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The Versatile Blogger Award: Spotlighting Innovative Blogs on Tutoring, High School, College, Studying, and Much More!

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We are very honored to announce that we’ve recently been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Writing Reconsidered!

For those of you who don’t know the details of the VBA, allow me to borrow some information from the VBA’s About page to further explain:

When you consider nominating a fellow blogger for the Versatile Blogger Award, consider the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page. Or, of course, the quality of the photographs and the level of love displayed in the taking of them.

Honor those bloggers who bring something special to your life whether every day or only now and then.

The rules of the VBA and how to respond to one’s nomination:

  •  Include a link to the blogger who nominated you.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award in your post and let them know of their nomination.
  •  Finally, include in your VBA post 7 interesting things about yourself/your blog work.

We are thrilled to have been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award, because it gives us the opportunity to spotlight those blogs and bloggers for you who have thus far impressed us with the quality of their advice and enthusiasm regarding tutoring, school, studying, and so forth. However, we would also like to point out that just because we have decided to nominate these blogs for the VBA does not in any way mean that we endorse or agree with all of their opinions, ideas, advice, and/or articles.

Now, on with the nominees!

Ready for the big reveal? Our nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award are:

1. The Ridgewood Tutor

National Board Certified and state certified by NJ and NY,  I’ve had 10 years teaching experience full-time in the classrooms of middle and high schools.  At the same time, I’ve been tutoring for over 15 years.  I have a Masters in Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University.  I’m currently specializing in mastering the art of SAT Jedi instruction.

I grew up in Ridgewood and graduated from RHS.  My husband and I wanted to raise a family in my hometown, so in 2011, we moved back with our two pre-schoolers.  At that point I took my education career in a new direction with “The Ridgewood Tutor”.

2. Saint Mary’s University: The Writing Centre

The Saint Mary’s University’s writing centre (Halifax) provides free academic support for students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

We offer in-person, one-on-one tutoring, as well as workshops, in-class presentations, and online support.

3. Science Questions with Surprising Answers

SQSA is a terrific blog wherein Dr. C.S. Baird, a physics researcher and instructor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, takes in your science questions (whether in biology, physics, earth science, health, space, society, or chemistry), and provides considered and thoughtful answers that any layman could understand. It’s a truly fascinating and useful resource for students and life-long learners of any age and interest.

4. Tenure, She Wrote

Tenure, She Wrote is a collaborative blog devoted to chronicling the (mis)adventures of women in academia, from undergraduate to Full Professor. We’re a diverse group representing  many walks of life, career stages, institutional affiliations, disciplines, and opinions.

5. Tracking Change

Tracking Change is an advocacy platform to turn data into action.

Through collaboration and crowd-sourcing, we can more effectively influence public policy and ensure issues of importance to African Americans are addressed. The issues include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), job creation, entrepreneurship, access to capital, education and voting rights.

By harnessing the power of technology and social media, activists can more effectively influence public policy, solve problems and bring about social change.

Tracking Change promotes data-driven models of civic engagement, transparency and accountability.

6. Tales of the 4th Grade Wonders

We will provide a moral and rigorous education to a diverse student body, accomplished in a hands-on, technology infused educational environment that embraces differentiated instruction and individual attention that will allow our students to attend college, while developing a commitment to global citizenship, environmental sustainability, and personal virtue.

MS. KESSLER’S MISSION

Fourth Grade is such an important and special year for everyone involved. Students will be given the gift of knowledge, organization, and confidence. Teachers will be given the gift of patience, laughter, and determination. And parents will be given the gift of growth, communication, and pride. My mission is to work together to ensure these gifts are felt and appreciated.

7. Life and Write

Life and Write is a fabulous blog that gives you everything you could ever want to improve your writing skills creative and otherwise (except for providing an actual tutor, of course :)). Whether you’re interested in learning more about pre-writing, journaling, or avoiding distractions, Life and Write has answers and ideas for you.

8. The Electron Online

The Electron is a student generated publication created at Franklin Community High School, through the efforts of The Electron newspaper class. …

The purpose of the publication is to inform students, faculty, subscribers and community members of news, information and issues that influence or affect them. The Electron accepts news releases, guest columns and sports information releases.

The news organization, which provides an open forum for students, faculty, subscribers and community members, encourages letters to the editor, as well as comments that adhere to the comment policy. Letters can be sent to the publication at the previously mentioned address or dropped off in room C100. Below each article, a comment section can be found.

9. Teaching: Leading Learning

I am a Deputy Headteacher at Chew Valley School near Bristol, responsible for curriculum, assessment, reporting, monitoring, engagement with parents, and a whole raft of other things. I am a teacher of English and Media Studies. I am passionately committed to state education, as blogged about here. I love teaching.

This blog is a place for me to reflect on aspects of my job, on education in general, and to collect my thoughts.

