Saturday, October 25, 2008

Compassionate Kitty

Oscar, a cat who lives in a nursing home, has an uncanny ability to predict when patients are about to pass away. When staff members see Oscar curling up with a patient, they call the family and give them an opportunity to say goodbye to their loved one. His ability to correctly predict patients’ deaths was described by Dr. David Dosa, geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University, in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Prescription for Life

This whimsical work of art introduces your patients to the importance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans in cancer prevention and survival. It also tells how to obtain free information about nutrition, recipes, and classes from The Cancer Project.

Food for Life for Diabetes

More than 20 million Americans are living with type 2 diabetes, and many are looking for a healthy way to manage their condition. PCRM’s new diabetes Web site provides easy-to-understand nutrition information, healthy recipes, and a step-by-step guide for making diet changes. Visitors will find a video support group featuring presentations by PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., and cooking demonstrations from staff dietitians. PCRM nutrition experts also monitor the Get-Healthy Club, an online message board where people ask questions and share stories about using a low-fat vegan diet to manage their diabetes. Visit to take advantage of any of these free resources.

Pass the Virtual Scalpel

Thanks to advances in technology, students can now learn vertebrate anatomy without harming animals, using the “digital scalpel” in a virtual dissection program called Digital Frog. PCRM has given away almost 4,000 copies of Digital Frog II to students, teachers, and parents who requested a copy through our Web site. Digital Frog II is an interactive CD-ROM that uses animation, video, narration, and still images to create a realistic—and harmless—dissection experience for students.

Logging On to Better Health

This spring, PCRM launched, a comprehensive Web site that helps health care professionals and consumers understand the links between healthy eating and good health. The site offers hundreds of recipes, tips on weight management, and information on the risk factors, typical treatments, and nutritional considerations for dozens of medical conditions, from acne to Alzheimer’s disease. There’s also a meal planner that helps users select a healthful meal plan, along with nutrient analyses, recipes, and a shopping list.

The Hazards of School Lunch

More and more children are gaining excess weight. According to a recent report in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, nearly half the children in North America will be overweight or obese by 2010. Along with those extra pounds come an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and some forms of cancer later in life. According to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine, today’s youth may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

Healthful diets rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and other vegetarian foods help children stay healthy and trim. Unfortunately, many kids don’t always have the chance to eat healthful meals—at least not during the school day. The meaty, cheesy fare many schools serve is fanning the flames of the obesity epidemic.

That’s why PCRM is working to improve school lunches. PCRM tracks school policies across the country and makes suggestions for improvements, rewards innovative food service professionals, provides nutrition resources for parents and schools, and promotes changes to federal nutrition policy to make healthful food more accessible.

Resources for Schools and Parents

School lunch offerings have slowly improved over the last several years, but most schools have a long way to go. PCRM offers resources for parents and schools at, including helpful links, book titles, and downloadable booklets and fact sheets. And more nutrition tips and healthful recipes for students, parents, and the whole family are available at
Winter 2008• Volume XVII, Number I

The End of “Dog Lab,” the Beginning of a New Kind of Medicine

Winter 2008• Volume XVII, Number I

The past year saw several important steps forward. The number of medical schools using animal laboratories has fallen from more than 100 when we began 20 years ago, to 25 in 2005, to about 15 last year at this time, and to just 10 today. The latest to end these cruel exercises were Washington University, New York Medical College, Saint Louis University, Stony Brook University, Duke University, and Texas A&M.

As of late last year, dogs are no longer used in medical education at any U.S. school. And we are pushing hard on those 10 remaining schools to end their use of other species—pigs, ferrets, and others—in medical coursework. Not only can the animals breathe easier, but the students can, too. No one will ask them to choose between their ethics and their careers.

Read whole article:

PCRM Report Card Reveals School Lunch Disparities

PCRM Online, September 2007

It’s 12 o’clock: Do you know what your child is eating for lunch? A staggering 80 percent of schools do not meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) nutrition requirements, which mandate that schools serve meals deriving less than 30 percent of calories from fat and less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat. In its sixth School Lunch Report Card, PCRM has determined which school districts make the grade in the lunchroom—and which schools need to make improvements.

Organic Produce

Not Just Cleaner—They’re More Nutritious
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, found not only that organic produce is lower in pesticide residue but that it may also be better than conventionally grown fruits and vegetables for overall and cardiovascular health. Organic tomatoes have almost twice the amount of flavonoids, important disease-fighting antioxidants that reduce heart attack and stroke risk, lower blood pressure, and may aid in preventing some types of cancer and dementia.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall Events at Kennedy Space Center

Grand Opening October 3, 2008
Experience the powerful and stunning imagery of the Hubble Space Telescope at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex during Eye on the Universe: The Hubble Space Telescope.

