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.

View all my reviews

Where Have All The Forwards Gone?

I have a folder on my computer titled “jokes”. They are my favorite forwards that I’ve received over the years. There’s only one problem…I haven’t updated it in years. My email inbox is no longer full of forwards! Where have all the forwards gone? (Cue the Paula Cole music)

It seems as though these forwards have gone on a diet, started dating some images, and moved out of their parents’ inboxes and are now a resurfacing as only a sentence or two as an overlay on a generic image and posted a social media site. They still are being passed around, but with a cool new “share” button rather than the “forward” or “reply all” button that lead to some of their youthful indiscretions.

Don’t you miss forwards like this?

Hello, and thank you for reading this letter. You see, there is a starving little boy in Baklaliviatatlaglooshen who has no arms, no legs, no parents, and no goats. This little boy’s life could be saved, because for every time you pass this on, a dollar will be donated to the Little Starving Legless Armless Goatless Boy from Baklaliviatatlaglooshen Fund. Remember, we have no way of counting letters sent and this is all bull. So go on, reach out. Send this to 5 people in the next 47 seconds. Oh, and a reminder – if you accidentally send this to 4 or 6 people, you will die instantly. Thanks again!!

How about another classic chain letter:

This is the funniest thing in the world! In exactly 87 seconds, you have to send this to 275 people, then if you press (space bar + tab + backspace + page up) a clip will pop up on your screen of a mad goat attacking Bill Gates and butting him into a pile of garbage! I couldn’t stop laughing, even though since I’m typing this I obviously couldn’t have seen it yet, and there is absolutely no way to attach a clip in a way that you have to send the email before you see the clip, it’s still true! And you know what else is true? I am Batman! And if you stay online doing absolutely nothing for one hour after sending this, I’ll email you a gift certificate for five million dollars to spend at Wal-Mart! Just forget the fact that I have no way of finding the email addresses of people who send this out, and the fact that stores will recognize a fake gift certificate. Just send this out, you’ll be glad you did!

I would get chain letters like the following one with so many forward signs, i.e. >>>>>>>, that I could barely read it.

Hi there!! This chain letter has been in existence since 1897. This is absolutely incredible because there was no email then and probably not as many little 8 year olds writing chain letters. So this is how it works. Pass this on to 15,067 people in the next 7 minutes or something horrible will happen to you like:

Stupid Horror Story #1 Miranda Pinsley was walking home from school on Saturday. She had recently received this letter and ignored it. She then tripped in a crack in the sidewalk, fell into the sewer, was gushed down a drain pipe in a flood of sewerage, and went flying out over a waterfall. Not only did she smell nasty, she died. This Could Happen To You!!!

Stupid Horror Story #2 Dexter Bip, a 13-year-old boy, got a chain letter in his mail and ignored it. Later that day, he was hit by a car and so was his girlfriend. They both died. Their families were so upset that everyone related to them (even by marriage) went crazy and pent the rest of their miserable lives in an institution. This Could Happen To You!!! Remember, you could end up like Pinsley and Bip did. Just send this letter to all of your loser friends, and everything will be OK.

Not all the forwards were jokes. The warned me of the email computer viruses. These were so notorious that even Weird Al made a song about them.

VIRUS WARNING!!! If you receive an email entitled “Bad times,” delete it immediately. Do not open it. Apparently this one is pretty nasty. It will not only erase everything on your hard drive, but it will also delete anything on disks within 20 feet of your computer. It de-magnetizes the stripes on ALL of your credit cards. It reprograms your ATM access code, screws up the tracking on your VCR and uses subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD’s you attempt to play. It will re-calibrate your refrigerator’s coolness settings so all your ice cream melts and your milk curdles. It mixes antifreeze into your aquarium and puts dirty socks on the table when company is coming over. It uses your credit cards, forges your signature, and dates your boy/girlfriend. It will program your phone AutoDial to call only your mother-in-law’s number. It will make mad goats come into your home to raid your refrigerator and soil your furniture. So be careful! Forward this to all of your friends, relatives, neighbors, family, enemies, plumbers, garbage men, stock brokers, doctors, and any other acquaintances! It’s for their own good! Thank you.

Chain letters aren’t the only ones in the folder. There was one that compared work and prison environments.

IN PRISON……….you spend the majority of your time in a 10X10 cell.
AT WORK…………you spend the majority of your time in an 8X8 cubicle.

IN PRISON……….you get three meals a day.
AT WORK…………you get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it.

IN PRISON………you get time off for good behavior.
AT WORK…………you get more work for good behavior.

IN PRISON………the guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you.
AT WORK……….you must often carry a security card and open all the doors for yourself.

IN PRISON……….you can watch TV and play games.
AT WORK…………you could get fired for watching TV and playing games.

IN PRISON……….you get your own toilet.
AT WORK………..you have to share the toilet with some people who pee on the seat.

