Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pakistani Girl, a Global Heroine After an Attack, Has Critics at Home

Pakistani Girl, a Global Heroine After an Attack, Has Critics at Home
By SALMAN MASOOD and DECLAN WALSH, NYTimes

There were mixed feelings in Pakistan as speculation grew that the teenager, who was shot by the Taliban for championing education for girls, might win a Nobel.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Online Application Woes Make Students Anxious and Put Colleges Behind Schedul

Online Application Woes Make Students Anxious and Put Colleges Behind Schedule
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA, NYTimes

As deadlines for early decision applications near, students worry they have missed something or messed up, while colleges face delays in reviewing applications.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

How to Write an SAT Essay


“Begin!”

SAT Essay Prompt: Can knowledge be a burden rather than a benefit?

Read the quote—don’t ponder the meaning of the quote, it is simply there to prime ideas.  Read the prompt, again.  THINK, for one solid minute, THINK. 

Pencils up, but don’t write your essay just yet.

THINK

It is important to know how much you can write in twenty minutes.  Yes, I know you thought you had twenty-five minutes, but it is very, very important to take one minute to THINK, two minutes to ORGANIZE, twenty minutes to WRITE, and two minutes to FIX your essay.  The time that you invest in thinking about the prompt--taking a position and narrowing your topic—will help you formulate your thesis around which you can build an effective essay.  The students who start writing immediately will usually run out of ideas half-way through their essay.  Fore-thought and organization facilitates fluency and coherence.

ORGANIZE: Sequence

After you have spent one minute thinking about the prompt, select appropriate and complementary examples which support your thesis.  Choosing a side can also affect the sequence of the examples.  Take, for example, three novels from a secondary English curriculum: Fahrenheit 451, 1984, and Scarlet Letter.  If you wrote your essay solely according to chronological order, Scarlet Letter would come first; but if you focused on the protagonists’ responses to “knowledge,” Dimsdale represents the midway point between Winston Smith’s failure and Montag’s victory.

Knowledge = Power (benefit):
1) 1984: Winston Smith is liberated by knowledge, but is betrays his love;
2) Scarlet Letter: Dimsdale is liberated by knowledge and dies free;
3) Fahrenheit 451: Montag is liberated by knowledge and lives free in a new communityà ultimate victory for GOOD!

On the other hand, if your thesis proposes that knowledge is a burden, you world present evidence from the novels in a different order, building up to antagonist’s victory over the protagonist.

Knowledge = Power (burden):
1) Fahrenheit 451: Beatty holds secret over Montag, but Montag kills him;
2) Scarlet Letter: Chillingsworth holds secret over Dimsdale; however, Dimsdale neutralizes Chillingsworth power by declaring his love for Hester.
3) 1984: O’Brien manipulates both Winston Smith and Julia to betray each otherà ultimate victory for EVIL!

ORGANIZE: Two or Three Body Paragraphs?

Look at secondary and tertiary themes or topics that the novels have in common such as the characters response to technology, the environment, the government, etc.  With preparation, a quick and confident writer can easily knock out three body paragraphs of similar length and level of detail.  A slower writer, however, may forgo the second body paragraph about the “Scarlet Letter” in favor of delivering two fully-fleshed paragraphs about dystopian novels.  Perhaps, the writer would swap out “Scarlet Letter” for “Animal Farm,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Lord of the Flies,” “The Uglies Trilogy, or even the “Hunger Games.”  A good thesis, supported by the strong examples and concrete details, are critical for the Point of View rubric.

ORGANIZE: Examples

Besides from books, where do examples come from?  Some students write about stories they recently shared from Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube.  Other students look up and write about whatever is around them.  While they scribble away about the History classroom poster-boys (Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Gandhi), consider their contemporaries (Malcolm X, Delores Huerta, Harvey Milk) or recent covers of TIME magazine (Barack Obama, the “Tank Man” of Tiananmen, or Malala Yousafza of Pakistan). 

For those students who default to Hitler, I’m not going to say: DON’T; I’m going to ask: WHY?  The answer, “Because it’s EASY,” will result in the low score which your lack of effort deserves. Stalin, Pol Pot, and Nicolae Ceausescu are alternatives, but it more interesting to write about people who make ethical decisions in morally ambiguous situations: pair the protagonists in “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque with “Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.

If you don’t like novels or history, don’t use examples from your English or History class.  If you are a nerd, write about math; if you are a jock, write about sports; if you are a musician, write about music. 

