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Electronic Edition # 1

Florida Educational Leadership 

electronic edition 

is an official publication of Florida Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and is published during the course of the year. Articles are grouped in the following categories: Perspectives Voices From The Field Student Voices Research in Practice Technology in the Schools Electronic editions may focus only on one or two of these fields. Interested persons are invited to submit material for publication. See the inside back cover for details or visit our website at All articles are peer reviewed. The opinions expressed in Florida Education Leadership are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of FASCD.

Coming Events March 26—28, 2011 ASCD Annual Conference: Bold Actions for Complex Changes - San Francisco, CA October 22, 2011 FASCD presents an in depth presentation by Dr. Art Costa: Developing Habits of Mind January, 2012 FASCD presents an in depth presentation Judy Willis : Brain-based Learning Strategies

Electronic Issue #1

February, 2011

From the Editor - Where Do We Go From Here?

Marcy Kysilka

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School Culture—School Success

Vicki Zygouris-Coe

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Voices From The Field

Editor Keeping Up With The Jonses (and Amy Chua); Not an Educational Policy Jeffrey Kaplan Christopher Robin “Kit” Adams Non-Reader Become Readers When…


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Alina Davis

Are We Putting Kids in a Box or A Rocket? Page 12


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he looked up to the lights in the ceiling. Her whisper barely reached me. “I never knew. I never knew.” Tears gathered in her eyes.

s impromptu creative play a thing of the past?

Student Voices

Editor What Harold and His Purple Crayon Can Teach Us Sherron K. Roberts Pauline Chavez, Jay Dumont, Jessica Thomas “E” is For Engaging, Not Easy. Page 15

Sara Cajigas To Write? Or Not To Write? That is the Question ( A Play in One Act) Page 19

Jesica Shearhod Can You Imagine...? My Experience in Sierra Leone Page 22



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n the eyes of the general public, “picturebooks” are often considered to be just a form of entertainment for youngsters.

his article was created in my language arts methods class to inform classmates on the importance of writing as a teacher.

magine a classroom with forty students, without books, air conditioning, or lights. Imagine trying to teach these students while another class is in session right next to you.,

Items of Interest Writing for FEL ………..…….Back inside cover Editorial Staff & FASCD Officers …..Back cover FASCD Membership …………………...Page 11 Thanks to Johanna Lang, Broward County Schools, for the cover photo.

From the Editor

Where Do We Go From Here?


s you read this message from the editor of FASCD’s Educational Leadership, you are doing so on-line. Online publishing is a recent outreach effort to communicate with the broader population. There are many benefits to on-line publication, the primary one, of course is cost. On-line publication allows us to share more often, share more discretely, provide targeted topics, and open the portals to a greater variety of formats of sharing our ideas. On the other hand, on-line publication has yet to be acknowledged by the broader population as “legitimate” publication. What do I mean by this? The higher education community is struggling with the concept of on-line publication. In higher education, professors who are seeking tenure and promotion are required to publish in “recognized” academic journals. These journals have typically been sponsored by professional organizations and have developed reputation for “quality” content…content that has been peer reviewed, has been subjected to scrutiny by one’s peers, so to speak. As the editor of FASCD Educational Leadership, I received and sent to our board, manuscripts written by our members and other educators for review, criticism, acceptant or rejection. This had been the pattern for many many years. And for the higher education people, it has worked successfully to help them build their publication record. Now, we are faced with a serious question. How do we manage to keep the integrity of what is published by FASCD and use the on-line publication option that is growing in popularity? As this is our first attempt at stepping ahead into the on-line world of publication, we are moving slowly and deliberately. We still plan to review the materials. We still feel the obligation to accept, reject, or accept with revision anything that is published, in whatever format, by FASCD. We are struggling with the format of our online publication….less numbers of articles that are more focused and perhaps longer than what we do in our regular publication? Although this is very appealing, the reality is that when most of us read on-line, we have the tendency to skim and skip. Do we really want this to happen to some genuinely strong research articles that can inform our practice? Should we encourage more “short stuff”, i.e. would “Thoughtful Gems” be a better attraction to our on-line readers? Should we use “teasers” on-line, a synopsis of an article that was good and sent to us that might be published in the print journal? Could we use a synopsis on-line and make the full article available to a reader by a link? What would that mean for the author if an article would only be read by request? Growing electronically seems to be the vogue, and it is a good move, but we must be cognizant of what effect this has on our status as an organization and what it means for the authors of the articles. Perhaps we should no longer be concerned if what we accept and publish will help someone in higher education get promoted or tenured! Maybe that is now a moot activity. Maybe we should be most concerned about sharing good information quickly with our membership and hope that this will encourage a larger amount of sharing among members. The most important concern for us in our move to on-line publication is the integrity of what we publish. We cannot afford to just let anything be part of what we “sponsor.” However, this also means that we owe it to our membership to present multiple viewpoints on hot issues---which has been one of the guiding principles of our current journal. Page 1

There is a great deal to consider as we move into this territory. It will be important that the membership provide feedback to us about what they want in materials sent to them electronically. The most crucial of questions is, will the membership READ the electronic version of a publication? Or, like I do sometimes, when I have more email than desired, just press the de- Marcy Kysilka lete button and a scroll down the emails. Or will I click on the email, follow the link to the documents, scan quickly and delete anyway? As convenient as it is to have electronic access to substantive information, I also feel that I live in a world of information overload. Maybe the problem is my age. Maybe I can’t adjust to this new way of communicating and am too stubborn to acquiesce. Yet, I realize that I do like the convenience of electronic communication. But I don’t Skype, I don’t use Facebook (I must admit my nieces and nephews are pushing me in that direction and are trying to give me a Facebook “handle” that only people who really know me would be interested in joining me—that’s another story). I don’t blog—one of my nieces does regularly and although I was an enthusiastic reader of her initial blogs, I rarely read them now. I don’t twitter. I don’t text. I tolerate phone conferencing, but I hate it when we need to log on to a specified site to examine “data.” Frequently we spend more time trying to get the technology to work rather than having the documents we need sent to us ahead of time electronically so we can examine them before we conference. Frankly, I get annoyed with the technology. I just learned how to use the camera on my phone and send the picture to a family member. My elder family members are not into technology, so I communicate the old fashion way---I write letters or phone. My younger generation is high into technology and I am learning, slowly. Many of my contemporaries sit where I am---trying to use the technology and equally being annoyed by it all. So what does this mean for FASCD’s venture into electronic publication? We are willing to try. We want to see if we are effective in sharing ideas with our membership. We are open for suggestions. We want to hear from you to help us move in a direction that will meet your needs. We know we can no longer keep our heads in the sand and must use the multitude of media formats to get our messages to our membership and perhaps beyond. But we want to do it right. We need to have you take the time to let us know what you want. It has been very frustrating for us most recently when we were not able to have our annual FASCD Conference. We know that the problem is mostly the economic issues of the time; but without the conference, we have severely limited our contact with our membership. Will electronic communication help us to fill that gap? Will conferences be a thing of the past? All major academic organizations have felt the pinch of the economy on their activities and are struggling with their annual conferences. They too are looking at ways to increase the communication with their members. So, please take this opportunity to let us know how you feel. Provide us with information that can guide us successfully into the future.



School Culture, School Success

Vicki Zygouris-Coe


he success of a school should not be measured only by its annual learning gains but also by its culture (Deal & Peterson, 1999). The relationships that exist between teachers and administration, among teachers, between teachers and parents, teachers and students, and among students do make a difference in the motivation of all to learn.

