New Program Provides Students with the Tools to Teach English Abroad

UC Irvine Extension, the continuing education arm of the University of California, Irvine, will offer a new certificate program in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). The program, which does not require that participants speak a foreign language or have any prior teaching experience, gives students the skills and confidence to teach English while traveling abroad. UC Irvine Extension’s TEFL Certificate Program will be offered as an intensive summer program from June 27 to Sept. 5, 2008.

"There is huge international demand for language instruction from English-speaking Americans," says Kelly Oto, assistant director of English & Certificates for Internationals at UC Irvine Extension. "This unique program provides students with the training necessary to begin a career path in teaching English abroad."

Courses delve into language learning theory, grammar, teaching methods and lesson planning. Hands-on experience is provided during student-teaching opportunities in an ESL classroom, as well as available opportunities to associate with international students on the UC Irvine campus. The benefit of interaction with students from different cultures – which is uncommon for this type of program – is amplified by access to the campus' "Communication Club," which pairs ESL and TEFL students. Housing share programs are available to kick-start the international experience.

Also vital to students' success, is close access to experienced instructors who provide job referral assistance and valuable information to address logistical concerns, culture shock and successful adaptation. These instructors have all taught abroad themselves and support students with finding the right opportunities, and details such as housing and meals, and grade levels to be taught. This extensive counsel gives students the guidance to get into the best positions. Post-program staff support is also available to offer students advice regarding challenges in the classroom and more.

While this program has been bringing international students to Irvine, Calif. for more than 20 years, summer 2007 marked the launch of UC Irvine Extension’s first cohort of students sent abroad.

For more information or to enroll, contact Roger Dupuy at UC Irvine Extension's English and Certificates for Internationals department at or 949-824-9951.


Shaker High School Student Selected as New York State Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest Winner

Genevieve Mailloux, a Shaker High School student from the Capital Region, took first place in the New York State Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, held March 13 at the New York State Museum. After successful wins in Shaker High School's English classroom and school-wide competitions, she graduated to the state-level event to perform her winning recitations of Possible Answers to Prayer by Scott Cairns and Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes by Thomas Gray. She was coached to the top by Shaker High School English teacher Maureen Livingston.

Mailloux received $200 in cash and a $75 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. In addition, her school received a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. As the New York State Champion of Poetry Out Loud, Mailloux also receives an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the National Finals in Washington, DC on April 29. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends, with a $20,000 college scholarship for the national champion.

Tenelle Amber Veira took second place representing The High School for Global Citizenship, which was led by English teacher Marie Lewis. Veira read a song in the front yard by Gwendolyn Brooks and The Slave Auction by Frances Harper. Veira is a senior. As the runner-up, she received $100 and a $50 gift certificate, with $200 for poetry books for her school library.

In third place was Rosetta B. Fairley, who represented West Babylon High School with her readings of The Slave Auction by Frances Harper and Difference by Stephen Vincent Benet. The Poetry Out Loud coordinator at Rosetta's school was Hans Haugen.

The contestants recited works selected from an anthology of more than 400 classic and contemporary poems. The anthologies were provided to teachers along with other curriculum-building materials, including a standards-based teacher's guide, a comprehensive website, and a CD featuring poetry recitations by well-known actors and writers such as Anthony Hopkins, Alyssa Milano, N. Scott Momaday, and Rita Dove.

The event was opened by NY State Council on the Arts' Arts in Education Director Amy Duggins Pender, and the student recitations were judged by a panel of accomplished educators and poets, including Kevin Craig West, Lois Elaine Griffith of the Nuyorican Poetry Cafe, Jeanne Finley of the New York State Writers Institute, and Maryann Malecki of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

Poetry Out Loud is a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry as they memorize and perform notable poems in a series of competitions that begin in the classroom and will culminate with national championships in Washington, D.C. in April. The program was presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, and Time Warner Cable.

PBS Launches PBS KIDS PLAY! Internet Service

PBS has launched PBS KIDS PLAY!(SM), its new Internet-based subscription service designed to help children ages 3 to 6 learn through interactive play. Available as a download from, PBS KIDS PLAY! has been available as a beta test for the past two months, during which time tens of thousands of families from across the country have tried it. The service is being offered for $9.95 per month or $79 per year, with a free 15-day trial.

PBS KIDS PLAY! uses all-new interactive games and activities to provide a personalized learning experience at home. PBS KIDS(R) characters from programs including CURIOUS GEORGE, FRANNY'S FEET, MAMA MIRABELLE'S HOME MOVIES, MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD, and THE BERENSTAIN BEARS keep kids engaged. PBS plans to add more new games and activities based on BOB THE BUILDER, SUPER WHY, THOMAS & FRIENDS, and other programs in 2008. A subscription also includes online access to full-length PBS KIDS television episodes and to new content added every week.