  • Same rules apply: ANSWER THE PROMPT IN DETAIL. 
  • Same process applies: THINK, ORGANIZE, WRITE, FIX. 
  • Same rubric applies: POINT OF VIEW, ORGANIZATION, VOCABULARY, GRAMMAR, SENTENCE STRUCTURE.

Writer’s Block

Finally, what to do when there is nothing but BLANK in your brain and on your paper.  Quick: jot down your class schedule—what has been the most interesting project or story from each class?  Are you involved with any extra-curricular activities, jobs, or internships?  Write about something that you actually have personal knowledge about and focus on how you changed during the experience.  Although teachers applaud academic success, they feel affirmed when their students apply book knowledge beyond the classroom walls.  What would you rather read: a rehash of the Industrial Revolution or the misadventures of a robotics team?  Narrow your answer and complement it with an appropriate anecdote, book, historical event, or “passion” which you can write about in under twenty minutes. 

WRITE:

Introduction: Hooks are nice, but don’t get stuck.  Write a bare bones introductory paragraph:
  1. Sentence One: THESIS = OPINION (about the essay prompt) + NARROWED TOPIC.  
  2. Sentence Two: EXAMPLE 1 + EXAMPLE 2 ( + EXAMPLE 3) will prove THESIS.
    1. Also known as the ABC Thesis

Vocabulary—while you write, vary your Vocabulary: use the word that most clearly conveys your most.
1.      Mix common words with academic and technical vocabularies to display mastery
2.      Limit colloquialisms.
3.      Rarely use slang or jargon.
4.      Never use vulgarity.

Sentence Syntax— while you write, vary your Sentence syntax: use the syntax that most effectively conveys your position.
  1. Mix simple, compound, complex, compound-complex sentences.
  2. Use lists or statistics to deliver quick, concrete detail (don’t name drop--be prepared to develop facts).
  3. Use parallelism, analogies, metaphors, dialogue, and quotes carefully.
  4. Use sparingly exclamatory and interrogative sentences or rhetorical questions.

Body Paragraph 1:
  1. Write topic sentence about EXAMPLE 1.
  2. Write one or two sentences anecdote or description about EXAMPLE 1.
  3. Write two or three more sentences with concrete detail about how EXAMPLE 1 illustrates THESIS. 

Body Paragraph 2:
  1. Write a transition from Body Paragraph 1 to Body Paragraph 2
    1. OR Skip 2 lines and add Transition 1 later.
  2. Write topic sentence about EXAMPLE 2
  3. Write one or two sentences anecdote or description about EXAMPLE 2
  4. Write two or three more sentences with concrete detail about how EXAMPLE 2 illustrates THESIS. 
  5. Key: EXAMPLE 2 must develop, expand, or contrast with EXAMPLE 2.

Optional Body Paragraph 3:  Teachers and readers prefer the standard five-paragraph essay because it allows a writer to fully expand ideas and fully explore topics.  However, students can deliver a solid four-paragraph if they compare and contrast their examples in depth.  Don’t forget to skip two lines to add transition later or to expand Body Paragraph 2. 
  1. Write a topic sentence about EXAMPLE 3
    1. OR Skip 2 lines and add Transition 2 later.
  2. Write one or two sentences anecdote or description about EXAMPLE 3.
  3. Write two or three more sentences with concrete detail about how EXAMPLE 3 illustrates THESIS. 
  4. Key: EXAMPLE 3 must develop, expand, or contrast with EXAMPLE 1 and 2.

BEWARE: One possible danger of writing a five-paragraph essay is that as the students writes against the clock, details and vocabulary drop by the way-side, leaving the essay lopsided by Body Paragraph 3.  Do not binge on verbiage—write a “normal” amount: four to five sentences—the essay still needs “room” for the conclusion.  Longer is better; complete and well-balances is the best.

Conclusion:
  1. Gather your examples and link them back to your thesis
  2. State how your thesis addresses the SAT prompt.
  3. Link your thesis through the SAT prompt to a universal theme/truth.
  4. State why your argument “matters.”

FIX

Remember: Leave two minutes to FIX your essay:
  1. Check paragraph order—are the examples developed in a logical sequence? If not, label each paragraph with the correct paragraph number. 
  2. Correct grammar mistakes, especially verb tenses and dangling participles. 
  3. Look for “to be” participles and change them to active verbs. 
  4. Scan for repetition and substitute appropriate synonyms.  Add technical vocabulary to demonstrate mastery. 
  5. Smooth transitions between paragraphs.

