Spotlight Texas


Texas Ranks 36th Nationally in Per-Student Education Spending. Here's How Much It Spends.

Hey, Texplainer: How much is spent educating the average public school student in Texas?

It depends on who you ask.

Both the Texas Education Agency and the National Education Association track per-pupil funding. But their numbers don't quite add up.


Amid Tumult, Houston ISD Leadership Pitches $1.7B Bond Vote for Next Year

Administrators on Thursday recommended Houston ISD seek voter approval for a $1.7 billion capital projects bond in May 2019, charging forward with long-term spending plans even as the district faces uncertainty about its leadership and ability to maintain local control over decision-making.

District leaders said the $1.7 billion bond would finance much-needed rebuilding of 18 existing elementary and middle schools, construction of three new campuses, security upgrades at all 280-plus schools and the purchase of new buses, among other costs. HISD administrators said it was unclear whether the proposed bond package would result in a tax increase, saying they will have a better idea when the Harris County Appraisal District finalizes property values in August.


Could Legalized Sports Betting Fund Texas Education?

State Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, wants to legalize sports betting in Texas, and has drafted a bill to do it. This follows a ruling from the United State Supreme Court that cleared the way for each to decide whether sports betting would be allowed in its borders.

Lucio applauded the SCOTUS ruling, and said in a release he was "looking forward to beginning a conversation with my fellow members of the House this legislative session."


Time For a Reality Check on Public Education

Across the nation, there is a simmering discussion about education funding. In places - Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, West Virginia - that simmer has reached the boiling point. Here in Texas, we have tasked a commission to study education funding - again.

Amid years of ongoing study, what have we learned? We have learned there are no easy answers and certainly no magic bullets to fix education funding. However, amid the vast array of data there is some clarity. First, poverty makes educating students more difficult and more expensive. Second, lack of English language skills makes educating students more difficult and more expensive. Unfortunately, about 60 percent of Texas students fall into the poverty category. Almost one in five Texas students speaks limited English.


TEA Commissioner: Harvey Waivers Could Stave Off HISD Accountability Sanctions

Houston ISD’s 10 longest-struggling schools likely would not trigger major state sanctions this year if they all receive academic accountability waivers because of Hurricane Harvey, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said Wednesday.

However, the district still would face punishment — either campus closures or a state takeover of the district’s locally elected school board — if Morath opts against accountability waivers for the schools and a single one fails to meet state academic standards.


Is Enough Really Enough? The Case for Funding Special Education

As a state, we are required to provide a free, appropriate public education for all students, regardless of ability. Not doing so would make Texas the target of various intervention mechanisms in our country, as evidenced by the recent action by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the 8.5 percent cap on special education enrollment encouraged by state policies. We fund public education; and therefore, we fund special education.


Why Money Matters in Public Education

Texas, like much of the country, is struggling with funding for public education. Some state leaders point out that Texas is putting in more money than ever before. So, what’s the problem? Texas’ funding per student is still below 2008 levels despite the fact that we’re demanding more from our schools. This is especially true in funding levels for small and rural districts, special education services, services for English-language learners, and career and technical education.


Future of Houston ISD's Struggling Schools Now in Hands of Texas Education Agency

The fate of Houston ISD and its 10 longest-struggling schools now lies with the Texas Education Agency.

Texas’ largest school district missed an April 30 deadline to submit plans to the TEA detailing how it would hand operations of those 10 schools to a third-party group, according to Houston ISD spokesman Tracy Clemons. If approved by the TEA, such a plan would have triggered a two-year grace period and protected the district from state takeover and the 10 schools from closure.


Higher Ed: Competing Demands In Education Lead To Stress

The end of the school year is a busy time for students, faculty, staff, and families. Finals exams are looming; seniors may be on the hunt for a job; and many students have to say goodbye to friends and teachers. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and I discuss the origins of stress; the role it can play in education and learning; and how to successfully manage it (both in and out of school).


