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American Educator
Winter 2005-2006


Table of Contents

"Education Work Is Union Work"
A Tribute to AFT President Sandra Feldman, 1939–2005

In Her Own Words
Excerpts from Sandra Feldman's Many Speeches and Columns

Sandra Feldman was president of the AFT from 1997 to 2004, when she stepped down for health reasons. Before that, she was president of the AFT's New York City affiliate for many years. She was a teacher and teacher advocate, union leader, civil and human rights activist, advocate for children, especially those from the least-advantaged homes, and a rock-hard believer in public education—and in the idea that every public school should be one to which we would want to send our own children. Here, we honor her by highlighting in her own words her top priorities and accomplishments on behalf of public schools, the teachers who teach in them, and the children they serve.

How Spelling Supports Reading (PDF)
And Why It Is More Regular and Predictable Than You May Think
By Louisa C. Moats

Everyone knows that spelling doesn't matter anymore, thanks to spell check, right? In fact, says the author, spelling is still vital—plus, it benefits early reading, reading comprehension, and vocabulary development. And, it's not as difficult as people think: Despite English's bad reputation as a language riddled with irregular words, the spelling of almost all words can be explained by just five principles.

Spelling Instruction: Key Content and Strategies for Kindergarten through Seventh Grade (PDF)

Ask the Cognitive Scientist
How Praise Can Motivate—or Stifle
By Daniel T. Willingham

Praising students seems like a sure way to congratulate and encourage them. But research has found that praise can backfire—especially if it seems insincere. The most beneficial praise focuses on process (e.g., "You did a good job checking all of your calculations"), not ability (e.g., "You're good at math").

Examples of Constructive Praise and Encouraging Comments

Child Soldiers
The New Faces of War
By P. W. Singer

For millennia, there has been war—and rules that governed it. In particular, there were prohibitions against using and targeting children. No more. Today's best estimates indicate that well over 300,000 child soldiers are either currently at war or have recently been demobilized.

Why Now

Child Soldiers Speak Out

Children Map the World

Cartography—the art and science of mapmaking—is a fascinating way to combine disciplines such as art, social studies, geography, and earth science while helping children understand the use of symbols, issues of scale, and other important concepts. These maps, from the International Cartographic Association's competition for 5- to 15-year-olds, offer plenty of ideas to get started.

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About American Educator

American Educator is a quarterly journal of educational research and ideas published by the American Federation of Teachers. Recent articles have focused on such topics as reducing the achievement gap between poor and affluent students, heading off student discipline problems, teaching an appreciation and understanding of democracy, the benefits of a common coherent curriculum, and other issues affecting children and education here and abroad. Total circulation, as of our most recent issue, is over 900,000.

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