“Pencils down!”  Take a deep breath--there’s a whole lot more test (and life) to come. 


--How to Write an SAT Essay by Teacher Jennifer (gagliajn@gmail.com) (updated 05/21/13)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Twas the Night before the SAT


Don't cram for the SAT!
  • Put down that box of flash cards and back away from the BLUE BOOK.
  • Follow you normal Friday Night Homework routine.
  • Pack all your SAT supplies (ex: CHARGED-UP calculator, pencils, check your transportation/ride, etc) before you go to bed.
  • Go to bed early.
  • Set you alarm to wake-up fifteen minutes early to focus your thoughts.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

SAT Oct 2013 Countdown: 1


Critical Reading
  • Vocabulary: flash cards, word lists (Latin/Greek roots/prefixes/suffixes), word games--good! But the best way to acquire vocabulary is to READ.
  • Use POE (process of elimination)
  • Avoid answers that are too extreme (narrow, general, always/never, etc)


Sentence Completion--1 Blank

  • Cover the answers.
  • Read the sentence.
  • Note trigger words (ex: conjunctions, prefixes, modifiers, negation) which change the meaning of the sentence.
  • Read the sentence again, substituting your own word in the blank.
  • Match your choice with the supplied answer choices.
  • Not sure of the meaning? Look at the root--is similar the root similar to the root of a word that you know?
  • Use POE to target the correct answer.
  • Yes, the word you don't know can be the correct choice.

Sentence Completion--2 Blanks

  • Cover the answers.
  • Read the sentence.
  • Note trigger words (ex: conjunctions, prefixes, modifiers, negation) which change the meaning of the sentence.
  • Read the sentence again, substituting your own word in the blank.
  • Uncover the first column of words. Match them with your choice in the first blank (two answers should be retained, the other three should be dismissed).
  • Not sure of the meaning? Look at the root--is similar the root similar to the root of a word that you know?
  • Uncover the second column of words. Match them with your choice in the second blank (the target choices in the 1st blank are usually synonyms of each other; and the second blank is usually opposite of each other; OR the target choices in the 1st blank are antonyms of each other and the second blank is are synonyms).
  • Remember: there is only one correct answer!).

Short Parassage (updated 1/25/2013)

  • Read the questions first.
  • The short passage questions are usually about the tone, main idea, or inference.
  • There is usually one dual short passage set per SAT test.
  • Each of the four questions compare/contrast both passages.
  • Draw a quick Venn Diagram to organize the info.
  •  Remember WHAT the topic is about, and the AUDIENCE.
  • Four Types of Dual Passages
    • Pro / Con (opposite positions)
    • General / Specific
    • 2 different academic disciplines (ex: literary criticism / autobiography)
    • Tone (objective / ironic)
  • Dual passages can be combination of the Four Types

Long Passage (updated 1/25/2013)

  • Read the blurb (who? what? where? when?)
  • Skim & underline for information (Proper Nouns, Numeric infoUnusual Punctuation, Lists)
    • Proper Nouns
      • Capitalized words tell us more about Who? What? Where?
      • possessive 's tell us more about the Proper Nouns
      • compound-words are tailored-made for the passage
    • Numeric Info
      • Numbers (especially years) tell us more about When?  How much?  How many?
      • centuries: seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth...
      • sequence words: first, second, third, next, prior, former...
    • Definitions (unusual punctuation) signals narrative transitions/development
      •  :colons. --dashes-- , (parentheses) give us more info about the word/phrase to the left of the punctuation
      • "air-quotes" one to four words between quotations--not reported speech, but used to  "signal" non-literal meaning, ironic tome, or that the author disagrees with the term.
      • italics, underline, or exclamation point! indicates emphasis.
    • Lists 
      • List deliver concrete details about the topic
      • look for multiple commas ,,,  semicolons ;;;   question marks ??? or repeated words in a close proximity
  • Mark-up the passage as per the Questions (Beware of stealth EXCEPT and Inference Questions)
  • Read the passage critically (why? how?)
  • Answer the questions via POE
    • POE: Process of Elimination
      • note similar vocabulary between the text and answer choices
      • watch out for negation in either the question, text, or answer choices
      • use symbols \ = no (not possible), ` = maybe (possible), + = yes (probable)
      • Check out The Critical Reader: Inference Questions

Dual Passages


Dual Passage--Intro
  • Draw a Venn Diagram
  • Read the blurb (who? what? where? when? audience? type of text?)
  • Fill out the Venn Diagram--note "dual questions" in the union.

