Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Men Who Would Be (Education) Kings

What's the difference? Beats me, although one of them may be considered a better connoisseur of women. I prefer the movie version with Sean Connery and Michael Caine. Here are articles about the two. The one on Klein is from the current New York Magazine. Another on Alvarado is from a San Diego publication of 2003.

Rosa Parks: Something Inside So Strong

This has always been one of my favorite songs. It was a theme song for one of WBAI's shows. I tried unsuccessfully to use it as one of last year's graduation song. It's by Labi Siffre. Here's the lyrics: The higher you build your barriers. The taller I become The further you take my rights away. The faster I will run. You can deny me. You can decide to turn your face away. No matter 'cause there's, Something inside so strong. I know that I can make it. Though you're doing me wrong, so wrong. You thought that my pride was gone... oh no. There's something inside so strong. Something inside so strong. The more you refuse to hear my voice. The louder I will sing. You hide behind walls of Jericho. Your lies will come tumbling. Deny my place in time. You squander wealth that's mine. My light will shine so brightly it will blind you. Because there's, Something inside so strong. I know that I can make it. Though you're doing me wrong, so wrong. You thought that my pride was gone... oh no. There's something inside so strong. Something inside so strong. Brothers and sisters. When they insist we're just not good enough. Well, we know better. Just look 'em in the eyes and say. We're gonna do it anyway. We're gonna do it anyway because there's, Something inside so strong. I know that I can make it. Though you're doing me wrong, so wrong. You thought that my pride was gone... oh no. There's something inside so strong. Something inside so strong Here's a slide show of Rosa Parks' images set to the sound track. It's 5Mb, a longer download than the usual, be patient.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Comic Life

I love using comics to help deliver content to kids. Here's a great new Mac OSX App called Comic Life. Like my favorite app, LiveSlideShow, it's built on the backbone of quicktime. It's $20 for educators. No better endorsement than from another teacher from the savvytechnologist blog:"Comic Life: A talk with Robert Grant and Cris Pearson I discovered Comic Life last April and blogged about it. Since then we’ve installed Comic Life on over 1,000 computers in my school district, and our teachers are finding new uses for it every week. Robert Grant, head coder, and Cris Pearson, UI designer, were good enough to chat with me about Comic Life via Skype recently. We talked a bit about how Comic Life came to be, tossed around some interesting ideas about educational uses, and even heard a bit about some upcoming features. On a technical note, I think the recording turned out pretty well considering that I’m in Minnesota, Robert lives in Charleston, SC, and Cris is in Australia." Here's the address where you can download the podcast of the interview. Here's a slide show I made with comic life using pics from Andy DeSimone's retirement party.

Thank You Cindy Gale

From Cindy Gale, a 3rd grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Acton, Massachusetts. Like the newly married and lovely Noelle O'Reilly at Children's Workshop, but unlike many teachers, she knows how to use Kid Pix to integrate curriculum. Here's a slide show I put together of her students' work on colonial history leading up to the Revolutionary War. I'll definitely try to put it to use with the 4th graders I work with. There's nothing more valuable than good students' work to communicate effectively with other kids and to help motivate them. I was curious to find out where Acton was and used Google Maps to locate it.

Joseph Bruchac: Squanto's Journey

I'd like to thank Aurora Olivieri for turning me onto Bruchac's writings. From Amazon: "Most American children know the story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, but the Native American side of the tale is far less familiar. Joseph Bruchac, a prolific and award-winning author of Native American descent (The First Strawberries, A Boy Called Slow) describes life in 1620 for a man who was destined to save the Pilgrims even as he was losing his family and tribe. Told from Squanto's point of view, this historically accurate and detailed story brings to life one of the most important moments in America's past. Demonstrating how much his people (the Patuxet, the People of the Falls) value honor, Squanto befriends English traders, even after being kidnapped and taken to Spain. After much hard work, Squanto manages to sail back to his homeland, where, in spite of his discovery that many of his people have died from disease brought by white people, he acts as envoy between the English and his own people, and helps the pilgrims survive in their new world.Throughout this moving tale, Squanto's belief that "these men can share our land as friends" poignantly shines through. Greg Shed's gouache illustrations capture the warmth and dignity of Squanto and his friends. Young readers will be fascinated by this lesser-known perspective on the Thanksgiving tradition that remains strong today." Here's a slide show I created from the book-a big effort to combine text with images to conserve size.

