Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Which I Would Tend to Agree

Editor's Note: Below is a guest post that I thought was interesting, at least for anyone who has ever contemplated homeschooling. I was homeschooled, which some of you might recall, through most of junior high and all of high school. While it works for a lot of people, it is not for everyone, but with all the advances in technology these days, homeschooling is definitely a lot easier to coordinate and accomplish successfully than ever before.
 
I hope you find the post below informative, as I have. 

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Technology and Homeschooling
 
Increasing numbers of parents have decided to homeschool their children  as a result of faltering school systems, uninspired lessons and a general feeling that the family's values are being ignored by the educators. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, home education is now growing at a rate of  7% to 15% per year. The majority of homeschooled students are elementary and middle-school aged students but there are also tens of thousands of high school students who learn in their home environment.
 
The only thing that's typical about homeschooled students is that there is no typical homeschooled student. Some students are homeschooled for their entire lives while others are homeschooled for a limited period of time. Some parents limit their children's learning to what they teach them at home while others engage in local homeschooling networks in which the children  meet for playdates, take field trips together, establish joint extra-curricular art and music programs and even study together in each other's homes.
 
Some parents choose to homeschool their children for ideological reasons while others are concerned that the school system is unable to meet their child's needs. Special needs children and children who have been bullied are often removed from their school because their parents feel that they can provide them with the best learning environment in a supportive homeschooling framework.  
 
Online education is playing an active role in the homeschooling community. There are online support groups for both parents and students, structured online lessons and a wide range of Internet apps which are available to enhance lessons and facilitate students' socialization as they master the coursework.
 
Many education providers have begun to step up to meet the needs of homeschooling families. These providers offer systematic, structured lessons that take the student through each stage of a subjects as the student progresses from unit to unit and from year to year.
 
There are many benefits to online learning for homeschooled students. eLearning
  • Allows a student to pursue specific topics and subjects that are of particular interest,
  • Enables students to find a method of learning that fits their own personal learning style,
  • Facilitates more independent study and self-directed learning,
  • Is interactive and engaging,
  • Presents formats for students to collaborate with other students on projects and assignments,
  • Offers different types of rubrics so that students can evaluate their own success as the parent/educator evaluates the student's progress. The evaluation process itself can become a learning process in online education.
There are numerous eLearning platforms available but most concentrate on a specific subject or age range. Some parents become frustrated because they want to follow an established program for all the subjects but, in the end,  they find themselves using one platform for math, a second platform for language skills, another platform for the sciences and so on.
 
Veteran homeschooling parents offer a number of suggestions to newcomers who are looking for a free, high quality online learning platform. A good eLearning platform will provide students with high quality material and supplemental assignments that will turn them into independent learners with the knowledge and life skills that they need to move on to further their studies and enter the work force.
 
A good solid eLearning program for elementary, middle school and high school students should provide:
  1. A support-staff comprised of certified educators,
  2. An Individual Learning Plan for each individual student,
  3. Flexible pacing and individualized instruction modules,
  4. Structured learning that propels the student from unit to unit in an orderly progression,
  5. Blended learning which combines both online and offline coursework,
  6. Interactive apps to ensure engaging and compelling lessons,
  7. CDs, videos, written material and hands-on materials to ensure varied instruction methodology,
  8. Online tools which connect the student with other learners, including the ability to collaborate on assignments and engage in social interaction
eLearning ensures that all students, including students with various disabilities and challenges, have access to challenging and high quality material that will allow them to progress at their own speed. K12 which is subsidiary early education giant Knowledge Universe offers a number of tuition free online programs which are supervised by state Departments of Education in over half the states including the Jenison International Academy in Michigan, Hoosier Academy in Indiana, Colorado Preparatory Academy in Colorado and Miami-Dade Academy in Florida.

-- written by David Tanner

Monday, October 28, 2013

In Which I Have So Many Questions

The universe if full of many things I do not understand. Things like particle physics, or how Grey's Anatomy is still on the air. Or, as the purpose of this post, why people do weird shit with their car. I present you with this curious display as a prime example:


I spotted this after grabbing some groceries after work recently, and I really don't know what to make of it. I found myself identifying and trying to make sense of what I saw in stages. To take it all in at once, I feared brain might leak out of my nose.

Let's see... It's a baby doll wearing a bandanna around its neck... holding a stuffed kitten that is wearing a winter hat... tied to the front passenger seat of a small four-door sedan...

Nope. Doesn't make any sense at all. Oh... oh, shit. Does anyone have a nose towel?

Happy Monday, folks.

Monday, August 5, 2013

In Which I Receive a Compliment

The other day, this guy at work came up and asked me a question. Ever since I changed departments within the company, I seem to be the guy who everyone goes to with a question. I'm not in any position of authority, but they flock to me with their questions. Overall I don't mind, and I usually continue at my work while I answer them. Not trying to be rude, just efficient.

"Mike, do you ever think that the people on our team are like the Justice League?"

I could all but hear the brakes in my mind squeal. I set down my pen and looked at him to see if he was being serious. Judging by his expression, he was.

"What do you mean?" I asked, needing clarification if I was to answer him truthfully. 

"You know, that we were all hand-picked for the job."

Really? 

"Oh. Well, I've always been more of a Marvel Comics guy, so I can't say that I've ever thought to compare us to the Justice League, no."

"Okay, then..." he said, sounding almost disappointed. He puzzled for a moment, and then asked, "What about the Avengers?"

Still serious. I'm not sure what this guy is driving at, but I'm already playing along. Might as well humor him. 

"No, I've always pictured us as more of X-Men than anything else."

"I can picture that," he says, nodding in excitement, and turned to look over the rows of cubicles where the other people on our team sit. "So if we're the X-Men, what character would you be?"

I sat back in my chair, stumped. It's not like I haven't thought long and hard over what superpowers I'd like to have, carefully weighing out the pro's and con's of each, because I totally have. It's just that I wasn't prepared to be asked that at work. 

Crazy, I know. But as it turned out, I didn't have to respond. My coworker answered for me. 

"You'd be Professor X," he said with conviction, and crossed his arms over his chest. He then turns back to me from surveying our colleagues, and looks at my sideburns. "And Wolverine. You'd be a Professor X/Wolverine hybrid."

Who knew that I'd have the best compliment I've ever received paid to me at work?

Happy Monday, folks. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

In Which I Learn Some New Vocabulary

The other night, Baby Badass was sitting on my lap while we watched something on TV. I was looking at my phone, reading some news article about the Royal Baby's car seat being named something really pretentious, when all of a sudden my daughter started crying. I look over at her, and she's got a decent sized booger boulder dripping out of her nose.

"Nose towel," she cried. "I need nose towel!"

The Boss and I share a look while trying not to laugh. While we have our share of nicknames for things around the house that are easier for Baby Badass to say, we have never called tissues "nose towels", nor have I ever heard of them being called that before. 

"Do you mean tissues?" asks my wife. "Do you need a tissue?"

"Yeah," Baby Badass replies, nodding. "Nose towel."

She knows the right word for tissues and asks for them correctly all the time, but she apparently has her dad's flair for creativity. As for me, I think she might be onto something. 

From now on, I'm going to refer to toilet paper as "ass towels".

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

In Which I Try It Out

A few weeks ago, I got an email from the people who run TheSnugg.com. They are an online retailer of cases for iPads, iPhones, and other devices. The offered me a case for any device I may have, in exchange for a review. The only tablet I own right now is a Nexus 7. They shipped me the case, and I've been trying it out ever since it came in the mail.

Let's bust out the Pro's and Con's, shall we?

PRO'S:

  • Initial impressions of its quality were good. It is sturdy and well built, and fit the tablet very nicely.
  • The imitation leather material is smooth but grippy, and is comfortable to hold for long periods of time without getting sweaty. 
  • The built-in stand works very well and feels very secure, and it has a strap that you can slide your hand through for a better grip if you're holding it one handed.
  • The auto-awake feature is a wonderful thing. Magnets built into the case interact with magnets within the tablet to automatically wake it up when you open it, and put it to sleep when you close it.
  • Access to the charging port and front camera through the case is adequate.
CON'S:
  • The cover of the case, when folded back behind the tablet and laid flat against the back of the case, sticks out further than the rest of the case. If you hold your tablet in the portrait position in both hands as I often do (when typing, for example), having the lid protruding out like that is quite annoying. 
  • The magnets in the lid of the case can cause the tablet to go to sleep if you have the lid folded behind it. This doesn't happen all the time, but happened enough to be a source of frustration.
  • Due to the contour of the sides of the tablet itself and the placement of the power button and volume rocker, they are difficult to reach comfortably in this case. Not impossible, but if you need to quickly adjust the volume, you may find yourself fumbling a bit.
Overall, I'm pleased with the case. It is a large step above the case I had before. In fact, my old case went in the trash after two days of using the one I got from TheSnugg.com. If their other items are of the same quality as the one I tried for my Nexus 7, you can't go wrong.