Dual Passage--Passage 1

  • Skim & underline the First Passage for information (Proper Nouns, Unusual Punctuation, Lists)
  • Mark-up the passage as per the First Passage Questions (Beware of stealth EXCEPT and Inference Questions)
  • Read the passage critically (why? how?)
  • Answer First Passage questions ONLY via POE
  • Skip all Second Passage and Dual Passage Questions

Dual Passage--Passage 2

  • Skim & underline the Second Passage for information (Proper Nouns, Unusual Punctuation, Lists)
  • Mark-up the passage as per the Second Passage Questions (Beware of stealth EXCEPT and Inference Questions)Read the passage critically (why? how?)
  • Answer Passage 2 questions ONLY via POE
  • Skip all Dual Passage Questions

Dual Passage--Dual Passage Questions
  • Update Venn Diagram (tone +/-) (note if there is a switch in tone/argument)
  • Answer Dual Passage questions via POE
  • Finish!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

SAT Oct 2013 Countdown: 2


Essay:
  • Read the Prompt
  • Read the Quote
  • Read the Prompt again.
  • Think for 1 minute (don't write).
  • Brainstorm. Focus, focus, focus your complementary examples and connect these specific examples to BIG CONCEPTS. Organize. (2 minutes)
  • Write (20 min)
  • Intro Paragraph:
  • Thesis plus preview of your examples (Think DEVIL'S ADVOCATE--knock out objection to your thesis in your intro).
  • 3 body paragraphs. Topic sentence plus 4-7 sentences of concrete detail.
  • 2 body paragraphs is acceptable, but not advisable--write as much as you can to demonstrate the mastery of your tipic.
  • Transition between paragraphs.
  • Conclusion.
  • LAST 2 MINUTES: Fix errors and upgrade vocabulary--(replace to be/to have with stronger verbs).
  • Check out The Critical Reader: Essay Tips


Writing Section (multiple choice)


The Fist of No Error (see above and sidebar)
  • Subject/Verb agreement (number)
  • Tense (verb tense and aspect)
  • Pronoun (number, case, antecedent)
  • Adjective/Adverb (modifiers; infinitive/gerund)
  • Diction (correct word ex: affect/effect;phrasal verb & correct preposition)
  • Misplaced Modifiers (modifying phrases and clauses)
  • "Patterns": comparison, parallelism, list made of similar parts of speech
  • Conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating, correlative ; also relative pronoun clauses
Also checkout:

The Critical Reader: Complete SAT Grammar Rules or General Grammar Tips (updated 1/25/2013)

Improving Sentences
Improving Paragraphs
Identifying Sentence Errors

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SAT Oct 2013 Countdown: 3


Before the Test

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Confessions of an Application Reader

Confessions of an Application Reader
By RUTH A. STARKMAN, NYTimes

Who’s a 2? Who’s a 5? Ranking a pool of Berkeley hopefuls in a sea of ambiguities.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Five Ways Ed Pays: Having a college degree means a richer life in every way!



collegeboard: Five Ways Ed Pays: Having a college degree means a richer life in every way!

http://www.YCG.org/EdPays — For most students who go to college, the increase in their lifetime earnings far outweighs the costs of their education. That's a powerful argument for college. But more income is by no means the only positive outcome students can expect. Learn about all the ways that a college degree can transform your life and lifestyle for the better!

Friday, August 30, 2013

California API scores fall, but Silicon Valley schools dominate state top tier

California API scores fall, but Silicon Valley schools dominate state top tier
By Sharon Noguchi snoguchi@mercurynews.com

Taking their first dip after years of steady gains, Academic Performance Index scores in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties fell by a point this year, reflecting a statewide decline in scores released Thursday. (read more)

Also read: Data Center: 2013 Growth API ratings for all California schools (interactive gadget--example below)

County: Santa Clara District: Fremont Union High School
....................2013 / 2012 / Change

MontaVista High...956 / 957 / -1
Lynbrook High.....942 / 946 / -4
Cupertino High....906 / 900 / +6
Homestead High...873 / 874 / -1
Fremont High......767 / 766 / +1

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Dog-Eat-Dog World of Model U.N.

