Monthly Archives: July 2012
In the 2012 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, it was revealed, according to the New York Times, that
about 40 percent of the teachers and parents surveyed said they were pessimistic that levels of student achievement would increase in the coming years, despite the focus on test scores as a primary measure of quality of a teacher’s work. – New York Times, March 7, 2012
If, as the writers of Mission Possible state, the inability to achieve one’s job at the highest level is one of the greatest sources of low teacher morale, than how do we give teachers the tools they need to help students improve? Why do we, as Americans, treat teaching so much differently than other professions? I believe it’s because many of us don’t understand how difficult it is to prepare each individual lesson, let alone attempt to convey that lesson to children of varying skill sets and learning styles. I know that before I started homeschooling my kids I had no idea how much prep time went into each subject. We think of doctors as miracle workers, but what we don’t grasp is that in many ways, so is a good teacher – one who can capture the attention of a classroom full of squirmy six-year-olds and motivate them to accomplish more than they thought possible.
Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia, the founders of the Success Academy, a chain of charters schools in New York State, operate their schools on the philosophy that it’s not about the kids,it’s all about the adults.
Achieving excellence isn’t about the students. It’s about the grown-ups. When grown-ups are running on all cylinders, they bring the kids along for the swift, exhilarating ride. – Mission Possible, page 37
The teachers at Success Academy are given two to three periods a day to prepare and practice lessons, including working with other teachers and the school’s leadership team. They videotape lessons and debrief with their peers. Principals spend a great deal of their day circulating in classrooms and offering suggestions to teachers on ways they can improve. Teachers are treated as the valuable resources that they are, and follow the idea that we are never done learning.
We believe it’s hypocritical to expect the children to learn and grow by leaps and bounds while not expecting the adults to grow and expand their repertoire just as much and just as fast. – Mission Impossible, page 32
Success Academy believes that parental participation is also very important to a scholar’s success (students are called scholars). Parents are expected to read at home with their child, monitor homework, and stay in close contact with the classroom teacher and the school. Teachers give out business cards with their cell phone number and also have the phone numbers for the parents of all their students. Parents are also expected to make sure their child attends any extra schooling they may require in order to succeed, including an extra hour after school and even Saturday school if necessary.
Rigor is another building block of Success Academy. But what is rigor? According to Teaching What Matters Most: Standards and Strategies for Raising Student Achievement by Richard W. Strong, Harvey F. Silver and Matthew J. Perini, ASCD, 2001
Rigor is the goal of helping students develop the capacity to understand content that is complex, ambiguous, provocative, and personally or emotionally challenging.
Success Academy applies rigor through their belief that school should be interesting and challenging. Scholars read carefully chosen books, often above their grade level – books that challenge both their reading comprehension and their critical thinking skills. Scholars spend up to an hour and a half in reading and the same in writing every single day. Teachers and leadership are constantly re-evaluating and raising the bar to test the limits of what their students are capable.
This book is unique in that it also contains a DVD with videotaped lessons from various classrooms throughout the Success Academy system.
I highly recommend this book as a starting point for discussion for anyone who is concerned about the state of education in our country.
You can find out more about the book by visiting http://readmissionpossible.com
The writers of Mission Possible have been gracious enough to offer a copy to one of my lucky readers!! Giveaway begins 12:01 PT 7/30/12 and ends 11:59 p.m. 8/13/12. Open to US residents age 18 and older.
To enter to win a copy of the book, please leave a comment below and let me know what you think the biggest problem is in American education and also if you have a suggestion on what we can do to help make it better.
This is a compensated post. All opinions are 100% my own.
I have an abundance of cloth tote bags (some might say, a hoard?) It bothers me enough that I wrote a guest post about alternative uses for cloth shopping bags at Nap Time is My Time (you can read it here). When I was asked to review a reuseable tote for reuseit.com, I was unsure.
