Bill Gates Unplugged

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trimble Tech: Where Stars Are Born

Call it a SMASH
By Eddie Griffin

An NBC TV script just above its famed peacock logo reads: Stars are not born. They are made. And so the television network opened to door for new, young stars through its "SMASH: Make A Musical" audition.

NBC’s ‘SMASH’ MAKE A MUSICAL is currently building 20 new musical theater programs in underserved schools with limited arts programming across the nation. The program is administered by iTheatrics, whose mission is to provide schools with the resources, skills and materials to present musical theatric productions with and for young people. The program guides school teachers step-by-step through creating stand-alone arts programs and aims to engage as many students as possible in all aspects and areas of the arts.

Opportunity is the best motivator for students. To have to opportunity to be what you want to be, to reach for the stars, nothing could be more exhilarating.

Arts students at Tremble Tech High School got stars in their eyes and dreams as big as Texas.

Here is an excerpt of what iTheatrics Senor Education Associate Cindy Ripley found at Trimble Tech:

“NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make A Musical”
School #10: Trimble Tech High School
Fort Worth, TX

Reported by: Cindy Ripley, iTheatrics Senior Education Associate, Resident Master Teacher

I always knew Texas was famous for doing things in a big way. No doubt. Even walking to the baggage claim in DFW airport, the distance was immense. But I had no idea that Trimble Tech High School would embody this notion of “big” and fill it with possibility.

The giant vocational high school, made up of 2,000 students, pulls from the entire district of Fort Worth. It is a place where career-minded kids can choose special majors and find specificity in their educational goals. This is a school that offers courses in computer animation, culinary arts, plumbing, cosmetology, health science, carpentry, auto body repair as well as print shop, and hospital administration to name a few. Many of these programs even grant certifications into the workforce. Athletics are very strong as is the school’s band program. Now, I invite you to sit back and think about this. How many tech schools have you heard of that are diligently trying to build an arts program? A gold star goes to this “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make A Musical” school.

Read the complete story at: http://www.juniortheaterproject.org/nbcs-smash-make-a-musical-school-10-trimble-tech-high-school-fort-worth/


COMMENTARY by Eddie Griffin

I remember the time when Trimble Tech High School was one of those inner city, low-performing schools that most people would have given up on. Its vocational programs were antiquated and neglected. The district wanted to cut its athletic program, and its band program was criticized in a local newspaper editorial. This was where my son and daughter attended in the mid-1990s.

All but forgotten now is the day when my kids, and all the other Tech students walked out of class and trekked five miles across the bridge to Farrington Field’s football stadium, in protest of the school district’s proposed cutting their athletic program. Leading the parade was Windell Middlebrooks who, today, is a Hollywood actor staring in ABC medical drama “Body of Proof”, and most renouned for his role as the Miller High Life truck driver.

During this time, Eddie Griffin became Trimble Tech PTA president and advocate to save the students’ athletic and bring parity to the school in educational resources.

The advocacy began with giving parents a stakeholder’s role in the schools, through the S.B. 1 Education bill in 1995, which created, for the first time, Site-Based Management Teams, giving parents a part in the decision-making process at their individual schools. Instead of being treated like gadflies and pests, parents gained a measure of respect and standing in the schools.

Building upon our newly found power, we developed a long-range improvement plan for the school, in order to upgrade long neglected technological and vocational resources. The plan would introduce computers into the inner city classroom for the first time. Yet, it was the key component of the plan that teachers scuffed at the most.

We “fired everybody”, replaced the principal, and forced everybody to re-apply for tenureship and forced students apply for placement in one of the newly rennovated technical or vocational program. The results: Two years later, the school scored “exemplary”, the highest level of academic achievement in the state, a status it held for two consecutive years.

The end of this long evolutionary process is what the writer, Cindy Ripley, observed above.

The actor, Windell Middlebrooks, is still considered a Tremble Tech native son, and a role model for other aspiring stars.

When you create an educational environment conducive for allowing students to reach their greatest potential, a star is born.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Birthday Wish Well Worth Giving

A Personal Appeal from Eddie Griffin

Monday, January 30, 2012

My friend and colleague Wayne Hicks has a birthday wish today, one well worth fulfilling. It is a wish, which I say, is also a wish of my own.

WAYNE’S WISH: Help me raise $700 for BDPA Foundation: Stimulate the Interest of Young People in the Field of Science and Technology… we need to help them “win the future”.

Since April, 2010, Eddie Griffin has been a member of the BDPA Education & Technology Foundation (BETF) eGroup, as an advocate for minority students’ involvement in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education. When becoming a member, it was my hope to establish a BDPA chapter in Fort Worth, Texas, in collaboration with the Dallas chapter.

Boosting our children’s academic achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math

BDPA (Black Data Processing Associates) is a non-profit organization of professionals working in or having an interest in the Computer Science and Information Technology fields. BDPA has a diverse representation of information technology professionals. Included amongst the organization's members are programmers, analysts, engineers, managers, instructors, and entrepreneurs, to name a few.

Earl Pace and the late David Wimberly founded BDPA in May of 1975. BDPA was formed out of a concern shared by both men that minorities were not adequately represented in the information technology industry. (Source: http://www.bdpa.org/?page=About_BDPA)

As of this week BDPA has 45 chapters around the nation. (Source: bit.ly/AnD5uW)

BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF Foundation) is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity, founded in 1992 to support the education and technical programs of Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA).

BETF recognizes that to close the gap of computer and technology literacy, minority youth must participate and compete in today’s digital economy. We want students from historically disadvantaged communities to learn advanced computer science and community responsibility from any of the BDPA chapters located around the nation.
http://www.crowdrise.com/BDPAFoundation

See Also:
A PHOTO GALLERY: BDPA STUDENT ACHIEVERS & EVENTS

BDPA Foundation YouTube and iRadio

BDPA Education & Technology Foundation (BETF) SLIDESHOW provides financial support for BDPA and share information about fundraising, funding sources and BDPA programs.

Facebook:- http://www.facebook.com/pages/BDPA-Foundation/13734387198
BETF Blosite: http://betf.blogspot.com/


Donate at Wayne Hicks Birthday Wish: http://wishes.causes.com/wishes/427957?bws=day_before

Sincerely,
Eddie Griffin

Blogsites by Eddie Griffin
Education: http://educationofeddiegriffin.blogspot.com/
Social Justice: http://eddiegriffinbasg.blogspot.com/
Bible Study: http://eddiegriffinbiblestudy.blogspot.com/
Economic Development: http://eddiegriffinecode.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First African-American Superintendent in Fort Worth ISD

a homeboy prepared all life for the job


http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/01/17/3667207/dansby-is-lone-finalist-for-fort.html#my-headlines-default

The Second story, which would have otherwise been the first, was the selection of Walter Dansby as new Superintendent of FWISD.

Eddie Griffin is pictured with the newly selected FWISD Supt. Walter Dansby in this morning’s Star-Telegram

The picture reminds me of the conversation and promise that I made to Mr. Dansby at that time. If he were selected, I would come out of retirement and volunteer once again in the service of the children in our school system, in raising student academic achievement, and continue building a community support network.

If he should have me back in his volunteer ranks, I would look at strengthening our support infrastructure, from a proactive perspective, rather than being passively disengaged in the process of aiding our student's success.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Business Lesson for Public Schools:

The Law of Declining Returns

By Eddie Griffin

The great educator, Mrs. Hazel Harvey Peace, as she was approach the centenary milestone, described her production as “the law of declining return”. Her quip took me aback to something I had learned while studying economics. What she was essentially saying to me was that the older she got, the less she was able to do.

But then, I see the same principal at work among school teachers today. Not so much that they produce less the older they get, rather the more and harder they work the less productive the outcome.

These are two examples of the economic law of declining returns. The first, that of Mrs. Peace’s, derives from the manufacturing model of production. The second derives from a defective price model.

When a manufacturer puts a new machine into operation, theoretically the machine produces perfect parts. But gradually, as the machine wears out and becomes depreciated, it begins to produce less perfect parts and more and more scrap. At some point, the machine should be repaired, overhauled, and eventually replaced. Manufacturers who ignore this principal wind up producing their products at a higher and higher cost, until the manufacturing process is no longer profitable and the business no long sustainable.

The second example follows along the lines of a popular Tex-Mex restaurant that annually increased its customer base and sales. The strength of its cash flow allowed it to increase its credit line and expand its business to new locations. But despite increased sales, the company was losing money and had no idea as to why. An analysis showed that it was losing one-to-two cents on each sale, and the increase in sales was only aggregating the total losses.

