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For School Admin: How to Identify & Address Cyberbullying

One of the most difficult aspects of cyberbullying from a school administrative perspective is simply that, by definition, it happens in a virtual world. Cyberbullying happens where bullies can often mask their crimes more easily and escape school-administered consequences by committing their offenses off-campus. As Katherine Cowan, communications director for the National Association of School Psychologists, explains for Scholastic,

One of the capacities of cyberbullying is that it goes from zero to 60 rapidly—it can go viral very quickly and can live permanently online … School administrators face the challenge of having to wrap their arms around a dynamic and incredibly complex social system with the students they serve. The Internet makes it that much more complicated.

However, there are some steps that school administrators can begin taking in order to better combat and prevent instances of cyberbullying.

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According to Emily Richmond’s Scholastic article, “Cyberbullying: What schools can do to stop it,” teachers and school administrators can…

“[1] Define cyberbullying clearly, and incorporate expectations into Internet and electronic communications for students and staff.

[2] Involve parents and the wider community as early as possible, whether it’s through a task force to review policy, or via workshops to help families understand and respond to how their children are using the Internet and electronic communications.

[3] Teach students to be cyber-savvy. In addition to understanding the risks involved in sharing personal information online, students need to understand how the ‘tone’ of their communications can be perceived much differently than they might have intended.

[4] Finally, report suspected cases of bullying to the supervisors, the parents of all involved students, and, when necessary, law enforcement. While the steps may seem simple, the reality is invariably complicated and changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.”

School administrators should also be careful not to conflate anti-cyberbullying efforts with simply more surveillance. Extra surveillance can not only fail to address the key issues at hand, but can also inadvertently punish students who haven’t done anything wrong. To avoid this conflation, your school can also try implementing hotlines or tip lines rather than more attempts at teacher surveillance of student technologies. As Sameer Hinduja of the Cyberbullying Research Center argues,

…every school should have a system in place that allows students who experience or observe bullying or cyberbullying (or any inappropriate behavior) to report it in as confidential a manner as possible. It seems obvious that we should be using mediums that youth already prefer [i.e. via text/phone]. In addition, being able to broach the subject without being forced to reveal one’s identity or do it face-to-face may prove valuable in alerting faculty and staff to harmful student experiences, and help promote an informed response to bring positive change.

What’s more, school administrators should also work to set a rigorous standard in regards to all student cyber activity on school grounds—a standard that draws the line at inappropriate behavior rather than inappropriate content. For example, if a student posts a “harmless” video on their blog of a teacher or other student simply walking down the hall, but does so without that teacher or student’s knowledge or permission, that student should be quickly and sharply reprimanded. For though the content may seem innocuous, it is the behavior of video-taping, publishing, and taking liberties with another person’s life and image that is inappropriate and therefore punishable.

By cutting students off at inappropriate behavior rather than waiting for the content itself to become inappropriate, we can begin to teach students that it isn’t simply a matter of blatantly offensive material that’s the core issue here; it’s the use of technologies to inappropriately invade and disrespect the space and reputation of others that’s at the heart of the problem.

These sorts of anti-cyberbullying behavior-centered policies can stretch from anything like having home-room teachers confiscate all cellphones at the beginning of classes and returning them at the end of the day to simply punishing students if they’re caught using a cellphone during class. The severity of the measures will inevitably vary from community to community as the individual school’s climate and state’s laws demand.

For more information and ideas, check out the following resources:

For Teachers: How to Identify Bullying

It is of the utmost importance that all teachers recognize that, in today’s classroom, there are two very distinct types of bullying: in-person bullying and cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can include everything from text messages to emails to Facebook to blogs to chatrooms. Understanding this difference as well as the ins-and-outs of bullying itself will better enable teachers to detect when bullying is taking place and who the perpetrators (and victims) are.

According to the National Education Association (NEA), bullying can be defined as the act of “systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt and/or psychological distress on another.” According to StopBullying.gov, “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.

Operating under these understandings of bullying (as well as the knowledge that cyberbullying is distinctive from in-person bullying), how then can teachers take the next step to recognizing where and when bullying is happening?

StopBullying.gov provides a good list of starting places when it comes to identifying signs of bullying in students, including: students suffering from unexplained injuries, lost or damaged belongings, frequent illness or feelings of illness, sudden changes in appetite, sudden negative changes in grades and/or academic interests/rigor, sudden negative change in school relationships, and a variety of self-inflicted wounds such as cutting or running away from home.