Texas Teachers Hope for Ripple Effect From National Protests Over Pay

Teachers walked out in Colorado and Arizona Thursday demanding more school funding, but it's an unlikely scene for Texas teachers. The protests Thursday come on the heels of several other states protesting low teacher salaries.

In Texas, education advocates say it’s unlikely there will be an organized strike since teachers who do could lose their teaching certificates or pensions under state law. Still, they say it’s time for change.


Ahead Of Board Vote, Houston Teachers Union Raises Questions About Proposed Charter Partner

As the Houston ISD board of trustees scrambles against a tight deadline to try and secure a partner for struggling schools at risk of closure, the Houston teachers union and other advocates are raising a host of concerns over the group.

Late Friday, the HISD administration revealed it was recommending Energized for STEM, a charter network authorized by HISD and operating four schools, to take on the management, budget, curriculum and turnaround efforts for 10 HISD schools that haven’t met state standards in several years. The HISD board will consider the proposal at a special meeting Tuesday.


Coppell Middle School Pits Cowboys Fans vs. Packers Fans to Help Choir Teacher Battling Oral Cancer

When Allison Hartzell discovered several white spots on her tongue in January, she knew it could only mean one thing: The oral cancer that the 31-year-old Coppell Middle School West choir teacher had spent the past year battling with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation was back.

This time around, the Coppell West community is stepping up its game by pitting Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers fans against each other to raise $1 million for Hartzell's medical treatment and oral cancer research.


School Districts in Houston, Statewide Feel Crushing Effects of Budget Troubles

For eight-straight years, Cypress-Fairbanks and Conroe ISDs earned the Texas Smart Schools Award, bestowed on school districts with prudent financial practices and high academic achievement.

Now, Cypress-Fairbanks faces a $50 million deficit next school year, and Conroe is projected to face its first deficit in nearly a decade in the next two to four years.


Texas School Administrators Warn They Need Money for Likely Spike in Special Education

Jaculyn Zigtema, a special education director in Whitehouse ISD in East Texas, told state education officials Monday that she planned to hire two diagnosticians, four teachers and two behavioral specialists to handle an anticipated spike in students considered eligible for special education.


'I Can't Wait to Meet Him': Dallas Seniors Meet Their Young Student Pen Pals Face-to-Face

Wearing her silver Dallas Cowboys earrings and bracelet, Nancy Miller patiently waits for a bus full of kids from Good Shepherd Episcopal School. Out of the 20 students who are visiting, the Presbyterian Village North resident has her mind set on one in particular — a 9-year-old Cowboys fan named Ahan Jain.


Texas Schools Suspended Tens of Thousands of Students in Second Grade or Younger, Report Says

Texas schools issued more than 64,000 in-school suspensions to students in the second grade or younger during the 2015-16 school year, and a disproportionate number of those students were black, male, in foster care or in special education, according to a report released Monday by a children's advocacy group.

The report by Texans Care for Children also said that more than 36,000 students received out-of-school suspensions during that time. The following year, lawmakers passed a bill that banned out-of-school suspensions for students up to the second grade.


AM Expert Has Educators Asking: If Kansas Schools Need $2 Billion, How Much Do Texas' Need?

Texas AM University professor Lori Taylor has a reputation for being fiscally conservative when it comes to school finance.

When Texas school districts sued the state for underfunding public schools last decade, Taylor took the stand as an expert witness for Texas and said schools didn't need much more money than they already had. She recommended the state give the 46 school districts suing a boost of less than $1 million — after they demanded hundreds of millions more.


This Texas Senior Applied to 20 Elite Colleges and Got a Full Ride to All of Them

A Texas high school senior has a lot of options for college: He's been offered full-ride scholarships at all 20 colleges he applied to.

Micheal Brown, a 17-year-old senior at Lamar High School in Houston, was accepted into elite private schools including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern, Stanford and Georgetown, The New York Times reported. He also got into small, selective liberal arts colleges and big public universities.


