Barnes & Noble

I just read this fascinating article in the New York Times from January 28th, entitled ¨The Bookstore´s Last Stand

Barnes & Noble is the only chain bookstore still existing in the United States.  Last year, the other remaining nationwide chain, Border´s, went out of business and closed all of its stores.

When Barnes & Noble rose in popularity in the States during the 1970s, it was criticized for shutting out and taking business from the mom-and-pop bookshops (bookshops that are privately started by a few people and not part of a large company or chain). That said, Barnes & Noble stores are very large and inviting, a place where you can browse, have a coffee, and find a wide selection of books.

Now, in the digital age, more people are reading their books on e-reading devices, like the Amazon Kindle or the Barnes & Noble Nook.  As Barnes & Noble has entered the e-reading business, while still continuing its print publishing roots, it’s the publishing industry’s greatest hope.

Read about what Barnes & Noble is doing to innovate, change its stores, and remain a player in both e-reading and printed books.


Martin Luther King Jr’s Day

Today is the third Monday of January and Americans celebrate Martin Luther King Jr’s Day. This federal holiday celebrates the birthday (15th January) of one of the most influential heroes of 20th century.

Who was Martin Luther King Jr? It is difficult to define in just a few words. Let’s say he was a clergyman and a civil rights leader. He protested racial discrimination in state and federal laws using nonviolent means, for example, civil disobedience (influenced by Mahatma Gandhi). He defended Rosa Parks and led the famous bus boycott in Montgomery (Alabama) which finished a discriminatory act dividing buses into white and black sections. One of his most famous actions was the 1963 March on Washington. Surrounded by more than 250,000 people demanding an end to racial segregation in public schools, a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment, a minimum wage for workers, etc. King gave one of the most famous speeches in American history (and also known to a lot of people outside the USA):

Transcript of the speech is available here.

The place was also very special: the Lincoln Memorial. Do you know why it was chosen? If you think you know the answer, write it as a comment.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

He was assassinated on 4th April 1968 in Memphis (Tennessee) but his work will always be remembered by those of us who try to create a better and fairer society.

Kirigami Zoo

Take part in the  Kirigami Zoo Project at Clara Campoamor High School!

We will make a zoo with paper animals using  kirigami (the art of paper cutting). Kirigami and origami are forms of paper art that come from Japan. The major difference is that in Origami, you fold paper  whereas in kirigami, you fold and cut paper.

Have a look at Alphapet to check the whole process.

You just have to follow the instructions from the art worksheet “Making Kirigami animals” :

  1. Choose an animal from the list.
  2. Draw into the box a visual texture suggesting your animal´s skin, fur or feathers.
  3. Print  your animal pattern ( animals_patterns ) and paste it on the back of the worksheet matching the box.
  4. Cut it out with the scissors following the cut line (continuous guidelines). Don´t forget that dotted lines are folding lines, do not cut them out.
  5. Build it up.
  6. Stick eyeballs to add an expression to your animal.

Don´t forget  that we will make an exhibition!

Hot Dog Eating Contest

In English Plus, the book we use with Primero F and E, there is a page that gives short descriptions of holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, Hot Dog Day, and Car-Free Day.  Given our attention towards different holidays throughout the year, I thought I would focus on the one that caught the interest of the students and is a little more, well, offbeat.

Every year on July 4th, America’s Independence Day, Nathan’s (an American hot dog chain) hosts its Hot Dog Eating Contest, in which competitors try to eat the highest number of hot dogs within a timed frame.  Competitive eating is a popular “sport” in America, and this contest is the most famous.  This event is held in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, is attended by the mayor, and watched by a couple million people nationwide.  For a number of years, the contest was won by a thin, athletic Japanese man named Takeru Kobayashi, who brought a lot of attention to the contest.  The current champion is Joey “Jaws” chestnut, who ate 68 hot dogs in 12 minutes.  Here is a video about the contest:

For fun, watch this video of Kobayashi facing a bear in a hot dog eating contest on a television show from years ago called “Man vs. Beast.”  Guess who wins!

100 years of Wegener’s theory: the Continental Drift

On the 6th of January of 1912, Alfred Wegener, a German scientist, exposed one of the most brilliant and important theories ever presented to society, the “Continental Drift” theory –the continents are slowly moving around the Earth-; this theory can be compared with Darwin’s Biological Evolution or Pasteur and the origin of illnesses, and as it had happened with Darwin and Pasteur, his ideas weren’t accepted at the beginning.

Wegener was an astronomer, geophysicist and meteorologist and wasn’t a laboratory scientist but a field one and he participated in several expeditions in Greenland and in the Arctic. He died in 1930 during an expedition in Greenlandand; his body remained in the ice…

Nowadays, the Continental Drift theory is one of the foundations of Plate Tectonics theory that allows us to explain all the things that occur in Earth like earthquakes, volcanoes and formation of mountains.

This year, 2012, has been declared the “Year of Wegener” by the scientific world, so several events will be prepared along the year like conferences, exhibitions, etc. In our school an exhibition about Wegener’s life and his theory will be prepared by the Biology and Geology Department.

 More information: