Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
- Mahatma Ghandi

Welcome to LIFE of Florida!

Our secular and inclusive Florida-wide Informal Education support group acts as a resource center and clearinghouse for homeschoolers, informal learners and alternative educators interested in enriching their learning environments and maximizing their learning opportunities, as well as an advocacy center for Curiosity Driven Learning.

There is no cost to be part of LIFE of Florida -- just join in at our email discussion and announcement list, Florida LIFE, where you can download your membership card -- good for educational discounts throughout FL -- and stay informed and updated on events, issues and resources, and connect with other informal learners throughout the state.

If you're just getting started in homeschooling, be sure to check out our LIFE of Florida Quick Links, our list of Useful Docs, and our enormous collection of resources in the side columns, and visit our Inclusive Homeschool Support Groups page to find a group near you.

If you'd like your regional inclusive support group to be networked with LIFE of Florida, drop us a line with a group description, contact and other relevant information and we'll add you, free of charge, to our directory. All your group members will be automatically considered members of LIFE of Florida, and are entitled to membership cards and all the benefits we offer. Virtual school families are also welcome to enjoy our resources, support and camaraderie.

We're all inclusive and free of charge, and we're here for you!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Voter Education Resources

It's election time (as if you couldn't tell from the onslaught of silly campaign ads), and time to get down to the business of separating fact from fiction (as much as possible) and trying to make some educated election decisions.

To that end, here are four great, nonpartisan civic engagement resources:
There are many more at Learning is for Everyone's Civic Resources page, too.

So good luck, and vote carefully out there!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bach Festival Society Young Artist Competition

This prestigious competition provides high school vocalists and instrumentalists throughout Florida the exceptional opportunity to prepare for performance before judges who are respected in their field. The winners of this annual all-state competition perform their winning selections at a concert that is free and open to the public, benefiting the community not only by providing an enriching musical experience, but also by offering role models to youngsters and inspiring future art patrons. For more information about the competition, or to obtain an entry form, email education@bachfestivalflorida.org
.
Visit http://www.bachfestivalflorida.org/outreach/young-artist-competition  for more information.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Two Great College Resources: Florida Trend NEXT Magazine and College Live!

Florida Trend’s NEXT Magazine Now Available

Florida Trend’s NEXT is a magazine designed to help Florida teens prepare for their future after high school, whether that involves college, technical school or the workforce. Copies of the 2010-2011 edition have been provided free of charge to over 900 high schools across the state. Students may contact their guidance counselor to obtain a copy, or visit http://www.floridanext.com/  to view the complete digital e-dition. While at the website, students can also sign up to receive monthly eNEXTletters, request more information from magazine sponsors and advertisers and register for a chance to win a $1,000 gift card.

For teachers and counselors, NEXT also provides an accompanying Classroom Activity Guide filled with engaging lessons to help students apply information from the magazine to their own lives. The Classroom Activity Guide is available exclusively at www.FloridaNEXT.com under the “Teachers’ Lounge” heading. Here, educators can also register to receive their own monthly eNEXTletters; those who register by Oct. 31, 2010, will be entered in a drawing to win one of five $50 Amazon.com gift cards.

For more information about NEXT, please contact Tanya Creneti at editor@FloridaNEXT.com.
 
___________________________________
 
College Week Live!

CollegeWeekLive! is coming to a computer near you on Nov. 3 – 4, 2010. The free online event is designed to connect prospective students with colleges and universities in a live interactive environment. Attendees will be able to navigate through a virtual exhibition hall, visit virtual booths, and learn about scholarship resources and networking capabilities, as well as win prizes and take advantage of special discounts from event sponsors and participating organizations. More than 300 colleges and universities will be represented and students can chat with admissions officers and students on topics such as filling out their application, how to write a winning application essay and how to pay for college. Registration is free at http://www.collegeweeklive.com/ .

Upcoming Statewide Community & Academic Contests & Awards

Check out upcoming contests for Florida students:
  • 2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week Poster & Video Contests
  • Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Seeking Nominations
  • Celebrate Literacy Week Public Service Announcement Contest
  • Careers in Energy Week Essay Contest
2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week Poster and Video Contests
The Florida Division of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross are again teaming up to sponsor the Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week campaign that includes a poster and video public service announcement contest. Students are encouraged to submit an entry about how to be prepared for the natural hazards that affect the Sunshine State. Entries for both contests must be received by Jan. 10, 2011.

Poster Contest
Florida fourth and fifth grade public, private and homeschool students are invited to submit an entry for the poster contest. The winner’s artwork will be displayed in the State Emergency Operations Center the first full week of Feb. 2011. Prizes include tickets for the winner and his or her family to Walt Disney World, weather radios and other prizes. Entries must be postmarked by Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, and must arrive at the American Red Cross office in Tallahassee by Jan. 10, 2011.

