Archive | July, 2013

The 07/31/13 Joy Jar

31 Jul

As moi walked this evening, she looked up at the night sky and wondered at the various shades of the midnight blue hue and the dark outlines of clouds. There was just enough night light to highlight the beauty of the night sky. Tonight’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is a beautiful night sky.

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays

“Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth.”

“Some praise the Lord for Light,
The living spark;
I thank God for the Night
The healing dark.”
Robert W. Service

“Night is a world lit by itself.”
Antonio Porchia; Translator W.S. Merwin, Voices

“The last glow of sundown dims away. Stars appear in the east. Night encloses us. The ocean seems to enlarge. When you’re adrift at night, imagination and perception merge. They have to. You can’t see as well, as far, as deep. You tie knots by muscle memory, and you operate your reel mostly by feel. Your boat drifts, your thoughts drift. You sense the sweep of tide and water, and the boat gets rocked in turbulence just past each undersea ridgeline and boulder field. You, too, are looking up, searching constellations, dreaming. You fell again how flexible and expansive your mind can be when it’s working right. And you slip your leash to explore the vast vault of sky and great interior spaces.”
Carl Safina, The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World

Night time is really the best time to work.  All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep.  Catherine O’Hara

There they stand, the innumerable stars, shining in order like a living hymn, written in light.
N.P. Willis

I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
Vincent Van Gogh

“Without the dark, we’d never see the stars. There also would be no use for the moon if there was never a night.” Tessa Emily Hall, Purple Moon

The 07/30/13 Joy Jar

30 Jul

Moi is a proud OLD FART and she unapologetic about NOT politically correct. So, today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is glorying in NOT being politically correct.

I got a feeling about political correctness. I hate it. It causes us to lie silently instead of saying what we think.
Hal Holbrook

Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.
Jacques Barzun

Transcend political correctness and strive for human righteousness.
Anthony J. D’Angelo

I detest politics, to be honest with you. It’s a cesspool. And I don’t think I would fare well in that cesspool because I don’t believe in political correctness and I certainly don’t believe in dishonesty.
Benjamin Carson

I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.
P. D. James

Political correctness has become a straightjacket.
Gary Oldman

While liberals are leery of religious fundamentalism in general, they consistently imagine that all religions at their core teach the same thing and teach it equally well. This is one of the many delusions borne of political correctness.
Sam Harris

“As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.”
Gore Vidal

“The problem is that it has become politically awkward to draw attention to absolutes of bad and good. In place of manners, we now have doctrines of political correctness, against which one offends at one’s peril: by means of a considerable circular logic, such offences mark you as reactionary and therefore a bad person. Therefore if you say people are bad, you are bad.”
Lynne Truss, Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door

A lot of people are bored of all the political correctness.
Clint Eastwood

Massachusetts Aggression Center study: Cyberbullying and elementary school children

30 Jul

Moi wrote about bullying in Ohio State University study: Characteristics of kids who are bullies:
A Rotary Club in London has a statement about the Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect – Sending Waves of Goodness into the World
Like a drop of water falling into a pond, our every action ripples outward, affecting other lives in ways both obvious and unseen.
We touch the lives of those with whom we come into contact and, by extension, those with whom they come into contact.
When our actions spring from a spirit of kindness or compassion or generosity, we set into motion a “virtuous cycle” that radiates far beyond our ability to see, or perhaps even fully comprehend.
Just as a smile is infectious, so are more overt forms of service. Our objective — whether in something as formal as a highly-structured website development project or as casual as the spontaneous small kindnesses we share with strangers in hopes of brightening their day — is to send waves of positive change in the world, one act of service at a time.