The PBS KIDS PLAY! curriculum includes Math, Science, Literacy, Language Development, Creativity, Healthy Development, and Social Studies. All of the games and activities in PBS KIDS PLAY! are designed to meet nationally recognized educational standards and benchmarks. In one CURIOUS GEORGE game, for example, children use a counterweight to raise and lower George to decorate a huge floor-to-ceiling cake, learning how to measure with a scale. Another example: In MAMA MIRABELLE'S HOME MOVIES, the animals play hide-and- go-seek, giving clues to their hidden location such as "near," "between," or "behind" to help kids learn prepositions.

With a single click, parents can read about the learning objectives and instructions for each game or activity, without exiting the game. PBS KIDS PLAY! also provides an easy-to-use progress chart that helps parents see how each child is advancing through the curriculum. The chart, tailored specifically to each child, includes an indicator of how far the child has progressed in each skill area. It also recommends new activities to try, based on the child's skill level.

PBS KIDS PLAY! requires broadband Internet access and a PC with Windows XP or Vista operating system and mid-range processing power (Pentium 4 or Dual- Core). The service is available for a monthly subscription fee of $9.95, or $79 per year. A free, 15-day trial is available at A credit card is not required for the free trial.

Shel Silverstein's First Poetry Collection

HarperCollins Children's Books has released DON'T BUMP THE GLUMP! And Other Fantasies. Originally published in 1964, this is Shel Silverstein's first ever poetry collection. Remembered by longtime Silverstein fans as 'Uncle Shelby's Zoo', DON'T BUMP THE GLUMP! has been highly sought after as a collector's item and eagerly anticipated by fans everywhere.

DON'T BUMP THE GLUMP! is a menagerie of silly and scary creatures illustrated by the author in stunning ink and watercolor washes -- the only children's book he created in full color. Step inside this most unusual bestiary and meet a number of outrageous characters including the Wild Gazite, the Flying Festoon, the Slithergadee, and the One-Legged Zantz. Now available again after more than thirty years, this richly rendered collection of 45 poems will mesmerize Shel Silverstein fans of all ages.

Shel Silverstein is the author of Runny Babbit, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, A Light in the Attic, Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, The Giving Tree, The Missing Piece, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, and many other classic books of prose and poetry. He was a cartoonist, playwright, poet, performer, recording artist, and a Grammy-winning / Oscar-nominated songwriter. Shel Silverstein's children's books have sold more than 25 million hardcover copies in the U.S. alone and have been translated into over 30 languages.


Math Video Website Helps Level Playing Field This Pi Day

Coming this Pi Day, SchoolVids, LLC presents, a website that will change the way America thinks about and learns math. Combining math education and video file sharing capabilities, brings a fresh approach to the strategy of teaching to many different types of learners. The vision of is to provide every student in the country with an equal opportunity to access high quality lessons on math topics ranging from middle school through college to improve mathematical literacy in the 21st century. benefits struggling students who need extra help, accelerated students with an interest in getting ahead, home-schooled students, and even collegiate math majors with nowhere to turn for help in high-level math classes. The videos also can be used by math teachers in the classroom as an alternative to high-priced educational videos. provides math teachers, college students, or any other willing and able person with additional income for submitting videos to the collection, provided a certified math teacher approves them.

Videos that are taught by people all over the country are collected, approved, reviewed, rated, and finally made available for any student with an Internet connection and a subscription to view. believes that every student can benefit from having a virtual library of hundreds of math topics at his fingertips, taught in a way that is understandable to him.

For a limited time, as the site builds up its video library, a subscription to is free. More details and information about how or why to sign up can be found at

Teachers Can Get $1,000 to Pursue Master's Degree

A new scholarship program from the College of Education at Texas A&M University-Kingsville offers $1,000 to educators looking for a master's degree, or an endorsement/certification in a new field.

The Jump Start program is open to those who, in summer 2008, are starting a master's degree program in the College of Education, seeking an endorsement to teach in a new field or entering the school administration certification program

Master's programs in the College of Education include: education administration, counseling and guidance, bilingual education, kinesiology, instructional technology, early childhood, special education, adult education and reading.

Endorsements are available in: master reading teacher, bilingual education, special education, educational diagnostician and principalship (certification).

Those starting a master's degree program must take at least nine semester hours toward the degree in summer 2008, with at least one class in each of the two summer sessions. Summer I begins May 28 and summer II starts July 7.

Educators seeking an endorsement or administration certificate must be recommended for the scholarship by their principal or supervisor.

