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Posts Tagged ‘NY Times’

Central Falls, Rhode Island, may be best known today for going bankrupt and forcing its police and fire unions to accept cuts to pension benefits, but it has more going for it than angst.

It has people who care, like Mike Ritz and chocolatier Andrew Shotts, who are selling Chocolateville chocolate bars to help children at risk.

It also has a charter school that has quietly improved children’s reading skills, spreading its success to public schools in the city.

Joe Nocera writes in the NY Times that before starting The Learning Community in Central Falls, Meg O’Leary and Sarah Friedman “spent three years working with the Providence school system on a pilot program designed to come up with ways to ‘transform teaching practices and improve outcomes.’ ”

In 2007, when Frances Gallo became the Central Falls Schools superintendent, she began to investigate why families were so excited about getting into The Learning Community.

“The school drew from the same population as the public schools. It had the same relatively large class sizes. It did not screen out students with learning disabilities. Yet the percentage of students who read at or above their grade level was significantly higher than the public school students. When Gallo asked O’Leary and Friedman if they would apply their methods to the public schools, they jumped at it.

“ ‘At first it was, “Oh, here comes another initiative,” ‘ recalls Friedman. There were plenty of venting sessions at the beginning, along with both resentment and resistance. But The Learning Community invited the teachers to visit its classrooms, where the public school teachers saw the same thing Gallo had seen. And very quickly they also began to see results.”

Read about how they do it here.

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People where I work have been volunteering in an inner-city school for years. It started with reading picture books to first graders and expanded to second grade reading, fourth grade math, and fifth grade “Book Club,” the one I do. I once taught fifth grade, and I would still read the books written for that age even if I weren’t volunteering in the school.

This past week, the NY Times had an interesting article on using technology to enable tutors to work with elementary school kids remotely.

“Edward’s tutor was not in the classroom. His school, a 20-minute walk from the nearest subway stop in a crime-plagued neighborhood, has long had trouble finding tutors willing to visit. ‘It is hard to get anyone to volunteer,’ said the school’s principal, Luis Torres, who sometimes cancels fire drills because of the gunfire he hears outside.

“Now, newly designed software for the tutoring of beginning readers has bridged the gap, allowing volunteers to meet students online from a distance. P.S. 55 is testing the program with students in its four first-grade classes.

“Edward’s tutor, Jenny Chan, was an hour away in Midtown, on a bustling trading floor at JPMorgan Chase, where she provides technology support. She was talking to Edward by phone and seeing the story he was reading with screen-sharing software on her desktop computer.

“JPMorgan Chase is sponsoring the remote tutoring program and encouraging its employees to get involved from their desks during the school day.” Read more.

There’s nothing like face-to-face contact, but if people can’t take work time for the commute, perhaps more people will tutor.

Photo: Librado Romero, NY Times

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Jim Robbins writes in today’s NY Times that snowy owls are showing up where they have never been seen before (Hawaii!). Bird lovers are thrilled, and scientists are puzzled.

“From coast to coast across the northern United States, a striking number of snowy owls have been swooping onto shorelines and flying over fields this winter, delighting bird-watchers and stirring speculation about the cause of the spike. …

“Why so many more of the birds are showing up is largely a mystery, [Denver Holt, director of the Owl Research Institute in Charlo, Mont.] said. ‘We do know they had a really good breeding year, and there was plenty of food last year,’ he said. Instead of no chicks, or one or two, a single nest will produce five, six, seven or more fledglings in a good breeding year, he said.

“The owls are even showing up in urban and suburban areas, along highways, on signs and fence posts, and in other places where people can more easily spot them. It has been a good snowy owl year at Logan Airport in Boston, too. Because the airfield looks like tundra, snowy owls tend to flock there, and they must be trapped and removed.

“ ‘We’ve removed 21 so far this year, and the average is six,’ said Norman Smith, who works for the Massachusetts Audubon Society and traps the birds. The most ever trapped was 43 in 1986, Mr. Smith said, ‘but the year’s not over.’ ” Read more here.

WordPress blogger Photo Nature Blog captures birds really well. Here is one of a snowy owl getting ready to take off.

The owl below is from the National Geographic.

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Yesterday’s NY Times Dining section had a delightful story about all the food being delivered to Occupy Wall Street. Donations have come from far and wide, and people have self-organized to distribute it and do the washing up. The story is here.

“Requests for food go out on Twitter and various Web sites sympathetic to the protesters. And somehow, in spontaneous waves, day after day, the food pours in. …

“Platters and utensils are washed on site. The soapy runoff slides into a gray-water system that’s said to draw impurities out through a small network of mulch-like filters. …

“Members of the [food] crew sometimes fail to show up in the morning because they were arrested the night before. (Then again, as many a chef will tell you, that happens in a lot of restaurants.)” …

“Telly Liberatos, 29, the owner of Liberatos Pizza on Cedar Street in the Financial District, said he has received orders from places like Germany, France, England, Italy and Greece, as well as every region of the United States.

“ ‘It’s been nonstop,’ he said. ‘The phones don’t stop ringing. People from California order the most at one time.’ Someone from the West Coast had called in the biggest delivery: he wanted 50 pizzas dispatched to the park.”

You might enjoy knowing that Asakiyume’s blog offers music suggestions for the 99 percent. Check it out. (I borrowed the picture from downtownmonks.blogspot.com.)

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Suzanne began her retail career working summers just a few hours a week at a tiny toy store called Mouse House where her brother, John, had worked before. Between Mouse House and leaving college, there were at least two clothing stores and many restaurants. When she  graduated from college, she worked for a popular clothing manufacturer in New York, in the merchandising group. One of her tasks was to make up names for lingerie colors. A particular color she remembers was a shade of pink that she called “flirt.”

The NY Times just published an amusing article on the accelerating trend of naming colors to evoke an idea or a mood. There is an art to it.

“At Valspar, located in a Chicago high-rise near O’Hare airport, colorists can meet in ‘vignette’ rooms that encourage storytelling. One resembles an outside deck, replete with a porch chair and mural of Wrigley Field. Ms. Kim assigns the colorists homework, like browsing certain magazines and blogs. One, called colourlovers.com, allows users to create and share their own palettes; among more than one million offerings are I Feel Sorry for You and When Time Ran Out. They also watch movies and visit stores. And a few times a year, they head downtown for a big brainstorming session at a loft building called Catalyst Ranch and its brightly colored meeting spaces, which are intended to help employees think creatively. …

“Taryn Look, 25, an actress, who was checking out Home Depot’s Behr collection the other day, rolled her eyes at some of the names. ‘I wonder how much these people get paid,’ she mused, glancing at Genteel Lavender, a color
she said she would rebrand My Gay Best Friend. But she did pause at a color named Lightweight Beige, and soon she was telling a story about when her parents met. Her father told her mother that he liked her in beige, and so she swapped her once-colorful wardrobe for one that was all beige. Ms. Look said she would rename the color My Mother, After She Met My Dad.” Read more.

This reminds me of the poet Marianne Moore being asked to brainstorm names of cars. She came up with Turtle Top, but the idea was not adopted.

Use the comments feature to suggest a name for  a color? I’ll start. How about a sparkly blue called “Tanya Running through the Sprinkler”? Or a dark purple called “Black Fly Season.” Or a gold-orange called “At Last the Missing Manuscript.”

Not sure this will ever be my forte.

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