Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tribute to Micah Fowler- Star of Speechless

Notes from Jacquie: There is no doubt that  Micah Fowler  is a hero. He is the type of hero that moves through his life following his dreams despite prejudice and doors that may require several knocks to enter.

Micah Fowler acts as an advocate for the United Cerebral Palsy Organization which provides inspiration to young people finding their way in the world. The United Cerebral Palsy Organization (UCP) offers parents, teachers, and community members a wealth of information and resources.

While verbal in his life outside acting, on the TV show Speechless, Micah plays a nonverbal young man who uses a communication board.

Communication boards are used when a person can not communicate verbally. For example, stroke victims, and people recovering from various types of throat surgeries, Amy's Speech and Language Therapy site offers a variety of boards to view and download.

Carrie Clark provides clear instructions on how to build a communication board with a cookie sheet. Helpful to both parents and teachers.

Thank you to Micah Fowler, the program Speechless, all our resources for increasing our understanding!











Saturday, March 25, 2017

They're Recycling Aliens


In the prequel, Ants in Space, Eva and Lara were surprised when they discovered Kweezy, the miniaturized leader of the ant-people in their garden. He traveled through space in search of teflon, an essential element for his planet’s survival.

After being reduced to ant-people size, Eva and Lara were taken on an exciting journey through space to visit Kweezy’s home planet. In addition to enjoying their visit, they were taught the importance of teflon to the continued existence of this advanced civilization.

After their return, the girls prepared a list of rubbish centres and dumps which contained recycle-ready teflon to assist Kweezy in replenishing the stockpile. The day of Kweezy’s visit finally arrives, along with the beginning of a delightful adventure. In this visit to Antanesta cousins Elliot and Joe, the reluctant believer, join the girls in their travel to the small  home of a friendly, advanced civilization. 

It is worth mentioning that, in addition to this being  a very fine tale, the topic of kindness is woven into the story. The fine art of teaching without preaching is in good form.

 I am always amazed at the versatility of the author G. J. Griffiths. His writings range from history novels to children’s books. In each genre, the writing is well-crafted. Mr. Griffiths has scored another winner by combining his writing skills with the outstanding illustrations of Gillian Tolentino and Elaiana Bastidas.

Note to US readers: Mr. Griffiths is based in the UK. The spelling of certain words reflect this fact.


Where to Buy They're Recycling Aliens


The Story Behind The Story By GJ Griffiths

When I completed the first book in the series of Kweezy Capolza tales, entitled Ants In Space, it was with a sequel in mind that would follow up the end of the story when the girls had returned to Earth. They had promised to make a list for Kweezy of suitable sites where discarded non-stick pots and pans etc could be obtained. I thought it would be important at this point to extend the appeal of the books to boys as well as girls, and so Eva and Lara would need to be with their cousins Joe and Elliot on the day that the Antanestians returned to Earth to collect the Teflon-coated "rubbish". This gave me the opportunity to introduce two quite different personalities and also to extend the traits of the girls' characters in the book 2. I wanted to retain the humorous moments as much as possible and at the same time bring in a little more science & technology at a level competent young readers and first chapterreaders could accept. It was also important to me for the adults, (teachers, parents, grandparents) who maybe were sat reading with/to the children, to also find some amusement in the book.

Finally, in all my books to date, whether they were for adults, YA or children, I have tried to include something about looking after the environment, wildlife, or disadvantaged fellow humans - concepts important to me. So we have Lara attempting to explain the idea of Kindness to the war-mongering Kraxish, aided by her cool cousin, Joe.

While it risks coming across to readers as "a bit preachy" (a past reviewer's words) and turning other potential readers away from my books I am quite prepared to take that risk. After all it does no harm to remind people from time to time of the importance of being kind to other living things on this, our only, world. If it was good enough for the Dalai Lama and Jesus Christ then it's good enough for this atheist-scientist scribbler of stories!



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Demise of a Devious Neighbor by Elaine Orr


A new Cozy Mystery by Elaine Orr. 


Fireworks, plants, neighbors, family, and newspapers mix together to create can't-put-down story.

Demise of a Devious Neighbor

Great writing ideas: Elaine Orr's Blog

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Fingerprint of Reading Development

Each student's reading progress is as individual as a fingerprint. Reading development, as with all human development, is at an individual’s own pace. When teaching reading it is important to recognize that students learn in different ways and in synchronization with their own personal growth and development. 

 As Piaget consistently  acknowledges, all learning is  an active process. Reading, then, is an activity, a process of  confrontation between an  individual and a text  For  both Piaget and Chomsky,  language is highly structured.  In Chomsky’s terms, there is  a linguistic relationship  between the surface structure  and the phonological aspects    of language. Excerpt from:  Developing a Philosophy of  Reading: Piaget and Chomsky by Robert P. Craig As found in Reading Horizons
Reading is a complex process involving multiple skills and systems that must be coordinated in order to result in fluent reading behaviors. Reading Brain Lab: Dartmouth College Department of Education

The stages of reading development can be used as general reference guidelines. In no instance should guidelines become reasons to judge a student’s ability to learn nor should they be a reason to hold a student to curriculum that is no longer challenging.

As part of the normal growth process, children pass through stages of reading development. Advancement through these stages may differ from child to child. For example, a family may have one child who begins reading at age four while another does not begin to read until age six. Parents may be surprised to notice that both children are reading quite well at age eight. In other words, a slow beginning simply may indicate the child is not yet ready to read and nothing more.

The quality of reading is not measured by how soon a child begins to read but how well he or she reads when ready. 


Reading development is enhanced when parents, family members, and friends read to children. It also helps if children observe their parents and other important adults reading and discussing the written word. Having books of all types around the house tells children that reading is important.

 It is always a good idea to make sure that each student has a vision and physical examination before beginning instruction. Most doctors have a list of resources on hand to assist parents and caregivers in connecting with community specialists and school agencies if glasses or other support is required. 

Pre-reading: Birth to Kindergarten Children learn to understand the spoken word, enjoy having books read to them, recognize letters, and perhaps write their name. They may also pretend to read books aloud and talk about the pictures. 

Kindergarten and Grade One Children learn the names of the letters and the concept of sound/symbol and symbol/sound relationships. They learn linguistic patterning, the blending of sounds, and recognize certain sight words. 

Grades Two and Three Children enhance and expand decoding skills, learn advanced skills for obtaining meaning from texts, and increase reading fluency. 

Grades Four through Eight Children learn information that goes beyond their life experiences, they increase their basic vocabulary, and they apply that vocabulary to new reading and writing experiences. 

Grades Nine through Twelve Students develop complex language structures, interpret multiple points of view, learn advanced vocabulary, and construct their own meanings through analysis and synthesis. 

Excerpts from: How to Use Rhoades to Reading 2nd Edition (2011) Available at Jacquie's Store

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 
Nook 
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.