Applicants must be admitted to the College of Graduate Studies and have their scholarship forms turned in by May 1, 2008.

Application forms for the Jump Start scholarship program are available online at by clicking on "Jump Start."

RBC After-School Grants Program Calls For Grant Applications

The RBC After-School Grants Program today announced its call for grant applications for the 2008-2009 school year. In its 10th year, RBC is offering up to $2.5 million in grants, $900,000 of which is set aside to fund as many as 23 first-time grant recipients.

"Research tells us the average child between the ages of 9 and 12 has approximately 67 hours of discretionary time each week. This is more time than they actually spend in school" said Shari Austin, executive director, RBC Foundation. "We are very pleased that in our 10th year we will donate almost $2.5 million to help ensure students in communities across Canada have better access to positive and meaningful after-school activities where they can learn and participate in programs within supervised and safe environments"

The grants are awarded by regional panels made up of youth and education experts to a limited number of community-based charitable organizations. Each organization should have a mandate to keep students in grades K-12 safe as well as positively engaged through an enriched curriculum after their classes end each day. RBC After-School Grants are provided by RBC Foundation and range between $25,000 and $40,000. The deadline for funding applications is April 28, 2008 and grant recipients will be advised by July 2008.

To qualify for a grant, after-school programs should offer structured, supervised activities in an environment that provides what RBC has termed the "3Ss": safety, social skills and self-esteem. Other activities that programs should also offer include computer instruction, sports, literacy tutoring, music and art lessons, nutrition guidance, and homework-help.

RBC has been funding after-school programs since 1999, with more than $14.8 million given through 471 grants to 157 different organizations that have helped more than 14,000 children. RBC After-School Grant applications can be downloaded from

Babies Learn to Read with Signing Time

Yesterday morning viewers of NBC's Today Show watched in awe as 17-month-old Elizabeth Barrett read to them. Elizabeth's parents attribute her early reading in part to Signing Time, the television and DVD series that teaches young children to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL).

According to the Today Show, "Katy Barrett and her husband, Michael, are speech pathologists, and when Elizabeth was born they started teaching her sign language along with spoken language. They read to her often, and her favorite television program — the only one her parents let her watch — was a PBS show called ‘Signing Time,' which teaches kids sign language."
For the past six years, Signing Time ( has been dedicated to proving the benefits and positive impact of sign language on children who can hear. While most people have regarded sign language as something only for the Deaf community, thousands of parents like the Barretts are seeing that hearing children can accelerate their language and reading development through the unique blend of sign language, written word, song and video modeling used in Signing Time.

"I knew I wanted my children to learn sign to help with communication and language development, but never dreamed anything like this would happen," said Katy Barrett referring to her child's remarkable reading skills. "Signing Time is an excellent program on so many levels. Elizabeth enjoyed it at only a few months old--the splendidly creative songs made her coo, and even before she signed along, she loved watching other children signing and having fun."

Parents are also using Signing Time to communicate with children with special needs. Kei Malone, a mother in Massachusetts explains, "When my son William, who has Down syndrome, spelled the word ‘red' with the refrigerator magnets, signed each letter, and then signed ‘red,' I was blown away. He was only 4 ½ years old at the time and the fact that he has Down syndrome and verbal apraxia too, just emphasized that signing with him since he was an infant was the right thing to do."

Rachel Coleman, host and co-creator of Signing Time, remembers how important sign language was in helping her children learn to read at an early age. Upon discovering that her daughter Leah was deaf, specialists warned the Colemans that deaf children typically graduate from high school with a 3rd grade reading level. The Colemans proved differently. They found that using sign language in the home stimulated one-year-old Leah's language skills. It was easy for Leah to transition from fingerspelling to writing and then reading. Now in 5th grade, Leah reads at a 9th grade reading level. In fact, last year she beat out 5th and 6th graders to win the school spelling bee.

"Babies who sign have access to language much earlier than those left waiting for speech to develop. The signing child can describe the world around them by expressing their needs and preferences. Their hands give them a clear and powerful 'voice' – quite a contrast to the whining and pointing traditionally associated with toddlerhood," said Coleman. "The truth is that using sign language with babies and children who can hear is revolutionizing parenting in America."

"Signing Time has meant so much to our family, especially baby Jane," said Jana Francis a mother in Salt Lake City, Utah. "At 22-months she knows the entire alphabet by sight, every color by sight, can count to 22 and sign the whole time. That's not because we teach her all day, it's because of Signing Time!"

Featuring Rachel Coleman, her daughter Leah - who is deaf, along with Alex - Leah's cousin, who can hear - and their animated pet frog Hopkins, Signing Time offers an unparalleled multi-sensory approach dedicated to proving the positive impact and benefits of signing with hearing infants. With Series One and Series Two containing 13 volumes each, Signing Time has become the largest library of entertaining signing videos of its kind available. Signing Time reaches children with diverse learning styles and encourages interaction through signing, singing, speaking and moving.


