The Jena 6


Hey, people. I would be remiss if I didn’t weigh in on the Jena 6 situation. I was just listening to Michael Baisden, and could not believe the stuff that I was hearing.

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He, along with many of his listeners, plan to march on the courthouse in Jena, Louisiana on September 20 for the sentencing of Mychal Bell. Baisden feels that it is his duty to bring national attention to this matter. He wants to make sure that this story doesn’t just die down and these young men get railroaded. Steve Harvey and a host of other big name celebrities have thrown their name behind it as well.

I am not one to think that just because someone is a celebrity they should get behind something, but this time, that is just what I am advocating. I even think that Oprah should throw her weight behind this. This kind of stuff just cannot be allowed to continue.

For those of you who don’t know, this is a case involving outright prejudice in this day and age. The young men are Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (17) and an unidentified minor. They are collectively known as The Jena 6. Everything centers on a town in Louisiana where there was still a “white” tree until a couple of months ago.

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This is how the story goes:

During an assembly at the high school, a young black male stood up and asked the principal if he could sit under the “whites only” tree, to which the principal replied that he could sit anywhere he wanted. The next day, a couple of black students proceeded to sit under the tree.The response: Three nooses hanging from the tree. Students in question were given an in-school suspension.

The principal dismissed this as a harmless prank. Afterwards, with racial tensions at the boiling point, fights began to break out all over the place. A couple of white kids attacked a black kid at a mostly white party.

Outcome: Nothing. No one arrested. One charged, given probation and told to apologize. (For real!)

The other part of the story involves three young men in a convenience store minding their own business when a white male comes along, an argument begins and escalates. At which point the white male pulls a gun. The black males end up with the gun.

Outcome: White male- nothing. Black males-charged with stealing a fire arm. Yes, this actually happened. No joke!

Next, a couple of black kids attacked a white kid for bragging that he was the one who attacked the black male at the mostly white party.

Outcome: All arrested. 1 convicted. 5 awaiting trial- facing up to 22 years in jail.

A tennis shoe is the lethal weapon that the young men are being charged with using to commit attempted murder. You heard me right- attempted murder- with a tennis shoe.

Another disturbing piece of information I heard while listening to Michael Baisden, came directly from Marcus Jones, the father of 17 year old Mychal Bell, involved a local minister going into the jail and chastising the young man for not accepting a plea bargain. He told him that he had the whole town in an uproar for nothing.

Is that right? Nothing, huh…

The boy’s father said that he was upset about it and rightly so. Who is this minister to tell him that? How did he get in to see the boy without the father or mother’s permission or without approval of the lawyer?

Another incident was phoned in by a reporter who called into the show and spoke about students wearing t-shirts saying “Free the Jena 6”. He also spoke about students wearing “Support the Jena 1” in reference to the white male who was attacked. According to the caller, the students who were wearing the “Free the Jena 6” t-shirts were under threat of suspension if they wore them again. However, at no time were the students who wore “Support the Jena 1” under any such threat.

What is happening to those young men is a travesty. It would be a travesty no matter what race the boys are. It just so happens that they’re black because this type of thing happens to black males most often.

I know I said that I wanted to keep my blog lighthearted, but I broke that rule a long time ago. I had to write about this. It hits home to me because I have three young black men. Anytime something happens involving young black men, I always put myself in the mother’s position. I can’t even imagine what that mom is feeling knowing that her teenage son could face 22 years in prison for what amounts to a school yard fight.

What bothers me about this situation is that this is 2007. This shouldn’t be happening. I am happy that it’s getting national attention. First DWB and other injustices came under scrutiny and into the light. Now this has come to the light. I really do hope that justice is served. I really do.

I am not saying that either sets of boys were right. I’m just saying that the crime ought to fit the punishment. Give them a three day suspension, instead of 22 years in jail.

I’d say that’s a tad bit unfair!!!!!!!!! Don’t ya’ think!

Sale @ Lakeshore!


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I just came from Lakeshore. I went in there to look for stuff for my classroom that I don’t have yet. Another part of the special “birthday” treat that I received from B.N.U. is $375 to spend in the classroom.

manipulatives.jpg manipulatives2.jpgNeedless to say, it was very crowded. Part of the reason is that it’s that time again. Time to go back to school. The other reason could have been to get out of the heat. It’s 102° out here. I know that I’m going to pay for this later (literally), but I am running the A/C all day today.

But, back to the lecture at hand, Lakeshore is having a great sale. A lot of items are 20% off. So, if you have supplies that you need to buy, go to Lakeshore and stock up now.

Here’s the website: www.lakeshorelearning.com

Check it out!

The Day That Henry Cleaned His Room by Sarah Wilson


The Day That Henry Cleaned His Room, written and illustrated by Sarah Wilson, is hilarious. It is the story of Henry who simply, absolutely refuses to clean his room.

The day that he finally did clean it, reporters came. He got up early, although he didn’t understand what everyone was worried about! It had only been a year since he cleaned it. So what if he was the only one who knew the secret path from the door to his bed. It was better that way anyway.

Here’s an excerpt:

The first ones out were Henry’s fish. It had been so long since Henry cleaned their tank that they had grown long legs and climbed out, preferring air to dirty water. They scowled at Henry and walked down the stairs.

Soon, everything is coming out the woodworks, even a flea circus. A possum even rode out wearing Henry’s hawaiian shirt. Henry is getting down to the knitty gritty; he can almost see the floor.
This book is funny. I’d say it’s for 2nd-4th grade. It’s a fun read aloud book as well. I recommend it for moms of any little boy who refuses to clean their room. They should get a real kick out of it. For the girls, there’s a book that I’ll review tomorrow, called Sally’s Room, about a little girl named Sally who refuses to clean her room until it follows her to school one day.

No One Ever Believes Me!


“My family’s thinking, I knew it. She’s not having a hard time.” No one in my family ever believes that I am going through hard times. Well, maybe it’s the $80 haircut; or maybe it’s the $1, 500 brand new laptop that I’m sporting.

I didn’t buy it with my credit cards. That would require available credit on them. Even you may ask, “Well, how did you get all those things without any money?”

Well, I am glad you asked. Now I can tell you!

I really felt like it was my birthday last night, even though my birthday was last month. I feel that way because last night, I got treated to a brand new $1, 500 Mac Book laptop, courtesy of my program @ BNU. Here’s a picture of it, but I will post a picture of me with it later.

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As for the $80 do. My husband is making a website for my hairdresser. We’re bartering. She’s doing my hair in exchange for the website. So even though I don’t have a lot of money, I don’t look like a rag mop.

Things are bad right now, but they are on the upswing. I made my plan to take my children school shopping, but I didn’t have to. My mother-in-law took my three sons school shopping, so I only have to buy for Phillise. She’s going to wear uniforms, so that makes my school shopping that much easier.

I like the fact that even though I’m having a hard time, no one believes me. What is it about me and my husband that makes people think that? I don’t know, but I think that it has to do with favor.

Even though I hate to admit it (especially when I’m having hard times), I have favor with people. What I mean by favor is that people give me stuff. I’m never usually lacking. Sometimes just thinking about something that I want badly enough is enough to have someone come up to me, “out of the blue” and tell me where to get it, either for free or very cheaply. That’s why it’s so hard to believe that I have had a hard time all summer. My hard times never last this long. I can’t help but wonder what I’m missing. People keep going through trials for a reason.

“What lesson did I not learn?” I ask myself. Surely, it’s something that I did, or am not doing. I don’t know what it is, but I’m trying to find out because this sista’ girl is tiiiiiiiired of this trial that I’m going through. I am ready to come out. I know that if I can just hold on, my deliverance is at hand.

Well, until next time, people!

Today, She’s My Birthday!


Today, I have something to say about deceivers. They make me soooo mad. They are always trying some scheme or another to defraud someone. Another thing about that that makes me equally as mad is when they succeed.

Did you ever see that “I Love Lucy” episode when they were in Italy. It was little Ricky’s birthday and she missed him so much. One of the kids in the village heard her crying because she couldn’t be there for her baby’s birthday.

To make her feel better, he told her, “Today she’s my birthday.”

Lucy decided to give him something for it. Once he saw that she was giving gifts, little by little, he started bringing other kids from the village to get some too. She was so excited that she just decided to throw a big party for everyone.

Finally the original kid starts feeling bad that he had fooled her when she was only being nice that he decided to make all the kids give back their gifts that Lucy had given them. Well, one little girl did not want to give hers back. She started crying and crying. Finally she explained that today really was her birthday.

