay
43. Boy Overboard, Morris Gleitzman
44. Tashi, Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg
45. To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
46. The Ruins of Gorlan: Rangers Apprentice Book 1, John Flanagan
47. Are We There Yet?, Alison Lester
48. Utterly Me, Clarice Bean, Lauren Child
49. Hating Alison Ashley, Robin Klein
50. Truck Dogs, Graeme Base


Saturday, May 13, 2006

KCLS Launches Summer Reading Program June 15

The King County Library System

(KCLS) Summer Reading Program, Paws, Claws, Scales and Tales, offers
hundreds of programs and activities about animals real and imaginary, from
pets, domestic and wild animals, to fanciful creatures in myth and legend.
Kids of all ages will find something to trigger their curiosity and bring
them back to the library for new books and other learning-based activities.

For individual library activity schedules or details about the KCLS
summer program, log on to http://www.kcls.org and follow the links to
Summer Reading.

The Bigger Picture: We hope you'll help by telling your readers,
listeners and viewers about the free programs and activities. Here's why
this story is important:

Summer library programs are more important than they may seem, because
the benefits of participation last a lifetime. Research has proven the
benefits of keeping kids actively engaged in reading throughout the summer.

Children who don't read during the summer months can lose up to a grade
level of reading ability. Children who do read in the summer maintain and
improve their reading skills and develop a lifelong habit of learning.

Through free, fun activities in their neighborhood libraries, kids also
invest a significant amount of time with books for the pure joy of it. The
resulting enriched reading experience teaches children to enjoy finding
books, reading and then talking and writing about them.

Children who read more become better writers. Improved comprehension,
writing style, vocabulary, spelling and grammatical skill are major
long-term benefits for kids who spend their summers reading. Today's
outstanding high school writers credit extensive summer reading as a major
factor developing their writing skills.

Even very young children benefit from library pre-reading activities
that help them develop learning skills. KCLS offers special tools to help
parents learn to read to their babies, toddlers and preschoolers, teaching
their youngsters the skills they'll need to be ready to read when they go
to school.

Families who regularly visit the library have quality time together,
and build a family tradition of reading. There's also a broader benefit to
the community from library summer reading programs. Seeing others enjoy
libraries, books and reading emphasizes the idea that we're a community
that values learning at every age.

To arrange library visits, interviews with patrons and library staff,
or learn more about the King County Library System's summer programs, call
KCLS Community Relations for assistance:

Marsha Iverson 425-369-3277

More story options

Double the fun: The King County Library System and the Burke Museum are
working together to promote summer learning activities for kids and
families. The Burke Museum's special summer exhibit features stunning
images of wild animals in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award
Winners. Kids can explore their interest in animals, wild and domestic, by
visiting the museum and then going to the library to learn more about the
animals in their favorite photos.

SOURCE King County Library System Community Relations
Web Site: http://www.kcls.org/

Friday, May 12, 2006

Moon man

While on a family vacation in the Appalachian Mountains when he was 6 years old, Buzz Aldrin began collecting rocks. He was fascinated by their smooth surfaces and delicate shades of natural color.

This youthful curiosity about nature was just the beginning of a lifetime of discoveries and adventures for the young New Jersey boy. But his greatest adventure of all would have to wait for another 33 years.

BUZZ ALDRIN: The retired astronaut plans a 40th anniversary book about his journey to the moon. BUZZALDRIN.COM

In July 1969, Buzz - now Colonel Aldrin - would find himself gathering rocks once more. This time, they were rocks that he and fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong collected from the surface of the moon and carried some 240,000 miles on their four-day return journey to Earth for scientists to study.

Of course, that first mission to the moon in the Apollo 11 spacecraft was far more than just a rock-collecting field trip. Some half-billion people back on Earth watched the historic event on their black-and-white television sets as Aldrin and Armstrong pressed the first human footprints into the dusty lunar surface. It was a rare, uplifting moment for all of humanity to share.

It's that spirit of adventure and achievement that is captured in the pages of Buzz Aldrin's book for kids, "Reaching for the Moon" (HarperCollins).

Aldrin has written other books, including novels and works about his life as a pilot, scientist, and astronaut. But this is his first children's book.

