Dec 27, 2011

Dec 19, 2011

Sing Hallelujah!

A Philadelphia based opera company took over the organ in a downtown Macy's.  Inspired, shoppers stopped, listened, and joined in singing.  

That’s what’s so special about this video.
Yes, the singing is extraordinary. Sure, the Wanamaker Organ — the world’s largest pipe organ — is incredible.
But watch the faces of shoppers, stunned, delighted, inspired by one of the world’s most recognizable pieces of music praising the King of Kings.


Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/goodnews/2011/12/inspiring-hallelujah-video-thrills-7-million.html#ixzz1gypggUUQ
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Dec 18, 2011

British Prime Minister admits personal doubts, calls for Christian revival, values - Beliefnet News

British Prime Minister admits personal doubts, calls for Christian revival, values - Beliefnet News

What is true for the British is true for America.
"In ceremonies commemorating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned a growing “do as you please” culture, warned of a “slow-motion moral collapse” in Britain and called for a revival of traditional Christian values. 
It’s time to stand up for what is right, he said Friday at Christ Church at Oxford, speaking to Church of England clergy.
”Put simply, for too long we have been unwilling to distinguish right from wrong. ‘Live and let live’ has too often become ‘do what you please.’”
“Prime Minister Cameron confessed to being only a ‘vaguely practicing’ Christian who was ‘full of doubts’ about big theological issues. But he insisted: ‘We are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so.’”

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/news/2011/12/british-prime-minister-admits-personal-doubts-calls-for-christian-revival-values.php#ixzz1gvhAIOQw
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Nov 24, 2011

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  It is a great time to rest, reflect, and relax.  Its a great time to visit family. Preparing for a Thanksgiving Day celebration can be hectic.   Blessed are you who host a family dinner on this day.




Thanksgiving Day arrives at the perfect time in our calendar.  It is between the energy-charged holidays of Halloween and Christmas.  The days are still sunny, but the chill is on its way.  Thanksgiving is a great end-of-year holiday.
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Nov 21, 2011

Pizza, a Vegetable?

Pizza, a Vegetable?

Congress announced that frozen pizza was a vegetable. The United States Congress voted to rebuke new USDA guidelines for school lunches that would have increased the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in school cafeterias and instead declared that the tomato paste on frozen pizza qualified it as a vegetable.

So, the real question is, why do children want pizza, potatoes and pasta while vehemently eschewing green vegetables, beans and whole grains? This hasn't always been the case. Keep in mind that industrial food as it exists today has only been around for roughly 60 years. Much of what we take as the truth about what kinds of food kids love and hate is largely dictated by the food industry itself. The idea that kids won't eat vegetables is a construct invented by the food industry and reinforced by well-meaning parents, school lunch programs and government officials.

While the food industry insists that it only advertises to children "to influence brand preference," a study published in the journal Appetite found that the food industry works to, "fundamentally change children's taste palates to increase their liking of highly processed and less nutritious foods."


The important question here,is what will parents allow their children to eat. Should today's youth be raised on chemically packed, nutrition-less food or take the time to prepare nutritional lunches? Are children eating healthy at home? Or are they eating what they want,. that is what advertisers want them to eat?

Kristin Wartman: Pizza is a Vegetable? Congress Defies Logic, Betrays Our Children:

'via Blog this'
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Jul 22, 2011

Silicon Sisters Seeks "Social Engineering"

Silicon Sisters, a Vancover based video game company was created by two entertainment-oriented enterprising women, Kristen Forbes and Brenda Gershkovitch for the purpose of designing video games FOR girls. Both women recognize that women and girls make up 37% of the game playing population.  And women's  interests are largely under-represented.  Unlike most boys' games those produced by Silicon Sisters emphasis "social engineering", that is communication and relationships.



"School 26, their first game is geared toward tweens and teens, and the storyline is built around the very complicated social hierarchy of high school. You play the game as a young girl who’s a newcomer to a school. She comes from a nomadic family, which has made it difficult for her to maintain long-term friendships. As she enrolls in this, her 26th school, she strikes a bargain with her parents: If she can make friends, they’ll stay put.
So the player of School 26 must help the character do just that: build friendships and navigate the sticky, awkward and sometimes awful moral dilemmas of school. These range from power struggles to peer pressure, romance, betrayal, alienation, acceptance – all real and relevant situations that girls face every day."  For more of the article see: Video Games Built Just for Girls | MindShift
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Jun 28, 2011

Apr 26, 2011

Creating a Classroom Site?