Literacy Alliance Debutes In Clark County

The Pearson Foundation will donate more than $150,000 in new books to the Clark County School District (CCSD), in partnership with SAP America, Inc. The contribution marks the launch of the Pearson Foundation Literacy Alliance, an initiative to assist corporations and associations in creating book donations and other literacy-related giving programs for their employees and members.

Through the Literacy Alliance, the Pearson Foundation partners with leading companies and nonprofit organizations to raise money for literacy programs at conferences, events, and online. The Pearson Foundation matches contributions to the Literacy Alliance, and targets school libraries and individual students that are most in need of help, using the reach of Pearson, the world's largest education company. The Literacy Alliance and other Pearson Foundation literacy programs like Family Book Nights and Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign create ways for individuals and organizations to get involved in the lives of young people. These initiatives are all designed to address the literacy gap facing many schools and families that lack resources for books and other kinds of reading programs.

The Foundation's donation to CCSD, the fifth largest school district in the nation, came about through the participation of SAP employees, who were encouraged to donate books to the district while in Las Vegas for there for their national sales conference. As part of the Literary Alliance program, SAP matched this contribution, and the Pearson Foundation in turn matched the total amount of employee and corporate pledges, creating a total financial commitment of more than $150,000 for new books.

Working with the office of the CCSD, the Pearson Foundation has identified 30 school libraries to receive new books through this initiative. The books will arrive in the schools throughout 2008.


Little Green Books Encourages Children and Parents to 'Go Green'

Little Simon, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, will launch Little Green Books, the first eco-friendly line of children's novelty and storybooks aimed at parents and children looking to learn more about the environment, debuting in stores in fall 2008. Little Green Books will launch with four titles, including two cloth books -- Little Monkey and Little Panda, as well as two eight-by-eight storybooks -- I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and The Polar Bear's Home: A Story About Global Warming. The follow-up list will include board books, storybooks, and novelty formats. The Simon Scribbles imprint will be publishing Little Green Books activity books starting in spring 2009. All titles will have a price point that is under 10 dollars, and marketing efforts will also be environmentally friendly.

The theme of Little Green Books will focus on improving the environment and preserving habitats, aiming to get little ones and their parents excited about going green. From recycling and replanting to creating an awareness of endangered animals and much more, Little Green Books plant the seeds for earth-friendly living at an early age. Each Little Green Book will include tips for kids on what they can do to become more "green" as well as a Hey, Kids! Did you know ... ? fact on every back cover. This kid-friendly fact will tie into the content of each story line. In addition to the themes of each story, the manufacturing of these books will be environmentally-friendly: Each book in the series will be made out of recycled materials and printed with soy ink.

Promotional efforts for the line will also be environmentally friendly, with marketing materials either available in downloadable formats to reduce paper waste, or printed on recycled stock with soy-based inks. Eco-friendly giveaways include a colorful, seed-paper flower bookmark that children can plant directly into the soil, and marketing plans will focus on various cross promotions with environmental organizations. The paper-saving online campaign includes a webpage devoted to the program at, housing downloadable activities, screensavers and green tips for kids, as well as information on the books. In an effort to stay true to the program's mission of conservation, display corrugation made of 100% post consumer waste will be used for in-store promotions.


Ideas for Teachers to Explore Environmental Solutions

A new, free resource is available to teachers looking for ideas to stimulate classroom conversations about environmental concerns and solutions. Sally Ride Science, the company founded by America's first female astronaut in space, has started the "Living Green" blog at The "Living Green" blog will run through the month of April - just in time for Earth Day - with new postings each week.

The "Living Green" blog provides teachers with innovative ways to connect the classroom to the outside world and discuss the many ways science is used in everyday life. Teachers can introduce students to hot science topics such as climate change, and encourage students to think about ways they can help take care of Earth’s precious resources - air, water, land and other living things - and lessen the burden we place on our planet.

The first blog entry, "Water: Bad News, Good News" is authored by Beth Geiger, a geologist and award-winning science writer who writes extensively for Sally Ride Science. In this blog entry, Geiger discusses the issues of drought and dirty water. Using real-life examples, she illustrates how people around the world are working to address these problems and keep water safe and clean.

Subsequent postings to the "Living Green" blog will be authored by Geiger, Andrew Bridges and other science writers and educators. Bridges is a longtime reporter with a keen interest in science journalism, and has written several books for Sally Ride Science.

