U.S. education: Old dogs, new tricks, no problem

July 31, 2007

David Parker notes this wonderful event.  It makes me hopeful for the nation, really.

David:  Did you ask the guy if your students can interview him?

Difficulty viewing this blog?

July 31, 2007

Comments are not exactly at the deluge level, but I’ve heard from several people (including my wife) that the blog is bleeding out of its assigned column for reading, to the left.

WordPress tech thinks it may be a function of older versions of Internet Explorer.  They can’t duplicate the problem, nor can I.  Mozilla Firefox is my browser of choice, and the problem does not manifest there.

One solution would be to change the blog theme.  For a couple of reasons, I’m reluctant to do that — but I would like to know how much of a problem this is for readers.

Do you experience problems with text bleeding out of the columns?  Especially, do you experience this problem with the most current versions of Internet Explorer?  Do you have no problems at all?
Let me know in comments.  A change may come.

And in any case, it won’t kill you to comment, right?

Tracking hurricanes for classrooms

July 31, 2007

Here in North Texas, most of our classrooms see refugees from coastal storms from time to time — in fact, most schools still have refugees from Hurricane Katrina, or Hurricane Rita. Plus, sitting close to Tornado Alley, everyone understands that weather is no abstraction here. Weather is personal.

Maps of weather offer teachers a good way to make geography personal, too — or at least more relevant. Those little clouds swirling west from the coast of Africa today could be the hurricane that swamps the Texas coast in a couple of weeks.

An e-mail correspondent sent a link to the Weather Channel’s Hurricane Central, suggesting I might want to track storms for my personal safety (Tropical Storm Chantal is far off in the Atlantic, and racing away; no problems from that storm).

Why not have kids track storms in class? The map above, for example, should be a basic foundation for much of Texas history (the explorers and Spanish colonization, for example), for U.S. history (explorers and the slave trade, the Triangle Trade, the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, and so on). Get students used to using maps to track important and interesting things, and map use will become second nature, as it should be. The Weather Channel and other sources create updates on that basic map several times a day.

What sorts of storms did the explorers face? The slave ships? How big was the storm that shipwrecked Esteban in Texas? What is one likely source of the massive forest blowdown that created the greater Caddo Lake?

Hurricane season runs through October. There should be a lot of grist for the learning mill just in the daily weather reports. You might also use the weather maps in the daily newspaper (most local newspapers will give you a classroom set for a week for under $20.00 under the Newspapers in Education (NIE) project) (NIE offers an interactive quiz on geography weekly, by the way).

Is there any kid who isn’t fascinated by the weather? That’s your hook. Maps are freely available from the Weather Channel site, and from dozens of others.

Best blog post title this week. Maybe this year.

July 30, 2007

No kidding. I run into this title a couple of times a day, and I laugh every time. Go see. Over at Neurophilosophy.

Uganda expands controlled DDT use

July 30, 2007

Contrary to the scare stories from JunkScience.com and other politicos, Uganda is expanding their use of DDT on a controlled basis, to fight malaria — exactly as Environmental Defense and other U.S. environmental groups have urged.  The story doesn’t say whether the Bush administration has come on board, but one can hope.

From New Vision:

By Fred Ouma

THE Government is to start indoor spraying of DDT in January 2008, the Malaria Control Programme manager with the health ministry has said.

Dr. John Bosco Rwakimari, who did not disclose the cost of the exercise, on Wednesday told participants at the malaria conference at the Imperial Resort Beach, Entebbe that the Government had secured funds to buy the pesticide.

“We have seen impressive results in Kabale and Kanungu districts where the malaria prevalence has reduced from 30% to less than 4% and 45% to 4.7% respectively,” he affirmed.

“DDT should be here (in Uganda) at beginning of the year. We shall start with high malaria endemic districts of Apac, Lira, Kitgum, Amuru, Gulu, Pader, Mbale and Pallisa in accordance with WHO and Stockholm Convention guidelines,” he added.

Rwakimari affirmed that by the end of 2010, all areas considered prone to the epidemic would be covered.

Were there a worldwide ban on DDT use, how could this happen?


DDT out, eagles back in Michigan Upper Peninsula

July 30, 2007

Another story of the success of the restrictions on use of DDT:  The recovery of eagles in Michigan; from the Escanaba Daily Press.


Eagles at edge of Escanaba River


BBC animation: The Western Front, World War I

July 30, 2007

Western Front of World War I, from BBC animation

Here’s another map animation from the BBC that helps people visualize the stalemate nature of the Western Front of World War I.

If this animation is available in any form for purchase from the BBC for classroom use, I haven’t found it. I do wish the BBC would do a DVD or CD compilation of these animations and make it available at very low cost to teachers (high costs mean schools buy only one copy, which teachers can’t get a chance to see, and consequently won’t integrate into their lesson plans; paradoxically, a low-priced disk would probably earn BBC more money, and certainly would contribute to much more classroom learning).

This would be a good link for individual study at home on the internet. A great lecture could be built around it, if one has internet access live in the classroom and a way to project it.

%d bloggers like this: