Letter to Parents: Literary Text Book

Pen Pal News

(Click the link above to visit the Pen Pal News website)
Pen Pal News is a 6-week current events-based online exchange program. Each week, our students are given a current events topic to explore including Technology and Innovation, Poverty, the Environment, War and Conflict and Education. Students watch a short video, read and analyze a news article, respond to questions, and send what they have written to their pen pals, students in a partner class who live somewhere in the United States. This year, we have been matched with a class of students in Philadelphia, PA, and all of us have enjoyed reading each other's perspectives as well as getting to know a new pen pal.

Pen Pal News Parent Letter Throughout the project, we focus on internet safety and online "netiquette." In addition, we emphasize the importance of the use of proper grammar and spelling.


external image rules_cover_dropshadow.jpgBehind the Book

Check out this link to the author's own account of the history of book. Lord also provides some links to related nonfiction resources--everything from information regarding students with disabilities to proper care for guinea pigs.

Cynthia Lord on YouTube

So often we works of literature from authors who lived long before us, and so a face (oftentimes a portrait) and a name with some brief biological information is all we initially have to get to know him or her.

Yet with today's technology, contemporary authors are as accessible as a Carly Rae Jepson parody or a dog who eat cabbage. Check out this link to a Cynthia Lord YouTube video.

Use the above Discussion tab for the following:
If you could have the same "YouTube" access to an historical author or prominent figure, what might you hope to see him or her talk about in an online video?
(besides their versions of "Call Me Maybe"!)

Cynthia Lord Interview

Published interview with Cynthia Lord following the publication of Rules

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A Father's Account

Click the Autism Awareness ribbon for a non-fiction account of a father’s perceptions of autism.

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Autism Defined

From the Penn State College of Medicine Website
(Click image to access website for more information)

Pervasive developmental disorder - autism; Autistic spectrum disorder
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Autism is a physical condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. The exact causes of these abnormalities remain unknown, but this is a very active area of research. There are probably a combination of factors that lead to autism.
Genetic factors seem to be important. For example, identical twins are much more likely than fraternal twins or siblings to both have autism. Similarly, language abnormalities are more common in relatives of autistic children. Chromosomal abnormalities and other nervous system (neurological) problems are also more common in families with autism.

A number of other possible causes have been suspected, but not proven. They involve:
  • Diet
  • Digestive tract changes
  • Mercury poisoning
  • The body's inability to properly use vitamins and minerals
  • Vaccine sensitivity

Many parents are worried that some vaccines are not safe and may harm their baby or young child. They may ask their doctor or nurse to wait, or even refuse to have the vaccine. However, it is important to also think about the risks of not having the vaccination.
Some people believe that the small amount of mercury (called thimerosal) that is a common preservative in multidose vaccines causes autism or ADHD. However, studies have NOT shown this risk to be true.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, and The Institute of Medicine (IOM) agree that no vaccine or component of any vaccine is responsible for the number of children who are currently being diagnosed with autism. They conclude that the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks.
All of the routine childhood vaccines are available in single-dose forms that do not contain added mercury.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website provides further information.

The exact number of children with autism is not known. A report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that autism and related disorders are more common than previously thought. It is unclear whether this is due to an increasing rate of the illness or an increased ability to diagnose the illness.

Autism affects boys more often than girls. Family income, education, and lifestyle do not seem to affect the risk of autism.
Some doctors believe the increased incidence in autism is due to newer definitions of autism. The term "autism" now includes a wider spectrum of children. For example, a child who is diagnosed with high-functioning autism today may have been thought to simply be odd or strange 30 years ago.

Other pervasive developmental disorders include:
  • Asperger syndrome (like autism, but with normal language development)
  • Rett syndrome (very different from autism, and almost always occurs in females)
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder (rare condition where a child learns skills, then loses them by age 10)
  • Pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), also called atypical autism

Shakespeare’s Secret-Broach

One Man's "Reasonable Doubt"

Actor Keir Cutler, Ph.D., tells what changed his mind about Shakespeare's authorship, and why he signed the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare.

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Nonfiction Documents Regarding Shakespeare's Authorship Issue

Check out the documents provided on this website regarding the Authorship Problem: The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition. After examinng both sides of the argument and corresponding "evidence," share how you now feel about the issue using the discussion tab above.

Crispin The Cross Of Lead Avi

The Thieves of Ostia Lawrence

The Boxcar Children Chandler

Walk Two Moons Creech

Maniac Magee Spinelli

Sarah, Plain and Tall MacLachlan

Fantastic Mr. Fox Dahl

The War With Grandpa Smith

The Pinballs Byers

Holes Sacher

Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH O'Brien

Love That Dog Creech

Brian's Winter Paulsen