Family Reading Encouraged During National Book Month

Educators from Kumon Math and Reading Centers across the country are encouraging families to make reading a priority.

Kumon invites families to visit a local center in October in honor of National Book Month to receive a copy of its free Recommended Reading List. Kumon offers 350 titles, designed to help parents select books that enhance their children's appreciation and understanding of the English language and develop a lifelong love for reading.

"The books parents select should match the child's level of ability and should pique his or her interest in a particular topic," said Dr. Mary Mokris, education specialist for Kumon. "If your child loves to help cook, consider books that highlight foods from around the world, or if he or she dreams of imaginary lands and characters, then books of the fantasy genre would be ideal. Our recommended reading list provides a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction titles, including those with multicultural themes."

At least a third of Kumon's Recommended Reading List books have won literary awards from renowned organizations such as the National Book Foundation and Pulitzer. The list also highlights a section of books perfect for parents to read aloud with their younger children.

"Reading builds vocabulary and is the one activity which can help to improve children's experiences in all school subjects. Most importantly, it's a perfect way to make memories that last a lifetime," Dr. Mokris added.

Select centers will host book drives and other reading-themed activities throughout October. For more information about Kumon or for a list of nearby Kumon Centers visit: or call 800-ABC-MATH.

Ecolab Donates More Than $195,000 Locally to Teachers

In keeping with its 25-year tradition of supporting community schools, Ecolab awarded more than $195,000 in 2008 through its Ecolab Foundation Visions for Learning grants in the St. Paul area, and over $1.9 million since the inception of the program.

"Ecolab has always consistently supported education, utilizing a variety of means," said Michael Monahan, Vice President - External Relations and President of the Ecolab Foundation. "The focus of the Visions for Learning grant program is to help augment classroom curriculum for students in grades K-12 by providing additional classroom materials to help reach learning goals. We know teachers frequently spend personal funds on materials to improve the learning experience for their students. We feel strongly that partnering with teachers to improve classroom materials and their availability will help student achievement."

Visions for Learning is a program of the Ecolab Foundation. The Foundation will contribute over $6 million in 2008 to communities where Ecolab associates live and work.

Visions for Learning grants are given to kindergarten through-12th grade teachers to support and engage students, help them achieve at-grade level in basic skills, and enrich the classroom experience. Projects funded this year included materials for students to create and publish their own books, equipment for DNA testing and analysis, and materials to build a portable greenhouse to be taken care of by special education students.

Recipients from Saint Paul schools were honored at an awards ceremony on October 7, 2008, held at Ecolab's Research and Development facility in Eagan, MN. Teachers, principals, as well as district leaders toured the facility and enjoyed the evening's reception and award ceremony. "Ecolab's partnership with the Saint Paul Public Schools over the past twenty-two years is testament to the company's commitment to supporting excellence in education and setting an example of making a contribution to our community, with our youth and thereby our future," commented Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools.

In 2008, over $770,000 was awarded to teachers in Saint Paul, MN, and in twelve other U.S. Ecolab locations, where grants totaled between $30,000 and $60,000. Over 300 schools and thousands of students were touched by the program this year.


Britannica Holds Online Forum on Classroom Technologies

Are the new technologies that fill today's classrooms a bane or a boon to learning? That's the question a panel of experts will tackle in "Brave New Classroom 2.0," a forum taking place this week at the Encyclopaedia Britannica blog ( The forum will explore the effects of PCs, laptops, whiteboards, the Internet, PowerPoint and other technologies in classrooms at all levels, from grade school to graduate school.

"Many of these technologies were once thought of as educational aides for the library and the home," said Theodore Pappas, an executive editor at Britannica. "Today they're moving into the classroom rapidly, with uncertain consequences for teaching and learning. Some educators are thrilled by these developments, some are wary and many haven't decided. We'll try to help everyone make sense of it all."

Bloggers will discuss a range of issues related to educational technology, including the new emphasis on project learning and collaboration, the changing roles of student and teacher, the effect of technology on authority in the classroom and the cognitive implications of multitasking.

