Posted by admin on 05.07.2008 at 2:39 pm
Maura Varian, Acquisitions Support Manager, hatched a brilliant plan earlier this year. One day, she thought, “Hey, we collect books. We sell books. And, most of us even read books. So, why don’t we help people learn to do what we love most?” And, today, that plan is a step closer to fruition.
As of last week, 11 Better World Books employees have graduated from our local literacy council’s tutor training program. The employee-tutors will be utilizing the company’s new volunteerism benefit for this program. In essence, they’ll be compensated for their time as if they were working away in our distribution center. For Better World Books, providing direct service — be it tutoring, painting houses, or playing with children with disabilities — is just as valuable as receiving, scanning, and shipping books. In the end, it’s all about creating a Better World.
And, Maura’s not done there. In an article which was released today by the South Bend Tribune, she is ready to take her dream of local literacy even further, saying I’d “like to see the partnership grow to eventually allow the company’s own employees who have issues with literacy to get the help they need from the Literacy Council while they’re on the job.”
Thanks, Maura, we’re right there with you!
For the full article, click here.
Posted by admin on 04.03.2008 at 10:02 am
StoryTubes is here! From New York to California, kids in Grades 1-6 are talking up their favorite books. You can too!
Along with your parent or guardian, follow these simple steps:
–Make a 2-minute video about your favorite book;
–Upload the video to YouTube; and
–Come to this StoryTubes website and send in the link to your uploaded YouTube video using the online Contest Entry Form.
- >Voting mania will then begin and happen each week in May! At the end of each week, one lucky contestant will win $500 in books. Their sponsoring organization (school, library or designated organization for home-schooled youth) will receive $1,000 in books.
Four Video Categories:
From or For the Heart
Of Heroes and Heroines
Facts, Fads and Phenoms
Tell the story about your favorite book today. When entering, please don’t use your last name in the video. Entries will be evaluated on creativity, content and performance.
OK kids and parents, “let’s see the videotape!”
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, children's books, literacy, storytubes
Posted by admin on 03.04.2008 at 9:36 am
Slate Magazine ran an article the other day in their “Hot Document” series that’s sure to leave you shaking your head over what leaves high-schoolers scratching theirs.
…the new education-advocacy group Common Core posed these and 30 similar questions about history and literature to 1,200 17-year-old high-school students (below on the following four pages), it discovered that American teenagers are “stunningly ignorant.”Common Core puts some of the blame on six years of George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” law, which forced schools to concentrate lessons on standardized-test measures for math and reading at the expense of education in the humanities. The organization debuted on Feb. 26 with a press conference that unveiled the findings in a glossy pamphlet titled Still at Risk, an allusion to the landmark 1983 education survey, A Nation At Risk. That earlier survey famously stated, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” Apparently, we lost.
The test posed a series of questions whose answers even the slowest-witted high-schoolers might reasonably be expected to know. But only one question (Who gave the “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963?, Page 3), yielded the correct response on a near-unanimous basis (97 percent). Only 61 percent knew what the Renaissance was (Page 2), and only half knew why the Federalist papers were written (Page 3). Fewer than half knew when the Civil War was fought (see below). And this test was multiple-choice!
(Full story and full test over here)
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, literacy
Posted by admin on 02.25.2008 at 8:26 am
I reported earlier about the Great American Word Challenge, a nationwide online contest that pit cities against one another to measure their greatness, not by the height of their skyscrapers, but by the depth of their vocabularies. Fresno received the highest cumulative average score and took the title and the prize: a Ubisoft donation of My Word Coach video games and Nintendo DS™ systems to a local family literacy center selected by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL). The beneficiary organization is the Fresno County Library Literacy Services Center, which provides free reading, writing, spelling, and math tutoring to Fresno County adults that cannot read or write English.
“The city of Fresno is always proud to support family literacy,” said Deputy Mayor Jeff Eben. “We are excited to have won the ‘Great American Word Challenge’ and thank all Fresno’s residents who participated so successfully in this fun and creative Challenge.”
The Great American Word Challenge proved which American cities could walk the walk AND talk the talk:
|— In addition to Fresno, the following cities rounded out the top four positions:|
|— Salisbury, Maryland (2nd place)|
|— Mankato, Minnesota (3rd place)|
|— Albuquerque, New Mexico (4th place)|
|— Oakland, California (5th place)|
|— Overall, the U.S. received a B- average grade on their vocabulary with a national average score of 167 out of 205 (81%)|
|— And here’s how long-time city rivals stacked up:|
|— Oakland is the smartest Bay Area city, beating out San Francisco, Berkeley, and San Jose!|
|— Despite preliminary results showing Brooklyn in the lead, at final count Manhattan is the highest-scoring New York City borough. The Bronx is the lowest-scoring borough. Here’s how the boroughs stacked up against each other:|
|4. Staten Island|
|5. The Bronx|
|— Twin Cities? Not exactly. Minneapolis established itself as the more literate of the two, scoring 168 compared to St. Paul’s 140.|
|— Good (and smart) things come in small packages: Pasadena might be just an eighth the size of its sprawling neighbor, Los Angeles, but it’s 16% smarter! Pasadena scored 178 compared to Los Angeles, which scored a mere 154.|
Posted by admin on 02.13.2008 at 8:46 am
Literacy is a precious thing, and sometimes it would have really helped…
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, fail, humor, illiteracy, literacy
Posted by admin on 02.07.2008 at 10:43 am
What is a literate adult? In the world of literacy statistics we hear tons of information thrown around about “proficient” abilities, “basic” abilities, etc… but what does it really mean to be proficient or basic as far as these tests?
Over at Educational Cyber Playground they did some research to figure out what exactly was going on. In order to do this they went to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy at the National Center for Education Statistics. What they found was more interesting…
If you’re willing to use some simplifications, we can break down some pretty fascinating information here. I’ll let them tell the story:
World IQ averages about 90, so the 50th percentile for Americans (IQ 100) is the 75th percentile for the world.
Find which energy source will supply more power in 2000 than it did in 1971, using this table.
|Total 10^12 BTU||
Source: US Department of Interior United States Energy Through the Year 2000
BTU: Quanity of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.
Now if you said nuclear power, you figured out what 46% of adult Americans can’t (and 71% of adults on this planet cannot either.)
Use the article to write a sentence that explains why the investigating committee thinks these practices are dangerous.
Panel: Sloppy work perils nuke plants
By THOMAS O’TOOLE
WASHINGTON–After investigating corruption in two of the nation’s largest construction unions, the Senate Labor Committee charged Wednesday that so many incompetent welders and engineering technicians are helping build nuclear power plants it constitutes a national safety hazard.
“Unqualified workers have been routinely referred for work as skilled craftsmen, working qualification tests have been circumvented and favoritism is rampant in choosing who will work,” according to a 72-page report released by the majority staff of the Senate Labor Committee.
The committee spent two years investigating the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and one year investigating the International Union of Operating Engineers.
The report concluded that “new legislation to certify workers and make test cheating and extortion a federal crime is needed to ensure the safety, proficiency and durability of . . . construction sites.”
The committee said that one of the most serious practices it uncovered is the sale of union cards for as much as $1,600 to welders who never took qualifying tests.
The committee also charged that experienced welders routinely took tests for inexperienced welders, who were then put to work on jobs that included the Three Mile Island and Beaver Valley nuclear plants in Pennsylvania and the Perry, Ohio, plan near Cleveland.
The committee said that one witness testified that “60 percent of the welders he worked with on the [TMI] fuel pool [where spent radioactive uranium was kept under water] were not qualified for the union journeyman books they held and had bought their books right on the job.”
Another witness said that “some of the worst work I’ve ever seen” was done at the TMI fuel pool. The witness said “incompetent welders” made up to 25 or 30 bad welds in the pipe used to carry radioactive fuel, the report said. The witness added that the welders covered mistakes by “washing the bad welds down with a torch to make them all look uniform.”
This is a much tougher exercise. Only 20% of American (6% of world) adults could write the required one sentence. This corresponds to an IQ of 113. “
Imagine for a second the ramifications of this. We want our kids to be successful and we want our educational system to be excellent by world standards (the best, really) but only 20% of the respondents could even execute simple reading comprehension from a newspaper article(!) Not just any article either, one that would directly affect how you vote and what you support for the future of our country. The most important thing in a democracy and civilization is literacy because information is the key. Meanwhile there’s only 20% of adults with adequate reading comprehension in our own country.
I’m more thankful for the NCFL’s efforts everyday…
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, literacy, NCFL
Posted by admin on 02.05.2008 at 9:55 am
The New York Times reports that in Bush’s latest budget:
The White House wants to eliminate spending for more than a dozen education programs, including Even Start, which promotes family literacy; grants to the states for classroom technology; Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, for needy undergraduates; and a scholarship program named for the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia.
But Margaret Spellings, the secretary of education, said Friday that the president would request $1 billion for the Reading First program, to teach poor children to read by the third grade. Congress cut the program to $393 million this year after federal investigators found conflicts of interest, cronyism and bias in the awarding of grants.
Ms. Spellings said she hoped lawmakers would “see the error of their ways.”
Obviously it’s hard to complain about $1 billion for the Reading First program, so kudos for that, White House (I still find this to be a strange–if effective– apostrophe/synecdoche) but eliminating spending for Even Start and grants for undergrads is a lamentable decision, at best.
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, literacy
Posted by Jack on 01.22.2008 at 1:26 pm
It’s now over 50 years since Rudolf Flesch released his blockbuster book “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” questioning some of education’s failures in the US, particularly in reference to literacy. Now half a century later, the problem continues, and educators face even more struggles teaching in classrooms that not only face the kind of socioeconomic diversity that have characterized the challenge of public schooling for years, but now a new kind of challenge has taken hold. Many students, particularly in the Latino community (15% of all non-institutionalized citizens by the March 2006 census), come from backgrounds in which the first language is not English or English is not spoken in the home.
In reference to this demographic, Richard Riley, former Secretary of Education (1993-2001) in the US commented in his March of 2000 speech, “54 percent of all teachers have limited English proficient (LEP) students in their classrooms, yet only one-fifth of teachers feel very prepared to serve them.”
In response to this state of affairs, the NCFL, our partner in US literacy, sponsors hundreds of programs all around the US and they have never been more important than today. You don’t have to become a teacher to help the situation, check out the NCFL’s website for ideas. Their latest approach offers “five $600,000 educational grants to benefit hispanic and other immigrant families for literacy efforts.” It’s not just Johnny who can’t read.
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, books, literacy, thoughts
Posted by admin on 01.18.2008 at 10:17 am
Tips to Encourage Your Child to Read from Wendy Mass
More tips for getting kids to read!
Today on The Friday Flyer, Wendy Mass, author of “A Mango-Shaped Space” and “Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life,” has given some tips on providing your children with good books that they’ll enjoy!
1. If you don’t have much time to search, look for books with award stickers on them. Dedicated committees of librarians spend a lot of time selecting the cream of the crop so you don’t have to.
2. Pass along the books that you loved growing up. These are very often still in print, and often with updated covers. This is also a great way to bring you and your young reader closer.
3. Don’t pass over classics like The Cat in the Hat and Charlotte’s Web. Just because you’ve seen them your whole life, doesn’t mean a child has.
4. Describe your young reader’s interests, hobbies, and reading level to a children’s librarian or bookseller, and ask for appropriate recommendations.
I only highlighted 4 of the 8 and it was awfully difficult to choose, so check her recommendations for yourself at the site.
Posted by admin on 12.26.2007 at 11:37 am
Over at GeekSugar, the femme hip/intelligentsia mashup site, they have some interesting information about literacy. First of all they have the following:
The Education Department is blaming the country’s increasingly poor spelling and writing skills in youth on their love of text messaging. In a recent report on the national test results in English for about 37,000 students aged 15 and 16, the department’s Examination Commission said cutting-edge communications technology has “encouraged poor literacy and a blunt, choppy style at odds with academic rigor.”
Regardless of whether or not you’re buying into that as legitimate, GeekSugar links to The Great American Word Challenge. The game involves filling in the missing letter of the word, as defined. Why would you engage in such a thing? Well…
The city that achieves the highest-cumulative average score takes the title and the prize of a Ubisoft donation of My Word Coach video games and Nintendo DS systems to local NCFL learning centers. Even better, everyone who takes the challenge will be entered to win a trip for two to Washington, DC, and have the chance to win one of two Wiis.
Ah! The plot thickens! So support the NCFL as Nintendo battles illiteracy in the USA (seriously). If that doesn’t feel right for you, you could always go to FreeRice (as previously reported).
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