"I wanted to take this historic moon landing and describe it in terms of an ordinary person doing something extraordinary so that kids might realize they can each have their own moons to reach for," says Aldrin.

He also says he is concerned that today's high-tech-savvy kids seem far more interested in conquering the computer-generated aliens of "virtual space" than exploring the mysteries of real space.

"It's my hope that this book will also reignite excitement [about] the space program," he says.

"Reaching for the Moon" is illustrated by artist Wendell Minor, who has illustrated more than 30 children's books. "I always wanted to do a book about space," says Mr. Minor, who works from his studio in Connecticut. "I grew up with the early space program and was mesmerized by the astronauts and their accomplishments. Kids [today] know so little about the history of space exploration and its true heroes."

So why did Minor want to help tell Buzz Aldrin's story in particular? "Buzz always seemed like the most interesting of all the astronauts," says Minor.

"I loved his dedication to space exploration and that he overcame many challenges throughout his life," he adds. "He went to the US Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., flew 66 combat missions during the Korean War, and then returned to college to get into the space program.

THEN AND NOW: In an illustration from his Apollo 11 account, Buzz Aldrin is shown with the lunar rocket in 1969.

"We're living in an age where young people are infatuated with Hollywood celebrities," Minor notes. "But I wanted to paint the story of a historical figure who was worthy of attention, and Buzz certainly is that."

Aldrin is planning to produce a second kids' book for 2009, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. "It will be a complete summary of rockets and space travel from the past to the future, aimed at young teenagers," he explains.

But for the moment, he is content to leave his young readers with some homespun wisdom: "If you set your sights high, you may accomplish more than you ever dreamed possible - just as I did."

Buzz Aldrin reached out and touched the moon. Through the plain words and colorful illustrations of his book, he hopes to reach out and touch us, too.

The buzz about Buzz Aldrin

• His mother's maiden name was Moon.

• At the age of 2, he flew in his father's plane, which was painted to look like a giant eagle. As an adult, he landed on the moon in the lunar module that was named "Eagle."

• As a child, his younger sister couldn't pronounce the word "brother." Instead, she called him "Buzzer." That was shortened to Buzz, and that's what he's been called ever since. In 1988, he legally changed his first name to Buzz.

• He flew on Gemini 12 in 1966 with Jim Lovell and made three space walks.

• A small crater on the moon near the Apollo 11 landing site is named in his honor.

• He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

• In 1998, he traveled on a Russian ice-breaker ship to the North Pole.

• He initiated the idea of astronauts training under water to simulate the weightlessness of space.

• He was featured in an episode of "The Simpsons" TV show called "Deep Space Homer" and provided the voice for his character.

Don't worry, be happy

Well-adjusted students learn more effectively, reports Margaret Cook.

WHAT'S the secret to doing well at school? A key, but often overlooked, factor is a high level of emotional intelligence, according to new research.

Maree Ryan compared the IQs, emotional intelligence and ENTER scores of 375 year 12 students from four schools as part of her PhD. The students were a mix of gifted (IQs of 121-plus) and mainstream (IQs of 70 to 120).

In both groups, many students with high emotional intelligence gained higher ENTERs - sometimes up to 30 points more - than those with the same IQ but lower emotional intelligence, says Ms Ryan. Some mainstream students with high emotional intelligence did better than gifted students with low emotional intelligence. For example, 32 mainstream students got ENTER scores in the 90s.

"Those students with high EI were very good at controlling and managing their emotions," says Ms Ryan, the head of the vision unit at Kardinia International College in Geelong. "For example, they were able to tell their teachers and parents when they felt overworked and needed help."

The findings raise several issues, she says. One is that some bright students are underachieving because of low EI. Another is that teachers and parents should not set "ceilings" on what students can achieve based on how bright they perceive them to be - for example, saying: "He'll only get an ENTER in the 70s".

Ms Ryan presented her findings at a recent conference conducted by Swinburne University's Brain Sciences Institute. "Emotional intelligence skills - how we understand, organise and manage our emotions - underpin our ability to relate to other people," says institute director Con Stough. People with low EI may overreact to annoyances, feel unnecessarily anxious and have difficulty "reading" other people. It is also related to high levels of occupational stress.