10. High School to Harvard

Hi! I’m Ruby Mirza. Welcome to High School to Harvard. Let me get you up to speed…

For my first four years of high school (I live in New Zealand; we have five years) I chased engineering…and then, through studying for a quiz competition, I rediscovered biology, specifically the brain. Now, I want to go to Harvard Medical School and specialize with neurosurgery residency.

This is my journey, from high school to Harvard.

11. Inspiring Women

… We are running a women’s campaign to help young women from all backgrounds broaden their horizons and raise aspiration. …

Through our Inspiring Women campaign, we aim to link up women in a range of professions at a range of levels with girls throughout England. By giving women the opportunity to sign up, for free, to a simple online portal, where teachers can invite them to come in and talk to young women about their careers, we hope to be part of a culture change where young women and girls, regardless of socioeconomic background, can have access to the career insights they need.

12. The Savvy Student @ SBU

The Savvy Student @ SBU is the official blog of Money Smart Seawolves.  While Money Smart Seawolves is committed to assisting students in developing superior financial skills, helping you establish behaviors and habits that will make you a better saver and investor, and equipping you with the necessary knowledge to make sound financial decisions, the Savvy Student @ SBU is going to help you apply all that jargon to your life.

Our articles will help you keep up to date with current events and happenings in the financial aid community, provide tips and tricks for saving money and cutting college costs, and will share some great DIY’s that will (hopefully) make life easier.

13. Woman of Science

This blog is meant to help people, especially women, navigate the system of academic science. I am helping by setting an example. I am hoping that others will join in and offer their examples. These are strictly my opinions and others are welcome to add theirs.

I am a professor of hard science in a research intensive university. I have a husband who is an academic. We solved the two-body problem. We also have two children (elementary school age and infant).

14. ESL Tests for Primary Kids

Here you’ll find ESL online tests for primary children (grades 1-6).

There are 3 types of tests:

Test your skills – Grammar&Vocabulary

Test your listening – Listening practice

Test your reading – Reading comprehension

You can do the tests right away by pressing the round button and get your result at the end of the test.

Let your kids be the best at English!

15. Pleasure in Learning

pleasureinlearning.com is the work of several Hopkinsville Community College instructors who hope to enhance their students’ learning experiences by using the brain’s pleasure circuit.

… We are amazed by what neuroscientists can tell us about how and why we experience pleasure. However, we are surprised and disappointed by how little of this great information has been considered in deciding how we might teach more effectively.

Seven Cool/Interesting Things About Tutoring 101:

1. Tutoring 101 is a small (staffers and tutors total), family-owned and operated business based in Allen, Texas.

2. We were founded in 1997 — that’s right! We’re a ’90s child.

3.Our founder, Tanya Donaghey, has three children and is a certified teacher as well as a small business owner.

4.We offer a truly unique curriculum and variety of workshops during the summer months all designed to get students ready for the coming academic year.

5.Our one-on-one tutoring sessions are tailored specifically to focus on topics requested by the student.

6.Tutoring 101 provides services not only for high and middle school students, but for those still in early childhood working their way through the wild worlds of Kindergarten and other elementary grades.

7.“A small investment in test prep can save you an average of $30,000 at many of the most popular colleges that students from Allen, Lovejoy, and McKinney choose.”

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Read, Read, Read! All the Time and All You Can

So, you’re looking at yourself and your kids/siblings/friends and you begin to wonder: Why don’t I/we/they read more? Why don’t I enjoy it? Why do I get tired when I start reading/try to get them to read?

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The truth is, reading is changing but not many people are talking about it. With the advents of the Internet, speed reading, and standardized exams, classical methods and forms of reading changed dramatically without ever transforming the way we talk about reading (which is, if you weren’t aware, almost entirely novel-based).

This cultural focus on the Novel as the be-all and end-all of reading can be one of the first and largest obstacles to actually getting yourself and other kids/students/friends interested in reading and writing. This isn’t to say that novel reading is without merit or importance – reading novels is terrific and vital to cultural literacy! And there are many novels that are taught in schools precisely because of what an immense cultural impact they’ve had and continue to have upon us today. But this doesn’t mean that the novel should ever be thought of as The Best form of reading and writing – it’s just one form among many, and it’s not the best for everyone.

The truth is, reading a novel isn’t somehow magically better or more challenging than reading a short story, flash fiction, news story, novelette, novella, or long-form magazine article (such as those found in Orion Magazine, The New Yorker, and/or Harper’s Magazine). In fact, novels can often be fluffier and more poorly written than many of these other, shorter forms since longer forms of writing allow for greater authorial indulgence and digression. Moreover, novels are the form that most major publishers are most interested in, and so many writers often feel pressured to write in the novel format regardless of whether or not it’s their preference or forte.