The first posts in the forum appear today: "A Vision of Students Today (& What Teachers Must Do)," by Michael Wesch, an anthropologist at Kansas State University and a member of Britannica's editorial board; and "Turned On, Plugged In, Online, & Dumb: Student Failure Despite the Techno Revolution," by Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein.

Contributors who will post later in the week include Steve Hargadon, founder of the Classroom 2.0 social network; cognitive psychologist Dan Willingham; and David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who has banned laptops from his lectures.

A panel of educational technology journalists will also respond to the posts in what Pappas hopes will be a lively and ongoing discussion. Members of the public are welcome to add their own comments.

AT&T Awards More Than $650,000 in Grants to Help Address High School Dropout Crisis

AT&T Inc. is awarding more than $650,000 in AT&T Foundation grants to 10 San Diego and Orange County-area educational institutions to support high school retention programs for at-risk students.

The grants are part of the company's signature initiative, AT&T Aspire, which was announced earlier this year to help address high school success and workforce readiness. AT&T has committed $100 million in philanthropy through 2011 to schools and nonprofit organizations that are focused on high school retention and better preparing students for college and the workforce.

As part of the Aspire initiative, the AT&T Foundation has committed $29 million in High School Success grants to more than 170 schools and nonprofit organizations. Statewide, AT&T is awarding 35 grants totaling more than $3.5 million.

America's Promise Alliance, the nation's largest multi-sector collaborative dedicated to the well-being of children and youth, has noted that nearly one-third of U.S. high school students drop out before graduating -- with about 7,000 students dropping out every school day, or one every 26 seconds.

"High school dropout rates are a serious issue affecting students all across the U.S. including here in San Diego and Orange County," said Mark Leslie, vice president, AT&T, External Affairs - San Diego. "We're committed to helping kids succeed by preparing them for tomorrow's economy. We are pleased with the response we've seen to the Aspire program, and look forward to working with these groups to build a brighter future for our youth."

Local recipients of these grants are:

Escondido Union High School District -- $180,000 to support and expand the "Tutorial Intervention" program which provides targeted tutoring for at-risk 9th/10th grade students earning a "C" or lower in any core subject area.

Grossmont Union High School District -- $150,000 to support inclusion of 9th grade students in the Learning Center, a small learning community for at-risk students at Monte Vista High School that centers around core academics, student retention, and credit recovery programs.

Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District -- $100,000 to support the Valencia High School Hope & Opportunity program designed to work intensely with failing 9th and 10th grade students or others having a history of behavioral problems and attendance issues and therefore, at risk of dropping out of school.

Barrio Logan College Institute -- $31,244 to support planning to improve the writing and literacy of at-risk 9th and 10th graders participating in the "Steps to Success Program", which provides comprehensive academic services and support relevant to college success.

Greater Santa Ana Vitality Foundation -- $35,000 to support planning for High School, Inc. which when implemented will deliver real-world education and curriculum through six career-based academies housed at Valley High School within the Santa Ana Unified School District.

Imperial County Office of Education -- $34,850 to support the expansion of the Summer Bridge algebra academies for 8th and 9th graders to better prepare students for high school academics and requirements for college.

Irvine Public Schools Foundation -- $35,000 to support planning activities for the Freshman Success Program, a peer mentoring project for Irvine Unified School District that will target low-achieving 9th grade students and pair them with mentors and role models with the goal of reinforcing the importance of college.

Saddleback Valley Unified School District -- $30,000 to further develop the Freshman Success program for at-risk 8th and 9th grade students at Mission Viejo High School that provides academic skills classes in geometry, algebra, and English.

San Diego Urban League -- $35,000 to support development of BE SMART (Better Education in Science, Math & Arts for Talented Young Men), a male youth enhancement program designed to increase involvement of at-risk, underserved 9th and 10th grade students in S.E. San Diego County with math, science and arts programs.

