Arizona Schools Focus On Literacy Conscious Consumption A Place To Start St Louis Schools Searching For College Scholarships Reading Comprehension Strategies

Teaching a child to read is the foremost goal of any school. Some would say it’s the most important thing anyone will ever learn; this is most definitely true. Schools across the nation strive to achieve excellence in reading education, known as literacy to those in the biz.

These institutes of learning want to turn out students who read and read well, and some are recognized for these efforts. Arizona Public Schools are among them.

Several different corporations exist who, in part, recognize and award Arizona Schools who have gone above and beyond when devising a program or curriculum to help students achieve literacy. Arizona Schools have worked hard to ensure that its students have the opportunity to learn to read, and to take that knowledge to another level.

But what is literacy? It is being literate – which is so much more than just being able to sound out words and read aloud slowly. Being literate is even more than being able to read aloud with clarity and adequate flow. Literacy encompasses all manner of skills that many of us, as adults, are unaware we even have. We do not remember learning them, we just know them! As the teachers of Arizona Schools know, achieving literacy is mastering the following list of skills:

* Understanding and identifying the main idea

* Grasping cause and effect

* The ability to pick out the details that support the main idea

* Mastery of basic grammar – nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns

* Knowing how to use punctuation correctly – periods, commas, question

marks, etc…

* Recognizing the beginning, middle, and end of a story or passage

* The ability to identify setting (time and place the story occurs) and plot

* Being able to differentiate between main and supporting characters

Arizona Schools students learn all these skills, and practice them on a daily basis. They work to become well-read – literate. Arizona Schools teachers follow proscribed curriculum and design lessons to help them achieve this goal. Many Arizona Schools have been recognized for their excellence in literacy education.

Fifteen Arizona Schools were recently awarded $1,000 cash prizes by the McDonald’s Readers Are Leaders Award program. This program, available to Arizona Schools provides funding for the books and reading materials for school libraries to enhance book collections and offer titles that will make the students of Arizona Schools want to drop everything and read. Applications were judged on creativity, ability to make good use of books, and solid strategy for long-term reading promotion activities.

As you can see, excellent literacy programs help students achieve the literacy they are working towards. And, for some Arizona Schools, that effort pays off; in cash and recognition for their admirable efforts.

While attending language school in Mexico a number of years ago, I was suddenly hit with the idea that I could live without much of what I had been obsessively acquiring and consuming in the states. I had two weeks worth of clothes with me that seemed to be serving me well as I washed and wore them for months. I rarely watched television and never saw a computer, instead choosing to read, take a swim, or socialize with others. I never stepped foot in a supermarket and instead shopped at the local outdoor market. I ate better, I felt better and I slowed down to pay attention to the world and the people in it.

Once I returned to the U.S., I tried to make that simplicity a priority in my life. Over the years, I have become more aware of my community, my world, and my planet. I visit the farmer’s market on weekends for locally grown produce, I buy more organic and even became a member of a farmer’s cooperative. I combine errands so I drive less, and I recycle every bit of paper, plastic, metal and glass in my household. I do not buy throwaway gadgets like disposable toilet bowl wands (though I must confess my daughter did wear disposable diapers) and I try to avoid buying from companies who have no social conscience. As an e-retailer, I sell handcrafted items rather than mass-produced goods providing customers with an alternative to the big box stores, and I donate a portion of all sales.

The point is, being a conscious consumer requires setting some boundaries and holding one’s self accountable. If you’ve ever wondered what you could do to make a difference, but didn’t know where to begin, here are some ideas. Start small, perhaps making one change this week, and another next week, and so on. Every effort by every person adds up and makes a difference. Don’t wait, use your power as a consumer to make global changes today!

Check out this list of ideas you can incorporate into your life one step at a time.

1. Watch one hour less of television

2. Seek out locally grown produce

3. Start a vegetable garden and grow your own

4. Buy organic products

5. Buy from the bulk bins to reduce packaging

6. Join your local co-op

7. Rather than going to the mall, shop small businesses in your community or shop small businesses online and save gas

8. Avoid socially irresponsible companies and support progressive ones – Read The Blue Pages: A Directory of Companies Rated By Their Politics and Practices or visit The Responsible website for more information

9. Find alternatives to chemical-based household cleaners and products

10. Turn off lights, turn down the heat, and raise the setting on the air conditioner by a few degrees

11. Reuse or recycle

12. Buy fair trade products – Read the 32 page booklet The Conscious Consumer: Promoting Economic Justice Through Fair Trade

13. Bring your own cloth bags to the grocery store (many will offer a discount)

14. Bring your travel mug to your favorite coffee shop (Starbucks offers a 10 cent discount)

15. Avoid impulse purchases – think as you buy and consume wisely

16. Take public transportation

You can probably think of dozens more ways to make a positive change. Go ahead, I dare you!

St. Louis Schools are currently faced with a crisis that summer vacation has helped to alleviate. The student population has overwhelmed this school district and forced many St. Louis Schools to shut their doors to incoming students. St. Louis Schools lack the space in classrooms to take on any more children due to an ongoing struggle against failing schools. The number of failing schools reached a critical point this year and has forced the state of Missouri into a tense situation.

Several St. Louis Schools have failed to be certified due to their test grades. They lack accreditation and students transferring out of these failing schools should be placed in schools still in operation. However, a bill to force remaining St. Louis Schools to accept the new students was defeated in Missouri legislature. As surviving St. Louis Schools shut their doors to more students, people are beginning to look to virtual education alternatives. Of the 23 regular St. Louis Schools, 10 have publicly denied accommodation to any more students due to lack of room. But internet classroom space will be unlimited.

If the court agrees, the unaccredited status in St. Louis School District will take place officially on June 15 and 30 days afterward, the district may appeal the decision. If the status is maintained, the district will be forced to pay for the tuition and expenses of all successfully transferred students. As a district in transition, the governing of school affairs has been delegated to a new three-person panel. St. Louis Schools that have failed may be presented with the chance to redeem themselves if they can become independently accredited. The process for such accreditation is rigorous, invites outside evaluation, and requires high student performance.

If St. Louis becomes an unaccredited school district, the state will fully take over school operations. The state is authorized to intervene when a district becomes unable to help itself or continue functioning. In order to protect the welfare of its students, the state may authorize a three person governing board. This preliminary action has been taken in St. Louis and the school district is in transition. The St. Louis Schools’ District is expected to be officially in transition for six years. Hopefully, this allotted time will be sufficient to make the district healthy enough to self sustain in the future. The three person board has currently set these goals for itself: they hope to create an academic accountability plan, explore alternative forms of district government, work with nonprofit organizations to keep St. Louis Schools operating, and rehabilitate the learning facilities in the St. Louis area.

School improvement is much needed in St. Louis Schools. When asked about the problems students might face with college acceptance, and college scholarships, officials said only that it should not be a problem. However, graduating from an unaccredited high school does worry both parents and students of St. Louis Schools. It’s a long road ahead for administrators, educators and students.

If you have just graduated from high school or have been thinking of going back to college to finish your course but have no financial resources, then, you must consider applying for a college scholarship. So if you don’t know where to go, here re the places and ways to look into:

The Internet

The internet has something for everyone. Even for you for those who need help to finance their college education. In the internet, there are sites that offer college scholarships. These sites are either your local government, College or University itself, some non-government institutions, or a collective people who gathers finances to help someone like you. The internet also has some helpful articles to make your college scholarship application easier and make the scholarship grant closer to your hand.

The High School Academic Guidance Counselor

Before the end of the school term, most colleges and universities contact or go to high both public and private schools to offer scholarships for graduating students. Usually, the academic guidance counselor takes hold of the application forms. All you have to do is to approach the office and ask for scholarship forms.

Colleges and Universities

If you excel in athletics, academics, art, and stage, colleges and universities give you special scholarships. Inquiring for this would be a good way to start. Most of the times though, these types of college scholarships are either automatically given to a certain students or selected through a roster of students.

Or, if you are not that athletic or not that excellent in academics, colleges and universities provide financial aids. These aids will slash off some percentage of the total price you have to pay for the year. Both the financial aid and scholarship will continue provided that you can maintain a certain average.

The Local Government

One of the best college scholarship grants that are both reliable and efficient is from the local government. Since local governments allocate funds for financing a certain number of students in a year, it is almost assured that you get one of the slots. Added to this, a government scholar has the privilege to immediately land a job after graduation. And this usually comes with the scholarship contract.

Institutions and Corporations

There are institutions and corporations that offer scholarships for students with both academic skills and financial problems. Look into this. Search of institutions and corporations that offer scholarships you can apply for.

Comprehension should always be the chief concern when teaching reading. What good is reading if the child has no understanding of what is read? In this article I will outline key reading comprehension strategies and show how they should be used.

Before reading you should allow children to make predictions about what they think the book will be about based on either the title or the picture on the front cover of the book. Children can also make predictions about what they think will happen based on what they read on the back cover of a book. Discuss with them their predictions and ask them to justify why their predictions are reasonable based on what they have read. Create a prediction chart that shows titles such as: WHAT WE PREDICT/WHAT HAPPENED IN THE STORY. List everything students predict will happen under the “WHAT WE PREDICT” column. Once the story has been read you can write what actually happened in the story in the “WHAT HAPPENED IN THE STORY” column. Students should be allowed to adjust predictions so the “WHAT WE PREDICT” column can be changed as the story is read. Older readers must be taught that while they are reading they should be looking out for the setting of the story, that is, the time and place the story takes place. The characters and plot are also essential elements they should be focused on as understanding of these story elements is at the heart of comprehending any story that is read.

Allowing children to do research on a topic before it is presented in a story format is highly effective for improving reading comprehension. This strategy however, works better with older readers. Children will feel more in tune with the content of the text if they are allowed to develop previous knowledge.

Another reading comprehension strategy that I have found to be highly effective is to do vocabulary work before hand. You can introduce children to new words. Have them break them up into syllables. Put the new words on flashcards. You can also have children find out the meaning of these words in the dictionary, with all this groundwork, once you get to the text it will be smooth sailing.

After reading, children can do written and oral retelling of the story. Engage children in answering questions. These may be in the form of traditional written comprehension questions or oral comprehension questioning. I mentioned using research as a pre-reading strategy but this can also be done after reading.

Encourage children to act out stories in groups with each child taking turns playing characters from the book.

Completing a story map is a good activity for students to do after reading as they get a chance to summarize and to zero in on what happened at different points in the story. A good story map is one that asks students to tell what happened at the beginning, middle and the end of the story.

Make an art-literature connection by having students draw and paint or color their favorite scenes. They can also write something about what they have drawn so that a writing connection is also made.

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