Video Public Service Announcement Contest
Florida middle and high school students in grades 6-8 and 9-12 in public, private and homeschools are invited to produce a 30-second public service announcement that incorporates a safety or preparedness message about one of the following topics: Hurricane Preparedness, Flood Safety, or Building a Disaster Supply Kit. One individual or group (limit four individuals per group) winner will be chosen for both middle and high school videos with the winning video to be professionally reproduced for broadcast by the Division of Emergency Management in their statewide public awareness campaign. Prizes include professional production of the video in the winner’s hometown with the winner serving as project director, tickets for the winner and his or her family to Walt Disney World, weather radios and other exciting prizes. Final digital videos must be mastered as a DVD, postmarked by Friday, Jan.7, 2011, and received by the Florida Division of Emergency Management by Jan. 10, 2010.
Complete contest rules and information for both contests can be found at www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW/2011.

____________________________________

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Seeking Nominations


The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honor middle and high school student volunteers in grades five though 12 for their community service and the search is on to identify young Floridians for their contributions during the past year. The awards, presented by Prudential Financial, Inc., in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, are the nation’s largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer community service. Interested students, principals and community members are encouraged to nominate individuals in recognition of their volunteer service. The deadline for applications is Nov. 1, 2010. Visit http://spirit.prudential.com or www.principals.org/spirit  for more information and an application packet.
__________________________________
 
Celebrate Literacy Week Public Service Announcement Contest


The Florida Department of Education’s Just Read, Florida! Office encourages all students in grades K-12 to create a 26-second public service announcement on the topic “Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! – Champions Read, Readers Lead.” The contest is part of 2011 Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!, a week-long salute that celebrates and promotes the importance of literacy in Florida. Entries should be created with a combination of video and audio effects, must include credits and may not include any copyrighted music, footage or images. All entries must be received by the Just Read, Florida! Office by Dec. 17, 2010. Complete contest details can be found at http://www.justreadflorida.com/literacyweek.asp . If you have any questions, send an e-mail to justread@fldoe.org  or contact Kevin Smith at (850) 245-0503 .
__________________________________
 
Careers in Energy Week Essay Contest


Careers in Energy Week, led by the Florida Energy Workforce Consortium (FEWC) with the support of Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the Center for Energy Workforce Development, is a week dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness of energy careers and their importance to our communities, state, and nation. The weeklong recognition is Oct. 18-22, 2010, and will be highlighted by an essay contest for Florida high school students (grades 9-12) around the theme, “Energy Workers Make a World of Difference.” The contest guidelines and registration form are available at http://www.fewc.org/?page_id=136 . iPods will be awarded to the top three winners in the state, and winning entries will be published on the FEWC's websites at http://www.fewc.org/  and http://www.getintoenergyflorida.com/ .

Sunday, September 19, 2010

LIFE Fest 2010 Thanks!

Thanks to all who came out to enjoy LIFE Fest 2010 with us in Orlando yesterday! See you next year!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LIFE Fest 2010 Program Online!

Our program for LIFE Fest 2010 is online and freely available. 

We've got an exciting program on tap for Saturday, September 18th, at the Orange County Extension Education Center, and we hope you'll join us for a full day of fun and learning together. 

Childcare is available for the day for just $20, and we have a wealth of enriching program content, plenty of hands on opportunities for all ages, and a great collection of raffle and door prize items.

Check out the LIFE Fest 2010 Program and see how much fun you can have for $10 for the whole family!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just One More Week to PrePay Admission or Register Vendor or Bazaar Space for LIFE Fest 2010!

Learning is for Everyone’s LIFE Fest 2010 Celebration of Learning, set for Saturday, September 18 in Orlando, is a family-friendly event featuring educational workshops, youth programs and exhibits, educational give-aways, door prizes and raffles. LIFE Fest 2010 will offer ample opportunities to meet other families from around the state interested in maximizing their children’s education in creative, low cost ways.

LIFE Fest 2010 will be held at the Orange County Extension Education Center, home of the Orange County 4H, which provides informal, hands-on learning to youth ages 5-18 through clubs, school outreach and experiential learning in science, engineering, & technology (SET); citizenship/leadership; and healthy lifestyles - all the types of learning LIFE will explore during LIFE Fest 2010.