School culture refers to the ways we do business in school—the values and beliefs that teachers and administrators have abut teaching and learning. Every school has a mission and improvement goals and underlying assumptions about how and when change takes place, who has access to knowledge, what instructional philosophies exist, how valuable teacher professional development, collaboration, teamwork, and reflection are, how success is measured, the role of parents, and how students learn. Despite its importance, school culture is often the least discussed element in school plans about how to improve student achievement (Jerald, 2006). The more coherence there is among teachers, administrators, parents, and school board members about how we do school, how the school operates and what happens there the more effective the school will be. In schools where there is a positive culture, there is coherence about what professional development teachers are involved in there is co-shared responsibility for student learning and a positive caring and learning-centered atmosphere. Schools that have a positive school culture celebrate the successes of Pge 3

teachers and students, emphasize collaboration and sharing, and foster a commitment to teacher and student learning. In toxic school environments there is competition among teachers, an absence of belief that all students can learn and succeed, low staff morale, blaming of students for lack of success, hostility, lack of collaboration, and a negative atmosphere (Peterson, 2002). School culture affects teacher and student attitudes toward learning, teacher motivation to improve instruction and participate in continuous learning (Peterson & Deal, 2002). The following are sample ways to reflect on school culture. What are the positive aspects of the school culture? Find them and reinforce them What are the negative aspects of the school culture? Find them and change them. Build a teacher professional library. Are teachers’ voices valued? Listen to teacher voices. Find teachers’ needs and interests. Foster teacher-to-teacher collaboration. Value teacher collaboration by giving teachers time to exchange ideas, plan, and learn from one another. Provide mentoring and support to teachers. Promote teacher leadership. Allow for teacher-led professional development. Support the development of communities of practice. Let teachers know that you believe in their ability to help all students learn and succeed. Celebrate teacher successes in staff meetings and other events. Practice participatory decision-making: actively and meaningfully involve teachers in school improvement plans and teacher professional development plans. School failure also occurs when we fail to make meaningful personal connections between the adults and the students, between the students Page 4

and other students, and between the adults and other adults. As we continue to work on student and school success, let’s also focus on building, repairing, or supporting relationships in schools. We are all working together to help all students learn (Marzano, 2003). Let’s treat each other with respect and explain to all that the work we are doing is very important and it is preparing students for life (not for just passing tests). “Effective leaders know that the hard work of reculturing is the sine qua non of progress.” (Fullan, 2001, p. 44). Let’s support teacher collaboration and learning through respect, responsibility, ongoing communication, and positive relationships. School culture is the catalyst for school improvement and success.

References Deal, T. E., & Peterson, K. D. (1999). Shaping school culture: The heart of leadership. San Francisco: JosseyBass. Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Jerald, C. D. (December, 2006). Issue Brief. School culture: The hidden curriculum. Washington, DC: The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. Marzano, R. J. (2003). What works in schools: Translating research into action. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Peterson, K. (2002). Positive or negative. Journal of Staff Development, 23(3), 10-15. Peterson, K. D., & Deal, T. E. (2002). The shaping school culture fieldbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Vicki Zygouris-Coe is professor at UCF. E-mail:

“For all who teach

and learn”

Voices From The Field

Keeping up with the Joneses (and Amy Chua!): Not an Educational Policy

Jeffrey Kaplan

―I wish she recognized that in some important ways the school cafeteria is more intellectually demanding than the library.‖ David Brooks, ―Amy Chua is a Wimp,‖ New York Times, January 23, 2011


emember the old saying, ―Keeping up with the Joneses?‖ Whenever I felt inadequate as a kid usually with ‗smarts,‘ or ‗money,‘ the common refrain from my parents – as with many others – was ―Listen, you don‘t have to keep up with the Joneses.‖ The ‗Joneses‘ were a ‗metaphor‘ for the fictional family who always lived next door and were always ‗smarter‘, ‗wiser‘ and ‗richer‘ than everyone else. If they had a car, it was the best; if they had a child, they were the smartest; and if they had money, they had more than anyone. But, as I my mother would say, ―You don‘t have to keep up with the Joneses – just yourself!‖ The latest bestseller, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, is about just that – keeping up with the Joneses and so ‗much more.‘ It is a personal memoir about how one American-Chinese mother not Page 5

only keeps up with her neighbors next door, but beats them at their own game. A strict, nononsense disciplinarian, Amy Chua raises her two daughters in a world where nothing less than A+ is expected. Her daughters must excel at everything – school, music, career – to the exclusion of nearly everything else. Sleepovers, parties, and silly hand-made birthday cards are viewed in the same light that English teachers with overly worked red pens might see a sloppily written composition on ―What I Did Over My Summer Vacation,‖ ….harsh, critical and unforgiving. Reaction to Amy Chua‘s book on raising children to meet and exceed impossible standards has been swift and predictable. Some have echoed ―Yes, this is just what we need—parents who push their children to excel (unlike most American parents…)!‖, while others have said (including yours

truly), ―No thanks – surely there must be a better way to motivate young people other than ‗fear and trembling.‘‖ Like, maybe, ‗joy and happiness?‘ In our rush to reform public schools, many educators and policy makers tend to think that intelligence comes in a ‗can‘ and learning is something that must ‗poured into the mouths of babes‘ until they are quite full and then, some. Nothing is too good for young people, they argue, if it is rigorous, unrelenting, and competitive. Want young people to know more? Give them workbooks. Make them memorize. Sit them in front of computers for endless skill and drill. And remember, no matter what you do – test them and demand nothing less than ‗excellence‘ – or at least, a ‗4‘ on FCAT. Sadly, in today‘s high-stakes testing educational arena, our schools and our culture have wrapped themselves around the notion that intelligence and perfection are worthy goals – no matter what the cost. Hence, the age of accountability in our nation‘s schools – where children (and I do mean children) – cannot graduate to the next grade (3rd into 4th, 5th into 6th, 8th into 9th, high school into life ) without having passed a standardized exam. In this pressurized universe, there is no room for failure. No room for self-discovery. No room for anything but – near perfection. After all, high school is designed to prepare you for life and if you have not passed your state exams, you are not ready for life. Or self-discovery. Or active learning. Or anything remotely having do with personal choice and ‗fun.‘ Who says? Amy Chua. George W. Bush. Barak Obama. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Florida‘s new Governor Rick Scott. And in many cases, Florida‘s public school administrators and teachers. Page 6

My question though is….whatever happened to real learning? Whatever happened to public schools who considered it their primary mission to provide for both the ―intellectual and emotional developmental needs of their learners?‖ Is that goal now considered ‗quaint?‘ Are we concerned only with ‗intellectual achievement?‘ Whatever happened to nurturing young people‘s ‗emotional growth?‘ Or, do we believe that the only way to measure real learning - is by ‗testing?‘ I firmly believe that adhering to strict academic standards is not a desirable educational policy. As any parent knows, children are individuals, each with their own quirks, slights, and imperfections. Young people need time to explore activities and projects that are rewards in and of themselves. The need time free from parental and teacher demands; free from stringent academic standards and micromanaging; and free from ‗do or die‘ highstakes standardized testing. Simply, our nation‘s young and specifically, Florida‘s elementary and secondary students, need time to be children – unencumbered from rigorous ‗do or die‘ state exams and unrelenting pressure to perform and succeed. They need time to negotiate life‘s twists and turns, to enjoy the company of others and to learn to navigate the often rocky terrain of human relationships. After all, learning to survive the school cafeteria, writes New York Times columnist David Brooks in his review of Chua‘s best seller, can often be far more intellectually demanding than the library. As Brooks says, ―Chua would do better to see the classroom as cognitive break from the truly arduous tests of childhood. Where do they learn to manage people? Where do they learn to construct and manipulate metaphors? Where do they learn to perceive details of a scene the way a hunter reads a landscape? Where do they learn how to detect their own shortcomings? Where do they learn how to put themselves in others‘ minds and anticipate others‘ reactions?

These and a million other skills are imparted by the informal maturity process and are not developed if formal learning monopolizes a child‘s time.‖ Thus, my plaintive plea is for all Americans – and naturally, all Floridians - to call upon their political and educational leaders to stop the ‗madness of testing our students to death.‘ Stop using testing as a ‗hammer and not a yardstick‘ to measure and analyze academic performance and return to the days ‗where the well-being of children was the first and foremost the concern of all.‘

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For keeping up with the Joneses (or Amy Chua) is not a model for educational excellence or reform. It is simply a model for educational disaster.

References Brooks, D. (2011, January 23). Amy Chua is a Wimp. The New York Times, p. A25. Chua, A. (2011). Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. New York: Penguin Jeff Kaplan is assoc. prof. College of Education UCF. E-mail:

Voices From The Field

Non-Readers Become Readers When…

Christopher Robin „Kit‟ Adams


he looked up to the lights in the ceiling. Her whisper barely reached me. “I never knew. I never knew.” Tears gathered in her eyes.

That point in reading doesn‟t arrive on a silver platter. I have never seen it arrive preparing for a state assessment or getting ready for a test. It seems to drop in using Frost cat paws, getting closer, approaching quietly. The merging of the non-reader personality and the student‟s animated being I see in the hall begins inside the student and in the hall. I have never had lazy students. I have watched them in the hall, and nobody is bored out there. Those students are engaged in their stories; they are animated in their expressions, their eyes, the conversations, their voices, their tone. Their being is animated. Then, they enter the classroom and switches flip. Eyes glaze and conversation becomes stilted. I wanted out there in here. I want those stories in my classroom. Two experiences were instrumental in effecting that transformation: in 1994, I met Mortimer Adler and discussed with him his ideas of reading in America, which he exquisitely describes in his landmark book How to Read a Book 1; the second experience was attending a Michael Strong seminar in 1996, discussing that seminar with him, and then reading his book The Habit of Thought 2. Page 8

The ideas in both were too simple to be true, so I tested them. A quick flashback: In 1959 at age 13, I sat on the living room couch reading Joseph Conrad‟s Lord Jim in its Classics Illustrated comic book format. Tears poured down my face as I met one of the most memorable literary figures of all time. In 1964, I found the Modern Library version on my parents‟ bookshelf and set about replicating the emotional experience I had five years earlier. I couldn‟t read it. Clearly, I thought, I wasn‟t bright enough. I parked it on the shelf and took it out after I graduated college with a degree in English. Stuck again. Memory and reality could not seem to meet. Every five years or so, I would attempt the book, only to find myself lost at sea on the Patna. In 1994, I could think of no author I more desired to meet than Joseph Conrad, and no story more desired to be heard then that 94 year-old story of fear and redemption. Gradually, with Adler at my side, Conrad shared his story with both of us. Better yet, I pulled the story from Conrad: “When you speak to [a book], it answers you only to the extent that you do the work of thinking…” 1 Adler gave me the tools of thinking. I was able to make a dream come true. Chills reverberated through me as I underlined a book for the second time in my life: “I tell you, my friend, it is not good for you to find you cannot make your dreams come true.” 3 Indeed, it is not, but I had. When I went to find more copies of the book that year, I discovered it had been revised. 4 This current version is the one I used as a classroom reference and (later) as a text for my 9th grade Honors students in 2003. Again, tears came to my eyes, but it was not for Conrad alone, this time. It was the joy of discovery and the anger of betrayal by schools from 7th grade onward. Why had I not been presented this information by someone, anyone, to whom my education had been entrusted? As a teacher, though, I had the ability to change how education took place in my classroom. As these ideas fulminated in my head, I continued teaching middle school and had a chance to attend the first Page 9

AR Reading Conference; there I met the second leg of my teaching stool: Michael Strong. From Adler I picked up the idea of shifting gears and reading styles to match the text, of involving myself in the text through the interaction of selective underlining and margin notes, and of conversing with living authors. From Strong, I gained a better understanding of Socratic dialogue and how this can effectively be used with students grade 4 and up (actually, from earlier grades, but this was not demonstrated). The centerpiece of both authors is that the reader of text has the tools at hand for the activity of reading. That concept was all I needed to activate my 7th and 8th grade classes. Returning to my school, I (still doubting the power I felt and witnessed in the seminar) chose one class to implement this Socratic discussion. Using Strong‟s circle inside a circle, my 30 7th grade students took apart one page of Flannery O‟Connor‟s 1953 short story, “A good man is hard to find.” That night, they read what I thought was the most difficult poem our text offered us; the theme dealt with racism. The next day, we semicircled the chairs, I led off asking a question. At the end of the period, I held up a hand to bring quiet. The room stilled. I said, “The bell will ring in a minute or two. I don‟t know if you noticed, but I have not spoken for 45 minutes.” I used students from this class to introduce the discussions to my other classes. From those two books and related experiences, I created a reading conference worksheet which students fill out prior to individual conferences: “I know the meaning of the words, but they mean nothing to me.” See Form on next page I looked at 5a on the form; 5b was blank. I read what she had in quotation marks in 5a: “Mr. Smith had been gone for awhile, but returned home as usual. He placed the groceries on the kitchen table, and proceeded to put them away, beginning with the milk; he placed it in the refrigerator.” I asked her why this line was important to her. “Because if he doesn‟t get milk for the family, they won‟t be able to have cereal for breakfast.”


Conference Report for Student: ____________________________________Period_______

and Response to Writing and Literature in Mr. Adams' English class 2003-2004 (An "A" on this paper depends on the completeness of your answers.)


b c 2

Knowing this credit is required for graduation, what skills or information would you (not mom, dad, or me) like to get out of this class? Do you see yourself getting closer to that goal? Yes/No (circle) Why or why not? What more can you do? Tell me what you have learned about writing and how that helps you in class, school, or life:

3a b 2a

Name a most important feature about writing you have learned from this class. Why is that important to you? Name two books you have read. Give title, author, and approximate number of pages:

The idea of the form is to create the framework for a one-on-one discussion with each student about his or her interests and reading habits. In an 8th grade remedial reading class, a student walked up to my desk and sat down; she set the conference form between us. A pretty girl, she was shy and withdrawn; she volunteered nothing in class discussion. I greeted her, and she immediately said, “Mr. Adams, this means nothing to me.” I preferred to work my way through the form in order, but instead say, “What?” “The words. The language. The reading. It means nothing to me.” “You have an A in this class. It must mean something.” Page 10

Tell me your favorite book and why you like it.


When you choose a new book, what do you want to find in it?


Based on your knowledge and studies, which group below is more important -to you? circle: plot/action theme/ideas characterization/people description/ imagery Why?


Looking over 11 weeks of logs, copy your most interesting selection ("in quotes" w/p) below: Why is that selection/text quote important/interesting to you?