So, when you’re trying to get yourself or others more interested in reading, here are a few introductory Don’ts:

  • Don’t punish yourself. Reading is a skill, that’s why it’s taught in schools. So, if you aren’t used to reading regularly, it’s normal for the skill of reading to be rustier and to feel more like work. Just make sure you don’t let that fact become an excuse to not read at all.
  • Don’t box yourself in prematurely. Don’t assume that you love reading novels or that novels are somehow inherently better than other forms of writing just because they aren’t classically taught in schools. What’s important for school and college is reading comprehension and critical analysis – skills you can certainly develop by reading shorter form works just as surely as you can by reading novels.
  • Don’t label other pastimes as somehow bad or useless in comparison to reading. It’s moderation that’s important. Not all videogame playing is bad, not all movie-going or television-watching is bad, so don’t think or talk about these activities as if they somehow translated into anti-reading. In fact, the only thing that’s anti-reading is using these and every other component of life as an excuse to avoid reading.

And here are a few important Dos:

  • Do make specific times and schedules for reading if you don’t already read regularly (and, hint-hint, don’t make this time/schedule a right-before-bed activity).
  • Do make time to read for at least an hour a day. This will not only help you develop a healthy habit but will also force you to look for new things to read more regularly, helping you discover more quickly just how vast the Wild World of Reading truly is.
  • Do read as many different things as possible and always try new types of reading and writers, even if they seem like things that wouldn’t interest you at first. After all, you never know when one talented writer out there is going to be able to line up all the right stars for you to make Economics an interesting read, or Astronomy or Mathematics or Romance or Westerns or World History.
  • Do give every novel-length book (fiction or nonfiction) at least 100 pages before you decide to finish it or set it down. For some books, this’ll get you most of the way through to the end. For most others, this will give you at least enough information to know the main characters, ideas, plot, and style — it’ll let you know, in other words, whether or not the book has earned more of your time as well as give you the satisfaction of being able to really choose when a book is right for you. You’re not only a reader then, but a connoisseur! And one who can speak intelligently with others on books, articles, and novels that you like and dislike! After all, being able to say specifically why it is you don’t like a certain book or author can be just as important and useful as being able to say why and what you do like about others. (What’s more, for you high school and college students out there with monster-long reading assignments, reading at least 100 pages of any text will also give you a good sense of the author’s thesis and argument. Of course, for college-level nonfiction, it’s often most useful to read the introduction and conclusion chapters first.)

Another nice perk to exploring new types and styles of reading? There’s a great wide world of literary magazines on the Internet today that provide terrific writing from new and established authors that is 100% free of charge! Try finding a novel for that price 🙂 (of course, if you visit your local library, you’ll find shelf upon shelf of 100% free of charge novels — what a wonderful world we’re living in!)

Just to get you started, here are a few sources you might not have heard of or might not have considered before as sources of interesting, fun, enlightening, and (quite often) FREE reads:

Alice Munro

You may have heard of Alice Munro as she just earned the Nobel Prize in Literature for her amazing work with the difficult art of the Short Story. A Canadian author, she’s got a mad talent for creating thoughtful, challenging worlds, characters, and stories in a brief matter of 30-50 pages. Her stories will have you laughing, weeping, and on the edge of your seat all before you ever realize that she’s shown you something truly wild and beautiful about the human experience.

The Gettysburg Review

The Gettysburg Review, published by Gettysburg College, is recognized as one of the country’s premier literary journals. Since its debut in 1988, work by such luminaries as E. L. Doctorow, Rita Dove, James Tate, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Wilbur, and Donald Hall has appeared alongside that of emerging artists such as Christopher Coake, Holly Goddard Jones, Kyle Minor, Ginger Strand, and Charles Yu, whose short-story collection, Third-Class Superhero, was selected recently by Richard Powers as one of the National Book Foundation’s ‘Five Under 35.’”

Cemetery Dance Magazine

“Founded by Richard Chizmar in 1988, Cemetery Dance Publications is widely-considered the world’s leading specialty press publisher of horror and dark suspense. … Our flagship magazine, Cemetery Dance, has won every major genre award and is healthier than ever — with a higher newsstand and subscriber circulation than ever before, ever-increasing advertiser support, and a continuing reputation for superb content and design. We’re well-known for publishing the biggest and the brightest stars in the genre, often before they’re discovered by the big New York publishers.”

Orion Magazine

“Mission: The first issue of the Orion Nature Quarterly was published in June 1982, and in its editorial George Russell, the publication’s first Editor-in-Chief, boldly stated Orion’s values:

‘It is Orion’s fundamental conviction that humans are morally responsible for the world in which we live, and that the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a personal bond with nature.’

In the intervening thirty years, Orion has become a focal point in an extraordinarily rich period of nature writing, and it has remained true to that core conviction, though the magazine has evolved into a bimonthly and the range of its interests has broadened to include not only environmental but cultural concerns.

