...dedicated to...hmmm, we're still figuring that one out...
The European Space Agency's unmanned cargo ship, Jules Verne, has arrived safely at the International Space Station and has assumed a parking position about 1200 miles in front of the space station. The Jules Verne is the first of possibly 7 such cargo vehicles and will be undergoing testing in space before its scheduled docking with the space station on April 3, 2008.
An article on ScienceDaily, Can Involvement In Extra-curricular Activities Help Prevent Juvenile Delinquency, caught my attention this morning. A study done by researchers at Northwestern University "found that involvement in extra-curricular activities definitely seemed to minimize the risky behaviors, there seemed to be a 'tipping point' where too much participation had a counter-effect. They also found that nontraditional activities for each gender (such as sports for girls and church for boys) provided a greater protection from delinquency." The full report (124K PDF doc) is available as a free download.
Spellings to Meet with Virginia Officials on NCLB
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is scheduled to meet with Virginia education officials on Wednesday in response to a bill passed by state lawmakers directing Virginia's Board of Education "to recommend whether the state should pull out of a federal school accountability system." In Education secretary to visit Richmond, Richmond Times-Dispatch writer Olympia Meola notes that the bill is still unsigned by Governor Timothy Kaine and that Virginia's Board of Education President Mark E. Emblidge has stated the board supports the main objectives of NCLB and has no plans to withdraw. "State education officials continue to seek waivers from specific regulations for some students with special needs or limited English proficiency. The pending legislation would basically put some muscle behind the board's case for greater flexibility in those areas." Also see Assembly Passes Bill to Allow 'No Child' Opt-Out.
Illinois Testing Woes
Rosalind Rossi has an interesting article in the Chicago Sun-Times about testing problems in Illinois. In State to adjust test immigrants must take, Rossi tells about Illinois education officials agreeing "to tweak the state achievement test that next year's immigrant high school juniors will face...The state School Board's actions came just weeks before public school juniors who are still learning English are, for the first time, being required to take the two-day Prairie State Achievement Exam, a decision that's caused an uproar in many high schools."
The Illinois test consists of one day devoted to the ACT and a second day of testing of skills needed in the workplace. The new test became necessary when federal officials ruled the state's previous test for English language learners didn't meet federal No Child Left Behind standards.
California Now, Indiana Next Year?
You may be wondering why a website in Indiana is following the California school funding crisis so closely. A recent column in the Christian Science Monitor, California's Fiscal Crisis Hits Schools, by Daniel B. Wood, carries an analogous quote:
Indiana just voted to cap property taxes much like the California Proposition 13. The legislative cap in Indiana is to be followed up by constitutional amendment to prevent "tampering" with the caps by future legislatures. "When the caps are fully implemented in 2010, schools will lose nearly $90 million statewide." See Schools across the state worried about impact of property tax plan.
Odds 'n Ends
Glimmers of Progress at a Failing School by Winnie Hu is an interesting story about the struggle to improve instruction at the Newton Street School in Newark, New Jersey. Newton principal Willie Thomas "struck an unusual partnership with Seton Hall University and the Newark Teachers Union to rebuild the school."
Offering Teachers Incentives; and a Chance to Live Their Faith by Samuel G. Freedman tells of the Epics (Educational Partners in Catholic Schools) program at St. Patrick’s School in Jersey City, New Jersey. The program is one of about 20 similar efforts by Roman Catholic colleges and universities that "have placed several thousand teachers in urban Catholic schools, and collectively they comprise a sort of religion-based version of Teach for America."
Author Works To Prevent Reading's 'Death Spiral' is the story of children's author and former teacher Jon Scieszka's efforts "to get schools and parents to lighten up when it comes to selecting books for children." Scieszka has been named U.S. National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Librarian of Congress and is "traveling the country, talking to adults about how to get children to read more, especially those who find reading a chore."
Send Feedback to
There was a great story by Doug Belden on the St. Paul Pioneer Press yesterday, Learning lines and life lessons. Belden tells about a group of students at St. Paul Central High School that have "created a play about the racial achievement gap. But the group is also helping participants boost their grades and set their sights on college." A short QuickTime video about the play is available.
Two good articles appear online today about the problems with the No Child Left Behind law's 100% proficiency standard. Connecticut Schools Confronting Proficiency Demands in the New York Times talks about the inequities of the law. Is your kid's school in crosshairs of No Child Left Behind by Bill Roberts in the Idaho Statesman tells about some schools that may face the "failing school" sanctions next year.
Excellent Article on Autism
Newsweek probably isn't where you'd normally go for a quality discussion of educational issues, but an column by Claudia Kalb, As autism becomes new celebrity cause, many questions remain, is an excellent overview.
What Books When?
Washington Post staff writer Valerie Strauss has a timely column today with Question for the Ages: What Books When? There's also a somewhat related posting in Most Challenged Books Include Beloved and The Chocolate War.
iPhones in Kindergarten?
iPhone for Kindergarteners (Or Younger Kids!) is a quick blog posting about a parent using an iPhone with her daughter to see the daily temperature. The teacher involved suggested using the device for analog time practice, calendar (days of the week, months of the year), and Celsius and Fahrenheit practice.