THINK Together -- $35,000 to support the expansion of THINK Together (Teaching, Helping, Inspiring, Nurturing Kids Together) high school program into the Santa Ana Unified School which will encompass an intense in-school/after school academic program to keep at-risk students on track.

As one of the largest-ever corporate commitments to high school retention and workforce readiness, the $100 million AT&T Aspire program will support organizations with strong track records that promote educational success, from the classroom to the workplace. The recipient programs of this year's High School Success grants provide a range of support for students, including academic intervention, mentoring and tutoring services.

In addition to the retention program grants, AT&T Aspire will award funding in three other key areas:

-- A student job shadowing initiative involving 400,000 AT&T employee hours that will give 100,000 students a firsthand look at the skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century workforce.

-- The underwriting of national research that will explore the practitioner perspective (teachers, principals, superintendents, school counselors and school board members) on the high school dropout issue.

-- Support for 100 state and community dropout prevention summits, announced earlier this year by America's Promise Alliance.

For more information about the AT&T Aspire initiative, visit

City National Now Accepting Applications for Literacy Grants

City National Bank is now accepting applications from educators for grants to support literacy-based projects at elementary, middle and high schools in California, New York and Nevada.

The online application can be accessed by visiting Any full-time teacher, librarian, administrator or school media specialist at a school in the county of New York, or in one of the 11 California or four Nevada counties in which City National has offices is eligible to apply. California counties include Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Ventura. The Nevada counties are Carson City, Clark, Douglas and Washoe.

About 150 grants totaling up to $75,000 may be awarded. Grants will provide up to $500 for the recipients to create, augment or expand literacy projects that are adjudged to be creative and engaging, and that may help improve student achievement. Awards can be used for books, videos, CDs, DVDs, computer software or hardware, or in other ways so long as the recipient shows that the project for which funds are sought will support literacy.

City National's Reading Is The Way Up(r) program will award the grants. Applications will be accepted through November 19, 2008 and awardees will be notified in March, 2009. Grant funds must be expended by December 31, 2009.

Applicants may apply individually or as part of a team. To ensure that grants are distributed to a wide range of schools, multiple grants are not likely to be awarded to applicants at the same school. However, applicants from the same school applying as a team for the same project can submit up to a maximum of three applications (for a total of $1,500).

This is the fourth year City National has awarded grants for literacy projects through the bank's Reading Is The Way Up program. In 2005, City National awarded $31,000 to Orange County educators in honor of the bank's 30th anniversary in Orange County. The program was expanded throughout Nevada last year, when the bank awarded $65,000 to more than 100 educators.

Past grants have been used for everything from literacy computer programs to art/reading projects to field trips. In one case, an elementary school used the funds to enhance literacy for struggling English language learners through the art of puppetry.

For more information about the Reading Is The Way Up Literacy Grants Program, visit or send an e-mail to

300,000 Free Books For Schools, Libraries And Community Organizations To Promote Literacy

The 2008 Back to School Book Donation will make available more than 300,000 new Random House books, which will be distributed nationally to schools, libraries and literacy organizations serving low-income youth.

First Book is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. They provide an ongoing supply of new books to children participating in local mentoring, tutoring, and family literacy programs. Since its creation in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 60 million books to children in over 3,000 communities around the country.

"Reading is a gift that sparks the imagination and opens new doors for children of all ages," said Chip Gibson, president of Random House Children's Books. "Random House is proud to be part of the 2008 Back to School Book donation to help make a lifetime of difference to children in need."

Random House Children's Books is the world's largest English-language children's trade book publisher, creating books for toddlers through young adult readers, in all formats, from board books to activity books to picture books and novels. The company's website, offers an array of materials and activities free of charge for children, teens, parents and educators.

Today's announcement marks the latest phase in the Book Donation Campaign. The Campaign is a multi-year effort of the U.S. Department of Education, First Book and a host of major U.S. book publishing companies to promote literacy and supply books to children in need. Since June 2006, the Department, First Book and major book publishers have collaborated to distribute over 2.9 million children's books to schools, libraries and literacy organizations serving low-income youth across the country.