Free Online Math Homework Help

For the first time in US history, the next generation of Americans may be less educated than the previous one. That's just one warning from a panel of experts in a must-read report that calls for a root-and-branch overhaul of schools.

There are warning that Americans face a grave risk of losing their prosperity and high quality of life to better educated workers overseas. A panel of education, labor and other public policy experts proposed a far-reaching redesign of the United States education system that would include having schools operated by independent contractors and giving states, rather than local districts, control over school financing.

Phat Math, Inc. - an exciting new firm based in Miami, Florida - is working hard to tackle some of the problems in our education system. Phat Math, Inc. conducts research, develops content materials and provides various professional services in the field of edutainment - the marriage of the education and entertainment industries. Dr. Mack and her colleagues at Phat Math, Inc. utilize edutainment as a FUN vehicle to promote mathematics proficiency and financial literacy skills.

Phat Math, Inc. has recently launched a new mathematics edutainment social network - The launch of this new social network will be utilized as a FUN vehicle for:

1. Activities to help students develop math proficiency and financial literacy skills.

2. Hosting a database of professional role models, mentors, math coaches, math buddies, career coaches and guidance counsellors for students.

3. Hosting a database of internships, career exploration information for job opportunities, scholarships, grants and loans for students.

New Picture Book Helps Kids Learn About Gardening, Counting and Healthy Food

Parents who want to encourage their young children to eat healthy foods can soon have a new picture book to help them in their efforts. "Chipper Kids: Counting in the Crazy Garden" (JenPrint, 2008) highlights the activities of Arnold Chipper, a teddy who loves to make "food" from his garden. The problem is he can't get his little brother Albert and friend Maria to eat any of his messy meals! Will they eventually try one of his crazy creations? Or will they convince Arnold to use his garden in a different way? "Chipper Kids: Counting in the Crazy Garden" highlights healthy eating while it also shows young readers how to count from one to ten. It is the first book in the Chipper Kids™ series.

"It was tough for me to get my children to eat healthy meals, so I created a story for them where the characters were given truly crazy 'snacks'," says the book's author, Margarette Burnette. "By the time I got to the end of the tale, my kids had a new appreciation for good food. At that point, I knew the story could be a book for other children to enjoy." Burnette blogs about her experiences at, a web site that also offers free games and coloring pages for kids.

When she's not blogging, Burnette is a health and parenting writer. Her articles have appeared in Parenting, Pregnancy, Essence and several regional parenting publications. She is an active member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two children, ages four and six.

"Chipper Kids: Counting in the Crazy Garden" (JenPrint Publications, hardcover, $15.95) will be available in traditional bookstores and through online retailers in March 2008.

Baltimore Teacher Wins Fun and Educational Science Program

Kathleen Lucot, a teacher at Doris M. Johnson High School in Baltimore, MD, is a grand prize winner of Rohm and Haas Company's National Chemistry Week contest. She is the recipient of a Club Invention program awarded to her school district.

Club Invention is an exciting out-of-school time program where children learn through hands-on fun. Children in grades one through six are immersed in activity-oriented adventures that enhance their understanding of science, mathematics, history, and the arts – it’s learning disguised as FUN! The program is developed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Rohm and Haas is providing approximately 40 program scholarships to students attending the Club hosted at George Washington Elementary School. The program also provides teachers a valuable and challenging professional development opportunity to apply new teaching methods and view the learning environment in imaginative ways.

Two programs will run as part of the award: Bolder Builders will run in the first week of March for fourth and fifth graders and Phys Ed: Physics in Motion will run March 10-14 for first through third graders.

To celebrate the American Chemical Society's 20th anniversary of National Chemistry Week, two Club Invention programs were awarded as grand prizes during Rohm and Haas’s Many Faces of Chemistry campaign. Teachers across the country were eligible to enter the Rohm and Haas contest.

Reading Aloud To Children Encourages Language Development

It's a well-known fact that reading aloud to children encourages language development. What might be less well known is that the way adults read aloud can add measurable impact.

"At different stages, the brains of babies and young children are primed to receive certain kinds of stimulation," says Vicki Vergeldt, founder and president of StorySTARS, Inc., on the web at "Parents can make the most of reading aloud by varying what and how they read aloud according to where their child is developmentally."

Research in the last two decades shows that the way we speak to babies and young children directly affects vocabulary size and can show up as higher scores on standardized language and intelligence tests later in a child's development, notes Shiri Katz-Gershon, Ph.D., StorySTARS' vice president of research and product development.

Prenatally and during the first five or six months of life, for example, babies enjoy and will benefit from books with rhymes. Rhymes cause adults to exaggerate the melody of their speech, to vary their pace, and often to move in ways that accentuate the rhymes. Babies love this and are very sensitive to it.

