Is Classroom Training Obsolete?

The corporate training room was pronounced dead a mere decade ago. It was said to be outdated and replaced by e-learning. But despite being called obsolete, classroom corporate training is alive and in full bloom with a whole new look and feel, according to a recent article, called "Is Classroom Traning Obsolete?," in the American Association of Training and Development's new magazine, Learning Executive.

"The classroom has changed for the better, and it will continue to change," says Cathy Rezak, a cofounder of Paradigm Learning, a global firm specializing in discovery learning, business games and simulations. "Classroom-based corporate training is more flexible and strategically positioned than e-learning to address today's corporate training needs such as business acumen, leadership accountability and organizational change."

Rezak goes on to say in the article that classroom training has become more strategic, more time-efficient and more focused, all in order to meet the high-stress demands of accountability and measurability. Besides being better adapted to the current corporate needs, classroom training offers what most e-learning programs can't: team problem-solving, hands-on learning and fun.

"Whatever the technology or physical layout of the room, classes in the future will be more fun and socially interactive," comments Rezak. "Engaging learners will become more critical to the classroom environment -- requiring higher levels of visual and auditory stimulation, more tactile material and props, high-energy gaming techniques, peer-to-peer interactivity and shared learning experiences." According to Rezak, by offering a higher level of engagement, hands-on experience and guided discovery, classroom-based corporate training accelerates the learning process and measurably increases retention rates.

The article goes on to state that "learning is mutating." In 2002, there was no shortage of e-learning companies promising amazing results and financial savings. Six years later almost all of those companies have disappeared. The ones that remain, for the most part, have adapted to a blended learning approach by combining the classroom experience in the training process.

According to Rezak, for corporate training to be effective, learner-to-learner and learner-to-facilitator interaction is crucial. "These are things you just cannot experience over the Internet," says Rezak, who notes that as computers became increasingly central to our everyday business, e-learning was just another thing to do online. "People missed the things that occur in the classroom... things that go beyond the learning itself, such as teamwork and getting to know your peers," she notes.

If discovery learning is done well, Rezak adds, "This methodology will not only engage learners, but will accelerate the learning and increase retention of information and skills. After all, what good is the learning experience," she asks, "if the experience isn't brought back into the workplace for long-term benefits? Classroom learning makes that happen."

Teacher of the Year Andee Aceves Makes a Difference

Andee Aceves isn't your typical third grade school teacher. She doesn't come from a family of teachers and she didn't decide to become a teacher until she was in her 30s. Now she is one of California's Teachers of the Year for 2008.

Aceves received the Teacher of the Year distinction from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell in February 2008 and this weekend the California Lottery recognized her exceptional effort as a "Hero in Education" during Saturday's "The Big Spin®" show.

Aceves teaches at San Altos Elementary School in the Lemon Grove School District in San Diego County. Raised by non-English-speaking grandparents, she experienced first-hand the disconnect between home and school that still exists today for many of California's children. Aceves says, for her, school was a place where she felt like an uninvited but tolerated guest. That experience shaped her teaching style.

"I know that not all students have equal access to resources," Aceves explained. "I understand that loving, caring parents cannot always help with homework. I even recognize the strength of the unruly child who comes to school despite the chaos he or she lives in.

"I was that bright, skeptical, and belligerent child in the class; the student that teachers talked about with disparagement in the teacher's lounge. Having been that child gives me an empathy that other teachers may not have. My personal teaching style reflects a willing acceptance and consideration of skeptical students and their families. I teach to make a difference in their perception of school and to remove those barriers that interfere with learning."

If you visit Aceves' classroom you will find students don't learn quietly. That's because Aceves feels noise is an essential part of the process, whether students are learning about probabilities, writing a personal narrative or creating a habitat with construction paper. She also makes sure to spend a few minutes each day one-on-one with students and feels strongly about emphasizing a sense of community so each child can see his or her part in the big picture.

The California Teachers of the Year Program pays tribute to the tireless efforts of our state's outstanding teachers. The Teachers of the Year program brings attention and recognition to the more than 300,000 teachers in California. The California Department of Education invites county offices of education, school districts, charter schools, professional organizations, and private schools statewide to participate in the program by nominating teachers that they feel go above and beyond the call of duty. Additionally, one of the selected California Teachers of the Year is then nominated as a National Teacher of the Year. Since the National Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952, California has had six National Teachers of the Year.

The California State Lottery's "Hero in Education" award has been presented monthly on The Big Spin show since 1999. The Lottery presents these awards to recognize special individuals who volunteer time and resources to their school and community.

The award was presented to Aceves by actor Leslie David Baker, who plays Stanley Hudson on the hit sit-com, "The Office." Baker, a former teacher, said while presenting the award, he is thankful that there are teachers like Andee Aceves and that the children in her classroom are lucky to have her to show them the way.

