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Monday, January 17, 2005

MLK Observance Lessons

The National Education Association's page, Teaching About Tolerance: Lessons in Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is a good repost of material that originated from Education World.

The old Kids Domain site, now part of the Kaboose network, has a page of links to Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities.

Activities for Students

While poking around, looking for MLK activities, I ran across the Kidspace page and Kidspace Archive on The Christian Science Monitor site. Kidspace is a regular Tuesday feature from the Monitor.

Scienceman.comThe Science Man is Back

Joe Martha's excellent site is once again being updated. The site sports a new look and lots more excellent content for science teachers. I had written an update to the January 10 EdNews posting about the site, but somehow, it got lost and never got posted! So, welcome back, Joe.

PRISM (Portal Resources for Indiana Science and Mathematics)While I'm recommending science sites, I may as well put in another plug for "my site," PRISM. After just four months of early retirement, I'm now back at work full-time promoting an education site for middle school science, math, and technology, hosted at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and funded by a grant from the Lilly Foundation.

PRISM is a free, assistive web portal for middle school (and other) math, science, and technology teachers. The site links Indiana state standards in the subjects above to relevant web-based activities. The site also has an excellent search engine that actually makes it wonderfully useful for folks outside of Indiana and even for homeschoolers.

Pell Grants and NCLB

After changing the rules to eliminate eligibility for many for Pell Grants, President Bush now says he's raising the total a student may receive in a year from the program. Edwin Chen of the Los Angeles Times tell the story in Bush Unveils $15-Billion Plan to Raise the Pell Grant Ceiling. Chen writes, "President Bush said Friday that his new budget would call for raising the maximum Pell Grant by $100 annually over the next five years, a $15-billion proposal that would increase the grants for low-income college students to $4,550 a year." He notes that Senator Edward Kennedy commented, "We've been down this road before. President Bush has walked away from all his promises to raise Pell Grants since his first year in office." Chen also adds that the Bush Administration changed "the financial aid formula...that could result in at least 80,000 students losing aid and many others receiving reduced grants" late last year.

A related, but somewhat dated page, BUSH RECORD ON PELL GRANTS: Making Students Pay More for College, adds some perspective on the subject.

The Washington Post's Michael A. Fletcher and Maria Glod tell of the President's speech last week outlining his plans for "extending federal testing and accountability requirements to the nation's high schools" in 'No Child' Expansion Is Outlined. They quote the President as saying, "Testing is important. Testing at high school levels will help us to become more competitive as the years go by. Testing in high schools will make sure that our children are employable for the jobs of the 21st century."

How Many Times Do You Retain Them?

The New York Times Monica Davey explores the issue of repeated retentions of the same student in A Child Held Behind. Davey tells the story of 12 year old Paige Bonds, who is still a third grader, to explore the problems of repeated retentions in light of the No Child Left Behind legislation. It's a good discussion of a difficult problem.

Merit Pay in Denver

Douglas McGray tells of a merit pay program to be rolled out next year in Denver that was crafted by both the teachers' union and the school system. In Working With the Enemy, McGray writes "Denver labor leader Brad Jupp decided the union had to change -- not because it wanted to but because it had to."

Read Carefully

The Nevada Appeal published Education spending does not corollate to student achievement despite politics and the press in its news section, but a closer examination reveals that author Ron Knecht is a deposed Republican state representative!

The new iMac. Performance and design. Taken right to the edge.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Server Changeover

We're in the midst of a chnageover to a faster server. Actually, the changeover is complete, but we're now waiting for the DNS to catch up to the new IP address. Updates should return to their usual, irregular schedule soon!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

National Education Technology Plan Released

eSchool News reports that the "new National Education Technology Plan released Jan. 7 might finally drive widespread use of an education standard conceived nearly six years ago to transfer student data seamlessly from one software program to another, regardless of platform or manufacturer." The Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF...gotta have a techie acronym) was developed to eliminate the need for school personnel to enter information about the same students over and over again for each administrative software package a district uses--a need that arises when software programs cannot communicate with each other or share information."

