News, resources, and links to help educators and home schoolers improve academic achievement.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Reginald" the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

Article credit:  Rhonda Cratty - Parenting and Education -

Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May and published by Montgomery Ward.

In 1939, May was assigned to create a coloring book for Chicago based Montgomery Ward. The retailer had been buying coloring books for Christmas every year to give away as a Christmas promotional; it was decided that creating their own book would save money. May considered many other names for his reindeer "Rollo" and "Reginald" finally deciding on the name "Rudolph." In the first year of publication Montgomery Ward distributed, 2.5 million copies of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Maxton Books was the first to publish Rudolph in a mass-market edition of Rudolph, and went on to publish a sequel, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Shines Again in 1954. In 1991 Applewood Books published Rudolph's Second Christmas, an unpublished sequel that Robert May wrote in 1947. In 2003, Penguin Books issued a reprint version of the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with new artwork by Lisa Papp. Penguin also reprinted May's sequels Rudolph Shines Again andRudolph's Second Christmas (now retitled Rudolph to the Rescue).

Today we have many publications of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. To name a few:
· Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Pop-Up Book Sep 23, 2014 by Lisa Marsoli and Keith Andrew Finch
· Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Sep 30, 2014 by Robert L. May and Antonio Javier Caparo
· Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) (Little Golden Book) Aug 1, 2000 by Rick Bunsen and Arkadia
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Oct 1, 1990 by Robert May and Denver Gillen

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer came to life, December 6, 1964. As a Christmas television special produced in stop motion animation by Rankin/Bass and sponsored by General Electric under the umbrella title of The General Electric Fantasy Hour.

This Christmas there is a brand new edition of the movie:
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: 50th Anniversary Burl Ives (Actor), Billy Mae Richards (Actor), Larry Roemer (Director).

For more about this story and about the author of this article, visit:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Classroom Management Tips from Linkedin

Sharlane Reece, LinkedIn member and part-time teacher at Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learners, asks:
"How do you control the behaviour of a class where the majority of students are boys and the minority are girls?"

Here are some excerpts from over 50 "Comments" from LinkedIn members:
Jenn - 6th grade Math/Science Educator
"I started using a three strikes you are out system... They talk, they get a strike, they distract someone they get a strike, they have inappropriate behavior they get a strike. If they get three strikes then they lose their recess for the day or the next day. It has helped immensely!!!!!"
Nicole - Educational Technology Specialist at Hale School
"Perhaps look at times when the boys are misbehaving? Boys tend to get restless if they are not engaged. Research tells us that their attention span is their age, plus 1 as minutes. If your students are 10, your lessons should be segmented into short 10-12 minute tasks. This will increase engagement & reduce misbehaviour. Also, if it is a short session have a timer in the classroom so the boys know how long they have left to complete a task."
Lee Havis - Executive Director at International Montessori Society
"Punishment and reward to control behavior, is really creating more problems than it solves. So, let me propose we get to the core cause of the problem - some detrimental influences in the environment.

Treat each child, boy or girl, as perfect spiritual being, and you see that the environment is the cause of any misbehavior. Fix the problem in the environment, and you don't have to fix the blame. So, let's analyze what is the problem, and fix that.

Children, boys or girls, misbehave as a reflection of some abandonment or negativity from the adult supervising. The main problem is usually "abandonment" - giving too much opportunity for foolish mental wandering that leads to violence in the end. fixing that problem, for example, give children work that interests them, when they can't find it on their own. In addition, make a rule (for yourself) that no child gets up out of his/her chair without a purpose to do something positive, good, and intelligent. No wandering around. If a child seems to be "bored" or "inattentive", interact with questions or directions.

Children under six benefit most from work to handle objects. Over six, you have to inspire them with some idea that interests them. A question such as "what do you think?" or "what are you doing?" is often a good place to begin. Or, "What can you do about that?' Only when the child comes up with a sound, rational idea to work on something intelligently, do you allow the latitude to move around and interact with others.

In this approach, there is no blame or condemnation or punishment of children. It's all about taking responsibility for the environment. There is a scientific technology for following this way of being with children. International Montessori Society -
Negative attention, like writing names of those who "talk out of turn" does work to an extent, and in the short run, it seems to have a good effect, when you do it in a systematic, consistent manner. Writing names on the board, without emotion; and having a clear consequence, is certainly better than threats and yelling."
“….punishment of any kind from outside the person is really harmful in many hidden ways. It promotes the "tyranny" of adult control - since it is still consequence controlled and enforced by the teacher as an authority figure. It is NOT something that the class of students agree among themselves to do.