In Texas, Falling Behind on Your Student Loan Payments Can Cost You Your License to Work

When Roderick Scott Sr. submitted an application to renew his teacher's license in the summer of 2015, he thought the matter was handled. He had no idea that, months later, a decades-old Texas law would nearly derail his career as a middle school teacher in north Dallas because he'd defaulted on his student loans.

Over the course of three years, Scott said he swiftly lost a "dream job," was evicted, had his bank account garnished and eventually filed for bankruptcy.


Marlin ISD Gets Formal Reprieve from State Closure

Marlin Independent School District will remain open for at least another year, now that the Texas Education Agency has granted the district an abatement agreement, Superintendent Michael Seabolt announced during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

First, however, the district’s state-appointed board of managers must approve the agreement, which the managers plan to do next month. The district received the agreement Tuesday afternoon, too late to get it on Tuesday’s meeting agenda.


Texas Education Agency Asking For Public Input on Special Education Plan

The Texas Education Agency has released its new plan for overhauling special education across the state.

The TEA has been working on the plan since federal officials found the state had illegally denied services to students with disabilities for years. The plan would create a professional statewide special education deployment system. It also calls for increasing special education staffing, providing better special education training for teachers and creating more tools for parents of children with suspected disabilities.


Spring Break Dampens Texas Participation in Student Walkouts Protesting Gun Violence

Students around the nation walked out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, symbolically honoring the 17 lives that were lost in last month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. While organizers expected Texas students to join in, most schools were on spring break, so there were no classes to walk out of.

The shooting caused an eruption of conversation about gun violence among middle and high school students around the country, and they quickly turned their emotions into activism.


$50,000 Pegasus Prize Boosts Center to Help Homeless Youths in Dallas

There’s a makeshift shelter in the back of Fannie C. Harris Elementary, a shuttered Dallas ISD campus that sits in the shadows of the Cotton Bowl. A hastily erected curtain blocks the back entrance to the school, which has lain dormant for over a decade; a shopping cart filled with belongings sits nearby.

The campus, with boarded windows and a "for sale" sign out front, shows no hint that it will be bustling with activity in the coming months, serving as a haven not just for one individual but, hopefully, for hundreds of at-risk youth.


Education Advocates, Leaders Start Wish List For Next Houston ISD Superintendent

Since Houston ISD’s Superintendent Richard Carranza announced this week he’s leaving for a job in New York, local leaders and education advocates have started to build their own wish list of what the district needs in its next superintendent.

In fact, the last time the HISD board of trustees searched for a new superintendent in 2016, they came up with a profile based on what community members wanted.


Last Chance to Apply For TRTF Beginning Teacher Scholarships

Applications are due in full no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 15, 2018.

The Beginning Teacher Scholarship will reimburse applicants for certification tests and test results, and provide funds to help the applicant purchase materials for his or her classroom during his or her first year of teaching.


 

 

 

Classroom Tools


Why Teens Should Understand Their Own Brains. And Why Their Teachers Should, Too!

A teenage brain is a fascinating, still-changing place. There's a lot going on: social awareness, risk-taking, peer pressure; all are heightened during this period.

Until relatively recently, it was thought that the brain was only actively developing during childhood, but in the last two decades, researchers have confirmed that the brain continues to develop during adolescence — a period of time that can stretch from the middle school years into early adulthood.


8 TED-Ed Lessons to Engage Even the Most Uninterested Students

Using digital media is a surefire way to grab students’ attention, and using everyday topics students encounter in their personal lives is an even better way to engage them in learning.

With a wealth of resources online, educators can find content that meets students where they’re comfortable learning, with interactive and engaging presentation. TED-Ed Lessons are among the resources that help students learn while engaging them in the subject matter.


Why So Many Gifted Yet Struggling Students Are Hidden In Plain Sight

Scott Barry Kaufman was placed in special education classes as a kid. He struggled with auditory information processing and with anxiety.