5b 7

What question do you have for Mr. Adams?


Have you read a book referred to you? Who referred it, was it any good, and why?

Teacher Comments: FCAT Reading Level:_____(should be 3+ Score: ______ (should be 327+) Gates Reading Level: Vocab _____ Comp _____ Combined _____ (should be at least 10.1+) “Why is that important?” “Because if they don‟t have cereal for breakfast, they won‟t have the strength to make it through their day.” “Why is that important?” “Because, if they are not strong, they will not pass their classes.” “Why is that important?” I was jotting each of her answers down on her conference report margin. “Because if they do not finish school, they won‟t be successful.” “Why is that important?” “Because I want my family to be successful.” “Why is that important?”

“Because if my family is successful, they will have rewards in friendships and good jobs. They will be able to take care of themselves. I looked at her quiet face. I looked down at the form and drew a line above her words “Because I want my family to be successful.” “Susan, I don‟t know what you are seeing, but this book sure seems to be important to you.” She looked up to the lights in the ceiling. Her whisper barely reached me. “I never knew. I never knew.” Tears gathered in her eyes. At the end of the school year, leaving the room for the last time, she passed me a note. It included these lines. “That day of the reading conference was an important day for me. From that day forward, my grades improved in all classes to A‟s and B‟s. My father remarked that I was helping the family more, that I walked differently. My whole life changed. Thank you.”

The theme of this story is that the student has the skills; the teacher has to show the student the skills are accessible and teachable. Students can ask “Why is this important to me?” Time and again, I see this happen. I thank Mortimer Adler and his conversations with authors, and I thank Michael Strong and his conversations with students.

References 1

How to Read a Book, the art of getting a liberal education, by Mortimer Adler (Simon and Schuster NY 1940, 1967, 32nd printing) 2 The Habit of Thought, From Socratic Seminars to Socratic Practice by Michael Strong (New View Chapel Hill 1997).

Christopher Robin “Kit” Adams is a Writing Project Mentor at UCF —Florida Virtual School. E-mail:

FASCD Membership This issue of Florida Educational Leadership is being sent to all members of FASCD as part of the membership benefit. We have also distributed this issue to other leaders in Florida education. If you are not a member, you can join the many Florida educators in the one organization that is “For all who teach and learn.” Complete the information on this page print and mail to the address shown for your introductory membership at the special rate of $35. If you are a member, make copies of this page and give to your colleagues. Help FASCD grow !

Dr. Mr. Mrs. Ms. (Name) __________________________________________________________________ Position Title _____________________________________________________________________________ Mailing Address __________________________________________________________________________ City ________________________________ Florida , ZIP ____________ County ____________________ Work Phone (_______)___________________________ FAX (_______)_____________________________ e-mail____________________________________________________________________________________ This coupon entitles the above to a one-year membership in FASCD at the introductory rate of $35. (Purchase orders are not valid with this offer.)

Mail To: FASCD 11511 Pine St Seminole FL 33772

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Voices From The Field

Are We Putting Kids In a Box or a Rocket?

Alina Davis


y 4-year-old loves to read David Shannon's Too Many Toys. In it, Spencer has too many toys, and Mom wants to clear out all the ones he doesn't use. At the end of the book, he wants to keep not the toys, but the box that holds them. He transforms it into a rocket and soars around the house. Is impromptu creative play a concept of the past? Skill and drill and standardized testing are the rigorous practices of our kids today, the driver for schools to be deemed successful. As I view the curriculum and walk into classrooms across my school district, I don't see the kind of activity that allows for students to create. The interactions with peers where empathy, impulse control, problemsolving, and risk taking are nurtured are minimal or nonexistent. I see children lined up neatly in a row, learning their standards and preparing for assessments. They can regurgitate math facts and identify elements of a story, but they don't know how to invent a game. We do need to have a time where skills are developed and knowledge is enhanced. But we also need time to foster creativity. This free, unstructured play seems to be quite important in the

lives of all children. David Elkind, the author of The Power of Play: Learning Comes Naturally, believes, "Learning teaches us what is known, play makes it possible for new things to be learned. There are many concepts and skills that can only be learned through play." "Play is being silenced," says Elkind, and his caution rings clear in classrooms where we push students to learn exclusively through skill-based instruction. How can we, in a box where standards, rigor, and relevance permeate, instill the motivation for kids to be creative? How can we build in play time, a time when students can think about whatever they want and use whatever they need to invent and problem solve? How do we encourage conversations where students must work together and learn to be selfless? What do you do in your classroom to help transform the box into a rocket?

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This article was originally posted on ASCD’s website Jan 20 . Alina will be president of FASCD beginning July 2011 and has been named an Emerging Leader by ASCD. Alina may be contacted at:

Student Voices

What Harold and His Purple Crayon Can Teach Us: Student Voices

Sherron Killingsworth Roberts


s this issue of Student Voices transitions to our first electronic edition of Florida Educational Leadership Journal, we as associate editors uphold the award-winning traditions of this outstanding ASCD state journal. In the Student Voices section, you will read a collaborative paper analyzing the many complex layers of picturebooks and perhaps find out why the word picturebook’s new spelling is preferred as one word rather than two. Furthermore, readers will learn about the joys and challenges of teaching orphans in a war torn, underdeveloped country such as Sierra Leone. Finally, our readers are in for a treat in terms of reading a lighthearted skit which powerfully reminds teachers and principals of the importance of tackling the hard work of being writers ourselves. One may note that all the authors in the Student Voices section in this issue are education students at the University of Central Florida where they are studying to be elementary teachers. Florida Educational Leadership Journal stands ready to provide a publishing possibility for all students. Students of all ages, from kindergartners to graduate students, across our state are encouraged to Page 13

submit their writing, in particular, as it pertains to the topics of education, teaching, learning, school, and schooling. Use this publishing venue as an incentive for students to showcase their writing and to find a caring and supportive audience. With that said, I am reminded of a book that dates back to my childhood: Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955). As a young girl in Kilgore, Texas, I often visited our beautiful public library, which in my mind was the prettiest building in our small town.

Harold and the Purple Crayon with its then unusual, small, and purple cover was like a magnet to me. Drawn to a lower shelf on the right hand side, that book magnetized me. I always checked it out and I read and re-read Harold’s

amazing adventures, all led by a remarkable purple Crayola. My mom was an artist with an easel and oil paints often out in our home, but even she would sometimes encourage me to find another book, but the magnetism of Harold never waned. I remember feeling sad when the stamped date pushed me to return it and sadder still when its absence reminded me that my Harold and the Purple Crayon was in another’s possession. I loved Harold and the Purple

Crayon because of the imaginative power of that simple crayon. Today, I am in hopes that Harold’s purple crayon will inspire our future student authors to take charge of their writing world in much the same way as Harold. Grab your crayon and GO! Harold’s purple crayon can show us how to imagine a better reality through writing, whether it’s using picturebooks for upper grades because of their complexity, encouraging teachers to model writing, or teaching orphans in Sierra Leone. Sherron Roberts is is Associate Professor at UCF. She may be reached at

ASCD is the parent organization with which FASCD is affiliated. ASCD has a membership of over 160,000 around the world. Many FASCD’ers are also members of ASCD. If you are not you should consider joint membership in ASCD as well as FASCD. ASCD publications are well known and widely read by all educators. Educational Leadership is the flagship publication. It is so widely known that we used it as a model to develop our own Florida Educational Leadership. There are several classes of ASCD membership, beginning with basic at $49 a year. This assures that you will get Educational Leadership and other announcements of interest. Regular, Comprehensive, and Premium memberships add more publications and services. Whatever your membership category in ASCD you can take advantage of the joint dues service when you renew your ASCD membership. All you have to do is check the “Affiliate” box and add $30 to your check. ASCD will inform us and we extend your membership from your FASCD anniversary date. Get the best value from an educational organization. Become a joint member of ASCD and logging onto Do it Now !


