Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gender, Sexism and Kids Toys (still and again) for the last day of Women's History Month

This "wordle" comes from the language in toy advertising - see more about it from the originator, Achilles Effect  -- the whole blog has great resources for thinking about sexism and kids...

How Toy Ad Vocabulary Reinforces Gender Stereotypes  provides ideas for using the wordle with kids.
Ads targeting girls word cloud

"Guess Who?" challenges gender stereotypes
A 2-minute and 21-second educational video hopes to chip away at gender stereotypes that are typically presented in the media. "Guess Who: The Mathematician and the Baker" was created by See Jane, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media's programming unit, and Channel One News. (mixed feelings from me about that collaboration) Ads targeting boys word cloud

Locally, Hardy Girls Healthy Women offers "Girls Unlimited Conference " next Friday, to empower girls to develop leadership skills for combating sexism; They also offer some amazing institutes and webinars for adults who work with girls.  Boys to Men offers a comparable program for adults working to help boys develop healthy senses of self that are not only about the battle, and offers violence prevention programs in schools.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Significant changes proposed to Child Labor Law (LD 516)

This is one for parents and educators to chime in on!

Sun-Journal Overview
Text of amended bill
An "Action" sponsored by the Maine Women's Lobby to ask Legislators NOT to change Maine's Child Labor Law

(Summary provided by legislative office): This bill amends the laws governing employment practices in the following ways:
1. It establishes a training wage for trainees or secondary students under 20
years of age at $5.25 per hour for their first 180 days of employment;

2. It eliminates the maximum number of hours a minor 16 years of age or older
can work during school days;

3. It allows a minor under 16 years of age to work up to 4 hours on a school day
during hours when school is not in session;

4. It allows a home-schooled student to work during regular public school hours,
but not during regularly scheduled home school hours;

5. It exempts a minor under 16 years of age who is enrolled in school from the
maximum hour requirements to work in an agricultural setting as long as the
minor has written permission from the minor's parent or guardian; and

6. It allows a parent or guardian of a minor who is home schooled to sign a work
permit instead of the superintendent of the school administrative unit where the
homeschooled minor lives.

Also, some great resources for talking with kids about child labor:

Rethinking Schools article

Giving Voice to Child Laborers Through Monologues - a 6-8 lesson plan from ReadWriteThink

Child Labor in US history - from Library of Congress

Who makes the things you buy? and more...  From Global Classrooms Now

Between the By-Road and the Main Road: Books To Teach Children About Labor History: (from MaryAnn Reilly's blog)

Race to Nowhere in Yarmouth tomorrow night

If you missed it, or want to send friends...

Also - if you are from FSP and attending, please consider mentioning Alfie Kohn's talk on May 3! 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Also creative... edible book art on Wed at PPL

Edible Book Festival hosted by the Portland Public Library
Free to register; All ages
Participants are invited to create “edible art” in the form of a book. Must be edible. Registration and drop off from 3:00-4:45pm on April 1, 2011
Edible books will be displayed from 5:00-7:00pm in the Rines Auditorium.

Maine Leaders to Explore the Critical Connection Between Imagination, Creativity and Economic Development

Maine Leaders to Explore the Critical Connection Between Imagination, Creativity and Economic Development

(From Bright Futures Blog)
By Argy Nestor

Tuesday, April 5th – Imagination Conversation

A collaboration of public and private organizations has come together to host a community-wide event so that Maine can lend its collective voice to a national conversation on how to foster the innovation and creativity needed to compete in the 21st-century global marketplace.

“From Imagination to Innovation: Maine Participates in the Lincoln Center Institute’s Imag’nation Conversation” will be held from 4 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 5, in USM’s Hannaford Lecture Hall, Bedford Street, Portland. To register, go to Tickets are $20 for the public and $5 for students.

The Maine Center for Creativity and the University of Southern Maine are presenting the event. Collaborators include the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, the Maine Arts Commission, the Creative Portland Corporation, the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Maine Department of Education, Wright Express, the Maine Alliance for Arts Education, the Maine Humanities Council and Maine Public Broadcasting.

Through a keynote address and a series of discussions in concurrent workshops, the “Conversation” will provide opportunities for people from diverse sectors to consider how we can integrate imagination into our schools, workplaces and communities in such a way that it advances creation of a vibrant economy and quality of life.  “We hope to bring people together from different walks of life to discover that imagination is essential not only in the arts,” said Jean Maginnis, executive director of the Maine Center for Creativity, “but also in the success of all of us in the state of Maine.”

To help focus the discussions, participants will be asked to respond to the following three questions:

How does imagination function in your field/work/sector?
How do you cultivate and sustain imagination in your work?
What will it take for us to foster these practices in Maine?

Conversations from each of the 50 states are being documented and compiled for presentation at a national “Imagination Summit” in New York scheduled for July of this year. It’s expected that an action agenda will be developed to make the cultivation of imagination a key element in our schools and part of a national public policy agenda.

