Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Bus Ride in Montgomery Alabama 1955

A Bus Ride in Montgomery Alabama: 1955

In addition to the racist bus statutes, white bus drivers often mistreated their black passengers. They were known to be verbally abusive, to skip all-black stops, and would do things such as collect a fare but drive off before the black person had time to board the bus. This behavior was not only expected but also resignedly accepted as the status quo in Alabama. Resource: Heroines in History

Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin, Aurelia S. Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith. All of these women were brave trailblazers. The four often unsung predecessors to Rosa Parks, were important participants in the Civil Rights Movement. Their quiet, dignified, stand for justice are equal in nature. They each risk their own personal safety and that of their families, possible mistreatment in jail, lack of employment and educational opportunities to stand proud in a society of oppression. They, each in their own way, created a tipping point in history. Washington Post: The Ladies Before Rosa

Claudette Colvin: was born in 1939 (Age 77)

On March 2, 1955 Claudette Colvin, a 15 year old student, refused to give up her seat to a white woman. She told the bus driver, who demanded she move,  "It's my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it's my constitutional right."  

She spent time in jail, was branded a trouble maker, and was required by circumstances to leave school. The Life of Claudette Colvin Wikipedia: Claudette Colvin

Aurelia Shines Browder: January 29, 1919 - February 4, 1971

Eight months before the oft-remembered Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger, Aurelia Browder made history. Wikipedia: Aurelia S. Browder She was the lead plaintiff in the law suit Browder Vs Gayle. This was the lawsuit that caused an end to the separate but equal laws of the land.

Mary Louise Smith Was born in 1937 (Age 79)

Mary Louise Smith was 18 when she sat for justice on a Montgomery bus. The Forgiveness Foundation tells of her important role in the action that led to her participation in litigation the turned the corner of history. 

Mary Louise Smith found her seat on a bus that was not full. However, all the other seats were soon taken as the driver picked up additional passengers along the route. A white traveler stepped on the bus and the driver directed all black people in a certain section to give up their seats and stand. All of the black bus riders complied, except for Mary Louise Smith. She refused and was arrested. The $9.00 fine imposed on Ms. Smith was paid by her father.

Mary Louise Smith has dedicated her life to obtaining equal voting rights and supporting other civil rights causes.

Susie McDonald and Rosa Parks

Very little information can be found regarding Susie McDonald. However, we know that she was a participant in the Browder_v._Gayle Court Action.

Rosa Parks became was put forth by the civil rights community as the person most likely to best represent the movement. Her actions were especially heroic as they came after the resistance to segregation had fomented into a volatile issue.

Books relevant to the Civil Rights Movement can be found at Jacquie's Store

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Greenlee Project: the story of a bully and an innocent girl

The Greenlee Project by Amanda M. Thrasher is an important book.

It is important because it doesn't lecture about bullying. Instead, it tells a story that grabs the attention of the most reluctant teen or tween reader. The tale unfolds carefully and in a way that leads to thoughtful insight. The study questions found at the end of the story provide teachers, parents, counselors, and community groups with a tool to broaden the insights offered. 

The Greenlee Project was a monstrous act that turned into something more horrendous than I could have imagined are the words of Clay, the football player who lost his way in the school-world of peer pressure and social stratification.

Learning about the victim of Clay's Project, and how her life was changed, is discovered as each chapter unfolds. Her ability to find strength in the depth of despair gives hope, and an alternative view of life, to those who have been victimized.The  reviews for The Greenlee Project are outstanding. The heart-wrenching content is a must read for teens and tweens using the internet, parents, grandparents, teachers, and counselors. 

The "Story Behind the Story" by Amanda M. Thrasher

Why I wrote The Greenlee Project

What  inspired the story, The Greenlee Project? I was asked that recently, authors are asked that question frequently about their work. Since this book is important to me, personally and the topic, I thought I’d share in detail my inspiration for the book.

