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Start the New Year as a Games Volunteer

                                bowl2                                    bowl

I know you are asking, What Games?  Well it is Special Olympics of Texas 21st Annual Winter Games which will take place on January 31 – February 2, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  The Games will showcase the talents of over 2,000 athletes in competitive bowling, powerlifting, and volleyball.  This is a very exciting time for these athletes and you do not want to miss being a part of the festivities. 

During the Special Olympics of Texas Bowling Tournament that took place in December 1, 2012, Houston Baptist Council for Exceptional Children student chapter volunteered and it was so exciting.  There was nothing more exciting than to see the athletes’ high emotions as their ball rolled down the alley!  Did every athlete make a strike? No, but the efforts put forth was priceless.  Above are a few pictures taken during this venue. 

So, I am sure you are asking how you can help, right?  It will take over 1,600 volunteers to make this event run smoothly.  There’s no sports experience needed to volunteer, just a willing heart to support the athletes during the venues around Austin.  Can SOTX count on YOU?

To sign up, click here or contact me at

If you would like to see how important the Special Olympics of Texas events are to participants, click on the following link to meet Blaine and others.

 I look forward to seeing you all at the Games this weekend!

Thank you in advance for your support!

Dr. Charlotte Fontenot!

NAEYC Tips for Talking to Young Children

The  National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)  has compiled online resources about coping with violence and tips for talking to young children. These resources are available here:

The National Association of School Psychologists – Resources to cope with violence
Resources on talking to children about violence, tips for parents, teachers, and school administrators, dealing with a death in a school and more. The Association has listed some of these key resources on their home page for quick access. 

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network – Tips for talking to children about the shooting
Resources on talking to children about the recent shooting, information about the shooting’s psychological impact, tips for parents on media coverage – includes tips specific for preschool-aged children.

The National Education Association – School crisis guide
The National Education Association (NEA) and the National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN) developed this easy-to-use crisis guide with essential, to-the-point advice for schools and districts.

American Academy of Pediatrics – Talking with children
Resources to help parents talk to children about violence and disasters.

Child Care Aware – Helping families and children cope
In the wake of any kind of emergency or disaster – large or small – children and adults may feel anxious about their own safety and security. Child Care Aware offers resources for Parents, Caregivers, School Professionals and more.

American Psychological Association – Helping children manage distress
As a parent, you may be struggling with how to talk with your children about a shooting rampage. It is important to remember that children look to their parents to make them feel safe.

National Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – Coping with tragic events
In hopes of helping families cope with such tragic events AACAP created a collection of resources including tips for talking to children about Connecticut school shooting.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Coping with violence and traumatic events
This web page includes information about the Disaster Distress Hotline, the nation’s first hotline dedicated to providing disaster crisis counseling. It also includes articles for students, parents, teachers, and other caregivers, and for responders and health professionals.

Sesame Workshop – A resource for parents and caregivers
“Here for Each Other: Helping Families After and Emergency” is a resource that includes tips, ideas, and activities to help adults and children cope with disasters.

Helping Children Deal with Tragic Events in the NewsTimeless wisdom from Fred Rogers for parents, teachers, and caregivers
In times of community or world-wide crisis, it’s easy to assume that young children don’t know what’s going on. But one thing’s for sure, children are very sensitive to how their parents feel. They’re keenly aware of the expressions on their parents’ faces and the tone of their voices.

Tips for Talking to Children and Youth after Traumatic Events

Subtitled “A Guide for Parents and Educators,” this printable PDF contains concise tips for talking to children after traumatic events as well as resource links when more active intervention may be required.

Helping Children Cope with Tragedy-related Anxiety
This web page, from Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association), offers tips for parents in helping preschool-age children, as well as grade school-age children and adolescents, with tragedy-related anxiety.

After the Crisis: Using Storybooks to Help Children Cope
Authors Cathy Grace and Elizabeth Shores offer literature-based activities to help children who have been through a trauma. With activities and exercises that can be used in conjunction with 50 children’s books, the discussion starters and writing and art activities in After the Crisis can be used by teachers to promote children’s ability to cope and heal.

Media Coverage of Traumatic Events
This web page discusses research findings that link watching media coverage of traumatic events with stress. The article gives viewing recommendations and other advice for parents of young children.

