A new kind of reading assignment: Pick only books you like

A movement is under way to revolutionize the way literature is taught in U.S. schools, reports the New York Times. For years, Lorrie McNeill loved teaching "To Kill a Mockingbird," the Harper Lee classic that many Americans regard as a literary rite of passage. But last fall, for the first time in 15 years, McNeill did not assign "Mockingbird"–or any novel. Instead she turned over all the decisions about which books to read to the students in her seventh- and eighth-grade English classes at Jonesboro Middle School in Georgia. The approach McNeill uses, in which students choose their own books, discuss them individually with their teacher and one another, and keep detailed journals about their reading, is part of a growing movement. While there is no clear consensus among English teachers, variations on the approach, known as reading workshop, are catching on. Fans of the new approach say that assigning books leaves many children bored or unable to understand the texts. Letting students choose their own books, they say, can help to build a lifelong love of reading. But critics say that reading as a group generally leads to more meaningful insights, and they question whether teachers can really keep up with a roomful of children reading different books. Even more important, they say, is the loss of a common body of knowledge based on the literary classics–often-difficult books that children are unlikely to choose for themselves…

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SchoolMAX cited in back-to-school nightmare

"We knew there were students still missing their schedules before school started," said PGCPS Supt. William Hite.

It’s every administrator’s nightmare: Thousands of students arrive on the first day of school with no schedule and nowhere to go…and parents, teachers, and the news media are shouting questions, demanding to know who’s to blame.

Thanks to what school officials claim was malfunctioning software, this nightmare became a reality for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), in suburban Washington, D.C.

On Aug. 24, more than 8,000 students who attend high schools in PGCPS were left without schedules and placed by school administrators into makeshift holding facilities, such as gymnasiums and cafeterias. On Aug. 27, almost 2,000 students were still stranded. And parents and students weren’t happy.

As school officials tell it, the problem arose from a perfect storm: malfunctioning centralized student software, poor IT planning, and one of the largest schools districts in the U.S.

Go back to last year, when the storm clouds were first beginning to gather. PGCPS implemented the $4.1 million SchoolMAX system—an enterprise Student Information System (SIS)—to streamline its student operations.

With the implementation of SchoolMAX, administrators said, systems began to produce shaky results, especially in the area of grading.

According to PGCPS Chief Information Officer Wesley Watts, the district was using two different versions of Mygradebook, and both were managed locally by school administrators. “We wanted a centralized system where we could collect all grading data,” explained Watts during a press conference, “so we let SchoolMAX handle that.”

That was an error, according to accounts posted by a public social networking group on Facebook called “SCHOOLMAX SUCKS!!!! AND I HATE IT!!!!” The group, with more than 4,000 members, reportedly created by persons familiar with Eleanor Roosevelt High School in PGCPS, says some student grades were lost, and some were issued with errors, such as reporting that a student received an ‘E’ instead of an ‘A,’ all of which resulted in furious parents and students.

Some high school seniors even had to manage their transcripts so colleges wouldn’t misinterpret the effects of the software glitch.

It wasn’t until the beginning of June, however, when the clouds began to turn ominously dark. According to Watts, PGCPS considered SchoolMAX capable of handling not only grading but schedules as well. Indeed, the SchoolMAX web site clearly strives to create that expectation:

“With SchoolMAX Enterprise, you can integrate your academic requirements, material resources, student performance data and constraints, and allow the scheduler to mediate all the conflicts. SchoolMAX Enterprise’s dynamic scheduler allows the creation of the most workable, efficient student, teacher, and class schedules.” SchoolMAX has 76 clients, it is reported, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school systems in the U.S. after New York City.

Even so, SchoolMAX school-district clients in Georgia, Rhode Island, and New Mexico reportedly have all gone on the record claiming that SchoolMAX software is either not user friendly or crashes frequently.

Regardless of these warning signs (Watts even told reporters SchoolMAX had crashed multiple times since implementation), PGCPS went ahead and rolled out SchoolMAX’s scheduling capabilities.


