70 million minutes and counting!

With the Olympics on, it’s hard NOT to get into the competitive spirit. We watch athletes accomplish amazing feats and set new records. Sometimes it’s a new world record, a new Olympic record, or a personal best. As Meagan announced,  students participating in the Scholastic Summer Challenge have already broken the world record for summer reading minutes, but that’s no reason to stop reading and logging your minutes this summer.  Ambitious readers around the world have logged over 70 MILLION MINUTES so far! We still have all of August to go, so let’s see just how high we can set the bar for next year! Continue reading 70 million minutes and counting!


Harry Potter Reading Club launches — and teachers can sign up for the live webcast with J.K. Rowling!

Accio exciting news!

Moments ago, Scholastic announced the launch of the Harry Potter Reading Club, a place where educators, librarians, parents and more — anyone who wants to organize a book club! — can go to find all the tools they’ll need to host a Harry Potter Reading Club and turn reading into a celebration! But that’s not all — also today, we announced that J.K. Rowling will participate in a live virtual author visit to classrooms across America at 12:00 noon ET (9:00am PT / 5:00pm GMT) on Thursday, October 11!

Teachers can begin signing up their classrooms starting today! J.K. Rowling will be discussing the world of Harry Potter including Pottermore, an exciting, free online experience that offers Harry Potter fans the chance to explore and discover exclusive new writing by J.K. Rowling as well as immerse themselves in other interactive content and community activities.

So what else can you expect?

Continue reading Harry Potter Reading Club launches — and teachers can sign up for the live webcast with J.K. Rowling!

Greener books, happy readers

Today is an exciting day at Scholastic — more than three years ago, we set our eyes on a goal to use more environmentally-friendly paper throughout our company and today we announced that we’ve already surpassed it a year ahead of schedule!

In 2008, we set a goal to increase our FSC-certified paper use (more about what that means here) to 30%, but we came so close in 2010 that we decided to increase it last year to 35%. Now the 2011 numbers are in, and we can proudly say that more than 53% of our paper was FSC-certified — more than 18% higher than our goal for next year! Continue reading Greener books, happy readers

Three Years Later, and Still Making Strides

Guest blogger Grace Matelich is from Larchmont, NY and will be a senior at Vanderbilt University this fall. This summer, she is interning with the Education Group’s marketing team and working on increasing READ 180’s online presence.            

My favorite part of interning with Scholastic Education has been hearing from teachers and previous READ 180 students about their successes both in the READ 180 program and beyond. Recently, we were contacted by the very proud Donna Pappas from Clovis, CA, who could hardly contain her excitement over former student Chee Nou Yang’s most recent accomplishments.

Although coming to America at the age of eight with no prior exposure to the English language was no easy task, Chee Nou was unwavering in his determination to master the English language. Demonstrating a strong work ethic, his school recommended he take a READ 180 class to help accelerate his reading and language skills. After making remarkable strides in READ 180, Chee Nou was nominated by his teacher in 2009 for a READ 180 All-Star Award. Chee Nou has grown into a model student, and for the past two years he has earned a 4.0, an accomplishment for which he was publicly recognized at a recent school awards ceremony.

While Chee Nou is without a doubt an All-Star in school, as the 4th oldest of nine children, he is also an All-Star at home where he helps his mother prepare meals, washes the dishes, and babysits his younger siblings. In 2009, when Chee Nou’s teacher Ms. Pappas asked him what challenges he has faced beyond learning English, he replied that it was often “[difficult] to find somewhere to do his homework each night,” later explaining that he had to be creative when it came to finding work space.

Three years later, Chee Nou shines as an integral member of his school community and continues to inspire those around him. An active member of Reyburn’s cross-country and track teams, he also spends time volunteering with his brother and sister by making scarves for the homeless. One of his teachers, Mrs. Blasingame, deems Chee Nou “one of the most respectful young men that [she has] had the privilege of working with,” adding that “his kind spirit, along with his determination to succeed and hard work ethic will enable Chee Nou to do whatever he chooses in life.” Last week, Chee Nou Yang was honored with the Principal’s Award at Reyburn Intermediate Middle School in Clovis, CA.

As Chee Nou enters high school, he has his sights set on Advanced Placement (AP) courses and eventually, a degree in Psychology at UCLA. In Chee Nou’s words, “The more I learn and the more I read, the more I want for myself in the future.” Stories like his are the ones that make us proud to be in the business that we are in. The news of Chee Nou’s success really warmed my heart, and I feel it important that his story be shared not only to honor his hard work, but also to inspire parents, teachers, and struggling readers alike. It just goes to show that with the right kind of help and attention, anyone is capable of turning it around and becoming a 4.0 student.

In Our Feeds: copycat readers, weird Olympic mascots, and a book-delivering biker

Each Friday, we share a handful of links we found interesting, provocative, funny — or just plain cool. We call it In Our Feeds. Have a good weekend!

This week’s links are brought to you by Catherine, one of our summer interns.

Alex posted a few weeks ago about how e-readers have interfered with her copycat reader strategy. This week I came across an article that still allows me to be a copycat reader in the digital age. My Twitter feed led me to these booklists- like the one from Huff Post and this YA list from NPR.

