April 2007

Finding Resources, Grants, Lessons

from the Federal Government



Probably the most underused source of free resources on the Internet belongs to the federal government. Each branch, limb, twig has information and materials that could be used to create valuable lessons or to make individualization easier.

For example, you are working on an aviation unit. A quick check at the Federal Aviation Administration site reveals:

Teachers Guide to Aviation, Grades 2-6

Aviation Education Curriculum Guides

Aviation Education Materials and Curriculum Publications

Black Wings: African American Pioneer Aviators

Remember the Wright Brothers’ Historic Flight
A fairly complete guide to early aviation, the Wright Brothers and Space

War Eagles Air Museum Coloring Book
Some printable coloring pages of World War two fighter planes

Check out other resources in the following categories:

Federal Grants

General Sites

Lesson plans about government

Special Interest Sites

Dodge Avenger: Something different

 The Car Family

For more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

If ever a car was misnamed it is the Dodge Avenger. By definition avenger implies inflicting pain or harm to retaliate for real or fancied wrongs. There is nothing in this passive sedan that can come anywhere close to inflicting pain or righting a wrong. It is a calm, relaxing, vehicle that just wants to do your bidding without an assault on anyone or anything, least of all your wallet. In essence it is easy going. Priced at $19.000 and similar under the skin to its less aggressive looking sister, the Chrysler Sebring, this is clearly a model dedicated to those who are looking for an attractive and all American alternative to the Toyota Camry/Honda Accord/Ford Fusion/ Nissan Altima buyers.

What is most noteworthy about the Avenger, outside of its bargain pricing and roomy interior, is the Chill Zone. This is literally a beverage cooler in the area around the glove compartment that can hold several containers and works well. There is also the

MyGig option which is a hard drive and audio, navigation, and entertainment center that enables you to download music and even photos. No one else comes close to offering these distinct features in a vehicle in this price range.

Mom’s view: The standard 2.4-liter four lets you know it is hard at work and is noisy at all speeds. On the other hand it moves the vehicle fast enough to not be a burden on the onramp and also returns over 26 mpg. The four-speed automatic does its best to keep the engine on task, but there is no doubt that a larger engine would make it a “newer” vehicle. Personally, it they could get that Hemi engine in this chassis they would have the rebirth of the muscle car.

Of note are the seat coverings. They don’t look trendy, but are said to be soil repellant and be made of a fabric that protects from stains, orders, and is antic-micobialic. You can also get heated seats, which I always like. The heater takes a while to get going in the Avenger and the air conditioner is equally slow to respond to urgent requests. Once underway the heating and air work fine. The Avenger has LED interior lighting and it is directional, which is very useful when you drop your keys between the seats or have trouble reading a road map.

The dash and instrument are a little difficult to read with their fine fonts, but the night lighting is good. I always would like it if the side view mirror controls were lighted, too. The layout is simple and everything is easy to reach. The seats could use more padding and the color selections are a bit dark for my tastes. We didn’t get a vehicle with the My GIG audio system combined with the navigation unit, but it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out if you have done your homework. 

The rear seat is fine for two adults, tight for more and is really best for youngsters. The head restraints can’t be moved which does impact on rear visibility, especially with the small mirror and high trunk. You can fold down the rear seats to expand the relatively small, 13.4-cubic-foot trunk. The seats have a 60/40-split. You can also fold down the passenger seat should you need to haul a long item.

Safetywise you have multi-stage front air bags, full side-curtain air bags, a tire pressure monitor, front-seat-mounted side air bags and optional ABS, and a stability program that works with brake assist and traction control. This feature is very worthwhile in any vehicle and a must in any family car. This feature is standard on the more expensive Avenger models.

Stopping the Dodge relies on a front disc/rear drum brakes in the base models and all discs for the upscale SXT models with the V6 and all R/T models. Our test car didn’t have great brake pedal feel, but it wasn’t offensive. I like a progressive feel and the Avenger was more of a softer initial reaction followed by an aggressive braking action.