[Today,] Orion’s mission is to inform, inspire, and engage individuals and grassroots organizations in becoming a significant cultural force for healing nature and community.”

Analog Science Fiction & Fact

Astounding/Analog (often all-encompassingly just called ASF) is often considered the magazine where science fiction grew up. When editor John W. Campbell took over in 1938, he brought to Astounding an unprecedented insistence on placing equal emphasis on both words of ‘science fiction.’ No longer satisfied with gadgetry and action per se, Campbell demanded that his writers try to think out how science and technology might really develop in the future-and, most importantly, how those changes would affect the lives of human beings. The new sophistication soon made Astounding the undisputed leader in the field, and Campbell began to think the old title was too ‘sensational’ to reflect what the magazine was actually doing. He chose ‘Analog’ in part because he thought of each story as an ‘analog simulation’ of a possible future, and in part because of the close analogy he saw between the imagined science in the stories he was publishing and the real science being done in laboratories around the world.

Real science and technology have always been important in ASF, not only as the foundation of its fiction, but as the subject of articles about real research with big implications for the future. One story published during World War II described an atomic bomb so accurately-before Hiroshima-that FBI agents visited John Campbell to find out where the leak was. (There was no leak-just attentive, forward-thinking writers!) More recently, many readers first encountered the startling potentials of nanotechnology in these pages, in both fact articles (including one by nanotech pioneer K. Eric Drexler) and fiction.”

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

The Ellery Queen tradition of literary excellence and top-notch crime and detective writing continues today. The Readers Encyclopedia of American Literature calls Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine ‘the finest periodical of its kind.’ Thanks to its many gifted contributors, EQMM remains where it has always been, on the cutting edge of crime and mystery fiction, offering readers the very best stories being written in the genre anywhere in the world.”

Danse Macabre

Danse Macabre, an Online Literary Magazine, is committed to expanding the creative landscape of the literary web. Our central editorial criterion is the overall imaginative effort you deploy to transcend prevailing (suburban, academic) orthodoxies. The narrative contours of magical realism, [and] world poetry…are especially appreciated.”

ellipsis…literature & art

ellipsis… literature and art is a journal published each April by the students of Westminster College in Salt Lake City (since 1965). Contributors are paid for their work and eligible for a prize judged this year by Andrea Hollander. We publish well known writers, up-and-coming writers, and never-before-published writers.”

Nightmare Magazine

Nightmare is an online horror and dark fantasy magazine. In Nightmare’s pages, you will find all kinds of horror fiction, from zombie stories and haunted house tales, to visceral psychological horror.

Edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams, every month Nightmare brings you a mix of originals and reprints, and featuring a variety of authors—from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven’t heard of yet. When you read Nightmare, it is our hope that you’ll see where horror comes from, where it is now, and where it’s going.”

Flash Fiction Online

“Every month, Flash Fiction Online is proud to publish what we think is some of the best darn flash fiction (500 to 1000 words) there is. Each issue includes three original stories by both new and seasoned authors. Although many on our staff have a fondness for the speculative, we enjoy and select fiction in any genre. Founded by Jake Freivald in 2007, Flash Fiction Online has been published by Anna Yeats since September 2013.”

The New York Times (About page)

“Because we’re journalists, we’re impatient. We want to gather the news as quickly as possible, using any technological resource available. And when we’re as sure of the story as we can be, we want to share it immediately, in whatever way reaches the most people. The Internet didn’t plant these ideas in our heads. We’ve always been this way.”

Harper’s Magazine

Harper’s Magazine, the oldest general-interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation, through long-form narrative journalism and essays, and such celebrated features as the iconic Harper’s Index. With its emphasis on fine writing and original thought Harper’s provides readers with a unique perspective on politics, society, the environment, and culture. The essays, fiction, and reporting in the magazine’s pages come from promising new voices, as well as some of the most distinguished names in American letters, among them Annie Dillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Gaitskill, David Foster Wallace, and Tom Wolfe.”

Sherman Alexie

“Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction, a PEN/Hemingway Citation for Best First Fiction, and the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, Sherman Alexie is a poet, short story writer, novelist, and performer. He has published 24 books including What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned, poetry, from Hanging Loose Press; Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories, from Grove Press; and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a novel from Little Brown Books for Children.

A Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, Alexie grew up in Wellpinit, Washington, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Alexie has been an urban Indian since 1994 and lives in Seattle with his family.”

The American Poetry Review

“Mission: The American Poetry Review is dedicated to reaching a worldwide audience with a diverse array of the best contemporary poetry and literary prose. APR also aims to expand the audience interested in poetry and literature, and to provide authors, especially poets, with a far-reaching forum in which to present their work.”

Still hungry for more? Check out this gigantic (though hardly comprehensive list) of literary and poetry magazines:

NEWPAGES.COM