Publishers, Booksellers, Librarians Partner to Kick Off Latino Books Month

Celebrations featuring beloved radio personalities, bestselling authors and scholars, parents, educators, librarians and children nationwide focus attention on literacy in both English and Spanish.

El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day), known as Dia, is a year-round celebration that is officially recognized annually on April 30. Founded by children's book author Pat Mora in 1996 and administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), the day highlights the importance of literacy among children of all ages and of every cultural and linguistic background. The celebration culminates on April 30 with a range of festivities across the U.S., and serves to kick off Latino Books Month in May. These events also support the national Get Caught Reading!/Aja! Leyendo public awareness literacy campaign, which features public figures getting "caught" reading their favorite books in both English and Spanish.

The Association of American Publishers has teamed with ALSC to present a recommended reading list of children's books published by AAP members, intended to foster "bookjoy" and encourage families to read together on April 30, and every day. Books on the list include those in English and in Spanish as well as bilingual titles, nonfiction, picture books, and novels, all celebrating Latino culture and Latin American identity.

April 30 Dia Events in Miami and New York: Great for Live Broadcast Shots or Media Interviews!

New York City Hosts Univision's Dra. Isabel: Wednesday, April 30
5:30 - 6:30 pm Queens Public Library, Jackson Heights Branch, 35-51 81st Street. Beloved Univision radio personality Dra. Isabel, reads in Spanish to children from her children's book, La cancion de Gabriela: Como me adapto a un lugar nuevo? (Gabriela's Song: How Do I Adapt to a New Place?) published by Rayo/HarperCollins Publishers. The book features a little girl named Gabriela, who shares her fears about her family's move to a new country, the United States, and teaches young readers how to deal with their own feelings. At 6 pm Dra. Isabel reads to parents from her adult title, Los 7 pasos para ser mas feliz: Como liberarte del estres, las preocupaciones y las angustias del pasado, published by Vintage Espanol. The program will offer advice on developing healthy relationships, preparing a path to success, and finding true happiness. This appearance follows her educational panel earlier in the day at the offices of children's book publisher Scholastic to volunteers from Learning Leaders, a nonprofit organization that provides education to tutors supporting over 960 public schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

Miami, Florida's Books & Books Hosts Children's Reading: Wednesday, April 30
4 pm - 6:30 pm Books & Books, 265 Eragon Avenue, Miami, FL. Recognized as one of the nation's leading bookstores in offerings of books in Spanish and English nationwide, Books & Books plans to support El dia de los ninos by hosting third-graders from Coral Way K-8 Center, the nation's first dual language school, who will kick off the afternoon by reciting classic Spanish poems at 4 pm. Following, Dr. Barbara Zurer Pearson, Ph.D., will give a presentation on raising bilingual children and provide insights to an audience of eager parents from her book Raising a Bilingual Child, published by Random House. To close, a middle school theater troupe from Coral Way will perform their play, "Pueblo de las mujeres" by Hermanos Alvarez Quintero, in the courtyard.

To learn more about Dia, please visit

Study Looks at Writing as Stress-Reducer

For families who provide care to Alzheimer's patients, stress and isolation can be a burden that's hard to carry. A University of Iowa researcher is conducting an Internet-based study to see if writing about their thoughts and feelings about care-giving can be a strategy to help those family caregivers reduce their stress.

Family members who provide care for patients with Alzheimer's or other conditions of memory loss will be asked to write about their experiences related to their care-giving roles for 20 minutes on three occasions during a week. Participants in the study may write in their homes or wherever they have access to a computer that is most convenient to them.

Participants in the study do not need to be "good writers" or worry about spelling or grammar because it is the effect of the writing that is being studied.

As a means to measure the effect of the writing on reducing stress, study participants also will be asked to complete five questionnaires.

Howard Butcher, Ph.D., UI associate professor of nursing and principal investigator of the UI Informatics Initiative-funded study, will evaluate whether expressing stress and other emotions in writing is a helpful way to deal with the often difficult emotions of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or a condition that involves problems with memory.

Written expression has been used with people who have experienced stressful and traumatic situations such as job loss, abuse, natural disasters and loss of a spouse. The strategy involves participants writing about their thoughts and feelings. Previous research by Butcher has shown that this type of writing promotes psychological and physiological health benefits after just three 20-minute writing sessions.

The studies have shown that writing helps trauma survivors make meaning out of their life circumstances. This cognitive process can result in physiological changes in the autonomic and immune system by reducing stress and facilitating coping.

For more information about participating in the study, visit

Highlights Magazine Launches Free Podcast of Fiction Series

Highlights for Children, the best read children's magazine in the nation, today debuts a free podcast of its popular monthly fiction story series "Ask Arizona."