Event admission is just a $10 donation per family, $8 prepaid by August 31 via Network for Good at our website (bring your receipt as your ticket). And, in the continuing spirit of a Green LIFE Fest, carpool discounts of $10 per (safe and legal) carload will be available the day of the event. Just a few of the great programs guests can enjoy at LIFE Fest 2010:
• Round table discussions on College Planning ;
• Learning Models & Learning Styles - with Dr. Chris Deason
• Addressing Attention Disorders by “Thinking Outside the Classroom” – with Jeanene Arrington of Not a Clue Adventures
• Health and Fitness with Zumba® – with certified instructor Monique Bradbury
• Homeschooling 101 – Being Informed & Trusting Yourself
FIRST Robotics – An Ideal STEM Program
• The Creative Gift of Unschooling – by Young Adult Author, Jaclyn Dolamore
• Teaching Math and Science from Birth to College – with educators Christy Bebeau and Carolyn Lang
• Importance of Art and Art Curricula - with Jamie Moorehead of Super Awesome Cool Pottery Studios
• Nutrition and Wellness at Home - with Wellness Coach Gretchen Goal
• Ask-a-Parent Panel -- Q&A with veteran home and informal educators
• What 4H Can do for You - Orange County Extension Service
Florida Virtual School – Q&A with Regional Liaison Larry Banks
• Student Ballroom Dance exhibition

Plus ongoing children's activities, history and science demos, vendors and exhibitors including Usborne Books, Discovery Toys, Creative Wonders Art, Nature’s Insight, Wekiwa Springs State Park, Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire, other great learning resources, authors and more, and terrific door prizes and raffle gifts from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Ringling Museum of Art, Edison & Ford Winter Estates, and more! Childcare will be available on site by Misty Forest Academy, of Orlando.

Vendors
Vendor booths are $150, and will be sold on a first-come, first-served, paid-in-full basis through August 31. A sliding scale may be considered for very small, family based businesses. A minimum 10% discount is provided to vendors supplying a door prize.

LIFE Fest Bazaar
A bazaar space for family and small community group sales tables is $25. Bazaar vendors may sell books, curricula, toys, clothes, and any other (reasonable) household goods at our LIFE Fest Bazaar. There will also be a give-away table for free items.
Community and Support Groups
LIFE will provide free exhibit space to youth groups and clubs, home school and educational support groups, community education groups like libraries, parks, nature centers, museums and associations providing free or very low cost learning opportunities. If you would like to provide outreach and information to guests about your support and education programs, please write to us with the name of your group, the services you provide, and the costs of your program(s).

Program Advertising
Guests at LIFE Fest will receive a printed program describing the day's agenda, workshops and round table discussions, and listing vendors. If you would like to advertise in the program, please contact us for a rate sheet. Costs range from $25 to $100.

Reserve by August 31
Prepaid admission, Vendor , LIFE Fest Bazaar and Community Group booths must all be reserved by August 31. Visit http://www.learningis4everyone.org/ or email us at info@learningis4everyone.org  for more information, or to inquire about vending, community or support group space, or about providing a presentation or workshop.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

LIFE Fest 2010 Roster Growing!

LIFE Fest 2010 is shaping up to be the best LIFE Fest ever! On the roster so far:

  • Learning Models & Learning Styles - with Dr. Chris Deason
  • Round table discussions on College Planning
  • Addressing Attention Disorders by “Thinking Outside the Classroom” – with Jeanene Arrington of Not a Clue Adventures
  • Health and Fitness with Zumba® – with certified instructor Monique Bradbury
  • Homeschooling 101 – Being Informed & Trusting Yourself -
  • FIRST Robotics – An Ideal STEM Program
  • The Creative Gift of Unschooling – by Young Adult Author, Jaclyn Dolamore
  • Teaching Math and Science from Birth to College – with homeschool educators Christy Bebeau and Carolyn Lang
  • Importance of Art and Art Curricula - with Jamie Moorehead of Super Awesome Cool Pottery Studios
  • Nutrition and Wellness at Home - with Wellness Coach Gretchen Goal
  • Ask-a-Parent Panel -- Q&A with veteran homeschoolers
  • What 4H Can do for You - Orange County Extension Service
  • Florida Virtual School – Q&A with Regional Liaison Larry Banks
Plus ongoing children's activities, history and science demos, vendors and exhibitors including Usborne Books, Creative Wonders Art, Nature’s Insight, Panda Tushies, Discovery Toys, Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire, other great learning resources, authors and more, and terrific door prizes and raffle gifts! Childcare will be available on site by Misty Forest Academy, of Orlando.

There's still time to reserve your room at the Nickelodean Suites Resort  

Prepay via Network for Good and your LIFE Fest 2010 admission - already a bargain at $10/family -- is just $8!

And don't forget our LIFE Fest Bazaar, where you can have a family sale table for just $25 to sell books, curricula, toys, clothes and more, and our free community and support group space for youth groups, clubs, homeschool and educational suport groups.

Reserve by August 31!

Vendor , LIFE Fest Bazaar and Community Group booths must be reserved by August 31. Visit Learning is for Everyone's main website for appropriate forms, or email us at info@learningis4everyone.org  for more information, or to inquire about vending, community or support group space, or about providing a presentation or workshop. You can also stay up to date at  our Facebook page:

See you September 18th!
___________

ZUMBA® and the Zumba Fitness logo are trademarks of Zumba Fitness, LLC, used under license.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Oil Spill and Volunteer Assistance Info

From the Florida Master Naturalist program:
_______________________________________________
As the environmental catastrophe referred to as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill continues to unfold in the Gulf, there may be need for our help. I know there is also great interest in the progress on containing the spill and the efforts to clean up the mess it leaves, which may eventually include shorelines in Florida.