Lucy was so happy that she let all the children keep the gifts. Even though they’re little kids, they did get over. Even though they apologized, their original intent was to defraud.

Ya’ know what, the whole time Lucy knew. She just missed her baby so much that she didn’t care. She knew that the kids in the village didn’t have much; she just wanted to bring a little happiness to them. That’s how it is with real life. Sometimes someone may think that they’re pulling one over on someone when they’re not. Be careful of who you’re friends with, you just might learn a lesson.

There are certain people who don’t think so though. Why, oh why do people have to play games? They eventually get what’s coming to them in the end, but they hurt so many people in the process. It makes me so mad! I wrote/said all that to say that life is too short to play games.

That my dear sir or madam is my rant for the day!

A F.A.T. Free Class!


I want a F.A.T. free classroom. Well, what does that mean? It all has to do with special education expert Rick Lavoie (pronounced lavoy).

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During my boot camp at B.N.U., I watched a film of one of his workshops that deals with F.A.T. (which I will explain momentarily). In it, he takes the participants through what the Learning Disabled (LD) child goes through. The seminar, held in a small room with a small group, is filled with people from all walks of life: a special education teacher, a school counselor, a behavior specialist, an engineer, a couple of parents and two LD kids. Some of you may already know what F.A.T. stands for, but for those of you who don’t, I will tell you. F.A.T. stands for:

F- fear

A- anxiety

T- tension

These are all the things that a person with a Learning Disability goes through during class.

I want a classroom free of fear, anxiety, and tension. I want the children in my classroom to feel comfortable from day one. I want them to be free to express themselves respectfully. My classroom will be a safe haven.

Mr. Lavoie teaches at a very fast, almost insane, pace. He let the participants experience first hand what the LD child goes through. He say such silly phrases as: “Look harder,” or maybe you’re not trying hard enough, “Try harder”. When he’s saying these things, it puts everything into perspective. Those phrases sound downright silly, because you know what, they are silly. He lets the participants feel for themselves how it feels when everyone is staring at you because you can’t quite get it. He breaks it down even further when he explains what takes an LD child so long to respond to a question.

For example, if an LD child were asked who George Washington was. First they have to decipher the question. Let’s see the teacher said who, so it must be a person. George…George who??? George Washington? Who is that? Meanwhile, the other children have gone on to answer the question leaving the LD child behind in confusion because they have just deciphered the question. They haven’t even thought about the answer.

He also addresses the horrible practice of tearing up a child’s paper which I am ashamed to say that I have done when a child was doing something other than what they were supposed to be doing. I know. I know. That is horrible. I will never, ever, ever, ever do that again. It is so mean, no matter what the reason. Can there ever really be a reason to destroy a child’s property/creation/hard work right in front of them besides trying to humiliate them? Whether they were on task or not, that is simply not an acceptable response.

My classroom will indeed be Fear, Anxiety, and Tension free as possible. This is what, in addition to improved test scores, will make my classroom a success to me. I know how it feels to experience all of these. Hopefully seeing this film will make others more sensitive to what children with LD go through.

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I give this film *****/***** stars because of the way that Mr. Lavoie makes it clear exactly what the LD child goes through. This film is a must-see. It is about 2o minutes long. For those of you wanting to see it, here’s the link:

http://www.ricklavoie.com

***P.S.- I looked around on his website, but the only things that I found was ways to purchase the video. I have contacted Mr. Lavoie and am waiting for his answer on how to find it for free. Once I receive the answer, I will post it. In the meantime, check out his website. He’s an excellent educator.***

Hats Off To You, PBS!


***Just a warning. This post is really long. It’s good information, but it’s really long.***

Hats off to you PBS! It seems that you didn’t need to listen my criticisms, but you definitely listened to someone. Perhaps, it was the years of complaints from parents, grandparents and guardians because of the poor quality shows that did not promote early education like they used to years ago. At any rate, the quality is on an upward trend- it’s definitely improving.

wordworld-pbs1.jpgFirst, there’s the upcoming WordWorld, which is an excellent program. I got a chance to preview it with my daughter and was pleasantly surprised.

Now, there is the upcoming SUPER WHY!, which debuts September 3, 2007 also. It, too, is a great show. Here’s a summary directly from the website:

Super Why…to the rescue!
Welcome to SUPER WHY, a breakthrough preschool series designed to help kids ages 3 to 6 with the critical skills that they need to learn to read (and love to read!) as recommended by the National Reading Panel (alphabet skills, word families, spelling, comprehension and vocabulary). SUPER WHY is the first original program from Out of the Blue Enterprises, an innovator in interactive children’s entertainment led by Angela C. Santomero, an Emmy-nominated co-creator of Blue’s Clues, and Samantha Freeman Alpert, a veteran in children’s entertainment. SUPER WHY makes reading an empowering adventure by using interactive literacy games that need YOU to play. In SUPER WHY reading is power!

SUPER WHY is an interactive reading adventure!
We begin each 24-minute reading adventure in Storybrook Village, a magical 3-D world hidden behind the bookshelves in a children’s library. The Storybrook Village is the home of your child’s favorite fairytale characters. Immediately, you’ll meet the four best friends who anchor each episode: Red, from Little Red Riding Hood; Pig from The Three Little Pigs, Princess from The Princess and The Pea, and Whyatt, the curious younger brother of Jack from Jack and The Beanstalk who discovers he has the power to fly inside books to find answers to his questions. Each of these characters is re-imagined as an everyday kid, not unlike your child’s own friends: Red rides roller blades; Pig drives a trike; Princess loves tea parties and dress-up; and Whyatt is the group’s natural leader.

Each episode starts with a preschool relatable problem.
In every episode, one of the friends encounters a problem with another Storybrook Village character (For instance, Jill from the Jack and Jill rhyme is not being nice). As in real life, the problems require preschool social skills to resolve. And that’s when SUPER WHY gets super-powered! Whyatt calls his fairy tale friends to their secret clubhouse, named “The Book Club,” where they transform themselves from mere mortals into literacy-powered super heroes: Alpha Pig with “Alphabet Power,” Wonder Red with “Word Power,” Princess Presto with “Spelling Power,” Super Why with the “Power to Read,” and your child-Super You, with the “Power to Help.” Using their super powers, these Super Readers literally fly inside books. The adventure begins as the Super Readers find out how famous fictional characters handled similar situations (Why is the big bad wolf so big and bad?). This adventure inside a book helps the Super Readers figure out the answers to their own problems. Be prepared to hear: Super Why and the Super Readers.to the rescue!

The Super Readers can solve any obstacle with their literacy powers!
“Inside” each book the Super Readers lead the viewer on an engaging reading adventure. They talk to fictional characters from the story, play reading games and activities to overcome obstacles, search for Super Letters, and practice such key skills as letter identification, word decoding, spelling, vocabulary and comprehension. Super Why, who has the Power to Read can even change a story ending.and save the day! (For example: He can change the big bad wolf to a small good wolf!) What’s unique about this approach is that while kids are learning and practicing the ABC’s of reading, they’re also thinking about what they’re reading, applying reasoning skills to see the story in a real-life context and experiencing books in a powerful new way.

Hip Hip Hurray! The Super Readers save the day!
As soon as the Super Readers solve the fictional problem and gather all the Super Letters they need, they fly back in their Why Flyers to the Book Club. There, they decode the Super Story Answer, or theme, on the Super Duper Computer and reveal how to realistically resolve their own problem. (The big bad wolf is acting bad because he was so sad. He has no friends.) The episode ends with the characters modeling the behavior so kids can actually see the problem being fixed. Finally, with a song you’ll find yourself singing, a dance you’ll quickly pick up, and a hip, hip, hooray! The Super Readers—and Super You—save the day!

Super Why…with the Power to Read!Whyatt, is a curious and clever 9-year old, who invites viewers into each episode and leads them into making the connection between the real world problem and the book of the day. He also happens to be the younger brother of Jack, of Jack and the Beanstalk. Whyatt’s curiosity and active imagination lead him to constantly ask questions: who, what, where, when, how, and, of course, WHY!Whyatt transforms into Super Why, the ultimate preschool superhero with the “Power to Read!” As the leader of the Super Readers team, he flies into books to find answers to questions. Wearing his signature super hero costume and wielding his powerful Why Writer, Super Why transforms words and sentences to change the story. For example, he might use his Why Writer to zap the words “big” and “bad” to change the Big Bad Wolf into a Small Good Wolf. Super Why also carries his Super Duper Computer, which he uses to collect Super Letters after each game that form the Super Story Answer (the solution to the problem). Putting together all of the reading skills of the Super Readers, Super Why’s “power to read” helps teach literacy concepts, vocabulary, sentence structure, fluency, and word identification. Of course, whenever Super Why demonstrates his powers, he enlists the help of the kids at home every step of the way. With Super Why, kids at home get to experience the sheer power and joy of reading and help save the day!
Alpha Pig…with Alphabet Power!Pig is a sweet, bashful and slightly timid preschooler. He’s the youngest member of The Three Little Pigs’ family, who (naturally) live in the sturdiest house on the block – right next door to the Big Bad Wolf & family. Pig is always ready to pitch in and help others, although, like many shy kids, he often needs a little encouragement.Pig transforms into the amazing super hero Alpha Pig. Wearing his signature costume and tool belt, and carrying his trusty toolbox, Alpha Pig comes in to the rescue. As a very young reader, Alpha Pig’s focus is on the alphabet, which forms the building blocks of words. He asks the home viewer to help play alphabet games such as singing his version of the ABC song to make letters appear and identifying individual letters. He relies on his Amazing Alphabet tools, including his Mega Magnifying Glass and Lucky Letter Lasso, to help fix a situation. For example, using these alphabet tools, Alpha Pig might fix a sign that tells us which way the Wolf went, lasso letters from a tree to show us the way on our adventure, or build alphabet stairs to climb a beanstalk. Whenever Alpha Pig accomplishes a task he says a celebratory, “Lickety Letters, we did it! Let’s give ourselves a big thumbs up!”
Princess Presto…with Spelling Power!Quirky and slightly clumsy Princess Pea, the daughter of Prince Charming and Princess Priscilla of The Princess and the Pea, is a princess in training. She carries a pretend wand, travels in a rhinestone-studded coach, and takes dance classes with such royalty as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Although known to be a bit of a “drama queen,” Pea has a good heart and always speaks her mind. And, yes, Princess Pea loves to eat Peas!Princess Pea transforms into the spectacular Princess Presto. Dressed in her beautiful ball gown and sparkling crown, she twirls in, to the rescue! Waving her Magic Spelling wand, she helps kids write letters to spell words and make objects magically appear. For example, Princess Presto might spell “dress” to get Cinderella ready for the ball or spell the word “open” to make a drawbridge open the door to the giant’s castle. She also asks viewers to identify sounds that a letter makes before writing it. Although a bit clumsy at times, Princess Presto has a great sense of humor. And, when it comes to spelling and writing, with the assistance of the home viewer, Princess Presto can help save the day!
Wonder Red…with Word Power!Red, from Little Red Riding Hood, developed a newfound craving for action and excitement after rescuing her grandmother from that pesky wolf. She’s clever, bold, acrobatic, and energetic – in fact she’s “ready to roll” on any adventure wearing her roller skates. Quick on her feet and with a well-stocked wicker basket in hand, Red is tough to keep up with.Red transforms into Wonder Red. Wearing her super sonic skates, signature superhero swimsuit costume and carrying her Wonder Words Basket, she uses word decoding, rhyming and blending skills to overcome obstacles. When she reads a word that needs changing, she sings her catchy rhyming song to release words from her basket. With the help of the home viewer, she uses word families to solve problems. For example, if the Super Readers are stuck behind a WALL, she might choose the word BALL so she can roll away the obstacle. Wonder Red is daring and adventurous, racing ahead to meet the wolf, climb the beanstalk, or get to the next chapter of our story adventure. With her high-energy style and sassy personality, Wonder Red keeps the story moving forward, while helping kids practice with word families…and off to Grandma’s she goes!
Super You.with the Power to Help!The home viewer transforms into a super hero too — Super You! As Super You, she can jump into classic books and go on reading adventures with the Super Readers. She can actively participate in the game play and use her alphabet, rhyming, spelling or vocabulary skills to overcome story obstacles, meet characters from her favorite stories and create new story endings! Super You also identifies Super Letters across the episode and decodes the Super Story Answer to solve the problem of the day. Reading is power. And Super Why, the Super Readers and Super You have it!Even though all the information is here, there may be more that you will want to see. Here’s the direct link: http://pbskids.org/superwhy/parentsteachers/program/characters.htmlCheck this out. It’s well worth it!