Featuring the Blue Angels!November 8 and 9, 2008
With the backdrop of America's launch facilities, the aerial stage soars with the premiere military aircraft of today and yesterday. F/A-18 Super Hornet, F-16 Viper, B-25, A-10 Warthog, P-51 Mustang and many more.

September 24, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008


GreatSchools is an independent, nonprofit organization that empowers and inspires parents to participate in their children's development and educational success. Parents choose GreatSchools to find the ideal schools, get expert advice, share stories and find answers to their parenting and education questions. In the past year alone, more than 35 million people visited GreatSchools.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Medical School for International Health

Medical School for International Health (MSIH), a collaborative program of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Columbia University Medical Center (NY), is the only medical school in the world designed to train a new type of international/multicultural physician.

Levitt Letter (September 2008, p. 26)

Israeli Drug First To Slow Parkinson's

The Israel Parkinson Association welcomed with“excitement and joy” the results of a study showing Parkinson’s drug Azilect (rasagiline), developed by Profs. Moussa Youdim and John Finberg of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, to be effective at slowing the progression of the chronic and fatal neurological disease, a first for any drug.

In the randomized, double-blind ADAGIO study, the drug was found to be effective, safe, and well tolerated. Based on these results, the drug could become the first Parkinson’s disease treatment in the world to receive a label for “disease modification.” Azilect received the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale in the spring of 2006.

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Inspired Sites

Visit Teacher Tube to see some great presentations about InspireData and data literacy.

Discover the Power of Visual Learning

Learning to think. Learning to learn. These are the essential skills for student success. Research in both educational theory and cognitive psychology tells us that visual learning is among the very best methods for teaching students of all ages how to think and how to learn.

What is visual learning?

Visual learning is a proven method in which ideas, concepts, data and other information are associated with images and represented graphically. Webs, concept maps, idea maps and plots, such as stack plots and Venn plots, are some of the techniques used in visual learning to enhance thinking and learning skills.

Our award-winning software tools, Inspiration®, Kidspiration® and InspireData™, the latest addition to the Inspiration Software® family, are based on proven visual learning methodologies that help students think, learn and achieve success.

With Inspiration and Kidspiration, students create diagrams and outlines as they brainstorm ideas, organise information, gather research, make visual associations and identify connections.

With InspireData, students build data literacy as they collect and explore information in a dynamic inquiry process, using integrated tables and plots to visually investigate, manipulate and analyse data.

Learn more about the power of visual learning and see examples of visual learning techniques developed in Inspiration, InspireData and Kidspiration.

With the powerful combination of visual learning and technology, students learn to clarify thoughts, organise and analyse information, integrate new knowledge and think critically.

Visual learning techniques help students:

Clarify thoughts

Students see how ideas are connected and realize how information can be grouped and organised. With visual learning, new concepts are more thoroughly and easily understood when they are linked to existing knowledge.

Organise and analyse information

Students can use diagrams and plots to display large amounts of information in ways that are easy to understand and help reveal relationships and patterns.

Integrate new knowledge

According to research, students better remember information when it's represented and learned both visually and verbally. Updating diagrams and mind maps throughout a lesson prompts students to build upon prior knowledge and internalise new information.

Think critically

Linked verbal and visual information helps students make connections, understand relationships and recall related details.

The leader in visual thinking and learning

For more than 25 years, Inspiration Software® has been developing award-winning visual learning tools to help people think and learn. The company's software is used extensively in schools and educational institutions worldwide. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A., Inspiration Software's team is continually working together to create software that meets educational goals around the world.

New Products

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Online English Learning

The GlobalEnglish Personal Learning Service is designed for busy professionals and other motivated learners who want to improve their English skills. Two comprehensive curriculum options allow users to focus on the course of study that is appropriate for them.

Free trial for 10 days of Online Courses.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Classroom Resources from NASA and Peace Corps

Space-Flown Basil Seeds Still Available for Lunar Plant Growth Chamber Design ChallengeThe NASA Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber has positively impacted educators and students nationally. Currently over 1,000,000 students are involved! Plenty of space-flown seeds are still available. To register for the Challenge and receive seeds, visit at Visit the Web site frequently to find new feature stories about schools participating in the Challenge.

World Wise Schools Supports Geography and Global IssuesThe World Wise Schools program offers free cross-cultural educational resources online including podcasts, videos, stories, slide shows, and electronic newsletters. Each resource reflects Peace Corps Volunteer experiences overseas and builds in U.S. children a greater understanding of the world around them. Educational materials produced by the program promote cross-cultural understanding, awareness of global issues, and the ethic of community service. They include writings by Peace Corps Volunteers and returned Peace Corps Volunteers, online narrated slide shows, monthly podcasts, a monthly educational electronic newsletter, and award-winning Destination videos. These resources may be found at
August 27, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Difficult Parents - best seller in Amazon

2006 by Cottonwood Press, Inc., U.S.A.
Problem Parents:
  • Pinocchio's Mom -- who believes that her child, unlike every other child in the universe, never ever tells a lie of any kind.
  • Caped Crusader -- believes his ideas or principles should be embraced by everyone.
  • Ms. "Quit Picking on My Kid" -- even when the parent admits that her child's behavior was unacceptable, she will argue that everyone else's was, too.
  • The Intimidator -- who wants what he wants, and he wants it now.
  • The Stealth Zapper -- she may appear innocent, but her words and actions can sting.
  • The Uncivil Libertarian -- fights for what he insists is his child inalienable right to any or all of these: passionate embraces, obscene messages on shirts, the F word on its many forms, hazing, bullying, fighting, and visible underwear. (Most teachers and administrators think not.)
  • No Show's Dad -- one kind of parent seems to think that attendance isn't mandatory, but optional.
  • Helicopter Mom -- who hovers constantly, ready to whisk away any problem or inconvenience that might befall her child.
  • The Competitor -- every encounter with the teacher is a contest, like a World Federation Wrestler.

Left to right: Sarah Stimely, Cheryl Thurston, Samantha Prust, Anne Marie Martinez, Heather Madigan, Mary Gutting (front center). Not pictured: Rochelle Dorsey.

The staff holds copies of How to Handle Difficult Parents, a book we published that received a great review in John Rosemond's column syndicated in 225 newspapers across the country. Our national distributor, Independent Publishers Group, immediately sold out of its stock as people started ordering from bookstores. For several days, the book was in the top 50 on, reaching as high as #31 in sales. Our congratulations to author Suzanne Capek Tingley for writing a book that has enjoyed such success.

Practical advice for teachers, presented with a sense of humor. The stress of dealing with difficult parents remains one of the top reasons teachers cite for leaving the ranks, according to the Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy. How to Handle Difficult Parents helps teachers learn how to cope more effectively.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Book Donation Campaign

The Department of Education teamed with First Book and Random House Children's Books to launch the 2008 Summer Reading Initiative <>. The Initiative marked the first stage of a national distribution of over 850,000 free, new Random House children's books to schools, libraries and literacy organizations serving low-income youth across the country. Some 500,000 books were distributed in this first stage of the initiative.

The effort is part of our Book Donation Campaign, a multi-year effort of the U.S. Department of Education, First Book and a host of major U.S. book publishing companies to promote literacy and supply books to children in need. Since June 2006, we have collaborated to distribute nearly 3 million children's books to schools, libraries and literacy organizations serving low-income youth across the country. Later this month, the Department and First Book will announce the availability and subsequent national distribution of the remaining 300,000 Random House books earmarked for the Book Donation Campaign. Schools, libraries and organizations interested in obtaining books available through the Campaign are encouraged to register online at
August 25, 2008

Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program -- Summer 2009

The Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program provides opportunities for overseas experience. The program is open to educators and administrators with responsibilities for curriculum development in fields related to humanities, languages, and area studies. Topics and host countries of the seminars vary from year to year. All seminars are in non-western European countries. Seminars are designed to provide a broad and introductory cultural orientation to a particular country (ies). The program is geared towards those educators with little or no experience in the host country (ies) who demonstrate the need to develop and enhance their curriculum through short-term study and travel abroad. There are nine seminars being offered for Summer 2009 with 16 positions per seminar, subject to the availability of funds. Seminars take place from late June to mid-August for a duration of four to six weeks.

Country seminars to be offered in 2009 include:

Elementary Seminars
New Zealand & Mongolia

Secondary Seminars
China - For Language Instructors

Postsecondary Seminars
China - History & Culture
Jordan & Oman

Terms of the award include: ▪ round-trip economy airfare ▪ room and board ▪ fees ▪ program-related travel within the host country (ies). Participants are responsible for a cost share, $400.00. Updated application forms are now available. The Summer 2009 application and reference form deadline is September 12, 2008.

Those Qualified To Apply:

Elementary School Teachers in the fields of social sciences, humanities, including languages;
Middle or High School Educators in the fields of social sciences, humanities, including languages;

Administrators or Curriculum Specialists who have responsibility for curriculum in the fields of social sciences, humanities, including languages;

Librarians, Museum Educators or Media or Resource Specialists who have responsibility for curriculum in the fields of social sciences, humanities, including languages; and

Faculty or Administrators from public or private, 2- or 4-year institutions of higher education whose discipline is related to the social sciences, humanities, languages and/or area studies.

For additional information, please contact Gale Holdren:; Program Assistant: Michelle Ward:
The application package is available, you may apply online at
May 29, 2008

Teaching Videos

Biophotonics International

Join the Crowd

We would like to introduce you to a magazine called Biophotonics International. It is the world's leading magazine dealing with photonics solutions for the medical and biotechnology industries.

It contains the information you need to apply the latest in imaging, optics, lasers, microscopy and many other light-based techniques to your work.

Best part: It's Free. Simply go to the website: and click on New Subscription. Complete the form and submit to start receiving your monthly copy of Biophotonics International.

BioPhotonics International is going to feature articles that present reviews on the latest technology in the next coming months. Make sure that you don't miss them.
Thank you for your time,The Staff of Biophotonics International

May Edition of Education News Parents Can Use

The May edition of Education News Parents Can Use will explore how effective teaching is at the core of America's long-term economic competitiveness; highlight progressive strategies to recruit, train, and reward effective teachers; and, feature award-winning educators from across the country who are dedicated to improving student achievement and ensuring student success in today's global economy. Educators, policymakers, and practitioners will discuss key questions such as:
What does "effective teaching" mean and what is the Department doing to promote it?
What is the link between effective teachers and student achievement?
What can we do to overhaul the recruitment, training, and compensation of teachers, especially those teaching critical subjects like math and science?
How can we populate America's high need schools with effective teachers?
What is the Teacher Ambassador Fellowship Program and how will it contribute to the field?
What questions should parents ask to ensure their child's teacher is high performing and effective in the classroom?
How would key programs and initiatives-like the Teacher Incentive Fund, student loan forgiveness programs and the Adjunct Teacher Corps-help to fill teaching shortages in high-need schools and subject areas critical to America's competitiveness and economic viability?
Ways to Watch: Education News is available on local education, government or public access channels; TLC (The Learning Channel); some PBS member stations; the Dish Network and DirecTV; BYU Television (DirecTV, Dish and via local cable providers); and Channel One. To learn more, please visit
Archived Webcasts: Education News is available via archived webcasts. To view and learn more, please visit
May 5, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fred Jones Winner for 2008 Teachers Choice Awards

Learning Magazine's 2008 Teacher's Choice Award for the Family

The Tools for Teaching Parent Edition has been awarded Learning Magazine's 2008 Teacher's Choice Award for the Family. Here's what they have to say:

"In 1994, Learning Magazine introduced the first Teachers’ Choice Awards program. Over the years, the program has grown to become one of the most recognized and prestigious awards in the educational market. Learning Magazine launched the Family program to meet the needs of companies whose educational products work in the home environment. Teachers who are also parents evaluated more than 200 products--including books, games, electronics, software, and more--to choose the best tools for at-home learning."

Visit the Learning Magazine web site:

Tools for Teaching is a proven set of skills and strategies to successfully manage your classroom with a positive, practical, low stress approach. Wouldn't it be great if you could teach the parents of your class these same skills to use at home? Dr. Jones new 3 DVD set for parents does just that. Each disc centers on a theme that will help parents develop positive relationships with their kids, while better understanding what you are doing in the classroom. Parents and teachers can work together with a common language and set of skills to create the best environment possible for their kids.

2008 Teacher's Choice
Award for the Family

Learning doesn’t stop when students leave the school building! That’s why Learning Magazine hosts the Teachers’ Choice Award for the Family. Teachers who are also parents evaluated more than 250 products—including books, games, electronics, software, and more—to choose the best tools for at-home learning.

April 16, 2008


With communication at our finger tips it is absolutely critical that a person be literate in these technologically advanced times. When I opened my email this morning, I thought about how important it is to be able to read and write. My business activities require this skill, as well as my personal life. Though I typically forget this isn’t something that comes by nature alone, this morning I realized this isn’t the case and wondered what the best way to obtain this skill is.

There are two components of literacy, the first is writing. I believe this is the harder part of literacy. One that I believed came from much practice. But as I researched how to learn to write, the number one thing I was guided to do was read. From reading you can obtain better skills at writing. It was not suggested to read one specific thing, but to read anything from comic books, to newspapers, to fiction. Reading alone helps the brain recognize how words and phrases should be placed.

The second part to literacy is reading. Reading is something I have learned to enjoy. And something I have learned to appreciate as the best way to increase knowledge in anything. I once heard that it takes reading 30 books to become an expert at something. And as I started to discuss this with people, those who I had looked up to for knowledge had been individuals who had followed this criteria for expertise.

Obviously you already know how to read, if you have gotten to this point. But the real point is to continue to work on your literacy so that you may better your communication. Since globally communication is becoming a larger part of everyday life, it is critical to continue to better your skills in this area. Reading is the best way to do this.

Doubleday Book Club
April 8, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Goji Berry of the Himalayas

In his book Goji: The Himalayan Health Secret, Dr. Earl Mindell reveals a longevity secret that redefines the meaning of "healthy aging." This secret has been the key to long life for thousands of years among the people in remote areas across Asia. Their energy, mental agility, and overall vitality in old age has confounded scientists for decades.
After spending years exploring the link between longevity and nutrition, Dr. Mindell discovered that many of the world's longest living people have something in common: "They consume regular daily helpings of a tiny red fruit that just happens to be the world's most powerful anti-aging food: the goji berry."

