Mastermindsby Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World (Harmony, September 2013)

Boys are so much easier than girls. There’s no drama.

Boys just punch it out and it’s over.

Eleven years ago when I published Queen Bees & Wannabes, a huge amount of attention was placed on girls and their social dynamics. But in all the years I’ve worked with boys and girls, I knew that boys struggled with many of the same challenges girls did—we were just having a really hard time seeing it. As the years passed I grew increasingly concerned, as I saw many boys adopt an appearance of detachment from their most meaningful relationships, their future academic or professional success, and any desire to make the world a better place. In the words of Will, age 20:

In my AP classes, I was always one of five guys. The same five guys in a classroom of girls. I had plenty of guy friends who could have taken those classes but they didn’t want to do it. They’d rather be the best among the mediocre. Really my friends would rather look stupid.

Two years ago, I decided to pull back the curtain on Boy World—a place I knew was much more complex than most people believe. (more…)

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksIn a news conference, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced an agreement with the family of Henrietta Lacks that will restrict NIH-financed research on the HeLa genome. Two members of Lacks’ family will serve on the HeLa Genome Council, marking the first time tissue donors have had a voice in the process and finally giving the Lacks family a say in how Henrietta’s cells are used. To learn more about this landmark announcement for which author Rebecca Skloot’s book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has played such a large role, please read the following articles: The HeLa Genome: An Agreement on Privacy and Access from the NIH, Nature Magazine and The New York Times.

Students at Evans High School in Evans, Georgia celebrate their first Henrietta Lacks Day

On October 4, 2011, the Evans High School Multicultural Club and Evans High School Biology teachers invited the entire staff and student body of Evans High School to celebrate the life of Henrietta Lacks.  Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital on this day in 1951.  Henrietta Lacks may have died on this day, but her cells, called HeLa cells, are still living in laboratories all over the world.  “Henrietta’s cells were the first immortal human cells ever grown in culture.  They were essential to developing the polio vaccine.  They went up in the first space missions to see what would happen to cells in zero gravity.  Many scientific landmarks since then have used her cells, including cloning, gene mapping, and in vitro fertilization” (Zielinski, 2010).  This is an incredible story told by Rebecca Skloot in her award-winning book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  This book makes a wonderful springboard for discussions concerning civil rights and medical ethics as well as the science behind these miraculous cells.  Another interesting subject covered in the book involves the Lacks family.  The family receives no monetary compensation from laboratories and drug companies using HeLa cells and they cannot afford healthcare. (more…)

Read the important book that’s topping many school lists. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.

In the following video clip, author Rebecca Skloot sits down to discuss the inspiration, impact, and process that went into The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

The paperback edition of the book releases on March 8, 2011.

The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer

by Peter Singer, author of The Life You Can Save

The Life You Can Save will challenge your students to think about what they should be doing about one of the great issues of our times. For the first time in history, it is now within our reach to virtually eradicate world poverty and the suffering it brings. Yet around the world, a billion people struggle to live each day on less than many of us your students too—pay for bottled water that we don’t even need. And though the number of deaths attributable to poverty worldwide has fallen dramatically in the past half-century, nearly nine million children still die unnecessarily each year. We in the developed world face a profound choice: if we are not to turn our backs on a fifth of the world’s population, we must become part of the solution. (more…)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

by Amy Jurskis, Tri-cities High School, East Point, Georgia

Like many teachers, I grew up reading, and to this day I attribute most of my knowledge to stories I read in books. Perhaps more than any other pedagogical tool, narratives allow students to connect to, organize, and make sense of information—which is why I was thrilled to tune into Fresh Air on NPR one afternoon and discover Rebecca Skloot’s amazing book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Skloot’s book is essentially three narratives, each with unique applications to the disciplines of language arts, history, and science. First there is the story of the author’s own odyssey—sparked by a casual comment made by a biology instructor—to discover the woman behind the HeLa cells. Skloot’s story is both a riveting work of investigative journalism and a deeply moving memoir, as her search for answers ultimately results in the development of a life-changing friendship with Henrietta’s daughter Deborah. (more…)