IMG_2506While these symptoms may sound obvious enough, they can actually be kept well-hidden by students (and often are) due to feelings of immense shame, fear, depression, and/or isolation. In order to detect and identify these symptoms, it is of paramount importance that teachers strive to develop a healthy rapport with their students, their students’ parents, and their fellow teachers. Without these clear lines and opportunities for honest communication, we won’t be able to recognize what’s normal for any given child and thus won’t be able to recognize significant changes (aka possible warning signs) either.

Developing and maintaining this many relationships, however, is far too much for any one teacher to undertake successfully by themselves. Knowing this, consider the following possibilities for fostering and opening up wider lines of communication, empathy, and observation:

  • Hold regular (mandatory) meetings/lunches/get-togethers with other teachers in order to catch up on how each other’s students are doing
  • Try creating an anti-bullying task force composed of teachers, administrative staff, and students
  • Discuss and share the Anti-Bullying “Seating Chart” from Glennon Doyle Melton’s article, “One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Bullying”***
  • Hold regular meetings with parents to discuss their children’ s home life, internet usage, phone usage, and any issues that might be cropping up in the classroom
  • Work with school administrative staff to craft and implement anti-bullying policies for your school
  • Make sure that all students understand that, should they come to you with information or concerns, they will not be immediately judged or punished, but listened to, considered, and respected

Further reading:

News Update: Sexism in the Classroom

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This past February, Danielle Kurtzleben’s article, “Grade-school teachers can push girls away from math, with huge consequences,” appeared in Vox, speaking to some very important and, tragically, very widespread misconceptions regarding the gender “math gap” in education. According to Kurtzleben:

“A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that something else might be at work here shaping the supposed ‘choices’ girls and women make. It shows that young girls’ teachers have biases that push girls away from math and science early on, which could be influencing where they go later in life.

Economists Victor Lavy from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and Edith Sand from Israel’s Tel Aviv University looked at Tel Aviv sixth graders’ test scores both on standardized tests and internal tests in Hebrew, English, and math.”

In this research, Lavy and Sand tested to see if there was any difference in test scores if the ones responsible for grading the tests knew or did not know the test-takers’ gender. Their results clearly suggest the existence of a “systematic bias against girls in the marking of math exams.” And as Lavy and Sand followed their sixth-graders through the eighth grade and high school, they found that “those early teacher biases led to significant improvements on the later math exams for boys and negative and significant effects in math for girls.”

Of course, as Kurtzleben also points out, “this is a working paper, meaning its results are preliminary, and it studied students in a different culture and school system, so we can’t assume US students would see the exact same magnitudes of effects” (emphasis added). However, what’s most important about this research now, as Kurtzleben explains, is that it shows how powerfully “socialization takes hold early on” as well as showcases

“the power of biases — discourage a child from pursuing a subject, and she will, years later, later perform worse on that subject (encourage her, meanwhile, and she’ll do better). So when you discourage a whole swath of the population from pursuing high-paying fields, all those people will be much more likely to have lower-paying jobs.”

What does this mean for us in the here and now? What does it mean for us as parents, teachers, and/or fellow students? It means constantly interrogating ourselves and our assumptions. It means asking ourselves hard questions before we hand back that test or agree with our daughters that Yeah, math really is boring or Yeah, math is super hard, when we might be telling our sons, Yeah, but you can do it or Yeah, but you want to be a marine biologist one day, don’t you? The insidious evil of sexism is that you can sometimes be adding to the problem and perpetuating old sins without ever realizing it or meaning to.

This is a trend and social failing that should both greatly concern and anger you, for your sake as well as for the rest of the world’s. After all, as Kurtzleben so well explains:

“This isn’t just a problem for women; it’s a problem for society. This study suggests that girls were just as capable as boys at math at the start of the observation period, but they were slowly pushed away from math. To diminish an entire demographic’s talent at once is to squander their potential productivity, and economic growth.”

If we want to one day live in a better, more just, more equitable, and more peaceful world, then there’s really no better or easier place to start than right at home with the editing, improving, and monitoring of our own attitudes, perspectives, and actions. The hard truth is, we will only have justice and equality for all when we begin treating others justly and equitably.

 

All quotes and facts here were drawn from Danielle Kurtzleben’s Vox article, “Grade-school teachers can push girls away from math, with huge consequences.”

