Thursday, August 28, 2014

Accident Girl and Safety Man do the Ice Bucket Challenge

Jeanine David issued the challenge, and I responded. . . as Accident Girl, my alter-ego. Fortunately, my husband's boss had also challenged him so that we were able to do it together. I do think that wearing his helmet as Safety Man protected him from a lot of the water. I was not so lucky, and boy was it cold!

The ice bucket challenge was a great excuse to blacken my eye and create a cut on my forehead. Sorry to say, but we are fully stocked on crutches, ace bandages, wrist braces and steri-strips.

It's no mystery why Eric is called Safety Man. It's his job at the USU Research Foundation and his personality as well. He wears his seat belt, drives the speed limit, and always wears his bike helmet.

What you may not know is why I'm called Accident Girl. It probably started in 9th grade when I tore my ACL in a skiing wreck. It doesn't help that I've also rolled our 4-wheeler over myself at the sand dunes a few years ago. I've tripped on a lifted sidewalk and managed to complete a perfect barrel roll on newly installed mulch. And last November I crashed my bike while on a ride with my dog. Let's not even talk about fender benders in reverse!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Patience and Perspective on I-15

Today on my drive to a 3-day conference, I had just passed Willard when traffic came to a halt. Both lanes of vehicles that were just going 75-mile-per-hour stopped.

I looked at the clock, and looked ahead. I couldn't see anything. I hoped that we'd get moving soon, or I'd be late for my conference. I put the car in park, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel impatiently.

Five minutes passed. No one moved an inch.

Ten minutes passed. I've turned my car off now. No change.

And then a Life Flight helicopter landed. And my impatience vanished.

Oh, I thought, someone is really hurt. I sure hope they'll be okay.

And as I continued to sit at a standstill in traffic, I began thinking about these cocoons of steel that we hurtle down the road in at mind-boggling speeds. At any moment any of us are just moments away from disaster. Obviously someone ahead had experienced just such a moment.

It sobered me.

Was it going to be so bad to be a little late for my conference? No.

Would being impatient effect any change? No.

Would sending up silent prayers hurt? No. And, if nothing else, it would help me realize my own blessings and remain calm.

After 25 minutes, traffic began to move. As I inched by the accident scene, there was Life Flight, an ambulance, an extra-large incident vehicle, and numerous police cars. And off to the far right, through the barrow pit and through the chain-link fence and into a parked tanker truck was a mooshed red sports car. No one was near the decimated car. Instead, they were gathered some 20 feet away attending to someone unseen lying in the grass.

As I passed I said one more prayer for the driver and resolved to slow down and be more aware.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Finding (and enjoying) Your Niche in Life

Long ago in high school and college biology, I learned about niches -- where a species fits in the ecological scheme of things. Here I am, some 20 years later, making metaphorical connections and figuring out where my niche is in life.

I have been able to rule out a few niches that aren't a fit for me. They include:
  • syndicated parenting columnist
  • skinny person
  • reading aide
  • downhill skiing enthusiast
  • runner
  • golfer
  • Mary Kay beauty consultant
  • tan-skinned person
  • hot dot eater
  • celebrity blogger
Whenever I find myself trying to occupy a niche that isn't really a fit, I end up feeling frustrated, uncomfortable, overwhelmed,  and generally miserable. I've also noticed that in every circumstance there is always someone else filling that niche with skills far exceeding my own.

Is it a mistake to try on a new niche? No. A little trial and error is a great tool for self-discovery. But what I've noticed is that much of my niche failures are often prompted by discontent -- either being dissatisfied with myself or my current place in life. I'm learning that seeking a new niche due to insecurity is almost always a recipe for an unhappy ending.

What's the solution? Finding and reveling in a niche that is uniquely suited to you. Here are a few niches that are a fit for me:
  • 7th grade reading and language arts teacher
  • walker and talker
  • gluten-free eater
  • wife to Eric
  • mother to Jared, Amanda and Natalie
  • interval cycler
  • journal keeper
  • occasional blogger
I know that a niche is a fit when it meets at least one of these criteria: only I can do it, it's highly enjoyable, it brings positive results, and makes me happy.

Good luck finding the niches that fit in your own life!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Exercise To Earn More at Work

According to researchers at Cleveland State University, women who exercise at least 3 times a week earn up to 10% more than their non-exercising counterparts.

Wow! I think I'll set the alarm a bit earlier and go to the gym before work this week. And I'm going to post that stat wherever I will see it a lot.

When do you think I should inform my boss about my new exercise habit?

Friday, April 25, 2014

My favorite formative assessment – The Pit of Despair

I’m reading the book Focusby Mike Schmoker. One of the keys, he says, to improving learning in schools is for teachers to make checks for understanding often – multiple times in each class period.

Some common teacher practices to check for understanding that are not effective, according to Schmoker are:

·         Asking the class a question and only calling on those with their hands raised.

·         Asking students to raise their hands if they have a question.

·         Waiting until the end of a unit to give a quiz or test.

Fortunately, the methods of daily formative assessment that are effective are very doable. They include:

·         Wandering amongst students as they work on a new concept, checking their work. Offering additional, individualized instruction when you find a student doesn’t understand.

·         Asking the class a question and having them use prearranged hand signals to respond. I sometimes use a “thumb vote” – up, down, or in between. Sometimes I ask students to raise the appropriate number of fingers for the answer.

