Social media fuels school's '85 Acts of Kindness' program
Anybody can donate money or time on Giving Tuesday, but a girls' prep school in New York City is encouraging students, staff, alumnae and the public to participate in a social-media fueled kindness campaign that will last for the rest of the school year..

"Service is really one of the characteristics that our students identify with," Flora Lugo, the school's director of recruitment and admissions, told "We collaborated to team up with our students and our community, and show our service component to not only our community, but to the state and the nation. And hopefully, it'll go global."


In honor of the 85th anniversary of St. Jean Baptiste High School, staffers launched the "85 Acts of Kindness" campaign Monday. The initiative asks students in each homeroom class to perform a combined 85 acts of kindness by May, and post photos of their works to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #85KindActs and the handle @stjeanhs.


St. Jean Baptiste students also are reviving the school's Toys For Tots program, which had been dormant at the school for six years, according to Lugo.


Although participation isn't mandatory, seniors Annie Garcia and Deja Jenkins are on board with the campaign. Both 17-year-olds have been volunteering at local day-care centers.


"I help them read," Garcia, a co-vice president of the school's National Honor Society, said. "And I help them with activities like painting."


Added Jenkins, who's vice-president of the school's student council, "I love waking up in the morning, knowing that I am giving back to these children."   >> READ MORE 

Students and teachers at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Compton are busy preparing for a winter concert that elsewhere might pass with scant notice.


For King Elementary, the concert is both their first full performance at a school where nearly all students come from low-income families and a sign that a program designed to turn schools around through music and the arts may be taking hold.


This year marked the first time for arts classes at King Elementary, a development made possible with funding help from Turnaround Arts - a national initiative of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Turnaround Arts is supporting 10 of California's struggling schools over three years with the goal of  improving their academic performance by way of the arts.


On a recent Friday afternoon, a few dozen 6th-graders at King Elementary sat perched in rows of chairs listening to their teacher's instructions. In their hands were shiny violins.


"Start with the down bow," said music teacher Jennifer Carreras as she stood behind a music stand at the front of the room. A broken clock was mounted on the wall behind her, underneath the room's brash fluorescent lights.  


"Make sure you control that bow. I don't want any of that bouncing in there, OK?" Carreras said. "Let's try it one last time and then we'll have to move on to vocal music."  >> READ MORE 

Looking To The Future, Cambridge Partnership Teaches Kindergartners To Code

Fifth grader Danato Christie dutifully holds up an iPad so that kindergartner Euri Leguisamon can see the screen.


"Watch this, watch this," Christie says, as the two boys sit in a former computer lab at the Kennedy-Longfellow Elementary School on Thursday. "Now, let's give it some moves!"


Christie and Leguisamon resume their task, tapping at the glowing screen with fervor. No, the students are not playing "Angry Birds." They're learning to code.


Kindergartners and 5th graders seem like an unlikely classroom mix, but the 5th graders have taken on a new role - as teachers.


In Thursday's lesson, Kennedy-Longfellow 5th graders taught their kindergarten counterparts how to code using ScratchJr., a programming language for children.


The activity, organized by the team behind the Kennedy-Longfellow/Lesley University Partnership, is a part of the Hour of Code, a week-long national grassroots campaign organized by that encourages teachers and students to participate in coding lessons.  >> READ MORE 

The turnaround artist: One principal, two enormous test score gains and many questions

Something remarkable happens when Desmond Moore takes over a school. In his two years as principal of Paul Habans Elementary in Algiers, the school's grade rose from an F to a B. Then he moved to Pierre Capdau Charter in Mid-City, and the same thing happened in just one year; Capdau's performance score, on a 150-point scale, shot up 41 points.


Equally remarkable is that after Moore left Habans, its grade immediately fell back to an F. The new managers found at the beginning of the year that only 14 percent of students were reading at grade level.


The gains at Habans and Capdau, combined with Moore's magnetism and energy, have some wondering whether he's a miracle worker. They want to know his "secret sauce," so they can help other schools succeed in the same way.


But to some, the swiftness of those gains, combined with the instant decline at Habans, constitute red flags. Three national testing experts who reviewed the data said the results don't mean anyone cooked the books, but all three said the test scores warrant further investigation, and that the Habans downturn was especially troubling.


The New Beginnings charter network needs Moore to work miracles. It has promoted Moore to executive director for academics for all four of its local schools. Its Lake Area New Tech High and Gentilly Terrace Charter have been sliding down the letter grade ladder, and Medard Nelson Charter entered full-out crisis, with many faculty members and the principal either leaving or dismissed.  >> READ MORE 

School Lunches Lacking Nutrition, Environment Plays a Role 

Two studies have found that school-provided lunches are generally healthier than lunches packed at home, but only if the students eat them - and they don't.


A study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and another from the Baylor College of Medicine looked into what options are the healthiest for school lunches. It turns out neither home- nor school-provided lunches are very healthy. The studies also highlighted issues with the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.


In 2010, standards for government-subsidized lunches were raised as part of the re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act. This meant increasing servings of whole grains, vegetables and fruits across the country, reports Dianne Depra for Tech Times.


The Johns Hopkins study, which focused on students ages 6 to 8, and the Baylor study, which involved students from kindergarten to eighth grade, both found that even thought students were provided healthy options, many students didn't take them. If they did, few actually ate them.


The research done at Johns Hopkins showed that out of 274 students who ate school-provided lunches, 59 percent chose vegetables and 58 percent chose fruit. Out of the students who chose vegetables, only 24 percent actually consumed the vegetables that they put on their trays.


Alternatively, students who bring their lunch from home finish much more of the food. However, the food is lacking nutritional value, according to Brad Broker for Physicians News.   >> READ MORE 

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The skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk, 

but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.


How many boards
Could the Mongols hoard
If the Mongol hordes got bored?

How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?

Denise sees the fleece,
Denise sees the fleas.
At least Denise could sneeze
and feed and freeze the fleas.

Roberta ran rings around the Roman ruins.

College enrollment declined 1.3 percent this fall, the third year it has declined more than one percent, according new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.


The drop of 1.3 percent is less than the previous two years, according to the report, but still reflects a loss of almost 265,000 students.


Most of the decline is among adult students, many of whom have joined the workforce as the economy rebounds.

Prestwick Academy wants to change the way North Texas educates its children.


The academy is Little Elm ISD's first science, technology, engineering and math school and North Texas' first and only K-8 STEM school.


There are approximately 54 STEM academies in Texas and 13 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

For campus tech liaison Daisy Castilleja, who grew up in Little Elm, the school is a far cry from the education she received in the district.


"The education that students are receiving today is very innovative, meaningful and most importantly exciting," Castilleja said. "I cannot tell you how many times I walk down the halls and see students engaging in their learning. >>READ MORE 

At a time when fewer young adults seem to know how to make anything from scratch, some New York City high school students are building wooden boats by hand.


But woodworking isn't the only skill they're learning through the Rocking the Boat after-school program, which is helping transform a community and changing the lives of participants.


Featured this month in Popular Mechanics magazine, the program opens a warehouse-turned-workshop in the South Bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point to local students, who spend afternoons chiseling, sawing, sanding and painting wood to bring it to life.  




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