How to Know if Your Kid Needs Tutoring

USNAccording to U.S. News, three good ways to know whether or not your child would benefit from tutoring are:

  1. Use Your Institution: You know your kids better than anyone.
  2. Get to the Root Cause: Are your kids struggling to pay attention or are the subjects themselves eluding them?
  3. Look Beyond the Score: Don’t settle for your kids’ grades and test scores as a barometer of how they’re really doing in school.

(Article by Kelsey Sheehy)


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According to Parents:

  1. Slipping Grades: If you believe that your child can do better than he did on his latest report card, or if you’ve noticed a gradual or sudden decline in his test scores, communicate with his teacher about your concerns. …”
  2. “Not Managing Time Well: If your child puts off projects and postpone homework, she may not be able to keep up as workloads increase. …”
  3. “Being Consistently Confused: Sometimes a child is underperforming because he simply doesn’t understand the homework. …”
  4. “Lacking Confidence: It is natural to be uncertain when learning a new concept, but it is not constructive when a child is told she isn’t smart enough to do well in school. …”
  5. “Decreasing Parental Supervision: When parents take on additional commitments outside of the family, it may be impossible to maintain the same level of homework help they had been providing their child. …”
  6. “Learning Disabilities: Tutoring sessions are also beneficial for children who have been diagnosed with a learning disorder, such as ADHD, dyslexia, or a visual processing problem. …

(Article by Mali Anderson)


 

CBS According to PBS Parents, there are several ways to know if your child may need a math tutor, including:

  1. “If your child is old enough to receive report cards, you can tell pretty quickly whether or not he might need help when you see his grades.”
  2. “Beyond slipping grades, look out for a lack of enthusiasm for math.”
  3. “That loss in interest could signal that your child needs help, but it also may mean that he or she is bored. That’s where a tutor can come in.”

(Article by Laura Lewis Brown)


CBS News

 

 

 

 

 

According to CBS, a few key ways to recognize whether or not your kids might benefit from tutoring are:

  1. “Continued failing grades in school.”
  2. “Child is constantly making excuses as to why he or she is not doing homework. The student is unhappy in school or having problems in general that you are aware of.”
  3. “The teacher sends notes home to you and you have to go to school because there is disruptive behavior, a pattern that goes on for at least a full school year.”

(Article by Tatiana Morales)


And according to KSL News:KSL News

  1. “Does your child have continual bad grades that do not seem to improve?”
  2. “Does your child have behavior problems at school? Behavior problems at school do not always indicate a need for a tutor. Some students have behavior problems because they do not seem to understand what is being taught and some have behavior problems because they are simply bored with the subject material.”
  3. “Does your child regularly say they hate school?”
  4. “When working on homework assignments, does it seem to take your child longer to finish them than you would expect?”
  5. “When confronted about unfinished schoolwork, does your child makes excuses as to why it is not finished?”

(Article by Leann Mills)

Getting Back the Joys of Learning

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them…”

—Charles Dickens, Hard Times

In “Joy: A Subject Schools Lack” (The Atlantic; Jan 2015), Susan Engel – a mother, teacher, and developmental psychologist – points out the troubling truth that, for many schools, the last thing they’re concerned with nowadays is “what it feels like to be a child, or what makes childhood an important and valuable stage of life in its own right.” Thus, we now see many elementary and high schools (and even some colleges) focusing on the needs and wants of parents rather than students, pitching buzzwords and slogans about getting kids prepped for college and high-stakes careers rather than for adulthood, lifelong learning, and – I don’t know – their upcoming grade level. Or, as Engel puts it, “This may explain why so many schools that I visit seem more like something out of a Dickens novel than anything else.”

As a kid, my husband attended a private elementary school in Ft. Worth for his K-8 – a school that’s principal was often fond of telling parents, Third grade is the best preparation for fourth grade, fourth grade is the best preparation for fifth grade, and so on. In other words, a child’s education should really be just that: an education for children that takes one step at a time, not an education for future college students or CEOs that constantly leaps forward without regard to the here-and-now. What’s more, it seems to me that instilling and focusing on the joys of learning for students would be a tremendous means of also increasing and enhancing the joys of teaching.

As feminist philosopher and writer Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés wrote in Women Who Run With the Wolves, people’s

“psyches and souls…have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place. When we are children … the instinctive nature notices all these phases and cycles. … Children are the wildish nature, and without being told to, they prepare for the coming of these times, greeting them, living with them, and keeping from those times recuerdos, mementos, for remembering ….” (pg 276-277)

What joys might we all better experience and live with now – not simply remember – if we’d allowed ourselves to learn and grow with these instinctive, wildish, soul-fulfilling cycles, rather than elbowing our way out of them in some abstract desire to one day be “successful”? How much more successful and joyful might we all be if we’d let ourselves continue to love and enjoy learning, if we’d been encouraged to experience and embrace feelings of awe and wonderment rather than to push constantly ahead, constantly faster, and to act “cool” and unimpressed with the world, ourselves, and each other?