"This sensitivity is programmed into babies because it helps them figure out where individual words begin and end in the flow of speech," Dr. Katz- Gershon explains.

To put this knowledge into a format that is fun and easy for parents to apply with infants and young children, StorySTARS developed a product called The Big Bookmark(TM), also available in Spanish as El Gran Separador(TM). On a set of five illustrated oversized "bookmarks," read-aloud tips guide parents through the stages of language development. The tips vary by stage to include: how and what to read aloud, how to engage a baby's attention and enhance interaction while reading aloud, and how to include an older sibling.

Intensive interventions improve at-risk first-graders' reading development

First-graders in Oregon and Texas, identified as at-risk because of a lack of early literacy skills, showed dramatic improvements across a range of reading measures after receiving extra instructional time systematically designed to enhance reading development, according to researchers at two institutions.

In the study, published in the March/April issue of the Journal of Learning Disabilities, 21 at-risk students in Oregon, in groups of four or fewer kids, received an intensive 60-minute daily intervention. In Texas, 33 similarly at-risk students, in groups no larger than five, received an intensive daily 30-minute intervention. The sessions were carried out during the school year, focused on similar skill development and were delivered in a similar explicit and systematic manner. The main difference was length of time devoted to the students.

"This study looked at the role of time with students most at risk for reading difficulties to determine whether doubling intervention time at the beginning of first grade is an efficient use of instructional time," said Beth A. Harn, professor of special education at the University of Oregon.

The Oregon students in the longer sessions scored higher on end-of-the-year testing, but all students receiving the extra instruction improved with many of their scores ending in the average range against national norms.

"The significantly greater growth in fluency for all of these students who received more intense intervention is indeed noteworthy," said Harn, who led the study. "A lot of early interventions in the past have done an exceptional job of filling gaps in phonemic awareness, phonics and comprehension, but closing the gap in fluency has represented a struggle."

The Oregon approach was more intensive, increasing instructional support significantly for the most at-risk students, beginning in first grade. In Texas, intensifying to the same level was not available until students were in second grade.

In Oregon, during the first half of the school year, most time was spent on word analysis, such as phonics and word recognition, followed by passage reading and comprehension and reading fluency. In the second half of the school year the intervention focus shifted, with more time spent in passage reading with comprehension and fluency development and less time in word analysis.

The results suggested that students in the longer intervention outperformed students in the less intense intervention on all outcomes except passage comprehension. The greatest differences were found in improvements on oral reading fluency for students in the longer intervention.

Researchers theorize that longer, 60-minute sessions may provide students with the additional practice they need to master early literacy skills. Whether the improvements will continue to be demonstrated across later years is not known, Harn said. "This was a post-hoc study," the authors wrote, "limiting direct comparisons and generalization."

Harn and colleagues also noted that the interventions analyzed in their research involved schools experienced in using research-based instructional and assessment practices with multi-layered support systems. Because of that pre-condition, Harn said, an exact replication of the study in schools that do not use such approaches may be difficult.

Beth Harn, assistant professor of special education at the University of Oregon, compared reading intervention programs in Oregon and Texas.

"The study certainly has implications in how schools approach their instruction and interventions," said Harn, who led the analysis of data from the Oregon schools. Schools may want to allocate more instructional resources earlier for struggling students, rather than waiting until later grades when it becomes more difficult to catch up struggling readers, she said.

Source: Beth Harn, assistant professor of special education, 541-346-4247,

Reading and Math Educators Tackle Education Challenges

More than 100 renowned math and reading educators from around the country convened in Chicago last week for the 2008 National Reading and Mathematics Leadership Conference, hosted by Pearson, the world's leading education publisher. Following the theme, "Research Into Practice," distinguished authors and researchers led participants in discussions of research-based strategies for tackling 21st century education challenges.

Using compelling new studies as a jumping-off point, participants discussed issues around literacy and math, including targeting instruction to meet the needs of all students, the role of assessment in teaching, both the positive and negative impacts of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and the need for high-quality teacher professional development.

"By bringing these top educators, authors and researchers together to delve into the key educational challenges facing schools today, we learned a great deal about how we can best meet their needs now and in the future," said Bob Roliardi, Executive Vice President of Pearson Schools. "All of us will continue working together in our effort to improve teaching and learning for students across the country."

Woven throughout the three-day conference was the importance of students developing an understanding of key concepts whether they are learning reading or math. In a combined kick-off session, math expert Dr. Nita Copley, College of Education, University of Houston; and reading expert Dr. Jeanne R. Paratore, Associate Professor, School of Education, Boston University, both shared their perspectives on the importance of conceptual development, demonstrating real-life examples from successful classrooms.

Other sessions focused on new strategies for using research to inform teaching and national leadership issues in math and reading.

Dr. Francis "Skip" Fennell, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and a member of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, provided participants with an overview of the research process that the panel followed to develop its recommendations on improving math education in the U.S., which will be released on March 13. Modeled on the National Reading Panel, the National Mathematics Advisory Panel has examined and summarized the scientific evidence related to the teaching and learning of mathematics, with a specific focus on preparation for and success in learning algebra.

"Recently, there has been a great deal of discussion about access to formal coursework in algebra at grades seven or eight," said Fennell. "For some students, that may be a great idea. For all students, we must be sure that they have a strong background in the prerequisites for algebra, including conceptual understanding and proficiency with fractions, decimals, and percent, before they take the next step in learning algebra."


Adobe School Innovation Awards Seeks Entries

Adobe Systems is seeking entries for the Adobe School Innovation Awards. The awards program honors the creative and innovative work of high school students.

With the theme "My Community - My Planet - My 21st Century" students can submit entries in three categories: Web Design and Development, Film and Video, and Graphic and Print Design. Category award winners will be named, as well as one grand prize winner for best overall submission.

"The new awards program celebrates the amazing creative capabilities students are showcasing at an early age," said Peter Isaacson, vice president of education marketing at Adobe. "Our education initiatives worldwide continue to enable new ways of learning by providing digital creation, communication and collaboration tools that help students express themselves in creative ways."

Full-time students age 14-19 years in grades 9-12 from accredited public or private high schools in the US and Canada (except Quebec) are invited to submit through the Adobe School Innovation Awards website .

Entries will be reviewed and scored by an independent panel of judges, including members of the Adobe Education Leader group, Adobe employees, and industry luminaries.

Submission will be accepted through May 12, 2008. Winners will be announced at the end of June at NECC 2008 in San Antonio, TX and will receive cash and software prizes. Category winners will receive US$1,500, a Lenovo laptop and a copy of Creative Suite 3 Master Collection. In addition, the grand prize winner will be invited to attend NECC (including round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations for two).

Reinventing Schools: Courageous Leadership for Positive Change

How can educators help students become more knowledgeable, motivated, engaged, and healthy? More than 8,000 educators will tackle this question and others when they converge on New Orleans, La., March 15-17, 2008 for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's (ASCD) 63rd Annual Conference and Exhibit Show.

The conference will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center with the theme "Reinventing Schools: Courageous Leadership for Positive Change." Educators will learn how to do what works and transform what doesn't, identify what children need to become successful adults in a changing world, and advocate for social responsibility in an increasingly diverse and global society.

"Reinventing schools that address the development of the whole child requires a holistic approach that promotes education excellence and equity for each student--especially those from underserved populations. It means courageous leaders providing a balanced curriculum, linking health needs with learning expectations, and ensuring fair and comprehensive assessments," says ASCD Executive Director Gene Carter.

The three-day event will feature more than 500 sessions presented by nationally known education leaders on a wide variety of topics, including understanding the science of teaching, building professional learning communities, supporting English language learners, using formative assessments, educating the whole child, and advocating for education.

To help educators identify and implement evidence-based programs and practices, ASCD's Annual Conference will highlight various types of scientifically based research sessions. The sessions will range from a focus on juried or peer-reviewed research to action research processes and techniques.

The Annual Conference will kick off at 5 p.m. on March 14, 2008, with a service project and celebration to support revitalization in New Orleans schools. The celebration, The Next Chapter: Books Bash and Beyond(1), sponsored by Pearson Education and Nova Southeastern University's Fischler School of Education and Human Services, supports literacy in the Recovery School District of New Orleans. Conference attendees will bring a new book for students as their ticket to an evening of networking, food, and fun. ASCD anticipates delivering thousands of books to New Orleans schools.

To further support Louisiana schools and students, ASCD has also created a DonorsChoose Challenge Page(2). addresses the scarcity and inequitable distribution of learning materials and experiences in public schools by providing an online marketplace where teachers describe and citizens fund specific student projects.

The ASCD challenge page houses requests from over a dozen Louisiana teachers who need critical classroom resources to help their students learn. The ASCD staff has raised $6,000, fully funding 10 of the teacher requests. Anyone can visit the page and help fund the remaining requests to enhance the learning experiences of students in the New Orleans area.


and Health...a Prescription for Economic Development?

Literacy is a valuable tool in fighting HIV/AIDS, chronic malnutrition, malaria, and other health issues that plague many developing countries. Literacy and health are deeply intertwined: Without good health, it is difficult to obtain even a low level of literacy in such countries. Conversely, without a functional level of literacy, children and their parents are not able to learn about good health practices, nutrition, and avoiding infections. For instance, a 2002 World Bank study shows a link between education and reduced fertility rates and child mortality rates.

With this in mind, the International Reading Association (IRA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will showcase the importance and the power of an alliance between literacy and health for positive economic and social development at Global Perspectives 2008 on March 5. This focus on literacy and health mirrors the thematic emphasis for 2007 and 2008 of the United Nations Literacy Decade.

Dr. Jorge Escobedo de la Pena of the Oportunidades Program in Mexico and Francisca Infante of the Chilean Ministry of Health will be the featured speakers. The Oportunidades Program is the principal anti-poverty program of the Mexican government; it focuses on helping poor families in rural and urban communities invest in human capital. Junta Nacional de Auxilio Escolar y Becas (JUNAEB) is a cooperative government-sponsored program between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to foster economic and social development in Chile.

What: Global Perspectives 2008 forum, organized by IRA and PAHO

When: Wednesday, March 5, from 2:00 to 5:30 p.m. (reception to follow)

Where: Pan American Health Organization Headquarters 525 23rd St., N.W., Room A Washington, DC 20037

Who: Featured speakers: Dr. Jorge Escobedo de la Pena of the Oportunidades Program in Mexico and Francisca Infante, Chilean Ministry of Health

The International Book Bank Honors McGraw-Hill Education

The International Book Bank, a non-profit that ships donated books to developing countries, will honor McGraw-Hill Education, a leading global provider of educational materials, with its first President's Corporate Partner Award at the Book Bank's 20th anniversary celebration on April 12, 2008.

Over the last ten years, McGraw-Hill Education generously donated books to the International Book Bank to help increase global literacy. The books are housed in the International Book Bank's 43,000-square-foot warehouse in Southwest Baltimore, where custom shipments for literacy programs in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America, are created and sent from the Port of Baltimore.

Dr. Charlotte K. Frank, Senior Vice President of Research and Development from McGraw-Hill Education, will accept the award at the International Book Bank's event. The event takes place at Enoch Pratt Central Library and will also feature John Bul Dau, a Lost Boy of Sudan, as keynote speaker.

International Book Bank:
McGraw-Hill Education:

Young Authors Get Creative Nudge

Even the best creative minds can use a little inspiration. Kindergarten through third grade children gathered Saturday for a writing workshop as part of the 14th annual Reading Rainbow Young Writers & Illustrators Contest, hosted locally by Twin Cities Public Television. The workshop was held at the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Bloomington at Mall of America, and helped kids from the Twin Cities area prepare their story entries for the nationwide contest.

The Reading Rainbow Young Writers & Illustrators Contest encourages kids to write and illustrate an original story and submit it to the national contest, which is meant to encourage children's writing and story telling skills. Winning story entries are eligible for both local and national awards. Country Inns & Suites By Carlson recently signed-on as a presenting sponsor of the Emmy-Award winning Reading Rainbow program featured on PBS television.

The Twin Cities event was one of five being held across the country Saturday. Nashville, Charlotte, Salt Lake City and Indianapolis also hosted writer's workshops.

Homeschoolers Launch Alternative to Film School and Hollywood

Advent Film Group (AFG), a new film company founded by homeschoolers recently completed "pickup" filming of their first movie, "Come What May" in Purcellville, Virginia. The movie has garnered wide attention because it features Patrick Henry College (PHC), a national powerhouse in debate and moot court competition. The movie centers on two PHC students who battle to overturn Roe v. Wade at the National Moot Court Championship. They are coached by Dr. Michael Farris, the real-life founder and Chancellor of PHC and a high-profile homeschooling advocate. This is the first of five movies planned by Advent.

With a cast/crew of 40 homeschooled students led by film professionals, AFG's movies are similar to "Facing The Giants" in scale, budget, and aspirations. AFG's national network of supporters, now several hundred homeschooling families strong (and growing); will help promote the film's release in late Spring 2008.

Homeschooled students and their parents, interested in rebuilding culture for Christ in cinema, have sought out AFG as an alternative to film school. "This fulfills part of AFG's mission," says Ex-Discovery executive and AFI producing fellow George Escobar, a homeschooling dad. "We are training students who will one-day direct big-budget films with moral integrity and fidelity to a biblical worldview."

Unlike film schools where students pay large tuitions to make short or student films, AFG productions are feature-length from the start, giving the completed film immediate market value. AFG actually pays college students a small stipend even as they are trained, earn professional credits, and receive profit-participation points.

AFG is also building a movie distribution system from within the homeschooling, pro-life/pro-family communities. Rather than sharing film revenues strictly with traditional distributors, AFG seeks to channel movie revenue into Christian and family-based organizations.