Remember when 15th century snails were really dangerous?

Author: usvsth3m

And also looked a bit like kangaroos?


Apparently knights fighting snails were a common feature in manuscripts from the time

Sometimes they were tiny, sometimes they were huge – but despite many theories from academics no one actually knows why.

Maybe because without their armour they would just be slugging it out

Author: usvsth3m

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Photo Friday: Lasts

Author: kaysiewrites

Today’s Photo Friday is both bitter and sweet. 🙂

I had so many fun ideas for a photo post about lasts.  See, I’ve got this post that’s been incubating for a week now, and it would be a perfect lasts post, but then I thought of this picture:

Oh, Gretchen, how we miss you!

Oh, Gretchen, how we miss you!

This was my last official day of high school.  Graduation day.  Both bitter and sweet, I find it hard to believe that it’s been twelve years since this picture was taken.  I’d…

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Author: kaysiewrites

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Student Protest US History

From little rebels do Revolutionary Socialists grow…hopefully!

imageJordan Gleason, of Columbine High school, participates in a protest against the school board proposal’s hardline conservative stance that condemns ‘civil disorder’.

US ‘little rebels’ protest against changes to history curriculum

After a conservative school board proposed dramatic changes to promote patriotism and downplay civil unrest in an advanced course, hundreds of students and teachers joined a growing protest against what they see as censorship of education

On Friday, Egan Walker, a sophomore at Standley Lake high school in Jefferson County, Colorado, will go to school dressed as Martin Luther.

He is doing so not for homework or a class project, but as part of protest against what many see as a radical rightwing agenda of the newly elected school board in Jefferson County. Friday’s will be the latest in a rapidly escalating week of protests by teachers and pupils.

The unrest began last Friday, when more than 50 teachers staged a “sick-out” which closed two schools. By Monday, students across the county had taken up the cause, with 100 walking out of Evergreen high school, followed by 200 more from five different schools on Tuesday.

On Wednesday more than 700 more students walked out from Chatfield, Alameda International and Dakota Ridge high schools, gathering, according to CBS news, and chanting “education without limitation”. Thursday saw more than a thousand students leaving school and taking to the streets.
imageStudents line a busy intersection to protest in the Denver suburb of Littleton.

Jefferson County, in the suburbs of Denver, is one of Colorado’s most populous counties, and is the largest school district in the state, with 84,000 students. “In general, school board meetings are pretty mundane,” said Jim Earley, whose three children attend Jefferson County schools.

That changed, he said, last November, following the election of the new school board in Jefferson County – one with a conservative majority of three: Julie Williams, John Newkirk and the board’s chairman, Ken Witt.

The new majority swiftly set about making enemies. They appointed a new superintendent, Dan McMinimee, in a process that many criticised as opaque; and also allocated funds to bail out two ailing charter schools. They took a hardline stance on teacher evaluations, choosing to count the results from the test of a new evaluation regime that teachers had been previously told would not be included.

Earley and other parents followed the actions of the new school board with mounting alarm. “I’m worried,” he said. “I’m very worried.”

The spark which ignited the tinderbox was a proposal written by one of the conservative majority on the school board, Julie Williams. In it, she calls for a review of the Advanced Placement history curriculum using the following set of criteria:

“Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

Williams gave an interview with Colorado’s Channel 9 News in which she made a statement that has since become a rallying cry for the students, parents and teachers protesting against the proposal: “I don’t think we should encourage our kids to be little rebels.”

The plan hatched by Walker, along with his sister Emma, was that they – and others at schools across the county – would come into school on Friday dressed as famous historical rebels; figures who were responsible for just the sort of “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law” that Williams’ proposal seemingly aimed to banish from the classroom.

Jefferson County has found itself front and center in a national debate about what should and should not be taught in American schools – and who gets to decide. The AP course is an elective module which high school students can elect to take early. It is set by a national body, and is acceptable as college credit at more than 3,000 universities.

But the concept of any nationally-set curriculum raises the hackles of conservative activists, who are currently engaged in a vicious rear-guard action against the Common Core standards.
Students line a busy intersection and overpass protesting against the school board proposal to emphasise patriotism and downplay civil unrest.

In March, at a conference, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution condemning the AP history course as a “radically revisionist” and anti-American view of history, and the Texas state board of education is moving ahead with plans which would effectively ban the AP history class outright, along with all other courses set above state level.

Rosemary Downs is a mother of four, two of whom are still in the Jefferson County public schools system. Her son Simon, a freshman at Lakewood high school, took part in a walkout on Thursday morning.

Rosemary told the Guardian that she was present at the meeting where the old superintendent was “forced out” by the new conservative majority, whom opponents refer to collectively by their last initials: “WNW”.

“It was a farce,” she said. “The disrespect that WNW showed to the other two board members was obvious.” She said she was fearful for her children’s education.

Jonna Levine, the co-founder of Support Jeffco Kids, a pressure group set up this year, told the Guardian she found the language in the proposal “scary to say the least”. She thinks there is a conservative agenda at play in the school board. “You can’t help but assume that.”

“I think you could call it extreme. Extreme conservatism,” she added.

Earley thinks something sinister is at play. “It’s no secret that there’s a very aggressive movement that appears to link back to the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity that is putting money into local political races.” He pointed to neighbouring Douglas county, where, according to a Politico report last November, Americans for Prosperity spent more than $350,000 on the school board elections.

imageStudents protest changes to a history curriculum that would stress patriotism and discourage civil disobedience.

There is no evidence that the Koch brothers put money into the Jefferson County election, but there were several well-funded groups supporting Williams, Witt and Newkirk.

Egan Walker knew his school board was having problems, but he didn’t engage with the issues that much until the proposed curriculum review. Then, he said, “I started talking about it at school. I think it’s an important issue.” An online petition to stop the school board’s proposed review has nearly 27,000 signatures.

“This is going to affect all of the students in Jefferson County and across America,” he continued. “If our history textbooks are censored, we won’t have the right information. It would affect everyone’s education.”

“I think the dress-up idea is a way to peacefully protest that doesn’t involve missing any school,” said Egan’s sister Emma, who is in the 8th grade at Wayne Carle Middle School. “It also shows that we care enough about our history and look up to these historical figures that meant so much to our world and us personally.”

Emma plans to dress as Eleanor Roosevelt for the protest.

Pictures on the Facebook event show other students, from a multitude of grades at a different schools, trying out costumes and sharing ideas. Suggestions include participants in the Boston Tea Party, members of the Green Mountain militia, anti-internment campaigner and governor of Colorado Ralph Carr, abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony and activist Molly Brown.

“Dumbledore’s Army,” suggests one post. Another says: “My [nine-year-old] wants to dress up as Rosa Parks. My [seven-year-old] suggested Elsa from Frozen. Got some work to do!”

imageA Montgomery sheriff’s department booking photo of Rosa Parks from 1956, taken after Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.

Tempers are running high. When the mother of one fifth grader posted a picture of her daughter dressed as Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, someone posted underneath: “You have been controlled by union lies.”

In an unpleasant twist, the Denver Post reported Thursday that the sheriff’s office is investigating threats made against the children of school board members, though no further details were made public.

The school board has not pursued punishments for student protesters. New superintendent Dan McMinimee said in a statement Wednesday: “I respect the right of our students to express their opinions in a peaceful manner.”

“It’s also important that our community understand that no decisions have been made regarding the curriculum committee,” he concluded. Despite repeated requests, no one from the board of education was available for comment.

Egan Walker said he was planning on dressing as Martin Luther because he believes the was “brave enough to stand up for what he believed in”.

“He started this whole movement – [but] was just this normal guy,” he said.

He believes Luther would be on board with his protest if he was alive today. “I think he’d be supportive that we’d be brave enough to stand up for what we believe in. We’re just normal students – it’s not like we have a huge amount of power – but we can still make a difference.”

Revolutionary Eye:- The following website may be useful to those studying US history:

For an excellent world history read

  • Chris Harman‘s A People’s History of the World ,a more general volume to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and cited by Zinn as a global companion to his book.

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Comparing primary school education around the world

Primary education provides children with the skills they need to progress through life. As every parent knows, some schools are better able to provide children with a solid foundation in maths, science and reading than others.

While comparisons between schools of the same country used to be sufficient, an increasingly globalised world means that comparisons between different countries’ educational systems are becoming more frequent.


Primary maths

Asian schools typically offer their primary school students the best education in mathematics, with Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan leading the world. In Europe, Northern Ireland is the top performing education system for maths, followed by Belgium, Finland, England and Russia.

In terms of maths, US academics say that England has shown one of the biggest improvements between 1996 and 2011. This may be attributed in part to institutions such as the IB School and its Primary Years programme.

Systems such as this succeed by instilling children with a positive attitude to learning and by emphasising their intellectual, physical, personal and social development.

Primary science

Korea provides the world’s best system for teaching primary science, followed by Singapore, Finland Japan and Russia. The next five best are Taiwan, the US, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong and Hungary. England ranks as 15th – probably due to its wide ranging performance.

While inner city schools often struggle with low resources and therefore motivation, better funded institutions provide a reliably high standard of education. For those seeking an international school, London has a number of good options, such as the IC School.


Primary reading

The top five countries for reading are Hong Kong, Russia, Finland, Singapore and Northern Ireland. If the number of pupils reaching the highest levels of ability is taken into account, Northern Ireland ranks in third place.

The next five best primary education systems for reading are the US, Denmark, Croatia, Taiwan, and Ireland. England comes is ranked 11th.



Overall scoring

For reading, maths and science, the world’s leading primary education providers are Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the west, the best overall systems are Finland and Russia.

In these countries, teachers are well-respected and viewed as valuable assets. But while individual countries’ governments should be praised for any long-term investment in education, this isn’t the whole story.

Success also depends on the availability of learning resources and support at home. For example, in Finland, the parents, the community, and the culture itself support reading. The combined affect is that students are genuinely interested in learning how to read.

Resource box:

Maps of World

Top ten countries with lowest primary education.

TIMMS & PIRLS International Study Centre

TIMMS and PIRLS 2011 achievement results in reading, mathematics and science.

Lego Learning Institute & Danish University of Education

International trends in primary school education.

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Chemistry Teacher with Students in Class

The Ten Punching Commandments of Teaching by Bertrand Russell

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Source: A Liberal Decalogue: Bertrand Russell’s 10 Commandments of Teaching

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You are not your favorite teacher.

Can I just repeat this to anyone who is planning on being a teacher/student teaching/beginning to teach?

You are not your favorite teacher.

Most of us, if we were sitting around a living room, would be able to talk a lot about our absolute favorite teachers. We’d hear all kinds of stories that make us cry and laugh and feel inspired. I know, I’ve got plenty of them myself.

But if you listened carefully to those stories, you’d notice something: there is no “mold” for the ideal teacher.

Some of our favorite teachers were the tough, no-nonsense teachers that didn’t smile until Christmas and gave out As sparingly. And Lord knows those teachers would never be caught dead putting a smiley face on a paper. We’d share how that B we got on a research paper made us feel like a rockstar.

Others of us would tell stories of teachers whose classes were filled with activities and fun, games and puzzles and collaborative learning. We’d tell of elementary teachers who handed out gold stars liberally and made us feel like champions.

And still others would share of a teacher who listened to them when they were down, had tea in their room for the rough days, and who let everyone listen to music while they did independent work. That teacher’s room was a peaceful, quiet, safe place where each student was gently encouraged and deeply cared for.

[Of course, there are a thousand iterations I’m leaving out, but you get the point]

These were stellar teachers, all of them. You may be a teacher today because of your favorite teacher. But let me say it again, you are not your favorite teacher.

Sure, there may be great tips and methods that you use in your classroom. You may have classroom traditions started by those great educators. But you are not them.

I wish all day long that I could be one of those really tough teachers that is academically rigorous and tough and shows. no. mercy. We have these incredible teachers here that are champions at teaching that the kids love…but man are those teachers high in their expectations. I wish I could be like them.

But I’m not. I’m the teacher that stands in the student section at games and has hammock days and will let anyone come and cry on my couch when they get broken up with. I’m the teacher that “does it for the Vine” and has tests that are only 2 pages long. I know my students are learning great things because I hear them share those things with each other or get excited Tweets months later because they hear something we talked about in class. But they don’t remember how they learned it or when.

I used to spend a lot of my time trying to be both, but when I did I ended up not being either and just stressing myself out. It was only when I stopped asking “how should I do this?” and started asking “how should I do this?” that I settled [more] into my teaching shoes.

We all have a ways to go. I still could be a way better teacher than I am now. But if I could give myself advice [and you also, young(er) teacher], I’d repeat the advice of Socrates: “know thyself.” And in doing so, hopefully you and  will become some of our students’ favorite teachers.

Author: itsssnix

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