But when I went to the website and saw their bags, I was convinced it was worth a try. I chose the Blue Q large stand-up shopping tote because it had some fun, contemporary designs and boasted the ability to hold 40+ pounds of merchandise.
Here’s what it looked like out of the package:
The tote bags are woven from 95% post-consumer material. A removable tag on the handle explains the process:
- Used grain sacks are collected, cleaned, ground and…
- melted into rolls of recycled plastic…
- woven into durable blog fabric…
- printed with our super-fantastic graphics…
- cut & sewn into bags of all shapes and sizes…
- and off to work they go.
1 % of the sales of Blue Q reusable tote bags goes to support the conservation work of the Nature Conservancy.
So of course, as soon as I could I needed to test out that 40+ pound boast.
I also needed to see quantity-wise how much I could stuff in it. In the photo above, the Blue Q bag was stuffed with a watermelon, two jar candles, a set of 5 pound each dumbbells, a set of 5 pound each ankle weights, a bottle of bleach and a large jar of peanut butter.
I also stuffed it with cloth shopping bags.
The Blue Q large stand-up shopping tote retails for $11.95 and you can find it on reuseit.com
I give this tote bag 5 out of 5 gallons of milk!! It’s durable, wipes clean, and it holds a ridiculous amount of stuff!!
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
Fit Moms for Life
Publication Date: December 2011
About the Book:
Dustin Maher has an bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. He has dedicated his life to serving moms and helping them to feel their best, through his MamaTone classes and Fit Fun Boot Camps and DVDs. Finally he has put his philosophy into a book for the rest of us!
From Chapter 1:
This book is designed to help you get into the best shape of your life and get endless energy. You’re not going to do it just by eating well and exercising the way I describe – though that’s a big part of it. You’re going to transform your body and your life by learning to take care of yourself, finding your motivation, setting meaningful and challenging goals, and surrounding yourself with other people who help you achieve those goals.
As many of my regular readers know, I have been on a weight loss journey for the past 2 1/2 years (see My Weight Loss Journey – part 1). From January 2010 to March 2012 I lost 25 pounds and since then I have pretty well been stuck – only losing about a pound and half in 4 months. I looked forward to reading Fit Moms for Life to give me some rejuvenated motivation.
One of the components of a healthy life that Dustin stresses is goal setting. This is a tool that was very valuable to me when I started losing weight, but as my weight loss has slowed down and I find myself unable to meet my goals, or my asthma strikes and I have to start over from square one in the fitness department (okay, maybe square two) goals sometimes just seem like an insurmountable hurdle to me. Liz, one of Dustin’s success story moms, has this quote in the book:
So many people are going on a diet, as opposed tor really changing the way they eat. For me, it had to be a journey, and if it weren’t for the journey I don’t think I would be where I am now.
You know what, she’s right. If I look back on the past 2 1/2 years, I can see how much my life has changed and how much more confident I am and happy in my own skin. So maybe I just need to set some smaller goals and celebrate the journey that has allowed me to become the woman I am today.
Nutrition is another important component of a healthy lifestyle. Dustin recommends a “low-crap” diet. He gives tips for night-time snacking (one of my downfalls) and also some delicious recipes I am looking forward to trying out. He also recommends keeping a “feelings journal” along with your food journal as a way to look for emotional patterns that might go hand in hand with our binges and/or bad food choices.
Strength training and burst training are two more parts of Fit Moms for Life. Dustin does not recommend traditional cardio, but rather lifting weights (as heavy as you can handle in good form for 10-12 reps) and burst training. As Dustin says in the book:
With burst training, you exercise at a very high intensity for a short duration – anywhere from 10 seconds up to maybe a minute – and then you rest or go to a lower intensity to bring your heart rate back down.
You can continue this process for up to 20 minutes and it is supposed to be very effective in helping to burn fat. I can attest that while I was run/walking this last winter I lost weight faster than usual and I think it was partly due to the “burst” effect.
