Archive for August, 2013

Talk to your sons about Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke and “Blurred Lines” too

‘Blurred Lines’ is four weeks from being the most popular song ever.mgid uma content 1606262

However, critics including Tricia Romano of The Daily Beast argue that the song trivializes sexual consent. She charges that many female fans were uncomfortable with both the song and the video. Her article quoted feminists who interpreted the song’s message as being promotion of rape culture. The moniker “Blurred Lines” and portions of the lyrics like “I know you want it” encourage the idea “no doesn’t always mean no” and that some women who are raped are asking for it.

Criticism was also leveled at the song’s video, which has been labelled “eye-poppingly misogynist.”

Thicke, noting that all three male singers are married and have children, claimed that the Diane Martel–directed video was tongue-in-cheek.

All of this leads to a larger discussion.

“There have been a number of different parenting websites or blog posts who have come up with good ways to talk to your daughter about Miley, writes Eric Clapp, a pastor, on his blog. “And, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about parents talking to their daughters about sexuality,”

However, Clapp goes on to point out how there are barely any commentaries, articles, or blog posts that talk about:

… how Robin Thicke was on stage with a woman young enough to be his daughter while thrusting his pelvis and repeating the line “I know you want it” while T.I. non-chalantly raps about much more graphic stuff.

Both performers should be held accountable for what they did. As blogger Melissa Wardy points out:

It was rehearsed, there were many adults involved in making the decisions about what the audience would see. I think we can hold performers responsible for their art free of censorship, as the audience we have every right to comment on and  critique. This act went on stage with those responsible knowing plenty of young people would be seeing it. I’m rather certain they were banking on that.

Shelli Latham elaborated:

Girls’ sexuality is so much the focus of our ire. Women who have sex are dirty. Men who have sex are men. Girls who dress to be ogled are hoes. Men who ogle are just doing what comes naturally. This is the kind of reinforced behavior that makes it perfectly acceptable to legislate a woman’s access to birth control and reproductive health care without engaging in balanced conversations about covering Viagra and vasectomies. Our girls cannot win in this environment, not when they are tots in tiaras, not in their teens or when they are coming into adulthood.

There is a body of research that shows how viewing images of objectified women gives men “greater tolerance for sexual harassment and greater rape myth acceptance,” and helps them view women as “less competent” and “less human.”How do you talk to your tween/teen boys about older men using  younger girls like sex objects? What are the implications and implicit messages around male performers being surrounded by barely-dressed female backup dancers? How would your boys answer this question:  When so many of the female performers areso scantily clad, is that  self expression of sexuality or the symptom of something more insidious?

Why  were none of the men nearly naked?

Boys, how  do you feel the representations of women at the MTV Video Music Awards affect your female  friends and family members? What  expectations does your family have around how their boys will treat girls and  women?

Celebrating “blurred lines” has great potential to reinforce a culture that already trivializes the importance of consent.

Recommended Reading:

9781604333527_p0_v1_s260x420 The Boys Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up YOU Paperback by Kelli Dunham (Author) , Steve Björkman (Illustrator)

You have questions? We have answers to everything you need to know for growing up you!

Growing up isn’t as easy as it looks. With changing emotions, friends, expectations, and bodies, some days it can seem like life is one big roller coaster ride. The Boy’s Body Book is here to help with expert advice, common sense tips, fast facts, and answers to all questions a boy might have. Topics include: From hair care to athlete’s foot, a head to toe guide to what’s happening with your changing body Basketball football, soccer, chess: How you can excel no matter what you like to do Your guide to the care and keeping of parents, teachers, brothers, and sisters How to keep your friends and your morals, and what to do if peer pressure starts to be come an issue.

An amazon reviewer wrote:

My husband and I were very impressed at how well this book dealt with ‘touchy’ or sensitive topics without being offensive. This book is not graphic. It is straight to the point without sharing any information about sex. The book covers everything from body odor and puberty to nocturnal emission and saying no to drugs. great book for parents to read and discuss with 8-13 year old boy.

