About Kat Childress

Passionate about education, teaching, and the English language.

Goodreads Book Review: The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You are an astronaut on the third manned mission to Mars. You, and your five other fellow astronauts, will be there for a month of mars days (aka sols). It’s going to be the best month of your life. But then—six days into the mission—disaster strikes! You are dead. Or so your crew thought. They abandon the mission and head back to Earth. Unfortunately…you are not actually dead. What do you do? How will you survive? Will you survive the next 4 years until the next scheduled mission to Mars?


The Martian
, by Andy Weir, is a space castaway story. It is full of science, space, ingenuity, and luck. It follows the successes and failures astronaut Mark Watney faces while stranded on Mars. Weir chose to utilize a diary-like format to really put readers into Watney’s frame of mind. The story of what occurs on Earth uses standard prose format (third person, past tense).

Weir self-published The Martian in 2011. Eventually, requests came in to have the book put in an Amazon Kindle format. He did, setting the price for the minimum that Amazon would allow. The book just exploded from there. It was quickly made into a movie starring Matt Damon . I actually enjoyed the movie version as well. It kept pretty true to the book (of course, things were left out because that always happens in a book to movie conversion).

The Martian is great for book clubs, in fact, at the end of the book, there are some good questions for discussion. A word of caution, the book has a bit of a gallows sense of humor and some swearing. If that language is inappropriate for the audience reading the book, you may want to pre-screen the book. Swearing is not often and is used well in context.

While some situations were a little far-fetched, for example, the economics of the various situations/problems and Watney’s ingenious plans, they were within reason. Most readers accept a bit of suspension of disbelief when reading.

So, did Watney survive? Would you? The only way to know for sure is to read (or watch) The Martian.

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Guest Post: 5 Effective Tips to Guide High School Students in Time Management

Guest Post: April Boey

In order to achieve success in any task, it is vital to learn proper time management. High school life is power-packed with varied activities that call for a lot of involvement on the part of the student. Given this, if the student is unable to properly handle time, he might end up wasting his time in activities that add negligible value to his entire life and career. Here are 5 effective time management tips that would help high school students to manage their time by striking an appropriate balance between studies and other activities. With each of the tip comes a free online tool to make the implementation super easy for you.

Keep a to-do-list ready

When students are in high school, most of them do not have a plan about how they would spend each day. This absence of planning leads to a lot of confusion and ultimately considerable amount of time is wasted in deciding what to do and when to do it. If a student has a to-do-list ready he can enhance his productivity through proper allocation of time to the different tasks that he needs to do. It is advisable to take up comparatively difficult tasks in the morning because the mind is fresh at that time.

The best online to-do list that I have tried so far is Google tasks as I like its simplicity and ability to sync across my devices so long as I’m logged in to Gmail.

Carry work with you

In case there is an assignment due or you have an upcoming test, it would be great to carry your work with you wherever you are going. This will ensure that you can utilize the lunch time or any other free time for studying. You may even complete a bit of study as you wait for transportation. Although it is hard to avoid social media, try to concentrate on your work at your free time rather than checking Twitter and Facebook every now and then.  If you utilize your minutes wisely, you will get more time for relaxation or doing some other activity that you enjoy.

With Dropbox you do not have to worry about forgetting your physical notes. Besides being a good tool for backing up your documents, Dropbox is also very helpful for sharing files between members in a project work.

Be sure of your priorities

A majority of high school students are unaware of their priorities and hence they indulge in doing things that could easily have been completed afterwards. If a student does not have proper knowledge of priorities, he might ignore the things that require urgent attention and concentrate more on things that do not have so much of urgency. Being sure of the priorities enables a student to lead a less stressful life and carry out all tasks effectively.

Rescue Time is a tool for finding out how you have been spending your time online. If you say studies are your priority, the report from Rescue Time may offer a reality check for you. Statistics don’t lie, find out your real priorities.

Avoid procrastination

It is an age old advice, but it would not be out-of-place to repeat it here. Students should never get into the bad habit of putting things off for a later period of time. Procrastination in fact hampers the schedule to a great extent and ultimately the student will not get adequate time to carry our required tasks. Therefore, the best thing is to categorize the work into convenient segments across a number of days. Abiding by this schedule will make you more organized and leave time for relaxation.

Check out Focal Filter where you can block out distracting websites and avoid procrastination with sites such as Facebook.

Escape from getting sidetracked

If at any point of time you feel that you are getting indulged in insignificant things, immediately stop, and get back to your priorities as per the to-do list. You might procrastinate because of confusion regarding a school project and get involved in other ‘petty’ activities. If that is the issue, take the help of your teacher to solve the problem and move ahead.