TitanHuygens Images of the Surface of Titan

The Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive has featured surface images of Titan, one of Saturn's moons, several days recently. Huygens Images Titan's Surface from January 15 and Titan Landscape from January 17 show amazing detail of the moon's surface.

Dr. Tony Phillips's Science@NASA also has a very cool online lesson, Sights and Sounds of Titan.

De-Icing a Plane

There's a cool feature on de-icing plane wings on It's good to see the Scienceman in action again!

Schools' Use of MLK Day Questioned

Indianapolis Star writers Staci Hupp and Barb Berggoetz report on some groups that question school systems' use of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in For some, King Day is no holiday from school. Many schools scheduled January 17 and other holidays as tentative holidays if make-up days for school closings have not occurred. Hupp and Berggoetz write, "At a time when older generations strive to pass on King's message of justice, peace and unity, critics wonder whether King's legacy has been lost in the pages of the school calendar."

Indiana State Senator Billie Breaux, a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Indiana Holiday Commission, stated, "I don't think any of us who are Christian would want to celebrate Christmas on July 1 because it's a better time for us, calendarwise. I really think this is taking away from the meaning of why the holiday was set aside."

The authors also point to other school systems that remain in session on the federal holiday, but have thematic lessons honoring the civil rights leader. Zionsville fifth-grade teacher, Carol Savitsky, stated, "Unfortunately, most people don't celebrate the day. It's a day off, a day to sleep in, a day to go to the mall." Her students "listen to a reading of King's "I Have a Dream' speech, fill out crossword puzzles about the civil rights leader, watch an animated video about the Nobel Prize-winner called 'Our Friend Martin,'" and do other related activities.

EdNews Take: Years ago, we got ourselves in trouble with veterans' groups in our community when we scheduled school on Veteran's Day. The arguments were about the same, and in the end, we were able to establish a tradition of excellent Veteran's Day programs and activities in the school, making almost everyone happy.

The "I Have a Dream" speech still makes my skin tingle and brings tears to my eyes. I began my teaching career 35 years ago as a naive white boy in a black community. We used to show a King biography in the evening after school before the federal holiday was established. Nearly the entire faculty attended voluntarily, and the community turnout was outstanding. It was a time of remembrance, honoring a hero, and a binding together of a community...of students, parents, and staff. I'm not sure what the "right" answer is for all of this, but as educators, we must be sensitive to the needs of our communities.

A Little Bragging

PRISM, a web site for middle school science, math, and technology teachers, passed a milestone yesterday. We added our 600th member yesterday. As the site grows, we hope to achieve the "critical mass" of users necessary to establish a "community of practice" among educators. I say "we," as it's the site where I now work.

You're invited to join the party! Coupon

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Server Changeover Complete

Well, as advertised, there were a few glitches in the changeover to the new server, but I think we're past that and ready to go. Updates from the last two weeks and one column disappeared (actually, I think I posted them to the old server instead of the new one), but have been restored now.

Workshop at ICE

We've been working very hard at PRISM, getting ready for the Indiana Computer Educator's convention. The PRISM team will be presenting a workshop on the project on Thursday, January 27. If you're at the conference, let me point out that our workshop will be free, as we're funded by the Lilly Foundation and are a non-profit organization. If not, and you're wondering what all this "PRISM stuff" is, there's a descriptive, downloadable PowerPoint presentation (29 MB) available. We're also on the verge of adding some very cool new features to the web portal, including chat rooms for educators, private collaborative meeting space for educators working on projects, and web hosting for PRISM members.

Mac Mini

Mac MiniApple upgraded the shipping on my new Mac mini (no charge) to priority overnight, so things got really exciting Friday when I used my lunch hour to run home and pick up the new computer. I'll probably do a column on it after all the ICE convention hustle and bustle calms down. (Image at right courtesy Apple Computer, Inc.)