AL and TEDDY, first picture book published by Dream Yard Press “destined to become a classic.”

513rmQW6R3L._SX260_ This is the story of Al, who is also King Alejandro, and his kid brother Teddy. Who is four. Almost five. Every night Al flies to exotic places and meets fantastic beings, and every morning he’s back in his room in their little house. Because Al can draw and paint. And he promises Teddy that some day Teddy can come along. Some day. When Teddy is five. But then things change…

AL and TEDDY is the first picture book published by Dream Yard Press. It is the story of love and friendship between two brothers, and the power of art to transform children’s lives.

This book tells a great story “that you can show to your kids while you read to them, so they can also dream about the moon monster (who isn’t so monstrous, really) and have an example of how siblings (mostly) look out for each other (pretty much).” With small wheels under the cockpit and bursts of energy from jet propulsion, Al flies his blue rocket across the nighttime sky, searching for faraway places,” according to a write-up on Kidlitreviews.

Every parent remembers the moment when siblings first began bonding — the joy, the pain, the rivalry, the struggle.

Each morning by dawn, Al returns home to his younger brother Teddy, and draws pictures of where he went.  Teddy wants more; he wants to go with his big brother on these trips, but cannot.  He must be five-years-old and he is four.  Teddy is not happy, but waits the year out.  One year later, Teddy excitedly reminds Al it is time to fly, but Al has bad news.  Teddy must wait until he is six-years-old.  Teddy reacts furiously.

The words and spreads in Al and Teddy are so tenderly wrought they will bring tears to any parent or child’s eyes. This a compelling story of imagination and young brotherly love. It’s very sweet without ever being sappy or over the top.  The book also does a great job of celebrating little boys without being too stereotypical.  I’m impressed with how well it is executed.

Kidlitreviews. continues:

Al shares his nightly journeys with Teddy—who narrates the story—through his art.  Teddy’s adoration of his big brother is obvious.  Al enjoys sharing his stories and art with Teddy. Parents with toddlers will identify with Teddy’s mood changes and the love-hate feelings the child displays. The boys accept each other as they are and need no words to convey their contriteness or forgiveness.  There is a feeling of magic during Al’s travels and again as he shares them with Teddy.  Children of all ages will love the story of brotherly love, forgiveness, and imagination that flows from Al’s creativity to Teddy’s heart.

The author writes:

Hello. I’m Neil Waldman, writer and illustrator of more than fifty books for children. My books have won the Christopher Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the School Library Best Book Award, the American Library Association Notable Award, and many others.

“AL and TEDDY” is my newest picture book. Published by Dream Yard Press, a new not-for-profit publisher of children’s books. All proceeds from sales of “AL and TEDDY” will be used to support the young artists of the Fred Dolan Art Academy, a free Saturday art school designed to help Bronx youngsters go to art college. Founded in 2006, twenty-three students have graduated from the academy, all going on to college with scholarships. They’ve been accepted at Dartmouth, the Chicago Art Institute, USC, NYU, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts. But despite this unprecedented success, the academy’s funding has been slashed. We’re trying to get word out, that every time someone buys a copy of “AL and TEDDY,” we use the money to buy oil paints, watercolors, sketchpads, easels, and healthy lunches for our students. We’re hoping you’ll join us, and help support our kids.

An amazon reviewer said:

Every once in a long while, I open a new picture book that I know is destined to become a classic. Al and Teddy is such a book. The illustrations are remarkable . . . filled with excitement and wonderful color. The technique is reminiscent of Maurice Sendak – exquisite, masterful! . . . and beautifully designed. The story is compelling. It will draw young readers in from the opening page, and take them on a thrilling ride that culminates with a fresh and unexpected ending. And if this wasn’t enough, it’s for a good cause. Profits from book sales go to a free art school in the Bronx that helps young artists go to college. So, this one is a no-brainer . . . . I give Al and Teddy 5 stars!

