Sunday, October 5, 2014

Alphabet Soup

I had another great week. If this is getting a bit old for you, sorry, but I cannot help it. The only down aspect of the week has been the continuing lousy weather. Lousy with respect to stargazing. We had one break Thursday night when the first quarter moon could be seen along with Antares and Mars. The Greek name for Mars,the red planet, is Ares. The red giant star, Antares, meaning rival of or against Ares, is near the ecliptic and every 2 years or so Mars (Ares) approaches Antares. This was that week, so we got to see the two red objects, one a star, the other a planet, within a few degrees of each other.

As I write this, the outlook for stargazing has improved immensely, at least with respect to the rain and clouds. The seasons first cold (cool) front has move through and we are seeing night time temperatures that we haven't seen since May. Now we have to wait a week for the waxing gibbous moon to get out of the evening sky. During that week we have a special event you should know about. On Wednesday, October 8, 2014 there is a total lunar eclipse visible (in the eastern USA) before sunrise. The partial eclipse starts around 5 AM and totality about 6:25, lasting until sunrise and hour later. Let's hope for clear skies.

On to the topic that is in the title of this post. I have determined that one thing I will not miss in my retirement years is the alphabet soup that is educational acronyms. These are abbreviations that are intended to be memorable and helpful, I think. In my career the use of these shorthand forms has proliferated in a Fibonacci-like magnitude. Here is a list of just some, a very few, of these devices that I have seen and used over the years. Perhaps they will bring back memories, fond or painful I know not which.

DOK - depth of knowledge, the newest one for me. I do not recall seeing this before this week. I may have and my memory has failed me, but it is what prompted this post.
AP - advanced placement. I teach AP Computer Science.
ADHD - attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
CBA - curriculum based assessment
GPA - grade point average
IDEA - individuals with disabilities act
IEP - individualized education plan
NCLB - no child left behind
OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder
PSAT - preliminary scholastic aptitude test
WISC - Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children
CRISS - creating independence through student-owned strategies
PVA - Pine View Association, our parent-teacher association
FIRST - for inspiration and recognition of science and technology, a robotics organization
STEM - science, technology, engineering, and math
STEAM - science, technology, engineering, arts, and math
FCAT - florida comprehensive assessment test

I have no ax to grind with regard to these. They are a part of an educators life. They can be helpful at times but mostly they just are. (I mean that just the way it is written.) I know that all professions and careers have them (the military is very well known for its array of acronyms,) so we get used to it. Does that mean we have to like them? No, especially when one is used that you don't know and you have to ask what it means. All I can say is that they are one part of the job that I will not miss.

Anyway, remember to look for the lunar eclipse Wednesday, October 8 before sunrise. Wishing you clear skies.

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