Over the past decade, many companies have introduced training to develop their EI levels in staff, says Professor Stough, but little work has been done in schools. However, research in Australia and overseas has found that students with high EI do better academically, form relationships more easily, are less disruptive and less likely to drop out of university in the first two years, he says. They are also happier, which helps them to learn more effectively. "Often children with low EI don't understand how their behaviour affects other people," explains Professor Stough. "Teachers may label them as difficult or unco-operative, and there is a risk they will not achieve their full potential." The problems are exacerbated when their teachers and/or parents also have low EI.

Ms Ryan and Professor Stough would like all schools - supported by the Education Department - to run programs to develop the EI of students, teachers and principals to cope better with depression, bullying and low self-esteem.

This involves much more than teaching social skills such as sharing, people management and teamwork, she says. "It's about having an emotional understanding of yourself and other people, including how to manage problems and group encounters. It's also different to personality and IQ, but it is influenced by a person's environment, intellect, culture and gender."

Generally women have a higher EI then men, says Ms Ryan, and EI in adolescents is influenced by their stage of development. Her research also found that girls had a better understanding of their own, and other people's, emotions. However, boys were better at balancing their thinking and feelings and better at managing both their own and other people's emotions.

The Brain Sciences Institute is researching the use of EI in teaching and curriculum planning at Balwyn and Sunbury high schools. It has also started a study of students at Presentation College in Windsor.

Balwyn principal Bruce Armstrong says some of his teachers took part in EI workshops conducted by Swinburne. They later reported "different perceptions of the workplace, lower levels of occupational stress and feeling more engaged and positive". The school hopes to introduce an EI unit into year 7 in 2007.

Students with high emotional intelligence will be able to:

· Perceive and express their own emotions - talk easily about their feelings.

· Perceive and understand other people's emotions.

· Balance emotion with reason.

· Manage and control their emotions, and manage other people's emotions - overcome conflict with peers by influencing their moods, remain focused on what they are doing when stressed, and overcome anger by thinking through what has caused it.

Source: Genos Emotional Intelligence, University of Melbourne, modified by Maree Ryan.

How the Web changes your reading habits

By Gregory M. Lamb | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

PALO ALTO, CALIF. – When Ed Chi wants to read, he turns to two of the six computer screens that surround his desk. One is devoted exclusively to e-mail; the other, to the rest of his reading material.
The senior researcher is testing a theory: What if your "virtual desk" was as just big as your real desk? How would that change your behavior? Dr. Chi, of the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California, has found out one thing already. Almost all his reading - text messages, e-mails, journal articles, even books - is done on-screen.

Computers and the Internet are changing the way people read. Thus far, search engines and hyperlinks, those underlined words or phrases that when clicked take you to a new Web page, have turned the online literary voyage into a kind of U-pick island-hop. Far more is in store.

Take "Hamlet." A decade ago, a student of the Shakespeare play would read the play, probably all the way through, and then search out separate commentaries and analyses.

Enter hamletworks.org.

When completed, the site will help visitors comb through several editions of the play, along with 300 years of commentaries by a slew of scholars. Readers can click to commentaries linked to each line of text in the nearly 3,500-line play. The idea is that some day, anyone wanting to study "Hamlet" will find nearly all the known scholarship brought together in a cohesive way that printed books cannot.

Even that effort only scratches the surface of what's possible, some researchers say. Since people are still largely reading the way they always have, they ask, why not use technology to make reading itself more efficient?

The reading experience online "should be better than on paper," Chi says. He's part of a group at PARC developing what it calls ScentHighlights, which uses artificial intelligence to go beyond highlighting your search words in a text. It also highlights whole sections of text it determines you should pay special attention to, as well as other words or phrases that it predicts you'll be interested in. "Techniques like ScentHighlights are offering the kind of reading that's above and beyond what paper can offer," Chi says.

While readers might not feel a need to use ScentHighlights with the next Harry Potter novel, the software could help students, academics, and business people quickly extract specific information from other written material.

ScentHighlights gets its name from a theory that proposes that people forage for information much in the same way that animals forage in the wild. "Certain plants emit a scent in order to attract birds and bees to come to them," Chi says. ScentHighlights uncovers the "scent" that bits of information give off and attract readers to it.