Engel inspired and started us off in this post, so I’ll let her end it as well:

Before you brush this argument aside as sentimental fluff, or think of joy as an unaffordable luxury in a nation where there is dire poverty, low academic achievement, and high dropout rates, think again. The more dire the school circumstances, the more important pleasure is to achieving any educational success. … The more difficult a child’s life circumstances, the more important it is for that child to find joy in his or her classroom.”

Further Readings & Videos:

Time-Management Advice & Other Tips for Academic Success

Entering a new grade or school, whether in elementary, high school, or college, can be absolutely nerve-wracking — from fears of not making friends to the basics of simply learning how to find your way to each physical classroom (I still have nightmares about not being able to find the right classroom). And each new level – transitioning from elementary to middle to high school to college – comes with its own unique stresses and concerns.

Elementary School: What if I fall behind? What if I don’t make friends?

High School: What if I bomb the SATs? What if I don’t get into college? What if I choose the wrong college?

College: What if I choose the wrong major? What if I drop-out? What if I don’t get into grad school? What if I don’t get a job? What if I can’t balance work and school and health/social life?

Well, the good news is that no one’s alone in these fears and anxieties. The even better news is that teachers at every level – teachers worth their salt, anyway – are well aware of these stresses and are eager to see their students push past them and into success. Below, we’ve compiled a short list of tips and advice for how to help overcome some of these fears for 2015.



Note: We draw from and reference the following sources, and highly encourage you to visit them and read the articles in full.

A Professor’s Pointers for Success in College: 21 Easy-to-Follow Tips” by Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead, St. Lawrence University, with The Huffington Post

Top 12 Time-Management Tips” by Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman, with US News



  1. Keep careful stock of your course syllabi, assignments, and attendance policies. This may seem obvious but, in both high school and college, these rules/expectations can vary significantly from teacher to teacher. It’s vital to making a good impression and to maintaining your own schedule that you keep aware of deadlines, required readings, attendance, and so forth. (For more, see Halstead)
  2. Don’t keep your head down. Especially in a new grade, classroom, and/or school, it can often seem like the best policy to lay low for a while till you know the ropes. However, this can actually be counterproductive to your ultimate goals of making friends, having good student-teacher relationships, and keeping on top of your work. If, instead of keeping your head down, you take the time to introduce yourself to others (student and teacher), raise your hand to answer and/or ask the occasional question, and just generally approach others with your daily concerns and joys, then you’ll quickly find yourself with a terrific group of friends and an impressed passel of teachers (no matter how new or introverted you are). By establishing these relationships right off the bat, you also set yourself up with a stronger safety net for making mistakes – people will be more understanding of you running (very) occasionally late, for example, if they already know your name and have a favorable impression of you. (For more, see Halstead)
  3. Pump up your writing skills. Whether it’s an essay, short story, book report, or email, make sure your writing is always a clear, respectful, and positive reflection of yourself. This means using a teacher’s full title when contacting them via email (e.g. Ms. Ryan for [most] elementary teachers, Dean Ryan for a college dean, Professor Ryan for a professor [this is often better, actually, than saying “Dr.” Ryan as not all professors are full doctors yet], Assistant Principal Ryan for – you get the idea); not using ALL CAPS in written communication; using clear, proper grammar and spelling in all written works (as much for clarity’s sake as for professionalism); and always including courtesy details such as full headings on all papers, page numbers, and so forth. For help with improving your writing skills, be sure to talk to your teachers and librarians; meet with tutors; read a lot; take up writing-heavy hobbies such as creative writing, blogging, or letter writing; and take full advantage of any Writing Center services your school provides. (For more, see Halstead)
  4. Know Thyself – Are you a morning person or a night owl? And no, I don’t mean: Are you weirdly peppy in the morning or do you prefer to stay out late partying? I mean: Do you get more done if you block time in the morning to do your homework or review your notes, or do you have an easier time completing your work if you do it first thing after school, or perhaps even in the later evening after dinner? Everyone has a different personal schedule that works best for them. Knowing your preferences (and being honest with yourself about them), will be a great step in the right direction of getting your work done well and on time. (For more, see Jacobs & Hyman)
  5. Be patient and make sure you take the time you need. Today, kids and young adults are learning to read and interact with new information in very different ways than their parents did as students, whether by following blogs, Twitter, 24-hour TV news, or online hubs like Vox and The Huffington Post. However, while all of these have their time, place, and value, they aren’t the same as sitting down to read a book or other piece of long-form writing. Because of this, many students today don’t recognize until it’s too late just how much time is actually necessary to read and study and write intelligently about long-form works. Sure they’ve read plenty of novels in the past, but leisure-reading isn’t the same animal (and we all know it!).  So, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get into your academic reading-and-writing groove, and don’t let other seemingly-complementary items (like film documentaries or extra seminars) unnecessarily (or stressfully) clutter up your schedule. (For more, see Jacobs & Hyman)

