Archive for: November 2013

Ten Terrific Books: Giving Thanks

 By Erin Nguyen, Children’s Department, Knox County Public Library




Untitled-17Thanksgiving Day Thanks

by Laura Malone Elliott

When his teacher asks the class what things about Thanksgiving they are thankful for, Sam begins to worry when he can’t think of anything, but his friends help him find the answer.

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How to Talk to a Child About Cancer

by Audrey Madigan


MadiganNov13Each year approximately 13,500 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer. To put this into perspective, this is more than a classroom of children a day. Given these figures, it is likely that your child will eventually have a classmate who has cancer.

“The relationships children have with classmates are important. Friendships can develop that will last a lifetime. For a child who has cancer, friends are very important. Being sick and frequently absent from school for long periods of time can make them feel different and alone,” said Regina Johnson, a Social Worker at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Read more →

Physical Activity Guidelines for Adolescents

by Courtney Feike, MS, ACE-CPT


HealthNov13In 2004 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) listed obesity as the number one health risk in America. This problem starts early in childhood with poor choices in diet and physical inactivity and carries into adulthood. In an article by Ebbeling, et al., Childhood Obesity, Common-Sense Cure it is stated, “As with adults, obesity in childhood causes hypertension, dyslipidaemia, chronic inflammation, increased blood clotting tendency, endothelial dysfunction and hyperinsulinaemia. This clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors, known as the insulin resistance syndrome, has been identified in children as young as five years of age.” Habits, especially those developed early on such as physical inactivity, can often be the hardest to break. Read more →

Random Acts of Kindness

The real method of learning the meaning of kindness

               By Barry Van Over, President of Premier Martial Arts International



I believe one of the things that children should learn is love expressed through kindness. For love is kindness in action. If adults around them are kind, kids learn to be kind. If they are exposed to things that show kindness, they will learn the different ways to show kindness.

Once I was traveling to New York City for work and was feeling really low and down in the dumps from what was a terrible day and I hailed a taxi cab for a ride home. When we arrived at the destination, I reached for my wallet and to my dismay saw that I lack the money that I needed to pay for the cab. Haltingly I apologized and asked if I could go down to get some money from the ATM down the street. The driver looked at me straight in the eyes and in the kindest tone said, “It’s okay, I’ll take whatever you have.” I thanked him profusely and somehow it helped dispel whatever bad feelings I had. I still remember that little act of kindness up to this day. Read more →


by Kensey Baker, teacher/naturalist at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont



I am thankful for the fall season in the Smokies. And, it’s not because of football season, pumpkin carving, or upcoming turkey dinners. I am thankful for fall because it’s a time when all life enters into a period of reflection and preparation for the coming months.

Fall is the time of year when nature admits that it has reached its climax for the year and begins shutting down. During this process, the movement of energy from the canopy to the forest floor causes spectacular changes to occur in nature. The fall season is one of the most glorious times to behold in nature. The changing colors, the falling leaves and the sights, sounds and smells of the forest in the Smokies, excite me like I was a kid again. Read more →

Stop the Bullying

Helping your child cope with being teased or bullied

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.

StopBullyingNov13It’s not unusual for parents to feel at a loss when they discover their child is being teased or bullied. A host of difficult emotions may emerge—anger, sadness, or even shame. Parents may even have spontaneous memories of their own painful childhood or adolescent experiences of being teased or bullied. In order to be an effective advocate, however, parents need to set aside these emotions and work on helping their child. A parent’s task is threefold: 1) do what you can to put an end to the teasing and bullying; 2) provide your child with emotional support; and 3) help your child develop insight into the bully’s psychological makeup.

 “Due to the internalized shame associated with being teased or bullied, many children and adolescents keep silent about their experience and try to deal with it alone.”

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Dreaming Big in Pursuit of Student Success

By Sedonna Prater, Director, Curriculum and Instruction for the Knoxville Diocese Catholic Schools


Untitled-9Advancement Via Individual Determination—what an American way of thinking! Our country has historically been the place for opportunities. It has been a place revered because individuals can dare to dream. It has been a place where individuals throughout our history have realized their dreams with creative ingenuity, hard work, determination and perseverance. That is exactly what one woman did when she dreamed of a better way to serve her students. In 1980 Mary Catherine Swanson created AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, which is more of a philosophy than a program. The philosophy is simple: hold students accountable to the highest standards, provide academic and social support and students will rise to the challenge to meet these standards of excellence. Similar to its Latin word of origin avidus, eager for knowledge, AVID schools strive to be a catalyst for accelerated learning. Read more →

Why We Secretly Love Tests

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



“How can I say that other people also love tests? I notice how my children obsessively play video games. They love the challenge and repeat scenarios in order to master the levels.”



I love tests. I have a Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialty interest in standardized tests. For half my life, I have helped students prepare for the ACT and SAT college admissions tests and graduate and professional school admissions tests such as the GRE, LSAT, and GMAT. I consult with companies to make and evaluate new tests. I have written my own test preparation study guides. My students and their parents assuredly think I am a strange person. As I explain my own fascination with tests, I want to share another unusual thought: I believe that we all secretly love tests! Read more →

What’s Your Problem?

By Mike O’Hern, Center Director of Mathnasium of West Knoxville


Untitled-11What do engineers do?  Word problems.

What do you do when you’re setting up a budget?  Word problems.

What do you do when you’re planning a road trip?  Word problems.

Word problems are the most important part of a math education.  There would be little reason to learn mathematical symbols, facts, equations and the like if it is not to be connected to our own reality such that we can use it to solve problems in our lives.  Word problems require verbal formulation, then determination of the underlying mathematical relations, and finally the symbolic mathematical expression.  This logical sequence not only ties the student’s math to real life, but helps improve the math ability itself.  For example, it helps the student see that multiplication is simply a way to add quickly by grouping. Read more →

Homemade Bottle Bouquets

 Giving thanks with creativity and awareness

                   By Michael Kull


Katherine found out that her grandmother was going back to the hospital. It had been three years since the doctor’s had given her grandmother a diagnosis of cancer, and after aggressive treatment it looked like she had successfully fought back. But now it looked like the cancer was sneaking back up on her.

Faced with two dilemmas: How to thank the doctors and nurses and what to do with all those empty water bottles and Halloween candy, Katherine had a creative spark. Read more →