The last component Dustin espouses is environment. This is two part. The first part is that if we have a community to travel on this journey with it makes it easier when times get tough – we have someone we can vent to or who will kick our butts into gear if need be. The second part of environment is that we can become a healthy example to others.
Here’s an example of this from my house. Art went in for his annual physical a couple of weeks ago and found out he had lost 14 pounds!! He walks with me, but has never really committed to any program, but he did mostly cut out desserts and limit his alcohol consumption over the past year. I like to think that this is at least partially due to the example I have been trying to set.
Overall, I think Fit Moms for Life is an excellent resource for a healthy lifestyle – especially if you are just starting out. The book reminded me of some weight loss components I had allowed to slide and remotivated me to establish new goals and continue the rest of the way in my weight loss journey.
I give Fit Moms for Life five healthy fruit smoothies!!!
You can find out more at:
I received the above products through Sublime Media Connection in exchange for an honest review. In no way was I asked to give a positive review.
Today is his birthday.
To celebrate, I thought I would write him this very public birthday card to let him know why he is still my favorite (even if he is my only) husband.
- Can always make me laugh, even when I am in a really bad mood.
- Even when he says something disgusting (as boys are wont to do) I am still strangely attracted to him.
- Knows how to give a really good hug.
- Always thinks outside the box.
- What can I say?
Love you baby!!
M.C.V.Egan (aka Catalina Egan) is not a Vegan. From a very young age she became determined to solve the MYSTERY of her maternal grandfather’s death in faraway Denmark. He had died on August 15th 1939, when the passenger aircraft he was traveling to Stockholm, Sweden sunk in Danish waters, between two jurisdictions. Her search took her to Denmark, Mexico,the UK and through the unusual world of psychic, a Peruvian Shaman and past life regressions.
InBridge of Deaths, you willfollow Bill and Maggie in London 2010 as they explore the events of August 15th 1939. At the brink of World War II, an English plane crashed and sunk in Danish waters. Five deaths were reported: two Standard Oil of New Jersey employees, a German Corporate Lawyer, an English member of Parliament, and a crew member for the airline. Bill and Maggie find a it difficult reconciling the official version of events with what they have experienced in their past life regressions. Along the way they meet a woman whose grandfather was one of the victims of the crash and try to reconcile the two disparate stories.
Here’s an excerpt from the book’s introduction:
Several stumbling blocks, not the least of which was my absolute lack of knowledge about world history in 1939 (today it is only slightly better), made this a quest of eighteen years. I used many conventional sources, all of which are well documented throughout the book. I also used many unconventional sources, all of which
are also carefully documented.
The only entirely fictional characters in this book are Maggie, her parents, and her friends. Maggie came to me after a group past-life regression last September, when a pretty young woman, who looked a little like the newspaper photos of the pilot’s wife, shared what she had “seen” in her past-life regression. What she described was similar to a regression I had experienced many years before. This made me
think that by creating a fictional character out of the pilot’s wife, I could further detach my private life from the story.
All information credited to psychics and to the individual in the pilot’s past-life
regressions is as I experienced or witnessed it, unless I specifically note otherwise in
a footnote. The information I include is part of what I learned from and documented through the years; anything I did not find supported by research was not included.
I do hope that perhaps somewhere there are more people related to the story; people who are willing to fi ll in the gaps and maybe even correct the tale that spun itself very quickly after Maggie was born in my mind’s eye last September.
Today when we, as a world, hold our breath while we hope and wait to see if the changes in the Middle East will be less violent than the changes other countries have experienced in the past, I say good-bye to Maggie, the fictional character whom I named before I found the marriage record on Ancestry.com. I say good-bye
to this wonderful young woman who believes war, all war, to be inexcusable.
I hope there are many people all over the world who identify with Maggie, a pacifist who is willing to search and eager to learn about war and history, and the effect those two things have on society as a whole. I hope there are many people who are prepared to do more than hope that we as members of the same world will move on to a peaceful future and a better tomorrow.