If the reader types in "Wimbledon tennis," for example, ScentHighlights would highlight each word in its own color in the text, as search programs do. But ScentHighlights adds additional keywords in gray that the system has inferred that the reader would be interested in (perhaps "US Open" or "Andy Roddick"). It would also highlight in yellow entire sentences that it deems likely to be especially relevant.

To do this, ScentHighlights combines two approaches, noticing how often words are near each other in text and using a technique called "spreading activation." Chi says: "It basically mimics how humans retrieve information." ScentHighlights actually knows nothing about tennis, he says. "It's a purely statistically based technique."

Not far away, in a tiny office in a red-tile-roofed building on the edge of the Stanford University campus, another research group is taking a different approach in hopes of making reading on mobile phones faster and easier.

Analysts expect mobile phones to evolve into a multipurpose "third screen," along with televisions and computers displaying both pictures and text. But the small screen size has made reading cumbersome, as users scroll through tiny screen after screen.

To solve that, BuddyBuzz, a project of a small group within the Stanford Persuasive Technology Laboratory, flashes text to the viewer a word at a time.

BuddyBuzz is based on a reading technique called RSVP (Rapid Serial Visual Presentation) that's been around since the 1970s, says Matt Markovich, editor in chief of BuddyBuzz (www.BuddyBuzz.org). Using it, people can learn to read with good comprehension up to 1,000 words per minute, Mr. Markovich says.

"Initially, it seems kind of awkward, but people warm up to it rather quickly," he says. "It does tend to take all of your attention. But I've found my reading speed has increased dramatically."

Users who sign up can download news from Reuters and CNET, a technology news website, and postings from several popular Internet bloggers. More content is on the way, Markovich says. Users can also feed their own texts into the website and have them sent to their mobile phone, or offer their content to other BuddyBuzz users.

His team, which includes two volunteer programmers and a handful of Stanford undergrads, continues to add more features. Users can set BuddyBuzz to present the text at whatever speed is comfortable for them. The system knows to pause at commas or the end of sentences, just as most readers do. If readers miss something, they can skip back to the beginning of the sentence.

Eventually, the group would like to refine the program so that it can recognize when readers are having trouble with a text and automatically slow down, perhaps when they hit a less-familiar word like "Uzbekistan."

The system does have shortcomings, says B.J. Fogg, the head of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, who had known about RSVP and encouraged the group to apply it to mobile phones. It doesn't work well with numbers, such as sports scores and stock quotes, though it's great for news, or other general reading, he says. "BuddyBuzz is a new type of reading," he adds. "It doesn't destroy any of the previous forms of reading."

Neither ScentHighlights nor BuddyBuzz is commercially available, though a free test version of the latter is available at the BuddyBuzz website.

Learn English online

Turn to the Net to sharpen your English skills. Here's a sample of sites that could help.

THERE'S something about the English language that makes everyone want to learn it - and get better at it.

For those too busy to enrol for classroom sessions, the Internet offers a way out with helpful sites aplenty.

Crack that TOEFL and language sections on those pesky GMAT tests. Get friendlier with your mouse and explore together the wonderful world of English resources mostly available for free, and all waiting to be used.

Of course, leading the pack is the one straight from the Queen's land.

The Web page by the British Council, at http://www.learnenglish.org.uk/welcome_english.html has teenager and adult level tests similar to those of Cambridge ESL Examinations so that learners can check what level they are ready for. Trust the Brits to know how to have fun while learning. As the site clearly says, "If you think phrasal verbs are boring, then go to the Drinks machine on the teenager or adult grammar link and have a good time!"

The Drinks Machine (http://www.learnenglish.org.uk/teen_frame.html) has various links to songs, lyrics by happening bands such as Ashanti, teen favourites Band Aid 20 and Destiny's Child. Hot favourites such as Elvis Presley are also listed. Give yourself a reward when a level has been completed. Learners can listen to music while working. Visit the home page at http://www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish-central-about-us.htm for more information.The Learn english site (http://www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish.htm) also has stuff exclusively devoted to children. Each month a certain topic is taken up for discussion. Don't miss this month — it's on clothes. Improve your fashion vocabulary while "dressing Teddy in the right clothes, and painting a picture of a skater wearing nice, warm clothes."

English Learner.Com at http://www.englishlearner.com/index.html is full of free tests and assessments that can be e-mailed to users free. As the site expressly states, Learners of English will find all types of interactive tests and exercises here, grammar, vocabulary, reading, crosswords and more." EnglishLearner.com also offers English lessons by e-mail at three levels every week. The Beginner Vocabulary 1 is available at http://www.englishlearner.com/online/vocbeg1.html The Jumbled Words Exercise is a good one where the letters in the words are mixed and have to be put in the correct order to make English words. Learners have to get the word and click on `Check'. If you can't find the answer, click on `Cheat'. Simple pages, they load easily and are distraction-free. They work only with Explorer 4,Netscape 3 or higher. Besides material for students, there are various Teachers' Resources available at http://www.englishlearner.com/teachers/index.html to make classroom learning easier.

Computer Assisted Sentence Production is all about help required specifically for writing. As the site claims, this is the best help possible for very important stuff such as `Self Introduction, Food and Drink, Writing a Letter, Favourites and so on. Just write the most important details and the computer will do the rest." The self intro-writing page at http://www.manythings.org/caw/intro.html asks for a few basic details such as name, interest and daily activities and can churn out many versions in different formats. While most will require more work, this can be a good beginning.

For the visually impaired, there are the audio-centred games at http://www.manythings.org/ac/ This requires a flash player plug in, version 6 or newer.

English page.com at http://www.englishpage.com/ is a one-stop site just for vocabulary exercises. Deceptively simple, the tests are tougher than you think. A group of journalists took the vocabulary in conversation and the highest score was about 20 per cent with the computer telling them to try harder! So what are you waiting for? Log on, learn, and have fun too.


Crossover curriculum

Geoffrey Fisher, Principal of Kodaikanal International School, spells out the issues in educating GenNext.

He is at his eloquent best articulating the main challenges that educationists like him face today. "To maintain a relationship, never to break a relationship, and always be prepared to repair it if it happens. To accept that people make mistakes and to learn from them, rather than to punish them for their mistakes. To ensure that we challenge children all the time because the greater our expectations of them, the better they'll achieve. Kids stop achieving when we don't expect them to."

But then Geoffrey Fisher, the Principal of Kodaikanal International School (KIS) has three decades of experience in six different education systems across continents... and has taught in the UK, Australia, Egypt and Argentina before coming here.

Around 1990 he found the British system of education "a little restrictive and that continues till today." Finding the policy of public assessment of students at age 7, 11, 15, 17 and 19 a bit too much and "taking the fun out of education as it makes an average British child spend a year of his school life — 40 weeks — being publicly assessed", he applied for a job in Switzerland, but ended up with one in Egypt, where he spent two years. Here and subsequently in Argentina, after teaching in bilingual schools the Briton found "the world is not Anglo Saxon but multilingual." In the Argentina school where he taught, the students acquired "wonderful bilingual skills in both Spanish and English; they were expected to write creatively in the same standards in both the languages. My son, a product of this system, can do a criticism of a Spanish book in English... and writes poetry in Spanish."

On his experience in Egypt and Argentina, Fisher says the culture of education in these countries is very different compared to UK or Australia. "In the latter the emphasis is not only on knowledge but the use of knowledge for problem solving, creativity. In Argentina we were offering international curricula but the cultural setting was very different with much more respect for teachers." India, he thinks, is more similar to Argentina than UK/Australia; "if a teacher tells you something, even if you know it's wrong, you accept it."

After another teaching stint in Australia, his wife, who had visited India on a one-year Rotary exchange programme, persuaded him to look for a job here. After a year at KIS he finds the experience "fascinating". The KIS has 500 students, half of them foreigners. On its appeal to foreigners Fisher says, "Apart from quality education we offer music, extra curricular activities, environmental education; we are significantly cheaper (the annual fee is Rs 4 lakh) and I'd say significantly better too, compared to Australia."