The Belelis' of Ioannina

The KKJ website (see previous post) has obtained from the Bundarchives in Koblenz, Germany, the records of the 1960 Greek Jews deported (1850 eventually killed) from Ioannina on March 25, 1944. 24 of those people were named Belelis, all probably related to me, since that is my real surname. What fastidious record keepers those Nazis were! Of course they also received help from those lovely folks at IBM. Here's a link to a book written on the subject. The Bundarchives also provides the images for this slide show of those that were deported that day in March. Here is an excerpt from the KKJ site written about the deportation.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The House My Ancestors Lived In: Ioannina, Greece

About my Uncle Hy, from The Kehila Kedosha Janina Newsletter, Nov. 2005:"Hy was born April 27, 1922 on the Lower East Side of New York (54 Orchard Street) to Bechorak (Morris) Genee and Firo (Fani) Genee, both born in Ioannina. The youngest in the family, Hy celebrated his first Bar Mitzvah in Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue in 1935 and, just recently, on June 11, 2005, celebrated his second Bar Mitzvah to a packed house who braved the early summer heat to applaud his accomplishments. A graduate of Seward Park High School (class of 1939), Hy went on to serve his country in World War II in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1945 and was in the Signal Corps in the European Theatre. Hy, like many of the Yanniotes who founded and worshipped in the Kehila, worked in textiles. He was the sole proprietor of Hi-Mart Pants for 40 years, making and selling men’s trousers. For the past 59 years, Hy has been married to his lovely wife, Lil, the mother of his two children, Lois and Marty, both of whom now also serve on the Kehila Kedosha Janina Board. He is also the proud grandfather of four.
Hy has always been active in community affairs and has served as an executive board member of the B’nai B’rith and was a president of the United Brotherhood of Janina, among other positions. Always dedicated to Kehila Kedosha Janina, Hy has served as the President of the synagogue for the past 30 years. Without Hy Genee, none of what we have been able to do would have been possible. Thank you, Hy! We are eternally grateful." For more information on Janina go to the Kehila Kedosha Janina website.

I Actually Shook The Hand Of Neil Bush

Last year a Neil Bush came to our school to sell us some Curriculum On Wheels science program. The clever doc wasn't going to buy it, but use it as a free trial. It actually seemed ok and the salesmen wasn't as sleezy as the usual salesman. When he shook my hand and gave me his Neil Bush card I just assumed it was another Neil Bush. Did the doc know? I'll have to ask. Here's an article I came across (a warning, from an anti zionist site, for those that care) about Neil and his Ignite business and some questionable partners of his.

The Baseball House I Live In: Washington Heights

From 10/23/05 NYTimes:"It is morning in Washington Heights, and the baseball field beckons.
Robelis Fontañez, an 18-year-old catcher, prepares for the day in the kitchen of his family's apartment on West 174th Street, boiling plantains for mangu, a dish that could be called the Dominican-American's Wheaties. His mother, Claribelkis, has already left for her job as a home care attendant. Before Robelis finishes cooking, his best friend, Santiago Molina, a right-handed pitcher with a wicked 92-mile-an-hour fastball, has arrived at the apartment. He is wearing red shorts and a long-sleeved red shirt, his warm-weather practice uniform, and carrying his spikes and his glove." Here is the rest of the article.the article has an audio slide with images, here is a part of it. Previously there was series' article about Santiago Molinas and his homeland roots. This links to a blog entry about it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Indian Nations

An excellent, accessible, native american web resource from the Arlington, Illinois school system. There are puzzles, quizzes and an online coloring book. Here's a slide show of the coloring pages. You can capture each slide from the movie as an image. From the QuickTime tool bar choose edit, copy. With the image in the clipboard open a photo-editing program and choose a new image. Then simply paste the image from the clipboard.

Guiseppe Nacca

Here's Andy DeSimone's grandfather, Guiseppe Nacca from the 1920 census. The family lived in Carroll Gardens at 27 Cheever Place. The whole block was Italian except for the Fitzgerald's. Guiseppe was a longshoreman and just about everyone
on the block depended on the neighboring docks (about 6 blocks away) for employment. Here's a link to a previous post about Eli Wallach, a Jew who grew up just a short walk away at 166 Union Street.