For more info, go to:

The Disciplined Mind

(Author of Multiple Intelligences)
2000 Penguin Books, New York, USA

The best way to accumulate a lot of information is to learn to read and to love to read; to become curious about the world, to ask questions, and to experiment in an effort to find the answers; that is, to become a constructivist at an early age.

The New York Times Book Review
A must-read for every educator, parent or anyone who cares about our children's future. (Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence)

Book Description
In The Disciplined Mind, Howard Gardner argues that K-12 education should strive for a deep understanding of three classical principles: truth, beauty, and goodness.

Such an understanding requires mastery of the major disciplines that human beings have created over the centuries. As powerful examples of his approach, Gardner describes an education that illuminates the theory of evolution, the music of Mozart, and the lessons of the Holocaust. Far from the standardized test mentality that has gripped both policy makers and the public, Gardner envisions an education that preserves the strengths of a traditional humane education while preparing younger generations for the challenges of the future.

Education in the Future
1. Artificial Intelligence and virtual reality are two computer-related technologies that may cast a large shadow on education. Much of school planning may be done not by human agents but by programs created by human agents; and much of what was once accomplished by textbooks and occasional field trips will now be performed in virtual reality.
2. Acquisition of credentials from accredited institutions may become less important. Individuals will be able to educate themselves and to exhibit their mastery in a simulated setting. Why pay $120,000 to go to law school, if one can "read law" as in earlier times and then demonstrate one's legal skills via computer simulation? Or learn to fly a plane or conduct neurosurgery by similar means, for that matter?
3. More and more people work in the sectors of human services and human resources, and especially, in the creation, transformation, and communication of knowledge.
4. The media of communication will be a dominating agency of education throughout the world. Radio, television, movies, magazines, advertising materials will continue to proliferate and to convey powerful messages about roles and values around the world.
5. Important discoveries are now known all over the world within days, courtesy of the Internet.
6. Distance learning makes it possible to pursue even advanced coursework without moving to a college or university setting. Virtual environments may allow talented or determined individuals to demonstrate proficiency without lengthy and costly certification processes.
7. To function in hypermedia, to read and design Web pages and embark on computer-based projects, one must orchestrate a fresh amalgam of graphic, linguistic, and even auditory literacies.

Successful Families of Schools
1. Steiner "Waldorf" schools
2. Montessori schools
3. Comer schools
4. Networks like the International Baccalaureate and the Coalition of Essential Schools
5. Catholic and other sectarian schools

The Singapore Miracle
Forty years ago, Singaporeans were so poor that many children went to bed hungry each night. Singapore has virtually no natural resources, just the minds and energy of its three million citizens. Today, Singapore ranks among the top nations in the world in productivity and income, and students regularly occupy the number one slot in international comparisons.
Singaporean students follow a carefully prescribed curriculum in mathematics, science, and technology. Teaching occurs in English, which reflects not only the colonial history of the region but also the fact that English has become the lingua franca of commerce worldwide. As in Germany, education is tracked, with those in the academic tracks having to master more challenging curricula and also more languages. Students work assiduously, on the average doing four to five hours of homework each evening. Parents study with their children, as do tutors and special teachers, and there is little tolerance for sloth in this authoritarian society. It is assumed that graduates will work for the success of the society, in general subordinating individual goals to the wider good.
At least as successfully as the Japanese, the Singaporeans have succeeded in wedding Confucian practices and values to knowledge of how to succeed in a competitive international environment. Other "little tigers" (Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea) have also forged an effective blend of once rival traditions -- though the recent economic downturn may reveal limitations in the system. There is a strong belief in the efficacy of study, and high value is placed on devotion to learning, and on showing improvement each day; rather than being directed toward individual success (as in the case of the Protestant culture described so memorably by the German sociologist Max Weber), these virtues are yoked to the success of the society as a whole.

Monday, September 1, 2008

National Mathematics Advisory Panel

To compete in the 21st century global economy, knowledge of and proficiency in mathematics is critical. Today's high school graduates need to have solid mathematics skills-whether they are headed for college or the workforce. To help ensure our nation's future competitiveness and economic viability, President George W. Bush created the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (National Math Panel) in April 2006.

The panel was charged with providing recommendations to the President and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings on the best use of scientifically based research to advance the teaching and learning of mathematics. Expert panelists, including a number of leading mathematicians, cognitive psychologists, and educators, reviewed numerous research studies before preparing a final report containing guidance on how to improve mathematics achievement for all students in the United States.

The National Math Panel's final report, issued on March 13, 2008, contains 45 findings and recommendations on numerous topics including instructional practices, materials, professional development, and assessments. Please visit for the executive summary and full report.

U.S. Department of Education's Teacher Initiative
March 20, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Math and Science

The performance of students in math and science has always been a high priority in the United States, but the successful launching of the Russian satellite Sputnik in 1957 mobilized resources in an unprecedented way. In 1958, Congress responded to the perceived threat to American security and competitiveness by passing the National Defense Education Act to increase support for education in math, science, and languages.

