Business Digest - July, 2007

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Studies Find Multiple Strategies Needed to Improve California Schools    You Have To Say No Sometime (Don't Over Commit!)

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Baby Photography Tips

They are the most expressive subjects. They grab attention like no other. They can make a picture look simply stunning.

But...they are unpredictable, ask for immense tolerance and can make you feel frustrated. I am referring to Baby photography.

Photographing babies can be quite a challenge. Here are few baby photography tips to help you snap an enticing baby photo:

Tip 1: Be Vigilant

In baby photography, you are dealing with someone who is absolutely his/her own master. You need to wait for his/her grace. Thus never remove your finger from the camera. You never know when your little one will give you that smile you are looking for.

Tip 2: Choose a friendly location

Friendly here means comfortable and adaptable for your baby.

Typically, the best location for this would be in-house.

However, if you are planning to take pictures outdoors, make the location adaptable. Keeping your babies' favorite toy or blanket can come handy while taking baby pictures. Also taking your child to a location before the actual time of shoot helps them adjust to the alien environment.

Tip 3: Make the child familiar with the camera before you shoot

Let your child touch the camera while you hold it. (Don't place it in their hands because it will end up in their mouth.) Hold the camera in front of your face and then jump out and say peek-a-boo.

Ask friends, neighbors, and relatives to take pictures of your child while you stand in the background. This helps your child get used to other people being the photographer.

Tip 4: Do you have right camera?

Baby photography demands different camera tactics. The equipment should have high shutter speed (to get a picture when you baby is constantly on a move); less reload time and so on.

It is advisable to use a handheld camera - if possible, a digital camera. Digital cameras are preferred as you might have to take a good deal of pictures to get that perfect shot.

However, digital camera pictures may not look professional sometimes.

Tip 5: Catch the eye

Shoot at the eye level of you child. This makes the image appear more enticing and expressive.

Baby photography requires tweaks in your skill and demands patience. I have gathered these tips from my own observations and talking with my photographer friends. If you would like to add something more, feel free to contact me.

You have a great Baby photo. What next??

Well, first of all save it in a family album - it's a memory you do not want to waste. You can also upload it at the online baby photo contest www.TheCuteKid.com to show it to the entire world.

The CuteKidô allows parents to upload photographs to participate in contests. Also famous casting agents frequently visit the site in search for new faces. You never know, your photo can make your child become a celebrity.

About the author:
The CuteKidô promotes monthly and yearly contests along with seasonal and promotional contests. With $1,000 in monthly prizes and a chance to be the 2007 CuteKidô of the Year winning a $25,000 College Tuition Fund, our exciting prizes are given away to dozens of contest winners. Besides organizing unique online photo contests; TheCuteKid.com lists useful tips and parenting articles.

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Studies Find Multiple Strategies Needed to Improve California Schools

For the past three years California Schools have been the subject of an in-depth analysis of school reform. The study, Beyond the Mountains: An Early Look at Restructuring Results in California, conducted by the Center on Education Policy (CEP), is part of a multi-year review of the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) on Maryland, Michigan and California Schools.

The examination concerns specific restructuring methods used by California Schools and their success. According to CEP founder and president Jack Jennings, "While it is still too early to tell whether restructuring is working, it is clear from the experience of California and Michigan, the two states we have studied in-depth, that simply requiring schools to replace staff does not guarantee increased student achievement. Rather, success is linked to implementing multiple improvement strategies."

This is of critical concern to California Schools for a couple of reasons. California Schools have more schools facing restructuring than most other states for several reasons. School restructuring is mandated by the NCLB act for any schools unable to meet its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) markers for five or more consecutive years. One reason that California Schools saw the number of its schools facing this mandate double to 8% in the last year is because of its massive size. Also, California Schools implemented AYP markers a year before it was federally mandated. Of the California Schools facing restructuring, over 60% are in urban areas.

The numbers don't look good. 207 of the California Schools in the implementation phase of restructuring failed to meet AYP standards for seven consecutive years. That's why the CEP study has such import. The study concluded that the California Schools that were most successful in raising student achievement were those that analyzed school data and implemented initiatives designed to meet those specific needs. This is important because the US Department of Education previously recommended replacing staff rather than other forms of restructuring.

Other reform methods in California Schools include instituting English Language Learner programs, direct coaching for teachers and principals, changes in scheduling and the hiring of a district-level coordinator. The California Schools that used the above methods, without replacing staff or changing to a charter system, were generally more successful than the other schools studied. What will this mean for the future of California Schools?

It's likely that funds for teacher planning time, instructional coaches and special instruction for at-risk students will appear on coming legislation. As noted by Jennings, the California Schools still have a long road ahead before the success of many programs can be fully evaluated. That's why California Schools need the quantifiable results of a study like this one.

About the author:
Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit California Schools.

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You Have To Say No Sometime (Don't Over Commit!)

NO! It's amazing how such a small word can carry such a mighty punch, isn't it? Learning how to say no can be difficult, but it's worth it for many reasons. By saying no you become more productive, reduce your stress levels and are more focused on the things you choose to say yes to.

The reason many people get in a situation where they are overwhelmed with work is because they feel guilty if the thought of telling someone no even crosses their mind. By taking on too many duties, just to appease your guilty feelings, you are hurting not only yourself, but those requesting your time as well.

If you truly can't fit something into your schedule without burdening yourself beyond reason, it's ok to say no. Keep your tasks and projects at a level that is manageable for you. If you become overloaded, make certain that you let people know that.

Many times, they will understand and will gladly wait until you have the time to complete their request.

Here are a few ways you can politely let others know you are not available to help them. You don't have to just tell them no and leave it at that.

  • If the task is something you are interested in doing, but don't have the time to commit at that moment, tell them that it is something you are definitely interested in, but you will need to review your schedule. This gives you time to decide if you can commit to the project or if you must turn it down.
  • Resist the urge to immediately say yes by telling the person that you need to look at your schedule before you can commit to them. Let them know that you want to be sure their project is getting your undivided attention.
  • You can also say something along the lines of "That sounds like a great idea, unfortunately, I don't have time to help you with it at the moment. However, I do have time available on this date."
  • Make it very clear that you value their time so you are not comfortable taking on the project at this time. You won't feel you've done your best due to the fact that your schedule is already full. Then offer them the next available time you do have open.

You can't possibly be everything to everybody. The sooner you realize this, the less you will feel like you are being pulled in a hundred different directions. It's time to face this fact:

You have to say no sometimes.

In order to keep moving towards your ultimate goals you need to know when to say no and when to push things off your plate. It can be hard, but in the end you will be happier, gain more respect from those requesting your assistance and get more done in the long run.

About the author:
Aurelia Williams invites you to visit Real Life Solutions for free tips and ideas to help keep you motivated.

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