Across The Universe 2

This was set for Wednesday night's shoot. I like the juxtaposition of the old Spanish guys with the psychedlic background. According to neighborhood "homey" source Norm Whitlow, during the filming they used a Joe Cocker soundtrack. Here's a second slide show. Notice the detail and accuracy to recreate the time down to the book titles and graffiti!

Andy DeSimone's Retirement

Andy's retirement party was yesterday. He was truly a great guy to work with and a great "hard" lindy hopper. Building good morale at the work place, a lost art. Here's a slide show capturing some of the highlights (with a couple of old photos from CSD1's "Last Supper"). He spoke from the heart, but he'd have trouble if he couldn't use his hands.


A big Mickey Mantle fan requested a picture of the group that sang, "Walk Like An Egyptian." Here they are, the Bangles

Thursday, October 20, 2005

From One Extreme To The Other: Mickmas....

A picture is worth a thousand words

Mickmas Day

Today is Mickmas Day, Mickey Mantle would have been 74 today. Here's Bob Costas' famous eulogy, courtesy of that famous Mickey swing impersonator, Mr. Energy Star, Richard Karney.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Publishing Party

The fat guy with the beard is saying, "So Felix, is this good for the Jews?" Here's the slide show starring Milagros.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Across The Universe

For a shoot on Oct. 19th, Rivington Street, between Attorney and Suffolk, has been transformed to the 60's for a scene of Julie Taymor's new movie, "Across The Universe." Starring in it are Rachel Wood, Bono and Eddie Izzard. Janie would have loved it. Here's a slide show with some pics I took today to the tune of "Truckin". The actual date setting is 1967. Clue, the movies "A Deadly Affair" and "Luv."

Slavery In NY Exhibit

From Oct 7 thru March 11th at the conservatively funded Gilder/Lehrman NY Historical Society. From all accounts this appears to be an improvement over the Alexander Hamilton exhibit. The web site has some gems. Here's a slide show I put together of an escaped slave notice. The flash animation on the site provides a good analysis of the wording. Good DBQ practice. Here also is a mp3 of Brian Lehrer's interview with Leslie Harris from Emory University, who contributed to the companion book. This will probably be one of the soon to come resources of Gotham's. That's like KLUPPEN KOP IN VANT.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Barney Ross and Jack Ruby

I was searching for information on the great Jewish boxer, Barney Ross. Why, you ask? Barney was born Barnet Rosofsky on the Lower East Side in 1909. I was looking for the address that he lived at, but failed. Barney moved to Chicago as a 14 year old. Fatherless and poor he became an errand boy for Al Capone. His pal and fellow hustler was Jack “Sparky” Rubenstein, aka Jack Ruby. Barney Ross testified before the Warren Commission about Ruby's possible motivation in the Kennedy assassination. He didn't reveal that Ruby ran guns to Cuba, because that could have led to info that Barney ran guns to Israel in 1948.

Sign of the Beaver Redux

I'm using this book with the 4th graders I work with. It matches well with the scope of the 4th grade curriculum (Native Americans of the NE), the portrayal of the native americans is revisionist and best of all it has an accompanying video and audio. I'm sure this has been mentioned before, but here's a new wrinkle, the scanned page inserted into a word document combined with text boxes for original image insertion by the students. Good for word study. This could also be combined with the audio that accompanies the page. Here's the scanned page, with an example of how it could be completed and here is the matching audio.

Cartoon History of The Universe

From amazon:"Billions of years of history are combined in the first of these excellent books. Author Gonick takes us from the "Big Bang" to Alexander the Great with his cartoons and even manages to get a bit of detail in parts of it...(obviously this book is not comprehensive, nor is it intended to be)Gonick does not shy away from unpopular or unpleasant aspects either. His portrait of Moses is not particulary flattering and he is not afraid to poke fun at scientists and their various "theories" of how/why this or that happened. This book is written from a scientific viewpoint, so Creationism gets short shift here...(not mentioned at all in fact). An excellent bibilography is furnished at the end of the book for readers who want to delve farther into the historical periods covered here...very highly recommended." Here's a slide show from the segment on Egyptian history

The House I Live In: Ancient Egypt#2

Once again the Dover Coloring book series are superb as an accessible anchoring text.
Here's a slide show of several of the pages.