The more picture books I read with my girls, the more I come to appreciate books that promote goodness and love.  I am glad that this book crossed my path.  It is a true joy and promotes the happy, wonderful things about having  little ones.   Waldman can not only reach children with words — his illustrations are among the best in the business. The images in this work are  pure parental delight and place this sibling tale an aesthetic notch above the rest.

The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up For Others … plus other books and resources

51LPEX+pM7L._SX260_Every child deserves the opportunity to have a successful early learning experience, which is the foundation for becoming a lifelong learner,” writes Bob Sornson, PhD, author of The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up For Others. “My work with the Early Learning Foundation is all about helping parents and schools be more effective building the skills and behaviors that help kids be successful.”

Juice Box Bully is part of my effort to teach kids to stand up and speak up for themselves and others, build healthy classroom and school cultures, and make the world a better place! Only by building safe and connected cultures will we get rid of the bullying behaviors that harm children. Punishing bullies is not enough. We must teach our children a better way.

Have you ever seen a bully in action and done nothing about it? In Juice Box Bully, the kids at Pete’s new school get involved, instead of being bystanders. When Pete begins to behave badly, his classmates teach him about “The Promise”. Will Pete decide to shed his bullying habits and make “The Promise”?
9781907755774_p0_v1_s260x420Bullying behaviour comes in many shapes and sizes, and being bullied in childhood can have lifelong effects, according to author Dr Sabina Dosani in Bullying (52 Brilliant Ideas) to Keep Your Child safe and Happy. Recent UK research indicates that 1 in 4 primary school children and 1 in 10 secondary school children are bullied at least once a term. Bullying makes children lonely, unhappy and frightened. Tackling bullying and its side-effects can be a very delicate business, and each case is unique. Often parents don’t know anything is wrong until events overtake them, or they can’t think of the best way to help their child survive the experience. Being armed with the right information about bullying, recognising the symptoms to look out for, and knowing effective ways of breaking the cycle of abuse can be crucial factors in ensuring your child deals with their tormentors in a calm, positive and proactive way. In Bullying Dr Sabina Dosani has put together 52 brilliant ideas to enable parents to help their children survive being bullied and become stronger and more confident people as a result. Including advice on identifying different types of bully, clever tips for not reacting to taunts, self-defence ideas for increased confidence and methods to take the wind out of a bully’s sails, Bullying will help you to help your child find their own empowering way to take control of the situation and rid themselves of the fear that being bullied can bring. In Bullying Dr. Sabina Dosani has put together 52 brilliant ideas to enable parents to help their children survive being bullied and become stronger and more confident people as a result.
In Tease Monster: A Book About Teasing Vs. Bullying (Building Relationships), when One-of-a-Kind”is laughed at by Purple for being weird and Green playfully calls One a klutz after tripping on the stairs, is the Tease Monster to blame? With words of wisdom from Mom about the Tease Monster, One discovers that teasing is part of life. And not all teasing is the same. One learns that laughing at someone (mean teasing)has a hurtful bite, but laughing with someone is alright when it’s not done out of spite. This the newest book in the Building Relationships series by Julia Cook.

Author Julia Cook has a phenomenal gift of writing books for children! Her books teach important life skills and are written through a child’s view of the world,” wrote Erin E. Bowden, M.S., Elementary School Counselor. 612ClmMZPLL._SX260_

As an Elementary School Counselor, I have incorporated many of Julia’s books into my curriculum and must say Tease Monster is a powerful relationship-building tool. Children will quickly learn the power of words, how people hear things in different ways, and the importance of laughing with someone not at them. Tease Monster should certainly find its way onto your bookshelf if you’re a parent, school counselor, teacher, social worker, psychologist, or pediatrician.


Social issues: About one fourth of all students from elementary age through high school are the victims of bullying and harassment while on school property because of their race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion or sexual orientation. Unfortunately the primary reason for bullying is due to something that may set themselves apart from the norm.

According to recent statistics, ‘gay and lesbian teens are two to three times as more likely to commit teen suicide than other youths.’ The Bullying Statistics website continues:

About 30 percent of all completed suicides have been related to sexual identity crisis. Students who also fall into the gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgendered identity groups report being five times as more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation. About 28 percent out of those groups feel forced to drop out of school altogether. Although more and more schools are working to crack down on problems with bullying, teens are still continuing to bully each other due to sexual orientation and other factors. 

In a … survey about gay bullying statistics, teens reported that the number two reason they are bullied is because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender expression. The number one reason reported was because of appearance. Teens are at a pivotal point in their young adult lives when they are trying to find out who they are and who they are about to become as adults. This is why being teased, bullied and harassed is something that could negatively affect a person’s self-esteem and view of themselves for the rest of their life.

In fact, about 9 out of 10 LGBT teens have reported being bullied at school within the past year because of their sexual orientation, according to the most recent gay bullying statistics. Out of those numbers, almost half have reported being physically harassed followed by another quarter who reported actually being physically assaulted.  Unfortunately most teens who experience bullying of any kind are reluctant to share their experience or report the incident to a teacher or trusted adult. Even more unfortunate are the gay statistics that report a lack of response among those teachers and school administration. According to a recent statistic, out of the students that did report a harassment or bullying situation because of their sexuality, about one third of the school staff didn’t do anything to resolve the issue.

Here are some other numbers:

  • About 42 percent of kids have been bullied while online with one in four being verbally attacked more than once.
  • About 35 percent of kids have been threatened online.
  • About 58 percent of kids and teens have reported that something mean has been said about them or to them online.
  • Other bullying statistics show that about 77 percent of students have admitted to being the victim of one type of bullying or another.
  • The American Justice Department bullying statistics show that one out of ever 4 kids will be bullied sometime throughout their adolescence.
  • 46 percent of males followed by 26 percent of females have admitted to being victims in physical fights as reported in one report of bullying statistics by the Bureau of Justice School.

Other bullying facts:

  • As these bullying statistics indicate, bullying is just getting worse in American schools. Many studies have shown that increasing domestic violence at home are leading to an increase in bullying online and at school.
  • Researchers note that one way to help begin to lower these bullying statistics is to tell an adult when it is happening.
  • According to the i-Safe American survey of students bullying statistics, about 58 percent of kids admit to never telling an adult when they’ve been the victim of a bullying attack.
  • Another way to stay safe from bullies is to inform the school if the attacks are taking place on school property or have something to do with the school.
  • Ignore messages sent by cyber bullies.

See also: Bullying 101: The Facts About Bullying, by E.M. Lemus. Are you tired of sitting idly by while bullying becomes more and more frequent in the lives of our young people? The statistics around bullying are staggering. This book will provide information that you need to stop being a bystander and become a key player in helping to end the bully cycle. Learn about the different types of bullying, how to identify it and the laws that currently surround this epidemic by becoming a part of the revolution that says enough is enough.

As an added bonus, the last chapter will give you specific information regarding your state’s laws and what actions they are taking, if any, to combat this issue.

Group strives to wipe out Kenyan poverty

521ae51ec0b71.preview-300BOISE — Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope is a Boise-based organization that wants to eradicate poverty in Kenya by helping orphans, children of widows and those from abject poverty with high school tuition costs, the Idaho Press Tribune reports.

Today in Kenya, 56 percent of the people earn less than a dollar a day. Natural disasters, especially famines, are common in traditional farming areas where survival depends on rainfall and good weather. People in these areas become dependent on relief food, mostly from non-governmental organizations, the article states.

Idaho Press-Tribune: What is your organization’s goal and how do you accomplish it?

Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope: The problems of poverty and famine in Kenya are compounded by the effects of HIV/AIDS. Over one million children are orphans due to AIDS. This has led to the increased number of children having no one at all to care for them. When both parents die, their future is lost.

Elementary school education is free in Kenya, but children who pass the national eighth grade exams to join high school must pay tuition. Unfortunately, thousands of needy boys and girls cannot amass the necessary funds. Thus boys do easily turn to a life of crime, drugs or alcohol while girls are in danger of turning into prostitution or being forced to early marriage.

Providing handouts is a short-sighted approach. Educating the youth is a long-term solution that will create a nation of educated professional contributors.

To help, please mail a check to Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope Inc. (any amount helps), P.O. Box 7152, Boise, 83707, or donate online at You can have Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope President Dr. Vincent Kituku come speak at your organization or school by calling 376-8724.


Related Reading: Books for Kids about Kenya and by Kenyan Authors.

The list author says: “Books are a great way to introduce young children to a new adventure and get teens and tweens ready for a family trip. We’ve compiled a list of books about Kenya and by Kenyan authors for children of various ages and with varying interests. What better why to begin a journey than a trip through literature?”

One great sample from this list is Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain (Reading Rainbow Books). by Verna Aardema.

An amazon reviewer wrote:

I really love the book “Bringing The Rain to Kapiti Plain,” by Verna Aardema. I have enjoyed it so much that I am planning to give it as a gift to my sister who has two young children, ages 4 and 7. This is a simple story about a cattle herdsman and his wish for rain on the African plain. The narrative structure of the story is based on a sequence of events that builds suspense and interest in children until the end of the story. This is a memorable story; it is very simple to understand and has a powerful musical quality that, as a young adult, I enjoy reading aloud. The rhymes and rhythms are so strong that all young children will be wide eyed with suspense and interest until the very end of the story. I particularly enjoyed one line where the author rhymes “fat” and “Ki-pat”: “So the grass grew green/ And the cattle fat!/ And Ki-pat got a wife/ And a little Ki-pat-.” This story is suitable for young children because its tone is happy. Bringing-the-Rain-to-Kapiti-PlainIt deals with the relationship of humans with water, plants and animals. … From this book … they will learn about the connection between humans and nature by enjoying the colored pictures. The pictures are so vibrant that it is easy to imagine the world of Ki-pat. As an adult, I enjoy this book because it describes the cycle of life in a very interesting way. Readers of all ages will see that human life is totally dependent upon nature, and the existence of human beings without nature is nearly impossible. Readers will also learn how the lives of humans and animals are dependent on rain; people and animals need each other and every part of nature for their perfect existence. I highly recommend Verna Aardema’s “Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain” to anyone who has young children and is looking for a book that illustrates the relationship between nature and human beings. The colorful, detailed pictures will keep the children interested while they are learning about the connection between nature and human beings.

Michelle Witte: “Big Isn’t Always Better”

The following is an excerpt from a blog entry by Michelle is an author, editor, and literary agent Michelle Witte,

“Publishing is in flux,” Michelle writes.  “Anyone who pays attention to the industry knows that. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With change comes opportunity, and some of the smaller independent publishers out there are in a prime position to innovate and try different strategies that the big guys don’t have the flexibility to do. So today I’d like to highlight some of the smaller publishers I see doing exciting things, and as I specialize in kidlit, these are all publishers of children’s or young adult books.”

Carolrhoda Lab

?????I’m a big fan of the deeply distinctive books that editorial director Andrew Karre selects for this YA imprint of Lerner books. Since his tastes run similar to mine—dark, quirky, weird, awesome—I’ve paid special attention to their offerings over the past few years. More than that, though, is Karre’s vision of what makes good literature for teens, and his ability to bring that out in writers. (Note: They don’t accept queries from unagented writers.)

Some of the most innovative titles in YA are coming from Carolrhoda Lab, including R.J. Anderson’s Ultraviolet, told from the perspective of a girl who feels colors and tastes words (an actual condition called Synesthesia), and that isn’t the weirdest aspect of the novel, by far. The imprint also published the US edition for one of my favorite books ever, Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish.

Read the full story here.

Follow Michelle on Facebook.

Absolutely Normal Chaos (and teaching tips to use Sharon Creech Novels)

indexMary Lou Finney is less than excited about her assignment to keep a journal over the summer. She also has to read The Odyssey, which she often relates to her own story. Then her cousin Carl Ray comes to stay with her family, under the pretense of looking for a job, which he eventually finds at Mr. Furtz’s hardware store. Over the course of the summer, she learns about the difficulties that Carl Ray has faced throughout his life and on a trip to visit his parents, she finds out why he never makes his bed. She also hangs out with her best friend Beth Ann and becomes Alex Cheevey’s girlfriend. As Mary Lou’s story unfolds, she examines both her struggles with her family and her own sense of self.

Sharon Creech stated that the inspiration for this story was an occasion when, “I’d been living overseas (England and Switzerland) for about ten years, and I was sadly missing my family back in the States. I thought I’d write a story about normal family chaos and that’s how this began, with me trying to remember what it was like growing up in my family. Writing the story was a way for me to feel as if my family were with me, right there in our little cottage in England.”

Absolutely Normal Chaos is a young-adult novel by Sharon Creech, published in the U.K. by Macmillan Children’s Books in 1990. It was the American author’s first book for children, completed at the midpoint of nearly two decades living in England and Switzerland. Although set in her hometown Euclid, Ohio, it was not published in her native country until 1995 (HarperCollins), after she won the annual Newbery Medal recognizing Walk Two Moons as the preceding year’s best American children’s book.

Absolutely Normal Chaos is a 13-year-old girl’s “complete and unabridged journal for English class” and can be classed as a bildungsroman, a novel of formation, novel of education, or coming-of-age story. In this literary genre the focus is on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood (coming of age). And in which, therefore, character change is extremely important.

In what by now must be a subgenre in YA fiction — the novel cast as a journal written for an English assignment — Newbery Medalist Creech (Walk Two Moons) spins an affable if formulaic tale about one pivotal summer, according to Publishers Weekly. 

Narrator Mary Lou, 13, the second of the five Finney children, is quite put out when she has to play maid for her uncommunicative cousin Carl Ray, 17, who comes to stay while he looks for a job. He gets one, to Mary Lou’s surprise, at the hardware store owned by their new neighbor Mr. Furtz, who shortly afterward dies of a heart attack. Not only does Carl Ray remain in his new job, but an anonymous benefactor leaves him money-just like in Great Expectations, as Mary Lou points out. There the resemblance to Dickens ends: the astute reader will early on figure out the mystery behind Carl Ray’s inheritance. Mary Lou is also slow to pick up clues about why her cute classmate Alex is always hanging around. Despite the occasionally creaky plot, Mary Lou’s bouncy entries are still a lot of fun. Readers will enjoy her wry commentary on The Odyssey (on the school reading list), and girls especially will identify with Mary Lou’s disgust at the giddy behavior of boy-crazy best friend Beth Ann and her own giggly rhapsodies on her first romance (“I am sooooo happeeeeee I can hardly stand it!”).

Creech’s newest story is told as a summer journal begrudgingly started as an English assignment, reads a review from School Library Journal.