Unfortunately, some children due to a variety of behaviors in their lives miss the message of the “Ripple Effect.”
Ohio State University reported in the press release, SCHOOL BULLIES MORE LIKELY TO BE SUBSTANCE USERS, STUDY FINDS:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Middle- and high-school students who bully their classmates are more likely than others to use substances such as cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, a new study found.
Researchers found that bullies and bully-victims – youth who are both perpetrators and victims – were more likely to use substances than were victims and non-involved youth.
“Our findings suggest that one deviant behavior may be related to another,” said Kisha Radliff, lead author of the study and assistant professor of school psychology at Ohio State University.
“For example, youth who bully others might be more likely to also try substance use.  The reverse could also be true in that youth who use substances might be more likely to bully others.”
The researchers didn’t find as strong a link between victims of bullying and substance use.
Radliff conducted the study with Joe Wheaton, associate professor in Special Education, and Kelly Robinson and Julie Morris, both former graduate students, all at Ohio State.
Their study appears in the April 2012 issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors.
Data for the study came from a survey of 74,247 students enrolled in all public, private and Catholic middle and high schools in Franklin County, Ohio (which includes Columbus).
Among the 152 questions on the survey were eight that involved bullying, either as a victim or perpetrator.  Students were asked about how often they told lies or spread false rumors about others, pushed people around to make them afraid, or left someone out of a group to hurt them.  They were also asked how often they were the victims of such actions.
In addition, the questionnaire asked how often they used cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana.  For this study, users were defined as those who reported use at least once a month.
Results showed that bullying was more common among middle-school students than those in high school, while substance use was more prevalent among high-school students.
About 30 percent of middle-school students were bullies, victims or bully-victims, compared to 23 percent of those in high school.
Fewer than 5 percent of middle-school youth used cigarettes, alcohol, or marijuana.  But among high-school students, about 32 percent reported alcohol use, 14 percent used cigarettes and 16 percent used marijuana.
But substance use varied depending on involvement in bullying, the researchers found.
For example, among middle-school students, only 1.6 percent of those not involved in bullying reported marijuana use.  But 11.4 percent of bullies and 6.1 percent of bully-victims used the drug.  Findings showed that 2.4 percent of victims were marijuana users.
Among high school students, 13.3 percent of those not involved in bullying were marijuana users – compared to 31.7 percent of bullies, 29.2 percent of bully-victims, and 16.6 percent of victims.
Similar results were found for alcohol and cigarette use.
But the percentages tell only part of the story, Radliff said.  The researchers also used a statistical analysis that showed that bullies and bully-victims had much higher than expected levels of substance use.
“That suggests there is a relationship between experimenting with substances and engaging in bullying behavior,” she said.
Statistically, however, there was no connection between being a victim and substance use among middle-school students, according to Radliff.  The use of cigarettes and alcohol was statistically greater for victims in high school, but there was no statistically significant effect on marijuana use.
Nevertheless, it was the bullies and bully-victims who were the most likely to be substance users.
Radliff said these results may lead to ways anti-bullying initiatives can be improved.
“Many schools are mandating anti-bullying programs and policies, and we think they need to take this opportunity to address other forms of deviant behavior, such as substance use,” she said.
This might be especially important in middle school, where bullying is more prevalent, but substance use is still relatively rare.
“If we can intervene with bullies while they’re in middle school, we may be able to help them before they start experimenting with substance use,” she said.
Contact: Kisha Radliff, (614) 292-6485;
Written by Jeff Grabmeier, (614) 292-8457;
See, Kids Who Bully May Be More Likely to Smoke, Drink
Anne Collier wrote in the Christian Science Monitor article, Cyberbullying study one of the first to research elementary school-aged youth:

Rare is the opportunity to get insights into cyberbullying in elementary school because most US research has focused on youth aged 12 and up. The Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC) really delivered by surveying a huge sample – more than 11,700 – 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders three times over a year and a half, and I believe the results clearly demonstrate the need for social-emotional learning and media literacy education starting in even lower grades.
For example, 90 percent of 3rd graders play interactive games (and they didn’t just start in 3rd grade!), and most cyberbullying among them occurs in online games, MARC found. But before you jump to any conclusions about games, note this finding:
“Children at
 the highest risk for repeatedly cyberbullying others were the most likely to report problems 
on Facebook, email, or through text messaging.” What this suggested to MARC is that – though safety and social-literacy education should fold in online game play – it shouldn’t stop there but embrace Facebook, e-mail, and texting too, even for under-13 Facebook users. The 19 percent of girls in grades 3 to 5 who were using Facebook in 2010 increased to 49 percent by 2012. Remember that Facebook and social games are on phones too, and there’s lots of anecdotal evidence that plenty of 4th and 5th graders are in Instagram (see this) and game apps like Clash of Clans….
Teaching children how to “recognize, report and refuse bullying,” as the bullying prevention and social literacy experts at Committee for Children in Seattle put it, is essential to reducing bullying in school and media environments. But what experts worldwide are seeing and voicing more and more is that social-emotional learning (SEL) – teaching our children how to detect and manage their own emotions and make good social decisions is the bedrock. Educators in Illinois certainly understand this, since in 2004, their state was the first to adopt SEL into its academic standards. Teacher Tontaneshia Jones of Chicago’s Ella Flagg Young School calls SEL “problem-solving with dignity,” as I wrote here, but its positive impact goes well beyond even social problem-solving to improving academic performance and a number of other factors for students and schools (see this).
See, Study Calls for Cyberbullying Education in Elementary Schools

Here is the press release from The Massachusetts Aggression Center:

Cyberbullying among 11,700 Elementary School
Students, 2010-2012
Dr. Elizabeth Englander
Director, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center
Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA

Presented on November 6, 2012, at the International Bullying Prevention Association Annual Conference, Kansas City, MO.
11,700+ Third-, Fourth- and Fifth-Graders, sampled in New England from a variety of schools (representing a variety of socioeconomic classes), between January 2010 and September, 2012.
Major Findings:

1. Elementary school children are already immersed in cyber-technology. Over 90% of third graders reported playing interactive games online. 35% of subjects reported owning a cellphone; most owned smartphones (see #8 below). This suggests : cyber-education needs to begin well before middle school.
2. Most elementary cyberbullying occurred in online games. However, children at the highest risk for repeatedly cyberbullying others were the most likely to report problems on Facebook, email, or through Text Messaging. This suggests: elementary cyberbullying education should probably include lessons relevant to online game-playing dynamics. Also, when a child aged 8 to 11 reports a problem on Facebook, email, or messaging, that should be regarded as a possible warning sign of higher-risk online involvement.
3. Use of Facebook increased among third, fourth, and fifth graders between 2010-2012, especially among girls. 19% of girls were using Facebook in 2010; that number rose to 49% in 2012. This suggests:
parents and children may not understand the existence or rationale of federal age guidelines (13 years or older) for Facebook and similar websites.
4. Cell phone ownership increased in every grade. For example, among fourth graders, 26% owned cell phones in 2012, and this increased to 35% in 2012. 52% of fifth graders and 22% of third graders reported owning cell phones by 2012.
5. In every grade, smartphone ownership increased and non-smartphone ownership decreased between 2010 and 2012. Owning a smartphone was a significant risk factor for both being a cyberbully and being a cyberbullying victim.
12% of fifth grade non-owners, and 18% of smartphone owners, admitted being a cyberbully. Similarly, 12% of fifth grade non-owners, and 34% of smartphone owners, reported being a cyberbullying victim. Similar numbers were found for third and fourth graders. This suggests : parents who are considering buying their elementary-aged child a smartphone should be offered both the benefits, and the risks,
associated with children’s usage.
6. When comparing Grades 3, 4 and 5, traditional in-school bullying was far more common that cyberbullying. However, both types of bullying increased across the three years. Just being a victim actually decreased from third to fifth grade; however, the percentage of children who both bully and are victims (“bully/victims”) increased from 15% in third grade to 21% in grade five.
7. In third grade, 72% of cyberbullying victims said that the bully online was anonymous. However, that percentage dropped to 64% by grade 5. (That trend continues through high school.) This suggests
: as children grow, cyberbullying increasingly reflects a dynamic between a target and a bully who know each other, usually from school.
8. Experiencing one episode of bullying is more common than experiencing bullying repeatedly. This was true for both victims and bullies. This suggests: efforts to control bullying may often be successful. It is also possible that many children learn, from one episode, how to avoid future episodes.
9. Cyberbullying education appears to be having an impact in Massachusetts. The proportion of children who could not define cyberbullying declined from 24% in 2010 to 10% in 2012. Non-bullies were more likely than bullies to report that their class had been offered education about bullying and cyberbullying (especially among fifth graders). Children who were repeatedly mean online reported the lowest level of education. This suggests: elementary education and awareness about cyberbullying can be can be successful.
10. Between 2010 and 2012, children were increasingly likely to claim that they had reported cyberbullying.
Furthermore, reporting to both adults and peers increased similarly. This suggests : cyberbullying programs appear to be successfully increasing the rate at which children report cyberbullying.

