Apr 08 2010

Is the “No Child Left Behind Act” Contributing to Childhood Obesity?

By Lisa Garner  Will this generation of American children be the first ever not to live as long as their parents, or do American schools still have time to intervene before it’s too late? Under the No Child Left Behind Act, many schools have had to cut back or eliminate physical education and health programs to accommodate an increase in academic time to help prepare students for mandated standardized testing. However, research suggests that children who are physically active and well nourished actually perform better on standardized tests than their counterparts who received more academic class time. As a result of implementing physical activity and proper nutrition back into our schools, there would be no child left behind, and we’d be giving them the opportunity to get fit and able to learn for a lifetime.   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overweight children have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese as adults and face higher risks for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Obese children are also at risk for developing social and psychological problems which may require additional counseling services. As of 2008, the medical costs for treating obesity-related diseases alone soared to a staggering $147 billion dollars which is placing more financial burdens on an already crippled economy.    Research suggests that overeating and lack of physical activity ...

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Apr 08 2010

GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT – A Kid’s Guide To Food And Nutrition – Author: Lizzy Rockwell

A Book Review by Lisa Garner   Writer and illustrator, Lizzy Rockwell, has whipped up a delicious kid’s guide to proper nutrition and healthy eating which is just plain “Good Enough to Eat.” Packed full of colorful illustrations, facts, experiments, and recipes, Rockwell does an outstanding job of linking the basic principles of proper nutrition directly to the human body. Designed to satisfy a child’s curiosity about their body and how it works, Good Enough to Eat presents basic nutrition facts in a kid friendly, easy to understand format which is perfect for reading at home or school.   An appetizing blend of  factual information, recipes, and fun hands-on experiments,  Good Enough to Eat satisfies a child’s hunger to learn about proper nutrition with bright lively illustrations, informational speech bubbles and text, and a diverse group of  children who navigate their way through the complexity of  anatomy and physiology to learn the relevance behind the food pyramid and how it applies to their bodies.  The inside covers of the book are adorned with meticulous illustrations of the five food groups and the proper serving sizes for each. With every turn of the page, children will learn more information about the foods they eat.  Ÿ  What is the digestive system and how does it work? Ÿ  What is the food pyramid and why is it important to follow it? Ÿ  What vitamins, minerals, and nutrients do certain foods contain? Ÿ  ...

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Jan 29 2010

“My Choices Make Me Who I Am” -By Mutiya Vision and David Vision, Illustrated by Ignacio Alcantara, Vision Works Publishing (October 2008)

Book Review: By Lisa Garner “My Choices Make Me Who I Am” Authors: Mutiya Vision and David Vision Illustrator: Ignacio Alcantra Publisher: Vision Works Publishing (October 2008) “Every choice I make defines who I am. What I choose to be in life is up to me. Where I go depends on how I engage the challenges I meet, the paths I choose to take, and the trails I choose to create. The choice is in my hands.” These beautifully written words and illustrations can be discovered in a compelling and powerful new book, “My Choices Make Me Who I Am,” written by David and Mutiya Vision and illustrated by Ignacio Alcantara. This 2009 recipient of the National Best Books Award in the Children’s Educational category is an inspirational story of how an adolescent boy confronts and adapts to life’s daily challenges and the important lessons he learns along the way. Each real life experience gives him the opportunity to make a choice which will ultimately define him as a human being. After careful examination of each situation and reviewing the potential rewards or consequences associated with it, he learns the importance of making wise choices. Throughout the book, the young boy shares his personal experiences and offers advice on how a child might apply this knowledge to their own life. This is a great book to help children understand the importance of controlling their emotions, listening carefully, ...