IN PRISON……….they allow your family and friends to visit.
AT WORK…………you aren’t even supposed to speak to your family.

IN PRISON……….all expenses are paid by the taxpayers with no work required.
AT WORK……you get to pay all your expenses to go to work, and they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.

IN PRISON………you spend most of your life inside bars wanting to get out
AT WORK ………..you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars.

IN PRISON ……you must deal with sadistic wardens.
AT WORK…………they are called managers

ENJOY YOUR DAY AT WORK!.

There was another that explained life.

On the first day God created the cow. God said, “You must go to the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer. I will give you a life span of sixty years.” The cow said, “That’s a kind of tough life you want me to live for sixty years. Let me have twenty years and I’ll give back the other forty.” And God agreed.

On the second day, God created the dog. God said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. I will give you a life span of twenty years.” The dog said, “That’s too long to be barking. Give me ten years and I’ll give back the other ten.” So God agreed. (sigh).

On the third day God created the monkey. God said, “Entertain people, do monkey tricks, make them laugh. I’ll give you a twenty year life span.”  Monkey said, “How boring, monkey tricks for twenty years? I don’t think so. Dog gave you back ten, so that’s what I’ll do too, okay?” And God agreed,  again.

On the fourth day God created man. God said, “Eat, sleep, play, enjoy. Do nothing, just enjoy, enjoy. I’ll give you twenty years.”  Man said, “What? Only twenty years? No way man. Tell you what, I’ll take my twenty, and the forty cow gave back, and the ten dog gave back and the ten monkey gave back. That makes eighty, okay?” “Okay, said God. You’ve got a deal.”

So that is why for the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play, enjoy, and do nothing; for the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family; for the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain our grandchildren; and for the last ten years we sit in front of the house and bark at everybody.

Life has now been explained.

I also learned that in my next life, I should be a bear.

In my next life I want to be a bear.  If you’re a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months.  I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid.  I could deal with that, too. If you’re a bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you’re sleeping and wake up to partially grown, cute cuddly cubs.  I could definitely deal with that.

If you’re a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too.  I could deal with that.

If you’re a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.  Yup…..Gonna be a bear

I learned about cownomics.

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies and the economy grows. You retire on the income.

AMERICAN CAPITALISM
You have two cows. You sell one and force the other to produce the milk of  four cows. You profess surprise when the cow drops dead.

ENRON CAPITALISM
You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt-equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows with an option on one more. Sell one cow to buy White House influence, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public buys your bull.

FRENCH ECONOMICS 
You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

GERMAN ECONOMICS
You have two cows. You re-engineer them so that they live for 100 years,  eat once a month, and milk themselves
.
BRITISH ECONOMICS
You have two cows. They are both mad.

ITALIAN ECONOMICS
You have two cows. You don’t know where they are. You break for lunch.

SWISS ECONOMICS
You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

JAPANESE ECONOMICS
You have two cows. You redesign them so that they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create cute cartoon cow images called Cowkimon and market them worldwide.

RUSSIAN ECONOMICS
You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 17 cows. You give up counting and open another bottle of vodka.

INDIAN ECONOMICS
You have two cows. You worship them.

CHINESE ECONOMICS
You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest anyone reporting the actual numbers.

ARKANSAS ECONOMICS
You have two cows. The one on the left is kinda cute…

I even got life lessons from my “mother”.

What my mother taught me:

My mother taught me to appreciate a job well-done:
“If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside – I just finished cleaning!”

My mother taught me religion:
“You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”

My mother taught me about time travel: ”
“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”

My mother taught me logic:
“Because I said so, that’s why.”

My mother taught me foresight:
“Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”

My mother taught me irony:
“Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

My mother taught me about the science of osmosis:
“Shut your mouth and eat your supper!”

My mother taught me about contortionism:
“Will you look at the dirt on the back of your neck!”

My mother taught me about stamina:
“You’ll sit there ’til all that spinach is eaten.”

My mother taught me about weather:
“It looks as if a tornado swept through your room.”

My mother taught me how to solve physics problems:
“If I yelled because I saw a meteor coming toward you; would you listen then?”

My mother taught me about hypocrisy:
“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times – don’t exaggerate!!!”

My mother taught me the circle of life:
“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”

My mother taught me about behavior modification:
“Stop acting like your father!”

My mother taught me about envy:
“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do!”

There are more in this folder on my computer (well, okay Google Drive), but those rebellious forwards will have to wait for another day.

And if you have more forwards you’d like to see here, feel free to submit it in a guest post!

Book Review: The Strange Museum Quartet

The Strange Museum: Book set only

I picked up this quartet of “Hooked on Phonics” MasterReader books at a second-hand bookstore to use with some of my young, yet proficient ESL students. The story sounded interesting and engaging and who was I to argue with the “Hooked on Phonics” brand? It taught me to read and spell oh-so-many years ago.