I have waited to send this email to ensure I provide the best and most accurate information available.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on the spill and containment efforts, please refer to the official website for the Deepwater Horizon Response at: http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931/

This website has a great deal of information, including daily updates.

To see an image of the approximate extent of the spread of the spill in the Gulf, as reported and prepared by USA Today, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/oil-spill-map.htm.

Volunteer assistance is needed and the official FLORIDA volunteer response website for the Deep Horizon Oil Spill is through the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service at: http://www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org//

There are many links for various volunteer activities on this website.

Note that a companion website: http://www.1-800-volunteer.org/1800Vol/volunteerflorida/viewEventDetails.do?eventId=31601

Specifies that:

“Volunteers will not be in direct contact with oil or oil-contaminated materials. Oil-contaminated materials will only be handled by trained, paid workers such as Qualified Community Responders (QCR) and not by volunteers. Oiled wildlife will only be handled by trained, contracted professionals. Even though volunteer opportunities with the oil spill are limited, volunteer opportunities in your local community are limitless. Many organizations need support and service now more than ever. The oil spill is bringing communities together, and your volunteer service strengthens local responding groups. Thank you for the time you give now, and the time you will continue to give after the oil spill.”

However, there may be a great deal of assistance needed doing other services, and I encourage you to register.

Additional ways to assist and report important information include:

Reporting oiled wildlife – the FLORIDA hotline to call to report oiled wildlife is: 1-866-557-1401

Reporting oil on the shoreline - the FLORIDA hotline to call to report oiled wildlife is: 1-877-272-8335 (1-877-2-SAVE-FL) or #DEP from your cell phone.

Two documents that provide useful information regarding oil spill reporting can be viewed (and printed) online at:

http://www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org/Deepwater/docs/OilSpillReportingGuide.pdf

http://www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org/Deepwater/docs/OilFactSheet.pdf

Let’s hope the latest efforts to contain the spill are successful and that Florida’s coastal environment is not severely damaged, but let’s also prepare to assist in the clean-up and associated actions to the extent we are able.

Sincerely,

Marty

Martin B. Main, PhD
Professor, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Program Leader, Florida Master Naturalist Program (http://www.masternaturalist.ifas.ufl.edu/)
University of Florida
SW Florida Research and Education Center
2685 State Road 29 North
Immokalee, FL 34142
ph: 239.658.3400 fax: 239.658.3469

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sweet Deal for LIFE Fest 2010 Guests, from Nickelodean Suites Resort!


What a deal! Come out for LIFE Fest 2010, stay two nights at Nickelodean Suites Resort in Orlando, and get the third night free!  Just $200 for a family weekend in a two bedroom KidSuite!

Click here to book your room by August 17.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

LIFE Fest 2010 Set for Sept. 18 in Orlando!

Our annual LIFE Fest Celebration of Learning will be held Saturday, September 18 at the beautiful Orange County Extension Service Education Center in Orlando, home of the Orange County 4H, and a spectacular family-friendly facility at which to celebrate all that's wonderful about community education resources.

Orange County 4-H is the youth development program of Orange County University of Florida/IFAS Extension. 4-H provides informal, hands-on learning to youth ages 5-18 through clubs, school outreach and experiential learning. Programming exists in three main areas: science, engineering, & technology (SET); citizenship/leadership; and healthy lifestyles - all the types of learning we'll be looking at during LIFE Fest 2010.



Cost
As before – still bucking economic trends! - admission is just a $10 donation per family, $8 prepaid via Network for Good (bring your receipt as your ticket). And, in the continuing spirit of a Green LIFE Fest, carpool discounts of $10 per (safe and legal) carload will be available the day of the event.

Lodging
There are numerous hotels in the area and LIFE is working to block off reasonably priced rooms for LIFE Fest guests and vendors. Details will be announced soon.

Content
As before, we’ll have a variety of great vendors – we’re aiming for more this year - lots of free materials, great workshops, door prizes and raffles, and a fun and educational children’s area with art and animals, all adding up to a full and exciting day that will offer ample opportunities to meet other home educators from around the state and to learn how to make the most of your homeschooling adventure.

Vendors
Vendor booths will cost $100 if reserved by June 30; $150 after that, through August 31, and will be sold on a first-come, first-served, paid-in-full basis. A sliding scale may be considered for very small, family based businesses. A minimum 10% discount is provided to vendors supplying a door prize.

LIFE Fest Bazaar
A bazaar space for family and small community group sales tables is $25. You can sell books, curricula, toys, clothes, and any other (reasonable) household goods at our LIFE Fest Bazaar. We’ll also have a give-away table for anything you just want to, well – give away!

