Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Blu-Ray? How about Bug-Ray?

News in Science - DVD uses bug protein to store data - 07/07/2006
DVDs coated with a layer of protein could one day hold so much information that storing data on your computer hard drive will be obsolete, says a US-based researcher.

Monday, September 29, 2008

An entire generation will have no frame of reference for Dan Aykroyd's character in Trading Places

Starting a New Era at Goldman and Morgan - NYTimes.com
The transformation of Wall Street picked up pace on Monday as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the last big independent investment banks, moved to restructure into larger, less risk-taking organizations that will be subject to far greater regulation by the Federal Reserve.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

No purses in class.

Indiana school bans purses in the classroom - ParentDish
In an effort to keep kids as safe as possible, many schools have banned backpacks in the classroom, forcing students to keep them in their lockers instead. But an Indiana high school is taking that idea one step further, telling female students that they can't carry their purses either. And that new rule has girls and parents alike upset.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dropout statistics

Visit LeaderTalk: Dropped Out or Pushed Out? to get the citation sources for each statistic.
Every nine seconds a student becomes a drop-out [1].

Of those who graduate from high school, the completion rate is 72% for females and 64% for males [2].

Among ethnic groups: African-Americans have a 50% graduation rate; Latinos - 53%; Asian/Pacific Islanders - 77%; and Whites - 75% [3].

Students from low-income families drop-out at six times the rate of higher-income families [4].

75% of inmates in state prisons are drop-outs. 59% of inmates in Federal prisons are drop-outs [5].

55% of drop-outs are employed [6].

The U.S. death rate for people with less than 12 years of education is 2.5 times higher than those with 13 or more years of education [7].

The cost to the public for crime and welfare involving drop-outs is $24 BILLION annually [8].

There are 3.5 million drop-outs between the ages of 16 - 25 [9].

Total combined loss of income and taxes in one year due to drop-outs equals $192 BILLION (1.6% of the Gross Domestic Product) [10].

Arguments about our pluralistic attempt to educate all children notwithstanding - graduations rates around the world include the following: Denmark - 96%; Japan - 93%; Poland - 92%; Italy 79%; and the U.S. - 70% [11].

Friday, September 26, 2008

Smithsonian online coming soon - cool!

Smithsonian will digitize its full collection - USATODAY.com
The Smithsonian Institution will work to digitize its collections to make science, history and cultural artifacts accessible online and dramatically expand its outreach to schools, the museum complex's new chief said Monday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Methane - 20 times more potent than CO2

Melting Arctic Permafrost Is Releasing a Global Warming Timebomb | Environment | AlterNet
The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tax Plans: Obama vs. McCain

Take a look at the graphics below and notice the differences at the top and bottom income levels.

At first glance, you see that the Obama plan benefits the most Americans. The number of taxpayers who get a tax break is greatest with the Obama plan.

On the other hand, McCain proposes huge tax breaks for the wealthy. This is just more of the same Republican trickle-down economics which led to skyrocketing national deficits and failed to balance the budget in the Reagan and Bush administrations.

McCain (net worth 21-45 million) gives ultra-rich folks the greatest tax breaks while cutting taxes on the poorest Americans by less than one-fifth of one percent. Obama (net worth less than 1 million) only raises taxes on folks who make over $600,000 per year.

Are you reading my blog and making over 600K? If so, that puts you in the top 1% of American taxpayers!!! You top 1% have been getting huge tax breaks for years and Obama's plan simply asks you to pay your fair share.

Are you reading my blog and making less than $110,000 per year? Probably, because that is well over 60% of American taxpayers. You will get more tax relief with Obama's plan.

Don't be distracted by campaign rhetoric, the numbers are clear. Obama has the only rational tax plan to stimulate our economy and balance the budget.

TaxProf Blog: Comparison of the McCain and Obama Tax Plans
The Obama tax plan would make the tax system significantly more progressive by providing large tax breaks to those at the bottom of the income scale and raising taxes significantly on upper-income earners. The McCain tax plan would make the tax system more regressive, even compared with a system in which the 2001–06 tax cuts are made permanent.

The Washington Post ran a story using this data and published this chart:

And CNN breaks it down this way:
McCain: The average taxpayer in every income group would see a lower tax bill, but high-income taxpayers would benefit more than everyone else.

Obama: High-income taxpayers would pay more in taxes, while everyone else's tax bill would be reduced. Those who benefit the most - in terms of reducing their taxes as a percentage of after-tax income - are in the lowest income groups.

Sarah Palin and Charlie Gibson, a triumph of ignorance!

Op-Ed Columnist - She’s Not Ready - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com
While watching the Sarah Palin interview with Charlie Gibson Thursday night, and the coverage of the Palin phenomenon in general, I’ve gotten the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Accountability and learning goals

Teachers must communicate the learning objectives every day. This includes the big ideas and essential questions as well as daily objectives.

My focus on prepping students for Alaska's graduation exam in mathematics is identifying and targeting their areas of need.  For the bulk of individualized instruction, I am using Carnegie's Cognitive Tutor (Pre-Algebra) on computers.  Several students use consumable workbooks instead of the computer math program.

This year, I've also incorporated a daily skill lesson focused on computation and solving word-problems.  My skill lessons follow the Video Tutor series: students work the problems and then watch the video to see the step-by-step solution.

This routine is working well so far for most of my students.  But I struggle to identify daily objectives for each student because they are all working on a variety of concepts.

My routine includes stating the Video Tutor objective but falls short of the mark when it comes to the individualized instruction goals.  I try to state the learning objectives as I circulate through the class and provide assistance.

I'll be honest... stating individual learning objectives 50 times per day is wearing me out.  I need to be more consistent and diligent about getting to every student, every day.  Every day.

Kevin Riley has a few thoughts on how to help students "color in the
dots".  His post caught my attention because his school sounds at least as 'alternative' as mine.  And I gotta' give some love to an administrator who knows that quality instruction starts with clearly stated objectives.

So Internal accountability, at least for my school, requires this:

• Virtually every student, every teacher, every parent must be able to articulate the essential, non-negotiable standards and competencies that must be mastered in order to perform 'at grade level' in May;
• The formative data from MAPS must be clearly understood by each student so that they know exactly where they are along the continuum of mastery as the year goes on-- and even more importantly-- so that they know what they need from their teacher ( the very definition of engaged, independent, self-reflective students!)
• Every lesson must be tightly designed so that children always know the purpose and learning goals for that lesson;
• Every lesson must feature research-based instructional strategies that simultaneously target and differentiate for every learner... at whatever level they may be along the continuum (see: Gradual Release of Responsibility!!!);
• Teachers must be able to use all evidence available-- MAPS data, student work samples, etc. -- to make strategic and on-going adjustments for each child.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lies, Myths and Flip-Flops

McCain and Palin's Top 20 Lies, Myths and Flip-Flops | | AlterNet
here is a quick, short and cited list of the top 20 lies, myths and flip-flops that have come from the McCain/ Palin ticket so far

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Conventional discourse

Words They Used - 2008 Political Conventions - Interactive Graphic - NYTimes.com
This is interesting. Challengers usually point out the mistakes of the incumbent party so you would expect to see some talk of Bush/McCain/Iraq by the Democrats. Similarly, you wouldn't expect Republicans to associate themselves with such an unpopular president and his failed foreign policy.

What surprised me is that Republicans have so thoroughly distanced themselves from using the words 'health care', 'jobs', 'energy' and 'economy'. I mean, wow...