Interestingly, the US Department of Defense (DoD) included 10.3 million dollars in its FY 2006 budget for a New Defense Education Act (DoD, 2005) and business and community leaders are once again making reference to Sputnik. For example, the American Electronics Association recently released a document entitled "Losing the Competitive Advantage: The Challenge for Science and Technology in the United States." Their argument broadly addresses US competitiveness in a global economy, but includes the concern that US students will be unable to participate in a technological society without an increased emphasis on math and science. In a similar vein, Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, in a speech focused on the failure of American high schools, remarked that

When I compare our high schools to what I see when I'm traveling abroad, I am terrified for our workforce of tomorrow. In math and science, our 4th graders are among the top students in the world. By 8th grade, they're in the middle of the pack. By 12th grade, US students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations.

Gates is likely referring to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2003). The 1995 TIMSS showed significant performance gaps between American students and students in other countries (e.g. gaps of 1.5 standard deviations between American students and students in Singapore) with twelfth graders performing significantly below the international average. The 2003 TIMSS shows American students in the fourth and eighth grades performing above the international average with no change for fourth graders between the 1999 and 2003 administration, but significant improvement for eighth graders.

2007 PEARSON Merrill/Prentice Hall
Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA

Pearson Education Ltd.
Pearson Education Singapore Pte. Ltd.
Pearson Education Canada, Ltd.
Pearson Education -- Japan
Pearson Education Australia Pty. Limited
Pearson Education North Asia Ltd.
Pearson EducatiĆ³n de Mexico, S.A. de C.V.
Pearson Education Malaysia Pte. Ltd.

Motivating Students to Learn History

2004 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
New Jersey, USA

George Santayana, poet and philosopher, noted, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

HOOTSTEIN (1995) interviewed eighth-grade teachers about the strategies they used to motivate students to learn U.S. history. The 10 most frequently mentioned strategies were: having students role-play characters in historical simulations (mentioned by 83% of the teachers), organizing projects that result in the creation of products (60%), playing games with students as a way to review material for tests (44%), relating history to current events or to students' lives (44%), assigning students to read historical novels (44%), asking thought-provoking questions (33%), inviting guest speakers from the community (33%), showing historical videos and films (28%), organizing cooperative learning activities (28%), and providing small-scale hands-on experiences (28%).

Be Enthusiastic (Regularly)

A history teacher generated a great deal of interest by enthusiastically explaining to his students that during the Middle Ages, the Mediterranean Sea was the center of the world. Mediterranean seaports were major trade centers and places like England were outposts of civilization, but this changed drastically with discovery of the New World and the emergence of new centers of trade and culture. His presentation included references to maps, reminders about the primary modes of transportation at the time, and characterizations of the attitudes of the people and their knowledge about other countries and trade possibilities.

Another teacher brought ancient Israel alive by enthusiastically telling his students about David as the slayer of Goliath and ancestor of Jesus, Abraham leading his people to the Promised Land, Moses as the man who presented the Ten Commandments and led the people out of the wilderness, and Solomon as a wise man and builder of the (first) temple. This lesson included locating Jerusalem, Israel, and the Sinai peninsula on a map and speculating about whether the (third) temple (at the time of Jesus it was a second temple -- destroyed by the Romans in 70CE) might be rebuilt in modern Jerusalem (noting that a major Moslem temple is located next to the spot occupied by Solomon's temple.) In each of these examples, the teacher was able to parlay personal interest and detailed knowledge about a topic into an effective presentation that sparked interest and elicited many questions and comments.

First Jerusalem Temple (temple for all nations)

Romans destroy Jerusalem Temple 70 C.E.

Ruins of Second Temple

Induce Dissonance or Cognitive Conflict

If a topic is familiar, students may think that they already know all about it and thus may listen to presentations or read texts with little attention or thought. You can encounter this tendency by pointing out unexpected, incongruous, or paradoxical aspects of the content; by calling attention to unusual or exotic elements; by noting exceptions to general rules; or by challenging students to solve the "mystery" that underlies a paradox.

One teacher used dissonance to stimulate curiosity about the Persian empire by noting that Darius was popular with the people he conquered and asking students to anticipate reasons why this might be so. Another teacher introduced a selection on the Trojan War by telling students that they would read about "how just one horse enabled the Greeks to win a major battle against the Trojans." Another introduced a video on the fall of the Roman Empire by saying , " Some say that the factors that led to the decay (decadence) of the Roman Empire are currently at work in the United States -- as you watch the video, see if you notice parallels."

Romans (Centurions)

Romans of Decadence

United States history is full of opportunities to create dissonance, especially in students whose prior exposures have been confined to overly sanitized and patriotic versions of the subject. Exposure to topics such as the Trail of Tears, the Japanese Internment during World War II, or CIA involvement in undermining foreign governments can be startling eye openers for students, especially if approached not just as past history but as grist for discussions about whether such things might still happen today or what their implications might be for current and future government policy.