It's an absolutely gorgeous day here in southwest central Indiana. I got up early before the wind picked up and sprayed dormant oil on our fruit trees. After that, I was sorta lost for anything worthwhile on this site! So today, I'll just leave you with a variety of PODs (Pictures of the Day) from various sites.
Experimenting With Makeup: What Puts the ‘Ick’ in Lipstick by Natasha Singer relates the story of Dr. Chi-Ting Huang's class for middle schoolers about the chemistry of cosmetics. "Dr. Huang, whose mother used to work as a chemist who formulated shampoos, designed the course last year with fifth to seventh graders in mind. She wanted to pique young women’s interest in science by teaching them a bit of chemistry about everyday consumer items." Participants broke down various lipsticks to their components in lab exercises led by Dr. Huang at the Museum of Science in Boston. One student asked, “Do they really use whale puke in perfume?”
Spellings Meets with Virginia Leaders
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings met with Virginia legislators, educators, and business leaders yesterday to put out the fire from the Virginia legislature's bill that directed the Board of Education to study whether the state should pull out of the No Child Left Behind program. State urged not to abandon No Child Left Behind law by Hugh Lessig tells that Virginia is seeking accommodations on how to measure the progress of students with limited knowledge of English and those with disabilities.
The Space Shuttle Endeavour landed last night in Florida after completing a 16-day mission to the International Space Station. As usual, NASA provides lots of free, high quality images in the STS-123 and ISS image galleries.
NASA also had an interesting press release yesterday about the Cassini flyby of Enceladus, Cassini Tastes Organic Material at Saturn's Geyser Moon. Cassini's "Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer saw a much higher density of volatile gases, water vapor, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, as well as organic materials, some 20 times denser than expected." Also see the Cassini home page.
"On a rainy Friday morning at Akron's Garfield High School, the Garbucks crew of Room 109 prepared an Almond Joy latte," writes John Higgins in the Akron Beacon in Special education class learns by making coffee. This story is one of those cool things going on in classrooms that make learning fun and somewhat applicable to real life.
I really wanted to put a heading of "We knew that" on this story, but Greg Toppo's Size alone makes small classes better for kids tells of some interesting research results about the advantages of small class sizes. Researchers "found that in smaller classes in both elementary and high school, students stayed more focused and misbehaved less" (We knew that!), sometimes in spite of what teachers did (Hmm, didn't know that!).
Adobe Launches Free, Online Photoshop Express
Yesterday, Adobe launched a new, free, online application, Photoshop Express. For those lacking a good image editor on their hard drive, this tool may fill the bill. For classrooms and/or computer labs lacking site license image editing software, it could be a godsend.
I'd already put week 169 of Educators' News to bed when I saw an eSchool News posting, Adobe launches free web version of Photoshop. I pretty quickly got my ancient version of Dreamweaver fired back up and tried the Photoshop Express link. When I tried to join, I ran into a gray screen that had been preceded by an apparent attempt to download something from Macromedia.com. I guessed correctly and downloaded and installed the latest version of Adobe Flash, and was then easily and rather quickly able to register and use the online application.
For a quick test drive I chose a picture of my daughter, Erica, and my wife, Anne, on their recent trip to the Bahamas. (Yeah, don't they look happy!) Photoshop Express was able to quickly use its redeye correction tool to fix Erica's redeye.
This application looks like a real "keeper!"
Multimedia and Memory
Another eSchool News article, Analysis: How multimedia can improve learning, talks about learning theory and how the use of multimedia can add to learning. The article reminds me of applying the principles primary teachers have used for years with tracing and such (VAKT) to multimedia in the classroom.
An Interesting Blog
Gerald Bracey's blog posting, The Degeneration of American Education, really talks about some of the silliness associated with high-stakes testing, rather than being another blog running down education. It's a good read.
I was busy...
It noticed today that a new version of Stellarium was released in January! Guess I was busy at the time it came out. Stellarium is an open source (free!), cross-platform computer planetarium program that will display the night sky for your area. You can choose what labeling you want and what magnitudes of stars to be visible, along with a ton of other cool options.
If you're more into moving through space, Celestia, another open source project, provides a real-time 3D space simulation where you may view other object from different perspectives (other than from earth).
Education Week published its Technology Counts 2008 edition this week with reports on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. Most of the articles around the web focus on how many computers are available per student per state. There's obviously much more to the subject, as covered on Education Week:
A related item appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on Wednesday, Inspiring girls to tech. It tells about one of the Microsoft DigiGirlz camps being held around the country that work "to dispel stereotypes of the high-tech industry." As the husband of a woman who makes a pretty good living as a WAN specialist in a male dominated field, I can only say, "Way to go!"
Have a great weekend!
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©2008 Steven L. Wood