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The Answer Sheet: November 22, 2009 - November 28, 2009

From Readers: Valerie ‘can’t follow simple instructions,’ and other great feedback

The best part about writing this blog is hearing from all of you. I learn a lot from some of you and laugh a lot with you (and sometimes because of you). Please keep talking back to me, either in the comments section or email. Here is just a sampling of some of the great responses I have recently received.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 27, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Admissions, Learning, Reading, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  reader response  
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The List: The best Southern books ever written

I love book lists, especially those compiled with a lot of considered opinion. The current edition of The Oxford American, a magazine that features the writing of the South, just asked more than 125 scholars and writers to select the best Southern books ever written.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 27, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Tags:  The List, book list  
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Why we eat turkey on Thanksgiving (when the Pilgrims ate deer)--and other holiday myths

This is the story you and your kids probably learned in school: In 1621, Pilgrims, dressed in black and white with buckles on their shoes, held a feast in Plymouth Colony to celebrate their first harvest. They invited Wampanoag Indians, and everyone gobbled down turkey and pumpkin pie. It turns out that only some of that is true.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 26, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Civics Education  | Tags:  Thanksgiving, historical myth, history  
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Chemistry and Thanksgiving: Making lessons relevant

Why does a turkey pop-up timer work? Why do muffins rise? Why do you feel so bloated after Thanksgiving dinner--and which antacid works faster? Those questions may sound like they belong in a food magazine but they were at the core of a demonstration in a chemistry course at Catholic University, an effort by Professor Diane Bunce to engage her students in a subject that some may find remote. Finding an unconventional way into a conventional subject is a device many teachers try in just about every subject.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 25, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Tags:  chemistry, making lessons relevant  
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Should the National Council of Teachers of English win its own Doublespeak award?

Yesterday I wrote about why the National Council of Teachers of English Teachers gave its 2009 “Doublespeak Award” to Glenn Beck for exceptional achievement in using language that is “deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing and self-centered.” Today I will explain why some educators and researchers are calling for the teachers council to give the award to itself. Why does this matter to you? Because it involves the way kids in public school will be taught how to read during the Obama administration.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 24, 2009; 12:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Reading  | Tags:  LEARN Act, Reading First, reading instruction  
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Trachtenberg: When professors should teach more than research

“If only I had more free time, I would....” This sounds like the opening phrase of a writing contest, designed to award the winner with an all expenses paid vacation to a mystery foreign port! But for years that is exactly what faculty have said on campuses across the country: “If only I had more time, I would write a book, discover a cure, paint a canvas or solve a thorny problem.” And in many cases, that is what happened. Faculty were given reduced teaching loads in order to free up more of their time for scholarship, research and creative ventures and they scribbled, filled their petri dishes and squeezed paint onto palettes. But it didn't work for everybody.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 24, 2009; 12:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, teaching loads  
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Planning to spend loads of time with your college freshman home for Thanksgiving? Well, don’t.

So your college freshman is coming home for Thanksgiving, the first trip back since they packed their bags and moved away--and you have cleared your schedule to spend every waking minute with him/her. You probably shouldn’t have bothered. Most of you should be prepared to see very little of your son or daughter, who is returning to test their new selves in their old haunts.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 24, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  College Life, Parents  | Tags:  Thanksgiving, college freshman  
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Now schools are being targeted by anti-abortion groups

FYI: Students and staff at six D.C. area private and public high schools will be greeted this morning by anti-abortion protesters holding up graphic pictures. The protests are similar to recent ones by an anti-gay church in the sense that they are being led by conservative Christians using schools to garner publicity

By Valerie Strauss  | November 24, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  anti-abortion protests  
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New study: 'Alarming' TV watching by preschoolers in daycare

Ground control--we have a problem. The first study in more than 20 years to examine screen time in child care settings has found that many really young kids are watching twice as much television as was previously estimated. And really young kids aren’t supposed to be watching ANY television.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 23, 2009; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Early Childhood  | Tags:  early childhood, television watching  
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English teachers council gives Glenn Beck the 'Doublespeak Award'

Glenn Beck was just named the 2009 winner of an award he would probably rather not have received (or maybe he would, under the principle that all publicity is good publicity): The “Doublespeak Award,” given annually by the National Council of Teachers of English. The nonprofit group, which promotes literacy and the language arts at all levels of education, gives the award “to public speakers who have perpetuated language that is deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing & self-centered.” Past winners include the tobacco industry, NASA, Yasser Arafat and the Defense Department.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 23, 2009; 11:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Tags:  Doublespeak Award, NCTE  
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Willingham: Six practical reasons arts education is more than a luxury

By Daniel William. Researchers gathering to discuss the effect that arts education has on the brain reveal why Americans should stop viewing it as a luxury.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 23, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Arts Education, Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  Daniel Willingham, arts education  
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