I’ve since found out this set has a some curriculum materials that weren’t available at the bookstore. I am slightly disappointed, nevertheless, my students enjoyed the books as an independent series. One student in particular was incredibly disappointed to find out there were only four books in the series. She wanted more to read. In fact, I bet if I offered to write additional fan fiction stories based on these books, I bet she would read them.

The quartet is an excellent series, each book escalating in length and complexity, while still retaining the same essential plot. It is great for readers who like short books yet should be moving on to longer ones. Reviews on Amazon claim that students who don’t like reading “devoured” these. I agree, my students couldn’t put them down and were excited to see where the next book would take them.

The Strange Museum
The essential plot of the four books we discover in the first book. The two siblings, Jake and Mandy Strange, work and live at the Strange Museum. It’s a museum their parents own on the first two floors of an old, large house. The third floor is the Strange Family Home and the basement is the office and workshop. The museum is a strange one…they display historically relevant lost and found items. But one day, Jake and Mandy discover a museum secret…if you touch anything after five o’clock (when the museum closes)…you can be transported back in time!

The Midnight Ride (Book 1)
Jake and Mandy accidentally touch a piece of an old map and are transported back in time…to 1775! Now they must help Paul Revere with his midnight ride or risk not being able to get back home because they changed history!

Pirates Revenge (Book 2)
Jake and Mandy tried hard not to touch objects after 5pm, but an accident with a lantern while searching for a history book in their dad’s office transported them to a North Carolinian sandy beach in 1718. But, just when they were about to return the lap to its rightful owner, their ticket back to the present, the pirate Blackbeard shows up and complicates things.

Men in Green (Book 3)
Mandy has learned her lesson. Don’t touch things after 5pm…or else. So what else is a little brother to do? Threaten to touch things. Jake doesn’t plan on actually touching anything; he’s learned his lesson too. But what’s the harm in teasing his sister? Accidents happen. A lute falls. Jake and Mandy catch it, transporting them back over 800 years to Sherwood Forest. Does the lute belong to Robin Hood or someone else? Jake and Mandy better hurry and figure it out…before English history has a chance to change!

The Royal Switch (Book 4)
Mandy wanted a cat. Jake thought a cat in a museum was a bad idea. Mandy snuck a cat into the ancient Egyptian exhibit anyway. Who would have thought the cat would break a display case? And how did that necklace get on the cat? There is only one way to remove it…by touching it. Even stranger…who would have though Mandy and Cleopatra would be doppelgängers? Now Mandy has to go undercover as Cleopatra if she wants to get back to the present!

 

Ted Talk: John Green: The nerd’s guide to learning everything online

“Some of us learn best in the classroom, and some of us … well, we don’t. But we still love to learn — we just need to find the way that works for us. In this charming, personal talk, author John Green shares the community of learning that he found in online video.” – TED Talk Summary

Book Review: Rip Tide

Note: Rip Tide, by Kat Falls, is the sequel to Dark Life (read review).

Summary
Rip Tide
picks up a couple of months after the end of Dark Life. The main characters, Ty & Gemma travel into the trash gyre (a vortex of Atlantic Ocean trash) to hide some of Ty’s family’s crops. Deep in the trash gyre, Ty & Gemma make a grisly discovery; someone has sealed a township…with people inside! Ty & Gemma try to claim salvage rights to the township, but there is no time to waste because surfs have kidnapped Ty’s parents. Could the kidnapping be related to township? Or is there something more sinister going on with the government? Rip Tide is a race against time to find Ty’s parents while trying to avoid Seaguard officers and outlaws. Will Ty’s parents be found alive?

Expansion of World Building
Falls surpasses expectations on world-building with her Rip Tide. She expands upon the universe she built in Dark Life and brings more aspects of life in the Benthic Territory to life. In Dark Life, Falls focused on Ty and the comparison to life his Topsider friend Gemma knew. While townships were mentioned in Dark LifeRipe Tide brings them to life. These townships are remnants of the first wave of pioneers to tried to live in the ocean. We also find that for some people, like Ty, living in the ocean is a utopia, but we also find that for others, the world is a dystopia.

Expansion of Subplot
In her first novel, Falls uses the theme the government vs its people; however it moves out of the subplot status and into the plot for this second novel. We find that not everyone in the government has its constituents best interests at heart.

Connection Between Novels
Rip Tide is a sequel. For some authors, they have an amazing idea first novel and the subsequent one falls flat because the publisher wanted more but the novel wasn’t meant to be a series. This is not the case with Rip Tide. Both novels feel like they are part of the same universe and the characters are consistent between the two novels.

School Materials
Dark Life and Rip Tide are excellent novels in a cross-curricular unit between science and language arts. If you’re interested in pursuing that, please leave a comment! I’d love to blog about it. Find resources from Kat Falls herself in the links section of her website.

For Further Reading
As of now, Dark Life and Rip Tide are the only books in the series. Kat Falls has another book trilogy, Inhuman, about a post-apocalyptic world where people are losing their humanity.