Category Archives: Teens

I like Ramen.

Yep. The kind that costs less than a quarter and is usually the fare of poor college students.

I had a meal plan in college, so I ate well all 4 years. My dad was in charge of food shopping while growing up, so we usually had real food, though occasionally my mom would buy ramen as part of her junk food stash.

When I did have ramen as a kid, it was always plain: noodles and seasoning as is. I thought it made for a pretty good quick lunch.

Now that I’m an adult and grocery shopping for myself and my hubby, ramen is one of my staples. I’m not sure if hubby ever craves ramen, but I think he’s told me that when he does eat it, he leaves out the seasoning. Weird.

I use my ramen (all flavors welcome) as the basis of most of my soups.

Half of one onion, some frozen veggies, and either some chicken, beef, or pork thrown into plenty of water and the seasoning packet. After the veggies and meat are cooked through I add the noodles and 2 minutes later, dinner’s ready! I can usually get two meals out of this soup since it’s just me eating it.

Tonight it’s chicken ramen soup for me and chicken and rice for hubby. 

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When Theory Matches Reality

Ever since I decided to become a teacher (for apparently the second time in my life, haha), I’ve paid a lot of attention to education as discussed by commentators and lawmakers.

Since I was a middle and high school student during “No Child Left Behind” and in college when “Common Core” was adopted, I heard a lot of adults and educators complaining about both because they’re too strict and don’t let teachers make decisions.

Now, at some point in college, I decided to consider myself a Non-Conformist. Pretty much, I do my own thing based on my own rules and am very good a “smiling and nodding” when I think other people’s ideas are bat-shit crazy.

When I first heard about “Common Core” the thing that struck me most was that it would mean that students in (hopefully) all 50 states would be taught using the same curriculum. This, I thought, would mean that a student could transfer from one school in one state into another school in a different state without much confusion due to repetition and stuff being “skipped”. I have a cousin who moved from SC to PA (or vice versa) in 4th grade and thought that the Civil War was 2 different wars because of the completely different way it was taught in both states. I think that this is the example that shows exactly how screwed up our education system is in America. Living in Southeastern VA means that there are a lot of military kids who move around a lot and they deserve to have one solid education, not a piecemeal one based on what the individual states think is important.

Anyway, so, I was loving Common Core and then I started hearing parents and educators complaining about the new way of teaching math. Mmmkay….

They started showing me examples. I agree: that crap is weird!!

But…is that a problem with the overall aspect of Common Core? Or is it an implementation problem?

Hehehehehe.

My education class this semester is Language Acquisition and Reading. This week we’re learning about lesson planning, which includes information on Basal Readers which has since become the educational idea of a “core reading program”. Essentially, teachers are handed a reading program that’s supposed to solve all their problems so long as they work through the program systematically with their students. The article we read this week explains why this doesn’t work (USING BASAL: From Dutiful Fidelity to Intelligent Decision Making by Peter Dezvitz and Jennifer Jones).

Essentially the problem is that no two children or classrooms are exactly the same (duh). The Basal can offer a great place for novice teachers to start, but teachers still need to evaluate their students to determine exactly what they need individually. The Basal can’t really differentiate for students.

Which, really, only serves to prove the point I’ve been trying to make for going on 10 years now: the school system can make all the mandates they want, but teachers are completely free to revise and plan on their own (“defying the school system’s mandates”) all they want so long as at the end of the day the student is learning exactly what they need to learn!!

Before “No Child Left Behind” and “Common Core” Virginia had it’s Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. Every student in 3rd, 5th, 8th, and various high school classes had to pass these suckers in order to graduate and the student’s scores had great influence on teachers keeping their jobs and schools getting accreditation.

This, of course, led to many teachers and administrators deciding that it was better to “teach the test” so that the schools kept up appearances of offering a quality education.

I call these teachers LAZY!

You see, even though I was in AP and dual enrollment classes in high school, I still had to take the SOL tests. Here’s the thing: as a class, we NEVER studied for the SOLs. This is because the AP and dual enrollment requirements are above and beyond what the SOLs ask and so without any special preparation, we AP kids easily aced or nearly aced the SOLs.

I had many friends in regular classes and they were given vast workbooks meant to prepare them for the SOL tests. I read through them and was fascinated and appalled by how little in depth knowledge was required of them! That’s not right!

Since I spent so much time with the “regular” kids, I could never understand what made me special. Sure, I had more knowledge, but that was because I was in classes that required me to go above and beyond and so the incidental facts were easily retained.

