Happy Earth Day!

Staff Photojournalist
photo by Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

I visited Peralta Elementary School in North Oakland this week to see how they are using the arts to teach children about the environment. A story about it ran in Saturday’s paper.

Below, you’ll find the “Miraculous Fungi” animation last year’s fourth-graders produced with their teachers to explain the concept of micromediation. (Normally, I’d explain such a term myself, but I’d rather let the students tell you how it works.) Next on the list: native bees.

You can view the other animation projects here.

What does your school do to promote environmental stewardship?


An OUSD survey on working conditions

Staff meeting. File photo by John Green/Bay Area News Group

Oakland teachers, counselors, principals and other credentialed school-based staff: Friday is the deadline for completing an anonymous online survey about what it’s like to work at each school in the district.

How much time do you spend on various tasks during the school day? Outside of the regular school day? Are efforts made at your school to minimize interruptions, or routine paperwork? How much time do you have to collaborate with other teachers?

The results will be published online, by school, in June — that is, as long as the response rate is at least 50 percent for a given school. If not, those schools will be omitted from the results. Continue Reading


Sobrante Park cheerleaders bring it on

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist the overused, early 2000s pop culture reference after watching this video of the Sobrante Park Elementary School cheer squad, taken last weekend by a very excited mother (who seems to bounce along with the music at times).

The Oakland team took the state championship in their division at the Spirit Club International competition last weekend. The team formed last year as part of the school’s after-school program run by Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corp. They are coached by Asia Williams.


A Twitter plug

If you’re an avid consumer of education news, I should level with you: I post updates and story links about schools on Twitter, and some of it doesn’t make it into the blog or in the paper.


Even if you don’t want to sign up, or you’re not quite ready to “follow” me (understandably), you can still see those updates by going to the above Web page. Like the one I just posted about the solar panels to be installed at 17 Oakland schools. Of course, there wasn’t space to list the schools on Twitter, so I’ll do it here: Continue Reading


A teenager with a broad worldview

Before this week, I don’t think I’d interviewed anyone quite like Adarsha Shivakumar, who was featured in today’s Trib.

The junior at Oakland’s College Preparatory School started an international organization when he was 13, when he used his spelling bee prize money to buy seeds that convert into biofuel.

I could barely keep pace with his thoughts as he told me about Project Jatropha and its work with poor farmers in southern India, where his parents were born. As soon as I had caught up, he took off again, describing an effort to promote tree-planting at urban elementary schools.  Continue Reading