Dr. Elizabeth Englander
Director, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center
Professor of Psychology
Bridgewater State University
Bridgewater, MA
Phone: 508-531-1784
Text Messaging: 508-955-0270

Two articles describe the effects of social networking on teen relationships. In the first article, Antisocial Networking?, Hillary Stout writes in the New York Times about toxic social networking sites and their effect on teens.
Hans Villarica has an excellent article in Time, Dealing With Cyberbullying: 5 Essential Parenting Tips

Make sure your kids know cyberbullying is wrong. Many kids don’t understand that when they write down and disseminate feelings of frustration, jealousy or anger toward others online, it can quickly escalate into problems in the real world. They also tend to think that what happens digitally “doesn’t count” and that digital abuse doesn’t hurt, especially since parents usually focus on their kids’ behavior in person…. (More on Lessons on Cyberbullying: Is Rebecca Black a Victim? Experts Weigh In)
Take an interest in your kids’ online behavior. Kids tend to think their parents don’t know or care about their online lives. They fear that their parents, in not understanding, will simply take away their cell phone or computer if anything goes wrong….. (More on The Tricky Politics of Tween Bullying)
Check school policies on cyberbullying. Contact your child’s teacher or a school social worker or administrator and find out whether there is an official policy on cyberbullying. If there is one, read it and discuss it with your kids.
If there isn’t a written policy in place, ask about how cyberbullying is handled and whether there are any plans to create an official policy. Better yet, step up and join — or push to create — a committee to set the standards…. (More on Cyberbullying? Homophobia? Tyler Clementi’s Death Highlights Online Lawlessness)
Set guidelines about cell-phone use. Many parents give their kids cell phones, so they can stay in closer contact with them. But that’s typically not the reason kids want cell phones. Rather, kids use them to surf the Web, send text messages to friends, update their social-networking status, and share pictures and videos.
Review with your children the laws that could affect their cell phone use, including limitations on where and when they can legally take photos or videos, and how you expect them to handle text messaging or Internet use. If you choose to monitor what’s on your kids’ phones, be aware that more than 70% of kids delete messages or photos before giving their parents their phones for checks, according to research from the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center. (More on A Glimmer of Hope in a Bad-News Survey About Bullying)
Help your children respond appropriately if they are cyberbullied. First, talk with your children about what happened and how they feel about it. Be supportive. Remember that your kids feel that they are under attack. Second, report the abuse to the website on which it occurred. This can often be done via an “abuse” or “report” button or link on the site. Lastly, report the bullying to school administrators and ask them to look after your children.

Parents must monitor their children’s use of technology.
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The 07/29/13 Joy Jar

29 Jul

Moi has had the opportunity to watch an extremely greedy person over a period of time. Everyone need s certain base level of money, mamman, $$ or whatever to meet basic needs. This individual’s needs for $$ are not so much to meet basic needs, but to make them feel that they are of some worth and because they are of some worth, their worth should be recognized. Moi finds them utterly repulsive. That emotion says quite a bit about moi as well. She is far from perfect and still a work on the Potter’s Wheel. Still, she strives on an aspirational level to make choices which are more in accord with a different view of life and a different view of how people should be treated. While moi chooses to stay as far away from this person as possible because she finds them repulsive. Moi needs to choose to work on seeing them as God sees us all, with Grace and as a work in progress. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is choice.

“We are our choices.”
Jean-Paul Sartre

“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”
Brodi Ashton, Everneath

“We don’t get to chose what is true. We only get to choose what we do about it.”
Kami Garcia, Beautiful Darkness

“I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!”
Oscar Wilde

“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”
Tehyi Hsieh

“It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.”
Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.”
Leo Babauta

“Life is not a matter of chance…it is a matter of choice.”