The Portland event will feature nationally known artist Eric Hopkins of North Haven, who will offer the keynote address. Other speakers include University of Maine Professor of Civil and Structural Engineering Habib Dagher; mimedancer Karen Montanaro;  Aaron Frederick, entrepreneur and a founder of Rippleffect, the non-profit that exposes teens to the coastal Maine experience; and Carol Farrell, co-director of Figures of Speech Theatre. Veteran Maine journalist and public affairs consultant Patsy Wiggins will serve as moderator.

“As part of our mission as a public university we provide a forum where people of diverse perspectives can come together and think creatively and provocatively about how to better understand and advance the important issues of the day,” said USM President Selma Botman.

For more information on the Lincoln Center Institute (LCI) and the “Imag’nation Conversations,” visit

Editor’s Note: For More information, including contacts at the collaborating organizations, contact Jean Maginnis, executive director, Maine Center for Creativity, (207) 730-0694

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Book Blog Sites

Books That Heal is a wonderful resource for finding "bibliotheraphy" for the Pre-K - 2nd grade set

The Carle Museum Blog has seasonal and interesting picture book recs. (wish it was closer!) & Booklists

Teach with Picture Books has great extension suggestions

Anita Silvey's Children's Book-a-Day Almanac  - a book for each calendar day

50 books every kid should read (more middle grades) from UK Independent

Kidlit Women's History Month - incredible authors blog about their favorite women's history month books

(Speaking of -- I put some feminist picture books in the auction, to complement the Maine Women's Lobby's membership donation, and one of them is this new book - so interesting and great illustrations - worth a check out of the library, at least)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Should teens be able to access contraceptives

& other health care without parental consent?

Let your Legislators know your opinion of LD31 - public hearing today.

Alfie Kohn on Homework & Schools

and "The Alternative Schools Our Kids Deserve"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Understanding Hookup Culture | Media Education Foundation

Understanding Hookup Culture | Media Education Foundation Wondering if other Middle School parents would be interested in watching / talking about this new film, or if college seems like a long time away? Kim

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sandra Steingraber & LD 1129

Sandra Steingraber's talk was provocative... the most lasting impression, for me, was the part where she challenged us to step up  - said working toward environmental health can't be a "choice." 

If that is true, our time is now.  Representative Jim Hamper has introduced LD1129 - a bill that would largely undo our model "Kids Safe Product Act" -- MPBN has a great story about it, including referencing the fact that no Maine companies opposed the passage of the law, and that although Hamper claims New Balance asked him to put the repeal forward, they deny it.

There are a ton of ways to get involved on this issue - here are 5:

1) write a letter to the editor or a full-on op-ed

2) write / call / email/ tweet / FB your Reps -- down on LD1129, up on keeping BPA out of kids toys (Click here to find your legislators)

3) give money to the Environmental Health Strategy Center or another member of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine

4) Testify at the public hearing about LD1129 - or other bills that have to do with these issues - Tuesday, March 29th at 1 PM

5) Attend a Lobby Day

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Friday 7/8 Performances!

Each year FSP's 7th and 8th grade class takes a few weeks off of science and social studies to cast, rehearse, and perform a play. They work hard together, and the resulting performances are always stunningly hilarious.

Please join us this Friday for 'Snow White and the Mini Miners.' The play features a wicked queen, a sassy mirror, a gregarious dwarf, a heartsick huntsman, and a misplaced mineshaft. The raucous dialog is appropriate for all ages.

Performances are at 12:45 during assembly and 7:00. The evening performance will be preceded by a dessert-only potluck, which begins at 6:30.

Race to Nowhere in Yarmouth / "Let Kids Rule the School"

North Yarmouth Academy and Yarmouth High School are teaming up to screen Race to Nowhere on March 30 at 7:00pm.
Tickets will go on sale March 16. If you would like to buy tickets in advance, please go to For more information, contact

And interesting NYT op-ed today : Let Kids Rule the School  -- how much autonomy should younger kids have / do we have it right at FSP?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rethinking Schools

On Friday, March 18, Rethinking Schools editors Bob Peterson and Stan Karp will be featured in a 90-minute web "teach-in" designed to build this summer's Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action. The webinar begins at 8pm Eastern/7pm Central/5pm Pacific time and is open to the first 100 people who sign up here:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Outing club trip - amazing!

NI'm hugely grateful for Nicole's leadership in creating the FSP outing club. Without it, I would not have snowshoed with my daughter,  in potentially inclement weather (turned out beautiful), spent the night with other awesome FSP families, or probably even ever visited the super-cool Maine Huts and Trails.  We had such a great time - can't wait for next year!

The other great thing about the weekend was Nicole's variation on Bananagrams, called "Scrabble Apple" here - I couldn't explain it but I loved playing it!  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Flower show this weekend

Huge congratulations to 2nd grader Naomi Zarin for a winning essay - check it out this weekend at Enchanted Gardens in Portland.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One more chance to take a friend to Race to Nowhere

@ the Frontier today/tonight

Political Interludes : Child Labor & WI

The legislature is currently considering LD 516 to amend/repeal the state's child labor laws (statute here). Please take a minute to call your legislator if you have feelings about it!