 

Girls and Women in STEM

“If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone. We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

— First Lady Michelle Obama, September 26, 2011

While First Lady Obama is perhaps best known for her work to combat childhood obesity, her work to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education for children (and especially for girls) has also been—thankfully—substantial and groundbreaking as well. Improved STEM education is one of the clearest paths to a better future for our world and our children as technological and scientific innovations in medicine, climate change, and energy grow more complex by the day.

STEM education is an investment in everyone’s future.

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According to The Department of Commerce’s (2011) Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation, “though they represent a mere 24 percent of the STEM workforce, women earn on average 33 percent more when they work in these high-growth fields.” However, even with this boon for entering the STEM fields, and even though “women today currently earn 41% of PhD’s in STEM fields, [they] make up only 28% of tenure-track faculty
in those fields.

Despite this inequality and despite the rampant sexism that is often reported by women studying and working in STEM fields, there are many significant positive steps being taken to encourage and promote more girls and young women to pursue the sciences in their education and careers.

For example, the Department of Education has recently created an “Invest in Innovation” fund that

provides competitive grants to applicants with a record of improving student achievement. The program’s selection criteria prioritizes schools that support women and girls in STEM, emphasizing the need to increase the number of women and girls teaching and studying STEM subjects, and ensuring that both educators and students receive access to rigorous and engaging coursework, high-quality academic preparation, and opportunities for professional development.”

Moreover, NASA has recently gotten in on the game by teaming up with the Girl Scouts of the U.S. to develop a memorandum of understanding uniting the organizations “to achieve common goals: motivating and encouraging girls to do their best.” NASA was present at the Girl Scout’s annual convention and thus created an “opportunity for 17,000 leaders and girls to experience fun, hands-on NASA STEM activities….

In other words, the government is trying to think outside the box for getting young girls more involved and interested in STEM today. But it’s not only the government that’s interested in mining this “new” vein of gold in the American mountain; clubs and organizations are popping up all over the place aimed at supporting young girls’ interests in STEM fields.

Take Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative Project, for example. The Kentucky Girls Project, led by the University of Kentucky, is focused on “informing and motivating girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics…to build a strong, diverse workforce in Kentucky.” Many other states have similar collaboratives supported by various high education institutions including Illinois, Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, New Mexico, and others.

And even our local Texas schools like Lovejoy (Lucas, TX) have started including STEM courses in their elective rotation to support and deepen students’ interest and access to the sciences. Lovejoy now offers several agricultural elective courses to their ninth graders as well as an optional introductory course to design and robotics. Similarly, Ford Middle School (Allen, TX) has begun offering “Career Portals in STEM” as an elective course designed to introduce students to the careers of science and engineering. Of course, given that students begin engaging in the Science Fair as early as 6th grade (in TX) and that children of all ages are often naturally drawn to the splendor and wilds of science, these STEM courses and options ought to be made available to students much earlier.

If you’re a parent, mentor, or student looking to get yourself or someone close to you more involved in STEM fields, here are a few terrific ideas and resources to consider:

 

 

 

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

Fear No Math, Hate No Math

Given how we’re trained to think about mathematics today, it’s little wonder that so many students begin dreading math early on and regardless of their potential or aptitude for it. Whether it’s parents letting kids off the hook by agreeing that “math is the hardest” or “math is no fun” or “math is pointless” (likely in order to mask their own insecurities regarding mathematics) or television characters fearing mathematics for just such a variety of reasons or even Teen Talk Barbie, we’re constantly told and told again just how “awful” math can be. As TV Tropes explains of much of television today,

Irrational fear of the theorem of Pythagoras is inevitable. Even the most basic of long division is portrayed as mind-bogglingly difficult, especially for parents helping their grade-schoolers do homework. Usually when trying to portray math in this light, writers (particularly in visual media like film) will show a piece of paper/whiteboard/blackboard full of abominably complex equations; use of integral signs,Gratuitous Greekletters (particularly pi and sigma), daemonic occultist geometries, the accursed variables ‘x’ and ‘y’ and such forth are prevalent. Any scene where mathematics is being taught will invariably result in children being bored, falling asleep, or in a few cases, succumbing to gibbering schizophrenia from the Cyclopean confusion of it all (thus the Mad Mathematician).

