Mastering the Medium

Our newest Counterpane blog post is here!

RTT Director of Programs, Bruce Coffey, suggests how and why we can learn to stay present in our digital age.

“I believe there’s a wave cresting and I think you want to be on it,” he says, offering a solution for how all of us – adults, teenagers, and students – can untether ourselves from screens, social media, and the constant pull of being connected.

In the post, he references recent essays and appeals that question the dominance of the iPhone. Additionally, he references recent long-form literature – (that means books!) – that explore the effects of information technology and the Internet.

Coffey draws on his experience as a Middle School teacher, explaining that the way we talk to students about how to engage with technology also suggests how we should examine – and perhaps change – our own behavior as well.

Yet, we live in a world that is has become more dependent on digital media. We cannot ignore it. Rather, Coffey argues, we must learn to control it – master it – so that it serves its its users, and does not control us.

Coffey tells his students, “Armed with this information, they must understand that the computer (and the iPhone) are both a tool and a temptation.  If we understand the temptation, then perhaps we can learn to use the computer as a tool.”

It seems like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. The key is working together. Coffey writes, “I think if we join hands – if we’re willing to broach the concept – in our work environments, on our dates, in certain social outings, and especially with our families – we can regain what was lost ‘before the Internet’.”  We must help each other to learn how to be Masters of the Medium.


Spring 2017 Newsletter

The Spring 2017 One School, One Book newsletter is here!

Learn from educators who share their experiences with OSOB in Tips from the Field. Find out how to best get students excited, be inclusive, and spread the word about reading together.

Bill Harley, Grammy-award winning musician and author of the Charlie Bumpers series, shares thoughts on teaching, his books, and OSOB.

Meet Cathy Mitchell, Program Director at Read to Them. She is the go-to gal for One District, One Book and our statewide reading programs, Texas Reads One Book and Arkansas Reads One Book.

Read about Richland Elementary School’s success in getting families to read together. See how they staged an introductory assembly, held trivia games, made crafts, and more to make the story come alive.

Discover how Forest Heights Elementary School in Harrison, Arkansas got their students, parents, and educators excited about Nim’s Island.


An Update On AROB

This spring, schools in Little Rock and all across Arkansas have been participating in the novel Family Financial Literacy program, Arkansas Reads One Book.

What is Family Financial Literacy?  That’s when a whole school community, district, or state (!) reads a fine, quality children’s novel together, exploring its themes and sparking a rich community-wide conversation.  (That’s Family Literacy.)  But when the novel in question – The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies – involves economics (in this case dueling lemonade stands), it allows schools and families to also explore some math and basic economic principles.  (That’s Financial Literacy.)  Put ’em together and you’ve got…Family Financial Literacy.

Reading the The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies, Arkansas’ mission to read one book has been widely successful with schools, parents, and students. Schools across the state have worked to explore and develop fun, story-related activities that both get the kids excited to read and teach them something about math and family economics.

Mabelvale Elementary in Little Rock, Arkansas sold handmade items like personally designed mugs and gave the proceeds to The Animal Village, a local animal shelter. One 4th grade student, Madison B., said of her experience:

“I really enjoyed the Lemonade War. My group and I were successful with our Snack Shop. The most important thing I learned was if you are creating a business, make sure you have a good product and keep track of your money.”

Treva M., a 2nd grade teacher, also expressed her excitement:

“As a class, we created a tri-fold poster. We made both pink and yellow lemonade. We sold it for .50 cents a cup. We also sold Oatmeal Crème Pies, Twinkies, and chocolate dipped Oreos. We also raffled off a large can of Country Time Lemonade. Overall the students had a wonderful experience reading and discussing the book.”

Similarly, The Pointe, a day treatment facility in Little Rock where students receive both an education and therapeutic services, was thrilled to participate in AROB. What’s really amazing about the Pointe, though, is that although they were not at their home schools, students, faculty and families took concepts from The Lemonade War and ran with them. They staged their own lemonade war where teachers made lemonade with students as judges. Then, they sold the drinks to out-patient offices. Students made and decorated their own lemonade stand. By the end, they were able to donate $500 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Coordinator of Alternative Agencies, Janice Lehmann, expressed, “This project and The Pointe’s willingness to participate was a Win-Win situation for all. It certainly reached beyond the typical school building.”

Little Rock School District Superintendent, Mike Poore, wrote of the Pointe:

“I can’t make this up.  This adds to the pride we all feel about the support we have provided to The Lemonade War. These students are in some of the most challenged of situations yet look what came of their inclusion. Thank you for Janice for believing in this project and taking it to students at the Pointe!”

AROB on the Radio

Gary Anderson and Mike Poore Discuss Financial Literacy on Education Talk Radio

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, Little Rock School District’s superintendent, Mike Poore, and Associate Director of Economics Arkansas, Marsha Masters, discussed the importance of a introducing the principles of financial literacy into children’s education.  They were joined by Read to Them founder, Gary Anderson.  The speakers explain that introducing literacy – both family literacy and financial literacy – at a young age helps to create the successful job-holders of the future.  Arkansas schools have followed Little Rock’s lead and undertaken the Arkansas Reads One Book program, in which every school reads the same novel, The Lemonade War, exploring school and home activities that celebrate both the emotional and the mathematical moments in the story.

The Lemonade War achieves Arkansas’ goal because the story’s protagonists experiment with financial literacy through the creation of their duelling lemonade stands.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

“That is the heart of the program- a good story that grabs your attention and holds your attention night after night, which is read aloud in the home.”
Gary Anderson, RTT Founder

“We recommend doing a fall read and spring read, and by doing that you create a pattern in disadvantaged homes. Some of those homes literally pick up on that pattern and do another book on their own. And then they’re off to the races.”
Gary Anderson, RTT Founder

“It’s not just financial literacy concepts that are happening in the book, but financial literacy concepts being incorporated into the everyday standards for literacy, mathematics, and science. So they can pick and choose.”
Mike Poore, Little Rock School District Superintendent

“There’s business readers who need this and there’s kids who need this.”
– Mike Poore, Little Rock School District Superintendent

“We gravitated toward that book because business leaders were worried about financial literacy and trying to come up with ways our high school students going out into post-secondary, so I said, if they’re really serious, we’ll tackle it at the elementary level.”
– Mike Poore, Little Rock School District Superintendent

“What they’re doing in Little Rock is such a model for schools across the nation.”
– Mike Poore, Little Rock School District Superintendent