For more information on the U.S. Department of Education and First Book's book donation campaign, visit:

For more information on First Book, visit:

Free Online Tool Helps Educators Measure the Reading Demands of Spanish Text

Connecting Spanish-speaking students with targeted reading materials just got easier. MetaMetrics (R), Inc., developer of the widely adopted Lexile Framework(R) for Reading, today announced that it has launched a free Spanish version of its popular online Lexile Analyzer(R). Registered users can utilize the Spanish Lexile Analyzer to evaluate the reading demands of articles, passages and other Spanish texts and to determine the Spanish Lexile® measures of titles currently not in the Spanish Lexile Book Database.

The Spanish Lexile Analyzer uses El Sistema Lexile para Leer, the Spanish-language version of the Lexile Framework, to determine text difficulty. El Sistema Lexile measures text based on the same semantic and syntactic factors of reading demand -- word frequency and sentence length -- as the Lexile Framework. However, El Sistema Lexile employs a distinct 58-million word research corpus to determine Spanish word frequency values and a unique equation for calculating Spanish Lexile measures. As a result, the Spanish Lexile measure of a text can differ from the Lexile measure of the same text written in English.

The Spanish Lexile Analyzer is intended to measure professionally edited text only, including books, newspaper and magazine articles, and short stories. It is not designed to measure the difficulty of texts such as students' writing samples, poetry and unconventional writing styles, which can result in inaccurate Spanish Lexile measures. MetaMetrics advises users to follow all text-preparation guidelines posted on the Lexile Web site to ensure the validity of the Spanish Lexile measures.

For more information and to use the Spanish Lexile Analyzer, visit

New Grants Target Youth Journalism

The McCormick Foundation Board of Directors recently approved more than $4 million in new Journalism grants. Of that, $1.97 million is earmarked for 2009 activities, and $2.1 million will be invested in subsequent years. The money will be granted to 22 organizations, many of them for high school and college journalism initiatives. Through the Journalism program's grantees, the McCormick Foundation reinforces Robert R. McCormick's passionate belief in the First Amendment and life-long commitment to promoting and protecting a free press in our democratic society.

"These grants support our focus on innovation, integration and invigoration of the news media," said Clark Bell, Journalism program director, McCormick Foundation. "Our grants address the full spectrum of challenges and opportunities in the profession, ranging from training for high school students to leadership development for senior media executives."

The McCormick Foundation's Journalism program continues to invest in organizations that promote journalistic ethics, boost training for young journalists and enable journalists to develop specialized skills that meet society's changing needs. Since the program's inception in 1993, the McCormick Foundation has invested more than $85 million in support of journalism initiatives that reflect the legacy of former Tribune editor and publisher Robert R. McCormick.

"The Journalism program supports a free, vigorous and diverse news media and is committed to invigorating the profession of journalism and instilling a sense of service," said David L. Grange, president and chief executive officer, McCormick Foundation. "By helping aspiring journalists develop skills -- while encouraging ethics, objectivity and public service -- the Foundation enhances the future of the profession and contributes to a more engaged, better informed citizenry."

2009 Program Grant Highlights

In efforts to promote appreciation and awareness of the First Amendment, the McCormick Foundation granted $100,000 to the American Society of Newspaper Editors Foundation, Inc. for the Liberty Tree Initiative. The two-year grant will be used to seed 10 selected colleges and universities for conferences and celebrations to educate the students about free speech and media. The grant will also fund the creation of a Web site that displays the Liberty Tree Initiative's efforts and focus.

Columbia College Chicago will receive a $250,000 grant for its Columbia Links journalism project. The two-year grant will assist in providing journalism training to Chicago area high school students and faculty. This is the McCormick Foundation's first multi-year grant for Columbia Links, which has already funded youth training for 25 of the city's 100-plus high schools. The McCormick Foundation has awarded $3.3 million in youth media programs since 2006, most of them serving high students in the Chicago area.