3 Tips to Staging the Outside of Your Home Like a Pro



Are you considering putting your house up for sale, but not sure where to start? Afraid it will take too long to sell, or that you won’t get the price you want? Think about “staging” your home, or in other words, setting the scene for immediate buyer interest in your property.


To be really effective, you need to look at both the outside and the inside of your home. Here are 3 tips to get you started with the outside of your home:


1. Go stand on the street to see what clients see when driving up to the house. Be aware that any negative impressions they get outside the house (landscaping not maintained or non-existent, peeling paint, etc.) is just going to make them think that the house itself has not been well taken care of. So even if you have spent the time and money to fix up the interior, it would all be wasted if the clients get a bad first impression as they drive up to the house. http://www.realestatevally.com



2. Next, step outside your front door and close the door; then stand on the stoop and look around for 5 minutes. While the realtor fumbles for keys and tries to figure out how to open the door, the clients are standing behind and looking around. So what are they seeing? Dead plants, old Halloween decorations in the middle of January, cobwebs?  Again, not a good first impression!


It’s definitely worth it to take some time and clean it up. Want to go a step further? Try a new coat of paint or some new furniture or accessories.


3. Don’t forget the backyard. While that might not be part of the potential buyers’ first impression experience, you still should make sure it’s in the best condition possible. Pull up weeds, water plants, do some sweeping (if that’s applicable in your case) and maybe even purchase new furniture or accessories (plant pots, bird houses, etc.)



And the biggest tip of all? Imagine yourself as a potential buyer looking at your property for the very first time. What impressions are you getting? Would YOU buy your house? What would you like to see changed before you put an offer on your house?


And don’t worry about spending several thousand dollars to get your house ready to sell – you’ll get it all back when your house sells. Proper staging helps you sell your house in a shorter time and at the price you want.


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Digital pens: Mightier than MSWord?

Digital pens are being used in classrooms to help students improve their note taking skills.

Digital pens are being used in classrooms to help students improve their note taking skills.

A significant key to students’ academic success is their ability to take complete and accurate notes during class–and recent developments in digital-pen technology might help students do just that.

A number companies have created digital “smart” pens that can digitize handwriting, convert writing into word-processing text, and even record the audio that corresponds to the notes students take.

Digital pens made by companies such as Livescribe, IOGEAR, and WizCom can be found in retail outlets and even in many campus bookstores. Developers say students who use the pens to capture and upload their notes to computers for review possibly could perform better in school. The pens also are a more convenient option for students who typically carry their laptops to class to take notes.

“The student becomes more efficient,” said Keith Renty, business development manager for IOGEAR.

With IOGEAR’s Mobile Digital Scribe, the pen emits an electronic signal that is attached to the student’s paper. The receiver has enough memory to store the notes on 50 standard-size sheets of paper.

Renty said there are several similar pens on the market, but unlike other digital pens, the IOGEAR Mobile Digital Scribe doesn’t require any special paper or ink. The receiver can be attached to any paper the user writes on, he said.

Livescribe’s pen, called the Pulse, is unique in that it not only records handwriting using a special dotted paper and a tiny camera attached to the pen, but it records audio as well, developers say.

“Taking complete and accurate notes is one of the hardest things to do,” said Andy Van Schaack, senior science advisor for Livescribe and a professor at Vanderbilt University. He said taking notes is, cognitively, as challenging as playing chess. “You have to listen, write, and as you’re writing you have to listen to what [else] the speaker is saying,” he explained.

By also recording audio while a student is writing, Livescribe’s Pulse enables the student to focus more on the lecture, as opposed to making sure he or she is jotting everything down, Van Schaack said.

“Usually students have to decide if they’re going to listen and understand or take complete and accurate notes,” he said. The Pulse allows them to do both.

“If you believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, when you add audio, it’s worth a million words,” Van Schaack said.

In addition to audio, the pen records handwritten notes written on the special dotted paper, which acts as a barcode for the pen’s microprocessor when digitizing the handwriting. Then, when students want to review a spot in their notes where the handwriting might be illegible or their notes incomplete, they simply tap that place on the paper–and the audio recorder plays what was being recorded at the exact time they were taking notes.