It’s easy to remember that the Revolutionary War was fought between 1775 and 1783 when you’re writing essays in 30 minutes on “To what extent is a Revolutionary War a literal revolution where society returns to the status quo after a short period of change?”. Memorizing dates is lot easier than trying to determine if everything after a revolution is actually just like it was before the revolution (I’m convinced that it’s more like a spiral where life is similar, but with a striking difference; like, American’s don’t drink as much tea as the English).

Anyway, since I think that students are much more competent and capable than school systems seem to give them credit for, I’ve always decided that if a teacher is complaining about too much regulation and testing by administrators, the teacher probably isn’t a very good teacher.

Do many kids get stressed out about taking too many tests? Yes. Can students be given the skills to make these tests so easy that they’re a joke? HELL YES! If a teacher is afraid of their students doing poorly on any given test, then the teacher hasn’t taught them properly. Period.

And any teacher who thinks that gathering meaningful data about their students and evaluating how that data should influence instruction is too much work should be fired. We did Running Records a couple weeks ago. Yes, they seemed awkward, but I just watched a YouTube video of a teacher performing one very fluidly as part of small group instruction. In other words, I see how easy performing a Running Record can be with practice and the data it provides is invaluable. To think of it as too much work undermines just how much work and care goes into teaching!

I was reading these tips for Homeschooling and thought it was pretty horrible that in the chart for analyzing different methods of education, the amount of parental involvement was listed under the disadvantages! I mean…if parents are going to be teachers, then they should be comfortable being teachers! That means lesson planning. That means evaluations. That means actually learning the content before you attempt to teach it! I think that there’s a reason why most of the homeschooling blogs I follow don’t have much information for teaching children after they’ve become “independent readers”. Once the kid can read it seems like the parent only exists to answer specific questions that the child has (which means Google?).

I’ve taken enough standardized tests from elementary to high school to know one thing: except for the writing example section, they’re always multiple choice tests. I highly doubt that Common Core has added short answer sections. Which means that even in the math section, with the crazy, seemingly made up techniques, the only thing that matters is that the student gets the correct answer.

So, in a real world classroom, if the school system mandates a specific way of instruction, the teacher can teach that, plus whatever other techniques that individual students may have an easier time using. Because, here’s the thing: most of that “crazy math” is just meant to help students better grasp the concepts of numbers and how they relate to each other. It’s supposed to help students rely less on memorization and more on why math works.

  • 1/16th=0.062
  • 3/8ths=0.375
  • 5/8ths=0.625

I hate rotely memorizing things! I don’t have the patience for drills and I find such isolated facts to be useless information. But, I’ve just listed 3 of the more obscure inches to decimal conversions that I know (skipping the obvious quarters and halves). Why do I know these? Because I work in a print shop and our line-gauges are in inches while our paper cutter is in decimals. If I’m measuring something to cut it, I have to do the conversions. We have a cheat sheet right on the wall behind the cutter, but after a few months, they started to stick. And once I have them memorized, I don’t need to look at the cheat sheet anymore. (In a classroom, a student would probably be required to carry out the long division to make the conversion).

If a Common Core tests asks the student to do a division problem, the answer will be in numbers; it will not be asking them to show their work unless the question requires them to use a specific technique! But, that means that the teacher should have taught that technique as something to be learned, and if the student doesn’t understand the technique, other techniques should be taught in conjunction, with emphasis that learning the technique that will be asked about on the test is as important to learn as how to find the correct answer.

Do you see what I did there? If there are 4 ways to solve a problem, then the teacher should teach all 4 ways, illustrating why each of the ways is different and giving each it’s proper name. In other words, the techniques are facts to be learned, not just what the answer to the problem is.

If Common Core doesn’t test specific techniques and those techniques are useless once the core information has been memorized (e.g. 7×8=56), then it really doesn’t matter how kids learn to do math so long as they learn the technique that works best for them.

See? Lazy teachers are part of the problem. It’s harder to teach 4 techniques instead of just one, so I’m sure many teachers are unwilling to add onto their already overflowing workloads, even though I’m personally convinced that it’s actually easier to teach 4 techniques instead of trying to force the wrong technique onto a specific student.

P.S. This of course leads back to homeschooling parents who don’t want the state to oversee their child’s education. Remember what I was saying about the SOLs? If you as a homeschooling parent are teaching your child above and beyond what the minimum requirements of the state are, then you should have no fear of your child taking state mandated tests to ensure that they’re getting a basic education.

And if you’re refusing the teach your child evolution because you’re afraid that it will hurt their relationship with God (and that is why you keep your child out of school and are afraid of state tests), you are a bad teacher. Teaching the science adequately will not alter faith since religion and science have nothing to do with each other. Science describes the what and how; religion gives reasons for the why. Science functions perfectly without getting stuck on why things work the way that they do; for science why doesn’t matter. Lying to your child about how old the Earth is because this information disagrees with your holy book only serves to disadvantage your child because you’ve most likely cut out or otherwise undermined the very foundation of scientific inquiry: The Scientific Method.

