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Current Issue Table of Contents | Back Issues

Volume 1 Number 8

Success and failure. Seems pretty clear-cut, doesn't it? This month's cover story/excerpt by author Richard Bromfield explores the reality of Success and Failure.
Effective Teaching by Harry Wong
Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
The Trouble With... by Alfie Kohn
4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
Bobbi Fisher
Afterschool Intervention
Teachers Not Camp Counselors
Silence Ain't Golden
Enhancing the Curriculum
Thailand 2000
Heroes Unaware
Links Worth The Click
Myth of the Quick Fix
Integrative Curriculum in a Standards-Based World
Student Scientists Win Spot on Mars Team
Teaching Children to be Active Voters
Letters to the Editor
Poll: Favorite Quotes
Archives: Bobbi Fisher
New in the Lesson Bank
Upcoming Ed Conferences
Humor from the Classroom
Help Wanted - Teaching Jobs
Live Events Calendar
Gazette Back Issues
Gazette Home Delivery:

Free Classroom Election Kit, Teacher's Guidebook to the Election...
Weekly Reader offers teachers and parents a free Classroom Election Kit and Teacher's Guidebook to the Election with the order of one of its elementary school publications. The election kit includes posters, maps, ballot for Weekly Reader Presidential Election poll and more!

The 32-page Teacher's Guidebook to the Election provides information and activities to involve students, written in two editions, grades 2-3 and 4-6. A free Presidents Poster of all 43 presidents is also included.

For more information, call 800-446-3355 or visit the Weekly Reader Galaxy web site at Go to WR Store, Order WR Elementary Editions.

Weekly Reader also offers four 2000 Election Books to help young people understand the electoral process, examine the key issues, and importance of the voting privilege in our democracy.

We Choose Our President 2000 helps K-1 understand the election process.

How We Elect a President 2000 explains key vocabulary so grades 2-3 can understand the excitement of the presidential election.

Electing the President 2000 has detailed analysis of the electoral process for grades 4-6.

Path to the White House 2000 follows the issues and campaigns of the candidates, perfect for middle school.

Each book is only 2.95, but teachers and other adults need to act quickly to have it in September for the October and November election activities.

For more information, call 800-446-3355 or visit the Weekly Reader Galaxy web site at Go to WR Store, Order WR Elementary Editions.

Weekly Reader also announces that its historic Presidential Election Poll enters the 21st century with K-12 students able to vote via mail, telephone or internet this fall. Respected pollsters Zogby International will tally the votes. Teachers who do not subscribe to a Weekly Reader periodical are urged to participate in the election program as well. Call or e-mail Carol Zimmerman, (203) 705-3415 or for directions.

Students may also participate in the Weekly Reader Goals for the President Contest. It offers young people (grades 1-6) the opportunity to help set the national political agenda. They vote on their top goals for the president and illustrate those goals in whatever medium - artwork, audio- and videotapes, and even multimedia displays - they wish. In addition to cash prizes for winning classrooms, the top goals and accompanying artistic efforts will be delivered to the president at the time of his inauguration. For additional information and entry blanks, contact: Carol Zimmerman, (203) 705-3415 or Please include e-mail or mailing address.

How Do Families Teach Their Children To Be Active Voters?
by Peter Bergen, President, Weekly Reader

Every four years, as we Americans prepare to elect our next president, we are reminded of President Teddy Roosevelt's definition of our government. "The government is us; we are the government, you and I."

The fabric of our country is woven from Americans being active, responsible citizens. Yet, in one example of lessening participation, since the 1972 presidential election, when the voting age was lowered to 18, there has been a 20-percent decrease in voting among 18 to 24-year-olds, with only 32% going to the polls in 1996.

The next president will make more than 6,000 appointments, including most likely three Supreme Court justices. So, the future of many of our individual rights is at risk in the 2000 Election. Elections in the United States give our citizens unprecedented power and responsibility. Furthermore, people in the United States died so that we can vote. Every time we vote, we honor them and our country.

The question is, how do we as parents and caring adults grow our kids into informed, active citizens and voters? Here are some tips:

  1. First, be a role model. Discover how to be an active citizen yourself. Speak out and take action to correct community problems. Vote and participate in the political system. Volunteer for community projects. Join the PTA, attend town meetings, sit on town boards.
  2. Make sure your children are aware of the good citizens around them. Good citizens participate and help in their local communities, care about their neighbors, and participate in the democratic process. Good citizens might, for example, volunteer to help the elderly or less fortunate, speak out or take action to correct community problems, and organize or participate in community cleanup days, raise money for charities, encourage people to vote.
  3. Start early. Research shows that good habits begin early. Use your opportunities to talk to even very young children - teaching them about democracy and pointing out good citizens.
  4. Read newspapers and magazines. Watch the news. Encourage your children to do this also.
  5. Talk about things. Have conversations at the dinner table or in response to television programs or newspaper articles about current events.
  6. Learn....Learn...Learn Yourself Learn about the candidates and the issues. Determine what you think about them. Learn about our government: How it works. How it affects every citizen. How it protects the rights of all people, makes and enforces laws, settles disputes among people, protects the nation from foreign aggression.
  7. Teach what You Learn... Teach key democratic values. That means the values in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, values such as justice, freedom, equality, diversity, authority, privacy, participation, tolerance, patriotism, civic responsibility and respect.

    Teach an understanding of the country's founding documents, political processes, structure of government, and how they function. Support your schools in teaching citizenship as well.

  8. Make the Learning active. Offer active approaches to learning about citizenship. Encourage children to debate and use decision making and problem solving. Have them read, analyze and discuss stories about people involved in the civic life of their communities in the past and present. (For kids to come to a view of themselves as effective citizens, they need to realize that civic action is simply hard work that can produce results.)

    The learning needs to invite participation. It might grow into activities such as community service projects. It could mean writing letters to government officials or newspapers to advocate opinions about issues. The possibilities are as broad as your imagination.

  9. Support your schools in citizenship teaching. Ask teachers how citizenship is taught and offer your help. Make citizenship education a priority at home and in school, regardless of grade level, so that you can nurture the development of our society's citizenship goals.
Try these discussion starters: - Read aloud the following statement by Louis Brandeis, an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939. Invite children to explain what the quotation means. "The most important political office is that of a private citizen."

- Ask children: Why is it important for people to have the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion?

- Ask children: What makes a good citizen?

- What other rights are included in the Bill of Rights? Discuss the meaning of some of those rights.

Try this activity for Citizenship Learning: What If There Were No Rules? Ask children to describe what would happen in your home if, for just five minutes, there were no rules. If you feel your child is responsible enough, you could actually role-play this situation by offering them one minute with no rules.

Once they've discussed or acted out some of the possibilities, explain that people follow not only legal rules, but also unwritten rules of behavior.

Ask children to discuss some of the unwritten rules almost everyone obeys every day.

Finally, help your child see the connection between unwritten rules of conduct and written, legal rules. Discuss how rules might have evolved from unwritten to written form.

About The Weekly Reader...
Weekly Reader is the largest and oldest publisher of classroom periodicals. Our mission has not changed since Charles P. Davis founded the first Weekly Reader Corporation publication, Current Events, in 1902. Note Davis' first editorial of May 20, 1902: "Every issue of our newspaper will have "something important to tell to boys and girls. It will awaken their interest in the great world in which they live, give them a broader view of life, fit them for good citizenship, and help equip them for success."

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