During revision, the best way to stay focused is to use a timer, best way, a countdown timer. Trust me, the urgency of the clock ticking will intensify your concentration. Check out E.gg Timer

Implementation of the right time management techniques will definitely help you manage the highly demanding high school life. So, harness time and win every battle through a healthy balance among work, school, relaxation and social life.

 

About the Author

Having been a beneficiary, April believes that education has the ability to transform one’s life. She manages a blog for peer-to-peer learning at http://digitalsenior.sg/ where everyone shares their university experience in Singapore.

 

 

 

Sixth Anniversary of Teaching & Technology

Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of this blog. When I first started the blog, it was supposed to be a documentation of my journey of becoming a teacher, as I had just decided to go back and get my master’s degree. Therefore, I set the blog up as a simple self-hosted blog on my portfolio website.

Six year’s later, Teaching & Technology has its own domain and is less about my personal journey towards the education field and more about education and education technology. I am happy with the direction and momentum of this blog. I do wish I had more time to write, but life happens.

Let’s break down some fast facts and stats:

 

Now, a list for some of my personal favorite posts (in no particular order):

Oh there are tons more, but it’s safe to say, if it looks like I took a lot of time to investigate something and have several citations…I enjoyed writing the post.

So, Happy Sixth Birthday to Teaching & Technology! Let me know what your favorite posts are in the comments.

List Challenge: The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

I was a die-hard Gilmore Girls fan back when it was on TV. I’ve rewatched the series several times and am excitedly awaiting the release of the the new episodes on Netflix.

There were many reasons I liked Gilmore Girls, and one of those reasons was that Rory loved to read. She would throw out literary references faster than I could catch them. I never kept track of the references, but thankfully, someone else did.

I present to you: The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge! (Also, see below for this embedded list.)

According to the list challenge, throughout the entire seven seasons,”Rory Gilmore was seen reading 339 books on screen.” Some of the comments on the list challenge beg to differ. Some commenters mentioned that some books were only mentioned, not read. Others mentioned that only other characters read the books mentioned and not Rory. Another commenter disagreed with The Divine Comedy  and Dante’s Inferno  being listed separately because one is a part of the other [I happen to agree!]

I delved a little further and found Buzzfeed wrote a list as well, titled, “All 339 Books Referenced in ‘Gilmore Girls'”. There are also a number of lists on GoodReads as well with different book totals. One cited 355, while others separate the books out by season. There is even a Richard Gilmore book list.

I found another post that lists 338 book references. This blog post even references a  Wiki article that lists all references in each episode and a link to the Rory Gilmore Book Club on GoodReads.

So many books, not enough time! Speaking of time, it’s time to get reading.

Oh, in case you were wondering, I’ve only read 40 of the 339 books. How many have you read?

Help Me Out: Tell Me What You Want to Read About

I apologize for the lack of posts on Teaching & Technology. I can give you a list of excuses, but they would be simply that, excuses.

Let’s review them, shall we?

  1. I was busy with work
  2. I wanted to binge-watch TV shows on Netflix
  3. I wanted to relax and spend time with friends/family
  4. I was on vacation
  5. I didn’t have anything to write about
  6. I felt I was posting too many guest posts and infographics and not enough of my own content

See, excuses? And in fact, they are the same excuses that teachers hear from students. Okay, maybe not the guest post/infographics excuse, but the rest of them, teachers hear time and time again.

In fact, I even thought about going on hiatus and not writing for a while. Except…I’ve kind of already done that. It’s been about 4 months since I’ve written anything. Sure, I’ve read books and I could have published reviews on them. I could have started a new section and publish reviews on movies that were inspired by books. I could have downloaded random apps on my iPad and published reviews. I could have read the hundreds of emails send by the Department of Education or other organizations and wrote what I thought. I could have gone through my feeds on any number of social media sites and re-posted infographics.

But I didn’t.

When I really think about why I haven’t published anything it all comes back to a lack of inspiration. There was a time when I would stay up too late to finish a blog post. There was a time I couldn’t wait to get to my computer and type out the outrage that I felt. I don’t know where that inspiration has run off to, but I’m going to find it. And you’re going to help me.

See, just like a teacher who asks the students what they want to learn about, I’m going to do the same with you, readers.

So tell me, in the blog comments, on the Facebook page, Tumblr page, etc., what content do you want to see on Teaching & Technology? Do you have an iPad app that you are dying to get a review of? A book you want an opinion on? A movie you’d like me to watch and review? A burning question you want answered (with research!)? What interests you in the field of education and/or ed tech?

I’m also going to be super strict on guest posting. I’ve noticed the majority of people submitting guest posts just want to post something to get a link back to their site. I’m all for giving someone a platform to publish, but I’ve been less than thrilled with the content of the submissions. One even tried to sell me on the benefits of cheating…but it wasn’t satirical!