Mac Mini at workFor now, my first impressions are that the new Mac is everything Apple advertised and more. I bought the 1.42 GHz model with the 80 gig drive, and installed a 1 GB RAM upgrade from Other World Computing. I got it set up in just a matter of minutes, despite the fact that it's the third computer sharing a common monitor, keyboard, and mouse via a Dr. Bott MoniSwitch.

The new computer also shipped with a copy of iLife '05, not installed, but on a DVD. I wish Apple had included a disk for their combined word processor and presentation software, iWork, as well, but you can't have everything, I guess. As part of my job at PRISM is creating multimedia presentations, I'll have to order iWork so I can try out Keynote 2.0. iPhoto 5, part of iLife '05, has has only gotten better with this upgrade, as you can see from the screenshot below.

The Mini came home for the weekend for a FireWire linkup with my G5 for some serious file transfers and software installations. I transferred my iTunes collection, essential for when I'm getting sleepy at work in the afternoons, DragThing and MaxMenus, which make navigation a dream on OS X, and some of my serious productivity software, Adobe Creative Suite CS and Microsoft Office for Mac 2004.

I'm keeping the old Blue & White Mac at work for a bit to transfer files to the new box, which is pictured at left, nestled under the flat screen display. The current "game plan" is to transfer most of my daily work chores to the Mac Mini from my Compaq laptop. Over the last three months, I've found that there is little that the Mac can't do on our Windows dominated network. (The network is actually UNIX, but we use Microsoft Exchange for email and calendars, and desktops and laptops are almost all PCs.)

Eventually, the old Blue & White will be parted out on eBay to pay for the Mac Mini. I hate to do it, but the whole idea of this computer purchase was that it was to be cost neutral or nearly so. With a Sonnet 1 GHz upgrade card, a Sonnet ATA133 PCI card, two Seagate 120 MB hard drives, a Pioneer DVR 108 (the next SuperDrive?), and a 1 GB of RAM, I suspect I'll come close to the goal of recovering almost all of my investment in the Mac Mini from the eBay sales.

I'll try to get back to some things more relevant to education next week. Well, if you're at a school looking to replace a bunch of PCs with displays, USB keyboards, and mice that still have a few miles in them, the Mac Mini might just be the best computer investment your school has ever made! Please note that while I'm an avid Mac user, I haven't hesitated in the past to hammer Apple and Apple Education when they've introduced and overpriced new products. This introduction is for real. Apple has come up with what appears to be a quality, low-cost, entry level computer.

Mac mini Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz  4GB RAM  320GB Hard Drive  NVIDIA GeForce 9400M  SuperDrive

Mac mini Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz 4GB RAM 320GB Hard Drive NVIDIA GeForce 9400M SuperDrive

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz 2GB (2x2GB) DDR3 SDRAM 320GB SATA HDD NVIDIA GeForce 9400M SuperDrive Gigabit Ethernet AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi Bluetooth Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard

We're Outa Here!

Educators' News is no longer an active site. It was regularly published from April 18, 2001, through April 18, 2003. Content from the site (archives and features) will remain available via the current URLs for the time being.

For those seeking current education news, let me recommend the following links:

School and Society

Education Week
(free registration required)

The New York Times
(Education page -- free registration required)

The Washington Post
(Education page)

The Boston Globe
(Sunday education page)

U.S. Department of Education

The Los Angeles Times
(Education page -- free registration required)

The Chicago Sun-Times
(Education page)

CNN Education

National Education Association

Yahoo Education Search

For Macintosh specific news, including some education links, let me suggest:

(formerly AppleSurf)

 MacSurfer's Headline News

Low End Mac

Macs Only

My sincere thanks go out to the regular readers and contributors to this site for their support over the last two years. Please stay in touch. I'm not dying, just closing this part of the site:-).

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©2005 Steven L. Wood