"Arizona is one of our readers' favorite characters. Kids identify with her humorous approach to life's challenges," says Highlights Editor in Chief Christine French Clark. "We're so excited to give her a voice and allow her fans to experience the character in a new way."

The podcast marks the first time that the Arizona character has journeyed off the written page. "For more than six decades our flagship magazine has helped kids develop basic skills and knowledge, creativity, reasoning and sensitivity to others," said Highlights CEO Kent Johnson. "It's been essential that as the company develops other avenues to serve children - from our websites to our toy catalog to the new podcast - they reflect the same devotion to wholesome Fun with a Purpose."

The podcast is available through Apple's iTunes and can also be accessed at in "The Arizona Zone," a section devoted to Arizona, a friendly and sometimes zany girl with a knack for giving advice, often by telling a funny story.

The character of Arizona is played by voice actor Kara Edwards. The "Ask Arizona" column is authored by Lissa Rovetch. Since its debut in 2005, the monthly feature has been a favorite of Highlights readers.


Children Who Start School Smarter, Stay Smarter For Life

With appropriate help from their parents, children can easily start school smarter and have the benefit of being smarter for life. Scientific evidence as a result of worldwide research by institutions shows that the best learning period for children is from birth to three years of age. A new book, Raising Smarter Babies by Susan Butler, explains how parents can easily assist their babies in becoming smarter.

"Parents continue to make the mistake of believing that it is not necessary to teach their children until they are nearing school age. Hundreds of millions of research dollars are spent each year worldwide by Universities, Governments, Medical Associations and Institutions on the development of babies' learning abilities. These findings show that postponing teaching a child until school age is wrong," notes author Susan Butler.

The importance of early education is strongly emphasized in the U.S. Department of Education publication 'Helping Your Child Become a Good Reader' issued in 2005. The foreword of this publication contains the following: " well children learn...affects not only how successful they are at school but how well they do throughout their lives."

The foreword of another U.S. Department of Education publication Helping Your Child Get Ready for School contains the following: "...The first teachers are the parents both by example and conversation...All children have two wonderful resources for learning, imagination and curiosity."

Butler says, "With the optimal learning period being from birth to three years of age, it is essential that parents educate their babies from the day they are born. To demonstrate the point further, one of the leading International Academies points out that:

  • The brain consists of billions of neurons (brain cells) at birth.

  • The use of these neurons differentiates a smart child from an average child.

  • An increase in usage of these neurons creates better learning abilities.

  • The Raising Smarter Babies book states that the more stimulating and imaginative educational activities you provide babies, the greater the neuron density network will be. This results in smarter babies due to stimulated brain development.

    The actions parents need to take to make their babies smarter are many and varied and must stimulate the creative and imaginative senses of babies. These actions include many simple activities such as:

  • Constantly talking directly to babies while looking into their eyes.

  • Reading appropriate story books to them in a way which intrigues them.

  • Singing lullabies and humming regularly while holding them. This stimulates brain activity.

  • Use of a variety of music.

  • Parent participation in certain types of games.

  • Organized rotation of toys.

    • There are many similar actions parents can take which will help stimulate their child's brain activity. It is essential that all parents learn the appropriate actions to take to assist their child becoming smarter, starting school smarter and staying smarter for life.

      About the Author
      Susan Butler is a co-author of this exceptional book, 'Raising Smarter Babies', and has used her university qualifications and training to coordinate her eight person review team that has spent thousands of hours studying the worldwide reports on the findings of brilliant research conducted on this subject matter. More information is available at

      Delaware Teachers to Receive Free Educational Resources and Training

      The Delaware Center for Educational Technology (DCET), with the cooperation and support of the Delaware Department of Education, has received a $75,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to train teachers to use the free educational resources available on and to raise awareness of the program within the state. is the Verizon Foundation's comprehensive online portal to more than 55,000 educational and literacy resources for teachers, parents and students. Resources include standards-based, grade-specific, K-12 lesson plans and engaging interactive activities provided in partnership with many of the nation's leading educational and literacy organizations. offers elementary through high school teachers resources across eight academic disciplines, from science to English to mathematics, to improve student achievement. is designed to help teachers gain access to online resources quickly.

      "Thinkfinity provides a wealth of resources, linked to national standards, that can be used to enhance our Statewide Recommended Curriculum and district curriculums across the state," said Wendy Modzelewski, instructional technology consultant from the Delaware Center for Educational Technology. "We are excited that the Verizon Foundation chose Delaware to be one of the first states in the foundation's national rollout plan."

      The grant will be used to:

      -- Ensure that all educators throughout the state are aware of the more than 55,000 free standards-based resources available through

      -- Train Delaware technology innovators as field trainers and certified trainers, using the train-the-trainer model.