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
Roy Disney

Montgomery County Public Schools study: Identifying potential dropouts early

29 Jul

Moi has several posts about dropouts. In Studies: Lack of support and early parenthood cause kids to dropout, she wrote:
Caralee Adams writes in the Education Week article, Why High School Students Drop Out and Efforts to Re-Engage:

Parenthood—either being a parent or missing out on parental support—is the leading reason cited by dropouts for leaving school, according to a new survey.
The 2012 High School Dropouts in America survey was released today by Harris/Decima, a division of Harris Interactive, on behalf of Everest College, a part of the for-profit Corinthian College Inc.
The poll was commissioned to help policymakers and educators understand why students drop out of high school and find effective ways to re-engage them in the hope of improving graduation rates.
The survey asked 513 adults, ages 19 to 35: “Which, if any, of the following reasons prevented you from finishing high school?” Here are the responses:
1.Absence of parental support or encouragement (23 percent)
2.Becoming a parent (21 percent)
3.Lacking the credits needed to graduate (17 percent)
4.Missing too many days of school (17 percent)
5.Failing classes (15 percent)
6.Uninteresting classes (15 percent)
7.Experiencing a mental illness, such as depression (15 percent)
8.Having to work to support by family (12 percent)
9.Was bullied and didn’t want to return (12 percent)
In the survey, conducted online in October, 55 percent of the dropouts looked into, but had not started the process of getting their high school equivalency or GED. The likelihood of doing so is higher for those who are married (67 percent). The reasons for not getting a GED: “not having enough time” (34 percent) and “it costs too much” (26 percent).
One-third of high school dropouts say they are employed either full time, part time, or are self‐employed. Another 38 percent of the men and 26 percent of the women were unemployed.
Attracting young adults who have dropped out back for more education is a challenge.
Often students don’t want to return to the same school they left and are looking for flexible options. One approach that is showing promise is the Boston Public Re-Engagement Center. There, students can retake up to two courses they previously failed; try online credit recovery, or attend night school or summer school. Coming into the program, out-of-school youths are connected with an adult to discuss goals, finances, and enrollment options.

See, High School Dropouts Worsened By Lack Of Support, Becoming A Parent: Survey

Montgomery County Public Schools are studying dropout indicators in an effort to intervene early.

Sarah D. Sparks wrote in the Education Week article, Dropout Indicators Found for 1st Graders:

The Montgomery County district compared the grades, attendance, and behavior of 723 dropouts from the class of 2011 and 523 dropouts from the class of 2012 with those of their classmates who graduated. The early-warning system reverse-engineers a risk profile based on warning signs at four critical transition points: spring of 1st grade and fall of 3rd, 6th, and 9th grades.
For example, chronic absenteeism is generally defined as missing 10 percent or more days of school, excused or unexcused. In Montgomery County, Mr. West found virtually no pupils in the early-elementary grades missed 20 days of school. But missing as few as nine days of school nearly doubled a student’s risk of dropping out later.
“The message for Montgomery County is, our kids are there in school; they just aren’t doing well,” Mr. West said at a discussion of the data system at the National Center on Education Statistics’ annual conference in Washington this month.
Similarly, elementary schools very rarely handed out punishments as severe as suspensions, but more subtle behavior cues, such as report card notations of incomplete homework, more accurately signaled future problems for elementary children.
Report card grades proved to be the strongest predictor of dropout risk found in grades 1 and 3. An overall GPA of 1.2 (roughly a D) in the spring of 1st grade more than doubled a student’s risk of dropping out later on, and more specifically, reading or doing math below grade level in 1st grade increased dropout risk by 134 percent.
“A parent has the report card, student has report card, teacher has a report card,” Mr. West said, “so if we base our conversation on the report card, at least everybody’s talking from the same page.”
In later years, lower academic performance was even more predictive, even with higher report card grades. At both the 6th and 9th grades, a student with a GPA below 3.0 and no other risk factors still was more than 3½ times more likely to drop out of school.
All told, a combination of the grades, attendance, and behavior indicators in 1st grade predicted about 75 percent of the students who dropped out in the classes of 2011 and 2012. A quarter to one-third of students who had at least one warning sign in 1st grade had more red flags in the 6th and 9th grades.
While Montgomery’s early-warning system is not yet being used to track individual students in real time, the district is changing the way it talks about student risk factors. For example, the data showed that more than 60 percent of students who dropped out were not from poor families. English-language learners were overrepresented among dropouts in the class of 2011—16 percent compared to the 4 percent district average—and special education students accounted for more than one in five dropouts in 2011, higher than their 11 percent share of the class overall. Still, Mr. West argued grade and behavior indicators proved more reliable and less discriminatory than looking at socioeconomics or race.
“We went from a very complicated approach to one that’s much simpler and geared toward teachers rather than the district,” Mr. West said. “It’s like getting your blood pressure checked; you have to do it often and over time.”
One reason for caution: At early grades, the system can show almost 50 percent more students at risk of dropping out as those who ultimately do. Still, Mr. West noted that it’s not certain whether the false positives come from mistakes that make sense in context—for example, a high-performing student who gets chicken pox and misses two weeks of school—or the effect of interventions to help at-risk students in later grades.
Flagging Students at Risk
As early as 1st grade, factors such as reading below grade level or racking up more than nine absences in a year can exponentially increase the odds that a students will eventually drop out of school, according to Montgomery County’s data.
SOURCE: Thomas C. West, Montgomery County Public