But with the support of his mother, and some teachers who saw his creativity and intellectual curiosity, Kaufman ended up with degrees from Yale and Cambridge.


Why Students Cheat-and What to Do About It

“Why did you cheat in high school?” I posed the question to a dozen former students.

“I wanted good grades and I didn’t want to work,” said Sonya, who graduates from college in June. The students’ names in this article have been changed to protect their privacy.


IRS Withholding Calculator

The IRS encourages everyone to use the Withholding Calculator to perform a quick “paycheck checkup.” This is even more important this year because of recent changes to the tax law for 2018.


Accommodating Students with Dyslexia

For many of us, reading is as automatic as breathing. But for the millions of students with dyslexia, reading is a difficult task that poses constant academic and emotional challenges. To simulate the experience of reading with dyslexia, try using this key to decipher the coded statement below.


Unionized Or Not, Teachers Struggle To Make Ends Meet, NPR/Ipsos Poll Finds

More than 9 in 10 teachers say they joined the profession for idealistic reasons — "I wanted to do good" — but most are struggling to some extent economically.

Those findings come from a nationally representative survey by NPR and Ipsos of more than 500 teachers across the country. The poll was conducted in April amid widespread walkouts in several states, including Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, and currently Arizona.


Magnolia Days Festival Combines History, Charm, & Fun Into One Awesome Event

On May 18 and 19, Columbus, Texas is hosting the 2018 Magnolia Days Festival on the Courthouse Square. In the shade of both oak and magnolia trees that are at least a century old, the Magnolia Days Festival offers family fun for those of all ages, including historic charm, food and beverage stands, a wine garden and Biergarten, live entertainment, and a Family Fun Zone. While you’re there, get your picture taken with the Magnolia Belles, shop the Farmers Market and Vendor Marketplace, and try some tasty treats ranging from filling lunch/dinner options, and end your day with sweet dessert.


Casting Aside Shame And Stigma, Adults Tackle Struggles With Literacy

At the tiny public library in Winterport, Maine, 43-year-old Robert Hartmann bends over The Little Engine That Could and slowly sounds out the first line.


A Deeper Look at the Whole School Approach to Behavior

Classroom management is an essential tool for an effective teacher, but it’s not always easy to do well. Without an orderly classroom it’s hard for teachers with upward of 25 kids in their classrooms to lead effective lessons, help students who are struggling, and perhaps most important, to trust students. That’s why getting behavior under control was Michael Essien’s number one goal when he started as the assistant principal at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Middle School (MLK) in San Francisco.


Cinco de Mayo Activities

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla, in which a few thousand ill-equipped Mexican citizens defeated a much larger army of highly trained French soldiers. Although the victory did not result in the immediate end of French occupation, many historians believe it indirectly affected the outcome of the American Civil War and led to Mexico's eventual independence. Today, people in both the United States and Mexico celebrate Cinco de Mayo -- the Fifth of May -- as a day of freedom and goodwill.


100 Top Colleges Vow To Enroll More Low-Income Students

College access and affordability: It's a common topic in higher education — because college is the one place that can really be a catapult when it comes to moving up the economic ladder.


5 PowerPoint Features Often Overlooked by Students and Teachers

About ten years ago I started to notice a lot of alternatives to PowerPoint popping-up on the web. Some of those presentation tools like Google Slides and Prezi are still going strong while others have faded away. Through it all, PowerPoint kept chugging along even though it wasn't a darling of Web 2.0 users. Today, PowerPoint has all of the features students and teachers need, including collaboration, but often those features are overlooked. If you haven't taken a look at PowerPoint in a while, here are five PowerPoint features that you should try.


Reflections 50th Grant

For 50 years, the National PTA Reflections arts program has helped millions of students explore their own thoughts, feelings and ideas, develop artistic literacy, increase confidence and find a love for learning that will help them become more successful in school and in life.