Write Better Literacy Lesson Plans Faster

LessonWriter is a new, free website that aims to assist teachers by analyzing readings and creating lesson plans for teachers. It was designed by an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and is free to the public. The user-friendly website allows teachers to cut and paste electronic readings into a field, then analyzes grammatical and lexical structures and guides teachers through the steps to create a customized lesson plan. The software analyzes the discourse of the reading to isolate vocabulary and grammar. It then provides definitions and contextualized examples of vocabulary. Research has shown that contextualized grammar and vocabulary instruction improve learner comprehension and retention.

The website also does the analytical and time-consuming work for the teacher by examining the passage's vocabulary for the presence of prefixes, roots, suffixes; it also categorizes the vocabulary. The teacher has the option of clicking on the most common category and/or the one most needed by his/her students. The same process occurs with the grammar portion lessons. The software identifies the grammatical forms present in the reading, categorizes them grammatically categorizes them, and allows the teacher to select which grammatical feature(s) to emphasize in their lessons plans.

LessonWriter goes even further to help teachers; the software generates several open and close-ended activities for language practice. Comprehension questions can be formatted as short answer, extend response, or multiple choice, so any reading passage at all can be used as part of a test prep course. There is a selection of graphic organizers that teachers can include in their readings as well.

The teacher can view, modify and print the lesson plan for use. Ingeniously, the same lesson can be modified for students with different needs. By re-arranging the exercises and using them in different combinations, a teacher can create literally thousands of versions of a lesson sheet. This website is extremely helpful when preparing content-area lesson plans, because teachers can employ authentic materials, view all the grammatical and lexical components of the reading without doing the analysis personally, and so include explicit literacy instruction in any subject.

Classes and lessons plans are managed, too. LessonWriter makes recommendations on what to teach next for each class, and teachers can always return to previously created lessons for editing or re-use. Lessons are permanently recorded for easy and reliable reporting.


Target Awards $14.9 Million to Schools Nationwide

Target's Take Charge of Education(R) school fundraising initiative has provided $14.9 million in funding to schools nationwide. Donated to schools twice a year, the undesignated funds can be used for whatever schools need most, from books and school supplies to classroom technology, artist-in-residence programs and extracurricular activities. As the program continues its 11th year, Take Charge of Education has donated more than $246 million to more than 100,000 schools nationwide - 75 percent of the nation's K-12 schools.

"Take Charge of Education allows Target to continue its commitment to furthering educational opportunities and impacting the learning experiences of students across the country," said Laysha Ward, president, community relations, Target. "Giving back to communities is important to Target and this program allows our team members to create meaningful relationships with their local schools, while also inviting guests to help us make a real difference every day."

Take Charge of Education allows Target guests to easily designate an eligible K-12 school of their choice and have Target donate an amount equal to one percent of their REDcard(SM) (Target(R) Visa(R) Credit Card, Target Credit Card(SM) and Target Check Card(SM)) purchases made at Target and*. In addition, Target also donates 0.5 percent of Target Visa Credit Card purchases made everywhere else Visa credit cards are accepted.

"Children learn in a lot of different ways. Some prefer reading from books, while others need hands-on instruction to help things take shape in their minds. But coming up with lessons that offer something for everyone takes time, that's why our school uses Take Charge of Education funds to hire substitutes so we teachers can have planning days," said Ms. Ramsey, teacher at Canyon Creek Elementary in Richardson, Texas. "We like to work together on lesson plans. We bounce ideas off each other and come up with some really great things."

Cardholders and school representatives can visit or call 1-800-316-6142 to enroll, select a school or check the status of payouts.

Free Tools and Lesson Plans for University Students

The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, an initiative of the Salzburg Global Seminar and the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda ( ICMPA ) at the University of Maryland, has launched an online set of tools, lesson plans, case studies and curricula to teach secondary and university students around the world about the vital role of media in building and supporting civil society.