We are coming up on three years post bankruptcy and I must say, I don’t miss the credit cards. Mind you, it wasn’t credit card debt that broke us – it was a failed business, but still it was nice to be able to use a card for the occasional “emergency”. Now that we’ve gone three years without one, I’m finding that saving for an emergency is a much better plan.
Looking back, I am so glad we used a local bankruptcy attorney who knew the rules for our city or county. If I can give you one piece of advice – that would be it. Use an attorney from your city or county. If you live in Oakland, look for Oakland bankruptcy lawyers, if you live in Los Angeles, well you see where I’m going with this.
We have had a few friends who tried to use a do-it-yourself service for their bankruptcy. This is basically just a service that assists you in filing the paperwork but can’t give you legal advice or be in bankruptcy court with you. One friend ended up having to hire an attorney anyway, after the bankruptcy court turned her down, partially to appeal and partially to help her sue the do-it-yourself service. Believe me this is something you don’t want to skimp on!!
Going through a bankruptcy was one of the toughest times of our lives, but it was such a relief when it was over and we are so glad we did it. If you are in a desperate financial situation, a bankruptcy could help you too. Talk to your attorney to find out what your options are.
This is a sponsored post for Lincoln Law, however, all the points and
views are my own.
Salmon is one of my favorite fish. So I was very happy to hear that after five years of closures and limited fishing opportunities, California King Salmon is once again available for my (and your) eating pleasure!!
Salmon is so good for you. It contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 acids help our bodies to produce leptin, a hormone that helps to regulate metabolism, aids in preventing cancer cell growth, and helps keep our arteries from thickening.
Salmon is also low in trans-fats and may be able to help improve HDL or “good” cholesterol, which is a key to good heart health. A four ounce of serving of salmon provides a full day’s RDA of Vitamin D, as well as smaller amounts of niacin, B12, B6, selenium, and magnesium.
My favorite way to eat salmon is broiled. I take four ounces of salmon, baste it in olive oil, then shake on some salmon seasoning or Italian seasoning. Broil it for about 5 minutes, then flip it and broil for another five minutes.
This four ounce piece of salmon by itself has only 131 calories, 23 grams of protein and only 4 grams of fat (of course basting it in olive oil added about 100 calories, but you can choose to poach yours in a little water or white wine to keep your calories and fat lower.
California King Salmon are harvested by “trolling” (fishing one at a time with barbless hooks). Trolling is more environmentally friendly because fish that are too small or the wrong species can be returned, unharmed. California King Salmon fishermen are also concerned about the enviroment – they initiated a mandatory license fee, a portion of which is used to restore rivers and streams and to enhance spawning areas for future generations of King Salmon.
To learn more about where you can get California King Salmon and to get some killer recipes, go to http://www.CalKingSalmon.org
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
Got back from Oregon last night. We drove about 26 hours over 5 days. Or, I should say, Art drove about 25 hours, 40 minutes and I drove the other 20 minutes. But that’s another story…
The purpose of the trip was for Art to get some clarity on decisions he needs to make regarding schooling, employment, etc. Also to spend some time visiting with his parents, with whom we stayed while in Oregon.
Art asked me to go along for moral support, as much as anything else. I hadn’t had a break in a couple of months, so I jumped at the chance to get out of town and away from the norm.
I had taken a week off of my day job, but didn’t even consider taking a break from writing/blogging. After all, this is what gets me up in the morning, and I’d blogged before while on vacation (insert 3 Peaks link here). How hard could it be?
I didn’t take into account spotty cell service or an 11 hour “scenic route” drive on Wednesday. That was okay. I shook it off. No blog post due until Friday morning anyway. I stayed up past one AM at the inlaws catching up on email and writing.
Thursday I was up and ready for the three hour drive to Portland – groggy and hormonal. We drove straight to the college where Art had an appointment with the veteran’s counselor to discuss how his GI bill benefits would work in Oregon (each state has slightly different rules).