Community and Support Groups
We’re happy to provide free exhibit space to youth groups and clubs, home school and educational support groups, community education groups like libraries, parks, nature centers, museums and associations providing free or very low cost learning opportunities. If you feel your group or service qualifies, and you’d like to join us to provide outreach and information to guests about your support and education programs, please write to us with the name of your group, the services you provide, and the costs of your program(s).

Program Advertising
Guests at LIFE Fest will receive a printed program describing the day's agenda, workshops and round table discussions, and listing vendors. If you would like to advertise in the program, please contact us for a rate sheet. Costs range from $25 to $100.

Reserve by August 31
Vendor , LIFE Fest Bazaar and Community Group booths must be reserved by August 31. More information will be available at Learning is for Everyone’s website shortly, but feel free to write and let us know if you’d like vending, community group, or support group space.

Also contact us if you’re interested in hosting a presentation or workshop.

Planners Drawing
As before, we’re inviting our guests to help plan the party by holding a Planners Drawing in which those who send us LIFE Fest ideas by May 31 are automatically entered to win a great prize.

So send your ideas now to info@learningis4everyone.org with “LIFE Fest Ideas” in the subject line. Be sure to include your full name, address and contact info and you'll be automatically entered in a special LIFE Fest Planner award drawing at LIFE Fest 2010. You have to be present to win -- but you're helping plan so why wouldn't you be?!

Visit http://www.learningis4everyone.org/ for applications or email us at info@learningis4everyone.org  for more information.

See you at LIFE Fest 2010!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Florida Financial Aid Deadlines Approach

Several deadlines are fast approaching for scholarship applications. See below for more details:

April 15, 2010 – Application deadline for the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program.

The Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship was established by the United States Congress to reward outstanding high school seniors who show promise of continued academic achievement. The maximum award amount is $1,500 per year for this program offered through the U.S. Department of Education.

May 15, 2010 – Processing deadline to file the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid for the Rosewood Family Scholarship and the José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant.

Visit http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/  to access the application.

The Rosewood Family Scholarship provides financial assistance for a maximum of twenty-five eligible students who attend a state university, public community college, or public postsecondary vocational-technical school. Eligible students must be direct descendants of Rosewood families affected by the incidents of January 1923.

The José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund is a need-based merit scholarship that provides financial assistance to eligible students of Hispanic origin who will attend Florida public or eligible private institutions. Applicants for undergraduate study must apply during their senior year of high school.

May 30, 2010 – Deadline for Bright Futures reinstatement/restoration applications.

Eligible students who did not receive Bright Futures scholarship funds during the last academic year can apply for a one-time restoration or reinstatement of their scholarship. The circumstances of each individual will dictate the action to be taken. If you have questions about whether you qualify for a restoration or reinstatement, visit http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/ , call (888) 827-2004 or send an e-mail to osfa@fldoe.org.

Information about Florida’s financial aid programs can be found at http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Civics Education Program Launched

The Museum of Florida History, the Florida Historic Capitol and the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee have joined together to create a new civics education program for seventh grade classes focused on voting rights and responsibilities. The “Making My Vote Count” program introduces the history and process of elections in Florida and the United States and the importance of becoming involved, engaged citizens. Groups of up to 30 students will participate in activities at all three locations in Tallahassee and become familiar with the election process. Groups larger than 30 will be divided into smaller groups.

Establishing Your Voting Rights” – At the historic Florida Capitol, students debate and vote on a legislative issue that once was considered by the Florida House of Representatives.

Protecting Your Voting Rights” – At the Florida Supreme Court, students role play an oral argument and vote to determine the Court’s decision.

Exercising Your Voting Rights” – At the Museum of Florida History, students learn about events and laws related to voting rights and conduct mock elections.

More information about the “Making My Vote Count” civics program, including available dates, can be found at www.floridasupremecourt.org/education/civics.shtml. Contact Tricia Knox with the Florida Supreme Court Public Information Office, at knoxt@flcourts.org  or (850) 921-9446 for program availability.

College Week, Live Connects Students With Colleges and Universities

CollegeWeek, Live is a free online college admissions event that provides an opportunity for high school students to connect with college and university admissions representatives throughout Florida and the nation to learn about their postsecondary education options. Attendees can watch keynote presentations from leading experts on admission topics such as application essays and financial aid, and participate in webcam sessions with current students on their perspective of college life. Register for free at http://www.collegeweeklive.com//. For a list of participating postsecondary institutions, visit www.collegeweeklive.com/en_CA/guest/app-colleges.

CollegeWeekLive Spring – March 24 – 25, 2010, 10:00 a.m. through 10:00 p.m. Meet with hundreds of schools online and participate in presentations that cover the entire range of college admissions topics.

CollegeWeekLive Florida Day – May 6, 2010, 12:00 p.m. through 10:00 p.m. Meet with over 20 Florida colleges and universities online and participate in presentations covering Florida-related topics.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cards of Care for Haiti Project Launched


Volunteer USA Foundation, in partnership with the National Disaster Recovery Fund, invites students throughout Florida to send pictures and cards of love and inspiration to children and families affected by the recent earthquakes in Haiti. Anyone wishing to participate can send cards to Volunteer USA Foundation – Cards of Care for Haiti, 5970 SW 1st Lane, Ocala, FL 34474, and should include their name and contact information. 

Free lesson plans are also available to help teachers use the earthquake and other real-life disasters as examples of how Americans assist with humanitarian and recovery efforts and to provide a platform to discuss the need for all families to develop and practice personal disaster plans. For more information about the project or to learn about disaster preparedness for families and schools, visit http://www.nationaldisasterrecoveryfund.org or http://www.volunteerusafoundation.org.

New Interactive Book Club Launched: Literacy League


Literacy League, a new interactive reading initiative for middle school students, was recently launched by the Florida Department of Education to give young readers a platform to discuss books with their favorite authors. Students in grades six through eight will have the chance to read selected books and submit questions in a variety of formats directly to participating authors through a podcast series housed on Florida’s iTunesU site. The new statewide book club starts off with author Julianna Baggott, writing under the pen name N.E. Bode, and her award-winning book, The Anybodies. 

Each quarter the Department will connect prominent authors through a podcast question-and-answer session about the featured book. For the first session, students have until March 1, 2010, to send their questions in text or video format to LiteracyLeague@fldoe.org or mail their questions to the Department of Education’s Communications Office at 325 W. Gaines Street, Suite 1524, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0400. The next book selection will be announced in April. 

For more information about the Department of Education’s Literacy League, visit http://www.fldoe.org/literacyleague. Florida’s iTunesU site provides free multimedia content to schools, parents, administrators and teachers both in Florida and around the world. To visit Florida on iTunesU, visit http://www.floridaitunesu.com.

Go Higher, Get Accepted FACTS.org Campaign

Twenty-seven Florida colleges and more than 270 high schools will participate in the 2010 Go Higher-Get Accepted statewide campaign this year. Go Higher-Get Accepted is designed to increase the number of high school seniors enrolling in college by offering guidance and support to students throughout the application process. 

As part of the campaign, colleges around the state will sponsor events in the coming months to help students examine specific college majors and programs. A key focus will be providing parents and students with hands-on assistance with admission applications, finding and paying for financial aid and workshops to assist students and families with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Colleges sponsoring Go Higher-Get Accepted events will also offer a $500 scholarship, supplied by the Foundation for Florida Colleges, to an eligible high school senior who attends an event and enrolls at the participating college.

For more information about Go Higher-Get Accepted and a list of events and participating schools, visit http://www.FACTS.org.

Sunshine Week Essay Contest Announced

Governor Charlie Crist invites all Florida students in grades nine through 12 to participate in the 2010 Sunshine Week essay contest. Sunshine Week is observed March 14-20, 2010, and celebrates Florida’s laws dedicated to making state and local government more accessible to the public. Essays should be no longer than 500 words and must explain the importance of one or more of the civil liberties found in the First Amendment and how Florida’s open government laws protect those liberties. For complete information about the Sunshine Week essay contest, visit http://www.FLGov.com/og_home. The deadline to submit an essay by either e-mail or mail is 5:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Home Education and ESE Services FAQ

 This notice was just issued by the FLDOE today. The information will be archived at Learning is for Everyone's Homeschooling in Florida pages for future reference:

Dear Home Educators


The Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice has issued a new “Frequently Asked Questions” document relating to Home Education and ESE Services in Florida.  I have attached the document for your convenience.  This helpful FAQ will also be posted on the School Choice Web site at http://www.floridaschoolchoice.org/Information/FAQs.asp and http://www.floridaschoolchoice.org/information/home_education/. 

If you have any questions, let me know!  Thank you all for your hard work out there!

Christopher Fenton
Christopher.Fenton@fldoe.org
Educational Policy Analyst
Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice
Florida Department of Education
School Choice Hotline: (800)447-1636
Fax: (850)245-9134

____________________

Home Education and Exceptional Student Education Services

Frequently Asked Questions
1. What should parents do if they suspect their child has a disability?

The parent should contact the exceptional student education office in the district in which they reside and request that the child be evaluated.

2. What is required of the parent as related to the evaluation process?

The requirements related to evaluation are described in State Board of Education (SBE) Rule 6A-6.0331, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C). Before an evaluation can be conducted, the school district must obtain informed consent in writing from the parent. The parent may be asked to provide information from the child’s portfolio or student records and may also be asked to complete checklists and/or informal observations. Parental consent must be obtained before any information regarding a home education student is shared with the school district.