The ride is smooth and there are plenty of interesting options to make any trip more interesting. However, the bottom line is that the interesting exterior, exceptionally roomy interior, and great fuel mileage are offset by a smallish trunk, rather inexpensive feeling seat fabrics, and soft brake feel. Is it better than the Status it replaces? No question about it, but for a little more I would go with the Dodge Charger. As it now stands, the Avenger could appeal to a young family that wants a functional sedan with a little style.

Dad’s view: I really wanted to like the Dodge Avenger more and after a week with it I began to appreciate it more. The front wheel drive sedan is rated as a midsize and comes with a four or six cylinder. I didn’t like the noisy four-cylinder engine, but I would still go with it unless I felt the need for speed.  The 173-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder just takes a while to get up to speed, but once you are there the satisfaction of over 30 mpg on the highway offsets any negatives you might have. A flex-fuel 2.7-liter V-6 engine and an available 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a new six-speed automatic transaxle with Auto Stick are options. Chrysler is one of the few manufacturers offering flex fuel vehicles.

The Avenger R/T model has a more potent engine and better handling, but it costs several thousand dollars more. The choice buyers are going to have to make is whether or not to consider the Avenger a bargain priced sedan or a sporty one. It certainly looks sporty, but you need to drive both to make your decision, as the handling on the R/T is very different than the other models. I think the braking wasn’t up to the looks of the car, but is adequate for a car in this price range.

Overall, the Avenger is the best Dodge sedan of this size ever. It can be ordered in a variety of disguises and gives you a fair return on your investment. I happen to like the Dodge Caliber and Dodge Charger a lot more, but they are far different than the Avenger.

College going males’ view: The Avenger has the most unique electronic components of any car. It is a must see. First, it has a rear-seat entertainment system, which is very unusual for a car in this price range. The Saturn sedan was the only one I remember that had a similar set up. This system allows Dodge Avenger’s rear-seat passengers to watch movies listen to music or play video games using the 7-inch screen. It plays DVDs, WMAs, MP3s and audio and video CDs. Additionally, auxiliary input jacks on the faceplate show video directly from a video camera, so Avenger’s rear-seat passengers can play games from a video-game console or listen to music directly from a portable MP3 player. This is truly state of the automotive electronic art. And, when the entertainment system is not in video mode it can display information in a split screen format, with two channels. The headphones enable listeners to tap into either channel by use of the switch located on the right ear cup. And, if that isn’t enough, this feature could enable the rear seat crowd to listen to two audio casts at the same time. Don’t ask who thought of that feature and be heard through the Avenger’s stereo. The headphones are wireless.

There is also a  Harman Kardon navigation system and audio unit with a built in 20GB hard drive that is truly a novelty. The MyGIG combines an entertainment and navigation audio system with a 6.5-inch display touch display panel. Combined with satellite radio you can get traffic rerouting, There are also bird’s eye and regular map viewing modes and the display panel can be turned 180 degrees to make it easier to read and reduce glare.

The system is voice activated, too, and recognizes 100,000 words and can be taught new ones. Really interesting and worth a trip to the dealership just to see it in action. This is easily the most unique audiovisual piece of equipment in any car I have tested. Where else can you see a display panel that is supposed to give you 65,000 colors? 

You can also order a satellite radio connection and get a stereo that has a MP3 connection as well as holding six CD or DVD discs. The USB is based on the MP3’s connectivity and puts WMA, MP3, and JPEGs into the unit’s hard drive. The Avenger also offers Gracenote with its song, composer, and artist displays, a play list creator, voice memo recording with a microphone that it tucked into the rearview mirror. The Gracenote music file management program can hold up to 1600 songs should you plan a 100-hour trip and not want to repeat the same music.

The front radio screen can even play videos when the car is in Park, which essentially makes every lover’s lookout a drive-in theater.

As well, there is an Uconnect Hands-free Communication System that has the phone buttons in the radio control panel. This devise can hold 128 phone numbers, has call transfer, can be programmed in English, French, and Spanish, has a mute and microphone, and recognizes up to seven phones as it uses Bluetooth.

All of this is terrific to play with and enjoy, but the Avenger just didn’t light my fire. Perhaps it was the base engine’s moan at practically all speeds, but I wanted a tad more grunt and glamour. Perhaps with the more expensive optional packages such as the R/T I would have been smitten. But to me the base vehicle just wasn’t a fun place to be. As it is the Avenger is basic transportation in a nice dress and she doesn’t ask you to take her to expensive places such as gas stations very often. Fun, but not playful.

Young working woman’s view: The seating position is quite high for a sedan and the low hood gives exceptional front visibility. The high trunk and small rear view mirror make that view a little more difficult. The interior has generous room capable of even handling even an old “bee hive” hair do, but the trunk is a tad small with just over 13 cubic feet.

We always question the need for an all wheel drive system with a vehicle that does not have an abundance of power or ground clearance, but it is going to be an option for those who feel it would be of benefit.  The Dodge system sends power to the front wheels until the computers detect slippage and transfer power at that time to the rear wheels. It is not a viscous-coupling system and is thus less demanding of the engine and more economical to operate.

The Avenger was also meant to be fun to drive. Unfortunately, unless you order the larger engine this car is not fun on the road. It is a good driver, but lacks the spirit under the hood. Of course, with a starting price under $19,00 and with a lot of standard features, it is certainly priced right. You even get power windows, doors and locks, an electroluminescent cluster with outside temperature display, sport steering wheel, tilt/telescoping steering column, driver seat with lumbar with manual height adjuster, AM/FM/CD radio with MP3 connectivity and play capability, an upper and lower bin in the center console, 60/40 folding rear-seat with center arm rest, rear door map pockets with bottle holders and driver’s side front-seat-back map pocket, remote keyless illuminated entry, Sentry Key® Engine Immobilizer and theft alarm with the base model, according to Dodge.

No question that the Avenger has a cute look and the pricing isn’t bad either. It certainly is better to look at than the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, but it still lacks that special flavor that would push it ahead of the competition. Designed for the 30-45-years-old, married couple it was meant to be both youthful and a lifestyle vehicle. Something that is unique, well priced, and stylish.

Family conference: There is a great value, but you get what you pay for. The electronic options are marvelous, the standard features a bargain, but you have to decide whether or not you want basic transportation or a fun ride. The difference is over $5000. Either way, it is much better priced than the competition and far more interesting to look at. We recommend the bigger Dodge Charger, or our favorite, the remarkable Dodge Caliber. For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

How to write IEPs for special education students, teachers


Creating useful IEPs is extremely frustrating because they chart a course that must be followed, as well as one that may need to be changed. All of this, with legal implications, limited resources, and all too frequently inadequate teacher time and training. Thus, it is very important every educator know what the IEP does, how it is measured, and how to make it beneficial to the child involved.

·        IEP beginnings

·        IEP references

·        Legal references

·        Special education/IEP links

Special Education Software—not free

A list of educational organizations and job sites

By Alan Haskvitz, national motivational speaker



For a listing of the major educational organizations and job sites click on




Where to find teaching jobs


This time of year new teachers are graduating from college, experienced teachers are looking for new challenges and opportunities, and other teachers dangle in the wind while their districts decide if they can afford to rehire.

If you are leaving your current location or looking for a job in a new field, check your target state’s department of education site to make sure you qualify. This also goes for those who want to teach in the United States and those looking to teach overseas.

Some of these sites require you to register. There isn’t going to be a cost for that, but some do charge if you find a job. Alan selected the most active sites and those of the most interest to teachers. For more information on salaries and other teacher-related statistics, check our Share your profession feature.

Then explore:

State certification sites

National Teaching Offerings

California jobs

Job Fairs

Government Jobs

Health and Physical Education listings

Private, independent, charter, religious schools

ESL Teaching Jobs

University teaching jobs

Jobs overseas

Career information and general employment sites

School districts

Chevrolet Cobalt: Glows

By The Car Family

For more vehicle reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

For free educational links and resources go to http://www.reacheverychild.com

We are always skeptical of compact cars when they are compared to sports cars because they frequently ride like pedal cars and have engines that sound just as tinny. However, the Chevrolet Cobalt positively glows as a commuter car and a sporty.  It has superior handling, a firm chassis, and enough standard features to placate those who endured through Cavalier and Opel ownership.

