Earth Day! Earth Week!

It”s Earth Week!    

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10 of My Favorite Children's Books

p>Even though we”re a website, our employees (especially me!) grew up reading physical books. Every holiday or birthday, I always buy my little cousins books as gifts – big, beautiful, bright picture books. Even now as an almost-graduate of college, I love to go to my local bookstore (Books of Wonder is great if you”re in NYC) to look through some of my favorites and revisit a most beloved part of my childhood.

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Speakaboos heads to the Context in Content Conference

p>Yannai Segal will be attending the Context in Content Conference next week. Yannai was a recipient of the Talent Development Scholarship Program from the Association of Educational Publishers. Here Yannai writes about what he attends to achieve and learn about at the conference:

I first learned about the CIC Talent Development Scholarship from Twitter and clicked on the link to learn more about the opportunity. At the time, I wasn’t familiar with the Content in Context Conference or even the Association of Educational Publishers. And so as I browsed the site, read about the speakers at the conference, perused the blog, and took in as much information as I could before applying, I was blown away at what a great resource this could be for my career.

I started at Speakaboos four years ago after having taught in a middle school setting for three years. Over the past four years, I’ve worked to combine my passion for education, the classroom, and most of all kids with my knowledge in digital media. Speakaboos has been a great incubator for that growth as we are a small team with many different jobs and responsibilities. On any given day I could be working with our storybook writers, attending a conference and networking, speaking with our educational advisors, or scouring Twitter for insight (as I was doing the morning I found out about CIC). And so, when I read the description of the Talent Development Scholarship and the opportunities it provided, I thought it was a perfect fit for the career path I’ve chosen.

I am very honored and thrilled to be a part of this wonderful opportunity given to

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me by the Context in Content conference. I am excited to meeting the other scholarship recipients and seeing how we can work and grow together in our individual roles. I am especially looking forward to meeting my advisor at the conference and learning from an expert in the industry. I think the conference will be a wonderful opportunity to network, learn, collaborate and connect with some of the educational thought leaders in the country.

Thanks so much,

Yannai Segal


My Time at America Reads

For the past two months, I worked as an America Reads tutor at PS 142 in the Lower East Side of New York City. While exhausting, my time spent with my class was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. The America Reads/Counts program began in 1997 as a federal initiative to help public elementary school students achieve proficiency in literacy and mathematics by employing college students as tutors. The program is truly unique in that the learning process works both ways. While the children enhance their own knowledge, the adults learn about children, the public school system, the value of education, and a little bit about themselves.

I can marginally recall what my time was spent like in third grade and of course, from my now adult perspective, I don’t remember the third grade being as emotionally charged and dramatic as it really is. I would now like to take this time to personally apologize to Mrs. Messenger for any stress and headaches I caused her during my third grade tenure. I have an immense amount of respect for the teacher (as well as all educators) I worked with. Every day she came to work, ready to teach 20 students and deal with everything from the perpetual “I’m not feeling well” to “doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.” I can only imagine what it is like to be a parent and constantly deal with the pre-pubescent emotions and concerns on a 24/7 basis. So in addition to teachers, I have just as much respect for mothers and fathers

I give even more credit to the children I spent each day with. Some of them trekked over 200 blocks or from outer boroughs (in other words, a 45-60 min trip) each morning (to avoid going to an unsafe school) and they always wore a smiling face. I would eat lunch with the students and some of them could barely afford their meal. As she ate her lunch consisting of a sole sandwich, one girl told me “it’s all her family had” and went back to eating and talking about Justin Bieber with her classmates. They never let at-home drama get in the way of learning and having fun. What I discovered is that children think and process just like an adult, but to the extent that their knowledge and life experience allows them. They want to understand and articulate. Even when they got frustrated with work or playground issues, the kids would always try to resolve the problem (though sometimes it involved tears and chest puffing).

The most important bit of knowledge I left with from my experience with America Reads is that education is KEY. I cannot stress this enough. And by education, I’m not just limiting it to only classroom work. Exposure to new things and personal differences, I believe, is the best way to promote tolerance, interests, and understanding.  For example, one lunch period, I brought carrots to eat and a girl had never eaten them before. In fact, she said she didn’t like vegetables. I gave her her first carrot and she loved it, prompting her to try other greens (from what she told me). Being a Caucasian (a pale one for that matter) teaching at a predominantly Hispanic school located in a lower-income neighborhood, race was a major topic of discussion. Each day I dealt with questions and comments about my skin color and physical experience. While blunt in their delivery, these racial inquiries were not out of malice, just out of curiosity. These kids loved me (as I loved them) unconditionally. They didn’t know any better. They wanted to know more about me and the world I grew up in. From food to race to science fair experiments and everything in between, children want to learn. It is paramount that we help them as much as we can. I‘m grateful that I helped, in some small way, in the education of some of our country’s future leaders.

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Updating the Typical School Lunch

Food politics are a hot topic in schools. With a new disease or allergy coming out every day, it”s important to pay attention to your diet and especially those of your children. When it”s too much to do at home, teaching healthy eating habits in schools for lunch is probably the best way to promote a health lifestyle in the future. Though the video is a bit dated, it seems the French are using school lunch as a way to not only promote healthy gambling online casinos lifestyles, but to share the country”s vast gastronomic culture with students, starting at a young age.

France”s Gourmet School Lunches (video)

In the states, it seems only private schools in the Northeast can afford to foot the bill for the sort of expenses such meals would cost. There are, however, many things we can learn from the French about meals that Americans just don”t understand, starting with the fact that food is sacred and should be enjoyed – seated and at a table.

Do schools have a place in teaching kids about healthy eating? What do you think?

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Bring Your Kids to Work!

Thursday, April 28th, is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. In 1993, Take Our Daughters To Work program was founded by the Ms. Foundation for Women. Although the day is typically a school day, many students are permitted a day of absence, as most companies plan educational activities for children of an appropriate age. Originally established to inspire girls to consider a career, in 2003 the

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program expanded to also include boys, so that both boys and girls might explore jobs and avoid stereotypical gender roles.

Bringing your children to work sets a positive example for your kids and also encourages them to become actively interested in your career. Spending a day with you in the office can help illustrate the connection between their efforts in school (at any age) and their future. If your job has events planned, you should encourage your child to participate in those programs to become engaged. One major impact of bringing your children to work is that it will get them to start thinking about their future and inspire them to consider what sorts of jobs they might have in the future. A great way to encourage your kids to start dreaming of adulthood (without having them lose their

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innocence in childhood!) is to have them take the Dream Calculator Quiz before they come to work with you!

This year, the official organization’s theme for the day is Invent the Future:Invent The Future not only means considering how much life can change in one year and indeed over a lifetime, but also what choices individuals, groups, organizations, and corporations have to make in order to achieve a better world. For girls and boys, Invent The Future is about their potential to produce positive change, since the future is theirs, and it starts right here, right now.”

Some of the Speakaboos team members brought in their little ones last year to celebrate and share their professional space with their families. Although the kids are too young to participate in any educational activities, they sure had fun with the team and the rest of the employees at 212 Media!





British Education Secretary Suggests Children Read 50 Books a Year

In an article in The Telegraph last week,

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British Education Secretary Michael Gove called for teachers in England to encourage their students to read at least 50 books a year, claiming that academic rigor in England has been faltering for too long. The majority of British teens read 1-2 novels a year. As with any student, the best time to foster a passion for reading is best done early. Continue reading

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Autistic 12-year-old has IQ higher than Einstein

When Jacob Barnett graduates from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis this spring, he”ll already have a place staked out in the university”s PhD program where he plans to expand on Einstein”s theory of relativity. This in itself would be impressive for any undergraduate. But Jacob Barnett is no ordinary undergraduate — Jacob Barnett is 12 years old. Continue reading

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April is Autism Awareness Month

p>According to the Center For Disease Control, 1 out of 110 children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. To honor Autism Awareness Month, I’d like to take some time to discuss the different disorders in order to spread knowledge and help people understand the implications of the disorder as well as what it means for schools. Continue reading

Florida parents want child with allergy removed from school

Parents at Edgewater Elementary School are lining up with picket signs this week. While parents,teachers, and politicians around the country have spent the last six months arguing about education spending cuts and failing schools, these Florida parents have gathered to rally against far more important issue — a 6-year-old with a life-threatening peanut allergy. Continue reading