- Welcome: “Guest columnists, poets and web travelers!”
- Feature: “The promise of the computer age”
- Teacher/Parent Book Pick – “Boundaries for Kids”
- K-3 Book Pick – “Poetry Anthologies for Children”
- 4-6 Book Pick – “Earthwatch”
- Web Discoveries; “Your Virtual Passport to the World”
- Words of Wisdom – “A Parent’s Wish for Her Children”
- Life Skills Resources – Quick Links
WELCOME: “Guest columnists, poets and web travelers!”
Thanks to you, our life skills newsletter is growing rapidly.
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This month, we have two featured guest columnists you may have read in your local papers: Claude Lewis and Julie DeGroat.
Claude Lewis is a distinguished editor and commentator, having worked with Newsweek, the New York Herald Tribune, NBC, the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Philadelphia Inquirer. His love affair with writing started as an English major in college. Mr. Lewis went on to become a pioneering African-American journalist covering topics as diverse as science, music, sports, education and national affairs.
Mr. Lewis is the author of six books, among them biographies of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Muhammad Ali. He served as a Pulitzer Prize juror and founded the National Association of Black Journalists. He has also enjoyed a long career as a teacher of journalism and urban affairs at several universities.
His piece below illustrates just how essential computers are to our children’s education. It’s an honor to feature Mr. Lewis’ work in this newsletter. I based this month’s web links on his feature.
Julie DeGroat’s wonderful free verse (her bio is below) got me thinking about poetry. I haven’t actually written any, but it sure is fun to read! You’ll certainly enjoy what Julie has to share.
In addition, I give special thanks to my “behind the scenes” elementary school book reporter, Billy Killion. He had fine ideas for book picks related to our feature articles. (-:
Have a wonderful June!
PS – We are always looking for new feature articles, web links and book ideas. Please email your favorites to email@example.com !
FEATURE: “A wealth of data in an instant;
the promise of the computer age “ by Claude Lewis
With permission from the author and the Philadelphia Inquirer
Computers have changed everything. I know, I know: You hear this every day. My point – especially to the young – is that this age is still in infancy and that they will come of age along with it. I want them to live in it to the fullest extent. Use its tools for the good, to change the world for the better.
Let me put it another way: Computers will change everything, if the young people growing up with us use them well. Millions of American youngsters today inhabit bedrooms that are fully equipped media centers. While most of them still spend large chunks of time watching television and listening to music, an increasing number spend their evenings playing games on computers and practicing drills.
Nobody knows precisely what the future holds, but doubtless, the future of the information superhighway will be more exciting, and overcrowded, than we ever imagined.
Research that once took months now takes only minutes. We already possess spectacular knowledge concerning our universe. We can probe the mysteries of the sea and better understand what creates our weather. Before long, even the sky won’t be our limit. Science, including DNA and gene research, will evolve faster and the computer will improve our ability to store, retrieve and utilize new data.
Computers have already enhanced our ability to reason. Today’s school children are the first generation for which computer research is a pervasive reality. Computers are helping to improve their ability to think and discover. Tomorrow’s youngsters will be able to improve their homework, develop research, and share information even more quickly.
Computers have provided us with a nearly instantaneous means of comparing societies, analyzing cultures, understanding geography and politics in different parts of the world. For example, if a student desires to take an in-depth look at Asia, he or she can forget about the red tape of passports and carrying heavy luggage. Youngsters can plan a virtual trip to that part of the world on their computer, and map an individual itinerary.
Programs already teach us how to analyze information on the geography, politics, weather, people, health, land use and vegetation of every continent. Anyone who is computer-literate can now zero in on virtually any country in the world, check out its cultural life, its history, its development, its government and its social conditions.
Understanding mathematical concepts is far easier, and science, languages and virtually all other studies will be enhanced through computers. And though the gender gap exists regarding computers, there’s reason to think boys and girls alike are mastering a rich variety of subjects without regard to gender.
A mere decade ago, most of what we today take for granted was unavailable. Families once paid thousands of dollars for a 32-volume set of encyclopedias to enhance Johnny and Joanne’s education. Today, such books are available to nearly everyone on the Internet for almost nothing. So are the best collegiate dictionaries.
We have been spoiled by the speed of most computers – so much so, that when we have to wait for information for as little as 30 or 40 seconds, we often become irritated or frustrated.
Every article and photograph in National Geographic’s 30-year history is suddenly accessible on computer discs and can be printed in rich color to enhance reports on people, animals and places around the globe.
All recorded history is intimately and quickly available: Computers enable us to hear speeches by Adolf Hitler, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Despite the growing dependency on computers, children are still reading books. According to a Kaiser Foundation study last year, the average student spends 44 minutes a day reading books not associated with homework or school.)
Despite the ubiquity of such an enormous wealth of information, there are millions of Americans who do not yet have immediate access to computers. But their numbers are dwindling. President Clinton’s administration lead the way to linking every school in America to a system of computerized information and learning.
Few Americans remain on the outside looking in at the most exciting potential in learning and literacy since Johannes Gutenberg created the world’s first movable type around 1456.
Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend, Lisa Guest
This book helps parents learn how to shape their childrens’ feelings, attitudes and actions. It will help you guide your children to take more personal responsibility and help you define healthy boundaries for their behavior.
The authors describe the specific steps needed to define limits for your children and, better yet, inspire your children to control themselves. This systematic approach makes this a very practical book to use.
GRADE K-3 BOOK PICKS
“The Random House
Book of Poetry for Children”
Jack Prelutsky (Editor), Arnold Lobel (Illustrator)
This 500+ poem anthology was hailed as an “instant classic” when it was first published in 1983. The collection includes literary greats like Robert Louis Stevenson, Langston Hughes and Emily Dickinson, as well as delightful selections from more whimsical (but no less great!) poets such as Ogden Nash, Shel Silverstein and Lewis Carroll. I guarantee that there are fun poems for every type of reader here, each one carefully categorized and indexed by the editor. One reviewer felt that this was a terrific book but the illustrations were a little boring. If illustrations are especially important to you, try the anthology below by the same editor.
“The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury” Compiled by Jack Prelutsky & Illustrated by Meilo So
Although this collection is smaller than the one above (it includes 200 poems), it is more visually lavish. Meilo So’s watercolors add excitement and color to the works, which represent the best poetic offerings of this century. Poetry builds verbal skills by helping children look at communication and words in a fun, new way.
NOTE: Both books above are suitable for children ages 5-11
A Kids’ Geography Museum in a Book”
by John Cassidy
As the Internet makes the world smaller each day, it’s important to keep a perspective of just how diverse, fascinating and wonderful our planet and its people are. Claude Lewis writes about taking “virtual trips” to any country by computer. “Earthsearch” is a multi-media tool your children can touch.
The truth is that it’s actually a museum disguised as a book. That’s why it has “exhibits” rather than mere chapters. It contains foreign coins, French toilet paper (!), recycled aluminum and more “stuff” that inspires questions that the text and photos answer. Helping children learn how they fit in with the world around them is a life skill of increasing importance. This wire-bound book is a fun way to explore.
WEB DISCOVERIES: for teachers, parents & kids
“Your Virtual Passport to the World”
In keeping with the “virtual passport” concept, I offer a few links that instantly connect you and your children to a wealth of knowledge. The amount of information that is just a click away was unimaginable just a few short years ago. Have fun, but try to be home for dinner! (-:
Ref Desk – “The Internet’s single best source for facts” http://www.refdesk.com
Remember the old contests where people would list “the 10 books they would take to the moon”? Well, if I could only have *one* linking page displayed on my monitor, this would be it. This is the ultimate teacher/parent/student resource. It connects you to the world with hundreds (thousands?) of links to encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases, dictionaries, quotes, newspapers, travel guides and plenty more. It’s well organized so you can find what you’re looking for fast.
Dinosaur eggs, puzzles, quizzes, astronauts, cartoons, fun links and how to put your head through a 3″X5″ file card? Make popcorn and get ready for a first class journey to the farthest regions of our planet (and beyond). The site is graphically rich so a newer computer and fast Internet connection will help.
The CIA World Fact Book https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/
This site is too dry for elementary students *but* the maps are excellent and quickly downloadable as printable PDF documents (just like our life skills lessons). It’s also helpful for teachers who just need to “get the facts” on any country.
WORDS OF WISDOM: “A parent’s wish for her children”
Julie DeGroat is a teacher, writer and quilter who lives in the woods of New York with her husband and four children. She first published this article for National Children’s Day in 1999. In addition to writing, Julie designs original quilt patterns and edits “Scrapbag”, a quilter’s magazine.
“A Parent’s Wish for Her Children”
by Julie DeGroat
Each generation thinks the subsequent generation has it easier, and perhaps it’s true. But isn’t it our job, as parents, to make a richer life for our children?
Sometimes, however, we get confused between *richer* as in “more fulfilling” and *richer* as in “material possessions”. I made a list of the things I wish for my children, things I hope will make their lives truly richer:
I wish you more than one best friend.
I hope you have sleepovers with five other best friends, and you all fight and then make up and no one goes home crying at 1:00 a.m.
I hope you hate, hate, hate your tenth grade English teacher.
And then, fifteen years later,
realize that she started you on the path to success.
I hope you never forget how much fun it is
to make a construction paper chain
and tear off a link each day from December 1st until Christmas Eve.
I wish for you homemade chicken soup, hot doughnuts,
and popcorn popped over a campfire.
I hope you are able to harvest vegetables from your own garden.
I hope you pick out a tree and make it your own.
I hope that when you have children, you think the most valuable gift you could create for them is a craft box.
I hope you don’t care if the other boys know
you can sew on your own button.
I wish that you would always consider hand-made gifts the best ever.
I hope the worst case of gullibility you suffer from
is when you buy the x-ray glasses from the back of a comic book,
so you can see through people’s clothes.
I hope you always get a thrill
from buying a 64 pack of Crayola Crayons.
I hope you are always excited by the scent of a library.
I hope you will never apologize for crying
when watching a touching movie.
I wish for you to give your last M&M to the little boy behind you,
share your crackers with the squirrels, and that you make sure
your sister has a second helping too.
I hope that you will hold doors for everyone, even if
they are only a third of the way across the parking lot.
I hope that you will let older people go ahead of you into a building, and give up your seat sometimes, for no good reason.
I wish you the freedom to blow your allowance.
And the need to save for something special.
I hope that you will find a summer job
and pay for your own school clothes.
I hope for you the ability to say ‘that’s stupid’ if you really think it, when confronted with a ‘must-have’ clothing fad.
I wish that you never write on public buildings,
or deface public property – but if you do, I hope you get caught.
I hope you have shame, for without it
you will continue to make the same mistakes.
I hope you have compassion, for without it
you will always be clueless.
I hope you have joy, for a life without the ability to laugh is dull.
I hope you have love, for without that, you will be empty.
I hope you have family, so you’ll never be alone.
I hope you have anger, so you help right the wrongs.
I hope you have vision, for without vision, life is uninteresting.
I hope you have courage,
so you can realize the vision despite the naysayers.
I hope you have children, just like you.