Sunday, September 30, 2007

Make the Text Relevant to the Learner

I am appalled by the state of literacy in today's children. As a child, I loved books—but that was before MTV, ten-second sound bites, and video games. BOOKS were my entertainment as a child...they were my companions. I am reading the Pennsylvania Literacy Framework for a class this semester and it states that we, as educators, must tap into prior knowledge and make the text relevant to the learner's experience. This sounds like common sense, but many times this is not done.

Even though, I loved to read, I remember, as a middle-school student, being 'forced' to read Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. For the life of me, I could not understand why I had to read this book of poetry. It did not make sense to me—they were just words written by a dead man. The teacher failed to make it relevant to a 20th-century inner-city child. Every time the teacher bought the book out for lessons, my mind shut down and the barriers went up. In fact, every time I heard his name in my adult life, I felt an inward shudder.

Years later, as I was watching the amazing documentary New York by Ken Burns, I learned about Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and his life in a burgeoning city, I finally saw the relevance of the poetry of Walt Whitman. It took a filmmaker to make the words of Walt Whitman make sense. Many times when I see a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge, these words come to mine from Crossing the Brooklyn Ferry:

Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt;

Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd;

Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d;

Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood, yet was hurried;

Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the thick-stem’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

I finally get it. Ken Burns, you are a great teacher. :-)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Helping Teen Girls Tap a Future in Science and Technology

(ARA) - The growth of science and technology careers is that rarest of trends -- one we can see happening even as we live through it. By all accounts, demand for professionals with science, math, engineering and technology skills will continue to grow across a broad spectrum of industries.

Young women studying math, technology and science in high school and college have more opportunity than ever before to enter these high-pay, high-profile professions. Educators are fielding an array of initiatives to entice more high school girls towards math and science studies.

"There were few to no women in my classes through college and even high school," says Charna Parkey, who works as a digital signal processing engineer for Locus Location Systems in Melbourne, Fla. Parkey graduated from DeVry University in Orlando with degrees in computer and electronic engineering. "It definitely impacted my learning experience, as well as the preparation for working with men in the field. Sometimes it was tough just proving to newcomers that women are equals" in math, science and business, she adds.

While women account for nearly half the total work force in the United States, they hold less than a quarter of all the science jobs, according to the National Science Foundation. And while women continue to make about 70 cents for every dollar earned by their male colleagues with the same amount of education, the pay discrepancy shrinks or vanishes for women who study more math in college, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Continued stereotypes and the lack of female role models probably contribute to the lower number of females studying math and science careers in college, according to a study by the American Association of University Women.

"Providing young women with information and inspiration about science, math, technology and business careers benefits everyone," says Steve Brown, President of DeVry's Orlando campus. "Women can take advantage of opportunities for high-paying, high-profile careers and employers will benefit from an expanded work force of qualified professionals."

DeVry has created a program, dubbed "HerWorld," to help high school girls learn more about career opportunities in business, technology and science. The half-day interactive, multimedia workshop uses a variety of innovative vehicles to deliver information, including staging versions of popular TV programs through which participants learn about career opportunities. Activities include:

* Career Cribs, which portray the professional environment for women in business and technology.

* HerWorld Live, which highlights careers in high demand today and those likely to be in demand in the future.

* Mission Innovation, which uses team-based activities to teach participants creative-thinking skills.

* "For Real" World, which examines the college gender shift, women's issues and women's role in the global knowledge economy.

* Smart Girls, an exploration of women's contributions to today's society through pop culture trivia.

DeVry has produced HerWorld workshops in communities across the country, including New York, NY; Orlando and Miami, Fla.; Washington, D.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Phoenix, Ariz.

"Our goal for each HerWorld workshop is to break down stereotypes of what careers are or are not appropriate for women, and inform young women of the opportunities available to them in science- and math-related fields," says Adele Lisko, director of community relations at DeVry's Kansas City campus.

And for at least one DeVry graduate, being a woman in a male-dominated field has advantages beyond salary. "I believe being a woman will give me an edge," Parkey says. "This is because the attention to detail and people skills when interviewing and working will help the dynamics of each situation. Though sometimes it makes things more difficult, there are positives such as being able to make a point without being expected to yell!"

Contact your local DeVry University to find out about upcoming HerWorld events in your area. Log on to to find a location near you.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hi-Tech Checklist

High Tech Checklist for A-plus Students

(ARA) - Preparing for school is more than just buying pencils and notebooks with today’s tech-savvy students.

Here’s a back-to-school technology checklist for high-school and college-bound students to help make their school year more productive. From “must-have” staples to “nice-to-have” gadgets, students are taking some pretty pricey gear with them to school and they need to know how to use it as well as how to protect it.

Get It: Laptop Computer

The laptop computer now plays multiple roles in a student’s life – typewriter, library, stereo, television, telephone, etc. Dell, HP and Gateway all have laptops for under $1,000.