Excellence Award Affiliate Communications Page 14

Student Voices

“E” is for Engaging, Not Easy: An Argument for the Inclusion of Picturebooks in Instruction Beyond the Elementary Level

Pauline Chavez Jay Dumont Jessica Thomas


s graduate students with diverse backgrounds, we bring a variety of preconceptions to the topic of picturebooks. In the eyes of the general public, “picturebooks” are often considered to be just a form of entertainment for youngsters. They perhaps think back to their childhood and remember beautiful, colorful pages that engaged their senses. While all of that can be true, it is far from the proper definition or understanding of what picturebooks really are. A picturebook is a memorable experience in which the child is submerged between the text and the pictures and being so creates her own meaning. Picturebooks–written as a compound word simply because picturebooks are inherently a fusion of pictures and words that just

would not be the same without the other–truly offer so much more (Wolfenbarger & Sipe, 2007, p. 273). The images in picturebooks draw in a reader and provide something unaddressed in the written word. “While words and pictures work together, they also create tension as each creates constraints on the other” (Wolfenbarger & Sipe. 2007, p. 273). Sometimes the very nature of the images will engage the reader: they come in so many diverse forms from book to book, and are more artistic than one might imagine. The art form can be anything from crayon to watercolor to oil; some look like something a child would draw while others are so realistic that they appear to be a photograph. Indeed, some are photographs.

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Regardless, the medium doesn’t define the quality. A recent Caldecott Medal winner–awarded for “distinguished illustrations in a picture book and for excellence of pictorial presentation for children”–The Hello, Goodbye Window is illustrated with watercolor and charcoal pencil; the colors sway far beyond the lines, which are largely non-existent, and the images are something of an organized mess (Juster, 2006). In short, it is art. Quality picturebooks also have a characteristic Wolfenbarger and Sipe refer to as dissonance, which presents slightly different and interacting stories in the text and images (2007). This ambiguity is what drives a reader to interact with the piece and requires a high level of concentration to integrate multiple lines of input into a coherent whole. These cognitive demands are most easily evidenced in the postmodern picturebook movement’s use of anti-authoritarianism, sarcasm, nonlinear storylines, and self-referential text (Wolfenbarger & Sipe, 2007, pp. 275 – 276) as seen in works like Caldecott winner Black and White by David Macaulay, which can even flummox adult readers (Macaulay, 2005). Provoking a response is the goal of a quality picturebook and it should challenge the reader as effectively as traditional literature, consequently, labeling picturebooks with an “E” for Easy shows ignorance of the material. In 2009, Joyce Sidman and Pamela Zagarenski received a Caldecott Honor award for their picturebook, Red Sings from the Treetops (Sidman, 2009). Sidman takes the reader through the seasons and the different colors found through-

out it. She refers to the colors, but the reader does not know what the color represents until they look at the pictures. For example, Sidman writes, “In spring, yellow and purple hold hands.” (Sidman, 2009, p.4) If the beautiful two-page spread were not present, the reader would not know that yellow and purple are multi-colored pansy flowers. The entire book is written in this format. The color represents something in the picture, and once a sentence is finished the reader is drawn to the picture with curiosity. This is what we teachers call, interanimation. Once the text on the page is finished, the reader feels an unstoppable urge to examine the illustration with detail. This experience makes the book meaningful in a way that pictures alone or text alone cannot accomplish. What other kind of book leaves the reader with this type of feeling? Another Caldecott Medal winner, Flotsam, is a triumph of the genre (Wiesner, 2006). The first page shows a playful looking blue hermit crab staring out at you, looked upon by an enormous blue, human eye encompassing the entire background. The next page zooms out to show a young boy at the beach with a hermit crab in the palm of one hand and in the other, a magnifying glass held up close to his face. At his side, rather than a pail or football, this boy has a microscope encased in a Ziploc bag, along with binoculars, shovels, and a net. The following pages show the boy exploring the rest of the beach and being washed up in the waves when he becomes lost in his thoughts. Soon he finds a rustic looking object labeled “Melville Underwater Camera.” He takes the film to a shop and impatiently waits for it to be developed, but he is eventually amazed by the discoveries captured on the film: a mechanical fish camouflaged in a school of natural ones, a family of octopi reading in their underwater living room, and even more magical encounters (Wiesner, 2006). The last photo is perhaps the most interesting Page 16

though. It shows a young girl smiling into a camera while holding a photo of a young boy smiling into a camera while holding a photo of a young girl…and on and on. The young boy is astonished and a bit confused by this last photograph, and with the use of his magnifying glass, he realizes that this cascade of photographs continues deeper and deeper into the image. He then uses his microscope and finds older and older images existing deeper within the photo, going all the way to 70x zoom to a boy without a photo in his hands, dressed in 1930s garb and looking into an original camera a bit mystically (Wiesner, 2006). The protagonist of the story seems to be every bit as moved as we felt upon this discovery, and he decides to take a picture of himself holding the photograph, continuing the long lineage of its existence. He then throws the camera as deep into the ocean as his weak, young arm can manage. It is then carried deeper and deeper, first by a squid, and then in the mouth of a fish, and lastly by the tails of a dozen seahorses, all the way to a magical land of mermaids. In the end, the fabulous Melville Underwater Camera travels around the world, around Antarctica, and finally washes on shore on a tropical island, where a young girl reaches out for it. Would it surprise you to know that this marvelous story is wordless, literally told only in images? It is one of the best books we’ve ever “read” and each perusal allows us to discover something new that astonishes us again. This book defines Page 17

what a good picturebook should be. It is nothing short of an experience for children of any age, all the way up to our childlike elders. It is a social, cultural, and historical document, giving an unknowing (and perhaps otherwise uninterested) child the ability to look into the past and truly appreciate the transpiration of time. It makes children interested in reading, even without words to read, because even we were dying to discover what lay beneath the lens of the microscope and anxiously turned the page to find out. Inspiring that kind of intrigue can encourage a lifetime of reading, and if that were the only benefit of browsing through this book, it would be worth any cost. To further explore the beauty and time that goes into creating a picturebook, one should consider some of their underappreciated elements, found in the peritext. According to Wolfenbarger and Sipe, peritext includes “the physical features and design elements of picturebooks that surround the story” (2007, p.274). Peritext blankets all of those extra steps that the author and illustrator use to contribute to the mood and meaning of the book. This includes fly pages–which are the pages in the very front and very back of the book–white space, font style, and the size of the book to name a few. Whether the fly pages in the front and back are the same or different, they are purposefully colored or decorated to convey something about the story itself. In the case of Flotsam, the fly pages have the appearance of sand, giving that beach-like feel before you even begin (Wiesner, 2006). Its title page is even more beautiful, showing a collected collage of shells, shark teeth, and other sea bound treasures, along with a few planks of wood featuring the title, author, and publisher. Information that normally would be quickly passed over by young