"There is no global issue or political arena in which the statement of problems and the framing of possible solutions are not influenced by media coverage," said Susan Moeller, the director of ICMPA and the lead professor of the Salzburg Academy. "Students in both the developed and the developing world need to understand the different ways media shape our world - and the essential roles media can play in fostering civil society and ensuring transparency and accountability."

This year's Salzburg Academy brought together faculty from 15 top universities around the world and university students from five continents to create dynamic online and downloadable lesson plans. The professors together with students who ranged from undergraduates to PhD candidates worked to research and write case studies and related exercises about how media affect the public's understanding of their own societies, governments, and regions and how media can help bridge cultural and political divides.

"Citizens around the world need to join together in a community of knowledge about media," said Jordi Torrent, project manager for the UNAoC Media Literacy Education Initiative. "The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is partnering with the Salzburg Academy to foster global tolerance and understanding through the teaching of media literacy."

UNESCO is also partnering with the Salzburg Academy and has been deeply involved in helping to create curricular toolkits that support Freedom of Expression and Global Media Literacy.

The Academy website is fully searchable. Teachers, students, media development experts, NGOs, journalists, home-school parents and others can find resources either by moving sequentially through the six module topics, or by conducting an advanced search-such as looking for lesson plans about graphic images or exercises that call for role-playing. Visitors to the site can choose to comment on the lesson plans after registering on the site. They could, for example, upload their own classroom exercises or resources-and they can also download as a print document the lesson plans already up.

The website is launching with 20 complete lesson plans that were created during the 2008 Academy session. Over the course of the fall, dozens more will be uploaded.


The ING Unsung Heroes Awards Program for Educators

Every day, teachers are asked to engage our children in science, math and language arts to cultivate their intellectual readiness to become future presidents, small-town doctors and global business leaders. Previous generations of educators have answered the call by way of traditional instruction. However, today's teachers must be able to demonstrate the real-life practicality and relevance of core curriculum subjects to a generation of new-media and electronic-gadget enthusiasts.

While reading from textbooks, working math problems on the chalkboard and listening to lectures still resonates with most students, innovative ideas that tap into technology and provide further hands-on learning are proving to be much more effective. All across America, teachers are coming up with ingenious ways to engage students, contend for their attention and prepare them for higher learning and to assume future leadership roles.

With enough funding, teachers committed to meeting today's challenge of engaging and educating Internet-savvy, "connected" students can turn their ideas into reality. ING, a global financial services company, has taken notice of the innovative ideas of these "unsung heroes" for more than a decade and is committed to recognizing and rewarding educators for their ingenuity.

The ING Unsung Heroes awards program recognizes Kindergarten through 12th grade educators nationwide for their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to positively influence the children they teach. Since honoring its first "unsung hero" in 1996, ING has awarded more than $3 million to nearly 1,300 educators across the United States.

ING today announced that after receiving more than 1,400 applications this year and choosing 100 initial $2,000 award winners, Robert Ostmann, a teacher at Laurel High School in Los Alamitos, Calif., has been selected to receive the top prize in the 2008 ING Unsung Heroes awards program. As the winner, Ostmann will receive an additional $25,000 for his "LifeWorks Studio" program.

Over the years, Robert Ostmann has worked relentlessly to keep Laurel High School students in school. His latest creative business ideas just might have what it takes to keep at-risk students in class, as well as prepare them for productive adult lives. His "LifeWorks Studio" program consists of two components: 1) a student-operated small business that contracts with parent groups at other district schools to videotape plays, concerts and other events to produce professional-quality DVDs for the schools to sell as fundraisers and 2) a public-service partnership between students and a regional hospice organization to film and produce "LifeStory" video memoirs of men and women nearing the end of their lives. LifeWorks Studios moves learning outside the conventional classroom model.