Teachers Are Marching Ahead Of Their Unions, In Oklahoma And Arizona

"I'm 54 years old and my paycheck is $1,980 [a month]. I can't afford f****** health insurance."

That's one of the first things Larry Cagle says on the phone. He is spitting nails. The Tulsa English teacher is one of the leaders of a grassroots organizing group, Oklahoma Teachers United, that they say represents thousands of public school teachers around the state. His group, and both of Oklahoma's teachers unions, support the walkout and rally happening across the state Monday in support of higher wages and more state revenue.


The Rhetorical Analysis of Poetry

Poetry is not a given in AP Language and Composition—in fact, some teachers use only nonfiction texts because a major focus of the class is rhetorical analysis. But rhetoric is everywhere, and its compact form and concentrated language make poetry a particularly effective vehicle for introducing students to rhetorical analysis.

So when we were in the midst of a unit on civil disobedience and had read Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., articles on the “take a knee” protest, and some interesting political cartoons, I introduced the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.”


Teachers And Those Magical OK Go Videos: A Match Made In Science?

If you've ever gone down the rabbit hole that is OK Go's YouTube channel, then you know how insanely cool the band's music videos are.

Sure, OK Go is a rock band. Their songs get on the radio, they've played sold-out shows, but the group is far better known for their really complex and elaborate videos.


How Good is Your Eyesight? A Test!

Do you see Marilyn Monroe or Albert Einstein? It may seem hard to confuse the two, but AsapSCIENCE explains how people can see both in this eyesight test.


50 Moms And Their Kids With Down Syndrome Do 'Carpool Karaoke' For World Down Syndrome Day

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), a day that "encourages our friends all over the world to choose their own activities and events ... to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities," the official WDSD site reports.


Rethinking How Students With Dyslexia Are Taught To Read

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting tens of millions of people in the United States. But getting help for children who have it in public school can be a nightmare.

"They wouldn't acknowledge that he had a problem," says Christine Beattie about her son Neil. "They wouldn't say the word 'dyslexia.' "


Effective Student-Led Discussions

A few years into my teaching career, a colleague attended training at Phillips Exeter Academy on the Harkness method, in which classroom learning takes place as students and teacher sit in a circle or oval for discussions and all students must contribute. Afterward, she enthusiastically shared what she had learned about facilitating effective student-led discussions.

Until then I had been running discussions in the familiar way: pitch a question to the class, ask students to raise their hands, and try to be equitable when selecting volunteers to answer. The idea of giving students more ownership over what we discussed—from the questions themselves to possible answers—seemed like an exciting opportunity for us to learn together.


National Library Legislative Day

National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) is a two-day educational event that brings hundreds of librarians, trustees, library supporters and patrons to Washington, D.C.

Attendees spend one-day learning effective advocacy tactics and being briefed about pressing federal legislative issues that are impacting libraries. On the second day, they join other attendees from their state to meet with their members of Congress and rally support for library issues and policies. Open to the public, the event also offers attendees the opportunity to attend a reception on Capitol Hill.


Making Elementary School A Lot More Fun: Like Preschool!

In Kelly Stevens' kindergarten classroom, each day begins with circle time for what sounds like a menu of lesson options.

Students — or "friends" as Stevens calls them — can read at the green table, they can build boats or make things out of clay, among other options.


14 Mathtastic Pi Day Activities for the Classroom

Math deserves its own day, don’t you think? Join the fun of Pi Day, celebrated on March 14 (3.14, get it?) by more and more schools every year. Here are 14 Pi Day activities that will encourage your students to see the joy and whimsy in math.


With Hundreds Of Students, School Counselors Just Try To 'Stay Afloat'

Yuridia Nava, a counselor at Riverside Polytechnic High School in Riverside, Calif., has been getting to work at 7 a.m. lately. It's class registration time, so she wants to be available before school for parents and students to come in with questions as they plan for the next year of courses, SAT tests, and college preparation.