readers is actually quite captivating. In regard to the actual images, a number of pages are full-page watercolors of the most extraordinary and lifelike detail. Each page can and should be examined for minutes on end. Another of Wiesner’s works, Tuesday (1991), centers on a night when the lily pads frogs are sitting on begin to fly. In addition to the fantastical elements it shares with Flotsam, Tuesday exemplifies another element of peritext starting with the design of its cover. The scene looks down through the flying frogs onto the sleeping neighborhood they will soon invade, and acts to immerse the reader in the story by indicating this will not be about a normal night on the pond. On opening the book, the front fly page shows the frogs’ reaction to the lifting of the lily pads into flight using three still-frames to show the sleeping frogs, then a stunned, lifting frog, then the excitement the frogs feel for their predicament. The following title page imitates a tranquil indigo pond with a centered lily plant and framed by a cleanedged white border, which acts as the visual calm before the storm. Some teachers resist the idea that picturebooks are beneficial after elementary school because of the stigma of reading “easy” books. To those teachers we would last like to underscore the appeal the thoughtfully distributed text, an integral part of many picturebooks, may have for students who are resistant to more lengthy works. Remedial and ESOL students can benefit from the ability to ingest works with fewer decoding issues and advanced students will relish the opportunity to peel apart layers of meaning in each work. Once picturebooks are introduced as literary works worthy of esteem, and the complexity and variety available is delved into, students of every age will find something in picturebooks to interest them. This quality of readability, combined with the cognitive challenges of working the textual/pictorial interplay and the artistic merits of the works themselves, warrants the consideration of picturebooks as essential to the student experience beyond elementary school. Page 18

It is our hope that the insights we have shared will be accepted to by all teachers, including those who have previously been skeptical of picturebooks. This form of literature it truly an important part of education and to neglect this experience would be an injustice to the student. References Juster, N. (2006). The hello, good-bye window. New York, NY: Hyperion. Picture from Macaulay, D. (2005). Black and white. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Sidman, J. (2009). Red sings from the treetops: A year in colors. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin. Picture from dp/0547014945 Wiesner, D. (2006). Flotsam. New York, NY: Clarion. Pictures from Wiesner, D. (1991). Tuesday. New York, NY: Clarion. Wolfenbarger, C.D. & Sipe, L.R. (2007). A unique visual and literary art form: Recent research on picturebooks. Language Arts 84(3), 273-280.

Pauline Chavez is a graduate student at UCF planning to graduate with a Masters’ degree in elementary education. She also works as a substitute teacher in Orange and Seminole Counties. E-mail

Jason Dumont is a graduate student at UCF planning to graduate with a MAT in Social Science Education. He is completing an internship at a local high school. E-mail

Jessica Thomas recently completed a M.Ed and opened a private tutoring service. E-mail

Student Voices

To write? Or not to write? This is the question (A play in one act)

Sara Cajigas


his piece was created in my language arts methods class to inform classmates on the importance of writing as a teacher. Or is it important? What are the needs, the benefits, and the negatives about writing as a teacher? Trying to take a different approach to educate my peers on these facts, what better way than to have a play? I created this script using both points of view trying to remain unbiased and to come up with a creative solution.

CHARACTERS APRIL – April is for writing, she has an upbeat and happy-go-lucky personality. April is a first grade teacher, and dresses as such, hair in a ponytail and a smile covering her face. April wears jeans and a bright blouse. REBECCA – Rebecca is for writing, she is very quiet when surrounded by other teachers, but will do anything for the best of her students. She's demanding when her students are the ones who are losing benefits. Rebecca wears her hair parted to the side, half tied into a pony tail, with the other half resting across her shoulders. She also wears bright colors. PATRICIA SNICKERS– Patricia is against writing. She is very snobbish to appearance, with spectacles at the end of her nose and an attitude to go Page 19

with it. Patricia does not keep her opinion to herself, and only has herself in mind. Patricia wears a suit complete from head to toe. ADRIANNE – Adrianne is against writing. She is very firm and direct. She often sees things as her way, or the highway, even with her students. Adrianne wears a suit jacket with a matching skirt and her hair pulled tightly into a bun. SETTING: In a small room as a staff meeting. APRIL and REBECCA are seated next to each other, engaged in conversation about their students work. PATRICIA and ADRIANNE are reading to themselves on the opposite side of the table with occasional glares toward the happy pair across from the table.

APRIL What exactly are we meeting about, Rebecca? I find this unnecessary since we already know where this is going.

APRIL Well excuse me, I think in order to better my students and their own writing, I need to practice it on my own, so they can see how writing is beneficial.

REBECCA I agree, I'm tired of making this silly discussion, we all know that writing as teachers is important for our students.

PATRICIA We teach more than just writing, last time I checked. Why should I just focus on being a writer? Why not be a scientist too? We can't do everything.

PATRICIA (Pushes her spectacles from the end of her nose to her eyes, so she can see April and Rebecca more clearly) Excuse me, did you say that it is important to write as teachers? REBECCA That I did. Are you taking a tone with me? ADRIANNE (Interrupts) I believe she is, and even if she wasn't, I would. APRIL You must be joking... you don't agree? PATRICIA No. I don't I don't think teachers have time to write. We must focus on impacting our students instead! (Pause) Our schedules simply don't permit to it, we don't have the time. REBECCA If you can find time to edit lessons, you can find time for writing. ADRIANNE I don't think you quite understand. It's difficult to find time for writing. I like to focus all of my spare time to my students, not to myself. (Under her breath) You know, like a teacher should?

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REBECCA I think being a scientist is more time consuming than being a writer... but that's just my opinion. Writing gives you satisfaction as a teacher! Your writing can influence your students in all subjects, not just language arts! ADRIANNE I can influence my students with other writings from other people. I don't need my own. REBECCA (Quietly) Oh... aren't you just being difficult. APRIL You don't think, Adrianne, that your own writing will show your students that you are a strong writer? It will prove to them that you are credible. PATRICIA (Beginning to get annoyed, Patricia slams her book into her bag) Really? That's your standpoint? I teach more than just writing, must I prove that I'm credible through everything?! ADRIANNE Exactly. How will something silly like that stand? I will not be forced to write. REBECCA And I will not be forced to stop. APRIL I have an idea. Why don't we try to come up with a

strategy to use to benefit all of our students and our future students.

PATRICIA Alright. I'll agree to this. We have come to a conclusion. Teachers who want to write, will write, and teachers who don't want to write, will not have to.

PATRICIA (Still in the process of wrapping up her things, sits up and focuses her attention back to the group) I'm listening....

APRIL (Nods her head)

APRIL Why don't those teachers who want to write, write for their own satisfaction on their own time and use it for their own students? And for those teachers who don't, we can let you use our work in your classroom.

ADRIANNE I agree to this as well. We all benefit. REBECCA I say this meeting can be canceled then? APRIL I think so! And good thing too! I have some writing to do!

ADRIANNE And you're okay with us just using your work? REBECCA Of course! I think it's a great idea! APRIL (Excitedly, brushes Rebecca away) Wait! There is more. (Pause) You can only use our work if you come up with a strategy for you students. PATRICIA I can come up with many strategies...

The ladies, shake hands with one another and gather their belongings. APRIL and REBECCA exit stage left, and PATRICIA and ADRIANNE exit stage right. Sara Cajigas is an undergraduate student in elementary education at UCF. E-mail:

APRIL It must be a strategy that influences your students to publish their own work.

