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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What is available for kids to watch on TV these days?

Sometimes I like going through memory lane. It's great to see that Fred Rogers' legacy continues on PBS stations around the nation.

He ceased production on his longtime program Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood back in 2001 and Rogers himself died in 2003. Most PBS stations no longer air his program, however, recently I became aware of a new TV series based on his program.

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood airs on most PBS stations as sort of a sequel to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. I don't have kids to enjoy this program with, but it's great to know that we again will hear how great of a neighbor we're being. It's also great that young kids are able to take a trip to the neighborhood of make believe!

Sometimes I myself may not be happy about the state of TV for the young people. For me good children's TV may involve Square One, Ghost Writer, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, Newton's Apple or even Bill Nye: The Science Guy. It also included shows such as Tiny Toons Adventures, Animaniacs, Batman, Smurfs, etc. I must note that those other shows mentioned dropping anvils on a cartoon characters head would even be considered violent today I'll bet!

When I do finally have kids or even with anyone about to start school or even in school now at least in some way we still have something to share. The older folks and the young folks can always talk about being good neighbors!

Monday, November 5, 2012

VIDEO: Bennett Elementary School, Chicago, 1965

[VIDEO] 8 mm film footage of Bennett Elementary shot in 1965 according to the information posted to the video on YouTube. What has changed in the last 47 years? It's interesting to find this look down memory lane here!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

iPads in education: Where's the money coming from?

Well in order to use technology in our schools, the money has to be there. Also there has to be an important purpose to it, of course! That's what this article is about!
When San Diego public school officials decided to distribute 26,000 iPads to students this year, they were lucky: They already had a big pile of money.

The city’s voters had approved a $2 billion bond issue in 2008—$500 million of which was designated for a five-year “digital transformation program” designed to update the district’s curriculum. San Diego schools started distributing inexpensive netbooks to students in 2009; the next year Apple unveiled the iPad. And school officials soon changed direction, believing that tablets were a better educational tool.

“We were writing a five-year plan,” says Darryl LaGace, who was the district’s director of instructional technology when the bond passed. He told officials: “I fully expect what we write out in year one won’t look like what we’re doing in year three, four, five.”

The result is that San Diego was financially well-prepared to join the wave of schools around the nation that are placing iPads in the classroom. Districts in Chicago, Texas, and Massachusetts have all earned headlines as they move to iPad-based education.

But that move comes during time of recession-squeezed budgets, and iPads, after all, aren’t eligible for Apple’s educational discount programs. Here’s a report on how some schools are finding funds—and how tablets are making deep inroads in certain districts, and even replacing textbooks.
There is something of Chicago angle too:
Chicago’s efforts to distribute iPads to classrooms came during a dramatic budget battle—as widely reported, the city’s teachers went on strike at the beginning of the school year.

“Through grants, the district has been able to provide about 6000 iPads which are used by about 20,000 students,” says Franklin Shuftan, a spokesman for Chicago public schools. “We estimate that through the use of discretionary funds, individual schools have on their own purchased another approximately 14,000 iPads which are used by approximately 30,000 students.”

It’s unlikely the Chicago district will be able to change approaches anytime soon, Shuftan adds. “The district is facing significant financial challenges and, as a result, we do not plan on any large-scale purchase of iPads this year, but we continue to actively seek additional grant funds to increase the number of iPads available to students.”
Ah that last excerpt has a link with info about iPads in the Chicago Public Schools @ Does anyone have any further thoughts about technology in our classrooms?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2 Investigators: Chicago Schools Flunk Food Inspections

If I recall correctly Bennett nor Shedd has a kitchen, but it would be nice to know which schools were inspected and flunked. Whatever the school in question that flunked inspections our students deserve better!
The Chicago Public Schools are constantly being scrutinized for improving test scores and academic standards.

But who’s watching to make sure the school’s kitchens and lunchrooms are being kept up to safety standards?

CBS 2’s Pam Zekman reports.

Since 2011, 244 of Chicago’s 681 schools failed at least one inspection, according to a review of city health department inspections by the 2 Investigators. That’s 35 percent with at least one failed inspection.

The Anton Dvorak Elementary School had the worst record. Since 2011, Dvorak has failed city health inspections six times for reasons such as no hot water in bathroom sinks, food kept at unsafe temperatures and more than 200 rodent droppings found in food service areas.
I'm glad that CPS has someone working on the problem. The next step is to talk about nutrition, of course!
[Leslie Fowler, executive director of Nutritional Support Services for CPS] says she will improve school lunches system-wide by making sure proper procedures are followed, implementing changes that will prevent future lapses and increasing oversight.

Her message to staff: “Don’t let me find out that a student is harmed at your hands. This is unacceptable. Not on my watch.”

All of the schools in this report eventually passed inspections, including most recently Hirsh, where the kitchen is now open and the staff replaced.
You know, I don't like to post reports like these. Not to associate stories like these to my old elementary school. This is just my way of keeping an eye using my various news sources to keep an eye on the school system as a whole. I would prefer to post more positive stories although there are certainly some negative stories to go around!

Hat-tip District 299 blog!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Math quiz: Count the kindergarteners’ tests

Math quiz: Count the kindergarteners’ tests
Last week Karen Lewis, the often-feisty president of the Chicago Teachers Union, told a parent group that kindergarteners have to take 14 tests this year. That’s what some people call education reform, Lewis said, but “it should be called child abuse” because of the stress the testing regime imposes on youngsters.

CPS officials dispute that count, and say the number is much smaller. The big gap appears to reflect different interpretations of the word test, and the inclusion of separate tests that can be added at individual schools.

CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said Lewis’ statement isn’t true.

“There are two required assessments for kindergarteners that are administered at the beginning and end of year,” she wrote in an emailed response. Those two tests are the REACH Performance Tasks – a wide-ranging evaluation that CPS uses as a key measure of teacher performance -- and a literacy–and-math test known as the NWEA MAP for Primary Grades.

That suggests CPS administers four tests to kindergarten students, two in the autumn and two in the spring.

How can four tests become 14? Different schools have the option of requiring additional tests, for one thing. Julie Fain, wife of CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey and mother of a kindergartener at Pritzker Elementary School, breaks it down this way: “For NWEA MAP Testing, students test in reading and math three times this year. For REACH testing, students will take a literacy test twice this year.” There’s also a literacy test, known by its acronym DIBELS, that will be given three times this year, she said. And Pritzker also administers a math test, known as mClass, that will be given three times this year. 
Winning a PR war with exaggeration?

I'm sharing this related post as I feel it fits with this one. It's not necessarily about testing but it's about parents wanting their young children to be "a step ahead" in the education system by attending an academic kindergarten as opposed to a play-based kindergarten. I wonder if the testing kindergartners go through these days are akin to turning KG into an academic based KG.