Art pulled into 30 minute visitor parking and took off for his appointment. I was anxious, guessing (correctly) that he wouldn’t be back in under 30 minutes. I fired up the laptop but apparently the campus-wide wireless didn’t extend to the parking lot. I know this doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to send me over the edge. I’m sorry to say I completely lost it.
By the time Art got back to the car I had calmed down slightly, but was still mad and fuming at him. Why had he drug me here? I should have just stayed home.
Fortunately there was free wireless at our motel and I was able to crank out a respectable blog post before Friday morning.
On the way back to the inlaws on Friday, Art reminded me that he had never called this trip a “vacation” and that I was the one who had jumped at the chance to go with him. “What were your expectations?” he asked. “Because it’s obvious you had some.”
I had to stop and think about that for awhile. It slowly dawned on me that I had expected rest, relaxation and plenty of time to blog, but I had never communicated any of that to Art. And if I had been honest about my expectations he would have helped me to see how unreasonable they were under the circumstances. But Art was very understanding once it was all out in the open and left me alone all day Saturday to blog if I wanted or hang out with the family if I wanted – my choice.
So, in retrospect, we should have discussed expectations before the trip. Most likely I still would have gone, but I wouldn’t have been so uptight. Also, I should probably have arranged a couple of guest posts for the blog and pre-scheduled everything so internet access wouldn’t be such an issue. Then I probably would have had a more relaxing trip.
As was, Saturday was very relaxing and with all that driving I finished 5 books in 5 days, so I’m way ahead of my book review reading and was even able to read a few books just for fun!!
I have a single friend who “checks in” on Facebook everywhere she goes. “Ursula is at Starbucks”. “Ursula is at work”. “Ursula is at such and such Mexican restaurant.” Yes, she is probably guilty of oversharing, but is it more? Is she putting herself in danger by “checking in”?
I spoke to Shannon Tulloss, a licensed private investigator about the pros and cons of geotagging (also known as checking in) and how we can protect ourselves and our children from stalkers, both on and offline.
TM: What are the benefits of geotagging?
ST: Geotagging is a service that can help you remember where you’ve been on family vacations or business trips. Many people enjoy the use of geotagging while traveling because photos taken while tagging is enabled provide an exact location identification of each photo. I wish geotagging was available when I toured Europe, then I would be able to look at my photos now and recall exactly where I was, even in remote locations. Users of this service can also “check in” upon their arrival to different locations and also note the other people that are with them at the time, should they allow it. Many people enjoy looking at their movements on a map provided by sites associated with geotagging. The main benefit of geotagging is that it provides a visual history of your life’s travels without the use of a poster board and push pins.
Another benefit of geotagging is that it can be used for family and friends to keep track of a user’s location. For example, when I travel for speaking engagements or conferences, I always “check in” upon my arrival and departure of certain locations to ensure that my family knows where I am for their reference. Should anything happen, they will have a time and date stamp of my exact whereabouts, where without geotagging, they would have no idea where I was. I use this feature because my personal social media accounts are locked down and not visible to the public, so there is minimal concern.
Of course, the above applies to children too. It can be helpful for parents to enable the geotagging function of their children’s cell phone, should they have one, to be able to pinpoint their whereabouts as they are allowed more freedom with their activities away from the home.
TM: What are the hazards of geotagging?
ST: Along with the benefits of geotagging, there are some inherent hazards too. Of course, access to geotagging, in my opinion, should be limited to immediate family or friends within your immediate circle. I can’t conceive of why anyone would want to publish to the entire world that they are waiting for their brother, alone in a parking lot, at night. I have seen this even recently.
TM: What are some ways we can protect ourselves from stalkers?