·         Asking the class a question and randomly calling on students. For this I use what I call, “The Pit of Despair.”

Each class that I teach has a pit – a repurposed frosting can with a tongue depressor for each student with their name on it. Anytime I want to randomly choose a student, I draw a name from the pit. I do this to randomly check for understanding, as Schmoker advocates, or perhaps to simply choose a student to run an errand to the main office. Either way, I’ve found that all students pay attention when I’m about to draw a student’s name from the pit.
. . . And the pit says that Sommer would like to answer. Sommer, what did you put down on that question? . . .

Friday, April 11, 2014

A List of Free Kindle Books

Hey everyone! Amanda here.

I've been using my kindle a lot lately, and I've been dying for some cheap e-books, and I thought that a compiled list of free kindle books would be really helpful, so here goes nothing. I've sorted them by type. If anyone has any recommendations or additions, please comment/link them down below! (:

Please note, I have not read most of these books, so I can't personally recommend them. The ones I do recommend (that I've been able to read so far) will be marked with a star *

*Les Miserables, Victor Hugo - this is the unabridged version, which takes a long time to read, but is worth it in the end.
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Jules Verne
"Familiar Quotations", various authors
Love and Friendship, Jane Austen

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles

The Art of War, Henry Jomini

The Odyssey, Homer, Samuel Henry Butcher, and Alexander Pope
My Life and Work, Henry Ford
The Blue Lagoon: A Romance, Henry de Vere
Writings of Abraham Lincoln (3 volumes)
Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
*The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
*Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Gargantua and Pantagruel,  François Rabelais, Gustave Doré, Peter Anthony Motteux and Thomas Urquhart
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
White Fang, Jack London
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (again, unabridged)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Emmuska Orczy
The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling
Frankenstein, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Dracula, Bram Stoker
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Around the World in 80 days, Jules Verne
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Howard Pyle
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving

Mystery (thriller, suspense)
Anybody's Daughter, Pamela Samuels Young
Ratcatcher, Tim Stevens
Seven, Eight... Gonna Stay Up Late, Willow Rose
Deadly Discovery, Suzanna E. Nielson
The Enemy We Know, Donna White Glaser
Death In the Beginning, Gary Williams
Murder Passes the Buck: A Gertie Johnson Murder Mystery, Deb Baker
Saving Grace, Pamela Fagan Hutchins
The Man With the Blue Hat, Wendy Potocki
The Rosetta Coin, Dana Lyons
Brainstorm, Margaret Belle
Blood Forest, Jonathon Taylor
The Chelsea Project, Jack Stamp
Rushed, Brian Harmon
Absolution, Susan A. Fleet
The Force, Alexandra Swann
Taboo (CSI Reilly Steel #1), Casey Hill
Darkness Once More, Grant Fieldgrove
Blindsided, Jay Giles
Lost and Found, Lorhainne Eckhart

The Strange Year of Vanessa M., Filipa Fonseca Silva
How to Stop Procrastination and Become Disciplined: A Clear Cut Guide to Eliminating PRocrastination for Good, Dalton Block
Murder of the Mind, L.L. Bartlett
Nikola Testla, Sean Patrick
That is That: Essays About True Nature, Nirmala
The Exotic Northern Garden, Florence Hoyt
Always Know What to Say - Easy Ways to Approach and Talk to Anyone, Peter W. Murphy
A Little Bit of Everything For Dummies, John Wiley and Sons
And plenty of recipe books

Teen and Young Adult
The Gatekeeper, Jason D. Morrow
Remembrance, Michelle MAdow
The Legend of the Firewlkaer, Steve Bevil
Star Chase - The Lost Prince, Saxon Andrew
My Frankenstein, Michael Lee
The sentinel, Holly Martin
Evolution, Kelly Carrero
The Lake, AnnaLisa Grant
River's Recruit, Charlotte Abel
Apocalypse, Kyle West
The Mind Readers, Lori Brighton
Delicate Rain, Mitch Goth
Invisible, Cecily Anne Paterson
Exhale, Jennifer Snyder
Investigating the Hottie, Juil Alexander
Summer Unplugged, Amy SParling
Entangled, Nikki Jefford
The Key, Jennifer Anne Davis
The Soulkeepers, G. P. Ching
The Emerald Talisman, Brenda Pandos
Just Jeans and Jealousy, Tammy Falkner
Crush, Lacey Weatherford
Instinct, Mattie Dunman
The Fallen Star, Jessica Sorenson

Elusive, Sara Rosett
True Irish Ghost Stories, St. John D Seymour
Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain
Ten Must-See Sights: Edinburgh, Mark Green
Me & Gus on the Roof of the World, Danny Breslin
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens
The Philippines, Lonely Planet
Taking Off, Ty F. Clemens
Europe Essentials, Lonely Planet
Queen Victoria, Giles Lytton Strachey
My Top Five: Bangkok, Josh White
Top Ten Must-See Sights: Vienna, Mark Green
The Cricket on the Hearth, Charles Dickens
Adam Bede, George Elliot

Annnd that pretty much sums it up! A lot of the books cross over into different categories. I didn't want to go too in depth in this article, but if you have any other free must reads, please comment them down below! Hope you enjoyed them!