And, there is major breaking news & protests in WI - worth watching, interesting foreshadowing for Maine (perhaps)!

You can read the twitter feed without signing up - just search for #wiunion

Washington Post overview
Mother Jones on the crank call 
Mother Jones on the bill

yesmagazine YES! Magazine  :  Why Every American Should Care About Wisconsin

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Poetry Out Loud

Franco-American Heritage Center to Host Poetry Out Loud state finals

Ten high school students from across the state will take the stage at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston on Friday, March 11, to compete against their peers for the title of Maine State Poetry Out Loud champion. The winner will represent Maine in the national finals of the competition in April in Washington, D.C.

The competition began in the fall with 8,500 students competing at the classroom level with the help of 250 teachers from 45 public, private and parochial high schools across the state. Following a pyramid structure, each classroom produced a class winner and each participating school then held a competition to determine a school champion. In February, the school champions competed at either the northern or southern regional competition, where five state finalists from each region were selected to compete at the state finals...

In Lewiston, each of the 10 state finalists will recite three poems selected from an anthology of master works compiled for the competition. Competitors will be evaluated by a bank of judges based on accuracy, physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding and overall performance. Cumulative scores from all three rounds will determine a state champion, who will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national title and a $20,000 scholarship. The winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The second-place finalist will receive $100, and $200 more for his or her school library. The evening also will feature the music of emcee Emilia Dahlin and the announcement of the new State Poet Laureate.

Doors for the event will open at 5 p.m. Friday, March 11, and the competition and activities will run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to all. For information on the venue or for directions, visit

Teen Brain Talk Thursday

Why do teens act the way they do? Karen Williams will present on the real-life implications for your home and classroom of the latest neuroscience research from 6 to 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at South Portland High School. Tips for parents on 'brain-friendly' development will also be offered.

The talk is free, and child care is available. FMI call 773-5629.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Women's History Month - Can you Volunteer?


I am writing to invite you to serve as a volunteer mentor for the 15th Annual "Girls' Day at the State House" on Thursday, March 24, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Girls' Day brings together 100 8th grade girls from across the state to learn about the legislative process first-hand and to encourage them to have a voice in the issues they care about.  The girls will participate in a mock public hearing and mock press conference, a State House and Legislative “scavenger hunt,” and meet with the Governor and other legislative leaders. 

Our mentors play a key role in making the day a success!  As a mentor, you will have the opportunity to help shape the young women leaders of tomorrow by guiding them throughout the activities of the day, answering questions, and supporting the girls as they learn.  We ask mentors to arrive at 8:00 a.m. for a brief introduction to responsibilities, help orient the girls to the day’s activities, and then chaperone the groups as they move from activity to activity.  Each mentor works with 1-2 other volunteers in leading groups of 10 girls throughout the day.  A simple breakfast and lunch will be served.

Will you help make the 2011 Girls’ Day a success?  We have a limited number of mentor slots available, so please confirm your interest as soon as possible by using this link:

Questions? Email me at, and I will follow up with further details. You may also call me at 622-0851. 

Thank you for your support.



Charlotte M. Warren
Associate Director
Maine Women's Policy Center
Phone: (207) 622-0851, ext. 24
Cell: (207) 441-9116

Random Parenting & Education articles

* On why girls/women are not fulfilling their potential in math careers -- a call for significant affirmative action.

* On turning off internet to keep overwhelmed at bay :  (must say, my approach might be to turn off laundry)

* Daily Show "Crisis in Dairy Land"  - March 3rd episode nails it around why we should support teachers more - worth watching!

* A well researched blog post about why USA needs paid family leave, courtesy of a tweet from National Parternship for Women and Families

* And a new report from the US Gov't on the status of girls and women in USA (and, of course, the boys and men who care for them and depend on them) :

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Alfie Kohn (coming to FSP on May 3)

Klingenbriefs (an email newsletter from the Klingenstein Center) offers a review of an Alfie Kohn article:

          Making the Reading Classroom Safe for Democracy
How to Create Nonreaders: Reflections on Motivation, Learning, and Sharing Power, by Alfie Kohn

What could possibly be wrong with asking students to read independently for twenty minutes each night? Why should teachers who focus on dramatic irony or iambic pentameter reconsider their approach to teaching literature? In this provocative article, Alfie Kohn confirms his well-established position as the thorn-in-the-side of American educators as he asks: why do so many students dislike reading (and by extension writing), and what can be done about it? Central to all of Kohn's work is the point that true motivation must be intrinsic and that extrinsic rewards suppress motivation; in this article, he elaborates on the essential role of choice for students. Kohn links the notion of a democratic classroom to augmenting investment in the classroom. The article is structured around a list of seven ways to "kill" a love of reading, followed by four guidelines for nurturing it. Whether or not you agree with Kohn's ideology, it is hard to dismiss his commitment to students.

Liz Perry, Berkeley Carroll School, NY

     ENGLISH JOURNAL, Fall 2010 -- vol. 100, no. 1