At Singularity U, tech is seen as savior

The university is an incubator for technological ideas that, at the end of a nine-week program, might turn into actual companies.

The university is an incubator for technological ideas that, at the end of a nine-week program, might turn into actual companies.

Chatter about ensuing plans permeates any graduation, though it’s not common for the talk to surround which class projects will receive venture capital funding.

This was a hot topic at the first commencement at Singularity University, a school that is backed by Google, operates on NASA’s Silicon Valley campus, and gets its name from futurist and co-founder Ray Kurzweil’s favorite term for our technologically enhanced future.

Founded last year with the idea that rapidly evolving technologies can be harnessed to solve problems like poverty and climate change (see “Singularity U wants to harness tech’s power.”), Singularity University does not offer a traditional degree–though it is working to get some universities to accept students’ coursework for credits.

More than a graduate school, it resembles an incubator for technological ideas that, at the end of a nine-week program, might turn into actual companies with a humanitarian edge.

Starting in June, students spent three weeks attending lectures by faculty members and visiting luminaries such as Vint Cerf–one of the founding fathers of the internet–to get a basic grounding in fields ranging from networks and computing systems to artificial intelligence and robotics. (See “A ‘singular’ approach to higher education.”) After that, they chose one of four subjects to study more closely for three weeks. For the privilege, the 40 members of the initial class paid $25,000 apiece.

Singularity is working to bring the cost down, by starting monthly sessions for executives in November. Those will fund scholarships for the summer program, said Peter H. Diamandis, Singularity co-founder and CEO of the X Prize Foundation. The school also has been bolstered by $2 million in seed donations, $250,000 of which came from Google.

Despite the cost, there were 1,200 applicants. Executive Director Salim Ismail said the next session–which is slated for mid-June 2010–will include 100 or 120 students, and he added that even that expansion might not fulfill demand.

The premise for the school is that change is occurring exponentially from the frenetic pace of technology and globalization.
“We’re teaching students to understand and think about that,” Diamandis said.

In the final weeks of their studies, students split into four groups and created projects whose only requirements were that they needed to focus on one of the world’s great challenges and have the potential to improve the lives of a billion people over a decade.

Wait, a billion people? Really?

The goal, as some Singularity faculty admit, sounds lofty. But with classic Silicon Valley optimism, the faculty, leaders, and students seem confident that work done at Singularity U. will change the world.

“Ultimately, breakthroughs come from young, unconstrained thinkers who have a bold vision of the future and don’t know that they can’t make it happen,” Diamandis said, adding that many of the engineers who built NASA’s Apollo space program in the 1960s were in their 20s.

There were no spaceship models on display during a presentation of the projects Aug. 27. One team, called Acasa, proposed the use of rapid prototyping machines to essentially “print” affordable housing. Another team, Gettaround, showed an iPhone application and corresponding in-car technology that people can use to rent out their cars to others when not using them–without needing to hand over their keys.

The groups displayed their work to a room full of faculty, staff, and potential investors, explaining how and when their projects could play out in the real world.

At a reception afterward, attendees piled plates with fragrant Indian food while venture capitalists mingled with some students. In a side room, students in dress clothes spoke with Google co-founder Larry Page, who sported a white T-shirt, khaki shorts, and red Crocs.

Asked about the students’ projects, Page said only that he thought they looked good, and then stepped away to join the reception.

Margo Liptsin, 23, a member of Acasa who is about to begin pursuing a Ph.D. in the history of science at Harvard, said her group arrived at its idea for the automated construction of affordable homes after toying with “three-dimensional printing,” a process that uses a machine called a rapid prototyper to “print” an object, often out of plastic.

Acasa explored how this technology could be used to help people, and figured housing was the most relevant and tangible answer, Liptsin said. An architect in her group suggested the team get in touch with University of Southern California professor Behrokh Khoshnevis, who had developed a rapid prototyping technology that can be used to make walls. Khoshnevis agreed to work with the students as their chief technology officer.