Bringing Wonder Into Mathematics

Doris Lessing once said, “Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.”


National School Breakfast Week March 5-9, 2018

Mark your calendar for National School Breakfast Week! This year’s theme, “I Heart School Breakfast,” encourages parents, students, and school officials to get social over school breakfast. Speaking a language kids understand, we’re ready to show-and-tell all the benefits of a healthy school breakfast.


Ancient Rome 101 and Life as a Roman Teenager

National Geographic has a great series of YouTube videos called National Geographic 101. The most recent addition to that series is Ancient Rome 101. The video provides an excellent introduction to the origin, rise, and fall of the Roman Empire. The length and substance of the video makes it an ideal candidate for inclusion in an EDpuzzle lesson.


What Decades Of Covering School Shootings Has Taught Me

I remember back during the 1997-98 school year when we were all stunned by five school shootings within a period of eight months in places few Americans had heard of: Pearl, Miss., West Paducah, Ky., Jonesboro, Ark., Edinboro, Penn., and Springfield, Ore.


2 Evidence-Based Learning Strategies

I often say to my students, “If a test is the first time you’re made to think about or with the class material, we’ve both probably failed.” Learning is effortful and requires cognition. As their teacher, I need to ensure that I provide my students with opportunities for demonstration of learning in the classroom.


 

 

 

 

 

Breakroom


The Ultimate Cheeseburger: the Juicy Lucy Burger

Meet the Juicy Lucy, the ultimate cheeseburger with the cheese inside the patty.


Farmers Markets You'll Want to Visit Soon for a Delicious Taste of the Hill Country

Getting out to a Texas Hill Country farmers market has long been a tradition of many locals. The fresh produce, homemade entrees, baked goods, fresh flowers, and cold beverages (some made right in front of you) simply can’t be beaten. The prospect of discovering a find you can’t turn away from is strong, and the opportunity to shop local stimulates the area’s economy and helps your local farmer. Here are three Texas Hill Country farmers markets you should visit soon!


Jimmy Kimmel Took A More Apologetic Approach To Teacher Appreciation Week

Jimmy Kimmel took a unique approach to Teacher Appreciation Week on Wednesday night. Instead of simply encouraging people to thank their favorite teachers for inspiring them, the host acknowledged that many former students remember a teacher they "put through the ringer." So he gave them a chance to apologize.

The host started things off by apologizing to his high school Spanish teacher on behalf of the student who erased his chalkboard and drew NSFW pictures. "Teachers have difficult jobs," he reminded viewers, before turning to people on the street to offer their own apologies.


As Predators Rebound, You're More Likely to See Alligators at the Beach

Sometimes, things pop up in places where we least expect them. So when an apex predator was sneaking through a saltmarsh where Brian Silliman was studying crabs and snails, he was shocked.

“I was being stalked by alligators,” says Silliman, a marine conservation biology professor at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “Alligators are thought to be freshwater specialists. [Seeing one in a saltmarsh] just completely challenged everything I was taught about alligators.”


On the 'Roof of Japan,' An Otherworldly 17-Meter-Deep Snow Corridor

One of the world's wildest mountain drives, Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in Japan has reopened to tourists for another season.

Stretching across the Toyama and Nagano prefectures north of Tokyo, the 90-kilometer sightseeing route -- dubbed the "Roof of Japan" -- offers incredible views of the 3,015-meter Mt. Tateyama and 2,478-meter Mt. Akazawa-dake peaks, while providing access to everything from Japan's highest altitude hot spring to the country's highest waterfall.


I Lied To My Students Today

I lied to my students today.

You see, today was the first day of state testing. They showed up filled with anxiety. So I did what any good teacher would do. I lied.


Spicy Lamb Ragu Recipe

Hearty and comforting, this lamb ragu is just the thing you need to keep away the winter blues. There’s something about a huge portion of pasta covered in saucy meat ragu that is ultra warming. The second best part about making this, aside from the fact that you get to eat it, is that it fills your house up with the most delicious smells.