Pro-tip: teach everything from the standpoint of the Scientific Method. Background Information/Observation, Hypothesis, Design and Conduct the Experiment, Evaluate the Data, Draw a Conclusion. Repeat steps as needed. Seriously, it works for every subject (or so say’s this history and environmental science major :-))!

When Cows and Kids Collide: ATI Wisdom Booklets: Bright and Shining Countenance

http://whencowsandkidscollide.blogspot.com/2017/10/ati-wisdom-booklets-bright-and-shining.html

This is what passes for education in the Duggar and Bates households. This stuff is taught with the same seriousness as misinformation about how stress harms bone structure.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Sigh. This is one of those wonderfully depressing stories that leaves you crying at 3 am because you can’t put it down. I read it purely on a whim because it was advertised as a “Big Library Read Book” this month on my library’s ebook site (a book which isn’t limited in checkouts by the number of copies the library owns). It’s one I highly recommend.

It’s set in 1918, during the last months of WWI and the Spanish Influenza pandemic. Lot’s of death, lots of sorrow. And yet, finishing it has left me hopeful rather than depressed, which is how the best books are (in my opinion).

The last book I read on Spiritualism was set in WWII Britain (The Strange Case of Hellish Nell) so we know that this phenomenon (I mean the act of believing in spirits) lasted a long time. This book paints a very realistic view of life during this period–no white washing.

WWI Propaganda
WWI Propaganda by Dividenda
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Are you 100% American? Buy Bonds
Are you 100% American? Buy Bonds by parrow1978
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Beat Back the Hun
Beat Back the Hun by Dividenda
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Northanger Abbey

I’m very glad that I’ve decided to finally tackle the works of Jane Austen. The more I read of her, the more a fan I become.

Northanger Abbey started out kind of slow, which I expected when the introduction implied it was the first novel she’d written even though it was only published after her death. It starts out sounding very much like a rant against society, which I think is common amongst young writers. I know that my one attempt at writing a novel gets a C- from me simply because I spent too much time ranting. Of course, Ms. Austen had the skill that I lacked which is in her ability to reign it in, or at least when it’s viewed from 2015, these rants would have been shared by all of us modern women, so we sympathize instead of condemning her “youth”.

This is definitely a book that a lot of teenage girls today would still find relevant, especially when it comes to the “friends” who are self-centered and conniving. I could only groan at the comments that Catherine used to be so easy to persuade and that it’s her fault that their trip would be ruined because she has other plans. There are plenty of women in therapy now because of the guilt laid upon them by “friends” who are actually abusive users.

I also found the conversation between Catherine and Henry on the definition of matrimony as relative to a country dance. They end up with such a complex definition of what it means to be married, I’m surprised that just 2 weeks ago another debate was hashed out in our court system that a marriage can be so easily defined as “between a man and a woman”. Goodness: if that’s all it takes to make a marriage last, why on Earth does divorce exist?!? Of course, in today’s world, most people would agree that there is also more to a marriage than a man supporting his wife  and the wife making “an agreeable home”. ‘Course, I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable if they proscribed way to find a husband (a woman’s only duty, of course) was for her to hide every scrap of intelligence she has, or to not be intelligent to begin with.

“Yes, I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.” I’ve always been the “smart” one of the group, but I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve been appreciated for not being pretentious. I do not like people using a “5 dollar word” as a measure of intelligence especially since many who do use such words incorrectly. I have had to say on a few occasions: “I’m not sure the word you just used means what you think it means” and I admit it’s difficult to do with a straight face. Luckily, most don’t mean any harm by it, they’re simply trying to sound smart, but I like to think that smart is something you do, not something you say.

I was listening to an interview on NPR with researchers who want to promote physical intelligence instead of merely mental intelligence in US society (the action of creating something rather than the mental processes of thinking about stuff). I disagreed with the whole notion that a single individual can excel at both ways of learning because I don’t think it’s probable for all humans to be geared towards the exact same way of learning: kinetic vs. listening vs. optical. Yes, US society looks down upon the individuals who lack “book knowledge”, but watching my BF load and unload a car Friday night shows me that there is a considerable amount of intelligence that goes into physical labor! My brother would also tell you that it IS a skill to be able to load a trailer properly–he’d been the unfortunate victim of one such person too many times when he quit his job loading them because the other person’s “walls” kept falling on him.

My only complaint is that when Catherine realized the error of her ways in making assumptions about the General based on her experience with romantic novels, she was only able to extend her miss-assumptions to those who live within her general area (or at least this is how I read this passage)–people in the far east and west would still be like the villains and heroes of her novels: either good or evil and nothing in between.