Over the next few weeks, Acasa plans to meet with venture capitalists. The company is seeking $10 million in initial funding, and it hopes to build a prototype house within eight months of getting financing. Acasa wants to build its first houses in Mexico and branch out from there.

Even though part of the point of developing this project in Singularity University was to snag funding, Liptsin said it was hard to imagine the group would be talking to investors so quickly.

“I don’t think any of us knew it would be possible until today,” she said.


Singularity University


College Homework Help


This article is regarding the re-launch of www.TheCollegeHomeworkHelp.com, which is, a Global community of Students and Subject Experts where Students can interact with Tutors/Experts to get the Homework Help/Solutions of their Queries/Assignments/Projects. As per the past track records of last four years, organization is committed towards Quality College Homework Help to the Students who want to become part of Homework Help Team.


TheCollegeHomeworkHelp.com deals in providing Homework and Assignment Help in all Subjects. The website can also help you with Essays & Research Papers.  Most of the tutors and writers of the company are either PhD or Master degree holders in their respective subjects.


The process of getting College Homework Help is very simple. You have to send your assignment or project via email by clearly mentioning the deadline. The email id is info@thehomeworkhelp.com. After receiving your assignment, tutor will evaluate that and will send you quote and steps of making payments in few minutes. After receiving payments from you, tutor will start working on it and will deliver by the deadline.



Their Team is efficient in College Homework Help, Statistics Homework Help, Finance Homework Help, Accounting Homework Help, Business Homework Help, Chemistry Homework Help, Math Homework Help, Algebra Homework Help, and Science Homework Help etc.


Tutors and writers are committed to fulfill the requirements and meet the deadline with the highest quality of writing. All essays are plagiarism free and are checked for plagiarism before being delivered to you. The dedicated team of academic writers has great experience and writing skills.


All tutor/writers are highly qualified and trained to write all types of dissertations, essays, research papers, book reviews etc. TheCollegeHomeworkHelp.com does not employ free lance writers. All writers write exclusively for them so that there is no problem of plagiarism. Also this ensures that a student gets the very same writer/tutor always for his series of assignments. The services ensure that the paper is delivered to the client well within deadline. This enables the student to review the work and ask for minor changes that he would like.


They deals into variety of subjects like Anthropology, Archeology, Arts, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Computers & Technology, Community Studies, Criminology, Ecology, Economics, Education, Engineering, English Language, Finance, Geography, Geology, History, IT 


Can Female Hair Loss Make Me Totally Bald?


View the pattern that affects women only. Loss of female hair is not the same as male hair loss determined by heredity. Female hair loss is temporary and is seldom an advance warning of baldness. Transient loss of hair should not, however, be ignored. It is possible for a woman to suffer from hormonal hair loss leading to baldness.


Some of the most common causes are:


1. Pregnancy

2. Severe emotional stress

3. Under medical treatment

4. Hormonal hair loss

Is there a relationship between hair loss and menopause?


The most common cause of hair loss is low thyroid function, which is common among menopausal women.


Other causes include, but are not limited to: changes in hormone levels, increased testosterone, increased stress, which can either be physical stress, or emotional stress, various medications, scalp/dermatological issues and heredity.



Any time sudden hair loss is experienced, one must consider events which took place up to three months prior to the hair loss, as factors affecting hair loss can often take up to three months to have an effect, i.e., were you diagnosed with something new in the past few months? Did you start taking medication during the past few months? Did you go through a traumatic experience. Subsequently, any treatments for hair loss should be given at least three months to have noticeable effects.


There are of course various ways to solve hair problems, such as:


1. Wig / toupe

2. Hair-weaving (weaving in extra hair)

3. Hair transplant

4. Cosmetic hair treatment courses

5. Therapy



There are only a few products available worldwide which have been conclusively proven to combat hair loss. They are Aminexil, Alopesan 400, Maxilène, Minoxidil and Finasteride. It’s very important for you as a consumer to know this if you are thinking of taking steps to combat your hair loss. Rogaine is another one of the more popular brand names in the hair loss industry.