A Farewell to the Alps

Here is what several weeks’ worth of brewer’s yeast looks like, collected after a month or two of beer-making: melted caramel ice cream. That, or whipped mud.


This One Tip Makes Cucumbers Taste So Much Better

In addition to a recent revamping, David Chang's Italian-inflected Momofuku Nishi unveiled a brunch menu in March, debuting a triple-stacked Dagwood Sandwich with sardines and roasted chicken thigh and a smoky, mapo tofu-esque Eggs in Purgartory, plus a slew of morning cocktails, our favorite being the Resting Brunch Face with rye, averna amaro, cold brew coffee, and orange bitters.


Otherworldly Destinations Here on Earth

Elon Musk's rocket company, SpaceX, wants to ferry people to Mars by the hundreds, with the first humans landing on the red planet around 2025. President Barack Obama published an op-ed in October 2016 recommitting to his goal to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. It’s enough to give Earthlings a bad case of interplanetary wanderlust, but you can’t book your tickets just yet. For budding space tourists eager for a celestial-body experience, here are some terrestrial destinations with distinctively off-planet flavor.


Our Favorite Love Letters to Earth

There’s a planet with poles that flip, a supersized moon, and landscapes that harbor acidic pools, boiling rivers and living clouds.

We call it Earth.


How to Become an Iron Chef in Your Own Kitchen, According to Alton Brown

Avid viewers of Iron Chef watch the show in awe. The task before the elite chefs (the likes of Alex Guarnaschelli, Bobby Flay, and Stephanie Izard) and challengers on the cooking competition is Herculean: Cook a perfect meal in an hour, using just the ingredients provided, plus a secret ingredient—anything from halibut, to beer, to coconut—while the world watches. Though most of us succumb to the pressure of cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for family let alone creating world-class dishes for discerning judges, it’s hard to watch the show and not wonder, could I become an Iron Chef?


Pick Your Favorite Pinterest Recipes And We'll Guess One Of Your Biggest Fears

Who isn't Pinterest-obsessed, TBH?!


How a Retirement Plan Birthed Asia's Best Portuguese Wine Lounge

Why bother going into one of the casino gambling halls?" asks Jacky Higgins, co-founder of MacauSoul, a Portuguese wine lounge housed inside a traditional colonial building.

"Just walk around the streets. It's totally fascinating."


3 Foolproof Ways to Make Hard Boiled Eggs

With Easter coming up and summer potlucks following right behind, there are many hard-boiled eggs in our near future. Sometimes they can be a little tricky to pull off—peels included!


Pictures of Moscow's Surprisingly Elegant Subway Stations

Everyday in Russia’s capital, residents commute like clockwork through an underground labyrinth filled with treasures. Soaring marble walls hold gilded mosaics, sculptures of fallen leaders, and painted scenes from Russian history under crystal chandeliers. Unlike the dirty, utilitarian systems of many cities around the world, the Moscow metro drives through a former–but not forgotten–stage of history that sought to bring palaces to the masses.


Avocado Recipes

These delicious recipes include gooey cheese-topped guacamole and chilled avocado soup with crab.


Newest River Walk Tradition a San Antonio Success: Lanterns on the Water

San Antonio introduced “Lanterns on the Water,” the beginning of its newest River Walk tradition in 2018, bringing together locals and tourists alike to enjoy the beauty of these artfully crafted and visually appealing lanterns as they floated down the river. From February 17 – March 3 of this year, the River Walk became something of a glowing appeal!


This College Town Is All About Their Annual Pi Day Celebration, and Of Course There's Pie

Us mere mortals might be hanging around waiting for the arrival of spring, the semi-annual time change and the return of good lighting, but mathematician types (not to mention Albert Einstein groupies) look toward the coming days, see March 14 on their calendar, and commence getting just a little bit excited.


Can You Survive 24 Hours Without Your Phone?