Everywhere there is improvement in this Chevrolet. The trunk is positively huge. The rear seats fold down and that enables you to carry a five-foot ladder. The engine revs freely, and the fit and finish are above average. Overall, with a price around $15,000(US) for a well equipped version, this 145 horsepower Cobalt may be just the tool to fight the high cost of daily travel as it can easily top 30 mpg even with the optional four speed automatic.

What comes immediately to an informed consumer’s attention is how the Cobalt relates to the competition in the form of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.  First, in terms of value it is difficult to compare because the Cobalt comes with a lot of standard features that the others don’t offer or are available only as options. Secondly, resale would favor the Japanese cars but the Cobalt is too new to have developed a valid residual value index. Next, concerns for reliability and dealer satisfaction must also be decided by the potential consumer due to the newness of the Cobalt and the large differences in individual dealership customer relations. Overall, the Honda has the shortest drivetrain mileage warranty as the others offer 60,000-mile coverage. Finally, each vehicle has a distinct advantage. The Chevrolet is a great handler and well equipped for the money since Cobalt is built on the dandy GM Delta platform.  It has not yet been crash tested.  The Honda has proven high crash scores and reliability. The Toyota has equally good crash test scores and excellent fuel mileage. There isn’t a loser in the bunch.

So where does that leave the consumer? Well, in need to some statistical comparisons for a start. The Chevrolet is way more powerful, with a 2.2-liter engine producing 145 horsepower compared to 115 for the Honda and 130 for the Corolla. As expected, this much more potent Cobalt engine results in less gas mileage for the Chevrolet. The Cobalt gets 32 mpg on the highway versus 38 for both competitors. In real life we found that the Cobalt averaged 28 mpg and the other two 33 on the highway. However, it must be realized that the Chevrolet is 400 pounds heavier than the Toyota and Honda at 3000 pounds. You can feel the difference in heft when you are driving the three. The Cobalt feels much more connected to the road. Clearly, this reflects the fact that the Cobalt has the newest chassis. So if handling, hauling, and performance are your interests test-drive this new Chevrolet.

Interior space is quite impressive for all three thanks to a split and folding rear seat that provides a fairly flat floor open into the trunk. In terms of interior room, luggage and cargo capacity, the three are quite equal.

As for value, it is clearly all Chevrolet. Cruise control is standard, power steering is electric and speed-proportional, and all but the base model get four-wheel disc ABS. Other standard features are keyless entry and power windows. The Chevrolet also offers traction control, available dual front air bags with head protection as an option. A driver’s information center, available OnStar, satellite radio, and even a SS version with supercharged engine make the Chevrolet in its various forms the most interesting as well as the best initial value.  However, because of the Cobalt’s rather bland styling it is easy for potential buyers to walk right by this model. It does not demand your attention and until you get behind the wheel and experience its handling and potency, the Cobalt might well remain a wallflower just because its mother couldn’t afford a fancier dress to attract suitors. Shame, for this is quite a date. So the advantage here would go to the Japanese vehicles. Unfortunately, we cannot predict how the Cobalt is going to stand up to the rigors of commuter driving. The record is unproven, whereas the Civic and Corolla are at the top of the class.

Mom’s view: Small sedans always worry me because of their size. With cell phone gossiping SUV drivers untrained in the use of rear view mirrors waddling between lanes you tend to be on the defensive in diminutive vehicles such as the Cobalt. Fortunately, this Chevrolet has a goodly amount of safety features and handles well. Safety features include dual-stage front air bags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, rear center shoulder belts, and the LATCH child seat retention system. All but the base model has ABS.

The other problem I had with the Cobalt is also a similar to those that other compact vehicles suffer from and that is a small fuel tank that holds just 13.2 gallons (US) thus making it necessary for you to stop to refuel after only 300 miles.