Running a community-based business gives students a chance to move beyond their limited world of school and friends to connect with the larger community. Interacting across generations and immersing themselves in the life stories of others will give students a unique perspective on the possibilities and challenges that life can throw their way. Over the school year, about 40 students will directly benefit by working in both the small business and the public service components of LifeWorks Studio. The project reinforces the Laurel High staff's commitment to keep their students in school and equip them to become productive citizens and lifelong learners in a technology-driven world. Ostmann resides in Los Alamitos.

To learn about this year's winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the ING Unsung Heroes Web site at Applications for the 2009 ING Unsung Heroes awards are available on the Web site, or by calling 800.537.4180 or emailing

Schools nationwide will win 'green makeovers' valued at $250,000 in products and services

EcoMedia, a leading environmental media company, and the CBS Corporation today kicked off the CBS and EcoZone(R) Green Schools Initiative. One winning school in each city will receive a green makeover valued at approximately $250,000 in products and services and overseen by a professional "green schools coach." EcoMedia and CBS were joined by Miami Mayor and current President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Manny Diaz, and Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho, in a call for entries from schools in Miami, the Initiative's first market.

Students, teachers and administrators can enter the Green Schools Initiative by submitting a creative response that expresses what "being green" means to them, as well as filling out an application at

Winners will be chosen by a committee consisting of members of EcoMedia's Advisory Board, including USGBC, NOAA EPA/Energy Star, Waterkeeper Alliance, city and school officials, corporate sponsors, and members of the CBS Corporation, and will be announced in January 2009. In addition to the grand prize, a sustainable environmental program will be provided to all participating schools through Miami non-profit Dream In Green.

Top Bloggers Compete in Support of Public Schools

Bloggers big and small, including top sites such as TechCrunch, Engadget, and BoingBoing, challenged their readers today to make donations to high-need public schools. The 2008 Blogger Challenge is powered by, an acclaimed nonprofit website where teachers post project requests for materials that their students need to learn, and donors can choose the requests they want to support.

At, bloggers have listed the classroom project requests they find most compelling and are urging their blog readers to donate to those projects. Technology blogs including Engadget, TechCrunch, BoingBoing, Kara Swisher, and Fred Wilson have all set up giving pages listing technology requests such as "Teaching Literacy Through Podcasts" ($390) and "Laptop For Learning" ($925).

Bloggers in other sectors are also competing to see who can generate the most support for public schools. Science blogs, knitting blogs, mommy blogs, and music blogs are participating with great enthusiasm in the 2008 Blogger Challenge, which will run throughout the month of October.

Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, the #1 blog in the world according to TechMeme, tossed his hat into the ring today. "We aim to show that TechCrunch readers are some of the most engaged and generous of any blog readers out there," Arrington said. displays leaderboards ranking the generosity each blogger has inspired from his/her readers. Last October, Sarah Bunting of leapt to the top of the leaderboards by offering to dance through Rockefeller Center dressed as a tomato if her readers funded all $105,000 of the classroom requests on her challenge page. It worked.

Yahoo! will award the bloggers who engage the greatest number of readers, while Six Apart will award the bloggers who reach the greatest number of students. Fortune Magazine and Technorati are sponsoring the overall campaign.

Many of the participating bloggers have small but highly engaged readerships.

"My readers care a lot about science education, and lets them help real kids in public school classrooms in a way that feels very immediate and personal," said Janet Stemwedel of Adventures in Ethics and Science, one of 15 members of the ScienceBlogs community who have set up challenge pages to fund math and science classroom projects. "Succeeding in the Blogger Challenge is less about how many readers you have and more about the relationship you have with those readers. Even without big traffic, a blog with caring and committed readers can make a huge difference for kids."

See the giving contest underway at

America's Children Break Reading World Record

Children across the country made history yesterday participating in the third annual Jumpstart's Read for the Record(R) Campaign. An early morning reading with NBC's TODAY Show co-host Matt Lauer featured a special White House reading with First Lady Laura Bush. The TODAY Show also featured Jumpstart Honorary Spokesperson LL Cool J, Jesse McCartney, Greg Kinnear, Maria from Sesame Street, and Mary-Louise Parker. Children's author and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jon Scieszka, helped kicked off the day as thousands of events took place across the country with hundreds of thousands of children reading the story of Corduroy.

