Have Some Mountain Dew Before a Test?

How do you feel about standardized testing? Chances are you aren’t an incredibly big fan of it. Children tend to strongly dislike taking standardized tests because it is stressful, confusing, frustrating, and very different from how their typical school day goes. Perhaps this is why a school in Florida found a controversial way to motivate students to take their standardized tests. Someone at Creel Elementary School in Florida came up with an unusual way to get students excited about taking the FCAT. The FCAT stands for “Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test”. A grandmother who learned about it contacted the local media. … Continue reading

A Cornucopia of Tools 2

Yesterday I started to talk about some tools that have served me well over the years. I talked about operating systems (of which I strongly prefer GNU+Linux), and an office suite (of which I strongly prefer LibreOffice). The last two tools I’m going to talk about are the Gnu Image Manipulation Program (commonly known as GIMP), and FreeMind. First up: the Gnu Image Manipulation Program. GIMP: Despite having an unfortunate acronym, the Gnu Image Manipulation Program is a powerful tool. While in school (and as an instructor) I often had reason to create small graphics to assist in teaching or … Continue reading

A Cornucopia of Tools

I know that it is Halloween time now, but Autumn gets me thinking about Thanksgiving. While it is an American holiday (with a somewhat simplified history), the general idea of being thankful for things is a positive practice for anyone. Thanksgiving gives me a warm feeling. Not just because of the family “togetherness” but also because I feel a real sense of thankfulness concerning many of the things I encountered tangentially to my education, yet those tangential things ended up helping me every single day in more ways than I can accurately recount. So, a month early, I’m going to … Continue reading

Being Ready for Anything

One of the things you can always count on is change. I realized this recently. I have a rather odd job that I’m not going to get into here (as it isn’t that important), but the reality of my particular position is that there is occasionally time when there is literally nothing to do. My actual job, during these times, is to simply wait. To be present. To exist. And, as it turns out, it doesn’t matter how I exist during these periods of time. I could sit, stand, jog, read, write, recite poetry: whatever. Now, while all jobs aren’t … Continue reading

Resistance and Fear

I’ve been experiencing resistance lately. Not as a student, but as a teacher (of sorts). I’ve been trying to get a quite varied group of adults to count to twenty together. I could explain everything to them. I could give them a handout illustrating the purpose and the benefits of the exercise. I could give them all of the rules and regulations (it is a game with far more involvement than simply counting in unison). I could do those things, but that would undermine the exercise itself. That would undermine its purpose. That would, in fact, go against one of … Continue reading

Time to Read

Things I used to take for granted as a student/parent number 1: time to read. For better or for worse reading is one of those activities you simply can’t do around children. Oh, I’m not talking about reading picture books or texts with simple words and basic sentence structures. No, no. I’m talking about reading reading (you know, that stuff you do as a student, for your classes, that requires lots of time and lots of focus). It is the joy of having kids while being a student. When I didn’t have kids it didn’t make sense. I thought it … Continue reading

Schedules Flip-Flop

Last time I talked about the nice and steady scheduling that educational environments provide for their students. Sure, it’s rough sometimes. Sure, there are night classes. Sure, you might be employed somewhere when you’re not literally sitting in a classroom, but the fact is plain to see that traditional education (and by this I mean anything not 24/7 and/or all online) provides a meaningful and predictable framework within which you have something on the educational front to do. (No this doesn’t include homework either… but stay with me for a while). This scheduling sort of mimics the nine to five … Continue reading


One of the things about high school that was true was the consistency. You showed up every day at a certain time. You left every day at a certain time. You had classes in-between those times. Depending on what type of scheduling the school used you would have the same class every day (or, perhaps, the same classes every other day). In general, though, there was a schedule that sort of repeated. While the classes would change every quarter or semester, the time frame would stay the same. That was the benefit of the high school schedule. It was something … Continue reading

The Right Time

Sometimes you’ve just got to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes, though, you can increase your odds of being in the right place at the right time if you constantly hang around the right place. (Did you follow that? If not, read it again.) At any rate, I recently realized how beneficial it is to be in the right place a lot of the time concerning research. It just so happens that I’m lucky: I really love the subject I choose to study. In addition to it being my academic job it is also my personal … Continue reading

The HS Visit

High school was a long time ago for me. It’s hard to forget the memories though. Rows of locker doors, that great physics teacher, that great government teacher, the difficult geography teacher (who, in hindsight, did more to prepare me for college than maybe anyone), the daily routines, the cliques, how important friends were, how important “who” your friends were seemed to be, and on and on. High school is meant to be memorable. It was such a big place back then. Driving a car was an awesome perk. My first experiences with administrators who acted more like children than … Continue reading