Once the parent has provided written consent, the formal evaluation will begin. Specific evaluation procedures and eligibility criterion for each disability category are described in the respective SBE rules for that disability. For some disability categories (e.g., emotional/behavioral disabilities; specific learning disabilities), a key component of the evaluation and eligibility determination is analysis of the student’s response to well-delivered, scientific, research-based instruction and interventions. This requires that the parent work with the school district to ensure that this information is available.

3. How long does the school district have to complete the initial evaluation?

The school district must complete the initial evaluation within 60 school days that the student is in attendance after the school district’s receipt of parental consent. For PreK children, initial evaluations must be completed within sixty school days after the school district’s receipt of parental consent for evaluation. (6A-6.0331(3)(d), F.A.C.).

4. After the evaluation is conducted, what happens next?

The parents will be invited to attend a meeting in which the school district staff will review the outcome of their child’s evaluation. Following that review, a determination will be made regarding whether or not the child is considered an eligible child with a disability as defined by Florida State Board of Education Rules.

5. What is the school district’s obligation if the child is eligible for services?

The school district is not obligated to provide services to children in home education programs. If the parent of a child currently enrolled in a home education program chooses to enroll the child full time in a public school, the school district must ensure that a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is made available to the child.

6. Can a district enroll and report a student part-time only for the ESE services that they provide?

Yes. The district may choose to enroll the child on a part-time basis for services provided through the public school and report the student for state funding through the Florida Education Funding Program (FEFP).

7. Whom should a parent contact if they have questions or need additional assistance?

For home education questions, contact your local district home education office which can be found at the following link:

Information pertaining to exceptional education and student services in your local district may be found at the following link:

Information related to parentally placed students in private schools can be found at the following link:

If further information is required, contact the Department of Education:

Laura Harrison – Director of Scholarship Programs, Private Schools and Home Education
Phone: (850) 245-0502
Laura.Harrison@fldoe.org

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Effectiveness of Nonviolent Civic Action Essay Contest


High school students in grades nine through 12 are encouraged to submit an entry for the Effectiveness of Nonviolent Civic Action essay contest sponsored by the National Institute of Peace. Essays must be no longer than 1,500 words and consist of three sections which lay out and develop a position in response to the essay contest question. Each student must have a contest coordinator who can review their essay and act as the key contact between the participant and the Institute. One national award totaling $10,000 will be conferred as well as two other national awards worth $2,500 and $5,000 respectively, in addition to 53 state awards each worth $1,000. The deadline for submitting an essay is Feb. 2, 2010. 


For more information, including the essay question, comprehensive guidelines and submission requirements visit www.usip.org/npec. A study guide can also be found at www.usip.org/npec/sg10.pdf (PDF).

Arts for Life! Scholarship

The Foundation for Excellence in Education is accepting applications for the Arts for Life! scholarship from graduating high school seniors for their outstanding achievement in the arts. To be considered for the scholarship, public, private or home education program students must submit a completed application, a brief essay explaining “How the arts have positively influenced my life,” and a sample of their work in creative writing, dance, drama, music or visual arts. Each of the 25 winners will receive a $1,000 cash scholarship toward their pursuit of the arts in higher education, and have an opportunity to showcase their arts discipline through performance and exhibition at a luncheon in their honor. The deadline to submit an application is Feb. 1, 2010. 

Contact the Foundation for Excellence in Education at (850) 391-4090 or visit www.ExcelinEd.org for more information.

WeatherFest 2010, Tallahassee, Jan 30

WeatherFest is an outreach event developed by the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee and organized in partnership with the Florida State University Meteorology Department and state and university emergency management officials. This annual event is intended for weather enthusiasts of all ages and brings together meteorology professionals from the federal and state government, acedemia, the media, and various partner organizations, to increase awareness about how forecasts and warnings are produced and disseminated, how meteorologists are trained, and the science of meteorology in general.

WeatherFest 2010 will be part of Florida's Severe Weather Awareness Week, and will feature many of the events from the inaugural WeatherFest last January, with some new and exciting exhibits in store as well. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from an AMS bakesale and also Campus Vending If you didn't visit us last year, or missed the severe weather simulation, or weather balloon launches, stop by and visit us this year! If you are curious about our 2009 event, check out the photo gallary provided by our photographer, Bob Duggan. We hope that you will plan to make WeatherFest 2010 part of your winter plans.

When: Saturday, Jan. 30th, 2010
Time : 10 AM to 5 PM EST
Where: Florida State University Main Campus at the Love Building Tallahassee, FL 32306
Who: Anyone who has an interest in science and meteorology

Visit http://www.srh.noaa.gov/tae/?n=wxfestabout for more information.

Donation of gift copies of children's geography ebooks

To educators everywhere:

... I have been able to donate several thousand printed copies of my and my husband’s recently launched children’s geography books (“Friends and Mates in Fifty States” (Galde Press, 2008), “All Across Canada” (Chipmunkapublishing, 2008), and “All Across China” (Chipmunkapublishing, 2009) to public libraries and schools across the U.S. and Canada. At the present time, I can afford to donate ebook versions of “All Across Canada” and “All Across China” to public elementary school teachers and homeschoolers. Below is a description of these books and their availability.