The House I Live In: Ancient Egypt

A new challenge: a teacher that actually wants to do an integrated project combining thoughtful skill grouping, various book, print and computer resources, various choices for project completion, presentations, etc. This differs from my usual approach, quick in and out with the reliance on the quicktime movie as an anchor for text, images and multimedia. Nevertheless, there still has to be a central content core that you extrapolate from. Though there can be many suggested internet links, sometimes one or two good sites work as a core. With Egypt and Pyramids, the national geographic site is great, but this kid friendly site from touregypt is pretty good. The site contains an original story which is great as an anchoring piece. What I did here is to insert frames within a word document of the story to allow students to illustrate with
google imaging. It creates an individualized and colorful version for the students and helps reinforce the meanings of new and story/history/unique vocabulary. Here's a sample of finished product as a pdf file.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Coming Soon

Millions in history grants over the last 5 years. The resources are coming soon.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Not A LES Hero: Margarita Lopez

from todays' Times: Councilwoman Margarita López, a Manhattan Democrat who has criticized Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in the past, endorsed him yesterday for a second term.The burst of mutual admiration was the latest sign of how traditional party allegiances have been shifting in the mayoral race. And Mr. Ferrer's campaign staff sought to undermine whatever influence Ms. López's endorsement might have with liberal voters."Margarita López says she doesn't like Republicans, or does she?" the Ferrer campaign said in a statement. It cited newspaper accounts of her questioning Mr. Bloomberg's decision in 2003 not to perform gay marriages, and of Mr. Bloomberg offering words of support in the same year to President Bush and his decision to invade Iraq.Unable to seek another Council term this year because of term limits, Ms. López ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Manhattan borough president. In an interview yesterday, she said her support for Mayor Bloomberg had nothing to do with any hope she may have for another city job. "I don't engage in quid pro quos," she said. In any case, she is no stranger to controversy. This summer, The New York Post reported that Ms. López had used her influence on the City Council to steer city money to a Manhattan detoxification program co-founded by the movie star Tom Cruise, a member of the Church of Scientology, and that she then accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Scientologists.One of Ms. López's opponents, Brian Ellner, who is gay, criticized her ties to what he called a "problematic cult." Mr. Ellner suggested that the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was biased against gay people. Ms. López responded that she was not aware of Mr. Hubbard's views on homosexuality, and that Scientology was entitled to city support in its mental health services, as any church would be. "People's religious beliefs are not my business," she said yesterday.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The House I Live In: The Shtetl

Three of our fifth grade classes saw Fiddler yesterday, great orchestra seats courtesy of Rosie O'Donnell. Terrific show, but no one was ever better than Zero Mostel as Tevya. Rosie met with the kids, along with the cast members afterwards, and was extremely warm and accessible. A great lady. The shtetl would be a good home theme for 5th graders, especially with immigration as an overarching grade "mandate." I would compare the closed community of the shtetl to the colonists at Plymouth in order to make it more understandable to the kids. I would also stress the traditions in song and dance that encompass all cultures. I could just see Sara Joseph , with Sam and Howard's help, building a complete scale model shtetl with her class. Here's a slide show with assorted web shtetl images. I could swear that's Lenny Greher in slide 2. Here's a summary of the play as a pdf document.

Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition

Synchronicity?: Janie's passing and a colleauge asking about the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition routine. We could use these guys to interrogate Bush. He's stupid enough to fall for the comfy pillow torture. Chapman: Trouble at mill.
Cleveland: Oh no - what kind of trouble?
Chapman: One on't cross beams gone owt askew on treadle.
Cleveland: Pardon?
Chapman: One on't cross beams gone owt askew on treadle.
Cleveland: I don't understand what you're saying.
Chapman: [slightly irritatedly and with exaggeratedly clear accent] One of the cross beams has gone out askew on the treadle.
Cleveland: Well what on earth does that mean?
Chapman: *I* don't know - Mr Wentworth just told me to come in here and say that there was trouble at the mill, that's all - I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.
[The door flies open and Cardinal Ximinez of Spain [Palin] enters, flanked by two junior cardinals. Cardinal Biggles [Jones] has goggles pushed over his forehead. Cardinal Fang [Gilliam] is just Cardinal Fang]
Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again. Here's a short mpg clip of one routine