Chevrolet has produced a well-done interior that is far from cheap looking. Although the horn was recessed into the steering wheel hub making it difficult to use in emergency situations, the rest of the interior was fairly good. I did find the instruments difficult to read because of their small fonts and strange lighting. The door openings are a bit small and the seats need more thigh support, but there is little else to fault in this zippy Chevrolet. However, driving the Cobalt never made me forget this was a small car even though it had good visibility to the sides and front, and a sturdy ride. The brakes were adequate and the acceleration and passing ability were quite good and I never felt like I was not in control of the situation, but it would be difficult for a woman to leave an Impala sized sedan for the Cobalt. This is definitely a car for the younger set.

Overall, I would recommend this Cobalt, but I would pass on the base car and go with the upscale LT models that offer larger tires and four wheel disc brakes with ABS. The

4T45-E four-speed automatic does a good job and you don’t pay much of a gas penalty when ordering one. As for option, I like satellite radio and OnStar and the upgraded MP3 stereo is a very good deal. The sports package and spoiler are reasonable, too.

Dad’s view: This could be the best Chevrolet in recent years. It is priced right, performs well, and is fairly tight. I prefer the sedan to the coupe because it is easier to load and looks just as good. The supercharged SS coupe is a little over the top with its large rear spoiler, but it can hold its own with most anything in its front wheel drive price range.

Chevrolet really has outdone the competition with the Cobalt. It has class leading horsepower, interior space that is as good as anyone’s, and only a little more attention to detail in the interior keep it from being king.

Driving the Cobalt revealed that most of the gauges were easy to read and the night lighting were more than adequate. The front headlights could use a little more lums. The seats were especially comfortable, in fact, the most comfortable of any General Motors outside of the sportier Cadillac.  You can adjust them up or down as well as for rake and distance. Even those who have no problems dunking a basketball can find legroom.

Acceleration is good, but the engine is not as sophisticated as the competition and so the 145 horsepower does not feel that much more impressive than the others and really does not come online until nearly 5000 rpm are reached. Where is does shine is when you have the family onboard or when you are carrying a full load. The Civic and Corolla can’t match the torque of the Cobalt. If you want to go fast the SS coupe with its 205-horsepower supercharged engine, is enticing, but I like the base 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine better and found it easier to live with.

I was most impressed with the chassis. The car is stiff and almost Porsche like in its attitude when faced with undulating roads. The doors shut with authority and clearly there has been some quality time and engineering placed where it counts, under the car. When you are looking for vehicles in this price segment you are seeking good transportation that is easy on the payment book. Chevrolet has succeeded there, no doubt, but they also added a touch of raciness and a great deal of comfort with a well tuned independent MacPherson strut front suspension and semi independent torsion bar beam rear holding this 3000 pounder in place well.

Young working man’s view: I found the looks too typical, but I also found the sound system atypical. Inside our test car was the Delphi AM/FM/CD MP3 player, a Pioneer seven-speaker sound system, and surprise, surprise, an enormous subwoofer mounted in the side of the trunk wall. There was even satellite radio. I liked it

The interior was a little too bland for me. The heating and cooling worked well, but we tested in only moderate weather conditions. I liked the 60/40-split, fold-down rear seat with a trunk pass-through that made it easy to carry most everything that needs to be washed home to mom. 

Although this is in my price range, I am not brave enough to be the first on the block to own one. It is not that the Cobalt offends me in any way, and I liked the way our LS model was equipped, but this front wheel driver doesn’t tug at my pocketbook. Perhaps in another color besides arrest me red and with some nice rims and a snappier interior I could be tempted.

Family conference: This is a good car that has arrived with exceptional timing into the marketplace. We have no idea why Chevrolet seems to be advertising it as a little Corvette even though it well might be. Chevrolet should be touting it pricing and frugal fuel consumption. If you are in the market for a compact car you need to test-drive the Cobalt in its many versions.  For a full range of manufacture websites go to

For a full range of vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/auto/index.html

The Sacramento Bee ran this story. Yet another danger of buying a Hummer H2


For more about problems with Hummer H2 ownership go to


« Previous PageNext Page »