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Monday, March 5, 2012

Culinary Students Run High School Cafe

Jeffrey Weiss's Richardson High’s Eagle Cafe gives students practical experience in running a restaurant tells the story of a long-running, student operated cafe. The Eagle Cafe, open on Fridays to school personnel and the public, is staffed by juniors in Richardson High School’s culinary arts program. About 60 students participate in the culinary arts program which "pays for itself." On a recent Friday, "it served about 60 plates: salads, grilled panini, sandwiches, soup, desserts made from scratch. Any adult can eat there or order takeout. Workers in several nearby offices regularly take advantage of that."

An older copy of the Eagle Cafe menu is available online (2.9 MB PDF document). There's also a story about the cafe in Richardson's School Times Now newsletter from 2006. (You'll have to scroll down a bit to find it.)

I'd guess that Richardson High School teachers look forward to lunch there on Fridays!

Some Interesting Comments on iBooks and iPads

Sharon Noguchi asked in yesterday's San Jose Mercury News, "Will Apple create the all-iPad classroom?" Noguchi writes that what "sounds like an irresistible deal for the dazzling, interactive books that Apple touts...would require a huge investment in technology at a time of shriveling school budgets." She adds:

While iPads and other mobile devices ultimately may send textbooks the way of the slate, whether Apple's textbook service will become what iTunes is to music is another question. What puts educators off is not just the $499 sticker price - $475 if purchased in batches of 10 - for the basic iPad (add $35 for a case).

It's also the requirement that schools buy the textbook software as vouchers for individual students, who will download the electronic textbooks onto their own iTunes accounts.
Every year, the school district will have to buy more $14.99 textbooks that it will never own.

Noguchi notes that while there appear to be many, enthusiastic early adopters of iBooks on iPads, some longtime Apple fans are "wary of the iBook plan." Those folks appear to be looking instead to free, "open-source textbooks that cost districts nothing" as an alternative to the iBook classroom.

The Silly Season

Our Uniserv Director used to call this time of year the "silly season." It's the time of year that many states mandate school districts inform teachers of their intent to lay them off or even fire them. The original silly season came from silly vendettas at this time of year conducted by school administrators and board members against teachers they didn't like for a variety of reasons other than, usually, bad teaching. And of course, union officials got to fight these unjustified dismissals.

In the last few years, the silly season has become more of an exercise by school districts in trying to balance their budgets, often without the benefit of hard numbers for state aid for the coming school year. Districts now routinely send layoff notices to hundreds and sometimes thousands of teachers, as they cannot project how they will pay them for the next school year. When state school formulas are finalized, many of the laid off teachers are called back to work. The silliness is no longer the purview of school administrators, but of state legislatures that don't provide the data, much less sufficient funding, to assure adequate staffing in their schools for the next school year.

The Sacramento Bee's Diana Lambert tells of one instance of what has now become a nearly annual story in Thousands of Sacramento-area teachers soon to receive pink slips.

A Turned Out Turnaround

The Indianapolis Star's Robert King reports how State Superintendent Tony Bennett's state takeover (and future privatization) of Emma Donnan Middle School in Indy destroyed any hope of success of a promising local turnaround already initiated by the Indianapolis Public Schools. King contrasts Donnan with another school hoping to avoid Bennett's state takeover and privatization scheme in Our Children, Our City: Amid uncertainty, school takes a low-key approach to ISTEP.

About Today's Educators' News

I was fortunate yesterday in my Sunday search for a unique, human interest story to begin this posting. The Richmond High School Cafe came up early in my alphabetical search of newspapers around the country. Since the Dallas Morning News blocks access to its stories by non-subscribers, I did have to play a little fast and loose with the URL, borrowing one from a search engine that leads to the full article. Usually, I just mutter an expletive and move on, omitting any content from papers such as the Morning News or the Boston Globe that insist on trying a paid web scheme that totally failed for the New York Times years ago. But the story was cool, so I did the search and got lucky...as long as the link remains good.

Two items not mentioned so far today kept popping up in my searches. Almost every paper I surveyed had something about the Chardon High School Shooting. Even more frequent were stories about Rush Limbaugh's outrageous attack on the student who testified before a congressional panel and his subsequent insincere apology. That one turned up on almost every front page across the nation yesterday. Sadly, not one major Republican has stepped forward to call for Limbaugh's firing over this event and/or his frequent distortions that make their party's national candidates weaker. (No, Ron Paul's statement doesn't even come close to what is needed.) It's time, and Limbaugh's rants to the conservative fringe hurt the party overall, but the politicians are simply afraid to challenge the man.

