A Love Song To Mothers

Your House is Strong
By Nerissa and Katryna Nields

MotherWoman wanted to find a unique way to celebrate mothers, so they teamed up with Western MA mother’s, Nerissa and Katryna Nields, and local photographer Sarah Prall and asked families and friends in Western MA to share what they received from mothers that they treasure most. The results… this beautiful and touching video! Share with other mother’s in your life!

MotherWoman is a locally based organization that supports and empowers mothers to create positive personal and social change for ourselves, our families, our communities and the world. www.MotherWomen.org

Flipping the Classroom: Western MA Teacher Offers Support Through Online Videos

Education Reform, One Video at a Time

Hollington Lee of Hatfield, MA writes:

You never know what crazy thing listening to someone else’s ideas will inspire. In my case, as a public high school teacher, it inspired me to produce close to 60 short videos (yes, 60!) of MCAS math practice questions for 3rd and 4th graders.

A fellow teacher and friend asked me what could have possessed me, a science teacher, to do this. The short answer is not what but who. Salman Khan, founder of the nonprofit online Khan Academy “school” inspired me. It all started with his presentation on TED.com.

If you’re not a subscriber to TED.com’s weekly email newsletter, you should be. TED.com is a site that features video presentations – mostly less than 20 minutes long – from original thinkers around the world on subjects ranging from education, nutrition, science and technology to music, poetry, art and social activism. It’s a place to expand your thinking about… well, everything.

I received my weekly email from TED announcing newly posted presentations, and one talk by a guy named Salman Khan was entitled: “Let’s use video to reinvent education.” As a 14-year science teacher who’s been thinking a lot lately about how I teach – and whether it’s really the best way to reach my students – I was intrigued.

I watched the video, then I went to khanacademy.org and all I could say was WOW! Here’s his story in brief: After earning degrees from MIT and Harvard, Sal was working as a hedge fund manager. He began tutoring his cousins in math, first in person and then long distance. To make his efforts easier, he ended up putting his lessons on YouTube, after which he received two surprises. The first was that his cousins preferred interacting with the YouTube version of him because they could stop him, replay or fast-forward him, without Sal looking over their shoulders to ask if they “got it.” The second surprise was that other people around the world were finding his lessons and sending him thank you notes.

Khan Academy is truly impressive – the scope of lessons, the exercise and progress tracking software (for math), and the fact that it’s all FREE! At this point you should watch the talk. It’s just 20 minutes long and I think you’ll see what the excitement is all about:

The whole thing really made sense to me. His delivery, his method, his vision. I came away from his lecture inspired – to the point of action. Here was something I could do to make my teaching not just different, but BETTER and my students’ understanding GREATER.

I wanted to change the teaching in my Biology and Human Anatomy classes to a more Khan-style approach and use Khan-style videos (he calls it “flipping the classroom” and it’s a subject in itself). What I needed to start with, though, as a practice, was something more concrete, with specific correct answers, and a finite set of questions… Read the rest of this entry »

Our Daughters: Texting While Hanging Out with Friends

BFF 2.0: She’s Texting While We’re Hanging Out

Rachel Simmons ♦ Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls

Rachel Simmons writes our monthly column, Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls.  Rachel is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator and coach, Rachel works internationally to develop strategies to address bullying and empower girls. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, Rachel currently serves as a consultant to schools and organizations around the world. Rachel was the host of the recent PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and writes an advice blog for girls at TeenVogue.com. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her West Highland Terrier, Rosie, and teaches workshops for parents and girls in Northampton. Visit her website at www.rachelsimmons.com – Check out  Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls the last Monday of every month.

Joanie Leeds Guest DJ Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

Joanie Leeds Guest DJ Episode

Listen Now
Listen to Podcast Now

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
February 19th & 20th, 2011
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: “C is for Conifers” by They Might Be Giants

PodcastsRadio Archives Subscribe Myspace Facebook Twitter


  • Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights – “Give Me A Hug” [I’m A Rock Star]
  • Shirley Temple – “You’ve Got to S-M-I-L-E to Be H-A-Doubley P-Y” (From the 1936 film Stowaway)
  • Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights – “More Cowbell” [I’m A Rock Star]
  • Jon Samson – “You Could Do Better” [Another Kids Album]
  • Phish – “Simple” [A Live One]
  • Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights – “Mosquitoes” [What A Zoo!] Music
  • Otis Redding – “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” [The Very Best of Otis Redding]
  • Okee Dokee Brothers- “Fur Elise” [Kids with Beards]
  • Blind Melon – “Three is a Magic Number” [School House Rocks! Rocks]
  • Bobby Darin – “Splish Splash” [Bobby Darin]
  • Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights – “Happy As A Clam” [What A Zoo!] Music
  • Simon and Garfunkel – “The Only Living Boy in NY” [The Best of Simon and Garfunkel]
  • The Meters – “They All Ask’d for You” [The Very Best of the Meters]
  • Recess Monkey “Moon Boots” [Final Funktier]
  • Billy Jonas – “What Kinda Dog Are You?” [Happy Accidents]
  • Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights (Featuring Secret Agent 23 Skidoo) “Froggie Went A Courtin” [What A Zoo!] Music

Upcoming HFVS Guest DJs:

Hilltown Family Variety Show: Jan. 29th, 2011

January 29th, 2011 Show

Listen Now
Listen to Podcast Now

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
January 29th & 30th, 2011
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: The new Sesame Street “Lady Bug Picnic” song.  See the video of the original version here.

PodcastsRadio Archives Subscribe Myspace Facebook Twitter


  • Billy Kelly ♦ “We Could Be Pen Pals” [The Family Garden ]Music
  • Lunch Money ♦ “Come Over to My Dollhouse” [Original Friend ]Music
  • Secret Agent 23 Skidoo ♦ “Noise” [Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti ]
  • Groove Kid Nation ♦ “Soul Clap” [The Wheels on the Bus ]Music
  • Steve Weeks ♦ “Why” [Dandelion]Music
  • Luv Clowns ♦ “Draw” [Love Clowns! ]Music
  • Jamie Broza ♦ “New School” [I Want a Dog ]Music
  • “Lucy the Elephant”
  • The Hobo Nickels ♦ “The Ludington Lighthouse” [Cooper County ]
  • Banana Slug String Band ♦ “Going Down, Down, Down” [Only One Ocean ]
  • Ben Rudnick & Friends ♦ “A Frog Named Sam” [ A Frog Named Sam ]
  • The Nields ♦ “Superhero Soup” [Rock All Day]
  • Dreyer Family Band ♦ “Cutie Baby” [Family Photograph ]
  • Alex the Seal ♦ “Big Bunny in My Backyard” [Alex in Wonderland]
  • David Tobocman ♦ “Home” [I Count to Ten and Other Very Helpful Songs]

Upcoming HFVS Guest DJs:

  • 2/19 Joanie Leeds
  • 2/26 Josh Wachtel from Radio Free Earth
  • 3/5 John Boydston from Daddy A Go Go
  • 3/12 Mister G
  • 3/19 Charity Kahn from Charity and the JAMBand
  • 3/26 Billy Kelly
  • TBA: Luv Clowns

    A Day at the Westhampton Fall Festival

    Featured Video: Reflections of Motherhood

    Advice to Your Pre-Baby Self

    Friends from MotherWoman turned us on to this video, Reflections of Motherhood. Moms were asked if they could go back to before their first baby, what would they tell themselves. These are their answers, set to the song Days Away by Ashton. Advice we liked best: “You are about to meet true love,” “It’s okay to be scared,” “Take time for yourself,” and “Imperfect is the new perfect.”

    What would you go back and tell your pre-baby self? Share your insights …

    Hilltown Spring Festival: A Big Green Success!

    Lucky Day for Many, Green Success for All
    At the 4th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival

    Luck was smiling on Helene and Paul Copp. The couple, who are renovating a house they bought in Chesterfield, were spending time with family last weekend and just happened to be passing the Cummington Fairgrounds during the fourth annual Hilltown Spring Festival. They stopped to take in the sights and sounds of the event—and ended up winning the door prize, a family day-pass to Look Park.

    “It was the icing on the cake for us,” Helene says. “What impressed us most about the festival was the energy there. It was relaxed and warm and yet, the stuff that people were talking about there—clean water, organic farming—is really world important stuff.”

    The May 15th Festival was the biggest and greenest since the Hilltown CDC launched the event four years ago. Some 2,000 people attended—a third more than last year—and there were more eco-friendly businesses and recycling volunteers than ever before. Click here to see photos from the day.

    The Hilltown CDC is a nonprofit membership organization supported by individuals and local businesses helping to build strong and caring communities throughout the Hilltowns. To sign up as a volunteer or vendor at next years Festival, contact Seth Isman at sethi@hilltowncdc.org. To learn more about the Hilltown CDC visit them at www.hilltowncdc.org or 413-296-4536.

    Like This!