In other words, we’re all being told to fear math as something that’s impossible to understand or something that’s only for the socially inept (consider, for example, The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon character) or something that we simply don’t need to know (consider, for example, The Big Bang Theory’s maddeningly slow and dull-witted Penny character). All of this social reinforcement that “math is simply too hard,” can convince students who would otherwise enjoy math or who face challenges with math early on that it’s not worth their time and that it’s normal to hate and misunderstand mathematics. As PBS explains, there are a number of core skills that students can struggle with for a variety of reasons over the course of their K-12 educational careers, which can end up negatively coloring their opinions, feelings, and success with math if they aren’t encouraged to enjoy or pursue mathematics. According to PBS, these core skills include: “incomplete mastery of number facts,” “computational weakness,” “difficulty transferring knowledge, making connections,” “incomplete understanding of the language of math,” and “difficulty comprehending the visual and spatial aspects and perceptual difficulties.”

And, while each of these challenges come with their own unique signs and degrees of intensity, each of these also have their own set of creative solutions. Mathematics, after all, isn’t something we can simply give up on. It isn’t something to be feared or relegated into the spheres of the antisocial or the hopelessly mysterious or pointless. Mathematics is a unique and beautiful language that can give us hope of a new, better, healthier, and richer world. So, if math is something you’re struggling with, regardless of your age, regardless of whether or not you’re a parent or student, seek out tutoring services and mathematics courses near you to help you practice and enhance your mathematical skills. These are important not only for various careers (ranging from businesspersons to scientists to electricians to veterinarians to computer programmers), but can also be useful for boosting your self-confidence and even in protecting yourself against Of course, we’re still learning more day by day regarding how we learn and perceive mathematics. Just take this recent Stanford study of why some children seem to learn math more easily than others:

In a study of third-graders’ responses to math tutoring, Stanford scientists found that the size and wiring of specific brain structures predicted how much an individual child would benefit from math tutoring. … The research is the first to use brain scans to look for a link between math-learning abilities and brain structure or function, and also the first to compare neural and cognitive predictors of kids’ responses to tutoring. In addition, it provides information on the differences between how children and adults learn math, and could help researchers understand the origins of math-learning disabilities.

However, regardless of ability, here are a few quick tips to help students of all ages and levels combat some of core skill challenges to learning and excelling in mathematics:

  • Improve your handwriting: this may seem to be a silly, unimportant thing, but it’s actually a common problem that many people face — they’ll be keeping notes or writing out different components of a problem, only to misread something due to poor or unclear handwriting and lead themselves astray
  • Improve your note-taking: make certain to keep clear and complete notes throughout the entirety of your equations. You won’t always have to do this, but, for a certain amount of time while learning and practicing new types and branches of mathematics, keeping thorough and complete notes of each new step will not only help you reach more precise conclusions, but will also help you better identify any specific areas or components of the problem that you may be struggling with. Keeping such complete notes will also provide you with a study guide to refer back to as you move forward.
  • Always have a stress ball handy: sometimes it can be easy to become overwhelmed and fidgety when faced with whole sheets of math problems. Having something like a stress ball ready at hand can go a long way to calming and refocusing you by providing an outlet for some of that distracting adrenaline.
  • Rewrite and/or breakdown word problems until you’ve isolated and understood each different component of the puzzle. Word problems are occasionally written in such a way as to trick or mask some component of a mathematical problem, but it is often the case that word problems are laid out in hopes of being as clear and straightforward as possible. Either way, they can often pose unique challenges to students of all ages as word problems force students to tackle two very different challenges at once: mathematics and critical reading. So, read each problem thoroughly and rewrite each sentence however necessary in order to assure that you’ve understood and taken account of each aspect.  
  • But, mostly, don’t forget to take some comfort in the straightforwardness of mathematics. In a world wherein relationships, socializing, and politics can be a constant wave of stress and uncertainty, don’t forget that mathematics can provide you with a simpler, creative, and elegant way of viewing and exploring the world — one with clear and often inarguable answers.