2010 Census: Kids Count Too!

Census Day is slowly creeping up on us. On April 1, the government wants to have as many questionnaires filled out as possible and this year, they hope to get kids involved as well, with work sheets and interactive games on the Census website.Consider tying the Census into your lesson plans in the upcoming weeks. It’s a good way to start teaching kids about the government

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and its roles in our society. At the very least, it could be instrumental in counting exercises.Find out more info here: http://www.census.gov/schools/

Category: Education, Parenting    Comments Off

Refining No Child Left Behind: Obama’s Education Reforms

p>Obama has plans to reform the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind Act, which has been criticized over and over again for being ineffective and even destructive to the education system. Designed to help bridge the achievement gap and to provide better education for all children, the law has proved problematic for focusing too much on statistics and punishing schools by taking away funding rather than providing incentive to do well.Lately, the conversation has shifted. Now, teachers must be given rewards and greater incentive for job performance, to increase student success rates. The new law is equally as controversial as N.C.L.B., as critics consider it too ambitious and utopian.Obama plans to keep some parts of N.C.L.B., such as annual testing,

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but will consider things such as attendance and graduation rates, instead of determining success by a numbers game. The new tests will measure that there was a demonstrated academic growth rather than an achieved proficiency level, because it is unlikely that all students are starting on the same proficiency level to begin with. The Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, explains, “NCLB says that fifth-grade teacher who helps a student reading at a second-grade level reach a fourth-grade level, within one year, has this missed their goal. In fact, that teacher is an excellent teacher and should be applauded.”Teachers will be evaluated based on their performance in schools, in relation to these standards and will not be penalized for results if these results demonstrate academic growth. The idea, it seems, is to have children catch up at their own pace. The N.C.L.B. proficiency tests demanded the gaps be closed much more rapidly, whereas the new proposal would permit time. Further, it considers individual progress, which may be a better indicator for if the new standards are helping the students.The administration hopes to greatly reduce drop out rates and hopes to develop a system that would make it so every high school student graduates ready for college and/or a career. Unlike N.C.L.B., states will have to assume federally proposed academic standard, which may do wonders in some states, but states like Massachusetts, that have excellent and rigorous standards, are afraid that those approved federally may not even meet their current system. Though the program focuses on reading and math, states will be able to develop their own standards for other subjects and those can also be considered when schools are up for review.What seems to be stressed the most is the effort and the willingness to reform. There is no formula behind a great teacher, nor is there a formula to a great education. What is most important is that no child is left behind, and that somehow one of the reforms proposed prevents that. What will be the impacts on teachers and school administrators? Hopefully that answer is not too far delayed.The Blueprint, which is very much just that, can be found here: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/blueprint/blueprint.pdf

Category: Education    Comment: (1)

Air Traffic Control Child Phenom?

It’s always amusing when a kid is good at an activity usually reserved for grown-ups, such

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as shooting pool or trading stocks.Well, maybe not always. Last month, air traffic controllers at JFK airport allowed a child to make transmissions to pilots. But what started as fun-and-games has quickly turned into a serious investigation. Click here for

the AP story via Yahoo.

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YouTube goes kid-friendly with “safety mode”

p>A new optional feature on YouTube allows parents to browse the site a little more comfortably–safety Detta innebar en viss fordrojning, men poangen ar detta erbjuder en trygghet bade for dig och for det mycket

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Breakthrough in school scheduling – playtime before lunch?

Growing up, lunch was always the best part of the day, not because of the food, but because as soon as you finished eating you could go play on the playground!Now, a new points out that scheduling playtime immediately before lunch (instead of after) might result in less food waste, less

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Happy Holidays! New stories, songs and activities from Speakaboos

p>hanukkahA Christmas Carol” read by James Eckhouse“The Story of Hanukkah” read by Peter Jacobson”The Fir Tree” ready by Phil Brock“Jingle Bells”“Rock of Ages”“Deck the Halls”“The Dreidel Song”and more holiday songsHoliday e-cardsArts and Crafts Activities

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Category: Speakanews    Comments Off

VIDEO: Childhood 2.0

Allison Louie-Garcia posted a video titled “The decade according to 9-year olds.” For these kids, born in the year 2000, Selena Gomez and the Jonas Brothers are bigger celebs than Britney Spears, and dial-up internet is a long-lost relic. Since Speakaboos is a children”s website,

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The decade according to 9-year-olds from allison louie-garcia on Vimeo.

Category: Cool Kids    Comments Off

Study: Toddlers more likely to eat food from pictures

A study from Reading University in the UK says that toddlers are more likely to try unfamiliar foods if they’ve seen pictures of them already. Definitely an interesting hypothesis–if you’re having trouble getting your kids to eat their veggies, picture books could be the solution. Has someone told the publishing companies about this yet?For

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details on the study check out the story at Telegraph.co.uk

Category: Activity Ideas, New Research, Parenting    Comments Off

RECALL: Drop-side Cribs from Stork Craft and Fisher-Price

p>I hate to be a Debbie Downer and post two recall notices in a row–but this one is apparently one of

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the largest crib recalls of all time, and seems very important.Drop-side cribs branded Stork Craft (sold Jan. 1993 – Oct. 2009) Fisher-Price (sold Oct. 1997 – Dec. 2004) have been voluntarily recalled due to the possibility of the drop-side become detached and the infant entrapped.Please check the recall notice to see if your crib is affected (cribs with fixed sides are not included in the recall), and contact Stork Craft for a repair kit.

Category: Parenting, Product Recalls    Comments Off

RECALL: Maclaren umbrella strollers

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stroller is being unfolded. If you own a Maclaren, contact the company at their website here to obtain a free repair kit to fix the problem. See the full recall notice here.

Category: Parenting, Product Recalls    Comments Off