Welcome to Learning is for Everyone of Tampa

LIFE of Tampa welcomes everyone, of all races, ethnicities, religions, family compositions, sexual orientations, learning styles, lifestyles, abilities and disabilities, and asks only that rules of civility, kindness and compassion be honored by all, for all.

This homepage and our online discussion group serve as an announcement and resource list for a variety of activities and events.

Visit LIFE of Florida for a great list of statewide and general learning resources.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Florida Wildflower Foundation Seeking Volunteers for Wildflower Surveys

This year the Florida Wildflower Foundation completed spring, summer and fall surveys of naturally occurring wildflowers along the five-county St. Johns to the Sea Loop trail (Putnam, Volusia, Brevard, Flagler and St. Johns counties), which will soon become the state’s first Wildflower Trail.

In 2010, the Foundation plans to survey other wildflower-profuse areas in the Panhandle and in North, Central and South Florida. The surveys will identify showy areas of native wildflowers in order to document species and suggest management practices. This research also will help us promote Florida’s native wildflowers as economic and intrinsic community assets.

First, though, we need the assistance of residents and visitors to find wildflower sites throughout the state. They can help by sending the following information by Dec. 1 to the Foundation at wildflower.research@gmail.com:

1.Approximate locations of any showy roadside or trailside (paved bike or foot path) native wildflowers seen in Florida during spring, summer and/or fall.

Include:

a.The scientific or common name of the plant species. If the name is unknown, describe the flowering plants’ characteristics (i.e., color, height, growth habit, etc.).

b.The road’s name, as well as a nearby intersection or another landmark that will help us locate the site.

c.The geographic region (defined below) and the city and/or county in which the site occurs.

d.The approximate date of the sighting. If the date is unknown, please include the season.

e.A description of the habitat (i.e., wet ditch, sand dune, pine forest, etc.).

f.Digital photos, if possible.

2. The names and locations of public lands (state, national, city and county parks; water management district holdings, etc.) that have great native wildflower displays, along with species names and approximate bloom dates,

Garden or civic clubs that have planted roadside or trailside native wildflowers can help by sending the planting’s location and a species list.

Geographic regions are defined as:

Panhandle: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Jackson, Washington, Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Wakulla, Leon, Jefferson.

North Florida: Madison, Hamilton, Columbia, Baker, Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam, Clay, Marion, Alachua, Levy, Bradford, Union, Gilchrist, Dixie, Lafayette, Suwannee, Taylor.

Central Florida: Citrus, Sumter, Lake, Volusia, Seminole, Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando, Sumter, Citrus, Manatee, Hardee, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Indian River, De Soto, Sarasota.

South Florida: Charlotte, Glades, Martin, Lee, Hendry, Palm Beach, Collier, Broward, Dade, Monroe.

Florida Wildflower Foundation
PO Box 941066
Maitland, FL 32794-1066
407-353-6164
www.floridawildflowerfoundation.org

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Virtual Views on Virtual Schools


There are emails going around, on both sides of the fence, about virtual school program legislation currently under consideration in FL (SB 534 and HB 7067). Some of the emails encourage signing a petition to allow home educators to participate in School District Virtual School Programs (SDVIP) without previous enrollment in public school, and others protest the legislation.

All home educators are urged to become informed about virtual school choices in Florida, whatever your opinion or preference regarding the schools, and to make sure you have all the facts (or as many as you can find) rather than acting on fear based or uninformed arguments on either side.

Support for SDVIP Enrollment Expansion
With respect to the petition, found at http://www.flvirtualfamilies.org/petition/ and this particular phraseology: "In looking at this law, it is a great tool for those parents that would choose to homeschool." …

It's important to remember that SDVIP is great tool for those interested in having a *public school education option that they can administer from home*. Participants need to understand that the laws under which those enrolled in this program would provide that education are different from homeschooling laws.