    Leaf Peepin’ & Apple Pickin’ Episode on the HFVS (10/03/09)

    10/03/09 PLAYLIST

    Saturday from 9-10am
    WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
    Northampton, MA

    listen NOW | listen LIVE | request a song | subscribe to free podcast
    archived shows | contests | myspace | facebook

    • The Beatles Drive – “My Car/The Word/What You’re Doing” [Love ]
    • They Might Be Giants – “Electric Car” [Here Comes Science] Music
    • Meredith Brooks – “Drive the Car” [If I Could Be…]
    • Vintage Sesame Street – “Lost Boy Remembers His Way Home” – Featured Video
    • Laurie Berkner – “Drive My Car” [Under a Shady Tree ]
    • Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck – “Leaves are Falling” [Special Kind of Day]
    • Marais & Miranda – “Why Do Leaves Change Their Color?” [Nature Songs]
    • A Curious Glimpse of Michigan – “An Autumn Day” [A Curious Glimpse of Michigan]
    • Uncle Rock Play – “Outside Today” [Uncle Rock U]
    • Justin Roberts – “Apple Tree” [Great Big Sun]
    • Ellis Paul – “Star Inside the Apple” [The Dragonfly Races]
    • Tom Freund – “Apple from the Tree” [Hug Trees]
    • Vintage PSA: Eat Fruit!
    • Kira Willey – “Making Pie” [Dance for the Sun]
    • The Neilds – “Harvest Table” [Rock All Night]
    • Jim Armenti – “The Great Pumpkin Roll” [The Great Pumpkin Roll]
    • Station Id: The Harmonica Pocket [www.harmonicapocket.com]
    • Steve Songs – “Seasons for Us All” [Morning Till Night]
    • The Sippy Cups – “Snail Song” [Electric Storyland]
    • Laura Doherty – “Hot Dog” [Kids in The City] Music
    • Terri Hendrix – “Car Car” [Celebrate the Difference]
    • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
    • “Oaikoi (Harvest Ceremony)” [The Long Road To Freedom: An Anthology of Black Music]

    Web Review: The Snowman

    The Snowman

    One my favorite films to watch during the holidays is The Snowman by Raymond Briggs, a 23 minute pencil-drawn animation. It’s the purity of The Snowman that I enjoy the most. The film is without words and set to the composition “Walking in the Air” by Howard Blake and performed by Peter Auty. With his wonderful illustrations and a timeless musical composition, Briggs brilliantly captures the innocence of a young boy’s imagination during the holiday season.  If you too are a fan of this movie, check out The Snowman web site at www.thesnowman.co.uk.  Teachers can find lessons and classroom outlines, and activities for children of all abilities from ages 4 and upwards by going to their Fun & Games page, or simply click here.

    Featured Videos: Rotting Pumpkins

    Gustafer Punches Cheese in Florence

    Gustafer Yellowgold at the Florence Civic Center

    Gustafer Yellowgold in Florence (c) www.HilltownFamilies.orgLast February, Morgan Taylor and Rachel Loshak from Gustafer Yellowgold came to the Pioneer Valley for a memorable family performance at the Flywheel in Easthampton, MA. Well, lots has happen between then and now (for one thing, Flywheel closed their doors in March, with hopes to open again in the Old Town Hall in downtown Easthampton, a very exciting prospect! Click here to read Valley Advocate’s article). This past weekend they performed at the Florence Civic Center in Florence, MA, presented by Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.

    Christy & Kai at the performance (c) www.HilltownFamilies.orgSince their last gig in our area, Gustafer Yellowgold came out with a new CD/DVD this fall, Have You Never Been Yellow?, a sequel to their first album, Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World. This weekend’s performance included several songs off of their new CD, including “Punching Cheese,” “The Mustard Slugs” and “Beard For All Seasons.” Each of their songs is a blend of minimally animated illustrations that are accompanied by Taylor’s catchy and original ballads for a truly different multimedia experience. Here’s their performance of “The Mustard Slugs:”

    Another exciting thing that has happen since their last visit is that their newest CD won the number one position on the Fids and Kamily Award, which Hilltown Families was invited to participate in as a judge! Congratulations! In a recent post to Hilltown Familes, Fids & Kamily 2007 Awards … My Vote!, written by HF Contributing Writer, Bill Childs from Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, Childs writes:

    Liam during the performance (c) www.HilltownFamilies.orgHave You Never Been Yellow? – Gustafer Yellowgold (www.gustaferyellowgold.com). Gustafer is a small yellow fellow from the sun, and this, the second CD/DVD set to follow his Earthly exploits, is sweetly hilarious and musically rich. The CD stands on its own, but the DVD “moving story book” is what makes the package very nearly perfect.

    And the last bit of exciting news we’ll share, Morgan and Rachel will be expecting their first child in a few months! Kudos you two! Wishing you wellness and joy.

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