NBC News: ‘Batman’ drops off suspect at police station, vanishes into night

4 03 2013

‘Batman’ drops off suspect at police station, vanishes into night

By Michael Holden, Reuters

NBC News LogoLONDON – A mystery man dressed as Batman demonstrated the same crime-fighting skills as the caped crusader when he handed over a suspect wanted for burglary in Britain.

Surveillance footage showed a portly figure wearing an ill-fitting costume including gloves, cape and mask, bringing a 27-year-old man to a police station in Bradford in northern England.

Photo Credit: West Yorkshire Police Department

Photo Credit: West Yorkshire Police Department

The suspect was arrested and charged with handling stolen goods and fraud-related offences, according to the force. But the costumed crime-fighter disappeared into the night without leaving his name.

“The person who brought the wanted man into the station was dressed in a full Batman outfit,” a spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police said. “His identity, however, remains unknown.”

The suspect was handed over early on February 25. Police released photos of the footage Monday.


(Original Story with Video)


NBCNews.com: Homework overload gets an ‘F’ from experts

9 08 2012

The importance and value of homework is something that I am very interested in learning more about, and I’ve experimented a bit in my own classroom with the quantity and types of assignments that I expect kids to do at home. Like most studies, my own findings are very inconclusive.

What doesn’t work: Homework for the sake of giving homework. If it’s just “busy work,” I’ve found that most kids won’t bother with it, and the value for those who do is pretty limited for a variety of reasons. Over the past couple years, I’ve basically limited my take-home assignments to the following four categories:

Stuff you don’t finish in class. Pretty simple and fair. If we work on something in class and you don’t finish it, you take it home and finish it.

Projects and writing assignments. Every once in a while, students are assigned an essay or a report. I give time in class to work on these, so I can monitor the process or editing and re-writing, but a good portion of the research and writing still needs to be done outside of class.

Studying for tests. This is a fact of life. Got a spelling quiz coming up? A vocabulary test on Friday? You’re going to want to look that over at home.

Independent reading. Every school I’ve worked at has had some sort of requirement for independent reading, typically using Accelerated Reader. In some cases, we’ve had time in class for the students to read… but not always. Regardless, kids need to be doing independent reading at home. I believe very strongly in that.

As you can see, even without piling on the extra assignments, my students usually have plenty to do at home. If they make use of the time I give them in class, it’s pretty limited… but still enough that they’re going to have to do some work outside of class a few times a week.

And even that may be considered way too much by some, or way too little by others. Based on this article and the age of my students, I’m probably falling somewhere around “just enough,” maybe leaning toward “too much.” It’s something to think about!

– dEV

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Homework overload gets an ‘F’ from experts
By Corey Binns
updated 7/27/2012 8:56:01 AM ET

It seems the smoke has barely cleared from those Fourth of July celebrations, but in many parts of the U.S., parents are trying to light fires under their kids in an effort to get them studying for the new school year.

Unfortunately, new research shows the amount of time kids clock in out of school may not pay off.

Kids who do more homework actually perform worse on standardized tests, according to research by Sydney University educational psychologist Richard Walker, author of the forthcoming book, Reforming Homework: Practices, Learning and Policies.

Homework only boosts student scores in the final three years of high school, says Walker, and only these older high school students should be doing a couple of hours of homework a night. Younger students only benefit from small assignments, if they’re getting help at home.

But that’s not the end of the homework hurdles.

High-achieving students who are swamped with homework can suffer from poor mental and physical health,says Stanford University professor Denise Pope.

In fact, findings consistently show that homework has very limited value in the elementary grades.

In response to this new research, many educators are acknowledging homework’s flaws (much to the delight of students, no doubt). Homework now only accounts for 10 percent of a student’s grade in the Los Angeles Unified School District. And other school districts state they expect high schoolers to spend only about 30 minutes of homework for each class.

Some schools are assigning even less.

Tera Maxwell’s three children — ages 2, 5, and 8 — don’t have any homework at the Montessori International Children’s House in Annapolis, Maryland.

“When you make homework mandatory, it becomes a chore, rather than a joyful activity,” she says.

Other organizations — such as the National PTA — go with a policy supported by Duke University social psychologist Harris Cooper, who advises giving students about 10 minutes of homework each night, per grade level starting in first grade. According to Cooper’s recommendation, a fifth grader would have about 50 minutes of homework per night.

While Cooper, author of The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents, has found homework at every grade level does improve test scores, too much can be detrimental.

(Full Story)


NBCNews.com: Want to help your preschooler sleep better? Try ‘Dora’

7 08 2012

I’m a parent of a preschooler, and I’m fortunate that we rarely have problems getting her to go to sleep at night. That said, we’re guilty of a couple of the sins mentioned in this article. Like most parents, we have  a tendency to allow her to watch that one last episode of whatever before going to bed. After that, it’s cleaning up, brushing teeth, and a couple of stories. She’s not going straight from the TV to the bed, but I’m sure that it’s a lot less than the half hour or more that they recommend.

We do a pretty good job of monitoring the content that she watches, and making sure that it’s both age-appropriate and has some sort of educational component. The suggestions made in the article are some of her favorites, although she does love Shaun the Sheep, My Little Pony, and Super Hero Squad which might be a little light on the educational part.

But I must admit, when I first read the headline for this article, I immediately thought of Franklin and Little Bear, two shows that I find it nearly impossible to stay awake through. The guy who sings the Franklin theme song even sounds like he’s about to fall asleep while singing it. Then again, the kid loves it, so they must be doing something right…

– dEV

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By Andrew M. Seaman

updated 8/6/2012 11:10:25 AM ET

NEW YORK — Preschoolers seemed to sleep better when their parents were encouraged to cut kids’ exposure to violent or age inappropriate videos throughout the day, in a new study.

Researchers found that within months after urging parents to switch their children’s viewing to nonviolent and age-appropriate videos, those children were about 20 percent less likely to have a sleep problem than kids whose parents didn’t receive the same advice.

“One of the things that’s exciting for me is that if families want to make these changes, it doesn’t require going to the doctor’s office or going to a person’s home,” said Michelle Garrison, the study’s lead author from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Previous research has suggested a link between the kinds of media young kids see during the day and sleep problems at night.

To see whether changing media use to avoid violent or frightening content could improve kids’ sleep, Garrison and her colleagues, who published their findings in the journal Pediatrics on Monday, sent invitations to families in the Seattle area with children between the ages of three and five years old to join the study.

Ultimately, 565 children and their families participated, and were randomly divided into two groups.

In one group, the parents of 276 children were encouraged to change their kids’ viewing habits over six months by substituting only “healthy media.” After evaluating each family’s situation, researchers provided channel guides and suggested appropriate shows, such as Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street and Curious George.

In the comparison group, parents of 289 children were sent healthy eating information instead.

The families then kept diaries and answered surveys to track their children’s sleep and viewing habits. The questionnaires were collected at the start of the study and again six, 12 and 18 months later.

Better content and better sleep 

At the beginning of the study, 42 percent of the kids in the intervention group had some sort of sleep problem, as did 39 percent of kids in the comparison group.

The most common sleep problem, according to the researchers, was children taking too long to fall asleep several nights per week.

After six months, sleep problems fell to 30 percent in the group whose parents were encouraged to switch shows and videos. The comparison group also improved, but the number with sleep problems only dropped a few percentage points, to 36 percent.

A year after the study started, those rates were similar, but sleep problems did start to reappear at the 18-months mark.

(Full Story)