The Dog-Eat-Dog World of Model U.N.
By ANJLI PARRIN, NYTimes.com

Ditch the détente. For elite clubs, this is a full-fledged sport, complete with rankings and rowdiness. Not everyone is happy about that.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sneak Preview--What the New SAT and Digital ACT Might Look Like

Sneak Preview: What the New SAT and Digital ACT Might Look Like
by Tamar Levin, NYTimes

"Big changes are coming to the nation’s two competing admissions tests. Mr. Coleman, who became president last October, is intent on rethinking the SAT to make it an instrument that meshes with what students are learning in their classrooms. Meanwhile, the ACT, which has always been more curriculum-based, is the first of the two to move into the digital age. In adapting its test for the computer, ACT Inc. is tiptoeing past the fill-in-the-bubble Scantron sheets toward more creative, hands-on questions." (read more)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Win for Students: Signing the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013



wh.gov: A Win for Students: Signing the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013

Students and College Affordability Advocates who joined the President in the Oval Office for the signing of the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, speak about it's significance and the importance of keeping college affordable now and in the future.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chicago’s Intern ‘Boot Camp’ Is a Rehearsal for Life or Death Medical Issues

Chicago’s Intern ‘Boot Camp’ Is a Rehearsal for Life or Death Medical Issues
By DIRK JOHNSON, NYTimes

On the first day of “boot camp,” Dr. Diane B. Wayne asked the Northwestern Memorial Hospital class of new interns for a show of hands if any were nervous....The boot camp, conducted under the watch of Dr. Wayne, the vice chairwoman of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, provides the interns with a three-day session in June to prepare them for bedside assignments.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Let’s Shake Up the Social Sciences

Let’s Shake Up the Social Sciences
By NICHOLAS A. CHRISTAKIS, NYTimes

It is time to create new social science departments that reflect the breadth and complexity of the problems we face as well as the novelty of 21st-century science.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Study Finds Spatial Skill Is Early Sign of Creativity

Study Finds Spatial Skill Is Early Sign of Creativity
By DOUGLAS QUENQUA

A study suggests that a child’s gift for spatial reasoning may better predict future innovation than math or verbal skills, particularly in math and science fields.

Monday, July 29, 2013

FCC. Backs Plan to Update a Fund That Helps Connect Schools to the Interne

F.C.C. Backs Plan to Update a Fund That Helps Connect Schools to the Internet
By EDWARD WYATT, NYTimes

The Federal Communications Commission wants to fix E-Rate, a program to give schools telecommunications services, which has been criticized for not keeping up with modern technology.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Program Links Loans to Future Earnings

Program Links Loans to Future Earnings
By TARA SIEGEL BERNARD, NYTimes

Several companies are connecting students and entrepreneurs with private investors willing to lend them money that is later repaid as a percentage of the borrower’s annual salary.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Frayed Prospects, Despite a Degree

Frayed Prospects, Despite a Degree
By SHAILA DEWAN, NYTimes

College graduates from two or three years ago are being overlooked — often deliberately — by — by recruiters eager to scoop up those from the latest graduating class.
Graphic

Friday, July 26, 2013

Unpaid Interns: Silent No More

Unpaid Interns: Silent No More
By ROSS PERLIN, NYTimes

The author of “Intern Nation” says that in fighting to be paid for their work, interns are taking their case beyond the nation’s courtrooms.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

U.S. Online Course Provider Tries to Enter China Market

U.S. Online Course Provider Tries to Enter China Market
By JOYCE LAU, NYTimes

Two Shanghai universities say they will be working with Coursera, though the company says contracts are not yet finalized.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Should University Systems Be Graded, Too?

Should University Systems Be Graded, Too?
By D. D. GUTTENPLAN, NYTimes

Depending on whom you ask, a proposed international testing system will either be the next big thing in higher education or a pointless, expensive exercise.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Universities Face a Rising Barrage of Cyberattacks

Universities Face a Rising Barrage of Cyberattacks
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA, NYTimes

The hacking attempts, many thought to be from China, are forcing universities to spend more to prevent and detect intrusions and to constrict their culture of openness.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Malala Yousafzai, Girl Shot by Taliban, Makes Appeal at U.N.