Here is the summary for Just the Right Mix: Identifying Potential Dropouts in Montgomery County Public Schools Using an Early Warning Indicators Approach:

Office of Shared Accountability Reports
Show search options
Title: Just the Right Mix: Identifying Potential Dropouts in Montgomery County Public Schools Using an Early Warning Indicators Approach
Topic: Other Data
Produced by: Research Team
Section: Early Warning Indicators
Published: March 2013
Authors: Thomas C. West
Keywords: early warning indicators, dropout, on-track, off-track, graduation
Years of Study: 2010-2011, 2011-2012
School Levels: Elementary, Middle, High
Format: Report
Pages: 28
Description: By applying the Early Warning Indicators (EWIs) approach to Montgomery County Public Schools’ student data, this report identifies the attendance, behavior, and coursework indicators of MCPS dropouts for the first marking periods of Grades 3, 6, and 9. Additionally, for the first time in EWI research, this report identifies EWIs for Grade 1.
An EWIs monitoring tool should be created based on research and cut points determined by the Office of Shared Accountability (OSA) for all elementary, middle, and high school grades.
EWI monitoring should be incorporated into teacher and administrator PLCs across all grades.
School staff, officials, counselors, and parents should work together to develop intervention strategies specific to individual students’ needs.
File name: Just the Right Mix_MCPS_West2013.pdf
Click here to open report (510KB PDF)

History is a race between education and catastrophe.
H. G. Wells

This world is in a period of dislocation and upheaval as great as the period of dislocation which ushered in the “industrial revolution.” The phrase “new, new thing” comes from a book by Michael Lewis about innovation in Silicon Valley. This historical period is between “new, new things” as the economy hopes that some new innovator will harness “green technology” and make it commercially viable as the economy needs the jump that only a “new, new thing” will give it. Peter S. Goodman has a fascinating article in the New York Times, Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs Unless, children are given a meaningful education which provides them with basic skills to adapt to a changing environment, the education system is producing a permanent underclass which will not be able to participate in the next “new, new thing.”


School Dropout Rates Add To Fiscal Burden
The Facts: National Dropout Rates


Dropout prevention: More schools offering daycare for students
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Baby sign language

28 Jul

Michael Alison Chandler reported in the Washington Post article, Baby sign language more popular as parents aim to communicate:

Many babies don’t graduate from jabbering to meaningful extended dialogue until they are closer to 2 years old. A growing number of parents, eager to communicate with their babies sooner, are starting conversations with their hands.
American Sign Language is increasingly becoming a temporary way to bridge baby talk and conversational English….
Proponents say sign language promotes brain development and parent-infant bonding while giving babies a way to communicate their wants and needs a little earlier.
Starting at about 9 months, babies start using their hands and arms to communicate. They often learn to wave and clap and point, and their gestures increase as they begin to stand and walk, freeing their arms to move, said Brenda Seal, director of Gallaudet’s speech-language pa­thol­ogy program.
Babies can begin to imitate signs even if, as with babbling, they offer up a simpler version of the original.
Any kind of sign can come in handy, though, for parents desperate to understand the garbled demands of a frustrated toddler. (Oh, you want shoes! I thought you said juice!!)
“It was the fear of constant meltdowns that inspired me to do it,” said Christy Martinich, a new mom and wealth manager who hosted the class in her Alexandria living room this month.
Ladino told the group that babies can use signs to express more than basic needs. Long before she could string together sentences, Ladino’s daughter was making jokes, she said. At about 13 months, she smirked and signed “snakes” over a pile of spaghetti. Another time, she signed “bath” after dunking her Teddy Graham into a cup of water.
“One of the wonderful things about sign language is that you can peek into their minds and find out what they are thinking,” she said.
The growth of baby sign language is being fueled by a booming cottage industry of mostly mom-run businesses, with names such as Tiny Fingers and WeeHands, that offer lessons in yoga studios, living rooms and community centers.
Scores of books and hundreds of Web sites demonstrate signs suitable for baby mealtimes and bath time. Some teach American Sign Language, and some use other signs or gestures. More than 4 million viewers have clicked on the YouTube video “cute signing baby!,” which shows a 1-year-old in a highchair demonstrating dozens of signs at her mother’s prompting.
With some research to support their concerns, some parents worry that introducing signs or gestures competes for a baby’s attention and working memory and that it can potentially interfere with spoken-language learning.
But the most widely cited research shows the opposite to be true. A longitudinal study published in 2000 and funded by the National Institutes of Health showed that a group of babies who were exposed to signs or gestures along with talking scored better on multiple measures of language acquisition at 2 years old than children who were exposed to talking alone.