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Jan 29 2010

Teaching Students To Appreciate Life: A Lesson From The 2010 Earthquake In Haiti

By Lisa Garner The morning after a catastrophic 7.3 earthquake rocked the impoverished island-nation of Haiti, children across the world were already getting down to business searching for ways to raise money to help the millions of injured and homeless children in Haiti. In the grand scheme of things, their actions may seem like a small gesture, but it was an opportunity for children to learn how they could become part of a global effort to help those less fortunate. Often times, the best classrooms are the ones without walls, an opportunity to let the “real world” in with hopes of igniting our students’ curiosity and expanding their knowledge beyond the confines of a mandated curriculum. We often refer to them as “teachable moments.” A teachable moment is a priceless and impromptu opportunity that arises when an educator has a chance to offer insight and guidance to their students. Teachable moments are spontaneous and can be identified by observing and listening to your students. Yes, I mean eavesdrop. Observe the children’s behavior, notice particularly compelling conversations, and learn how to follow their leads. Engage them in dialogue by asking open-ended questions, listen to what they’re saying, and encourage them to discuss the topic in more detail. You’ll notice during teachable moments that you may actually become more enthusiastic than your students. It’s that “aha moment” where you actually do see the light bulbs going ...

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Nov 12 2009

We Eat Food That’s Fresh, Angela Russ-Ayon, 2009, Our Rainbow Press

Review by Lisa Garner And the 2009 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award goes to….We Eat Food That’s Fresh written by Angela Russ-Ayon and illustrated by Cathy June. Congratulations ladies for serving up a delicious treat while empowering parents and children to learn more about the importance of establishing proper eating habits and having fun in the process. Join the children on an island adventure with a quirky chef who whips up their interest in trying an array of tasty new fruits and vegetables. From the garden to the kitchen, he awakens their curiosity regarding the mysterious world of flavorful and unfamiliar produce as he mixes, beats, and stirs them into delicious new combinations and recipes. Will this persuasive chef capriciously entice his visitors into trying something new? June’s scrumptious pastel illustrations are blended beautifully with Russ-Ayon’s easy rhymes and rhythmical verses. This delightful picture book comes with a CD which includes an audio book and a musical companion song that will delight children with its carefree island beat. The book’s text flows beautifully with easy rhymes and repetitive verses which will work well for individual, group, buddy, or choral reading.

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Nov 11 2009

Strega Nona’s Harvest, Tomie dePaola, 2009, G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Book Review by Lisa Garner Momma Mia! Mange on Caldecott Award-winning author-illustrator Tomie dePaola’s delightful new book Strega Nona’s Harvest! In this humorous tale, Strega Nona attempts to teach her blundering helper, Big Anthony, about gardening, order, and following directions. Based upon her meticulous records, systematic placement of previously unused seeds, perfectly straight rows, and a little magic, Strega Nona plants her garden under the light of a full moon and seals the deal with a song and a kiss. Scoffing at Bambolona’s rules and bossiness, Big Anthony thinks he can use her secrets to yield an equally bountiful harvest. However, his haphazard placement of seeds, extra kisses, and over watering turn his garden into an unruly jungle with a surplus of oversized vegetables which he surreptitiously places outside of Strega Nona’s doorstep. After Strega Nona’s cottage is about to burst with beans, pumpkins, eggplants, and zucchinis, she decides to share her bounty with the villagers whose harvest was hampered by uncharacteristically heavy rainfall. Just as Strega Nona settles back into her roomy cottage for the evening, Big Anthony makes another unsuspected delivery. DePaola’s format is classic Strega Nona full of witty lines, vivid comic strip style illustrations, and Italian expressions that are as warm and welcoming as the story’s quaint Italian village. It’s theme of generosity and sharing would be a great addition to any character education unit or simply as a wonderful class ...