I look forward to your comments and inspiration.

Great Scott, Future Day is Here!

Great Scott! Today is the future day from Back to the Future! Get a up-to-the-minute present time circuit: http://www.october212015.com/

Let’s talk about what technologies actually came to fruition and which did not. Which ones would you like to have been made?

I’m pretty partial to flying cars and hover boards. I’m glad the two neckties thing didn’t catch on. Of course, who wouldn’t want a time machine…out of a DeLorean? Get your own DeLorean (Flux Capacitor not included)

Need a Back to the Future Halloween costume for this year’s Halloween party? Or perhaps the Wii Game for Christmas?

Let’s put our auto-fit jackets on, auto-lace shoes, drink a Pepsi, and binge watch the trilogy!

We’re Outtatime. Where we’re going, we don’t need…roads.

National Banned Books Week 2015

National Banned Books Week is September 27-October 3. According to the American Library Association, there were 311 book challenges in 2014. Check out the infographic below to see the top 10.

Want to know more about National Banned Book week? Check out www.bannedbookweek.org, the ALA’s Banned Books, or Teaching and Technology’s previous post about National Banned Book Week.

Download this infographic as a PDF.

Why is Math Taught Differently Now?

What is “new math” or Common Core math? One example is this “new math” check floating around the internet. Do you know how much is it written for?

 

According to an article by Hemant Mehta, the check writer (Doug Herrmann) didn’t actually understand what he was talking about so it’s for two different amounts. In the box where you write the amount, the ten-frame is wrong—it’s written as an non-existent eight-frame. However, if some logic is applied, the amount is $8.43. The line where you write out the amount in nice cursive? It’s written with a correct ten-frame box—$10.43. By the way, Mehta assumes the system of 0’s/circles and X’s is $0.43. He’s not really sure since the system appears to be Herrmann’s own creation. I assume it’s based off separate method for illustrating/explaining math.

Don’t understand ten-frames? I highly recommend reading Mehta’s article, The Dad Who Wrote a Check Using “Common Core” Math Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About. Mehta explains what a ten-frame is, as well as how to use it. He also reinforces that Common Core is a set of standards, not a curriculum .Article Bonus: Mehta compares new math to Food Network’s Chopped.

So, why is math taught differently now? You need your brain to think, not to compute. That’s what the device(s) you carry around all day are for! “New math” or “common core math” teaches students multiple methods and the reasoning behind it before getting to shortcuts. Plus, you use it every day to make change (if you still use cash!)

Want a more visual explanation? Dr. Raj Shah explains why there has been a shift in mathematics education.

Why is Math Different Now from raj shah on Vimeo.

Dr. Raj Shah explains why math is taught differently than it was in the past and helps address parents’ misconceptions about the “new math”.

Dr. Shah is the owner and founder of Math Plus Academy (www.mathplusacademy.com) an academic enrichment program with two locations in Columbus, Ohio. Math Plus Academy offers class in math, robotics, programming and chess for kids from KG to 9th grade. Math Plus Academy is on a mission to show kids the joy of mathematics and science.

Goodreads Book Review: All By My Selves by Jeff Dunham

All By My Selves: Walter, Peanut, Achmed, and MeAll By My Selves: Walter, Peanut, Achmed, and Me by Jeff Dunham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve had Jeff Dunham’s autobiography, All By My Selves, sitting on my “to read” shelf for quite some time. I have no other reason for not getting to it sooner other than time and “not being in a biography mood”. Luckily, the stars aligned and I read the book.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that it only took me about 2 days to read it. The text was easy to digest, the content was entertaining, and, well, I enjoyed hearing the character’s voices in my head.

I’ve been a fan of Jeff Dunham since I nearly died laughing one night when I saw Arguing with Myself on Comedy Central. I could barely breathe…the dummies seemed so real and the jokes were great. The more I rewatched Arguing with Myself, the more mesmerized I became with the technology of Dunham’s dummies.

In his book, Dunham talks about how he got started in ventriloquism and the long, arduous road he traveled on to become the international comedian he is today. He explained all the lessons he learned, his successes, and failures. He wasn’t an overnight YouTube sensation–he worked his way up, gig by gig, making sacrifices, and putting in long hours.

Dunham also explains the technology that goes into ventriloquism. He explained (roughly) how he can produce sounds that involve the lips without moving the lips. There were also sections that explained the differences in the type of dummies (the proper term is actually figures) he has and how the figures actually function.

The book was unique in that there were sections in which the figures jumped in and gave their 2 cents on the current conversation. They were represented by a graphic and their name. In fact, even Dunham jumped in on the fun here and there.

All By My Selves is a must for any Dunham or ventriloquism fan. I truly enjoyed the book.

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