On the pressure that the Indian education system and parents put on children today, Fisher says, "Well, parents all over the world do that and some of our Indian parents impress me when they say: `Yes, we want our son to be a doctor/engineer, but if he chooses to be a teacher or something else, so be it.' I think the world is moving away from the categorisation into engineers, doctors, etc. Today there are roles where you can be an engineer and work in communications or be a media person and work in management; there are different crossovers." His students are aware of this trend and "one of the great joys of our system is that we get people who have been in international situation and are globally aware and they leave us after doing an international curriculum, living with different nationalities and hence acutely aware of different cultures and sensitivities, very well prepared for a global world."

Does the KIS face problems with drugs and alcohol? "We have no problem with drugs, and as for alcohol, it is much less than anywhere else I've worked. Kodai is a very safe and secure place in a number of ways," says Fisher.

But then aren't today's kids in a tearing hurry to do all that adults do? "I think they want to do things... dangerous things... that adults have decided not to do."

Fisher has ambitious plans in sensitising his students to environmental issues. "Our generation has done a lot to destroy environmental stability and the children will have to repair it." Towards this end the school is creating a residential environmental research facility on a 94-acre campus in the wilderness on the TN-Kerala border. Encouraging leadership skills by supporting students organise camps and other activities and community work are the hallmark of KIS, he adds.

Teen years

On the difficulty of handling teen years Fisher says individuals differ; "we are in danger of treating them as immature, relating `immature' with `unintelligent' when actually they are only inexperienced. They have the same intellect, same reasoning capacity and face similar issues that we do. They have to deal with expectations of society and their own expectations. It's all very difficult."

He thinks that residential school students develop strong bonds with the school and each other, partly because they are members of a community and very interdependent on each other. It's a fallacy to think that such students do not have strong bonds with their parents/family; "the experience adds to your relationships. Our students continue to have the same strength of relationship with their parents; I don't say they have a perfect relationship, but a strong one, and end up with an additional set of relationships, networks and resources. They are more independent, can stand on their own feet and are reflective of a broader set of understandings."

On the proliferation of coaching classes ensuring that "trained intelligence" rather than "native intelligence" comes to premier institutions like the IITs and IIMs, Fisher says, "I'd use the term creative intelligence or problem solving or relationship intelligence. If you spend a lot of time in your reproductive intelligence — the ability to learn information and reproduce things — what you give up is time spent on learning how to generate new ideas, on how does this knowledge here relate to that knowledge there. Or how do I learn to solve a problem in math and apply that to one in geography." He agrees that our examination system hardly tests all this and thinks that "less information and more understanding of that information will be a move forward. To have a well trained mind is very important, but at KIS we don't just use text in exam, we set up a debate, oral presentations, group presentations, etc." Though different from the general Indian examination system, it is still "very rigorous and demanding but much broader and not as dependent on remembering and reproducing information," he adds.

India is "fantastic"

He loves all aspects of India beginning with the food, even though he finds it spicy. "I like the dignity of people; you see people covering the whole gamut of material wealth, but being dignified and able to live their lives with much more satisfaction than people in other parts of the world with much more material wealth. India is a land of contrasts and vastly rich environment and those who come here either love it or hate it; you can't be lukewarm about India. You think it either fantastic or awful; I think it is fantastic."

India is educating teachers, engineers, doctors and nurses for the rest of the world. The Indian approach to education and the importance to English language; "a culture that is thousands of years old but a national identity barely 60 years old; I find it very exciting to be a part of all this," says Fisher.

He doesn't think that the reading habit among the young is at danger thanks to the Internet. "The way of acquiring information and controlling it is of course driven as much by technology as by reading a book. That doesn't diminish the value of reading a book but means that the way my son thinks and writes are completely different to the way I do," he says. While his brain is trained to write down information when he wants to learn something, his son won't take notes, but will remember things through computer use. "The way his mind is organised is very different from the way our minds are organised. That doesn't make it better or worse, it makes it richer because he is also an avid reader." But for youngsters flooded with information through the Net, says Fisher, the challenge is "how to reject information, be critical of it, say it can't be real and look for some other information."