      -- Provide teachers with hands-on, standards-based professional development to help them effectively integrate technology in their classrooms.

      To make the Thinkfinity site even more valuable to teachers, students and parents, the Verizon Foundation recently announced several enhancements and improvements, including:

      -- The addition of 500 new resources.
      -- Individual portals to allow users to search for resources targeted to educators, students, parents or after-school programs.
      -- A dynamic new look.
      -- A simple, more comprehensive search engine.
      -- Ability to search for resources tailored to individual state standards.

      In addition to providing standards-based resources from the nation's leading educational and literacy organizations, also offers a comprehensive professional development program that allows teachers to sign up for free online or face-to-face training to learn how to make the most of tools.

      The face-to-face training will be arranged and led by Delaware Thinkfinity trainers who have received in-depth instruction from trainers.

      "Whether it's an English teacher looking for resources to spark a love of reading in a student, or a parent seeking a convenient and user-friendly educational activity to stimulate the mind of a young child, will help them quickly and easily find the information needed to improve student achievement," said William Allan, president of Verizon Delaware.

      Content for is provided through a partnership between the Verizon Foundation and 11 of the nation's leading organizations in the fields of education and literacy: the American Association for the Advancement of Science, International Reading Association, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Center for Family Literacy, National Council on Economic Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Geographic Society, ProLiteracy Worldwide and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

      For more information on the foundation, visit

      Stan Lee Volunteers to Record Comic Book for Students with Disabilities

      Stan Lee, world-famous creator of "Spider-Man," "Iron Man," "X-Men" and "The Incredible Hulk," is accustomed to writing comic books, but on this day at the Hollywood studios of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), he helped record one for students who struggle with reading because of a visual impairment or learning disability such as dyslexia.

      For 60 years, RFB&D has been the nation's largest educational audiobook library serving people who cannot read standard print because of a print disability.

      Lee was joined by Matthew Atherton, better known as the superhero "Feedback," and winner of the Sci-Fi Channel's season one, ''Who Wants to Be a Superhero?'' Lee immortalized the "Feedback" character, created by Atherton, on the pages of the comic book, which is now accessible to the more than 185,000 students served by RFB&D.

      When not donning his "Feedback" costume, Inland Empire resident Atherton also regularly donates his time and resources as a volunteer reader and donor for RFB&D. "With RFB&D, reading is a superpower anyone can have," he says. Lee agreed with the importance of having access to reading materials. "As a youth, I read just about anything and everything I could get my hands on," he asserted. "I was a voracious reader."

      "With more and more comic books being made into movies, including the upcoming 'Iron Man' movie, we wanted to celebrate the excitement of the action/adventure genre that comic books have inspired over the years, using our unique facilities," said Mike Davis, Executive Director of RFB&D's Inland Empire/Orange County Unit. "Although it is a departure from the educational books we normally record, it's a wonderful way to have our students develop the joy of reading."

      For membership, volunteer or donation information, contact

      Pitney Bowes and WNBA Team Up on National Literacy Program

      Pitney Bowes Inc. and the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) are coming together to raise awareness and funding for literacy across the United States. Six WNBA teams will participate in the season-long initiative to engage fans while raising funds for local, community-based literacy programs. Pitney Bowes's participation with the WNBA will help build or renovate a Reading and Learning Center at the end of the season in the community of the team that raises the most funds for literacy.

      The Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Los Angeles Sparks, New York Liberty, Seattle Storm and Washington Mystics are the six participating WNBA teams in the national literacy program. Each team will kick-off a local literacy program when the WNBA season starts in May. Fundraising efforts will include a donation supporting literacy when fans purchase special tickets, as well as additional activities. Fans who participate in the program will be seated in a special section at designated home games and kids will also have opportunities to participate in reading sessions with WNBA players at "Reading Time Out" events.

      Pitney Bowes will also support the WNBA's Read to Achieve events throughout the season with the six participating teams. Read to Achieve is a year-round, league-wide initiative that promotes the value of reading and on-line literacy and encourages families and adults to read regularly with young children.

      To introduce the national literacy program, Pitney Bowes and the WNBA are holding a Youth Reading Rally in Tampa, Florida today with young students from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tampa. Participants will include a WNBA legend and current players, local dignitaries, and WNBA and Pitney Bowes executives. The event will be held at a local Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) location.

      For additional information on the Pitney Bowes and WNBA literacy program, visit:

      Pittsburgh Teens to Compete for Top Prizes at Fourth Annual High School Environmental Film Festival

      Nearly 50 of Pittsburgh's "green" filmmakers from 16 area high schools will walk the red carpet at Carnegie Science Center's Science Stage as they compete in the fourth annual C.A.U.S.E. Challenge(TM) High School Film Festival.