On that note, I anxiously await my next Blogging for Books request: Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and as Warning. I’ve heard that it relates to the xenophobia we’re now seeing with the refugee crisis in Europe. Something doesn’t sit right with me when doctors, lawyers, and teachers are treated like vermin simply because they’ve been forced to take sketchy boats, trucks or just walk to cross borders  just to get away from oppression in their home countries.

P.S. Does anyone know why this book was originally called “Susan” by Ms. Austen? I’m pretty sure that there is no one called by that name in this novel!

The Amaranth Enchantment

To start with, The Amaranth Enchantment is a retelling of Cinderella. You should understand this and then throw everything you think you know about this story based on this information out the window! I shall refrain from telling any spoilers, but on p. 244 of this edition, Lucinda does something so un-Cinderella-like, I burst out laughing. This is the girl who wants the prince, but she sure as Hell doesn’t NEED the prince!

The quote on the front of this edition is “Thoroughly surprising and satisfying….Enjoy” –Kathi Appelt. This is accurate 100%. I kept trying to predict what would happen, but then I kept being wrong, which is refreshing in a fairy tale.  Ms. Berry writes an excellent fairy tale and I look forward to reading more of her works.

Ensnared

After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She’s determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world—a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts.
In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that’s gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?
Okay…First off, this had better be the end of the trilogy. I mean, it pretty clearly presented itself as a finale, but you never know. Especially when there’s a quote on the back of the book from USA Today begging for the next book. With it being said that this gives a pretty clear “The End”, I’m disappointed that this is THE END. Spoiler Alert: while everything is wrapped up nicely, you’re still left wondering what happened. Sigh. Maybe there will be a next book. Maybe. I don’t know. I want more, but I definitely don’t want more (less is more and all that jazz). I think I need something new to fangirl over…

The Hunger Games

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

I got this book from the library because it was the “IT” thing to do (the book was highly popular at the time with the first movie about to be released). I didn’t know anything about it. I have to say that the first 2 chapters were painful for me to read. I just could not figure out the flow because it’s written in a way that I’m not used to (I guess one would call it first person very limited). Once my brain did click into gear, I was instantly hooked (I ordered books 2 and 3 that very moment). I saw the movie as soon as it was available from the library and enjoyed it well enough. Unfortunately for the movie, it actually portrayed the book precisely. I guess movie makers can’t win with me, haha. Actually there are some movies that are perfect complements to the book without being a complete rehash. The Help would be one. But I’m digressing. The one complaint I remember hearing about the movie was that Katniss was emotionless. I found this hilarious because that’s exactly how she is in the book–this emotionlessness was what was confusing me when I first started reading the book.

Mockingjay Pin from fun.com

Gifts for lovers of “Airman”

“>In the 1890s Conor and his family live on the sovereign Saltee Islands, off the Irish coast. Conor spends his days studying the science of flight with his tutor and exploring the castle with the king’s daughter, Princess Isabella. But the boy’s idyllic life changes forever the day he discovers a deadly conspiracy against the king. When Conor tries to intervene, he is branded a traitor and thrown into jail on the prison island of Little Saltee. There, he has to fight for his life, as he and the other prisoners are forced to mine for diamonds in inhumane conditions.

There is only one way to escape Little Saltee, and that is to fly. So Conor passes the solitary months by scratching drawings of flying machines on the prison walls. The months turn into years; but eventually the day comes when Conor must find the courage to trust his revolutionary designs and take to the air.

This was my intro to Steampunk and I have to say that it was an excellent introduction. I’d already loved Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series and this new(er) novel did not disappoint.

Steampunk Iphone Case from redbubble.com

Instinct (Chronicles of Nick)

Being a teen is never easy…

Zombies, demons, vampires, shapeshifters-another day in the life of sixteen-year-old Nick Gautier-and those are just his friends. But now that he’s accepted the demon that lives inside him, he must learn to control it and temper the very emotions that threaten the lives of everyone he cares for. Something that’s hard to do while trying to stay off the menus of those who want his head on a platter. And no one wants him more than the dark gods who created his race. Now that they know where he is, they will stop at nothing to reclaim him. And without knowing it, Nick has just embraced the one person he should never have trusted. The one person who will hand him over to his enemies to get back the life they lost.

Nick has finally accepted his fate, now he must learn to defy his destiny, and the dark, deadly forces that will stop at nothing to destroy everyone he loves so that they can again return to the world of man and own it, in the next Chronicles of Nick novel, Instinct, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Another epic installment! Can’t wait for the next book!

World's Best Mom Mother's Day Gift Mug
World’s Best Mom Mother’s Day Gift Mug by MainstreetShirt
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