Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Project Zero summer institute 2008 already open for registration

Project Zero Classroom 2008
July 28-August 2, 2008

Registration NOW open

Our rapidly changing world presents profound challenges for today's educators. How best to prepare young people for a future that is hard to imagine? How to create learning experiences that are engaging and exciting for children? How to teach for the kind of deep understanding and thought that allows people to solve complex problems and do work that is both excellent and innovative? How to encourage our students to fall in love with learning?

The Project Zero Classroom 2008 is designed to help practicing pre-K through Grade 12 educators design classrooms, instructional materials, and out-of-school learning environments that address these challenges.

For more detailed information about the program or to register online, please visit or website.

Please contact us with any questions at 800-545-1849 or ppe@gse.havard.edu.

The Project Zero Classroom 2008 is presented at the Harvard Graduate School of Education by Project Zero and Programs in Professional Education.

Cultivating Peace, Taking Action

Another curriculum for high school (although I think it could be adapted for middle school or college level classes) this set of activities focuses on questions of social justice and possibilities for activism.

This Canadian resource describes the purpose as "a teaching resource to support education in global issues, sustainable development, social justice, and active citizenship."

United States Institute of Peace Essay Contest & teacher resources

High School students may enter the USIP essay contest -- essays are due Feb 1st 2008. The topic is "Natural Resources and Conflict."

USIP also offers teachers some great resources, mainly for high school and college level classes. Of special interest are there prepared simulations, allowing students to engage in active learning about complicated topics.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Harvard Educational Review on Peace

The Harvard Educational Review offered a symposium on peace education in its Fall 2007 issue. The articles were written in response to the Virgina Tech shootings but cover a wide range of topics.

I will share the list of articles here, and blog about them 1 by 1 as I find the time.

~ Calling Institutions of Higher Education to Join the Quest for Social Justice and Peace by Elavie Ndura

~ Peace Education in a Violent Culture by Ian Harris

~ The Psychology of Violence and Peace by Rosemarie Stallworth-Clark

~ Love, Peace, and Wisdom in Education : Transforming Education for Peace

~ Rethinking the Unimaginable : The Need for Teacher Education in Peace Education by Tony Jenkins

~ Educating for Peace with Critical Exploration by William Schorr

~ Creating and Sustaining Peaceable School Communities by Linda Bion-Meisels, Steven Bion-Meisels, and Catherine Hoffman

~ Arts and Peace Education : The Richmond Youth Peace Project by Adria Scharf and Ram Bhagat

Mothers Acting Up Against the War - 10/27

Mothers Acting Up, in Maine, is hosting a halloween party in conjunction with the October 27 National Mobilization to End the War in Iraq. .

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Registration Open for the CCFC Conference!

CCFC's 6th Summit
Consuming Kids:
The Sexualization of Children and Other Commercial Calamities

April 3-5, 2008
Wheelock College
Boston , MA

Registration is now available for CCFC's 6th summit: Consuming Kids: The Sexualization of Children and Other Commercial Calamities on April 3-5, 2008 in Boston!

Featuring an all-star lineup of presenters, CCFC's 2008 Consuming Kids summit promises to be our best ever.

On Thursday, April 3rd, the summit will kick off with the presentation of the 3rd Fred Rogers Integrity Award to Morgan Spurlock, director and star of the acclaimed film, SuperSize Me. Friday and Saturday will feature presentations and workshops on the impact of commercialization on children - and what we can do to stop it.

We expect this year's summit will sell out early so register now and take advantage of early bird rates.

Confirmed speakers include: Michael Brody, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - Nancy Carlsson-Paige, author, Taking Back Childhood - Gail Dines, co-author, Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality - Julie Gale, Kids Free 2 B Kids - Allen Kanner, co-editor, Psychology and Consumer Culture - Tim Kasser, author, The High Price of Materialism - Joe Kelly, author, Dads and Daughters - Jean Kilbourne, author, Can't Buy My Love - Diane Levin, author, Remote Control Childhood - Susan Linn, author, Consuming Kids - Alex Molnar, author, School Commercialism: From Democratic Ideal to Market Commodity - Alvin F. Poussaint, MD, co-author Come On, People - Michele Simon, the Marin Institute; author, Appetite for Profit - Juliet Schor, author, Born to Buy - Susan Gregory Thomas, author Buy, Buy, Baby - Ana Lucia Villela, Instituto Alana - and many, many more!

Register now

Scholarships available

Can't make the summit? Help someone else attend by supporting CCFC's summit scholarship fund.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

There Ought to Be A Law

"There Ought to Be A Law" will be shown at the MAIN Conference on Friday, Nov. 2nd.
To register for the conference or for more information see the contacts below.