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Jane Miller Monastersky

Janie passed away much too young in Florida on Monday. She was a good friend. She was smart as a whip and an all star teacher. She failed at teaching me to appreciate the Grateful Dead and dead paraphenalia, but not with ludes. She was a hell of a lot of fun. Condolescences to her husband Louie and her son Mathew.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cross My Heart While Crossing The Delaware

Blogging while praying that Mariano lets us play another day. This excellent book, unlike the garbage written on the same topic by Lynne Cheney, combines the memorable story with faux, but convincing primary documents. A good way to combine historical literacy with practice constructing dbqs. The review from Amazon:"This picture-book presentation spells out events leading up to the decisive battle in the American Revolution. In this first book for Peacock, the account emerges through several perspectives: on the left of each spread, a present-day narrator traces Washington's footsteps from the House of Decisions on the bank of the Delaware River to the battle site on the opposite shore in Trenton, N.J.; on the right, a fictional enlisted soldier, Henry, writes letters to his sweetheart, alongside excerpts from letters written by actual enlisted men and leaders. Occasionally, the rigid design trips up the flow (as when Henry's letters home continue onto the next spread), but the mix of viewpoints offers a well-balanced view of each new development. The authentic historic voices deliver the most impact, but the other narrative streams place them in context. With smooth pacing, Peacock clearly depicts the odds stacked against the ill-clad and ill-equipped American farmers who came up against the well-outfitted Hessian mercenaries. One especially dramatic illustration shows the general standing guard on the bank of the Delaware in the snow and sleet to ensure the safety of each crossing vessel. An afterword placing the events described here in relation to the end of the Revolution would have been helpful; period black-and-white engravings and lithographs round out this animated approach to a crucial moment in American history." Here's the slide show.

Sweatin' Out The Yankee Game

Wouldn't it be great if the Yanks can make it to the series and play the Astros with the Rocket and Andy Pettite. Best of all another ex-Yankee and member of the tribe, Brad Ausmus, would be there. He hit a big home run today and he has always been considered a good team player. How did we let him get away? That's his rookie card in 1992.

The Liberty Tree

from Amazon: "Grade 2-4-Lively and accessible, The Liberty Tree makes history fun. Like Betsy and Giulio Maestro's The New Americans (Lothrop, 1998), it offers an evenhanded account of a particular part of the past, in this case, the events leading directly to the American Revolution. The first double-page spread introduces the actual Liberty Tree, an elm in Boston, which became a symbol for the new land during the mid-1700s. Other two-page chapters describe topics such as the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act of 1765, the Boston Massacre, spies, Paul Revere's ride, the first shot at Lexington, women and the war, and the Declaration of Independence. Penner uses a neutral tone throughout, describing, for example, the difficult lives of the British Redcoats. With descriptions of battles and events, the book contains plenty of action. Excellent cartoon-style illustrations are colorful and abundant. Informative and entertaining, this book makes a fine introduction to history." Marta Stewart turned me on to this wonderful book last year. Marta Stewart is herself a real turn on. Here's a slide show of part of the book.and as a bonus, Here's an activity sheet created for pages 2-3.

Home-Part 2

We mentioned this wonderful book before. It really expands the concept of the house I live in and it does so through poetry: Home : A Collaboration of Thirty Authors & Illustrators (Reading Rainbow Book) (Paperback) by Vera B. Williams (Illustrator) "Home is what you take away each time you leave the house. Like a wristwatch, it ticks beside the ticking that is your heart. Whether or not you hear it, look at its face, or feel its hold...." Here is the book as a slide show

The House The Dead Pharoahs Live In: Pyramids

All the old paintings on the tombs, They do the sand dance don't you know. If they move too quick (oh whey oh), They're falling down like a domino. All the bazaar men by the Nile, They got the money on a bet. Gold crocodiles (oh whey oh), They snap their teeth on your cigarette. Foreign types with the hookah pipes say, Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh. Walk like an Egyptian. Blonde waitresses take their trays,They spin around and they cross the floor. They've got the moves (oh whey oh). You drop your drink then they bring you more. All the school kids so sick of books. They like the punk and the metal band. When the buzzer rings (oh whey oh), They're walking like an Egyptian. All the kids in the marketplace say Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh. Walk like an Egyptian. Slide your feet up the street bend your back. Shift your arm then you pull it back. Life is hard you know (oh whey oh), So strike a pose on a Cadillac. If you want to find all the cops, They're hanging out in the donut shop. They sing and dance (oh whey oh), Spin the clubs cruise down the block. All the Japanese with their yen, The party boys call the Kremlin. And the Chinese know (oh whey oh), They walk the line like Egyptian. All the cops in the donut shop say, Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh. Walk like an Egyptian. Walk like an Egyptian. Here's a pyramid history slide show with images from the exhautive national geographics site.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Day Of Attonement

Shareema and I formed a bond last year when we discovered we were both refugees from the same District 17 school. I left because of administrative incompetence and corruption. She left after that same administration ignored protestations of corporal punishment in Shareema's class. When I heard that she was in the hospital I said to myself, "What would Stewie Weiner have done?" Here's podcast XV.

