Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Poem about Chimeras and GMO Foods

Homage to Bt Corn
Valerie Coskrey © 2014

Oh, Chimera,
You're fated to be
Reviled for your
Lack of purity.

Your grandmothers 3
Are surprised to see
The offspring
Of your continuity

Since traits All behold
That ancestors gave
Through descent
Of grandparents 5 unfold.

Last line modified 8/11/15.

a cornfield in Texas
© Valerie Coskrey

A science poem on GMO corn produced by genetic engineering

Let us not forget about the animals and bacteria that produce insulin and other meds for us humans. Corn plants that are resistant to insects have the promise of increasing a farmer's yield. There are downsides to GMO products, but there is much promise, too.

An update to this post added 11/29/14:
See slide presentation on the top 10 GMO foods as presented by the Discovery Channel.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Teachable Moments while Reading Books with Small Children (Pre-K-2)

A First Grader Reads No. David!

The Richness of the Experience was to me an Awesome Surprise!

I recently had a tutoring experience that illustrated the power of books and imagination. A first-grader was reading a beginners book about David who always gets in trouble but his Mom always loves him anyway. In having the child explain what had happened and what story the pictures were telling, page by page, I was able to (1) reinforce and teach vocabulary and sentence structure, (2) to check for actual understanding, and (3) get a dialogue going about the child's thoughts, experiences and imagination. We were even able to (4-5) discuss consequences of actions, both in a social sense and in a scientific sense.

Now I know all you elementary teachers know this, but I am more used to working with older kids, grades 7-12. My point here is that just reading the story with a child or to a child provides only half the learning potential of a good book.

Teaching Science in a Reading Lesson

We even got a science lesson out of the book. I asked her what was wrong with how he was standing on the books. We demonstrated the danger with her sitting on her piano bench correctly and sitting on the very edge. I gave the bench a gentle nudge for each position. When the bench began to topple over while she sat on the edge, we giggled and she completely understood the consequences of David's unbalanced position. 

I suppose I could have asked her why the water in the fishbowl was level with the book bottom, but I didn't.

Learn More about David Shannon

Read about Shannon, the author, on Wikipedia.,_David

I Highly Recommend the David series by D. Shannon

After having my first grade student read and discuss several of these books by David Shannon, I can say that the series is a valuable teaching tool. Each appeared at first glance to be such a simple story with little in it to advance learning. Was I wrong! The child loved the books, the underlying message, the same in each, is essential to a child's emotional development, and the stories are realistic. These are classics, right up there with Dr. Seuss.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

More about Tom Tierney and his Paper Dolls

 A few years back I wrote about Tom Tierney and his paper doll booklets. Today I received this notice from my sister.

To: LPAA <>

Dear friends,

With great sadness I must tell you that our dear friend and long time Spoken Word member, Tom Tierney, died yesterday, July 12.  He was 86, but wouldn’t want that spread around.

Tom was famous as a creator of imaginative books of paper dolls, which were sold all over the world, but he was known to us as a witty and charming storyteller.   Our meeting[s] were brightened by each new chapter of his autobiography and the occasional patter song from his singing career in New York.

He will be missed.

I enjoyed the few months of our acquaintance back in 2010. He was always charming and told interesting stories. He had dozens of his booklets on display and for sale at his family's store in Smithville, TX. The artwork was superb and, he had reassured me, the fashions meticulously researched and reproduced.

©may14ik -
Google Images has hundreds of pictures of Tierney's pages in his paper doll booklets. I wish I had the permissions to copy them here. As it is, I must use the views of his books that I do have permission to post. I am including a current day paper doll set by another artist as a comparison of styles.

Also, Tierney's focus was always on the fashion of an era or theme; he was a historian in his field of fashion, often adding snippets of history to his booklets, so comparing his historical works to a modern work of fashion doesn't feel disrespectful. Indeed, my intent is to honor him and his place in fashion history.

. .

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2 Poems on Discovering Nature

Mere weeks after the Discovery Garden was planted, a few bushes bloomed.
Go  to poems; bypass intro.
On a Visit to a Discovery Garden

The city of West Columbia, TX, recently planted a Discovery Garden funded by a grant from TNMP (Texas New Mexico Power), the local provider of power lines and electric meters along with the electricity it carries.

I volunteered to write some of the web pages associated with the garden.  These pages will be posted by the end of June.

The Muse Strikes

As my fellow volunteer, Sam, and I shared thoughts on what to write, I borrowed his key words along with  some of his thoughts and produced these 2 poems. They are stylized since they are part of a K-12 set of learning activities based on park visits. I thought I would share them anyway. If you get a chance, visit the web pages and the park. While you are at it, visit the other parks in West Columbia. I wrote more about them a couple of weeks ago.


The two Poems and some Photos
from the Discovery Garden

Note: All photos on this page are copyrighted 2014 by Coskrey Biz
and were taken by either Valerie or Wayne Coskey.

The Discovery Garden

© Valerie Coskrey

Planned to be sustainably Green,
The Discovery Garden is seen
Ladybug on Milkweed
To draw Man and butterflies alike.
For color and food, pollinators dance
 Among plants
With heat and drought tolerance
 Perfect for where temperatures spike.
 In the Coastal Texan summers scene,
Native species thrive as queen. 

Upon A Visit to the Discovery Garden

Firecracker Plant
©Valerie Coskrey 
Transcend through beauty to tranquility, peace,
by sustainable degrees;
Transport oneself through time
and space to relaxation;
Transcribe activities of flora and fauna,
tales of the birds and bees;
Transform landscapes to Green
with minimal vexation.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ebooks make it as School Textbooks

Tablets for School Use

A few years back I predicted that all students would have access to
artist conception of image
on a tablet computer
©Valerie Coskrey
computers. The idea of having rented chapters of textbooks and whole ebooks of textbooks would, to me, have done 2 needed services for kids in junior and senior high schools: reduced the weight of backpacks and given the students a textbook that they would actually take home. Today, the smart phones, netbooks, tablet computers and ereaders are making this idea a reality.

Just yesterday this article was posted to the internet:
Private school’s Chromebook program explains why Google’s laptops have captured nearly 20% of the educational market

I will admit that using an ereader or tablet to read a textbook or magazine has some drawbacks. Not all texts are presented in the same manner as the book. But books cannot easily show videos and photo albums to illustrate the point, either. And there are programs out there that will present a book's page much like the page of a textbook or magazine.

Expense? Well, the books themselves are very expensive. If the tablets were purchased by the schools and rented to students by the year or month, the cost could be recovered. IF textbook publishers do not demand a high price for the ebook, that is.

In public schools, the idea of renting resources might be a problem. Community programs might be asked to supply funds for the poorer kids. Maybe the first tablet could be free with subsequent tablets requiring purchase.

Maybe kids would learn to respect their school supplies if they had to pay for them.

There are many issues to be worked out, but the day of printed textbooks are numbered.