Finding alternatives to television for your kids

How important is TV to you and your family? After answering that question honestly, consider how many hours of television your family watches per week. Is the total number acceptable or unbearable? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, American children watch approximately four hours of television a day, and this does not include the time spent in front of the television playing video games and watching DVDs.

If this were true for the children in your household, it would mean on a typical weekday your child eats breakfast, attends school, watches television, eats dinner, and watches more television with about an hour left over for homework and spending quality time with family before getting ready for bed.

"How did this happen?" you might ask. How did television become such a significant portion of your child’s recreational diet? Well, the answer might have something to do with you.

Parents inadvertently teach their children that television is the primary option for amusement and recreation at an early age. To some parents, television acts as a box-shaped babysitter while they handle other tasks, such as cooking dinner or cleaning house. And although having a 2-year-old watch the best of Barney and Friends while you mop the kitchen floor might seem harmless, parents could be setting their children up for years of "vegging-out" in front of the tube.

Even quality programs that are educational can be damaging if your child constantly watches them. When children see television as the only source for entertainment, they become less ambitious thinkers, creators, and participants. When they choose television and video games over sports, reading, or imaginative play, they are setting themselves up for obesity and an anti-social lifestyle.

Kidshealth.org, a website developed by the Nemours Foundation, reports that too much of any television viewing is combative to a healthy physical and social lifestyle: "While watching TV, children are inactive and tend to snack. ... Too much educational TV has the same indirect effect on children’s health. Even if children are watching four hours of quality educational television, that still means they’re not exercising, reading, socializing, or spending time outside." Activities such as exercising, reading, and socializing allow your child to interact with his/her peers, promote physical fitness, and provide opportunities for academic growth. And these activities are all essential to helping your child have a healthy and happy childhood experience.

So how do we get these activities back into our children’s lives? How do we gradually turn off the television so that we can channel our children’s interests into more off-the-couch activities? Below you will find some alternatives to television that will, hopefully, motivate your child to carry these activities into their adult lives.

Supply props for the imagination

I had childhood friends who never got to watch TV. Interestingly, I always had the most fun while visiting them as opposed to my television-viewing friends. We would play "Ghost House" by turning off all the lights in their bedroom and throwing pillows around. We would play "Ring-Around-the-Rosy" on their front lawn until we spent ourselves silly. We would choreograph dance routines to their parents’ oldies-but-goodies. Every visit was a blast, and I would always feel disappointed leaving a house that was bursting at the seams with creativity. In preschool and kindergarten classrooms, teachers promote this type of imaginative play by supplying props and costumes, such as toy stoves, miniature dishes, police uniforms, and firefighter costumes. Try creating the same environment in your home, and just see what your child will do.

Board games instead of video games

Today, kids ignore popular, classic board games like Monopoly, Clue, and Life—opting for Final Fantasy and Ghost Recon instead. Although, these games allow more than one person to play, they don’t establish a more communicative environment than board games produce. Board games allow an entire family to sit and socialize, and although the main objective is winning the game, the central focus is on individual players as opposed to simulated people on a screen. If human interaction and socialization is the key, then board games provide a better way of facilitating this than video games. Board games also expose children to reading printed text off clue cards, game cards, etc., which provides children with a connection to how they mainly learn in school. So dust off Taboo this weekend instead of letting the kids fight over the controllers to PS2.

Exercise! Dance! Move!

Whether bike riding, roller-skating, or jogging, encourage your child to be active every day. During the winter months, let your child listen to his favorite CD as loud as he wants as long as he dances to the music. If your child is not a dance lover, let him pick and choose an active hobby until one best suits his needs. Then motivate him to do it each and every day so that he can be happier, healthier, and watch less TV.

Take an interest in the arts

If your child is still very much interested in the drama of reality shows and made-for-television dramas, take advantage of the theater performances held in the Chicago area. Smaller theaters have relatively cheap ticket prices, and some theaters permit guests to view open rehearsals for free. Check out the following site in order to connect with many Chicago theaters and identify their ticket prices: http://www.illyria.com/theatre.html. Theater productions provide great cultural experiences for children of all ages.

Some experts say it takes 21 days to break or create a habit. So, for the next three weeks, challenge your children to substitute the aforementioned activities instead of turning on the tube, and see how much fun they have without plugging something in.