Major warmth and severe flooding across US Great Plains

The slow-moving storm that came through Dallas last night (lasting well in to the morning commute) is just a piece of a massive weather disturbance which has been making weather news across the US.  Matt Daniel at sums it all up (including some great animated weather radar loops):

Thanks to an area of high pressure dominating the eastern half of the United States, a large, high amplitude trough is having a difficult time pushing east. What does that mean? It means a lot of heavy rain and strong storms “training” over the same areas over a long period of time that results in major flooding across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and eventually into Louisiana and Arkansas. […]

Bottom line: A slow moving system in the western/central United States will bring flooding across the central plains and along the Mississippi River as storms will continue to train over the same areas. Meanwhile, record breaking warmth seen from Florida to Canada will continue through the middle of this week. These extreme temperatures should end by this upcoming weekend as the storm system across the central plains pushes eastward. The severe weather threat continues across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana with wind being the main threats. The main issues will be flash flooding across these areas as the storm system slowly pushes east. Remember: avoid driving in flooded areas. Turn around, don’t drown!


A Chinese perspective on the spring equinox

A different perspective courtesy of Deborah Byrd at

In Chinese thought, spring is associated with the color green, the sound of shouting, the wood element, the climate of wind, things sprouting, your eyes, your liver, your anger, patience and altruism—and a green dragon. Not surprisingly, spring is also associated with the direction east, the sunrise direction as Earth spins us toward the beginning of each new day.

What’s this about? It’s a system called Wu Xing by the Chinese, which translates to the Five Phases or Five Elements. Phases describes it better, because it’s a description of nature, which as we all know never stops moving.

Everything you need to know: Vernal or spring equinox 2012


The March equinox signals the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks that special moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north. In 2012, this equinox comes early. It’ll be on March 20 at 5:14 UTC, or 12:14 a.m. Central Daylight Time for us in the central U.S.

Why is the equinox early in 2012? The reason is, in part, because 2012 is a leap year. If this year weren’t a leap year, this equinox would come on March 21—not March 20—at 5:14 Universal Time. The equinoxes for the coming three years—2013, 2014, 2015—will all fall on March 20 as well. But—with each passing year—each equinox will come nearly 6 hours later by the clock. In the year 2016, the equinox would fall on March 21—if 2016 weren’t a leap year.


Sharing Knowledge and Supplies in Retirement

What do you do with all those great resources you’ve gathered over your teaching career when you decide to leave the profession (either through retirement, as the article suggests, or through career moves which leave the classroom behind)?  Judy McKee at NSTA Reports has some great ideas that you may not have thought of:

Every year, millions of teachers across the country shell out their own hard-earned cash to acquire supplies and resources. They create lessons, bulletin boards, and handmade gadgets. Though they often find it difficult to part with these things at retirement, they hope to pass gently used items to others who will give them new life and value. […]

“Our experience and teaching wisdom far outshadows what we do with our materials.” That makes the process of parting with our collection bittersweet. After all, these things represent the lessons and countless meaningful interactions with students that gave significance to our teaching lives. No wonder it’s difficult to let them go.

A former colleague, the wonderful Fannie J., is a huge fan of sharing her teacher treasures (accumulated throughout her 35+ year teaching career) with her fellow teachers, especially the newbies.

(Photos are from the blog, from a post detailing the amazing haul the parent/educator/blogger had recently found at a retiring teacher’s garage sale.)

School Communities Wrecked by “Value-Added”: Two Must-Reads

By way of Get in the Fracas by Dan Brown, Two must-reads on the fallout from the value-added movement:

“‘Creative… Motivating’ and Fired”

Top-notch reporter Bill Turque at the Washington Post dropped this barnburner article today about Sarah Wysocki, a DCPS teacher who received praise from everyone she worked with… and then got fired over test scores. The whole article is a must-read, but the thing that leaped most off the page to me was how likely it seems that Wysocki, a fifth grade teacher, was the victim of a sinister consequence of high-stakes testing: cheating.


“Hard-Working Teachers, Sabotaged When Student Test Scores Slip”

In The New York Times, Michael Winerip looks into Brooklyn’s high-achieving P.S. 146 where the school community was shocked to learn that because their already-high test scores evidently didn’t go up enough, revered faculty leaders were rated as bottom-of-the-barrel.

Pinterested in Education

I haven’t figured out Pinterest yet, but I think I’ll be checking this out.  Via Teaching Now at Education Week:

Prominent Edublogger Alexander Russo, somewhat reluctantly, has jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon, creating a pinboard called “Hot for Education 2012.” …

Pinterest, if you’re not familiar with it, is the latest social-media craze. Often described as a scrapbooking tool, it lets you organize and share images—and other tidbits—gathered from around the Web. …

We hear that teachers have been active on Pinterest, using it both for classroom projects (in which, for example, students pin materials to a lesson-specific board) and topical explorations. Let us know if you are using it or if you see anything that teachers in particular might want to know about.

Did the moon help sink the Titanic?

A fascinating proposition from astronomers at Texas State University (via

Astronomers at Texas State University announced today (March 5, 2012) that the pull of the moon – its creation of tides in Earth’s oceans – might have played a role in the sinking of the Titanic nearly 100 years ago, causing death by ice water for approximately 1,500 people in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Their announcement comes as the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic – on April 14, 1912 – is almost upon us.

Texas State has a nice write-up about the moon’s possible role[…] The story is that an unusually close approach by the moon on January 4, 1912, would have caused abnormally high tides that might have pushed the fateful iceberg into the Titantic’s path.