First, there must be a commitment of all the students to the task at hand. In the beginning of the class, for example, explain that it is their choice to be there, and the class will decide on rules of behavior and participation. Spend some time talking about what THEY want to achieve, and how they wish to function as a community of free-choice participants in the learning situation. If you can get this level of commitment to the social order, then the students themselves can have a meeting to decide on rules and punishment, if any. And, you will be teaching the students self-control and self-governance which is a lot more than "fractions" or "parts of speech". "

Brenda Kaiser - Author, Consultant, Speaker & Workshop Facilitator 
"Lee, you have made some excellent points. Let me add, that the place to begin is by you, the teacher, looking at yourself - your expectations, biases and teaching style. Believe in your students - their ability to learn and behave appropriately and create an environment which supports their abilities, not their 'disabilities.'"
Pam Lobacz - Kindergarten teacher at Waterford Graded School District
"I am a kindergarten teacher. I have found that it is not always the boys that have the bad behavior. I have had classes where it the reverse, the girls were very strong opinionated and had lots of controversy within the "girl" group. With that being said, I make sure we have sensory breaks, allow students to stand when they do their work, also there are students who have not known what is expected of them at school. Make sure students know what the expectation of their behavior is for school. Then they have the choice of their behavior and the teacher has the choice of the consequence. Reward positive behavior, frequently."
Enza Buonaiuto - Education Management Professional
"As far as disruptive behavior is concerned, I may give certain children who seem to have "trouble" in this department something extra to do in the classroom to help the teacher...some sort of responsibility to keep him or her out of trouble. It could be collecting scraps, helping me find a piece of an educational activity that I "lost", or helping me remember the words to a song. You really need to be creative with this, and I promise you it works like magic! Young children, FOR THE MOST PART, want to help and please the teacher.

.....and praising them for their help is paramount....even a cute postcard that goes home with them saying "Jimmy helped the teacher find the missing puzzle piece" (You get the idea!)

Over the years, I have found that names on the board (by the way....children love to see their names in print) just DOES NOT WORK for young children."
Teresa Strong - Science Specialist K-3rd Grade
"It's also possible that we can't be totally aware of everything they need, since children are now growing up in a world that didn't exist when we were growing up. That's why I think it's so important that we teach them how to communicate in a way that is positive and ensures that they will be heard and understood everywhere they go. It's an important skill. I would love to see basic manners come back into our classrooms. I always tell kids that manners are very important. They communicate to people that you care about them. It's a part of emotional intelligence. We gloss over this ability all the time, and it should be just as important as any other thing that is taught in schools."
TO OUR READERS:  Please feel free to post your classroom management suggestions below.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Back-to-School Basics

The first few weeks of school set the tone for the rest of the school year.  Educators and homeschool parents alike need to establish a clear set of rules and boundaries for their students.  In many ways, public school teachers have a greater challenge than homeschoolers, including: 

  • The ratio of students to teachers is generally much greater in public schools.
  • Teachers in public (and private) schools may have difficult or negative co-workers to contend with.
  • Public school teachers in general have more students with emotional needs.
  • Students with behavioral problems are a distraction.
It's so important for students to understand the basics before they can move on to other higher-level concepts. But, in order to teach them, you must first reach them.  For public school teachers, this means getting to know your students, so you can understand their needs.  A first grade teacher might have students draw a picture of their family and pets, labeling each family member -- an art activity that can give the teacher great insight into the family dynamics. A junior high teacher might start off the school year by having each student choose another student in the classroom and write a short description about them, including what their talents and interests are.  If they are new to the school, and do not know much about their classmates, they can write a few sentences about how they feel about moving to the new school. This activity will serve as a way to assess writing skills and to learn a little bit more about the students.

Regardless of the setting, engaging students is key to helping them grasp basic concepts that will be used as building blocks for future learning.  If they decide early on that learning can be interesting and fun, it will open up a whole new world for them.  If you teach history, have the students act out an important event.  If you teach math, have the students apply their math skills by solving real-life scenarios, like determining how many liters of drinks and how many ounces of chips it will take to treat the entire class to snacks on Friday.  Use interactive games like Multiple Madness® to improve basic math skills like multiplication.  Use journaling in science class and art in reading class.  

Whatever you do, don't allow stress to affect your performance as an educator.  Aside from taking time for yourself... and occasionally counting to ten before you react or respond... there are tons of online resources to make this a successful school year!  Check out our link to free teacher resources, and feel free to add your favorite links in the comments section of our blog.  Share your favorite teaching tips, concerns or hot topics on our Facebook page.

"Out of this world" reading experience

Teachers playing Multiple Madness

Students playing Multiple Madness

Monday, March 4, 2013

Team WILD Game from

If you'd like to help your students learn the importance of a career in conservation and science, check out the brand new online science game that was recently launched on
The Team WILD game is a fun and unique way to engage students, by turning scientists into superheroes!   Andrea Small, with, tells us: "From jungle to savanna, rainforest to coral reef, the Team WILD game will test students on their speed, skill and coordination.  As they play, students will discover a diverse range of field tasks a conservation scientist of ecologist must do in order to protect the world's species and habitats -- from replanting native guapuruvu trees in the Atlantic forest of Brazil to evacuating non-infected mountain chickens (a frog) from Montserrat where populations are being decimated by the deadly chytrid fungus.

Team WILD is also supported by curriculum-linked teaching resources, topic pages linked to the game content and discussion points, encouraging students and teachers to continue their learning journeys by exploring the topics touched upon in the game."  

Wildscreen USA is proud to be spearheading U.S. efforts in support of the ARKive project - the Noah's Ark for the internet era.  ARKive is a unique global initiative, gathering together the very best films and photographs of the world's species into one centralized digital library to create a freely-accessible, audio-visual record of life on Earth.