Susan Goodwyn, Linda Acredolo, and Catherine Brown (in press). Impact of symbolic
gesturing on early language development. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.


This is the article in which we present the most important findings from our NIH-sponsored longitudinal study of the impact on verbal development of purposefully enco uraging infants to use symbolic gestures. Standardized tests of both receptive and expressive language development had been administered at 11, 15, 19, 24, 30, and 36 months to both an experimental group of babies (Baby Signers) and two control groups. Results demonstrated a clear advantage for the Baby Signers, thereby laying to rest the most frequently voiced concern of parents – that Baby Signing might hamper learning to talk. In fact, the good news is that Baby Signing actually facilitates verbal language development.

Abstract Impact of Symbolic Gesturing on Early Language Development
Susan W. Goodwyn, Linda P. Acredolo and Catherine A. Brown
California State University, Stanislaus
University of California, Davis
San Diego State University
(2000) Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 24, 81-103.

As with any instructional technique, there are pros and cons of baby sign language.

Patricia Carlson posted the article, Baby Sign Language at Parents and kids Magazine:

There is plenty of evidence supporting baby sign language’s efficacy. “I’ve done sign with all my kiddos. It’s a great way to teach them to communicate calmly and effectively before they can articulate,” says mother of four, Alicia McDougall, of Maine. But like any trend, there are those who say it’s not worth the effort and can actually harm your child’s development. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of baby sign language.


Curbs frustration

It’s not uncommon for young children to cry, fuss, or even throw temper tantrums.

You may write it off as your child not knowing what he/she wants, but a more likely answer is that your child simply can’t communicate what he/she wants. You can eliminate a lot of that frustration by using baby sign language. “It gives them a way to communicate while they are working on their words and makes life much less frustrating for them,” says mom of five, Melissa Cyr, of Maine. By signing, your child has the ability to ‘tell’ you his/her need. No more guessing games!

Develops verbal skills

– Baby sign language works by matching a feeling or object with a word.

So it’s no wonder that babies start understanding language before they can actually say what they’re thinking. Parents say it’s encouraging to watch their child make the connection between a sign, a word, and finally the sound of that word. Here’s a neat example from dad David Madore of New Jersey: “My daughter would do the sign for ‘more.’ It had only been a few weeks of signing ‘more,’ and we were making the sign, and she looks at me, puts her hands down, and slowly works her mouth and sounds into saying the word, ‘more.’ So, her first word came as a result of signing.” After her initial skepticism, even speech pathologist Karen Rossignol has come on board. “I was antisign,” the mom from Maine says. “I thought it would delay his speech, but his speech is excellent.” Promotes understanding of emotions – Advocates say signing helps babies and toddlers not only match a movement to a need or an emotion, but eventually, it helps children identify what they’re feeling. This ability to understand what emotion they’re feeling and the appropriate way to express it is a big step for any child to make. Plus, it’s exciting for parents to see and offers another outlet for praise. “Nothing is cuter than seeing [my son] rub his tummy when he says “please,” says mother of two, Kirsten Jensen, of North Dakota.


