Sunday, March 25, 2007

McWane Your Brain!

The McWane Science Center located in Birmingham, Alabama is a great place to take students or your own children if you are in the area.

Current attractions include a hurricane similator, a wild earth similator where riders are in complete control as they travel through African landscapes on an interactive photo safari, and Science on a Sphere is a global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data on a GIANT animated globe. Students can see atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere which is used to explain complex environmental processes. Science on a Sphere was listed on Time Magazines Best Investions of 2006 list.

The Science Quest section has over 9,000 interactive exhibits including building your own roller coaster and a laser harp. The Challenger Learning Center is a space mission similator.

Students can study and explore minerals, animal skeletons, and skulls as well as fossils and Native American Indian artifacts.

The Imax Theatre currently showing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and a show on Exploring Mars.

I’m adding the McWane Science Center to my list of summer must-go-see places!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Did You Know Georgia Has a Blog Carnival?

Did you know there is a list of bloggers for Georgia?

I didn’t until I was contacted my Elementaryhistoryteacher at History Is Elementary. She oversees the carnival, in fact, it was her idea!

My post regarding homework has been included in the latest edition of the Georgia Carnival over at Provocative Church.

Go check out the Georgians!

Friday, March 9, 2007

US May Finally Gain Education Edge: Chinese Ban Homework

I really date myself when I give my views on homework. It just isn’t that popular anymore to provide an an assignment for students, but personally I feel children need practice on certain skills. Math facts, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar are all tasks that fit the homework situation.

Unfortunately homework continues to be firestorm of controversy in the United States, and the side that wants no homework seems to be winning. I ran across an article by Bill at The Business of Knowledge regarding the Chinese, and it seems that the Chinese are now just as interested in dumbing down education as Americans are. In City Forbids Homework Bill advises students must finish all work at school, and so they won’t be too sleepy the school day will start at 8:20 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. If this trend continues across China perhaps the United States can move up the education proficiency ladder a bit worldwide.

Last night I ventured out for a bite to eat. I arrived at the restaurant about 7:30 p.m. and didn’t leave until close to 9. What amazed me was the restaurant was packed with families comprised of children of all ages. At 9 when I was leaving families with children were still arriving at the restaurant. Growing up my mom picked me up from school around 2:30 p.m. and I was completing my homework by 3 to 3:30. Dad was home by 5:30 and dinner was complete by 6 or 6:15 in order to watch good old Walter (Cronkite). Most nights we were at home without many types of activities going on except for church.

Today I have friends who still have young children and their afternoon and evening schedules are daunting. I’ve never seen so much coming and going. Recently I helped a mom out by picking up her kids who were attending a youth rally at church. Her husband was playing baseball at one location and she had a tennis match. They just couldn’t be at three different places at once. Most of my students ride a bus to daycare where they stay till 6 or 7 in the evening. Dinner is drive thru, a restaurant, or some type of boxed meal that can be heated up. I don’t guess anyone has thought that perhap the reason why students are becoming more obese is due to eating a meal of processed foods late at night, eating and then going to bed. No, I guess that would be too simply of an answer.

No condemnation here……just stating the facts. Times have changed. People have more choices. Women can have it all now---a home and a career. It just isn’t the same kind of home I remember. We have many choices for entertainment, shopping and restaurants that cater to busy families. Children have lessons of every type imaginable from ballet, to Irish Dance, to all sorts of recreation teams. Many of my students think dinner is always a quick corn dog or basket of nachos at the ball field.

So, even though I strongly feel homework given in the right way can help students and can help provide a support bridge between home and school I have thrown in the towel with assigning homework. I’ve decided it isn’t worth it.

If I send home a textbook with an assignment I get nasty notes about little Jimmy’s or Sue’s bookbag being too heavy.

If I send home a practice sheet I get accused of being the “worksheet queen” by parents, coworkers, and administrators.

If I send home a reading comprehension packet I get another nasty note that Precious Baby took three hours to read four paragraphs and another hour to answer the four questions. What mom doesn’t know is Precious Baby usually does the same assignment for me in 20 minutes because I don’t play the “I can’t” game, and Precious Baby knows this.

So, I give. My administrator doesn’t support me, parents don’t support me, and students sure don’t support me.

Yep, I give in and I’m not happy that at least in this-----Alfie Kohn agrees with me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

No Degree...But Coursework Is Free!

From Eschool News:

Educators, students, and others can find information about universities that make their course content available free of charge via the web by visiting the web site of the OpenCourseWare Consortium. The site is a collaboration of more than 100 higher-education institutions and associated organizations from around the world, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), that are creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model.

Read all about it here.

The OpenCourseWare site can be found here.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Clip Art, Photos, Buttons, and Backgrounds...Oh My!

Clip Art and Photo Links

Awesome Clipart for Kids
American Memory Collections
Classroom Clip Art
Clipart Gallery
CyberSleuth Kids
Discovery School Clip Art Gallery
DK's Free Clip Art
Garst Photographic Collection
KidsClick Image Search Tools
Free Black/White Clip Art
Teacher Files Clip Art
Smithsonian Photo Archives
Time Life Photo Site
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Image Library

Icons and Buttons

Eos Web Art
Icons and Clip Art for Educators

Web Backgrounds

Color Lines and Bars
Julianne's Textures
Pat's Web Graphics
Vertical Bars