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Monday, April 2, 2012

More Testing

I began last Monday's posting here on Educators' News with a series of stories from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that described irregularities in student test scores around the nation. Today, I'm linking to Maureen Downey's excellent blog post in the AJC of an essay on testing by Peter Smagorinsky, research professor of English education at the University of Georgia, The billion dollar question for Arne Duncan: Why has testing become the driver in school reform? He writes in part:

U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his billionaire advisers have a very different idea: investing even more money in even more testing. Not just a little more more testing, according to Krashen, but expanding the testing intervention by twenty fold.

Oh my.

Blackboard Buys Moodlerooms and NetSpot

Blackboard announced last week that it had purchased two providers of the open-source Moodle LMS platform, Moodlerooms and NetSpot. The headlines about the sale may have given many Moodle users a bit of a start, but the purchase was of services that provide paid Moodle hosting and customizing. Moodle.org is still alive and well. Joseph Thibault wrote on Moodle News that Blackboard went from being "the largest proprietary LMS company on the planet" to "the largest proprietary LMS company on the planet" with the purchase. He added, "In fact, I’m less worried about what Blackboard can “do” to Moodle (not much) than I am excited about how Moodle will change the culture of Blackboard."

Catching Up

APOD-April 1Jenny Anderson had a really interesting article last Monday in the New York Times, Private Schools Mine Parents’ Data, and Wallets. She wrote how private schools are now using sophisticated data to help raise funds:

Quietly, school heads and fund-raisers say the concentration of wealth in New York is a double-edged sword: bad for social inequality and stressful for schools trying to attract a more diverse student body, but good because they can focus their efforts on the relatively small number of families who can part comfortably with large sums of money. As it turns out, there is extensive public information about those families, like the foundation boards they sit on and their political donations and property reports.

In case you didn't get an adequate dose of April Fool's Day humor yesterday, let me offer the slightly geeky Astronomy Picture of the Day for April 1, 2012, to fill your cup. Other highlights from last week include:

Odds 'n' Ends

This week's tour of about fifty Sunday papers around the nation didn't produce all that many interesting articles, but there were some.

Personal Note

Mom, Jerry Albert, DadClarence and Sarah WoodWhen I was writing last Monday's posting (on Sunday) for Educators' News, I received word that my father had quietly passed away in his sleep. Dad was 98, almost 99, and had lived a long and good life. He was sharp to the end and a constant source of strength to his children and many others. While we will obviously sorely miss him, he's gone to be with the Lord and Mom, who preceded him in death three years ago.

While we prepared for the funeral and then celebrated Dad's life with friends and family, I suspended publishing Educators' News and Senior Gardening with just a brief notice at the end of last Monday's posting. I'm just beginning to get back into the swing of everyday life. For now, I hope to resume our normal Monday-Wednesday-Friday publication schedule for EdNews.

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Autism Awareness RibbonWednesday, April 4, 2012

NOVA's Hunting the Elements - Tonight!

The Teachers' Domain April Newsletter brought word of an interesting new two-part episode of NOVA, Hunting the Elements. It premiers on PBS tonight at 9 P.M. and is hosted by New York Times's columnist and former Mac writer, David Pogue. During the shows on "nature's building blocks," NOVA will hold "a LIVE Educator Share-a-Thon" on Facebook. The first episode will also be available online beginning April 5.

NOVA also released a free Elements iPad app on iTunes this week. From the newsletter: "This interactive periodic table of the elements app allows you to build atoms and assemble molecules into everyday objects in the My Essential Elements game."
  
From the YouTube Preview at left, this one looks to be informative and a lot of fun.

Almost Equal in Arizona

I somehow missed The Daily Show's satire, Tucson's Mexican-American Studies Ban. Fortunately, Robert Skeels embedded it in his "Almost equal" in Arizona posting on Schools Matter this week. To save you a click, I'm doing likewise here.

The Lyrids Are Coming...and Other Space Stuff

Space.com's Mike Wall reminds us in Lyrid Meteor Shower to Grace Dark April Skies that we do have a meteor shower, albeit a usually light one, later this month. The Lyrids will peak on April 21-22, a period when the moon is new, making watching for the Lyrid's expected 10-20 meteors per hour a whole lot easier.

The radiant of the meteor shower is located in the constellation Lyra. The source of the meteor shower is the comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher). The Lyrids have been observed for the past 2600 years. For more information, see:

NGC 2683

APOD 120317NGC 2683, also nicknamed the UFO Galaxy for its shape, was featured this week on the NASA Image of the Day (above), Hubble Spies a Spiral Galaxy Edge-on, and as the Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 17 (at right), in NGC 2683: Edge-On Spiral Galaxy. That's sorta cool, as the APOD image is one captured by astronomers Dietmar Hager and Torsten Grossmann, while the NASA Image of the Day is made up of Hubble Space Telescope images augmented by ground telescope images. Either way, it's a delight for the eyes.

Odds 'n' Ends

Eat More KaleI got an Eat More Kale T-shirt in the mail yesterday from Bo Muller-Moore. I'd sent Bo a quart of our Portuguese Kale Soup to sustain his strength in his uphill fight with Chick-fil-A over trademark infringement.

I'm obviously having trouble getting back in the swing of publishing Educators' News after taking just a couple of publication days off. There just wasn't much that caught my fancy today, including one highly rated, free iPhone app that I downloaded, installed, tested, and immediately trashed because of absolutely rotten educational value. I also skipped doing our usual Wednesday On the Blogs feature, as there just wasn't much going there. So I'm posting what did catch my fancy over the last few days.

And while I haven't seeded kale in our garden yet this spring, I did get out and transplant a bunch of cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower on Monday. That's garlic behind the brassicas in the photo below. It's been up since late December due to the unseasonably warm weather we've had.

Main garden

Water Charity

Friday, April 6, 2012

Just a quick, all odds 'n' ends posting for Good Friday.

Have a great weekend!

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