Here's the story:

Cathy Crowley worked two, full-time jobs and devoted all of her free time to her family before her teenage son Larry's death. She had never been involved in politics, or even voted. Overcome with grief by his suicide in 2004, she went to Wal-Mart to talk to the salesperson who sold him the gun. "We were just obeying the law," the manager told her. "If you don't like it, tell your congressman."

So, Cathy did just that. She sat at her kitchen table for 10 hours one July day and wrote to every single elected official in the Maine legislative directory. A state legislator agreed to sponsor a bill on her behalf that would require a 10-day waiting period before young people could buy guns.

The legislation came at a time of growing concern about youth suicide in Maine, which has the highest rate in New England. Maine also has among the highest gun ownership per capita in the country, and most youth suicides are committed with guns.

Cathy devoted every free moment to passage of the bill and enlisted her family's help. At first, it seemed likely to sail through the Legislature. But the National Rifle Association mounted a behind-the-scenes campaign to defeat it.

"There Ought to Be A Law" shows Cathy's transformation from a shy, "average Mom" to a savvy activist who buttonholes lawmakers and negotiates with committee chairmen as she takes on one of the most powerful and feared lobbying groups in the country.

Two years in the making, "There Ought to Be A Law" gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at how the Maine Legislature operates, and how average people can get involved in the process. The film will be distributed to schools and organizations encouraging civic activism.

The film was co-produced by Anita Clearfield and Geoffrey Leighton of Durham and Shoshana Hoose of Portland. The Center for Independent Documentary in Sharon, Mass. sponsored the project. Funders include the Point Harbor Fund of the Maine Community Foundation and the Eleanor Humes Haney Fund.

EMAIL: crusnov@mejp.org
CALL: Chris at 626-7058 ext 204 or toll-free 1-866-626-7059 ext 204


Intergenerational Feminist Conference

The National Conference for Women and Girls
Freedom on Our Terms: From Houston 1977 - NY 2007
Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the First National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas 1977
November 10th and 11th, 2007
Hunter College, 68th Street and Lexington Avenue, New York City

The Bella Abzug Leadership Institute is taking the lead, together with Girls Speak Out, in organizing the first major national intergenerational conference for women and girls to be held November 10th and 11th at Hunter College in New York City.

The conference will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first National Women’s Conference held in Houston in 1977 and catapult the women's rights agenda forward into the 21st Century. Participants will examine the 26 planks that resulted in the original National Platform for Action established in Houston, which dealt with all aspects of women’s lives, boldly strategize to update the platform to the present, and identify and target goals for the future. At this national conference for girls and women of all ages, we hope to inspire and energize all women, and younger women in particular, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, religious, economic, social and cultural differences, to launch an all-out effort to achieve full equal rights for women and girls starting right at the conference! It is the conference's aim to have participants devise and spearhead action agendas implementing these efforts over the next five years.

For more information on the conference or to register, please look for the "Freedom on Our Terms Registration Form", e-mail BALI at info@abzuginstitute.org, call BALI at 212-650-3071 or visit Girls Speak Out.

Please note: We are trying to plan an pre-conference, opening night concert on Friday November 9th with several well known singers, girl/women bands and performers. Details of this concert event will be made available later on this site.

Roots and Shoots Halloween Tips

We (FSP) are members of Roots and Shoots, although we have not formally created a group, it is something for us to keep considering. Either way, some of the info, like this, is pretty inspiring:


The Somerville Roots and Shoots group invites everyone to join in the
second year of our Halloween project, "Every Ape Counts". We will be
dressing up as endangered primates and trick-or-treating for donations
to help them! It worked really well last year and now we hope to step it
up to a much larger scale. Pick a primate that is in danger from habitat
destruction, the bush meat trade, etc. -and this includes almost all of
them - and get going!

You will need:

A handout on the primate and the danger it is in, along with a little
speech you can give.

Printouts on the organization and project that the funds will be given to.

A Costume! Share tips on costume design, on bringing out your inner ape,
and nominate worthy projects benefiting particular primates by posting
on the Every Ape Counts topic on the Campaigns forum on the R&S bulletin
. You may need a quick, free registration to get on the bulletin board.

Also feel free to contact our group directly, with email to

See you out there!

Dan Hull
Celebrate Green Halloween!

Suggestions for a greener Halloween:

Instead of buying a costume, design your own, creating a costume from fabric, ribbon and other odds and ends that you find around your house.

Purchase your pumpkins (organic, if possible) from local farms or farmer's markets.

Instead of carving pumpkins, paint or decorate them. After Halloween, use the innards to make pumpkin soup. Leave the seeds in your birdfeeder as a special treat for blue jays and nuthatches.

Instead of buying luminaria, recycle some old tins cans. Create patterns of holes in the cans by using hammer and nails. Buy some petroleum free candles at your local green grocer and voila, spooky lighting!