      The festival will showcase the short films by Pittsburgh teens on the theme "Mutual Impact: The Environment and You."

      These student filmmakers then have the chance to compete for $11,500 in cash and other prizes, both for themselves and their schools at the C.A.U.S.E. Challenge Film Festival and Awards Ceremony. Special this year is an award in honor of Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary.

      Presented by Bayer Corporation, Carnegie Science Center's SciTech Initiative and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, C.A.U.S.E. stands for "Creating Awareness and Understanding of our Surrounding Environment." Its purpose is to provide a platform for high school students who are not necessarily on a science track to become more scientifically and environmentally aware using the non-traditional, yet powerful tool of film or video. In the filmmaking process, students develop their creative voice, master basic skills - such as researching, reading, writing and speaking - and build important science literacy skills like critical thinking, problem solving and team working.

      Wednesday, April 23, 2008
      6:00 - 9:30 p.m.

      Carnegie Science Center
      One Allegheny Avenue
      Pittsburgh, PA 15212

      Bryan Iams
      Bayer Corporation Media Line

      The Gutenberg Media Grab Returns to Support Literacy

      For the eighth year in a row, an online sale of media space returns in support of adult literacy in Canada. The Gutenberg Media Grab, to be held April 21-25, 2008, is made possible thanks to the generosity of an impressive roster of Canadian newspapers, magazines and outdoor media. These media have donated space that will be available to any individual or company for purchase at 65% off the rate-card value which, in total, represents more than $800,000 of donated media.

      All proceeds from the sale will go to ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation in support of its initiatives that raise public awareness of the issue of low literacy among Canadian adults, direct individuals to literacy organizations in their community, and provide resources that support and encourage the development of workplace literacy and essential skills training across Canada.

      "We are most grateful for the generosity of this country's major newspaper and magazine publishers, and major outdoor media," says Margaret Eaton, President, ABC CANADA. "Offering people the chance to buy major media at a fraction of its usual price is a great win for media buyers and for ABC CANADA."

      It's easy to register for the sale. Go to, check out the media inventory, and follow the easy instructions to register. The registration deadline is Friday, April 18, and the sale starts promptly at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 21. It's first come-first served and the sale will last from April 21 to 25. Check the site often for any updates on available media. The first five registrants each receive a Starbucks gift card worth $20; the first media buyer receives a Starbucks gift card worth $250!

      New Report Shows Writing Skills Improving Among Pennsylvania Eighth Graders

      A new national study that shows significant gains in the writing skills of Pennsylvania's eighth-grade students further confirms that the commonwealth's education investments are paying off, while also underscoring the need for continued improvement, Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak said today.

      "The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2007," released today by the U.S. Department of Education, found that 36 percent of Pennsylvania eighth graders are showing "solid academic performance" in writing. Pennsylvania's performance level is a significant improvement over 2002 and exceeds the national average, which did not change significantly over the past five years.

      Yet it also means that nearly two-thirds of the commonwealth's middle school students do not have the writing skills they need to succeed, including nearly three-quarters of male students and four in five low-income students, Zahorchak noted.

      "We cannot produce the next generation of leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs if only one out of every three students is making the grade in writing, but these results prove that Pennsylvania is heading in the right direction and renew our determination to keep making progress," the secretary said.

      Writing is an essential skill for eighth graders, who are only four years away from entering the high-skills workforce or applying to college. A survey of human resource directors, whose companies are members of the National Business Roundtable, found that large majorities of salaried employees in nearly all industries are required to have solid writing skills as part of their jobs - including in fast-growing parts of our economy.

      "These results indicate we continue to make significant strides on the road to ensuring every one of our students is proficient in writing," Zahorchak said. "But, this report card also tells us we are failing to reach too many of our students, and that is why Governor Rendell's plans to invest in student achievement and to ensure that the high school diploma has value are so important."

      Governor Rendell has proposed a $2.6 billion, six-year plan to move towards adequate school funding as determined in the General Assembly's landmark Costing-Out Report, which provided the first-ever Pennsylvania specific funding targets for each school district.

      The Rendell administration, with strong support from members of the business community and the State Workforce Investment Board, has also endorsed the State Board of Education's proposed graduation requirements which will ensure that all Pennsylvania students show that they have essential skills in the core academic subjects before they earn their diploma, starting with the Class of 2014.

      The writing assessment was given to 139,900 eight graders across the nation in 2007. The assessment included three types of writing - narrative, informative and persuasive - and students were scored on a 0 to 300 scale.

      Pennsylvania had the ninth highest score among the 45 states that voluntarily participated in the assessment last year, and the commonwealth was among only 20 states that registered an increase in proficiency from 2002 to 2007.