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Alternative keyboard helps autistic kids communicate

Autism can build a wall of poor communication between those struggling with the condition and their families. While a personal computer can help bridge the divide, the distraction and complexity of a keyboard can be an insurmountable obstacle. Now, using a unique keyboard with only two “keys” and a novel curriculum, teachers with an initiative called Project Blue Skies are giving autistic children the ability to communicate and also explore the online world.

At the heart of the project is a device called the OrbiTouch. Human-factors engineer Pete McAlindon of BlueOrb in Maitland, Fl., dreamed up the concept behind the OrbiTouch more than a decade ago as a way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and provide computer access to people with limited or no use of their fingers.

“If you are unable to use a keyboard and mouse effectively or at all because of a physical disability, what chance do you have of using a computer?” asked McAlindon. “The OrbiTouch is designed to keep people with physical or developmental disabilities connected to their computers.”

The Project Blue Skies curriculum is based on the functions of the OrbiTouch, which allows a user to input letters, symbols, and any other command by independently manipulating two computer-mouse shaped grips forward, back, diagonally, and to the sides.

With Project Blue Skies, the hardware is paired with lesson plans, training aids such as games, and assessment tools. The two-grip device is ideal for people with autism, project organizers say, because it is less distracting than a traditional keyboard and does not require finger motion.

In addition, users create various letter and number combinations by matching color schemes indicated on the two grips, so the training curriculum matches well to a game-like environment.


Minnesota Revises Business Management Education Curricula and Instruction for Farmers. Next in Line, Online Instruction!

A sizable collaborative project is enabling Minnesota’s Farm Business Management Education program to realign and revise its curriculum – offered through eight colleges across the state – to better help today’s producers achieve success. The program, designed for producers interested in learning more about farm business management and finance to improve profitability, now is based on clearly defined course and program outcomes that remain constant no matter where in Minnesota those courses are taught, or by whom. The newly defined course and program outcomes resulted from an occupational analysis that determined which knowledge and skills producers currently need to be successful business managers.

Minnesota’s Farm Business Management Education program, currently enrolling about 3,150 producers annually, has a more complete and outcomes-driven curriculum than ever before, according to Dick Joerger, system director for Agriculture and Business Program Coordination for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Producers know what knowledge and skills they will master by the end of each course and upon completion of the program, Joerger says. Moreover, the new curriculum and soon-to-be-completed instructional materials will make it easy for instructors to teach the courses, because they feature complete and updated curriculum, learning plans, learning activities, instructional media and performance assessments – soon to be accessible from a centralized Web site.

Access, Download or Print Curriculum Documents from Central Web Site

Ultimately, instructors will be able to download or print curriculum and instructional documents, including course outcome summaries, assessments, learning plans and related learning materials, from the program’s Web site, which will serve as a curriculum repository. “The electronic nature of the curriculum allows instructors to revise, adjust and recreate to meet the needs of individual producers,” says Joerger.

Making the curriculum easily accessible to the instructors is important, he says. Unlike most college programs, in the Farm Business Management Education program, instructors teach producers using individualized and small and large group instruction with a variety of instructional media including video-conferencing technologies. When phase one of the curriculum initiative is complete, phase two – the development of learning plans and activities and storage of the curriculum on the new, centralized Web site – is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2009. Hybrid or complete online courses are scheduled to become part of the Farm Business Management Education program offerings for students in 2010 and 2011 when sufficient development resources are secured. Online courses will help expand program opportunities to more students and producers within and outside of Minnesota.

Organizing the Revision & Collaboration

To pull the curriculum project together, Joerger needed help. That’s why he – and the eight colleges offering the program – turned to the Worldwide Instructional Design System (WIDS). WIDS is a non-profit organization that provides instructional design software, consulting and training. Terri Johnson, a WIIDS consultant, worked very closely with a number of instructors and producers to collaboratively develop the curriculum. Johnson says this approach resulted in the optimal sharing of ideas and practices.