Writing this piece took me to a dark place, as a writer, and at times as a person. I became more of a recluse than I appear to be. Typical for writers; but I’m not a recluse. As an author and a publisher, I truly am busy. Why was this piece so hard to write? Moreover, what inspired it?

I was haunted for years by the Amanda Todd Case, as a parent, who would not be? However, as the years passed and kids had access to social media tools, bullying started reeling out of control. Suicides started popping up in the news. Unfortunately for a long time, as a society, we became desensitized to the harmful damage that words could cause until kids started killing themselves over texts. It happened to be affecting mainly tweens and teens. I have girls the age (or at the time) of the kids in The Greenlee Project. I started paying attention to what my kids were doing and how their friends were acting and those around them. When they would have arguments with their so-called friends, which got nastier over texts causing parents to get involved, I realized two major things. 1) Kids were hiding behind their phones, Ipads, and social media, and 2) they were stronger and crueler when hiding behind those devices. Both things disgusted me.

The final straw, the one that broke the camels back per se, was when I realized with 100% certainty that the kids themselves honestly didn’t understand the damage they were causing. That the wrong carelessly used or hateful word, just might be the one that put a fragile child over the edge. Why? 1) They had no idea how deeply the wounds were that they causing (I didn’t mean it became their standard response), and most importantly 2) They were still kids. Often, good kids. This disturbed me as much as the bullying at times. When great kids get pulled into stupid activities over social media and within minutes their lives are forever tainted. Social media devices in the hands of kids that don’t know how to use them can be dangerous. Kids desensitized over several years it would seem, TV, media, and music to name a few things. Saying things such as “Drink bleach and die,” as a way to be funny or hateful depending on whom they said it too and why. So what on earth was going on and what could we do?

I set about to write a piece that I hoped would hit home and deliver a message that could impact teens and make them think. One that would showcase the damage that social media could inflict upon not just the victim, which is horrific, but the family, friends, community, the person who is the bully and their family if not used correctly. The lives ruined if used to harm, and the consequences of such.

During my research, I visited schools, football games, spoke with teens, tweens, and paid attention to what our kids are doing with their phones, tablets, Ipad, etc. I cannot even begin to claim to understand the tools they know how to use because they change daily. Apps. that do not show up on your data plans. As parents, we likely wouldn’t know how to use them anyway. The things I found out during research, would send chills down your spine. I cannot stress enough the damage tweens, and teens instill upon each other with their words, snap-chat, videos, etc. It is awful, and that is sometimes when they like each other. Our kids believe they are invincible, and that is a terrifying thought.   
Greenlee could be any kid in any town, anywhere in America. A normal teen, until one day she wasn’t.

I sincerely hope you enjoy my work. Thank you! ~ Amanda M. Thrasher

Author bio

Multiple award-winning Author Amanda M. Thrasher was born in England, moved to Texas and resides there still. Author of several children’s books including picture books, middle-grade chapter books, YA and a reader’s theater titled What If… A Story of Shattered Lives written for the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center as part of the Driving on the Right Side of the Road program (DRSR). She’s a multiple Gold recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards for The Greenlee Project, YA and General Fiction, and for an early reader chapter book, Spider Web Scramble. The Greenlee Project also won first place for YA and General Fiction at the NTBF. Amanda conducts workshops, speaks with kids and teens of all ages, writes a blog, and contributes to an on-line magazine. Amanda is also the Chief Executive Officer at Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.

Where to buy the book or links:

Amazon (this is the direct link)

Barnes & Noble  (this is the direct link) 

Study guide availalble for educators -  SampleThe Greenlee Project Study Guide

Also sold, Apple iBooks 
And just about where ever books are sold. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Magic of Belief created by Dr. Reuven Feuerstein

The Magic of Belief Created by Dr. Reuven Feuerstein

Dr. Reuven Feuerstein 1921-2014

Notes from Jacquie: I was first introduced to the work of  Dr .Feuerstein the 1980’s. The workshop presented by, Mogens Jensen, provided many of the tools that I have used in both teaching and writing curriculum through the years.