Creating a Classroom Site?

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about teacher classroom websites.  A number of people have asked me about creating their own classroom site.  We all seem to struggle with the same beginning questions  What type of information should I post online?  What if I don't know html?  What on earth is html?  Would it be easier if I subscribed for a service?  How much work will this be?  WHERE ON EARTH DO I BEGIN!

These are all good questions, that unfortunately, when answered will lead to many other good questions.  The important thing to remember is not to let yourself get overwhelmed.  If you commit to maintaining a classroom site, than stay with it. This will be a multi-year process and you will change your mind and design.

Begin by spending a few weeks bookmarking teacher websites that you like.  Don't limit yourself to your grade level either.  There are a lot of good teacher made sites that you can learn from outside your grade.  For me, I started by listing the public and private schools in my area and looking at the list of faculty.  Many schools post links to their teachers' sites.  You could also do a Google search for "best ___ grade classroom websites", "virtual classrooms", or my favorite "Mr classroom site".  Keep a list of the what you like, would like to change, and don't like about each of these sites.  This will help you get a better idea about what you can do with your own site. It is important to remember that most of these teachers have spent years updating their sites and creating content.  It may take a while for you to get comfortable with your own site. 

Once you have a vision of your site, you need to create it.  There are many good WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get, pronounced wiz-ee-wig) sites.  This type of site uses pre-made templates.  No need for html (computer programming language).  All you need to do is choose the theme, colors, styles and add your content. This is the easiest way to begin and many offer a wide range of options.
  • Bloust - is a FREE template driven site builder.  Its list of features includes parent and students registration (think privacy), document library, podcasting, a blog feature, "Teacher Talk" (talk in real-time), a calander, and more.  Check out the entire list.  If I had not committed to using Google Sites, I would seriously consider using Bloust.
  • Teacher Sites by School World ($39-59/year) - This was the first site that I used.  It offers many template designs, email, homework calendar, form creator, a puzzel maker, online quizzes, and more.  Check out their complete list
If you have time and want more control over the appearance and options, build your own website.  I use Google Sites.  This has afforded me a good deal of control over my website.  Google Sites also easily integrates with other Google products, which I also use in the classroom.  Zoho, an Indian based company, also offers a free online office suite and wiki like Google.  With either Google or Zoho you are getting more then a website, you're getting a work suite.  Check out Lifehacker's post and "The OS is Dead" blog for more information on both.  For my uses I prefer Google because of its ease of use. 

Once you create a site you can begin uploading your information.  In your searches, you probably will observe that many sites have basic information: how to contact you, a homework calendar, project files to download, and your syllabus.

It is important to remember to start with a vision but don't limit yourself to your initial thoughts, because they may change.  Your companion classroom site can be anything that you want.  Mine changes each year, sometimes during the year based on what I need and my tastes.  Good Luck when you begin to build your own.  Please feel free to post comments linking to your site.  I am always looking for new ideas to incorporate into my own. 
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Apr 14, 2011

Really Good Quality Classroom Websites

Really Good Quality Classroom Websites

Before updating and revising my class website I like to visit other teacher's sites.  These I've found these to be some of the best teacher classroom websites.
Elementary (K-5)

Middle & High School (6-12)
  • Mr. Langhorst -  Grade 8,  Highly developed American History site.  This site uses the district's hosting tools and a blog among other tools.
  • Ms. Ward - High School English, this site was created using Ning and Blogger
  • The Physics Classroom - High School, this site is hosted by ComPADRE.org (a resource of science teachers)
Congratulations to these fine teachers on their hard work.  Thank you for your classroom sites, they are good examples for all of us.  


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Apr 4, 2011

Google's Font

I started a project last weekend and wanted the font the “Google Font”.  I eventually found that Google uses a modified 3D version of Catull BQ.  If you like this font and want to download it visit "Google Community" post titled "I Own Catull" by Honest Bob.  If you download the file, I suggest you, save it to the desktop for easy access.