Giving away organic candy is a great idea. But, if you choose to give away conventional Halloween treats, learn about the palm oil crisis. Find out which big name brand candies contain sustainably produced palm oil so that you can make informed choices.

Check out these websites for more creative suggestions:

Green Living

Green Halloween

Stop Global Warming

And, if you go out trick-or-treating, don't forget to bring your reusable canvas bag

Be safe and have fun,
Christine Ellersick

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boys and Media Images

The Children's Museum of Maine is offering a free lecture:

Media, Masculinity and the Boy Crisis

Thursday, November 1 from 7:00-8:30pm
Using a variety of examples from contemporary music, film, and television, Mark Tappan leads this workshop exploring the messages boys receive from the media about what it means to be a "real boy." The workshop provides insights into the relationship between "mediated messages" and boys' experiences in society and discusses strategies for encouraging boys to become critical consumers of contemporary media. A Colby College professor, Tappan received graduate degrees from the Ohio State University and Harvard University. The lecture is free but space is limited. To make a reservation, email: sheryl@kitetails.com or call:
828-1234, x 228.

Gender Equity in Maine Sports

This from Dads and Daughters:


New Hampshire is the friendliest state for female high school athletes, while Alabama is the least, according to new data from the Women’s Sports Foundation. The report shows less than a 3 percent gap between girls’ enrollment and athletic participation at high schools in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Maine, Vermont and Minnesota. At the other end of the spectrum, the gap was over 15 percent in Alabama, Louisiana, the District of Columbia and Tennessee. Earlier WSF participation showed that, at an average higher education institution, the female share of undergraduates is 55.8% while the female share of athletes is 41.7%.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

MCLU education events

The Maine Civil Liberties Union has two case studies promoting conversations about civil liberties for teachers to use (they don't specify grade level). They also will send teachers to speak in classrooms, and provide additional materials.

MCLU is also offering a number of public events including :

FORUM: Adoption for Same-Sex Couples in Maine
Thursday, October 25
6:30-8:30 pm
Law Offices of Bernstein Shur, Portland
For more info or to RSVP: 774-5444

Movie Night
@ the North Star Cafe in Portland

And Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Special screening sponsored by the MCLU:
11/17, 7 pm
11/18, 3 pm
SPACE Gallery, Portland

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Emotional Literacy and Happy Kids

The Greater Good Science Center, out of Berkeley, offers tools for raising happier kids. (A video presentation of their ideas is in the right-hand sidebar). It is a new site, so there isn't a ton of information, but it has promise.

Greater Good is also a magazine, and this edition features essays about the 21st century family. Although there is nothing directly written about peacemaking, there are progressive and provocative articles.

Friday, October 19, 2007


My almost-8 year old is a bit late to the world-of-webkinz and she's not even so sure about it, since she doesn't really know what it is, but it makes sense that she is curious and wants one since they are so coveted on the playground. As a parent prone to ranting and raving, I have probably added a bit of "forbidden fruit factor" to the mix. She knows I think they are dumb, and might be able to recite a few of my reasons but mostly she knows that mom won't buy them and that probably means they are fun. She's got resources in friends and extended family, so it is likely that she'll be a proud webkinz owner soon.

It is hard to know where to draw the line -- clearly webkinz are not dangerous and not worth a big fight. On the other hand, they are part of a larger force that entices kids online and into consumer culture without a lot of critical awareness. This article, from Commerical Free Childhood, explains my objections well. Yet I find the "what to do" ideas a little simplistic. It feels hard to engage my child in a conversation about the ethics of consumerism when she's still on the edge of early childhood and magical thinking. This is, of course, what makes them such a great product for marketers and so difficult for families -- when kids can sort-of believe that the pet lives or dies by the owner's web activity, the moral imperative to get online increases. When pretend play takes on all the reality of virtual technology the quality of that play changes. How can a young child navigate the border between pretend and real when that border is so blurred by new technology?

I'd love to hear the real-life strategies that other parents use.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Newsletter from the Campaign for a Commerical Free Childhood

There are some gems in this month's newsletter from CCFC. You can take action, read the newest report on schools and commericalism or get tips for parenting in a consumer culture.

Halloween Tips

Halloween is a tricky holiday for peace loving parents. On the one hand, it is a joyous occasion that fosters creativity and dramatic expression and role playing -- and brings home some much needed chocolate during these shortening days. On the other hand, the increasing number of violent superhero costumes and the pitiful range of roles being marketed to children is of concern.

Hardy Girls, Healthy Women offers a number of tips for helping girls break out of the "must-be-a-pink-princess" trap.

offers a way to help kids engage in service projects while trick-or-treating.

And, getting a bit punchy, if you're longing for peace and quiet, check out this costume idea!

Sleep for Peace???

New York Magazine published an interesting article arguing that sleep-deprivation causes a myriad of problems for young people -- and adults, I assume. The most interesting bit, for me, was the idea that we process "bad" feelings and memories first, and sometimes wake up before we get to the good ones. This explains the over-tired blues and could probably account for a ton of Postpartum depression. But, it is hard to figure out how to get more sleep in these crazy times... less tv, fewer activities, less homework, later school start times -- these are some of the ideas.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stirring Up Justice : Writing to Change the World

This book, by Jessica Singer, deserves special mention. It is a fairly small book, that describes in lovely detail a high school English teacher's experience teaching kids about activism. Singer helps students choose books that teach them both about justice/injustice and about activism while also always encouraging them to write about their own experiences with the same. She includes her wonderful hand-outs and exact assignments as a resource, as well as clips of student work. Student also illustrated their stories and shared them with younger children. She also includes an inspiring chapter on protest songs, sharing a bibliography of traditional songs but also including the songs that her students identified as meaningful. Finally, students created service projects as a culminating activity - all the while reading and writing to support their learning.

Singer, Jessica. 2006. Stirring Up Justice : Writing to Change The World. Portsmouth: Heinmann.

Sourcebooks for Diversity and Peace Activities

I recently had the pleasure of planning a mini-social justice workshop for middle school students. I used a lot of the online resources from Teaching Tolerance, but also drew from some books. I did not love any of them, which was a bit disappointing but found gems in each.

Cooperative Learning, Cooperative Lives : A Sourcebook fo Learning Activities for Building a Peaceful World, by Nancy Schniedewind and Ellen Davidson was written in 1987 and it does feel somewhat dated. I also found it hard to know what the right age-group was for the various activities. However, there are tons of ideas in this 538 page book and it is useful as a conceptual prompt. It also draws on multiple intelligences, with a variety of art, music and group projects. The underlying themes clearly focus on progressive politics and social justice issues.

Open Minds to Equality
, by the same authors, offers much of the same material in an updated fashion and with a more direct and clear emphasis on issues of equality. The latest edition of this book was published in 2006. The chapters begin with activities to help students build basic group process skills, and then introduce complex ideas about prejudice, discrimination, multiculturalism and social change. Again, I found some of the activities geared toward younger children and some toward older children -- an index would have helped with this. Some of the activities also felt quite contrived - I wondered if middle schoolers would have given themselves over to the role playing without having this format as part of their schooling from the outset. That is, I think this kind of curriculum would make a much bigger difference as an ongoing project rather than a special unit. The resource section in the back is lovely.

Starbright : Meditations for Children by Maureen Garth was a different kind of book. Because so many authors argue that children need to develop the capacity for peace before being asked to take on the challenges of conflict resolution, many strategies for teaching peacemaking begin with yoga. Garth offers guided meditation for children as a means of helping them relax and develop their inner resources. She suggests using them at rest or bedtime as a way of helping kids build imagination and relaxation skills. I couldn't quite get my own children to stick with it but my older daughter does LOVE the sleepy CDs by Jim Weiss that do a similar thing.

Of all the research I did, my favorite book by far was What If All the Kids Are White? Anti-Bias Multicultural Education with Young Children and Families by anti-bias education guru Louise Derman-Sparks and Patricia Ramsey. Although it was more theoretical and academic, the authors put the ideas in a complex context while also offering really age-appropriate and practical suggestions for helping white children a way to think about race, identity, difference and justice while also holding children of color close and maintaining inclusive and loving childcare.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ADL resources

The Anti-Defemation League provides another wonderful online biblography for children's books that deal with themes of diversity and social justice. They also provide the World of Difference Institute which provides on site or online anti-bias training for educators at every level. And, they have e-mail newsletters addressing a variety of topics... so much great information.

Monday, October 1, 2007

"That's Not Fair"

Kids have an innate sense of injustice, especially if they sense that they are less than a sibling. Authors and teachers Ann Pelo and Fran Davidson argue that this moral compass can be a fabulous basis for social activism among preschoolers. In their book That's Not Fair they make a case for including activism as part of the pre-school curriculum.

The book uses case studies and reflective writing to describe how and why to engage in activism with young children. It is not a curriculum but does walk teachers through both the process and some of the challenges of engaging very young children with social change work.

The authors contend that kids need 5 traits as activists :

-- accepting differences
-- Collaborating with others
-- paying attention to other people's feelings, ideas, and needs
-- speaking out about fairness and unfairness
-- taking responsibility for problem solving

One of the strongest chapters addresses strategies for building these traits among parents and in helping adults see the utility of taking children's ability to name injustices seriously.

I did not find the book to be a great resource for digging in, but enjoyed the contemplative tone.

The book is 1/2 price from the publisher (see above link) right now.

Lyrics and MP3s from the book are at SisterChoice