Visit online at

ADRIANNE I see.... (Pause) So we can use your work, if we impact our students by having them publish their own? REBECCA Oh! This is so great! We can make a newsletter every week for the school, or for parents, or even just for the classroom.

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For complete information about FASCD and for current information and announcements

Student Voices

Can You Imagine‌?: My Experience in Sierra Leone

Jesica Shearhod

Imagine Imagine a classroom with forty students. Picture the classroom without books, air conditioning, or lights. Imagine trying to teach these students while another class is in session right next to you, separated only by a small wooden board.


he only tools available to teach the children are one piece of chalk and a small chalkboard. The students are given one notebook and three pens at the beginning of the school year with the intention that they will last the entire school year. Imagine having the responsibility of educating children with such limited resources. This article will describe what teaching in developing countries is like. In developing countries, these classroom situations are a reality. Students wake up at 6 am each morning, do their chores such as; sweeping their porch, picking food and preparing breakfast, and fetching water, and then walk two to five miles to school. Students do not have access to a clock and they are unable to Page 22

know if they are going to school on time. Most students come from families who are not literate and, therefore, do not understand the value of education. Focus is on survival, perhaps as it should be. Children are expected to help with the farming and other household chores rather than attend class. My Africa Experience I experienced this situation firsthand when I taught summer school and teacher in-services during a three week trip to Sierra Leone, Africa with an organization called Children of the Nations. Children of the Nations is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to raise children to transform their nation ( Many of you have probably

heard of the long lasting civil war that devastated the entire country of Sierra Leone from 19912003. This country is about the size of South Carolina and so when the rebels came in and started to destroy villages, no one was safe. Children and mothers were separated. Many were forced to become child soldiers and even kill members of their own families. Other children watched as their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters were murdered right in front of their eyes. Because of this devastating war, many children were left orphaned. Tens of thousands of people were killed, and over two million people, which equals one-third of the country, were displaced. Children of the Nations (COTN) started in Sierra Leone during the war. Quame, a 16 year old native from Sierra Leone, had lost his family in the war, but kept his faith. He and three others began to build an orphanage, risking their lives to do so, but they knew the importance of giving children a place to go when they had nowhere to go. During my trip, I was able to live with the children in the orphanage and build relationships with them. I lived in Banta Mokellah, which is in the bush (the villages) of Sierra Leone. I also had the opportunity to visit neighboring villages of the orphanage and build relationships with people within those villages.

ing how certified my teachers were. I knew that the students were behind in grade level but I had no idea how the teachers where being effective or ineffective in the classroom or what they needed to work on. Therefore, I focused my instruction on the basics and on new research that I have learned during my time at UCF. I also prepared my heart for what I was about to experience. I felt as though I were about to dive into an ocean of the unknown. I read books such as Hope Lives: to help me understand the effects of poverty more before I left, From Foreign to Familiar: to help me understand how to act culturally appropriate when I went over, and I talked to my team leader Sarah Saunier who is the Director of Education for Sierra Leone who helped me to better understand what I was getting into. I had to get four shots, raise $3,600, buy culture appropriate clothes (skirts below the knee), and get a visa to enter the country. But nothing could prepare me enough for the experience I had in those eye opening classrooms.

Water that students have to walk through everyday to get to school.

Who am I? I am a currently a junior at the University of Central Florida seeking a degree in elementary education. I have a passion for reaching out to the poverty-stricken and overlooked children of the world. Upon graduating, I plan on teaching overseas in developing countries. I want to teach to the poorest of the poor in countries where most people might feel uneasy. My heart goes out to these children. Preparing for the trip Before I left I did not know what to expect. I prepared my teacher in-services on reading not knowPage 23

The Children Imagine teaching a class of children where 80% of the students are living in the orphanage. Children who have witnessed their parents being murdered, children who have been raped and left on the streets, children who have come so close to starvation that they nearly died, children who are nine years old but look, and have the mental capabilities of a four year old because of malnutrition. These children have gone through things most adults could not bear to witness; rape, starvation, and witnessing the murder of their families “It ranks lowest in the world by the Human Development Index (HDI), a standard which measures opportunity for education, healthcare, income, employment, etc. and highest in the world for infant

mortality (children dying before reaching the age of 5). Malaria and HIV/AIDS are widespread and malnutrition—especially among the children—is rampant” (COTNI, 2010) And there I stood, as their teacher, responsible for helping them rise above their circumstances and discover a better life. In Sierra Leone and most other developing countries education is not free. The government does not provide public education so families must pay money for their students to attend school. In many cases families believe that their children are more beneficial to the family if they stay at home and help them work and so many children do not get the opportunity to go to school. What is special about the program I was in is that COTN makes it possible for every child in the villages and the orphanage to go to school. Children from the village must pay a small fee (when you pay money for something your more likely to show up for it) unless it is known that the family cannot pay for their student. This is where sponsorship money comes in to work to help every child receive an education, a meal during the school day, and health care.

A School Day in Sierra Leone As a teacher, I walked to school with all of my supplies in hand for the day (since nothing is left in the classroom when you leave). As I walked children came up to me and held my hand so we could walk together. This gave me an opportunity to show them love (no need to worry about lawsuits.) I arrived on time (time is not held to much importance in many developing countries) so that I have time to put the journal on the board and organize my lesson plans on a tiny desk in front of the classroom. Then, students and the native teachPage 24

ers begin to roll into the courtyard of the school. Children are fully clothed (this is a rare thing to see in the villages.) Student line up in the order of their grade and are then dismissed to your class. I watched as children came in with princess dresses, Hooters shirts, „I am a Grandma‟ shirt (any clothing they were able to receive.) As a teacher I do not take role. One day I may have 50 students and the next day I could have 10. Sometimes a student will miss weeks of class at a time because they need to be home to work for the family. Other times rain hinders students from coming since some students are walking through waist high water each day to get to school. I had my students begin by journaling. The challenge here is getting them to think for themselves. In their culture they are told to copy what is on the board. If they can copy something that means they know it and that they can move on to the next grade (children with disabilities are not given a chance.) So when I ask them a question they don‟t know how to formulate their own thoughts. I would watch as students were full of confusion trying to answer a question as simple as “what is your favorite color”, and as they try to write with the pens they received last year. Many children have mastered the art of taking the pen apart and combining the ink with spit in order to have their pen last a little longer. As I walked around and tried to help students, it is hard to help them one-on-one since their desks are in rows on top of rows, so that you have to reach over other students to help students within the row. At

the end of the day students are given meals and then they walk home.

What I learned from teaching in Sierra Leone While in Sierra Leone, I taught summer school and teacher in-services with an emphasis on reading. We did workshops for current teachers in a large group setting on topics such as “the reading process” or “learning styles” and small group sessions with primary teachers (elementary school teachers) and high school teachers to specifically target the students those teachers are teaching. The experience has made me appreciate the education system in America especially the knowledge that free public education is a gift. I have realized how important it is to take advantage of what we are given and to inspire our students to become citizens who are positively impacting the world. I have stopped complaining about the lack of resources. Instead, I

The teachers who were involved with the in-service programs that were held right behind where we are standing.

look for ways to maximize the resources I am given. Not everyone is in a position to go teach in a developing country such as Sierra Leone. However, as a teacher in America, one may want to feel a part of helping the students in Sierra Leone. Our American students can also benefit from this knowledge by bringing it into the classroom or even the entire school. An exemplary program where students in America can connect with the students in Africa through video and written letters. In the Classroom Pals Partnership American students become friends with students from other countries who are the same age and have similar Page 25

interests (African Rural Schools Foundation, 2009). It is here the relationships begin to form, and through each other‟s experiences, they begin to learn how difficult life is in other countries. Our students may then realize a desire to help their friends, and encourage their friends with letters, sending school supplies, raising money to feed their new friends, and spreading the word so other people become aware. This may develop a growing sense of responsibility in our students and the Classroom Pals Partnership may show students that, not only can we make a difference in our communities, but we can also make a difference in our world. Opportunities to make a Lasting Impact overseas I have noticed that many current and future teachers are unaware of the opportunities to teach in developing countries. Compassion International; Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults, has identified the need for education in response to alarming statistics. Currently, about 130 million people in the world cannot read or write. Nearly 115 million children are not in school. Of the 22 countries where more than half the population is illiterate, 15 of these countries are in Africa. Countries with a lack of education tend to be poor, deal with sex trafficking, slavery, and violence and continue to cycle when children are not educated (Compassion International, 2010). One opportunity is the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps has identified education in Sierra Leone as a national priority since they are coming out of civil war. The Peace Corps usually asks that participants sign a two-year contract (Peace Corps, 2010). Furthermore, participants receive benefits for the years of service, such as Student Loans: some are eligible for deferment and some for partial cancellation, Transition Funds: receive $7,425 (pre-tax after you complete your 27 months of service), Free Travel: expenses for travel to and from

your country of service are paid for, Living Allowance: a monthly stipend to cover living and housing expenses, medical and dental: receive complete medical and dental care while serving , Health Insurance: an affordable plan is available for up to 18 months following service. New graduates or current teachers could also teach with Children of the Nations and come with the teacher team for three weeks during summer break. See these websites for application details: Many teachers who work in America take advantage of this opportunity during their break. Concluding remarks My experience teaching in Sierra Leone has had a huge impact on my view of teaching, learning, and the world. As educators in America, we need to take advantage of the resources we have to impact our students as they progress through our system of free public education. We also need to recognize how important education is in affecting the lives of children and of our political/economic systems and of our countries. Education holds the true power to transform the lives of individuals and to help in the transformation of entire nations. When people can begin to think for themselves and become educated, they can rise above their circumstances and make logical decisions to affect their situations. Much work still needs to be done in bringing education to developing countries. Organizations such as UNICEF, The Peace Corps, and PEPY try to raise awareness about the need for education in these areas and send people to these countries to make it happen. These children need books to expand their minds and their worlds, parents need to be educated on the importance of education for their children, curriculum needs to be established, and native teachers need to be trained and eventually professionalized. As Americans, we can use our gift of free public education and our university training for a huge impact. Our contributions may seem to offer small differences. Like drops in a bucket that may appear insignificant, the bucket will eventually be filled. Together, teachers can help fill the bucket for develPage 26

oping countries and affect change in the lives of people who need us. References: African Rural Schools Foundation. (2009). Classroom Pals. Retrieved from pals_project.htm Compassion International. (2010). Child Advocacy. Retrieved from COTNI. (2010). Sierra Leone: Country Overview. Retrieved from Lanier, Sarah.(2000). From Foreign to Familiar. Hagerstown: McDougal. Peace Corps. (2010). Volunteering. Retrieved from http:// Peace Corps. (2010). Sierra Leone. Retrieved from http:// PEPY Ride. (2009). PEPY Programs Overview. Retrieved

Jesica Shearhod About myself: I am a junior at the University of Central Florida pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. I have a calling towards helping children who donâ€&#x;t have the opportunity or the circumstances for an education that is going to rise them up from their surroundings. I currently work with an organization called Outreach Love that tutors kids from the Paramorre District in downtown Orlando. I will also be teaching in Spain for three months and then returning to Sierra Leone in May to work with the children to create a story line for children books that students in developing countries can relate to. Then I will have the students draw the pictures and I plan on getting it published and bringing them back with my the following year. I plan on becoming a missionary upon graduation and sharing the gospel with people who have never heard it and bringing education to regions that have never received it.

Florida Educational Leadership - electronic edition - is published throughout the year. Each issue includes articles of interest to all FASCD members. The journal is grouped by various areas of interest: "Perspectives", "Voices From The Field", "Student Voices", "Research In Practice" and "Technology In The Schools". Reviews of appropriate books of interest to educators are encouraged. These areas assure that every area of interest of FASCD members is covered. A general issue includes articles from several of the fields. Special issues may focus on one interest area. This new presentation format will allow for more members and others to publish articles intended to inform, provoke or amuse. As a result, word level requirements have been relaxed and the editors will consider all articles, regardless of length. Short articles, however, that are focused on the point are most easily read and used by readers. Sometimes, however, what needs to be said requires more than the traditional word limit. So please send your articles to us for consideration.

Articles Considered Have you wanted to share your thoughts about what is happening in education? Have you just returned from a trip with new ideas from a different place? Have you wanted to share some really exciting written papers from your students - regardless of age or grade level? Have you completed a research project you want to share with your fellow members? Have you learned about a new technological idea that will help teachers?

Format Submissions should be in a Word document. Articles should be clearly written and may be accompanied by photographs, charts, or graphs. All photographs, charts, and graphs accompanying articles should be submitted as .jpg or .eps files and must be submitted along with the article. You may indicate where you would like them placed, if you have a preference, by simply noting it in your text.

Rights Materials, once submitted, become the property of Florida Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. The editor reserves the right to publish the article in the most suitable issue. Authors are responsible for the accuracy of the material and for any and all copyright permissions necessary.

How to Submit Articles Submit articles via email directly to Dr. Marcy Kysilka, at Please include the following information with your article: a .jpg of yourself your position your email address and your postal address

Deadlines The publication dates of each FEL issue is open with publication determined by the number of articles. The editor will determine the date and placement of articles submitted. Florida Educational Leadership (ISSN 1538-9561) is a benefit of membership in the Florida Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Copyright Š 2011 by FASCD. All rights reserved. Florida Educational Leadership is intended primarily for educators in PreK-12 schools through higher education and anyone interested in promoting sound education in Florida schools. Membership information is found elsewhere in this issue or on our website: The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily the official positions of FASCD.

Editorial Staff Editor Marcy Kysilka is Professor Emerita at UCF. She may be reached at

Associate Editor: Perspectives

Associate Editor: Voices From The Field

Vicki Zygouris-Coe is profes-

Jeffrey Kaplan is Associate Professor

sor at UCF. She may be reached at

UCF. He may be reached at

Associate Editor: Student Voices

Associate Editor: Research in Practice

Sherron Killingsworth Roberts

Ann I. Nevin, is Professor Emerita, Ari-

is Associate Professor at UCF. She may be reached at

zona State University. She may be reached at: ann.nevin@

Associate Editor: Technology In The Schools Mark Geary is asst. prof. at Dakota State University, Madison, SD. He may be reached at:

Officers and Board of Directors of FASCD

Johnny Nash President

Alina Davis President-Elect Secretary

Pat Melvin Vice-President

Paul Terry Past President

David Magee Treasurer

Kim Pearson Executive Director

Directors: Ralph Barrett, Angel Chaisson, Dona DePriest, Felitia Lott, Sharon Kochlany, Marcy Kysilka, Michael Mizwicki, Patricia Melvin, Sally Payne, Kelley Ranch, Anna D. Tsambsis, Julie Williams, Shelia Windom

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FEL Elec #1  

FEL Journal Feb 2011