      Pennsylvania's performance was bolstered by notable improvements among the student subgroups tested. Among the gains:

      -- Average writing scores increased significantly among males, whites, blacks, Hispanics, and students receiving free- and reduced-price lunches.

      -- Pennsylvania was among just three states (along with Connecticut and Georgia) that saw scores increase for whites, blacks and Hispanics.

      -- The percentage of Pennsylvania students scoring below basic declined significantly among the male, white, black, and free- and reduced-price lunch student subgroups.

      "We are outpacing the nation in improving writing skills in part because of the choices we have made to invest in proven education initiatives," the secretary said. "The challenge ahead is to continue building on the solid foundation we have created under Governor Rendell's leadership."

      To view the national report, visit To learn more about Pennsylvania's education initiatives, visit

      Attack Illiteracy to Improve Graduation Rates

      "When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem, it's a catastrophe," said former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

      Dr. Paul Mullen, the author of The Day I Hit a Home Run at Great American Ball Park, (ISBN 978-1-933197-30-2, Orange Frazer Press, 148 pgs., $12.95, says graduation rates are a result our illiteracy rate. "If you can't read then all learning stops, it's that simple," says Mullen.

      Dr. Mullen is on a quest to combat illiteracy among the youth of America. "According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, 6 million middle and high school students can't read at basic reading levels," said Mullen. "This is a problem that we as a society can't afford to ignore."

      Mullen's book was crafted specifically to address illiteracy among these children. An enjoyable read for the whole family, The Day I Hit a Home Run at Great American Ball Park is a coming of age story that follows the exploits of twelve year old Fuji as he pursues a chance to play a ball game on the same "sacred" ground as his idols.

      "Baseball is a powerful metaphor for a strong work ethic," said Mullen. "Fuji's journey to live out his dream is one that most kids can relate to on at least some level. I think this is why they can't seem to put it down."

      Dr. Mullen, who is a featured speaker at national reading conferences throughout the United States says "Young adults have turned away from reading books because we as educators and parents focus too much on the mechanics of reading. What teenagers want to read are the same type of books we once enjoyed reading at their age: Like Fuji's fun-filled, action-packed summer adventures in which this time, Fuji, an average ballplayer has that rare opportunity to become a local sports hero."

      Mullen hopes Major League Baseball will get behind his efforts and use the power of influential players to encourage kids to read. "Major League Baseball's involvement could really change the attitudes of thousands of kids," says Mullen.

      Dr. Mullen's inspirational message is getting national attention through Scouting Magazine and ESPN's Operation Outreach as well as interviews on nationally syndicated radio shows.

      Paul Mullen has a PhD in Business Management. He and his wife Sharlene have two college-educated children and live on a small organic farm in Oxford, Ohio where they raise steer, chickens, and horses. The book is available online at: or at

      Rare Book Now Part of Library and Archives Canada Children's Literature Collection

      On the occasion of International Children's Book Day, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) recently acquired a rare children's picture book written in 1945 about Canadian soldiers in Holland.

      LAC purchased the book, Hi Ha Canada, on March 7, 2008, from the Antiquariaat Gemilang bookstore in Bredevoort, The Netherlands. It was selected because it reflects the important role of the Canadian army during the Second World War and it adds to LAC's vast collection of books about Canada. Few children's books describe the celebrations at the end of a war, especially in terms of Canada's role. The book's superb craftsmanship, excellent condition, rare paper and limited edition make it a treasure for collectors.

      "This book is a rare gem," said Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. "The use of illustration and rhyming verse in this publication gives us fascinating information about the Dutch people's perception of Canada as liberator during the Second World War. Hi Ha Canada is a fine addition to LAC's Children's Literature Collection."

      The book was written by Mart Kempers, an award-winning Dutch graphic designer, illustrator and painter who was interested in creating atmospheric rather than realistic depictions of scenes. The story illustrates details of daily life such as friends playing together, and a family in a garden having tea with Welfare biscuits and chocolate bars given to the Dutch during food rationing by Canadian soldiers. The Canadian maple leaf is prominent and street scenes depict traditional pastimes and architectural elements including gabled roofs. There is a sense of wonderment and happiness conveyed throughout the book, using text and imaginative artwork.

      LAC's Children's Literature Service contains over 150,000 books published in English, French and other languages, a world-class reference collection, and a significant collection of literary archives and original children's book illustrations. In 1967, the International Board on Books for Young People declared April 2 as International Children's Book Day to celebrate the love of reading and to call attention to children's books.

      Creativity Top of Mind for Educators and Employers

      An overwhelming majority of surveyed school superintendents who educate future workers and employers who hire them agree that creativity is increasingly important in U.S. workplaces, according to key findings issued today from a forthcoming report by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts, in partnership with the American Association of School Administrators.

      Ready to Innovate: Are Educators and Executives Aligned on the Creative Readiness of the U.S. Workforce? states that 99% of the 155 surveyed school superintendents and 97% of the 89 surveyed employers believe that arts training -- and, to a lesser degree, communications studies -- are crucial to developing creativity. Yet, there is a fundamental gap between understanding this truth and putting it into meaningful practice. Findings indicate that most high schools and employers provide such training and studies only on an elective or "as needed" basis.

      Reads the report: "While creativity is recognized as a critical ingredient to success in the workplace, schools and businesses need to re-examine their curriculums and training programs to determine the most effective way to increase the emphasis on developing this skill. That's the only true way to effect change and turn out better qualified workers with more creative talents."

      Both the superintendents and employers surveyed agree that the ability to identify new patterns of behavior or new combinations of actions and integration of knowledge across different disciplines are foremost in demonstrating creativity. Other responses received reveal a lack of alignment. For example, employers say problem identification and articulation are the most important talents indicating creativity. School superintendents rank this skill only 9th. While these superintendents rate problem-solving the highest, employers rank it 8th.

      These discrepancies bolster the view that while schools teach students how to solve problems put before them, the business sector wants workers who can identify the problems in the first place.

      In addition, 70% of superintendents presume employers seek out "creative thinkers" over "technically skilled" individuals. Employers, as a group, are evenly split (49/51 respectively).

      "The findings of the Ready to Innovate report present an opportunity for school system and business leaders to further engage in a dialogue about how best to foster creativity among students, not only to produce a competitive workforce, but also to help all students succeed in life," says Paul D. Houston, AASA executive director.


      Frustratingly, 85% of employers concerned with hiring creative people say they can't find the applicants they seek. These employers use job interviews as their primary tool for assessing creativity and they mostly look for spontaneity and creative responses to hypothetical scenarios.
      "There is no question that the arts should be an essential element of education," said Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. "Additionally, the arts are an indispensable tool for building the creative thinking skills essential to ensuring that American business and culture will prosper. And this study demonstrates there is increased recognition among business and education leaders that the arts are a vital factor to building a competitive and highly effective workforce."

      Eighty-three percent of educators and 61% of employers responded that they feel responsible for fostering creativity. However, only three from a list of 12 creativity-promoting educational activities/experiences are part of the curriculum in half of the surveyed schools. And of a comparable list of eight employee activities/training options, less than one in ten employers surveyed said they provide seven of them to all their employees. In addition, only four of the eight options are offered even on an "as needed" basis by more than half the employers.

      The situation isn't much better among those employers who cite creativity as a primary hiring criterion. In this group, 80% provide the three activities/training options that they say best develop creativity -- working in departments other than their own, managerial coaching, and mentoring -- only on an "as needed" basis.

      In summary, this new research shows that both businesses and schools recognize the critical role of creativity as a workforce skill, and both groups accept the role they have in fostering it. Both also recognize that arts-training is a key way to foster creativity. Yet despite this recognition, most schools do not include arts training as a mandatory part of the curriculum, and most businesses provide creativity-fostering training only to very few employees. With this growing recognition of the role a creative workforce has on the global competitiveness of American business, both business and education leaders need to examine what changes can be made to more widely foster these skills in our current -- and especially our future -- workers.


      Math Teachers Learn New Strategies in Salt Lake City, April 9-12

      Thousands of math educators from around the globe will meet in Salt Lake City, April 9–12, to learn new concepts, strategies, and techniques from some of the most knowledgeable people in math education today. Many presenters are teachers from Salt Lake City schools, as well as scores of educators from throughout Utah.

      More than 740 presentations covering all grade levels and major math subjects will be available to attendees at the 2008 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Meeting and Exposition, "Becoming Certain about Uncertainty." The Utah Council of Teachers of Mathematics (UCTM) is the local host for the event.

      Among the star attractions at the 4-day conference will be keynote speaker Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times best-selling author of "The Tipping Point" and "Blink." Gladwell’s most recent book, "Blink," will provide the springboard for his presentation on Wednesday, April 9, at 5:30 p.m. in the Salt Palace Convention Center. He will describe how the unconscious mind makes decisions in a split second and how teachers can use this insight to teach their students.

      NCTM President Francis (Skip) Fennell will address the critical issue of providing a high- quality math education for all students in his talk, "What’s Next? Next Steps for All of Us in Mathematics Teaching and Learning" on Thursday, April 10, at 3:30 p.m. In his talk, Fennell will address what mathematics should be available to all students to prepare them to succeed in a highly competitive global marketplace.

      Statistics offer a gloomy picture of the future pool of teachers - nearly a third will leave the profession within their first three years. Retaining the next generation of math teachers is essential if the country is to fill the 280,000 teaching positions in math and science that are projected by 2015. In addition, schools must deal with the annual turnover among math teachers that is the highest of all subject areas at 16.4 percent. To address this issue, the conference will offer sessions tailored to the specific needs of the new teacher throughout the day on Friday.

      During the conference, other sessions will offer a wide variety of subjects, ranging from making math relevant to minority students (African American, Asian, and Native American), to teaching algebra from pre-K through grade 8, to integrating literature, television shows, and modern culture into mathematics to make it relevant for all students.

      An inspirational presentation by Olympic track star Billy Mills will conclude the conference. Mills is the only American to win an Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 meters. His talk, “Winning Spirit,” explores the personal qualities and values that remain constant in an ever-changing world and how they can prepare us for success in life.

      NCTM’s annual meeting is the largest gathering of math educators in the world. Hundreds of sessions and workshops—led by local, national, and international education experts—will be available, with an emphasis on helping teachers strengthen skills and teaching methods necessary to prepare their students for the 21st century.

      In addition, more than 230 companies will be on hand to demonstrate the latest in curriculum and testing materials, student-centered manipulatives, and state-of-the-art technological advances that teachers and students can use to enhance learning.

      All meeting events will be held in the Salt Palace Convention Center, Hilton Salt Lake City Center and the Marriott Salt Lake City Downtown.

      To learn more about the conference, visit

      K.I.D.S. Distributes Bilingual Literacy DVDs

      To help build reading skills, children's charity Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc., has distributed 55,000 bilingual (English/Spanish) DVDs to agencies with literacy programs for disadvantaged youths in four major inner city areas (New York City, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles) and on Native American reservations.

      The new DVD is the second research-based educational DVD produced by PBS KIDS Raising Readers to promote literacy and includes episodes and music videos from the popular PBS shows "Super Why!" and "WordWorld." The DVD introduces children to the two shows and related Web activities and is designed to get them excited about building the skills they need to learn to read.

      K.I.D.S., which for several years has promoted literacy among children in need through its free distributions nationwide of books and educational materials, distributed the DVDs on behalf of WTTW and The Ready to Learn Partnership, LLC. PBS Raising Readers is part of the Ready to Learn initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and The Ready to Learn Partnership.

      The DVD includes Miss Rosa, the new host for the PBS KIDS Pre-school Block, who provides tips for parents on how to turn any time into reading time with fun and simple reading games and activities. "While the featured series and music videos are in English, and teach English skills, the goal of the bilingual prologue by Miss Rosa is to help reach parents and caregivers, who may also be English language learners and who will benefit greatly from the DVD's bilingual introduction option as well as Miss Rosa's accessibility," according to the PBS Education Newsletter.


      Using Visual Learning to Help Young Learners Build Literacy Skills

      Elementary school teachers will have even more ways to use visual learning to help young learners build literacy skills with today's debut of "Kidspiration® in the Classroom: Reading Essentials." Launched closely on the heels of last month's release of Kidspiration 3, this new resource book includes 50 standards-based lesson plans designed specifically to support the K-5 reading curriculum. Created by Inspiration Software® Inc. for K-5 learners, Kidspiration 3 supports students in kindergarten through fifth grade as they strengthen reading and writing skills, build conceptual understanding in math and develop thinking skills across the curriculum.

      Kidspiration in the Classroom: Reading Essentials, the newest addition to Inspiration Software's library of lesson plan books, includes lessons for grades K-2 focusing on early literacy and the essential components of effective reading instruction, including phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension. Topics range from "Identifying Initial Sounds and Letters" to "Recognizing Color Words."

      For grades 3-5, the lessons will help learners build vocabulary and reading comprehension and content literacy skills. Older elementary students will develop their vocabularies with lessons, such as "Contextual Definitions," and build reading comprehension abilities with lessons on topics such as "Literary Analysis." Many of the lessons in "Kidspiration in the Classroom: Reading Essentials" link directly to activities included in Kidspiration 3.

      A 30-day free trial of Kidspiration 3 can be downloaded at Sample pages from "Kidspiration in the Classroom: Reading Essentials" can be downloaded at

      2008 Canada Post Community Literacy Awards

      Nominations are now open for the 2008 Canada Post Community Literacy Awards. This national program celebrates the remarkable efforts of individual Canadians and educators who have contributed to the advancement of literacy in their communities. Canadians have until May 23, 2008 to nominate deserving candidates.

      This year marks the 16th edition of the Canada Post Community Literacy Awards. Prizes and awards are presented at ceremonies that take place across the country in the fall; winners in the Individual Achievement Award category will receive a cash award of $300 and a Certificate of Achievement. Educator Award category winners each receive a cash award of $500 and a Certificate of Achievement.

      Anyone interested in submitting a nomination can visit the Canada Post Community Literacy Awards website at