Friday, October 07, 2005

90 Year Old Hero: Moe Fishman

October 7th: Mike Wallace gave a brilliant, but soulless, talk on New York City in the 1930's-the backdrop for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Moe Fishman, the sole veteran in the audience, got up to talk about the importance of the fight against Franco and Fascism. Little stories about teenagers collecting scraps of metal to send to Spain to help the Republican side. 90 years old and the guy was electric. Here's a slide show with some of the panels from the exhibit at the King Juan Carlos Center at NYU.Music:Hymn of the Fifth Regiment.Con el Quinto, Quinto, Quinto, con el Quinto Regimiento madre yo me voy al frente, para las líneas de fuego. Anda jaleo, jaleo, saca la ametralladora y ya empieza el tiroteo, y ya empieza el tiroteo. With the Fifth, Fifth, Fifth, with the Fifth Regiment,mother, I go to the front to the lines of fire, Walking to the riot, to the riot, bring out the machine gun and the shooting starts and the shooting starts

Americans Who Tell The Truth I guess it's the nature of blogs that you sometimes get into a rhythm of talking about certain themes. I was continuing the hero theme with an entry about Studs Terkel, (he was on democracy now yesterday). In looking for an image of him I came across this wonderful site. Maybe my ex-friend, Kyle, who is still part of the system and who spies here occasionally could develop the kahones to support this book instead of publishing standards.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Journalist With Kahones: Michael Winerip

From the daily howler:Michael Winerip thrills the soul with a look at one state’s easy test: BUT WHO WILL TEST THE TEST-MAKERS: Last June, the shills were out in force, pandering to the brilliant Mayor Bloomberg. Test scores had risen among New York City’s fourth-graders, and everyone knew that it just had to be due to the mayor’s brilliant policies. (Bloomberg even said so himself!) Of course, fourth-grade scores had risen all over the state of New York (details below), in districts where Bloomberg had no connection. But so what? People like the Times’ Gail Collins have played this game with urban children for decades. It isn’t worth seeking the truth about their lives and their interests; it’s all about pimping the perfumed and powerful. Here was the laughable, know-nothing way the Times editorialized on the subject:NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (6/6/05): Skeptics, including Mr. Bloomberg's political opponents, of course rushed to challenge the results, suggesting that the test was too easy or that teachers spent too much time on test preparation. And it is indeed the case that city test scores rise and fall and rise again over time. But the latest results suggest that the schools are making progress—and that Mr. Bloomberg has every right to take a bow. As noted, since test scores had jumped all over the state, there was every reason to suspect that the tests may have been “too easy.” But Collins scoffed at the tiresome “skeptics”—and rushed to blow smoke at the mayor. (Headline: “Kudos for the Education Mayor.”) But then, mainstream press pseudo-liberals have shilled this way about urban schools for the past forty years. They always say things are getting better—and that their prince gets to take a deep bow. In doing so, they sell out urban kids’ interests, of course. But so what? It makes their perfumed class feel good. And that’s what this is often all about. Yes, New York’s fourth-graders scored higher last spring than they’d done in 2004. But a rise in test scores only matters if the two tests in question are equally difficult.And huzzah! This week, at long last, the Times’ superlative education writer, Michael Winerip, went to a school whose fourth-graders scored well and asked the locals why that had happened. In particular, he went to Public School 159 in the Bronx and spoke to its “respected veteran principal,” Frances Rosenstein. Why had PS 159's fourth graders done so much better this year? Uh-oh! The principal tattled:
Here's the full article from the Times