A more unique way to find your next read was brought to my attention by Nadia who shared this post about finding your next book based on a flowchart.

In honor of the Olympics opening ceremony Megan shared this post about the Best and Worst Olympic mascots– Megan favorites Cobi from the 1992 games in Barcelona.

At Scholastic, spreading literacy is something we encourage. Lia shared how one teacher gives the gift of reading by delivering books to children on his bike.

Teachers weigh in on CCSS

This is one in a series of posts examining the Common Core State Standards and the conversation surrounding their impact on teaching and learning.

Recently, Francie Alexander, our Chief Academic Officer, addressed Scholastic employees on the topic of Common Core State Standards. During her presentation, someone asked “How receptive are teachers to the changes the Common Core will bring about?” This struck me as a very interesting question.

Obviously teachers have strong opinions about their jobs and their students and the future of their profession, but at the end of the day, when it comes to adoption of CCSS, do they really have a choice? This question of teacher satisfaction stuck with me for a while, so I asked our Teacher team here at Scholastic if I could post the below question on their Facebook wall, which is visited by tens of thousands of teachers each day:

As summer winds down and you’re preparing for the start of school, how is your school approaching CCSS, and how do you feel about it? What do you feel the most confident in or ready for? What are you most nervous or concerned about? Share it here—we want to hear your thoughts!

I was a little hesitant to post this, as I worried it may cause a deluge of frustrated comments, or maybe silence, if teachers are just tired of tackling this topic ad nauseam. But to the contrary, the feedback was calm, strong-minded and for me, indicative of how diverse the feelings are surrounding CCSS is in this time of change.

The first reaction was “Whoa now, summer is NOT winding down.” (OK, my bad.) While other reactions were that CCSS does not concern them because their state isn’t participating.

Some teachers are excited and optimistic: Wendy C. wrote, “we are already in the thick of it, and I personally LOVE it! It is not that different from what we already do, and it is great for three reasons: 1. It will eventually require the entire country to be on the same page regarding curriculum and instruction, 2. It takes more of the curriculum the country teachers already and pulls out the “big picture” items on which to focus on, such as the theme of “systems” which spans K-12. If we all teach to the big pcture, each year the students’ learning becomes deeper. And finally, 3. It doesn’t say “teach more readin” or “teach more science”; it instead says the literacy is the most important than ALL of it. It is the building block on the entire curriculum, and quality literature should be integrated into every subject. The problem has been trying to find literature that fits what we’re teaching. The Core provides us grade appropriate lists to help those who don’t know already how to get started.”

Others agreed that not much is changing for them, or that maybe those changes are less severe than originally perceived to be.

Yet several expressed concern, mainly it seems about support, preparation, and training. “We’re kind of on our own to leave out what doesn’t match and fill in the gaps, mostly in math,” says Sue G.

Several teachers worried about resources, and whether there would be enough, and if they’d be up-to-date. Lea R. says “My concern is that my district will not be providing new books or materials that align with CCSS for a couple of years. I know there is a lot of material out there I can access, but I hate how much more work (and out of pocket expense) it’s going to be until the district provides what we need.”

Kenny H. agreed: “We adopted the CCSS last year. Our textbooks are aligned with the previous standards. I’m left fishing for resources for content that I’m responsible for teaching.”

Some commented about particular subjects: Andrea Q. from xxx said “I’m mostly worried about Math! I’m also worried we’re going to student-led conferences. I wish I had a better idea of how to go about starting the year for both.”

As an English teacher, Tracy S. says she’s “forced to cut down on literature and increase Science and Social Studies –related reading in my classes due to the misinterpretation of the CCSS by my administration.”

A few teachers expressed confidence in the training their school is providing: “We have had a multitude of training opportunities,” wrote Christina C.  “I have attended three sessions and two more to come on CCSS reading, and two on Math. Plus, they plan to have more on text complexity and performance tasks as the year progresses.”

Across the board, teachers are excited about the free resources on Pinterest and other teacher blogs. And of course, it all comes down to the students that are sitting in the chairs in front of them. An appropriate end to the provocative dialogue on the wall: many “liked” one teacher’s comment to do “the best I can with what I have!”


Gold medal glory, podium dreams, and the excitement of being a young gymnast

Here at OOM we have Olympic fever. We’re all excited for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics to kick-off tonight and for the games to begin. In honor of the excitement over in London, we have a very special blog post from Donna Freitas, a former competitive gymnast and author of Gold Medal Summer (ages 9-14), the story of a young girl pursuing her gymnastic dreams. Kirkus calls the book “A sports story that handsprings away from romance and toward a commendable joy in accomplishment.” The New York Times Review of Books says, “Gold Medal Summer more successfully reflects the competitive gymnast’s spunk, thanks to Donna Freitas’s flashier style and relatable protagonist, 13-year-old Joey Jordan.” Below Donna talks about her love of the Olympics and how her athletic past has influenced her writing career. Continue reading Gold medal glory, podium dreams, and the excitement of being a young gymnast