The 2008 Campaign raised more than $1.5 million for Jumpstart's early education programs in low-income communities, while drawing national attention to the country's early education crisis. It is still possible to support early education by texting the word READ to 90999 to donate $5 to Jumpstart. With entries still being tabulated, Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign has broken the world record for the largest shared reading experience with more than 300,000 readers registering at!

Readers of all ages participated in Campaign activities in schools and libraries, at colleges and universities, on playgrounds, and in malls, offices and homes across the country, including reading events hosted by Jumpstart in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Celebrations in hundreds of cities across the country were supported by the Pearson Foundation, the Campaign's sponsor and founding partner. Throughout the day, children and adults from all corners of the nation were joined by mayors, school superintendents and principals, and other dignitaries including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Schools Superintendent of New Orleans Paul Vallas, Chicago Public School CEO Arne Duncan, as well as celebrities including singer/songwriter/actress JoJo in Boston; Gabrielle Union, Shaun Robinson of Access Hollywood and Lo Bosworth (The Hills) in Los Angeles; R&B Star Mario in Washington DC and MC Hammer in San Francisco.

The Campaign created the world's largest shared reading experience as participants read this year's official Campaign book, the children's classic, Corduroy, written by Don Freeman and published by Penguin Young Readers Group. Along with today's record-breaking shared reading experience, more than 200,000 copies of Corduroy were donated to children in low-income communities.

Each year, one third of America's children arrive at their first day of school developmentally behind their peers and without the skills necessary to succeed. Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign brings national attention to this critical learning gap.

Pearson Foundation President, Mark Nieker, added, "Research shows that the ability to read is a key factor in a child's success in school and that the strongest indicator of future reading ability is the number of books children have at home. Statistics tell us that children in low-income communities have from no books at all to just three at home, versus 50 books in the households of their middle and high-income peers. Pearson recognizes the importance of Jumpstart's Read for the Record in donating books to children who need them most and focusing a national spotlight on sobering statistics like these."

During the 2006 and 2007 Campaigns, more than 400,000 people registered for Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign and raised more than $2,000,000 to support Jumpstart's mission. In addition, Jumpstart and Pearson were recognized for their collaboration with a 2006 Cause Marketing Halo Award and with Boston Business Journal's 2008 Corporate Philanthropy Award for Education Partner of the Year.

Jumpstart's longstanding relationships with its national multi-year partners, American Eagle Outfitters, Pearson and Sodexo, are key components of its ongoing efforts to help at-risk children develop their language, literacy, and social skills in preparation for kindergarten.

Coaching the Urban Educator

Urban educators, with their unique challenges and needs, are the beneficiaries of a new Teachers.Net Gazette advice column, "Coaching the Urban Educator" written by teacher coach and trainer Kioni Carter. Carter’s premier column in the September 2008 Teachers.Net Gazette offered advice about how to manage the first day of school with "known trouble makers," and how to stay positive when principals aren’t knocking down your door with job offers.

In this month's column ( Kioni coaches two NYC school teachers on how to address a negative supervisor and how to build "therapy" into lesson-planning in order to help students who have mental and/or emotional issues.

Kioni Carter is a graduate of Cornell University with a major in Human Development and minors in Africana Studies and Dance. She is also a graduate of Long Island University with a Masters of Science in Elementary Education, and a graduate of the Institute for Professional Empowerment Coaching. An active member of the International Coach Federation, Kioni provides coaching and training programs for educators in the NYC Public School System as well as in the education-based, non-profit sector. She says her primary workshop, My Classroom Rules! is her pride and joy.

The monthly Teachers.Net Gazette web-based magazine offers more than two dozen articles and features in every issue and is linked from all pages on the Teachers.Net site, or by email subscription.