The petition calls on Florida representatives "to change the portion of House Bill 7067 that states a child must attend public school for one year to qualify for this program. We feel that this discriminates against children that previously home schooled or that would have to come out of private school that would want to use this program. Parents of all children should have the option to use this if they so chose. Treat all children fair"

Grammar issues aside,  the bill doesn't actually discriminate against homeschooled children or anyone else. This is a procedural issue, not a home education issue . Transferring to SDVIP should be handled as any public, private or homeschool program transfer is handled, using existing Florida State Board of Education transfer rules.

Opposition to SDVIP
Long time home and private school lobbyist Brenda Dickinson, of the Home Education Foundation, is concerned about the Senate version of SDVIP legislation, SB 534, for other reasons, principally her contention that SDVIP "will lead to the demise of home education as we know it."

In a recent email, referencing a Christian Broadcasting Network article titled "Online Charter Schools Proving Popular" she contends:

"Parents are going to be more confused about virtual education than they were last year if Charter Virtual Schools are created in Florida. This year some parents who have enrolled their children in the School District Virtual School Programs (SDVIP) are forming their own support groups and asking for membership in the Florida Parent Educators Association. They think they are home educators. However, students enrolled in a SDVIP, using K-12, Inc and Connections Academy are not home educated students; they are public school students. I believe in a short time this confusion will lead to the demise of home education as we know it.

"The type of school listed (in the article) is NOT a virtual school; it is a distant learning program. A box of books and materials are delivered to the child's home and the parent is the primary instructor. With the cost of curriculum and private education in these uncertain and difficult economic times, the charter virtual school described below will appeal to many parents. These programs contain highly structured curriculum with 180 days of lessons sent to the parent with a distant teacher provided who checks on the student periodically. Notice that the teacher only has to contact the student once a month. Since the State requires schools to provide 4 to 5 hours of instruction a day for 180 days per school year, these private programs are requiring parents to provide 4 to 5 hours a day per child for 180 days per school year.  The State will now bear the cost (about $5500 per child) of these children who will be enrolled in a public school run by an at-home private school with the parent as the primary instructor. Though it sounds a lot like home education, it has the structure and standardization of a private school.

"
SB 534 is filed for the 2010 Session and will create the same virtual charter school in Florida described in the article below. My question is: How long will home education parents be able to direct their children's education if these schools are established in Florida?  Many parents are afraid to step out on their own to take over the education of their children under the home education law, so this highly structured program will appeal to those parents. Within a few years, there will be almost no one in the elementary grades who develops their own curriculum and tailors it to their own child's interest, pace and learning style. Most parents, new to home education, will be persuaded that this is the only way to teach your child at home."

The virtual school induced death knell has been rung for homeschooling for almost ten years now. (For the record, almost identical complaints were leveled at FLVS at the time, even though now, FLVS is lauded by many of the same homeschoolers as a model virtual program for home educators.)

Home education is,in fact, changing and has been since its inception. But that's different from suffering a "demise."  More people than ever are aware that they can in some great measure influence and direct their children's education, perhaps not as completely as some of us have chosen, but more than many more people ever would have considered doing.

A future now suggests itself where everyone tailors his or her education to best suit individual needs, interests and abilities. This has the potential to bring a far higher quality of family life and education to more people than does circling the wagons to protect "home education as we  know it." Life as people knew it a hundred, two hundred, three hundred years ago no longer exists. While some good things are lost to time and history, many more good things have been gained: civil rights, greater longevity, multiculturalism, fascinating and useful technology, and more access to knowledge than ever before. 

Get the Facts
With any of the virtual school arguments or supplications, important points of clarification should be:


  • Sources and evidence for "slippery slope" arguments of doom;Specific studies regarding virtual school program effects on home education;
  • Specific instances of school district strong-arming (some emails claim school districts are performing portfolio reviews with the intention of intimidating parents into choosing SDVIP programs);
  • Focus on real issues: equitable application of uniform transfer rules, or truth in advertising for SDVIP programs – issues that apply across the board to all families trying to make informed decisions.

Advocating and empowering all families to make informed educational decisions for themselves and their children is, in the long run, the best way to protect homeschooling.

You can read more about HB 7067 at

 
And about SB 537 at http://bit.ly/2ZPaKm 

Thoughts and insights are welcome, as is additional information that others may find helpful in weighing their options.

