Thursday, June 28, 2007

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees

I just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, which has quickly become on of our top selling new books, and I can see why.

I have to admit that, although I thought this was going to be the saccharine story of a girl's coming of age, I really enjoyed reading it. Although it will draw the inevitable comparisons with To Kill a Mockingbird, a story about a young girl's coming of age in a racially charged South, Kidd's story maintains its own identity in building a strong feminist voice without creating an anti-male feeling.

This book should succeed in many classrooms -- especially if you're looking for a book to engage young female readers.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Who's on First? Shakespeare Style

Well, I've fulfilled my requirement of a few posts between each interesting and amusing Shakespearean post, so today I've got a video to share courtesy of The Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey (with thanks to News on the Rialto) of what would happen were Laurel and Hardy born in the Elizabethan Age.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Vocabulary from Latin and Greek Flashcards

This is so cool!

A customer of ours who felt that she needed flashcards for her students using Vocabulary from Latin and Greek Roots Book V, has used the site Flashcard Exchange to make freely available flashcards for the book!

If you're using it, jump on these freebies! You can use them online, you can print them, and with a premium membership you can export them.

I love it.

(I'm not sure who you are, browneyedgirl108911, but thanks!)


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

AEP Awards: Two Winners from Prestwick House!

Well the awards are over, the Capitol Steps have sung, and Prestwick House emerged from our second year of involvement with AEP with two DAA awards for the best products in two categories.

In the category of Fiction, English Language Arts our guided anthology of classic and original poetry Discovering Genre: Poetry was awarded the DAA.

In the category of Professional Development Instructional Books, the new ShakesFear and How to Overcome It beat some very high quality materials to take home the award.

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard on these projects: Paul, Larry, Ralph Cohen, Jeremy, Lisa, Emily and Mary! (sorry if I forgot anyone!)

More details on the judges' comments coming soon.


And congratulations to all of the other winners -- coming to an event like this one really makes you excited about all of the great new materials coming to classrooms soon.

Finally, thanks to Doug and everyone from AEP, you put on a great event here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Live Blogging from the AEP Seminar!

I'm currently in our nation's capital as we approach the end of this year's Association of Educational Publishers Annual Meeting and Convention, and it's been a good weekend for sparking creativity and bringing about a handful of new ideas.

A few moments ago, I just got out of a Town Hall Meeting with 4 nationally recognized educators from the DC area including Philip Bigler the 1998 National Teacher of the Year, Kim Burke-Ables the 2006 DC Teacher of the Year, Jason Kamras 2005 National Teacher of the Year, and 2007 teacher of the year Githa Natarajan. These town hall meetings are fantastic and we got to hear from some innovative teachers on the big issues and the small ones. One simple question I'd like to pose to all of you is, "What do you want from a supplemental publisher like Prestwick House?"

The teachers on the panel were interested in easy-to-use products (always a focus at Prestwick House), focuses on standards that were clearly labeled (good news on this front -- we're currently working on a project to align our products to every state's standards), with a differentiation component built in (we'll work on this!)

Other big issues from the week was the whole web 2.0 buzz word thing that I'm doing right now ;) and figuring out the best and most valuable way to get you products. Right now, you're probably aware of Prestwick House Downloadables --all of our Teaching Guides are available instantly in a DRM-free, .pdf, E-book format as well as the traditional paper "dead tree" version. We're working on projects to get many of our books available in more formats and hopefully soon you'll be able to get them in any version you'd like.

Tonight is the awards banquet for the AEP's distinguished achievement awards -- last year we won in two products, our Language of Advertising Posters and our Tale of Two Cities Spotlight edition.

This year we've got four new products nominated, and hopefully, I'll be able to log on tonight/tomorrow morning to tell you we won!

Sorry for any typos and lack of formating -- my new laptop doesn't have firefox so this WYSIWYG engine is behaving a little oddly.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ayn Rand Essay Contest

When I (Jasmine) was in high school, there was a small poster from the Ayn Rand Institute by the door proclaiming two essay contests; one was on Anthem and the other one on The Fountainhead. The essays had to be on the philosophical themes in the works respective to the grades (Anthem was for Grades 9-10, The Fountainhead for Grades 11-12).

I had heard of the third book (the third essay contest for college-level students) Atlas Shrugged and had a faint idea of what Ayn Rand wrote about, but to my knowledge no one in my high school classes did.

However, since the essay contests can act as a scholarship opportunity (the Grand Prize for the Anthemcontest is $2,000, with the Grand Prize for The Fountainhead contest being $10,000) an easy way for teachers to introduce the material and encourage students to enter is to contact the Ayn Rand Institute directly. They offer lesson plans for teachers, as well as free sets of books, a teacher's kit, and various other materials and resources. Another resource may even be local college/university students or professors; the books can be dense and intimidating, but if you want to introduce the material, put out the news and perhaps someone will come and volunteer to give a brief introduction to Objectivism, the philosophy underlying Ayn Rand's literary works and critiques.

Essay Contest Details
The Ayn Rand Institute's Teaching Resources
Prestwick House Ayn Rand Materials
Fountainhead Materials
Anthem Materials

Note from Keith: Jasmine is our newest Prestwick House employee working on a special project for us correlating all of our products to each state's standards, so that we can more easily let you know what meets your needs. We've got lots of great plans on how to use this information to help you find exactly what you're looking for. In the meantime, if you need some info on how our books meet your specific states' standards, let us know and we'll let you know what we've found so far!

2007 Prestwick House National Curriculum Advisory Board Members

I've been out of town at the 2007 Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, so I'm sorry if you've been desperately awaiting new news from Prestwick House.

I'd like to make the official announcement that Prestwick House has selected 13 dedicated teachers to join our National Curriculum Advisory Board -- keeping us up to date on the latest and greatest news in English Education and reviewing our newest products before they're available to everyone else.

So, with no further ado, our 2007 selections are:

Peter Glaser from RL Paschal High School
Don Braden from Barstow High School
Lynne Eloise Bramlett from Evergreen Valley High School
Kris Rasmussen from Northwest Academy School
Lu Ann Malkin from CA Asian Tutorial Service
Heather M. Dennull from Colonial White High School/ Academic Magnet Academy
Maureen Maroney from Christian Brothers Academy
Amy E. Conrad from Fair Lawn High School
Kristi L Price from harrison High School
Tanya Persaud-White from the Dekalb School of the Arts
Kathleen Carr from New Castle High School
Sharon M. Ammon from Memorial High School

Thanks to everyone involved in the PHNCAB! We appreciate your taking time to help us make products that help teachers across the country.

Incidentally, if you're ever looking for a great trip right after the school year ends, I highly recommend visiting Charleston (one of my favorite cities) during the Spoleto Arts Festival. I won't hijack this post too much raving over how exciting it is, but in one week I was able to see the fantastic Jazz Chanteuse Rene Marie, some intriguing dance from the RubberBand Dance Company, a play by Somerset Maugham, an Opera based on Faust, a funny play called Major Bang: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dirty Bomb, and the Westminster Choir. You can't go wrong with a trip filled like that!