In 1838 the Cherokee were stripped of their rights and forced to move against their will on 'The Trail of Tears.'

Japanese Internment Camp (World War II)

School Types and School Designs in USA

School Types in USA:

Religious (private) - typically are funded through a combination of tuition and fees, fundraising campaigns and money from a larger religious body. They are owned by nonprofit entities and controlled by boards mostly made up of people whose religious affiliations match the schools.

Magnet (public) - typically have a special curriculum or teaching method. They draw from cross-section of a city or town rather than specific neighborhoods.

Home schooling - means teaching your child at home, either alone or in conjunction with other home-schooling parents. You own, you control, and in most areas, you pay for materials and equipment.

Public - typically are funded mainly through a combination of local, state, and federal funding, "owned" by the public, and controlled by the local board of education.

Private - are funded mainly through a combination of tuition and fees charged to parents and fundraising campaigns, owned by non-profit organizations (although not always), and controlled by boards of alumni, parents, staff and interested citizens.

Charter - are also public and in most states are funded with a combination of local, state, and federal money, but they are "owned" and controlled by independent groups of citizens. They can lose their public funding if they do not meet performance goals.

Special programs within schools - more and more schools run special programs for a subset of students, such as foreign language and International Baccalaureate programs.

School Design:

Accelerated Schools (K-8) - provide students with enriched instruction based on entire school community's vision of learning. (gifted children)

The Coalition of Essential Schools (K-12) - students and teachers should be active partners in creating meaningful learning.

Core Knowledge (K-8) - focus on teaching a common core of concepts, vocabulary, skills, and knowledge.

Direct Instruction (K-8) - aims to improve achievement significantly over current levels by using highly prescribed curriculum and instruction.

Edison Schools, Inc. (K-12) - for profit educational management company that operates public schools nationwide using research-based school design.

International Baccalaureate (Pre K-12) - develop whole child, including cultural capabilities, through study of prescribed international curriculum promoting thinking and transdisciplinary skills.

Montessori (Pre K-8) - develop culturally literate children by nurturing their intelligence, independence, curiosity, and creativity.

Multiple Intelligence (Pre K-12) - design instruction so that it supports student's natural abilities and talents in order to access a broad range of human potential.

Paideia (K-12) - foster more active learning and better use of teacher and student time.

School Development Program (K-12) - meet the needs of urban students by improving educators' understanding of child development and fostering healthy relations with families.

Success for All (Pre K-8) - structured research-based reading program designed to teach all children to read well in the early elementary years.

Waldorf (Pre K-12) - children learn best through experience that awaken multiple senses and focus on capabilities.

2004 Armchair Press, LLC

Free Resources

The federal government offers a treasure trove of teaching and learning resources. Where can you find them?

FREE organizes more than 1,500 lesson plans, primary documents, science animations, math challenges, and works of art, literature, and music from the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, National Archives, National Science Foundation, NASA, National Institutes of Health, National Gallery of Art, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other federal agencies.
February 16, 2008

Teaching Ambassador Fellowship Positions

Secretary Spellings has announced the creation of Teaching Ambassador Fellowship positions for currently practicing, K-12 public school teachers at the U.S. Department of Education for the 2008-2009 school year. These positions will offer highly motivated, innovative teachers the opportunity to contribute their knowledge and experience to the national dialogue on public education. The Fellowship includes two kinds of opportunities for teachers across the U.S. Up to 20 Classroom Fellows will remain at their schools under their regular teaching contracts and will be paid to participate in additional Department discussions and projects throughout the school year on a part-time basis. Up to five Washington Fellows will be chosen to become full-time, paid federal employees in Washington, D.C. for the school year, working on education programs and participating in policy discussions.
Teaching Ambassador Fellows will be selected based upon their record of leadership, impact on student achievement, and potential for contribution to the field. Highly qualified K-12 public school teachers who have spent at least three years in the classroom are eligible to apply. Teachers must be currently practicing in and employed by a public school district to be eligible. To ensure collaboration at the school and district levels, teacher applicants must have the full support of their school principals.
Applications are due by April 7, 2008. Teaching Ambassador Fellows will be named by early summer for the 2008-2009 school year.
February 12, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Genesis One

Genesis One — A physicist Looks at Creation

According to Professor Gerald Schroeder, a nuclear physicist from MIT, God’s creation took 15 billion years, but also six twenty-four hour days as Scripture states! The answer lies in time dilation in our universe. Things that look very small, like distant stars, are actually very large. And times that seem very short, like six days for all of creation, become very long—even as long as 15 billion years. “How can these things be?” Just read this book.

When agnostic scientists finally acknowledged Divinity...

The (intelligent and orderly) design of the universe and its laws are such that this fact has not escaped the notice of even agnostics. Below, four quotes from agnostics regarding the design of the universe. Even to them, the apparent design of the universe has theological implications.