Sundown-to-sundown on March 9–10 is observed as the National Day of Unplugging. As a challenge, or rather “digital detox,” it is asked that we detach from our cellular devices for 24 hours in an effort to highlight the value of reconnecting with yourself, your loved ones and your community in real time.


3 World Food Records That Were Held in the State of Texas

People around the world are encouraged to attempt a number of impressive, odd, and sometimes completely meaningless world records in order to simply achieve such a feat. Here in Texas, however, people have been known to do that unprompted, all the time!


10 Awesome Ways to Teach Kids to Pay It Forward

Good deeds have ripple effects. Give your students this experience firsthand. From simple acts done in a few minutes to in-depth lessons, you can teach how to pay kindness forward in whatever time you have available.


Short Ribs Recipes

Terrific short rib recipes, from Indian-spiced short ribs to short rib farrotto with carrots and parsnips.


Nearly 150,000 Bornean Orangutans Lost Since 1999, Cutting Population By Half

Earlier this month, an orangutan was found brutally shot to death in Borneo. In January, one was found decapitated and floating in a river. In 2017, oil plantation workers were accused of killing and eating one of the island's orangutans.


San Antonio Stock Show And Rodeo: The Season Can Now Commence

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo kicks off on Thursday, February 8! The Western Heritage Parade and the Wrangler Cowboy Breakfast have already taken place (did you attend?) and the Stock Show Stampede went off without a hitch. Rodeo season can now commence, and Texas is ready for it!


Look Inside the Abandoned Stadiums of Past Olympics

Every two years, bids are made by cities around the globe to the International Olympic Commission (IOC) for the chance to host the Olympic Games. The winner is chosen through a rigorous process that, for one, takes into account whether the city can convince residents that the benefits of hosting the games outweigh the increased taxes that may come with it.


See the Offices Where Employees Can Work in a Tree House

The enormous orbs are constructed of glass pentagons held together with miles of steel and rebar but packed with lush tropical plant life, including epiphytes, rare begonias and a rhododendron normally only found at the top of a single mountain in the Philippines.


Iconic Garner State Park for Spring Break: Not Only a Summer Destination

It’s as iconic in Texas as Shiner Beer and George Strait. It’s located in the middle of nowhere on the banks of an infamous river. It’s been a wildly popular family summer destination for generations, but it’s also a great place to head for Spring Break. What are we talking about? Garner State Park, of course.


In Honor Of National Blood Donor Month, We Asked 6 People Why They Donate

During the month of January, New York Blood Center and blood centers across the country are celebrating National Blood Donor Month to recognize the lifesaving contribution of blood and platelet donors everywhere. Dedicating a month to this cause is so important given that someone in the U.S. is in need of a donation every two seconds, yet very few people actually donate. In fact, approximately 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, yet less than 10 percent actually do each year.


Healthy Soups

Soup is a great dish to serve year round and these healthy soups are delicious and good for you, too. From hearty black-bean turkey chili to gingery sweet potato soup, here are terrific healthy soup recipes. Make one of these delicious soups tonight!


You Can Smell When Someone's Sick-Here's How

I’m sick, and I don’t smell right. I don’t mean that my nose isn’t working—though this cold has me stuffed up. Instead, my own body odor seems somehow different, sour and unfamiliar.


Texas's Beloved Buc-ee's Wins Americas Best Gas Station Award

Leave it to the beaver to win an award! This week, Gas Buddy released a list of the top 10 gas stations in the U.S. As an app all about pit stops and how they rank in terms of cleanliness, safety, price, and tasty food and drinks, Gas Buddy knows a thing or two about the American gas station. “Although gas stations are still in the business of selling gas, the leading brands have become so much more. They’re a refuge for motorists looking for great food, an amazing cup of coffee, or some of the best customer service you’ll find anywhere,” Frank Beard, convenience store and retail trends analyst at GasBuddy, said.


 

 

 

 

 

 


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