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Nov 10 2009

Homework: Useful or Useless? A Teachers Perspective

By Lisa Garner Let’s be honest!  Didn’t all of us enter the teaching profession so we could bore the living daylights out of countless numbers of children, require them to spend four excruciating hours slumped over their kitchen table doing homework every night, and turning families’ quiet evenings at home into a WWF Smack Down?  OF COURSE NOT! We aren’t the enemy, but why do so many parents think we’re out to destroy the lives of their children by assigning homework? Let’s face it, the real question isn’t whether we assign homework, but is the homework we are assigning relevant or just busy work?   Since “No Child Left Behind,” there have been far too many teachers being thrown under the school bus. Administrators are fixated on improving test scores but quality classroom time is at a minimum. Class trips, pep rallies, magazine drives, fire drills, lock downs, birthday parties, parent conferences, book fairs, H1N1 assemblies, class photos, and three day weekends are sucking up our precious class time like a sponge. As a result, many teachers feel pressured to send home unfinished class assignments for homework in addition to practice sheets to help improve their students’ standardized test scores.   Parents, on the other hand, are being stressed to the max. They’re expected to be wage earners, coaches, chauffeurs, and care takers. Instead of gathering around the kitchen table at night to have dinner ...

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Sep 04 2009

Start “Fresh”

By Lisa Garner Although we mourn the end of our summer vacation, the majority of us are genuinely happy with the beginning of the new school year. Sporting tans, a little less weight, and for a few of us, some resemblance of muscle tone, we arrive refreshed, revived, and rejuvenated as we prepare our classrooms and ourselves for the “new year.” Similar to the resolutions we attempt to make every New Year’s Eve, teachers set goals and objectives for their schoolwork but rarely for themselves. The time has come to change that! If teachers aren’t well rested, nourished, and physically fit, imagine the impact it has on our students. We need to establish the same mindset and behaviors which we were able to adopt during the summer and carry them over into the new school year. So what type of steps can we take in order to insure that we are successful in our battle against the bulge in addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle for our students? First, we need to lead by example. Secondly, we must establish a nutrition and fitness program which spans throughout all curriculum areas and not just P.E. Finally, parents, teachers, and coaches need to work together as a team to help our children learn the importance of eating properly and exercising daily. The time has come for us to turn off our computers, lock up those ...

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Sep 04 2009

Be Aware and Prepare For H1N1

By Lisa Garner Like many of us during the summer months, you want to make like a bear and hibernate. As a result, you spend the first few weeks of summer break wandering around in your pajamas, curling up with a good book, sipping on a refreshing summer beverage, and hopefully getting out of town for a few days on vacation. Then one morning, you suddenly catapult out of bed in a cold sweat screaming, “OMG, I only have 10 more days of summer vacation, and I haven’t finished writing my lesson plans for next year!” Although the goal of summer vacation is to lose touch with reality, relax, and re-establish your sanity, you may not be quite as up to date on current events as you would be otherwise. So while you were “sleeping,” the school year has started and the swine flu, formally known as the H1N1 virus, is circulating. Now more than ever, we need to educate our parents and students on the benefits of establishing proper eating habits, exercising regularly, and good personal hygiene. As teachers, we spend ten months out of the year operating on sleep deprivation and carbohydrates in addition to dodging more germs than bad drivers on the freeway. When we get run down or stressed out, we get sick, and so do our students. This year, flu infected summer camps have reminded health officials that ...

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Sep 04 2009

Philanthropists for Change

Paradoxically speaking, is it possible for hunger and obesity to co-exist within countless numbers of American families? If so, what can you do to help your students become philanthropists for change by ending malnutrition and obesity for millions of American children? Curriculum supported community service projects provide students with the opportunity to become actively engaged in the learning process and develop leadership potential while increasing academic preparedness. Derived from Ancient Greek, philanthropy means “to love people.” The act of donating goods, services, money, and time to support a socially beneficial cause at no material reward to the donor is the best gift one person can give to another. Much has been written lately about the emotional, physical, and educational benefits associated with participating in global community service projects. The myriad of benefits are as vast as the aid organizations we seek to adopt. In order for children to become conscientious and productive members of society, they must be provided with engaging, meaningful, and relevant opportunities to develop a sense of civic responsibility. Not only will students benefit from increasing their knowledge base, but it will also help your students to develop respect for others, patience, tolerance, and compassion for people who may be different, leadership skills, and citizenship. How many times have you heard your students ask, “Why do we have to learn this stuff anyway?” I must admit that these words also ...

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