For more information, visit:  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sticks and Stones

Remember the old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?"  That's true, unless those words come with intentional malice over a period of time, and involve an imbalance of power.  Bullying is a hot topic among parents and educators, but in a November 25, 2012 article (, Signe Whitson, L.S.W., offers the following important words of caution:

 "In the last few years, Americans have collectively paid attention to the issue of bullying like never before; millions of school children have been given a voice, 49 states in the U.S. have passed anti-bullying legislation, and thousands of adults have been trained in important strategies to keep kids safe and dignified in schools and communities. These are significant achievements.

At the same time, however, I have already begun to see that gratuitous references to bullying are creating a bit of a “little boy who cried wolf” phenomena. In other words, if kids and parents improperly classify rudeness and mean behavior as bullying—whether to simply make conversation or to bring attention to their short-term discomfort—we all run the risk of becoming so sick and tired of hearing the word that this actual life-and-death issue among young people loses its urgency as quickly as it rose to prominence."

Ms. Whitson goes on to explain that "it is important to distinguish between rude, mean, and bullying so that teachers, school administrators, police, youth workers, parents, and kids all know what to pay attention to and when to intervene." 

Rudeness is generally behavior that is not done with the intent to hurt someone else.  An example of this is jumping ahead of another student in line.   "Mean" behavior is intended to hurt the recipient, such as telling someone, "You don't need to eat lunch; you're already too fat."  Sometimes it is simply impulsive cruelty, brought on by angry feelings. Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and repeated over a period of time.  It involves an imbalance of power and the bully has no remorse.

Since children learn what they live, educators and students alike are often the targets of verbal and physical abuse by young people whose families have not fostered compassion at home.  We can love them, encourage them, and be a role model for them.  We can show them what compassion is and possibly influence them in a way that inspires them to fulfill their dreams and to become a positive role model for future generations.

If you have success stories about teaching compassion in the classroom, please submit them to, or feel free to share them in the comments section of this blog.  

Signe Whitson is a licensed social worker and co-author of The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces, 2nd ed.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Benefits of Gratitude

Contributed by Rhonda Cratty, educator and writer

November brings a season of thankfulness.  

Teaching our children to be grateful is a lifetime gift.  Studies have shown the benefits of gratitude are powerful: physical health, more optimism, higher life satisfaction, and a real sense of connection to the world that continues through our children's lives.

Psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough have been working with scientific data on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its potential consequences for physical health, well-being, and even improved mental alertness.  The knowledge of benefits of gratitude is recorded throughout history.  Emmons states, "Thousands of years of literature talk about the benefits of cultivating gratefulness as a virtue."

In his book Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Robert A. Emmons states, "Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations."  He continues, "Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress."

About the author:

Rhonda Cratty has been a Denver-area teacher and writer since 1983.  She has taught Kindergarten-Sixth grades, and then moved into an Instructional Coach position.  Rhonda now enjoys writing about ways parents can improve the quality of their children's educational lives.  She has been with the National Parent & Education at since December 2008.  

Contact Rhonda at

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bring the Election into Your Classroom!

Do you need a new strategy for bringing the election to life in the classroom? Are you concerned about the decline of Americans in civic knowledge and participation?  There’s a website devoted to turning that trend around.
Founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, offers educational video games and teaching materials developed by a national leadership team of educational government experts. The website offers free lesson plans and curriculum units that include reading materials, questions and links to specific web resources to help students apply the topic to real-world situations. 
Media plays a big role in elections and civic life. Using, teachers can introduce students to critical thinking skills, using simulations, vocabulary-building activities, real world applications and more in iCivics' Media and Influence Unit.
Use interactive games to keeps students engaged: In Win the White House, students can manage their very own presidential campaign by strategically raising funds, polling voters, launching media campaigns, and making personal appearances. There’s a map for monitoring progress as they battle over electoral votes and popular support. In Election 2012! teachers register for a free account and choose from a variety of specially-designed materials including games, lesson plans, and more to bring this year's election into the classroom! In Do I Have A Right?, students will run their own firm of lawyers who specialize in constitutional law.
Do you want to show your students how to make your community a better place to live? In Counties Work, students decide about the programs and services that affect everyone!  In Argument Wars, students can hone their debate skills and persuasive abilities by arguing a real Supreme Court case.

This site has much more to offer.  Teachers can use the curriculum finder to search for curriculum by state, course and grade level, and select from a variety of curriculum units. Step-by-step instructions for using the materials are included with each lesson or unit. The interactive games do not require any prior knowledge, and are designed to be playable during one class period.  They can be played on individual computers or a single computer in connection with a smart board or projector.
These interactive games help keep students engaged, and there are incentives for students to play the games, like earning points that they can spend on community projects (posted on the site).  Every 3 months, the project with the most points wins $1,000.  
The entire website is visually appealing and easy to navigate. There is also a button for site visitors to click to donate funds.  This is an excellent free resource for helping to prepare young Americans to become knowledgeable, engaged 21st  century citizens!