To add Catull to your list of available fonts you will need to add it to the “Font” folder.  Type “Font” in your start menu search bar and drag the downloaded file into the “Font Folder”.  
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Mar 31, 2011

Since When Is 60 Passing?

Since When Is 60 Passing?

The Woonsocket School Board recently passed a resolution to make 60% mastery a passing grade.  If you listen to the Board's reasoning, it sounds pretty simple.  According to "New Graduation Requirements Make First Passage" by Sandy Phaneuf, an article posted on the Woonsocket Patch, this decision will raise WHS's graduation rate from 63% to 70%.  That sounds good for the city.  Right? 

Let's not even comment on the fact that the Board is trying to raise the graduation rate to the 70% mark because that is more acceptable.  Instead lets think about this in the larger context.  Over the last few decades, educators, policy makers, journalists, and parents have demanded higher standards for our schools.  We worry about the future competitiveness of our economy because our students are not learning.  By all means, lower the minimum passing grade.   

Would anyone want a teacher who only knew 60% of their subject?  Would anyone want a doctor who only knew 60% of the human body?  Would anyone want a contractor or plumber who only knew 60% of their field?  Would anyone want a trash collector who only knew 60% of their route?  

Concerned parents should contact the Woonsocket School Board.  They are still debating further changes for the 2011-2010 school year schedule. 


For more information you can also check out Channel 12 article "Proposal Would Change Grad Requirement"
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Mar 24, 2011

An Obituary printed in the London Times - Interesting and sadly rather true.

An Obituary printed in the London Times - Interesting and sadly rather true.

Too often we comment on the lack of common sense displayed by many of the people we come in contact with on a day-to-day basis. I regularly see it while driving, shopping, and even at family gatherings.  A good friend sent this email to me, I hope you enjoy it too. 
 
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
  • Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
  • Why the early bird gets the worm;
  • Life isn't always fair;
  • and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense
lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense
lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense
lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense
took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense
finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense
was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers:
  • I Know My Rights
  • I Want It Now
  • Someone Else Is To Blame
  • I'm A Victim
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Mar 13, 2011

Cheating Students Are Not Alone

Cheating Students Are Not Alone


According to a confidential national survey, 74% of students admitted to cheating or knowing someone who cheated in school.  This is a highly disappointing number.  Teachers work, not only to teach their students a specific subject, but to promote a sense of honesty and integrity in their students.   When a student cheats they fall short of both goals.  The act of cheating represents three ethical wrongs: cheating=sneaking+lying+stealing.  First, a student plans how deceive a teacher.  Second, a student carries out the act putting his or her name on another person’s work.  Last, a student hands the work in calming to have done the work.  


Other studies have show that most teenagers experienced the desire to cheat.  Many who do, have tried once or twice. Oftentimes feeling guilty or shameful, they do not attempt it again.  However, some of those who succeed, continue to cheat, eventually feeling trapped in the need to cheat regularly. While it may appear odd that someone could be “addicted” to cheating, its a thought worth keeping in mind.  Why do students cheat?  Lets forget the obvious that some students are lazy and don’t want to study and look at other reasons.  Psychologists suggest that many high performing students cheat because they experience intense pressure to earn high grades and compete with their peers.  Many also believe that cheating is also a normal part of a teenager’s perceived need to rebel against authority.  


Whatever the reason, decreases academic competitiveness and cheating lowers a student self-esteem.  We all understand that if a student doesn’t study, he or she is less likely to remember the information needed in the future and more likely to cheat out of “need”.  What about self-esteem?  When a person cheats, they admit to themselves that they cannot earn the grade they want. Traditionally, students who feel unsuccessful perform lower, thus re-enforcing the desire to cheat.  


What can parents and teachers do about this growing problem in our schools?  Teachers need to create a culture within their classrooms that encourages students to try their best and discourages cheating.  Many teachers overlook minor cheating, like students work together on their homework. Others do not take the time or lack the sufficient technology to investigate plagiarism.  If teachers do not sternly oppose all forms of cheating they silently endorse the act.  Parents should take the time to talk to their children about the seriousness of cheating.  They should also check their child’s work from time-to-time to ensure their child is not cheating. 
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