ST: To prevent yourself from being stalked there are many ways to take matters into your own hands. First, use discretion when choosing friends and dates. Use the “would my mother like this person” test. Even better, consider your grandmother’s reaction to your choices. If you are desperate for social interaction then you will find that you are allowing people into your life that don’t hold you in the highest regard. You should not have 600 Facebook friends. Once a person displays personality qualities that your grandmother would chalk up as “creepy” or oddly aggressive, move on. Don’t hesitate to unfriend, just do it quietly, without fanfare. If you create drama within your social networks or personal circles, you invite reciprocal drama that may evolve into stalking. Stalkers are motivated to pursue a target because they feel angry or spiteful and as a result wish to retaliate. They also wish to control their targets either personally, socially or emotionally. Many stalkers are simply mentally ill or emotionally unstable. Stalkers frequently suffer with a type of OCD wherein they objectify their target so they feel a need to “complete” the stalking, which of course cannot be completed, so their unwanted attention continues. Stalkers will never see things from their victim’s point of view, only their own.
Stalking is a crime under Federal law and under the laws of all 50 States including the District of Columbia. Should a person experience repeated unwanted attention, contact or harassment from anyone, local law enforcement should be immediately contacted. Victims should keep detailed notes documenting the harassment including screen shots of interaction on social media and smart phones to ensure that the evidence is not lost or erased.
(Teressa’s sidebar: for more information on our family’s trouble with cyberstalking, see Cyberbullying, a Mother’s Story)
TM: What are some ways we can protect our children from stalkers?
ST: Know your kids friends and their parents, if possible. This is more difficult when your children are well into their teen years, but with open lines of communication it can be achieved. If your kids are not agreeable to sharing their personal life with you, then take action to ensure that you still have access. Friend them under a alternative social media account with a name that they are unaware that you use. Make certain that their geotagging capabilities are turned off when they are home. If they are shall we say, a “parenting challenge”, allow them the use of a phone with few capabilities, only for emergencies. Follow your children’s interactions. One of my favorite things to do is to sit next to my son and watch the Facebook feed roll by on his account on a Friday night. I have found this to be very enlightening, and recommend that all parents do this regularly. Make certain that your children do not “friend” anyone that they do not actually know. If at all possible, make it a house rule that all friend requests must be approved by a parent. This keeps parameters in place for the kids and the friends of the kids and helps them to feel protected by you, which is your chief responsibility. Turn off the Internet at night. Keep your router next to your bed and shut it off so your kids cannot turn it back on without your knowing.
Talk to your kids. Ask them about their social networking interactions. Just like discussing their day at the dinner table, show you are interested in all aspects of their life. Let them know that you care and do not hold them accountable for what their friends are doing or saying, just what THEY do and say. Warn them about interactions with people that they do not know. Explain the true dangers of discussing topics of a personal nature online. Parent them through it. You will undoubtedly experience a degree of eye rolling, but your children will know that you are not only dedicated to their personal safety but every aspect of their well being, even online.
Shannon Tulloss earned her California private investigator license in 1997. She began her investigative career as a claims adjuster over 20 years ago working for large insurers. She is a wife, mother of two teens that she homeschools, college graduate, conference speaker and foodie that is known for frequent volunteering and Tweeting. Named as one of the top P. I.’s to follow on Twitter, you may find her Tweets enjoyable since they are terribly informative and are not always investigation related.
Have you ever checked out the clearance meat section at the grocery store? Art calls it “grey meat”. Basically, the grocery store marks down by at least 50% any meat that has an expiration date within the next day or two. We’ve picked up some really great steaks this way.
Anyway, a few days ago we were browsing the “grey meat” and came across some stew beef marked down to just over a dollar a pound. It’s been a little too hot lately for stew, but Art said he would love to make beef skewers. Well, beef labeled “for stew” is notoriously tough, so I came up with an awesome (if I do say so myself) marinade recipe.
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size resealable bag. Add beef cubes and allow to sit in refrigerator for up to 24 hours (We let it sit in refrigerator a few hours, then dumped the whole thing in the freezer for a couple of days).
Remove beef from marinade and skewer length-wise on wooden skewers. Barbecue to taste and serve with your favorite side dishes.