Protect It: Laptop tracking and recovery software, Computrace LoJack for Laptops

A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds in the United States. Computrace LoJack for Laptops from Absolute Software can help track down and locate lost or stolen machines, and with the help of local authorities, return it to you. Don’t forget the anti-virus, anti-spyware, encryption and firewall software as well as a good cable lock as a visual theft deterrent.

Get It: MP3 Player

Today’s MP3 players offer much more than just music. Some have recording functions that allow you to digitally record a lecture and play it back for studying. Didn’t have time to read the book? Get it in digital format and listen to it before your test. These nifty gadgets are also portable storage devices. They can hold and transfer files when you are not carrying your laptop.

Protect It: Cases, screen protectors and identification tags  

Most MP3 players need more protection from their owners than would-be thieves. A good soft or hard case and screen protector can keep your MP3 player safe from falls, spills and everyday use. A number of companies make ID tags for gadgets like these so good Samaritans can return items to their rightful owners. iPods can also be engraved with your personal information.

Get It: Portable Gaming System

These devices are compact and durable and offer plenty of playtime for kids – and kids at heart. The latest gaming systems offer much more than child’s play. Applications for the devices include music, video, photos, Internet and wireless connectivity.  

Protect It: Common sense and a locked cabinet

Portable gaming systems are a lot of fun, but losing one is no joke. Use common sense if using the device in public. (You wouldn’t play with three $100 bills on the subway, would you?) And, when back in the dorm room, keep it in an inconspicuous place when it’s not in use. It’s a good idea to have a locking cabinet to keep your gaming devices and other valuables locked up when you are out of the room.

Get It: Cell Phone, Camera Phone or Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

Today’s cell phones help students communicate and collaborate on all fronts: via phone, email, text message, IM and, in some cases, video. Although using the devices in the classroom may be controversial, parents and friends certainly appreciate being able to communicate with students at a moments’ notice. Plus, if you can store files or receive emails on your phone, you catch some extra study time no matter where you are.

Protect It: Passwords, contact information and insurance

Many cell phones and portable computing devices can be password-protected to keep nefarious users out of your address book. If you have sensitive data, personal information or pictures on your phone that you don’t want anyone else to get their hands on, using the devices built-in security can offer some protection. You might also want to label the phone, externally or through a locked screen saver, with your personal information so it can be returned to you. Finally, if you invested in a $500 iPhone or Blackberry, pay the few extra dollars for the service plan to replace it if lost or stolen.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Monday, May 28, 2007

Nature is Best Summertime Teacher

Nature is Best Summertime Teacher

(ARA) – Sharing time outdoors is a great way for families to discover the wonders of the natural world while learning to be good stewards of the earth.

Good ideas on how to experience those outdoor adventures together can be found in Ranger Rick, the National Wildlife Federation’s award-winning children’s magazine, which is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. Happy Birthday Rick!

Ranger Rick has captivated generations of young readers with amazing photos and articles about wildlife and wildlife habitat. “Ranger Rick helped me see wildlife as something fun and exciting and curious rather than scary or dangerous,” says James Gilardi, who read Ranger Rick as a child.

Another avid reader in his youth, Gregory Watkins-Colwell, from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, credits Ranger Rick with inspiring his chosen profession. “Ranger Rick first introduced me to the word “herpetologist” (study of reptiles and amphibians). I no longer said I was going to be an astronaut, firefighter or rock star when I grew up. No, I was going to be a herpetologist -- and that’s what I am today.”

Karen Good, an environmental educator believes “the stories of Rick and the gang made me realize that I was put on this earth to take care of it. I still have the Ranger Rick nature pledge in my office.”

Ranger Rick continues to entertain and inform young readers while inspiring them to protect wildlife. Anna Lueck, age 10, says “Ranger Rick got me interested in gorillas, and I plan to use my lemonade stand as a fundraiser to help great apes.”

While the magazine is for kids 8 to 12, it appears you never outgrow your curiosity about the wild. “My grandpa gave me a subscription 25 years ago. Now, when my daughter’s Ranger Rick is delivered, I read through it even before I give it to her,” admits Tiffany Vanderhider from Spring, Texas.

Ranger Rick is often used by teachers to stimulate interest in wildlife and wild places. In 2006 the magazine received the Teachers’ Choice Award for the Family by Learning magazine (leading magazine for elementary school teachers).

Expanding on what Ranger Rick has been encouraging for 40 years, the National Wildlife Federation is launching a new program as an antidote for kids with “nature deficit disorder.” The Green Hour is designed to get kids away from their electronic screens and go outside everyday to connect with nature.

These outdoor adventures can promote creativity, lower stress levels, build fitter leaner bodies, inspire a sense of wonder, and instill caring and responsibility for all things wild.  Green Hours can take place anywhere that provides green spaces where children can safely learn and play. Some Green Hour activities recommended by the National Wildlife Federation are:

* Go on a five senses hike

* Organize a nature scavenger hunt

* Explore a local nature trail

* Campout in the backyard

* Take a photo safari

* Put up a bird feeder and wait for visitors

* Observe a night sky

* Plant a family tree and watch it grow

Parents and caregivers can find more ideas for outdoor fun and exploration at

Courtesy of ARAcontent