When I decided to write a post about this teaching icon, I dusted off the course text book and was surprised to find my lecture notes folded neatly within the pages. The information regarding mediated learning, included in this post, is taken from these notes. But first, an introduction to Dr. Feuerstein. 

Dr. Feuerstein, a holocaust survivor himself, began his work with the children who had been separated from their families because of the holocaust. He refused to believe the low IQ scores associated with these children were really an indicator their learning potential. He dispelled the concept that present performance is and indicator of student limits. His subsequent work directly with students, and in his research and writing, proved intelligence is not static but a dynamic process that can lead to success for all students.

Quote form Instrumental Enrichment (page xi): Many have tried, heroically, to enhance the mental performance and scholastic achievement of low functioning children from disadvantaged families. Most have taken the form of curriculum content manipulation or a range of early intervention strategies focused in varying degrees on the child or family. The success of these endeavors, measured in terms of enduring success, has been limited, at best. 

The Feuerstein Institute,  located in Israel, summarizes their belief as follows:

At the Feuerstein Institute, we believe that everyone - regardless of age, etiology or disability - has the immeasurable ability to enhance their learning aptitude and heighten their intelligence

Professor Feuerstein's theories and programs are used throughout the world in over eighty countries. The YouTube videos included in this post are but a few of many available to those who wish to learn more about his programs.

A Few Components of the Mediated Learning Experience (MLE)

  • produces a propensity to learn how to learn by equipping the person with the tools necessary for learning
  • when learning to master a situation, the child must learn to cope with a sequence of events located in time and space
  • cognitive process result in the structural elements that transcend specific content and context in which they occur
  • cognitive modifiability refers to the structural changes in the person's brain with a deliberate programs of interventions that will facilitate the generation of continuous growth
Books by Dr. Feuerstein may be found in  Jacquie's Store  and Amazon.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Drs. David & Roger Johnson: He Who Teaches Learns Twice

Notes from Jacquie: This is a part of the on-going series What Works in Education. In this post I will highlight the groundbreaking work of Dr. David Johnson and Dr. Roger Johnson in the area of cooperative learning.

I was honored to receive my training in cooperative learning from the Drs Johnson and later became a trainer of their application of social interaction theory to the classroom.

All of the curriculum I have written is influenced by the Johnson's research and common-sense approach to teaching.

The successful history of cooperative Learning is well documented and is currently "Alive and well." in both the U. S. and around the world. For an update please visit
The Cooperative  Learning Institute

The perception, often times, is that cooperative learning is simply putting students into groups. The reality is that it is much for complex. In  the article What is Cooperative Learning? the Johnson's state:

 How teachers structure student-student interaction patterns has a lot to say about how well students learn, how they feel about school and the teacher, how they feel about each other, and how much self-esteem they have.

Rather than write many pages on how to set up a cooperative classroom, I have included several YouTube videos in which the Johnson's speak for themselves in a way I never could. I also refer you to An Overview of Cooperative Learning by David and Roger Johnson.

In my first book,   Simple Cooperation in the Classroom (Published in 1985 and is now out of print), my co-author and I included the following in the preface:

During the last decade educators have been concerned because we see many of our students graduating from school without the necessary skills to succeed in the world. In many instances students have few, if any marketable skills. In addition, after obtaining employment, many lose their jobs because they are unable to communicate clearly and "get along" with other people.

There are many successful practices, some of which have been highlighted on this blog, yet we hear the above mentioned frustration being voiced by educators today. The solutions being suggested are draft new laws & new rules, add new credential requirements, figure out new ways to evaluate teachers, develop new standards and on and on. 

I often say the obvious escapes me. Looking at our test scores, perhaps those in charge of education should adopt the phrase as their mantra.

He Who Teaches Learns Twice is a phrase often repeated in workshops and interviews conducted by Dr Roger Johnson. It is included in the this
video interview.

Dr. David Johnson adds to the discussion

Selected books written by Drs. David and Roger Johnson are available in the Cooperative Learning Section of  http:/         Jacquie's Book Store and