And for the record, any virtual school families seeking support and resources are very welcome to join Learning is for Everyone of Florida, and of Tampa. We don’t care how you learn at home, and we’re happy to help you make the most of your time together with your children.

Terri Willingham
http://LIFEofFlorida.blogspot.com
http://LIFEofTampa.blogspot.com 


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Brooker Creek Preserve- December Events 2009

Brooker Creek Preserve- December Events 2009
Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center
Upcoming Events
December 2009
_____________________________________
All programs are free unless otherwise noted.
Please call (727) 453-6800 for information and reservations.
Please do not reply to this email for any purpose other than to unsubscribe
______________________________________
**  Our hours have changed  **
Center Hours:  Thursday – Saturday   9:00am – 4:00pm
Preserve & Hiking Trails:  Thursday – Sunday 7:00am – 1 hour before sunset
Horse & Friendship Trails will remain open 7 days per week
______________________________________
The Center is located at 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs, Florida, 34688
Or visit our website at www.brookercreekpreserve.org
______________________________________

Guided Hikes
Saturday, December 5, 2009   9:00 am – 11:00 am
Saturday, December 12, 2009   9:00 am – 11:00 am
Saturday, December 19, 2009   9:00 am – 11:00 am
Saturday, December 26, 2009   9:00 am – 11:00 am

Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division
Take a walk through time each Saturday morning on a guided hike along the Education Center Trail.  Join us for this 0.7-mile walk as we look at how the land has changed over time and discuss the ecological footprints left by those changes.  Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must, and water and a hat are recommended.  Pre-registration is required by 12:00 noon on the Friday before the hike.  Admission:  Free.  All ages welcome - children younger than 6 may find this hike challenging.

You Don’t Have to be a Grinch to be Green
Saturday, December 5, 2009    1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
This is the time of year when families gather to celebrate.  Exchanging gifts, decorating homes, and sharing meals are common activities.  Join us to learn how to keep the “green” in your holiday celebrations.  Participants will take home handy tip sheets for sustainable gift, decorating and meal ideas.  Pre-registration is required.  Admission:  Free.  Recommended for adults.

Florida Cowboys: Keepers of the Last Frontier
Sunday, December 6, 2009   1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Carlton Ward, Jr., Author and Photographer, Clearwater, FL
Join us as Carlton Ward shares a vision of Florida ranches and what is at stake as the face of Florida changes. Although thousands of acres of farmland in Florida are lost to development each year, one fifth of Florida is still ranchland. This presentation of stunning photographs and historical, environmental, and cultural essays addresses the Florida cowboys, the descendants of five centuries of rich heritage. Pre-registration is requested and admission is free. All ages welcome.  

Book Time at Brooker Creek: Who’s Bugging You?
Thursday, December 10, 2009   10:30 am    11:15 am
Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division
This program is designed to connect pre-school children to the wonders of the natural world.  Twice each month children are treated to a variety of stories that connect them to their environment.  This week features Who’s Bugging You?  by Charles Reasoner.  Children learn about the amazing feats performed by many insects in this delightfully illustrated pull-out book. This program also includes a craft, game or other hands-on activity related to the story.   Pre-registration is required.  Spaces are limited so register early!  Admission: Free.  Recommended ages: 3 – 5.

Beyond Pinellas – Winter Animals
Saturday, December 12, 2009    1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
Seasonal changes affect wildlife as well as plants and people.   As summer turns to fall, and fall to winter, animals must adapt to changing food and weather patterns.  Join us for an interesting look at the ways animals around the world survive during harsh winter months.  Admission: Free. Pre-registration is required.  All ages welcome.  

Open Classroom – Discovering Nature with Your Child
Saturday, December 19, 2009   12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division
Who lives in that skin?  What is the difference between a carnivore and an herbivore?  Whose tracks are those?  Stop by our classroom anytime between 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm to participate in a variety of self-guided nature games and activities that answer these questions and many more.  Pre-registration is not required for this open activity.  Admission:  Free.  Recommended for families with children of all ages.

Book Time at Brooker Creek: The Giving Tree
Thursday, December 24, 2009    10:30 am – 11:15 am
Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division
This program is designed to connect pre-school children to the wonders of the natural world.  This week features The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  This is a moving tale about a boy who loved a tree, and a tree that gave everything to the boy.  Children can also participate in a craft, game or other hands-on activity related to the story.  Pre-registration is required for this program.  Admission: Free Spaces are limited, so register early!  Recommended ages: 3 – 5.

Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center Seasonal Hikes



______________________________________
All programs are free unless otherwise noted.
Please call (727) 453-6800 for information and reservations.
Please do not reply to this email for any purpose other than to unsubscribe
______________________________________
**  Our hours have changed  **
Center Hours:  Thursday – Saturday   9:00am – 4:00pm
Preserve & Hiking Trails:  Thursday – Sunday 7:00am – 1 hour before sunset
Horse & Friendship Trails will remain open 7 days per week
______________________________________
The Center is located at 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs, Florida, 34688
Or visit our website at www.brookercreekpreserve.org


Changing Seasons Guided Hikes
Thursday, November 19, 2009     9:00am – 11:00am
Environmental Lands Division Volunteers
Seasonal changes in Florida can be subtle, even to long time residents.  Join us for a walk as we look for evidence of the changing seasons along the trail.  Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must, and water and a hat are recommended.  Pre-registration is required. Admission:  Free.  All ages welcome - children younger than 6 may find this hike challenging.

Changing Seasons Guided Hikes
Friday, December 4, 2009            9:00 am – 11:00 am
Thursday, December 17, 2009     9:00am – 11:00am
Environmental Lands Division Volunteers
Seasonal changes in Florida can be subtle, even to long time residents.  Join us for a walk as we look for evidence of the changing seasons along the trail.  Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must, and water and a hat are recommended.  Pre-registration is required. Admission:  Free.  All ages welcome - children younger than 6 may find this hike challenging.

Changing Seasons Guided Hikes
Friday, January 8, 2010            9:00 am – 11:00 am
Friday, January 22, 2010     9:00am – 11:00am
Environmental Lands Division Volunteers
Seasonal changes in Florida can be subtle, even to long time residents.  Join us for a walk as we look for evidence of the changing seasons along the trail.  Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must, and water and a hat are recommended.  Pre-registration is required. Admission:  Free.  All ages welcome - children younger than 6 may find this hike challenging.

Sci-Fi and Sky Night at Science Center of Pinellas Nov. 21

In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, NASA is releasing two images never seen by the public - multiwave views of the Milky Way's Galactic Center obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory.  Join us for the unveiling of these images! 

Doors open at 6:00 pm
Planetarium Show:  Winter Tales - reservations needed
Planetarium Times: 6:00pm, 6:30pm, 7:00pm, 7:30pm, 8:00pm, 8:30pm
St Petersburg Astronomy Club Presentation: 6:30pm -7:15pm
Movie:  Star Trek (new release) 7:30pm
Telescope viewing: 7:00pm - 11:30pm

Join us for a presentation of amazing images from NASA in our auditorium presented by the St. Petersburg Astronomy Club!

 We are still collecting Students names to be sent to Mars in 2011 on a microchip.

Enjoy the newly released Star Trek Motion picture in our rear courtyard. 

Bring your lawn chairs and blankets.

Observe Jupiter in phase and the new moon with the
Astronomy Club and our Observatory.

Planetarium shows...new views of the cosmos...learn astrophotography...a great family night of Science and Astronomy.

$3.00 Donation Per Person

Pizza and soft drinks will be available for purchase between 6:30pm -9:00pm.
Beer and wine tastings will be available for an additional donation.

Collecting can goods for St. Petersburg Free Clinic Food Bank.
Please help support our community by bringing at least 1 can per person.

Science Center of Pinellas County
 7701 22ND Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33710
Call for reservations 727-384-0027 x223 or email: bruis@sciencecenterofpinellas.org
www.sciencecenterofpinellas.org