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

USKids History: Book of The American Revolution

From Amazon: "Combining brief fictionalized accounts of historical events with factual information, profiles of notable women and men, and related projects, these titles adopt a playful approach to teaching American history. Revolution describes life in the 13 colonies and the road to independence, including the Boston Tea Party, the winter at Valley Forge and the Battle of Yorktown. The hands-on sections include a play about the Boston Massacre, a game in which players take on the roles of a customs officer and a smuggler, and a recipe for "Old Glory Ice Cream." Biographies of Phillis Wheatley and Thomas Paine, as well as sections on pirates, secret codes and an early submarine, round out an already comprehensive volume. Less focused, American Indians explores the legends, traditions and customs of the many tribes that made their homes in what is now the United States. Various spreads are devoted to coming-of-age ceremonies, Hopi architecture, the whale hunts of the Makah and other topics. Activity ideas range from weaving baskets to making spirit figures and playing traditional games. The snappy, fast-paced lessons are short enough to whet the appetite without being overwhelming." To complement the work being done with the Liberty Kids' software and to supplement Mr. Louie's very bright class as well as to help prepare for the 5th grade DBQ's I am using a digitized version of this book. Here are two response activities that accompany the first story on "lobsterbacks." Here's one that utilizes the thesaurus feature of word and its hypertext linking possibilities. and following, Here's one that utilizes PhotoShop Elements drawing tools to highlight a passage.Oh, BTW here's a pdf with several of the book's stories

Real Tough Guys, Real Heroes

The eminent historian, but poor judge of character, Mike Wallace, will be giving a talk this Friday at NYU about New York City's reaction to the era of the Spanish Civil War. The previous weeks' Villager had an article about the Lincoln Brigades' archives located at NYU. Here's the article

Lower East Side Hero: Howard Zinn

Howard was born in 1922. He was born in Brooklyn on my mother's birthday, August 24th. In the 1930 census, (via I found him living at 271 Pacific Street. As a young married man he lived in the Lillian Wald projects on the LES. An online interview:"I grew up in the slums of Brooklyn. Not projects. They weren't advanced enough to have projects. I think maybe the first New Deal housing project was in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But that was too good for us. I grew up in the slums of Brooklyn, a working class family. My parents were European immigrants, factory workers in New York. They met as factory workers. They were Jewish immigrants. My father came from Austria, my mother from Asiatic Russia, Siberia. I remember moving all the time. We were always one step ahead of the landlord. And changing schools all the time. My father struggled, went from job to job, he was unemployed and under WPA. I wanted to get out of the house all the time. Where we lived was never a nice place to be. So I was in the streets a lot. I understand what it's like for kids to live in and prefer the streets. That's how I grew up. When I got to be college age I went to work in a shipyard and became a shipyard worker for three years. My family needed the money. The east side came later, after the war. I volunteered for the Air Force and was a bombardier. I got married before I went overseas. After the war my wife and I first lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant in a rat-infested basement. I"m building up my sordid past, trying to evoke tears. We were so happy when we were accepted into the Lillian Wald housing project, a low-income housing project on the east side of New York. We lived there for seven years while I went to school under the GI bill and to graduate school at Columbia. My wife worked. Our two kids were in nursery school."

Monday, October 03, 2005

Chris Gonna Find Ray Charles

Here's the classic Christopher Columbus routine by Flip Wilson

The Real Christopher Columbus

From the great Howard Zinn.(This illustrates the retreat of the left in this country - when I was at the Berkeley bookstore this summer, I didn't see one Zinn book as part of a course list.): Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:"They... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned.... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane.... They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want." Here is the full article

Mister Christopher Columbus

Mister Christopher Columbus. Sailed the sea without a compass. When his men began a rumpus, up spoke, Christopher Columbus. There is land somewhere. Until we get there, we will not go wrong, if we sing,"swing a song." Since the world is round, we'll be safe and sound, til our goal is found. We'll just keep rhythm bound.
Soon the crew was makin merry. Then came a yell, "Let's drink to Isabelle. Hum, bring the rum. Ho Hum, No more mutiny, What a time at sea, with di-plo-ma-cy. Christy made his-to-ry. Mister Christopher Columbus, he used rhythm as a compass. Music ended all the rumpus. Wise old Christopher Columbus.Here's a slide show I made for Columbus day last year. Written by Andy Kirk and sung by the great Maxine Sullivan.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Noelle O'Reilly got married last month. She sent along some photos. As Jackie Gleason used to say when he was verklempt, "Habba, habba, habba."