Archive for June, 2005

I’m reading Travels with Charlie just for fun this summer and I’m making lots of “Language and Literacy” connections that I thought you might find interesting. It’s a great book for those of us who have the traveling itch, but not the money or time to scratch it. Steinbeck sets out to discover America for himself partly because he’s always had “the itch” and also because he says you can’t write about what you don’t know.

For the ESL crowd: Charlie is Steinbeck’s French Poodle. He claims that Charlie is a bi-lingual dog. The dog obeys commands in French and English. According to Steinbeck, “while he knows a little poodle-English, he responds quickly only to commands in French. Otherwise he has to translate, and that slows him down.” Wouldn’t this make a great dissertation study for some canine lover? (p.9)

For the ethnographers: Steinbeck has a conversation with a famous critic of places and events: “Joe and I flew home to America on the same plane and on the way he told me about Prague, and his Prague had no relation to the city I had seen and heard. It just wasn’t the same place, and yet each of us was honest, neither one a liar, both pretty good observers by any standard, and we brought home two cities, two truths” (p.77).

For the rebels: Steinbeck ran into trouble trying to cross into Canada without papers to prove that his bi-lingual dog had his rabies vaccination. Caught up in red tape he writes, “I guess that is why I hate governments, all governments. It is always the rule, the fine print, carried out by fine-print men. There’s nothing to fight, no wall to hammer with frustrated fists” (p.85).

That’s all I’ve read so far–and we’ve only covered part of the Northeastern US.

For the writers: Here’s an interesting bit of trivia about Steinbeck. He used to write so much that he would have to take a file to the callous on his finger. Behind every great writer is a great callous.


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**Note: this is a Democracy for Texas Event** (grassroots organization).
Lakoff is a linguist at UC Berkeley.

This is from a recent email announcement from Democracy for Texas:

George Lakoff in Austin

When: Saturday, June 25, 1:30 – 5:45 p.m.

Where: St. Edward’s University, Ragsdale Center

Cost: Free, but please RSVP

To RSVP, get more information, and to volunteer, please visit http://www.austinmovingforward.org

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Hi everyone: this is from NCTE Inbox, an Associated Press story from the boston.com about preschoolers going online! Maybe some of you with young children can speak to this? Things are changing so fast! Remember the days of typewriters, 8-tracks, Betamax, and Pong? I used to think my Speak-and-Spell was pretty advanced!

Here’s the story…..


More nursery school children going online

By Ben Feller, AP Education Writer  |  June 5, 2005

Before they can even read, almost one in four children in nursery school is learning a skill that even some adults have yet to master: using the Internet. Some 23 percent of children in nursery school — kids age 3, 4 or 5 — have gone online, according to the Education Department. By kindergarten, 32 percent have used the Internet, typically under adult supervision.

The numbers underscore a trend in which the largest group of new users of the Internet are kids 2 to 5. At school and home, children are viewing Web sites with interactive stories and animated lessons that teach letters, numbers and rhymes.

“Young students don’t differentiate between the face-to-face world and the Internet world,” said Susan Patrick, who oversees technology for the department. “They were born into the age of the Internet. They see it as part of the continuum of the way life is today.”

At a preschool age, children need some grown-up help to get online, said Francie Alexander, chief academic officer for children’s book publisher Scholastic Inc.

One of their favorite computer activities is writing an e-mail to a grandparent, said Alexander, author of a children’s guide to the Internet.

“It’s great for letter recognition,” she said. “Everybody likes to get mail and little kids don’t have great tolerance for waiting. So the whole idea that they can write grandma and get an e-mail back a half-hour later saying, ‘I got your note’ — they love that.”

Scholastic has a section of its Web site that is intended just for children, who go online to read, write and play with “Clifford the Big Red Dog.” PBS Kids Online has more than a dozen educational Web sites for preschool children, including “Sesame Street” and “Barney and Friends.”

Overall computer use, too, is becoming more common among the youngest learners. Department figures show that two-thirds of nursery school children and 80 percent of kindergartners have used computers.

At the Arnold & Porter Children’s Center in Washington, 4- and 5-year-olds have the option to spend time on a computer, working in small teams. They learn basic problem-solving and hand-eye coordination, but the social component of working with classmates on computer exercises is just as important, said Sally D’Italia, director of the center, which a law firm offers for its employees.

“It helps them become more relaxed, more adventurous, and more willing to take risks as they learn,” she said. “With adults, we’re still afraid that we’re going to blow up the computer. You never know if you’re going to push the wrong button and lose all your data.”

Virtually all U.S. schools are connected to the Internet, with about one computer for every five students, the government reports. Many older students are often far ahead of their teachers in computer literacy and they know their younger siblings are gaining on them.

As one high school student told Patrick recently: “You grew up with music in your blood. Well, we have technology in our blood.”

Educators say such access needs scrutiny.

Beyond blocking inappropriate content, schools must be certain the lessons they choose are based on research and geared to the developmental stage of the children, experts say.

“Kids have a tremendous ability to expand their learning, and a computer is just one tool,” said Mark Ginsberg, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The potential danger, he said, is putting 3- and 4-year-olds in front of a computer lesson that demands graphic skills or word-recognition knowledge for which they are not ready.

Still, Ginsberg said, more educators are using technology creatively — and appropriately.

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The class is at the PCL.

“Learn to use EndNote with other library databases such as the Web of
Science at 2 p.m. in the Flawn Academic Center, Room 227. Other
indexes, the Library Catalog and competing products also will be

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