Teaching time – It will take a consistent routine to teach your baby sign language. There are various methods available through your local hospital, books, the internet, or even ASL classes, but one thing they have in common is that they need to be regularly reinforced. That means using the word and the sign together most, if not all, of the time. This can be especially difficult for families where both parents work. Danielle Karpinos from Chicago says she didn’t see the point of teaching her daughter sign language – as long as she stayed cued in to her daughter’s demeanor and desires. “I figured out really early on what Anya wanted,” Karpinos says.

“Anya said her first word at about 10 months – it was ‘breakfast’.” But if you’re really keen on teaching your child sign language, you may be able to find a daycare that has signing as part of its curriculum.

Consistency – In addition to the time it takes to teach your child sign language, you may also need to teach other family members and friends, too.

Teaching your child to sign won’t do much good if those around him/her don’t keep up the routine.

This can lead to added frustration for your baby and his/her caretakers. For example, your baby can become confused or angry when he/she is signing a need and the person on the receiving end has no idea what the movement means.


– Depending on the method you choose to teach your baby sign language, it’s best to know that there may be a cost associated with it. A quick search on the internet reveals DVD’s starting at $20, seminars upwards of $45, and other package ‘deals’ retailing as much as $150. Marcy Tilas, a mom from Maine, says she didn’t like the marketing aspect of baby sign language programs, especially when some places, like hospitals, offer classes for free. “Do not, I repeat do not, invest in any “Baby Signs” line stuff being sold out there,” she warns. “It is creepy, and hard to follow.” Perhaps it’s best to research local and low-cost options before investing in costly programs.


there is one area where experts and parents are divided on whether or not baby sign language is a good option when it comes to developing your child’s language use: children with disabilities.

Should parents decide that baby sign language is appropriate for their child, Dr. Hoecker of the Mayo Clinic has some great advice.

Jay L. Hoecker, M.D. wrote in the Mayo Clinic article, Is baby sign language worthwhile?

Limited research suggests that baby sign language might give a typically developing child a way to communicate several months earlier than those who only use vocal communication. This might help ease frustration between ages 8 months and 2 years — when children begin to know what they want, need and feel but don’t necessarily have the verbal skills to express themselves. Children who have developmental delays might benefit, too. Further research is needed, however, to determine if baby sign language promotes advanced language, literacy or cognition.
To begin teaching your child baby sign language, familiarize yourself with signs through books, websites or other sources. To get the most out of your baby sign language experience, keep these tips in mind:
Set realistic expectations. Feel free to start signing with your child at any age — but remember that most children aren’t able to communicate with baby sign language until about age 8 months.
Keep signs simple. Start with signs to describe routine requests, activities and objects in your child’s life — such as more, drink, eat, mother and father. Choose signs that are of most interest to your child.
Make it interactive. Try holding your baby on your lap, with his or her back to your stomach. Embrace your baby’s arms and hands to make signs. Or carry your baby and make the sign on his or her body. Alternate talking and not talking while signing. To give signs context, try signing while bathing, diapering, feeding or reading to your baby. Acknowledge and encourage your child when he or she uses gestures or signs to communicate.
Stay patient. Don’t get discouraged if your child uses signs incorrectly or doesn’t start using them right away. The goal is improved communication and reduced frustration — not perfection. However, avoid accepting indiscriminate movements as signs.
Keep in mind that, as you teach baby sign language, it’s important to continue talking to your child. Spoken communication is an important part of your child’s speech development.

One positive thing about baby sign language is that it promotes communication and interaction between the parent and their child.


Baby Sign Language: Does It Work?
Teaching Your Baby Sign Language Can Benefit Both of You

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The 07/28/13 Joy Jar

28 Jul

Today is just a lazy Sunday for moi with nothing in particular on the agenda. Really, there is nothing better than a lazy Sunday. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is a lazy Sunday.

Do not let Sunday be taken from you. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan.
Albert Schweitzer

I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that people need to let God out of the Sunday morning box, that He doesn’t want to just be with you for an hour or two on Sunday morning and then put back in His box to sit there until you have an emergency, but He wants to invade your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Joyce Meyer

Well, there’s nothing better than putting your feet up on a Sunday afternoon and grabbing a good book.
Chris Klein

Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.
Joseph Addison

“… God is not a Sunday plumber – he’s always available…”
John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

“Sunday is the only day you have to push like a handcart,’ Thomas wrote in The Book Of Everything. ’ The other days roll down the bridge by themselves.”
Guus Kuijer, The Book of Everything

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow