Educational CyberPlayGround

NetHappenings Newsletter


Greetings All,

Welcome to the Net Happenings Newsletter, launched by the Educational CyberPlayGround. This newsletter features a new format with the emphasis on both news and resources. Karen Ellis* Founder of the Educational CyberPlayGround will continue to carry the sponsorship of Net Happenings Newsletter which is published to all members of the NetHappenings Mailing List. Advertisers are welcomed as sponsors of the oldest K-12 educational mailing list in the world. If you have any comments or would like to sponsor the NetHappenings Newsletter or mailing list.

Alan Haskvitz
1997 National Teacher's Hall of Fame Inductee
1999 All USA Today First Team Teacher
1994 National Middle Level Teacher of the Year (NCSS)

In This Issue

Election Resources
Hot Sites
In the News
What is a 504 Plan

11 Traits of a Good Teacher
by Alan Haskvitz
My current syndicated column online at over 30 sites including

Voting Machine Fraud

On October 28th, join millions students in a special national election for president, governors, senators, representatives, and national issues.
List of all political parties

How does government affect me?

Electoral college
Explain what it is and the past votes

Elections around the world and contrast opportunities

Copernicus Election Watch A lot of links and lesson plans.

Election materials and lessons
Who Voted in Early America? (Bill of Rights in Action, Vol. 8:1)

Interesting Things for ESL Students
Includes matching audio games, how to give a speech, and more.

Improving Speaking and Listening Skills
Here are some useful links for people wanting to improve their aural skills by using the internet. This page is divided into sections: Links for listening and links to interactive exercises for listening and pronouncing. Includes radio stations, folk music, and assessment links.

LD Online
Resources and an interesting quiz that shows some celebrities and the problems they have had to overcome.

Vocabulary improvement
Separated into 3 levels of difficulty, these interactive vocabulary puzzle and activity sessions use Latin and Greek "roots and cells" to help decode words. There are links many parts of speech sites.

The International Type Index
This is a hoot. A place where you can download well over 600 fonts to make your work even more fun using the searchable database.

Nice list for most curriculum areas.


Exam privatization threatens public schools by Ben Clarke, Special to CorpWatch September 23rd, 2004
An interesting article about thow the corporate- designed standardized tests that millions of U.S. schoolchildren are required to take under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) may influence the future. The following are quotes from the article:
Educational corporations, from European-based multinationals, to start-ups such as Ignite, founded by Neil Bush, the president's brother, are swarming into the schools, offering prepackaged curriculum, tests and educational materials to meet the legislative mandate to "teach to the test'" in a narrow range of subjects.
Sales of printed materials related to standardized tests nearly tripled from 1992 to last year, jumping from $211 million to $592 million, according to the American Association of Publishers. Three corporate giants dominate both testing and textbooks: CTB-McGraw Hill, Harcourt (owned by London-based Reed Elsevier), and Houghton Mifflin, which together control about 80% of the market.
According to the Washington-based Center on Educational Policy, the NCLB Act has convinced many states to reduce the scope of their tests to multiple choice math and reading because only scores in those areas will determine funding levels. Oregon plans to save money by eliminating many writing tests, science assessments and the complex parts of its math exams. Massachusetts will eliminate history and social studies tests this year.
Under NCLB, if a school fails to improve math and reading test scores within three years, a portion of its federal funding will be diverted to "parental choice" tutoring programs further weakening the schools ability to improve. These outsourced programs are run by private companies such as Educate Inc. owner of Sylvan Learning Centers whose revenues have grown from $180 to $250 million in the past three years and whose profits shot up 250% last year.
Ironically, while school districts will be required to certify that the percentage of their teaching staff who have teaching credentials is increasing, private tutoring companies, the replacement recipients of tutoring funds, will be under no such requirement to prove that their staff even have such credentials.

Music Lessons Dominated by Middle Class Girls in England Polly Curtis Friday October 22, 2004
This article may be relevant in the United States. It starts to cast doubt on whether extra curriclur music programs are becoming an exclusive club in the public schools. The following are quotes from the article:
Schools are doing a thriving trade in violin, flute, guitar and recorder lessons, but they are too often dominated by middle-class girls, according to an Ofsted report published today.
While extra-curricular music lessons are good, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn how to play an instrument, pupils from lower income families are less likely to take them, and there's evidence of "gender stereotyping". Boys are twice as likely as girls to play the trumpet and there are nine girls taking flute lessons for every one boy, said the report.
The inspectorate found that council-run music lessons can cost up to 29 an hour - and bursaries can be too low to attract children from less well-off families; around 20% of musical instruments purchased by local education authorities are sitting unused in cupboards.
Despite there being fee remission for the extra-curricular classes, most of which require a parental contribution, students from poorer backgrounds are less likely to ask for, or be encouraged to take, music lessons.,7348,1333376,00.html

Trends in ComputingGoing to AM Radio Bands to unit Media Mark Pesce Lecturer, Interactive Media, AFTRS
"Mark Pesce, lecturer at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) writes about using p2p networks, specifically bittorrent, to create a grassroots television network. He cites as an example the BBC's "Flexible TV" internet broadcasting model using that as the core of a "new sort of television network, one which could harness the power of P2P distribution to create a global television network." Producers of video entertainment and news would provide a single copy of a program into the network of P2P clients, and the p2p network peers distribute the content themselves. Thus, a virtual 'newswiki' where the content is distributed bittorrent using some sort of 'trusted peer' or moderator mechanisms as a filtering/evaluation mechanism. So what is stopping anyone from doing this now? Awareness of the concept, perhaps? Lack of broadband connections? Lack of business models for content producers?"
In this system of "peercasting" the network is actually more efficient than a broadcast network, because more than one program can be provided simultaneously, and failure in any one point in the network doesn't bring the network down. In other words, this network can't be hacked, can't suffer from a power outage (unless it spans the whole network, which is very unlikely) and achieves unheard-of efficiencies in the distribution of audiovisual programming.

RADIO RHIZOME has hijacked frequency 1680 on the AM dial to bring a continuous loop of programming to the city which the media megacorps call home and officials apparently can't do anything about it. Jeff Cain, the artist/creator of RADIO RHIZOME describes it in these words, "I took a look at the telecommunications law, and squirted myself in between all of its forms, like foam, filling up all the space they'd left empty." In the US this means micropower AM radio, with a mixture of repeaters and Internet streaming to cover what could potentially be the entire planet with a single broadcast network. from ecp to technology

PTA versus PTO
The Washington Post reported on October 19 that PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) membership nationwide has fallen from 12.1 million four decades ago to fewer than six million today. Not even one in four U.S. public schools now has a PTA chapter. According to the very conservative Fordham Foundation, the reason was that a portion of the dues was going out of the area to support lobbying activities and executive salaries. Instead, the Fordham folks think many of them are starting their own school-specific groups, commonly known as Parent-Teacher Organizations, or PTO's. All of the energy and dues of a PTO generally go into projects and activities at one's own child's schoolbe they supplies for the art room, band uniforms, lights for the night football games, after-school programs, or the ninth grade trip to Colonial Williamsburg. Parents typically pay dues but may also raise money through festivals, car washes, bake sales, magazine subscription sales, and so forth.

Whats a Section 504?
This is something every educator must face. Basically it ensures that all children with disabilities have free and appropriate public education that is designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living, and it ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected. It is used instead of an IEP for students who dont really need the overall plan of an IEP. Thus schools sometimes use it because it requires them to do less. However, ever educator must know what is required when using the Section.

A Legal Overview TECHNOLOGY

What's Section 508 and Compliance
Section 508 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (which came into force in August 2001). There are many aspects to 508, but only one actual requirement . . . if the government doesn't comply with 508, lawsuits can happen.

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans has a disability


Tracking Planes
This is a very helpful site to track airplane arrivals and departures. Unsure of when to leave to pick-up someone, just check here. It shows where the plan is an its estimated arrival time. You gotta see this one.

Practice Spanish
The Experiment in International Living (EIL), founded in 1932, was one of the first organizations of its kind to engage individuals in intercultural living and learning. Originating in the United States, The Experiment introduced the homestay concept to the world by carefully preparing and placing Experimenters in the homes of host families to study other languages and cultures firsthand. Spend Christmas in Mexico.

A nice list of them.

Thanks for reading,



Do you want to reproduce items you found in NHN Nethappenings Newsletter?
Permission is granted to reproduce items from the newsletter to distribute via e-mail, under the following conditions:

  1. You do not reproduce more than two items from each newsletter.

  2. You do not alter the item(s).

  3. Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from NetHappenings Newsletter. You include the line:

    Reproduced From NetHappenings Newsletter with permission of Educational CyberPlayground

  4. NHN Subscription instructions are available at:
  5. You cc: newsletter at on any distribution of the items.

Please note that these permission guidelines do not include Educational CyberPlayGround site articles see copyright permission

Educational CyberPlayGround
Hot Site Awards New York Times, USA Today , MSNBC, Earthlink
USA Today Best Bets For Educators Award, Macworld Top Fifty