Mary Lou, 13, wonders if kisses with boys really taste like chicken; if her best friend will ever shut up about her new boyfriend; and how her visiting cousin, Carl Ray, can be such a silent clod, especially when someone has anonymously given him $5000. Later, when he is in a coma following a car accident, she rereads her journal and wonders how she could have been so unseeing. Mary Lou is a typical teen whose acquaintance with the sadder parts of life is cushioned by a warm and energetic family. Her entertaining musings on Homer, Shakespeare, and Robert Frost are drawn in nifty parallels to what is happening in her own life. When forbidden by her mother to say “God,” “stupid,” and “stuff,” she makes a trek to the thesaurus to create some innovative interjections. Creech’s dialogue is right on target. Her characterization is nicely done also. By comparison, this book is differently voiced than Walk Two Moons (HarperCollins, 1994), lacks that book’s masterful imagery, and is more superficial in theme; but appropriately so. Creech has remained true to Mary Lou, who is a different narrator, and one who will win many fans of her own. Those in search of a light, humorous read will find it; those in search of something a little deeper will also be rewarded.

TEACHING TIPS TO USE Absolutely Normal Chaos:

Literature Circles are small discussion groups comprised of 4 to 5 students, each of whom has a specific role and function. Literature Circles can be used in one of two ways: (1) each group reads a different book or (2) the entire class reads the same book. This student centered instructional technique enables each student to participate regardless of his or her reading level.

Assessment in Literature Circles can be both formal and informal and determined with student input. The students lead discussions in their small groups and the teacher acts as mediator and facilitator.
This teacher’s guide illustrates how to set up Literature Circles and use them to teach the novels of Sharon Creech.

Blended learning – the convergence of teaching strategies and technology

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation announced a $5 million grant to establish a pair of Doceõ Centers for Innovation + Learning at two Idaho universities, one public and one private.  The Doceõ Centers at the University of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University will focus on blended learning – the convergence of teaching strategies and technology.

Blended Learning in Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create Student-Centered Classrooms

Blended Learning in Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create Student-Centered Classrooms

“We want to help equip and train the next generation of teachers to improve student achievement in Idaho,” says Jamie MacMillan, executive director of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.  ”Students at all grade levels desperately need teachers who, not only don’t fear technology, but embrace it to help students adapt to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”

The Doceõ Centers will be launched in the spring of 2013.  In addition to cutting-edge training for Idaho teacher candidates, the Centers will also offer development training on blended learning techniques as well as opportunities to participate in classroom research projects for current preschool through 12th grade (P-12) teachers and administrator professionals.  Reports on research conducted at the Centers will be published semi-annually and a conference will be hosted annually.

Eric Kellerer, Ed.D., director of the NNU Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, says that for the last 20 years, educators were promised that technology would transform education.

“At the same time, we have seen huge leaps in understanding the process of learning (the pedagogy) for students.  Unfortunately, those two themes, technology and pedagogy, have failed to come together,” explains Dr. Kellerer.   “This is the time.  We stand at the precipice of a generation in which there will be a convergence of the technical with the educational.”

According to Dr. Paul T. Hill, founder of the Center for Reinventing Public Education and research professor at the University of Washington, Idaho would be the first state to revamp its schools of education around blended learning.  Dr. Hills says that even modest success would make Idaho a national leader.

“We can’t get better outcomes for the kids who are not learning without doing things differently,” says Dr. Hill.  “Moreover, for the kids who are doing okay in school now, the bar is continually being set higher by a dynamic economy and international competition.  If our highest achieving kids are to be fully prepared, we need to keep updating our schools’ methods and modernizing what is taught.”

Corinne Mantle-Bromley, dean of the University of Idaho’s College of Education, said the centers are an important step forward in helping Idaho and other states gain a much deeper understanding of technology’s role in student learning.  Research and evaluation of research findings will help inform the education community and identify the most effective strategies for blending technology into teaching, Mantle-Bromley said.