Dear Members,

As part of a nonprofit venture, my husband and I are donating ebook versions of two of three of our children's geography books (“Friends and Mates in Fifty States,” (Galde Press, 2008) “All Across Canada” (Chipmunkapublishing, 2008), and “All Across China” (Chipmunkapublishing, 2009). These books offer a novel approach to learning geography, and can be obtained as free pdf downloads through our authors' website, www.weisberg-yoffe.org.

"All Across Canada" was submitted to Kirkus Discoveries as a representative of our geography series, and it received a favorable review (details about our children's geography books are below my signature). We have donated a number of printed copies of these books to libraries and schools throughout the U.S. and Canada. At the present time (and with the kind support of our publisher), we are able to offer complimentary ebooks to homeschoolers.

"All Across China" and "All Across Canada" can each be downloaded on their respective website display pages for review using the following link to our authors' website:

www.weisberg-yoffe.org

(Please note: any image outlines seen in the ebooks are intrinsic to the pdf files and do not appear in the printed books themselves. Also, to change orientation of the pdf from sideways to right side up, just go under “view” and “rotate clockwise.”)

Our third book in this series, "Friends and Mates in Fifty States,” features original cartoons and poems about the United States, with each state capital represented by a cartoon character named for the city (such as Denver, a boy who lives in Colorado). The book is designed to help familiarize children from ages 6-11 with U.S. geography in a fun and self-motivating way. It can also serve as a picture book for younger children, and has been known to hold the interest of children as young as three.

"Friends and Mates in Fifty States" has received positive feedback from the U.S. Scholastic Book Clubs. The book has also thus far received considerable interest from libraries, NH-based schools, and Montessori schools. Kenneth J. Relihan (Social Studies & World Languages, New Hampshire Department of Education) has favorably reviewed Friends and Mates in Fifty States, describing it as “unique and original.” We are hoping to eventually have a link for a complimentary pdf version of this book, as well.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about these books at ellenweis1966@yahoo.com.

Take care,
Ellen

All Across Canada (Kirkus Discoveries review)-
This husband-and- wife collaboration provides a tour of the Canadian provinces and territories.
Wandering Wally, Hiking Holly and Ambling Andy trek across the various regions of Canada, meeting with friends and getting to know their country a little better. Readers will make some discoveries of their own, including that the highest population of elderly Canadians is in Saskatchewan, the world’s largest rodeo is held in Alberta and that New Brunswick is the home of the world’s longest covered bridge. For very brief introductions to the major natural formations and economic industries of Canada’s provinces and territories, this is a good choice for younger readers. The mnemonic device of naming characters after the provincial capitals will help kids memorize them effortlessly. Combine this with the rhyming verses summarizing the important information, and Weisberg and Yoffe (Friends and Mates in Fifty States, 2008) have created quite the learning tool: “On Vancouver Island there’s a lovely coastal breeze. / Victoria dances round and round
the old Red Cedar trees.” The artwork mirrors the text, with maps showing the geography of each province and territory in Canada and their highlighted regions. Unfortunately, the illustrations are rather simplistic—rudimentary cartoons and clip art—with a limited color palette that adds to their lack of spark. The straightforward design and large illustrations, though, will be helpful for visual learners.
Helpful mnemonic devices and a simple presentation make learning about Canada a breeze.
____________ _________ _________ _________ _
SAVE | EMAIL | PRINT | MOST POPULAR | RSS | REPRINTS
Copyright 2005 Kirkus Reviews
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
Friends and Mates in Fifty States (Amazon review)-
Fun and Informative, September 1, 2008
By Keiko Wu (New Hampshire) -
This is a great book that gives kids a fun way to learn more about the states. The rhymes are inventive and cute. This book fills a real niche. There are so few books on geography for kids, especially ones that actually appeal to kids.
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

All Across China (Amazon review)-
“All Across China' fills a large void in publishing: namely, geography books for children. The author has wisely chosen a region of growing interest to many. The book gives a thumbnail sketch of all of China's provinces. It strikes a good balance: a map of the location of each province is shown in relation to the rest of the country, but the book is not saturated with highly detailed maps. This is in keeping with the targeted audience. It provides exposure of maps to children without giving in to the temptation to throw too much information at the audience at once. Equally helpful is the accompanying narrative of each province. Animals, topographic features and famous sights are mentioned, in hopes of connecting with various interests of children. The book is almost entirely in English (appropriate for its intended audience). However, I found the inclusion of the province names written in Chinese (in a relatively smaller font size, beneath the much
larger English name) to be a nice addition to the text. Hopefully it will spur the curiosity of some to pursue study of Chinese language as well.”
-Tom Finocchiaro