Going Digital with eTextbooks in K12 Education


Dr. Wilsons Words of Wisdom: I read an article the other day that said Arnie Duncan (Secretary of Education), hoped to have all k12 schools make the move to eTextbooks in the next few years. His reasons for this push included benefits such as a monetary savings and more up to date textbooks, but perhaps more critical is a shift to a more immersive environment. In a digital book students can read, highlight, take interactive quizzes, and even watch a video all from a single device as part of a single reading assignment. I personally think there is power in this type learning.

Many complain that students already spend too much time in front of a screen, to have them do all their reading on a screen would increase this. Is this really where we want to go?

The idea of using digital content does show promise. As the article suggests, students across the world are beginning to use these devices and showing increased benefits. Unfortunately, many teachers I encounter are not ready for this shift. The US can’t just roll out k12 textbooks and expect teachers and students to know what to do with them.

I have an eVersion of my college textbook available for graduate students to use for the last few semesters. Some students already owned digital devices and found it to be a less expensive textbook option. They thought that since they read for pleasure on these devices, they should be able to read for class using the device. The problem is that many don’t know how to use the eBook device)for learning. Several have even confessed to purchasing a second copy of the book as a hard copy because they had a hard time taking notes and recalling what was highlighted in a meaningful way. Interestingly enough, even those who did manage to read using the eTextbook, many confessed it is still was not their preference.

Change takes time. Do you remember how hard it was to change from typing on a typewriter to typing on a computer with a word processor. It was a shift in process. I remember helping my father make the transition (an good typist but clueless about keystrokes on a computer). He wasn’t a cussing man but if he was, our time together would have needed a PG-13 rating. It was frustrating!

Of course now, he has made the shift, he is very prolific and comfortable on the computer. He just needed time to make the adjustment. Thinking about this shift got me thinking. If it is true that we will move to eTextbooks over the next few years (and I think it is), then teachers should right now begin to force themselves to purchase digital content to read and use professionally. We need time to practice with the new tools, and become proficient with them ourselves before we put them in our student’s hands. It will be up to us to teach our students how to use these new tools, and if we are not comfortable with it ourselves, then I doubt that we will encourage the use of these tools.

So do you have a digital reading device? Have you started highlighting and taking notes on this device? I think we better get started. What do you think?

Move Over Barbie!

I must admit that I believe that all woman can achieve the same career goals as their male counterparts so I was cheering on Debbie who designed a new product that is sure to inspire young girls to examine career fields such as engineering. Watch the video below to see how Debbie took hold of her desire to expose girls to career fields that tend to be more male dominated. Way to go Debbie- this is one gift that will be under our Christmas Tree!

“Giving students the materials they need to be successful”

Hidden deep within the Outlook section of the Houston Chronicle was a short piece on how teachers, in many schools, do not have access to the tools they need to successfully teach our youth the essential skills necessary to learn the content in areas such as science and mathematics. I was most impressed that that this was not the sheer focus of the article but rather a lead in to a solution to the problem. The author continues and begins to introduce (a site I am most familiar with) as a means to fund projects in schools that might otherwise go unfunded or funded simply through the teacher, himself, reaching into a personal account to purchase the resources needed to be more effective in his or her classroom. I could not begin to calculate the amount of my own money I spent as a public school teacher in efforts to gather the most effective materials to successfully teach my students. Somewhere along the way, I was introduced to this very site the author writes about and since then, I have shared it with my friends in education, parents, and students returning to obtain their Masters Degree to become even better teachers. The concept is quite simple, teachers prepare a proposal for a project which is posted on the the site and anyone can donate to that specific project by funding it in part or full. I have seen our own students at HBU gain some amazing materials  through this site which will enable them to take the ideas and skills learned in class and implement them immediately in their own classrooms. In fact, just last week my neighbor had a project funded and is filled with excitement on implementing it in her 3rd grade classroom. She said she felt so lucky to have had her project selected. Although, I did agree, I must admit her students are the lucky ones. Not only do they have an incredible teacher filled with a wealth of knowledge about teaching math and science, but also a teacher who finds a way to overcome obstacles to be sure that her students get the very best instruction available and that sometimes means seeking out solutions to the challenges faced before her. Kuddos to you Kim for making this happen for your students and, most importantly, thanks to Charles Best and the Houston Chronicle for running this piece so other teachers can become aware of a way to gain tools needed for STEM instruction when funding is an obstacle. I only wish that the article was moved closer to the front so more people could have read it  🙂

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