Recommended reading: Blended Learning in Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create Student-Centered Classrooms

“A must have for any teacher who wants to connect with students who are either reluctant to participate in class or who have everything to say. The book’s tools provide a welcome segue into their terrain and show you how to master it. Included are many ideas and suggestions for bringing the Internet into your classroom and harnessing its power for the benefit of your students.” (Melody Aldrich, English Teacher and Department Chair 2012-01-25)

“This book comes at the right time with answers for teachers, principals, and schools who want to be on the cutting edge of the effective use of technology, the internet, and teacher pedagogy.” (Jim Anderson, Principal 2012-01-25)

“This book provides a wealth of information related to teaching in a blended classroom. Designed for 21st century educators, this text is a powerful and valuable resource for those that want to challenge, engage, and facilitate learning for all students.” (Judy Brunner, Clinical Faculty, Author, Consultant 2012-01-25)

“This book will appeal to a wide range of educators and provide them with the foundation for creating a perfect blend for their classrooms.” (David Callaway, 7th-Grade Social Studies Teacher 2012-01-25)

“This book will help teachers move their students online while maintaining effective teaching practices!” (Cathy Bonneville Hix, K-12 Social Studies Specialist 2012-01-25)

Catlin Tucker takes on the questions that serve as teachers’ biggest barriers in exploring what technology can bring to their professional experiences. Questions of assessment, time, and access, as well as practical suggestions for how to begin working with modern collaborative resources, serve to guide teachers through the philosophical and pedagogical challenges of exploring the promise of blended learning. (Rushton Hurley, Executive Director)

“In Blended Learning in Grades 4-12, Tucker takes on the questions that serve as teachers’ biggest barriers to exploring what technology can bring to their professional experiences. Too often, exploration of educational technology is more about the tools than the learning, and consequently it is a pleasure to read this book in which inspiring and empowering students serves as the primary frame for discussion. The skilled examination of the larger question of how to teach well using whatever one has will make Tucker’s book a valuable resource for teachers for a long time to come.” (Rushton Hurley, Executive Director 2012-04-09)

“This book shows teachers how to use technology and blended learning practices to blend online discussion with face-to-face classroom instruction.” (Midwest Book Review, September 2012)

“What makes this funding so important is the research component. We will constantly be studying new, emerging technology tools. Research findings will provide classroom teachers and school administrators with powerful information on best practices. We will work closely with teachers as we study technology and its impact on P-12 student learning,” said Mantle-Bromley.

Paula Kellerer, Ed.D., dean of the School of Education, Social Work and Counseling at Northwest Nazarene University emphasizes that blended learning is not about utilizing the latest and greatest technology in the classroom–it’s about providing personalized learning for kids.

“The ultimate objective of the centers is to improve student achievement in P-12 classrooms through the effective use of technology,” says Dr. Kellerer.  “It’s not about finding one solution that fits all, but finding many solutions that can be used at the right time for the right student.  Every student can learn.  Every student can succeed.  We are here to help teachers find resources, equip them to use those resources effectively and to share the stories of success with other teachers, with Idaho, and the Northwest.”

Idaho has significant student achievement challenges.  The state ranks 47th in the nation for the percentage of high school graduates who go on to some form of education beyond high school and 46th for the percentage of college students who progress from their freshman year to sophomore year.

“We cannot stand back and be passive observers,” says Dr. Eric Kellerer.  “We need to get in the fray.  Idaho can be the leader in ushering in a new day in teaching and learning.”

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is a Boise-based, private family foundation committed to limitless learning for all Idahoans.  Since 1997, the Foundation has invested more than $500 million to improve education in Idaho.

Northwest Nazarene University is a nonprofit Christian university located in Nampa, Idaho.  NNU offers over 60 areas of study, master’s degree programs in eleven disciplines, accelerated degree programs, concurrent credit for high school students, and a variety of continuing education credits. In addition to its 90-acre campus located in Nampa, the University also offers programs online as well as in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and in cooperation with programs in 10 countries.

The University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, is home to more than 12,000 students and nearly 3,159 faculty and staff.  U-Idaho continues to be a leading place of learning in Idaho and the West.  Students from all 44 Idaho counties, 49 states (plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and 73 foreign countries are enrolled at the University.

Why Doceõ?  Doceõ is the Latin word for “to teach”.

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