Teachers are realizing that public schools are in a downward spiral. Academic achievement is on the decline, the dropout rate on the increase, and classroom management is growing less controllable. The solution, they perceive, is to do more, put more time in preparation, work longer hours, give more and more individual attention to each student, use more supplemental materials, and give them homework assignment.

These things they have been doing for years. But this is a case where more produces less. So, what is the problem?

To solve the problem of declining return in the first example, the business owner has to realize at what point the machine is no longer producing profitable products, at what point it needs repairs and at what point even repairs are no long viable and what the long term cost of replacement would be and could the company invest in a new machine before running out of liquidity.

To solve the problem of declining return for Poncho Restaurant chain, it simply meant raising prices on its menu, and to keep raising the prices proportionately as the cost of operation rose.

So what then about the public school system?

Our education system has evolved from the Victorian age to the mass production age to the current digital age. However, our mode of delivery has remained largely the same, and thus the classroom has been manned by the same type of school teacher, with the same type of educational background. Where once education was only for the elite, the mass production model was pyramidal, allowing only a select few to reach the top of the pyramid, while others drop out along the way, with the latter finding mediocre jobs and positions on the lower part of the food chain.

Yesterday’s teachers are not equipped for the digital age. Once they receive their degrees and teaching certificates, they pass on yesterday’s knowledge, which they previously acquired, to the next generation of student learners. Therefore, the pool of knowledge becomes stagnate over time, and antiquated in the long run.

When new technology is introduced into the class, old school teachers are faced with a new learning curve to climb. And, like those on the pyramid in the generation before them, they find themselves sliding. More classroom experience is not necessarily a contemporary asset, but rather a liability like worn out cogs in the machine or old prices fixed against new operations.

We need a new type of teacher, one that is technologically savvy, continues to learn, engages the student, and innovate. Michelle Rhee is right.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beyond the Crisis in Education: Part 1

By Eddie Griffin

Having been a volunteer with the school system for a number of years, I always find myself returning to the same point: What is wrong with our school system? It makes no difference that we have answered the question over and over again, we somehow seem never to get past asking to actually implementing solutions.

In order to break this endless cycle of defining and redefining the problem, we need to break the paradigm of cyclical thinking and jump straight to where we need to be and how education can get us there.

There are three relative benchmarks: (1) The Crisis Point, i.e. the point of failure and dropping out of school; (2) The Minimum Achievement, i.e. reaching the graduation finish line; and (3) The Ultimate Goal, i.e. catching up with Finland, the most educated country in the world.

If it takes all our time, energy, and effort to get our school children to reach the finish line, then it would take an overkill strategy to get them beyond. In Texas, we are consumed by TAKS state testing. In years to come, the standard will be End-of-Course assessment. But in either case, when the academic standards are low, global achievement will continue to decline, relative to the more advanced nations.

This is why it is necessary to look beyond our borders to see why countries like Finland, Japan, and Canada are leaving the United States behind.

The first thing to note about Finland is its commitment to and great appreciation for education. Once primarily an agricultural society, it focused upon becoming a high tech industrial society. To achieve this goal in one generation, it set a tough national curriculum standard and required all teachers have a Masters degree, and drew from the top 10% of college students to teach in the classroom.

There are three teachers per classroom, and many students stay with the same teachers over a number of years. The average student speaks four different languages, including English. And, the dropout rate is only 2%. Per capita cost is about $3,000 less annually than the cost per student in the United States.

See: Education Finland on NBC Nightly News

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sue Huffman: Fort Worth School Superintendent, January-June 1882

She was born May 12, 1859. Her parents were Philip A. and Caroline Huffman. She was educated at Fort Worth High School, Galveston Female Academy, and Sam Houston Normal Institute, Huntsville, Tex. At a competitive examination for the Sam Houston Normal Institute held in 1879 she obtained the remarkable average of one hundred throughout. She graduated from that institute In 1880, and was awarded the Peabody medal. She is a woman of thorough learning and rare accomplishments, to which are added many personal charms. She has traveled all over the United States and in Canada. She married in 1882 Mr. Ed. F. Warren, who died in 1889; in 1892 she married Mr. Frank Brady. She organized and graded the public schools of Fort Worth, and also those of Decatur, Tex., being the first superintendent of those schools, and the first lady superintendent in Texas.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

IDREAM Summit: An Eye-Opening Experience

By Eddie Griffin

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A young school girl sat beside her grandmother and watched intently as my 10-year old grandson manipulated a wave pattern on the screen before an audience. She was about the same age.

I had promised to present a virtual classroom in Science and Math at the October 31, 2010 IDREAM, ILEARN, IWIN Summit in Fort Worth.

Edwin Russell Jr., my grandson, was dying to assist me. He is a fifth grader attending my old alma mater, I.M. Terrel, and some of his school mates were in attendance; unfortunately, though not in his session.

For practice, I had taught him one exercise: How to manipulate the color waves in a light spectrum beamed upon a molecule. When the wave pattern coincided with the graph, the molecule would explode:

KABOOM!

The young girl’s eyes lit up with a starry twinkle, and a toothy grin popped up on her face. She almost leapt out of her chair.

I wondered: Had I done the experiment, no doubt she would have shown lesser interest. After all, a crusty old professor demonstrating in front of a classroom is nothing compared to someone her own age. It's a peer-to-peer motivational phenomenon. That was why I allowed my grandson to do the demo.

Little Ed had boasted like a ham promoting a circus act. To everyone he met that day, including Superintendent Dr. Melody Johnson, that he would “split a molecule with light waves”. That’s how confident he was.

And, when it actually happened in the classroom, the little girl watching, along with her grandmother, literally jumped with excitement. She wanted to try it for herself. So, I gave her the stage, with grandmother and others watching on.

“Come on, baby, you are at 80%”, her grandmother cheered. “You’re at 90%”.

But not so fast, ladies and gentlemen. This was not a game, but a simulation of an actual experiment conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Before this child could perform this operation, she had to learn some other things in the demonstration, stuff for which she had little or no interest and stuff over her head, like Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry.

She had to learn how to pick up subatomic particles and build an atom, first a Hydrogen atom; and then by adding colored balls representing protons, neutrons, and electrons, go up the Chemistry periodic chart, and how to read the new atom's mass.

Here the boy deviated from instruction and created an atomic cloud. Losing his focus, and venturing out into curious territory, just seems to come natural to a Whiz Kid, but a little frustrating for grandpa.

But from an instructor's perspective, I missed nothing, in terms of audience facial expressions, body language, and every questions, both from parents and child. This is what dictated the sequence of my presentation. With the arsenal of math and science tools, I was prepared for any age group, and prepared to move on where interest was lacking.

“What is Velocity?” the little girl asked, as we demonstrated balls of different masses colliding together. Her grandmother was there to explain that is was “speed”, and the simulation program allowed me to show the Velocity vector. It reminded me of a question asked by my grandson the weekend before: “What is a Plane?” It was an indication to me that something was soaking in.

It was fast-paced and inundating. It was not meant to be grasped all at once. The object here was, not mastery of a particular subject matter, but rather exposing kids to the next horizon in math and science, and provide parents with free online resources that they could visit over and over again.

We even had time to break for a Moby and Tim cartoon: How to make a 3-D and 2-D cartoon. The little girl was familiar with the characters, Moby and Tom, and the educational animations.

We visited the Science Lab simulations and produced electricity that lit up a light bulb. It was the Faraday waterwheel demonstration, where water pouring over a waterwheel spun a magnet that generated electrical energy and cause the bulb to light up.

Besides learning how to manipulate objects and waves, the child had to have an intuitive understanding of Graphs. Electricity produced a wave pattern, similar to Trigonometric sine and cosine wave. Using the Fourier Wave experiment, we created periodic waves and listened to the sound of wave packets, which were similar to adjusting the bass and treble on the car radio. Therefore, adjusting light waves was like adjust radio waves, and by tweaking light waves in a spectrum directed into a molecule, at the subatomic (nano) level, the student could cause the molecule to explode.

The grandmother who, at first, came through the door at the end of first session, came in asking, “What is all this wave stuff?” Now, here she was, cheering on her granddaughter inched up to 91%, 92%, 93% in coinciding the wave graph. “Come on, baby, you’re almost there.”

Then: KABOOM!

The little girl did it. She had successfully split the molecule, the same as my grandson. Neither understood that this was Quantum Mechanics, the door to molecular engineering.

And, I would be vain to think that I thought these kids Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Physics, all in one setting. But each child was exposed to new concepts in math and science that will some day come back to them in higher grades. And, even if they cannot remember the math and science involved, they will surely remember their conquest at the console, and not be afraid to tackle these subjects in the future.

Promethean Board demonstration