It would be great if a thoughtful, nationally respected Republican like, say Indiana's Dick Lugar, would call out Limbaugh on his lies and outrageous statements and demand Clear Channel Communications take him off the air.. But Lugar, who courageously reported the truth about ‪Ferdinand Marcos‬ to Ronald Reagan, precipitating this country's withdrawal of support for the inhuman Philippine dictator, is in an all out primary fight with an extreme tea party candidate. Where telling Reagan the truth the president didn't want to hear was a moral obligation to Lugar in 1984, getting on the ticket this time around is apparently more important than being right. It's been sad to see Lugar slide into the clutches of those who would destroy the Republican Party with their ultra-conservative agenda.

Three Pinocchios for Governor Daniels...Again!

And since I've already mentioned distortions, let me add that I was amazed to see the Washington Post Fact Checker referenced in an Indianapolis Star article by Chris Sikich, Maureen Groppe, and Mary Beth Schneider, Bosma: That "sideshow" remark just slipped out. They wrote:

"Let's give the president credit for one domestic policy that worked," Daniels said Feb. 26 on Fox News Sunday. "He wanted higher gas prices, and he got them."

The Washington Post fact-checked Daniels' statement and awarded it three "Pinocchios" on a scale of four. Statements given three are judged to include "significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions."

The Star writers left out that the Post's Fact Checker gave Daniels Three Pinocchios a year ago when he was considering a presidential run for his distorted comments on the economy. It appears that Daniels still aspires to higher office, whether a cabinet post, a 2016 run for the White House, or a vice-presidential bid this time around. If you're a Republican leaning voter, remembering Daniels' many Pinocchios along with his anti-teacher and anti-public school agenda might help you in your decision making.

BTW: Taking the Post's Fact Checker Quiz is an absolute riot. Try it!

Odds 'n' Ends

So Far Off the Subject, I Had to Hide It Down Here

Manning - Colts - whiteManning - Colts - blueIf you're looking for a Peyton Manning Indianapolis Colts Jersey, you might want to hurry before they become obsolete. Indianapolis Star sports writer Bob Kravitz has been reporting on and speculating for months as to whether Colt's owner, Jim Irsay, will pay Manning a $28 million option bonus or let him go on the free agent market. In Decision on Colts QB Peyton Manning: It's head vs. heart, Kravitz sticks with his previous assertion that the Colts have to let Manning go, sign Andrew Luck, and use the surplus money to rebuild and retain other free agents.

But Kravitz reports that Peyton has stuck a monkey wrench in any such plans by releasing a YouTube video showing him throwing with his old strength, vigor, and accuracy. Irsay's problem is that lots of Colt's fans, including one previous Colt's season ticket holder named Mrs. Wood, say they'll have nothing to do with the Colts if they let Manning go!

The Star's Mike Chappell wrote in Video clip shows Colts QB Peyton Manning in action over the weekend:

Posted on YouTube, the edited, 27-second clip shows Manning making a variety of passes, including one deep down the field. ESPN, citing a source at the workout, verified the authenticity of the video.

Manning missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing single-level anterior fusion surgery, his fourth neck procedure in 19 months. He is due a $28 million option bonus by Thursday. If the team does not pay it or Manning declines to accept a reduced contract, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Having been privileged to accompany Mrs. Wood to a number of Colts games, I can verify that there could be thousands of slightly used Manning replica jerseys available cheap beginning Friday morning. And despite all the press about Andrew Luck, I'd guess the season ticket waiting list will quickly get a whole lot shorter.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On the Blogs

Dance Mat TypingI had just about made up my mind Monday evening to skip writing the On the Blogs section this week, as I hadn't found anything new or terribly interesting I wanted to post. How dare the bloggers I'm following this year to get too busy teaching (or having a life) to post something I could use.

Then I ran into a couple of tech postings with what appear to be gems of useful tools. The first from Richard Byrne's Free Technology for Teachers, Dance Mat Typing - Typing Instruction and Practice had me thinking of the Robin Williams' accented voice of Mrs. Doubtfire. Dance Mat Typing from the BBC is an easy, online typing tutor suitable for primary ages. The web lessons are available in Flash and non-Flash versions. I previewed the home row lesson and found it delightful, and possibly effective!

The second potential gem is one I can't test without pinching my wife's iPad. Paul Hamilton highly recommends the free PaperPort Notes app from Nuance in PaperPort Notes: Voice Recognition Built into Versatile Note-Taking App for iPad on his Free Resources from the Net for Every Learner blog. Paul wrote:

It is the speech-to-text that sets this app apart. Whenever the keyboard is called up, the user has the option of dictating by voice. Using only the built-in iPad mic, I found the accuracy to be almost flawless, even when dictating with low levels of background noise present.

Ben Wildeboer shared an interesting and award winning lesson he crafted as a research and writing project for his ninth grade science classes. Master’s Project: Self-directed learning in the science classroom on Ben's Bionic Teaching blog gives download links to his paper describing the project. His brief online description is:

Simply put, students worked in teams of four to five and shared a team blog. Students investigated any topic that interested them around the general theme of climate change. Students were tasked with researching the topic and sharing their learning and questions on their blog. There were no due dates (other than the end of the school year), though students were all required to write a certain number of posts and comments on their classmates’ posts.

Ben is actively seeking feedback on his project idea.

Larry Ferlazzo's Insanity - Mandatory Retention Of Third Graders Who Don’t Read At Grade Level caught my eye, as Indiana is one of the states he alluded to that have passed such a bill. Larry has compiled a number of links to papers and articles that question the wisdom of mandatory retention.

I almost blew off Mike Rose's excellent Rethinking Remedial Education and the Academic-Vocational Divide, Part I just because of its stilted title. Mike shares some of his vast experience in remedial education before looking at the underpinnings of past remedial education theory. He also explores some changes in the making in remedial instruction for adults. And best of all, he makes it interesting.

Jim Horn had a rather tart suggestion on Schools Matter on Monday for a Tennessee teacher, Don't Sue to Keep Scores Out of the Papers: Sue to End This Sham Evaluation Scheme.

Looking at today's posting, it's a good thing I finally found some good blog posts, or there would have been almost nothing here.

Odds 'n' Ends

ESPN is reporting that the Indianapolis Colts will release quarterback Peyton Manning this afternoon.

The American Red Cross

Friday, March 9, 2012

New iPadThe New iPad

Apple Computer announced on Wednesday that its new generation iPad will be available in stores on March 16. The new version will feature a sharper display and a faster processor.. Richard Byrne noted on his Free Technology for Teachers blog what may be the biggest plus for educators from the new release, "The big news for cheapskates like me is that the iPad 2 [which Apple will continue to sell] dropped $100 in price to $399." (Note: There currently is no extra discount for students and educators beyond the $399 starting price on the iPad 2 on Apple's Education Store.) Several publications have noticed that Apple has muddied iPad version identification a bit. David Pogue wrote in the New York Times:

I'm calling it "this year’s iPad" because it has no other distinguishing name. Apple says the name is not "iPad 3," even though the previous model was called the iPad 2. And it's not "iPad HD," even though its new retina screen has higher resolution than a high-definition TV screen.

Taking a bit of the shine off the announcement of the new iPad, the Wall Street Journal has reported that "the Justice Department has warned Apple Inc. and five of the biggest U.S. publishers that it plans to sue them for allegedly colluding to raise the price of electronic books."

No Surprise: Teacher Morale Down

The recently released MetLife Survey of the American Teacher found that morale among the nation's teachers is at its lowest point in more than 20 years.

Rebuilding

Two unrelated articles about people rebuilding their lives came to my attention this morning. The first is a story about tornado ravaged Henryville, Indiana, School board unveils plan to get Henryville students back to class. The second story is a follow-up on the Chardon school shooting, Ohio town faces long recovery from school rampage. Unrelated in a way, both stories tell of people rebuilding their lives after tragedy strikes.

Time Change Reminder

Before leaving on a flight to Florida this week, my lovely wife reminded me to reset our clocks for daylight saving time (Spring forward, fall back). While she might have just been being helpful, I also think she wanted me to appear at the airport on time on to pick her up next week.

Odds 'n' Ends

In tribute to yet another slow news day (or did I not look hard enough?), I'm running both a NASA Image of the Day and a YouTube video of Occupy protesters interrupting Arne Duncan's speech in Austin.

Star forming region

 • KUT News: Protesters "Occupy" Arne Duncan's Austin Speech by Wells Dunbar
 • NASA Image of the Day: Hubble Views Grand Star-Forming Region
 • Bridging Differences blog on Education Week: Phony Stories About Schools by Deborah Meier
 • Bridging Differences blog on Education Week: Bobby Jindal vs. Public Education by Diane Ravitch
 • Charting My Own Course: Diary Of A Mad Black Teacher by Marilyn Rhames
• Education Week: Shortages of ADHD Drugs Felt in Classrooms by Jackie Zubrzycki
 • LiveScience: Sex Education Delays Teen Sex, Study Finds by Stephanie Pappas

Have a great weekend!

Educators' News and Senior Gardening have both been down several times this week as our web host, Hostmonster.com, wrestles with a server changeover. I apologize if you tried to access either site and were perplexed with "server not found," "no site at this address," or "404" errors displayed. I wasn't terribly happy about the service outage either, but this is just the second time we've experienced this kind of thing with Hostmonster.

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