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Archive for the 'Schools' Category

14-Year-Old to the Rescue

Larry Wang (Photo by Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group) Sweet story in the news this week about a 14-year-old trombonist, young Larry Wang, pictured, who was so appalled by his school district’s decision to cut fourth grade music programs, he started his own music program at his alma mater, Sequoia Elementary in Pleasant Hill. He enlisted the help of fellow eighth graders and the principals at both schools – and by spring, had those fourth graders ready to perform in concert.

“Of course, they have more to learn,” he says. “We all have more to learn. But it gives them a foundation.”

That’s a kid who deserves a standing ovation.

Posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Under: Schools | No Comments »

Mt. Diablo Musicians Fest

Sheet music (Stock photo by Hiden84) More than 20 Mt. Diablo district schools are joining together for the first ever district-wide music festival May 15 at the Concord Pavilion (aka the Sleep Train Pavilion). Hear a choir of 500 elementary students, Concord High’s award-winning jazz ensemble, College Park’s incredible orchestra and more at this fundraiser to help save music programs at Mt. Diablo’s cash-strapped schools. The show begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $6 for kids, $12 for adults.

Posted on Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
Under: Family Outings, Schools | No Comments »

DUBLIN High Takes the Prize in Milk Campaign

Milk (Chris Ware/Lexington Herald Leader/MCT) Very cool! Dublin High students just snagged fifth place in the “Got Milk?” video contest with an animated short, “Love in Milquarious,” that earned their school art program a $2,500 cash prize. The Dublin video crew included seniors James Genzale, Matt Pecota and Drake Schullerts, and junior Angela Tran.

Want to take a peek? Here ’tis! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Under: Schools | No Comments »

WHEN Kids Pick the Books

To Kill a Mockingbird Fascinating story in yesterday’s New York Times about a middle school teacher in Georgia who is taking a different approach to literature curriculum. For years, the story says, Lorrie McNeill assigned Harper Lee’s classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” to her eighth graders. Now, she’s letting kids pick their own books and the choices are all over the map: young adult, chick lit, James Patterson’s thrilling “Maximum Ride” series and even “Captain Underpants.”

But some kids are picking heftier tomes, and the resulting engagement far surpasses what happens when teachers do the picking. “Done correctly,” McNeill told the Times reporter, “letting students make some or all of their reading selections can be a life-changing event in a child’s or teen’s life.” Other school districts in Seattle and Chicago are following suit.

What do you think? Do kids respond more when they pick their books? Or are they missing out when they’re allowed to go all “Underpants” all the time?

Posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
Under: Books, Schools | 2 Comments »

FAB Five for the Weekend

Samurai Exhibit (Courtesy Asian Art Museum) Supreme Samurai: What kid doesn’t swoon over samurai warriors? Check out the “Lords of the Samurai” exhibit at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum now through Sept. 20. Museum admission is $7-$12, plus an extra $5 for the samurai exhibit.

Puppetry Heaven: Children’s Fairyland hosts an entire weekend of puppet fun, including a Mexican fiesta tale, “The Fisherman and his Wife, and “Tales from Beatrix Potter.” There’s even a puppet petting zoo. Admission $7.

Barnyard reading Fest: Kids reading to pigs and goats for charity? Sounds like a Barnyard Book-a-Thon. Menlo Park’s Reading Clinic is hosting the literary fun, which also includes a petting zoo, face painting and pony rides, at Webb Ranch on Aug. 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, and the read-a-thon benefits Angels on Stage, a nonprofit theater troupe for children of differing abilities.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
Under: Family Outings, Schools | No Comments »

Frugal Back to School Shopping Tips

Back-to-School Survival (Laurie McAdam illus., MCT Direct) The ever-helpful Consumer Reports folks just assembled a list of frugal back-to-school shopping tips. Some of them you probably already knew – but hey, a reminder is always helpful, right? But there are some new ideas in the mix too. Take a peek, then hit “comments” and add your tips too.

Buy in bulk – Notebooks, pencils, all those things are often sold in bulk. Nowhere to store them? Or don’t think you’ll use them all? Go in on the purchase with a neighbor.

Go plain – The Hannah Montana 3-ring binder is $6, the plain version is $2.

Go classic – When you go back-to-school clothes shopping, buy polos, tees and other basics in solid neutrals and classic styles. They’re easy to mix and match, and never look dated.

Think growth – That “buy one, get the second half off” deal looks mighty tempting, but kids grow like weeds so exercise a little restraint when stocking up. Shoes that fit now, won’t by spring.

Look for online deals – No matter what you’re buying, go online to look for coupons and promotional codes first. Try or, or Google “promotion code” and the name of the retailer. One Consumer Reports reporter recently saved 45% on a purchase by using two codes at once on the Borders Web site.

Posted on Friday, August 7th, 2009
Under: Kids & Tweens, Schools | 5 Comments »

NYC Teachers Paid $80K to Twiddle Thumbs

Toy school bus Unbelievable. Apparently 700 New York City teachers are being paid their full $70,000-$80,000 salaries to sit in a room, surf the ‘Net, play board games, do yoga and whatever else floats their collective boats while they await disciplinary hearings. They call it “the rubber room,” and some teachers have spent two to six years in there, running up a $65 million annual taxpayer tab while they wait for arbitrators, who work 5 days a month, to hear cases that range from sexual misconduct to whistle blowing over tainted test scores.

One math teacher spent 14 months in a “reassignment center” after he blew the whistle on an assistant principal who, he charged, had changed test data. Another was charged with “having a student sit in my class with a hat on, singing.” And a third, an art teacher, landed in the room because she used inappropriate language after a student attacked her.

Administrators say union rules prohibit them from weeding out dead wood. Teachers say they’re being punished for standing up for themselves. What do you suppose the taxpayers are saying?

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
Under: Schools | No Comments »

PBS “MoneyTrack” Films in San Ramon

PBS "Money Track" in San Ramon So this was cool – video production students from Windemere Ranch Middle School got a first-hand look at how the pros do it when PBS “MoneyTrack” series went on location in San Ramon recently. The show’s executive producer Neil Alford (pictured at left with the students), a veteran of CNN, FOX and NBC, spoke with the students and answered questions during the 90-minute visit. Pretty inspiring stuff for the middle schoolers, who have been using iMovie to develop and edit weekly video segments shown throughout the school. The school’s production studio features video cameras, a mixing soundboard and video switcher.

Posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009
Under: Schools | No Comments »

SWINE FLU: Parents, how’s it affecting you and your children?

If your kids are old enough to pick up on news reports, how are they reacting? Are they scared by every little sniffle or cough?

Are you doing anything to try to protect your kids from swine flu?

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Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
Under: Health & Safety, Parenting Issues, Schools | No Comments »

LA Schools Want to Make Firing Teachers Easier

School search ILLUS Talk about playing with fire. Faced with the prospect of laying off thousands of teachers, including 3,500 newbies, Los Angeles school officials are talking about making it easier to fire lousy educators. The board will vote tomorrow on its proposal to drop seniority rules that put the youngest, newest teachers on the chopping block every year while sparing those with more seniority. The board also wants to institute a new way of evaluating teachers that would result in an automatic dismissal after two, consecutive bad reviews. How hard is it to get rid of an ineffective teacher now? Well, in the last five years, just 31 teachers have been fired in the entire state. We can guess what the reaction of the state teachers unions will be. Heck,we can practically hear those powerhouse unions donning their armor and sharpening their blades right now. But what do you think? Click comments and tell us…

Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009
Under: Schools | No Comments »