For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. (Robert Jastrow)
“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all....It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature's numbers to make the Universe....The impression of design is overwhelming.” (Paul Davies)
“As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency - or, rather, Agency - must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?” (George Greenstein)
A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question. (Fred Hoyle)
Author & Astrophysicist :
Dr. Robert Jastrow, is the director of Mount Wilson Observatory and was founder and director for twenty years of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He authored books which explore the universe; Red Giants & White Dwarfs, and Until the Sun Dies.
. .as to why science and theology don't have to be enemies. Dr. Jastrow, recognized as one of the world's foremost astronomers (and an acknowledged agnostic on religious matters) demonstrates with remarkable honesty that astronomy and theology may well have more to talk about than the fanatics in either field would like to admit. He does so in a manner which is non-threatening, non-controversial, and non-technical.

Originally published in 1978, this second edition includes an appendix presentation by Catholic and Jewish theologians. He concludes his book with this often quoted statement: "He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."

Christian/Catholic websites:

IDEA 2004 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) -- a U.S. Law

The culmination of many years of struggle on behalf of children with disabilities occurred on November 29, 1975, when President Ford signed Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA). This landmark federal legislation mandated a free, appropriate education for students with disabilities aged 3 to 21. The EHA has been called the "first compulsary special education law." Today, EHA is known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Despite the name change and other amendments, the basic rights and provisions it afforded students with disabilities and their families have remained largely the same: the right to an individualized education program, the right to protection in evaluation procedures, the right to due process, and the right to education in the least restrictive environment.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB 2002) contains sweeping changes in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. All students including those with mild disabilities are to be held to the same curriculum and assessment standards. Federal aid is contingent on an increase in proficiency in math, reading, and science among all students. States must maintain goals and assess results for various categories of students based on poverty, ethnicity, disability, and limited English proficiency.

2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA, USA
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National Parks Seek Teacher Rangers

National parks enrich the lives of many in this nation. They provide access to the powerful ideas, values, and meanings associated with the remarkable cultural, natural, and recreational heritage of the United States. The National Park Service (NPS) strives to provide opportunities for all Americans to connect to their national heritage through the national parks. However, these opportunities are lacking for some - often due to a variety of social and economic factors.

The Teacher to Ranger to Teacher (TRT) Program offers a solution, by linking National Park units with teachers from low income school districts. Under this program, selected teachers spend the summer working as park rangers, often living in the park. They perform various duties depending on their interests and the needs of the park, including developing and presenting interpretive programs for the general public, staffing the visitor center desk, developing curriculum-based materials for the park, or taking on special projects.

Then, during the school year, these teacher-rangers bring the parks into the classroom by developing and presenting curriculum-based lesson plans that draw on their summer's experience. In April, during National Park Week, teacher-rangers wear their NPS uniforms to school, discuss their summer as a park ranger, and engage students and other teachers in activities that relate to America's national parks.

For additional information about the Teacher Ranger program go to

January 26, 2008

Some Critics on No Child Left Behind

Not everyone is enamored of the standards movement...
Alfie Kohn has called the standards movement a "horrible idea." Kohn points out that the movement oversimplifies why children might want to learn, how they are best taught, and how improvement might best be brought to a complex system. The idea of demanding higher test scores, Kohn notes, will accomplish little more than studying for tests, emphasizing rote learning, and tightening control over classrooms by people who do not spend their time in classrooms.
Gerald Bracey (2004), editor of a research column in Phi Delta Kappan, has been particularly critical. He has spoken out against the No Child Left Behind Act as well as against the standards movement, particularly the standardized testing that has come to be part and parcel of the movement.

Bracey, observing the high price paid in terms of what might be called by some nonstrategic subjects:
In what might be considered its swan song, the Council for Basic Education conducted a survey and found NCLB producing "academic atrophy" in social studies, history, geography, civics, languages, and the arts. A little more of this, and we can declare, "No Education Left." (p.166)
Marzano, Kendall, and Cicchinelli (2000), who are not particularly critical of the movement, note an apparently overlooked problem with addressing the standards. Their calculations show that, given the demands of the standards and accompanying benchmarks from the various subject matter areas, it would take more than 15,000 hours to adequately address the necessary content. Put another way, Marzano, Kendall, and Cicchinelli say the implication for coverage would be to extend school from K-12 to K-21. They conclude that one possible solution would be to extend the amount of time given to instruction, and another would be to decrease the number of standards.
James Popham cites three reasons why schools should not be judged on the basis of standardized test scores: 1) Mismatch between what is taught and what is tested. 2) Standardized tests do not measure the most important things that teachers teach. 3) Over time teachers become familiar with the content of standardized tests, and that leads to an inflation of test results because teachers, knowingly or not, end up teaching to the test.
Research on Education Innovations
Fourth Edition
Arthur K. Ellis
2005 Eye on Education, Inc.
New York, USA