Malala Yousafzai, Girl Shot by Taliban, Makes Appeal at U.N.
By JENNIFER PRESTON, NYTimes

On her 16th birthday, Malala Yousafzai spoke at the United Nations and called on world leaders to make education available and compulsory for every child.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Vying for a Spot on the World’s A List

Vying for a Spot on the World’s A List
By D. D. GUTTENPLAN, NYTimes Ed Life

It takes a reputation to make a reputation. International rankings have become so influential that some countries use them to set policy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

High-Tech Cheaters Pose Test

High-Tech Cheaters Pose Test
By CAMERON MCWHIRTER, WSJ.com

New Industry Sprouts to Curb Hacking, Wireless Transmission of Exam Questions (also listen to a interview with the author on the same page)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Trimming the Ivy

Trimming the Ivy
By TAMAR LEWIN, NYTimes Ed Life

Senator Tom Harkin answers questions on the for-profit business model and the federal role in higher education.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Colleges Struggling to Stay Afloat

Colleges Struggling to Stay Afloat
By JEFFREY J. SELINGO, NYTimes Ed Life

You won’t find this in the guidebooks (but you probably should): insight into colleges’ financial weaknesses. It can mean the future.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Two, Three Essays? More Can Mean Less

Two, Three Essays? More Can Mean Less
By ERIC HOOVER, NYTimes Ed Life

How much writing do colleges need to see, anyway? When application supplements require additional essays, fewer students apply.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rigorous Schools Put College Dreams Into Practice

Rigorous Schools Put College Dreams Into Practice
By KYLE SPENCER, NYTimes Ed Life

The early college high school is lauded as a way to provide low-income students with a road map to and through college. Bard’s new school also offers an escape from Newark’s mean streets.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bill Nye: Firebrand for Science - Aims to Change the World



NYTimes: Bill Nye: Firebrand for Science - Aims to Change the World

In recent years, Bill Nye has emerged as a fearless voice against climate change deniers. The Science Guy has gone from taking on science lessons for children to taking on pundits on cable television on climate change, evolution and science in general.

Check out:
Bill Nye the Science Guy website
Bill Nye the Science Guy on YouTube

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Geek Appeal: New York vs. Seattle

Geek Appeal: New York vs. Seattle
By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, NYTimes Ed Life

Which city will be the next hotbed, beyond Silicon Valley, for educating data analysts of the future?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Data Science: The Numbers of Our Lives

Data Science: The Numbers of Our Lives
By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, NYTimes Ed Life

Big data, big money, big skill set now required. Universities are on it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Building a Better Tech School

Building a Better Tech School
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA, NYTimes Ed Life

Silicon Valley East? How Cornell is creating a cutting-edge graduate school from scratch.

Monday, July 8, 2013

‘Disaster University’ to Address Pacific Quakes and Tsunamis

‘Disaster University’ to Address Pacific Quakes and Tsunamis
By JOE COCHRANE, NYTimes

The University of Hawaii is working with Asian institutions to create a field of study that covers all aspects of natural disasters. Indonesia has been chosen as the focus country.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rite of Passage for French Students Receives Poor Grade

Rite of Passage for French Students Receives Poor Grade
By SCOTT SAYARE, NYTimes

The weeklong test called the baccalauréat is the sole element considered in awarding high school diplomas, but critics say it has evolved into an exceptionally inefficient way to weed out the least proficient students.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What It Takes to Make New College Graduates Employable

What It Takes to Make New College Graduates Employable
By ALINA TUGEND

Closing the gap between what employers need and what colleges produce will require effort from both sides, specialists say.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Financial Crisis Amplifies Education's Value

Financial Crisis Amplifies Education's Value
By D. D. GUTTENPLAN, NYTimes

A new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that unemployment rates were much higher for workers with less education.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

In Queens, Modern Takes on Tradition - Intersection



NYTimes: In Queens, Modern Takes on Tradition - Intersection

In Jackson Heights, Queens, some residents discuss how their style represents their culture just as much as their favorite trends.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The most, least expensive U.S. colleges in new lists from U.S. Department of Education

The most, least expensive U.S. colleges in new lists from U.S. Department of Education
By Katy Murphy, Oakland Tribune

Updated lists released Thursday by the Department of Education show which colleges have the highest and lowest sticker prices and average net costs after financial aid...

The federal government has recently created other tools for families, including the College Scorecard and Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. The latest College Affordability and Transparency Lists are at www.collegecost.ed.gov.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Student loan rates to double after lawmakers bicker
Associated Press

A compromise to keep student-loan interest rates low proved unwinnable before Monday's deadline, and interest rates on new loans are going to double - at least for a while - senators said Thursday.

Sen. Tom Harkin, the chairman of the Senate education panel, said none of the proposals being circulating among lawmakers could win passage, and he urged lawmakers to extend the current rates for another year when they return from the July 4 recess. (read more)

Monday, July 1, 2013

State site shows careers, education, pay

State site shows careers, education, pay
Nanette Asimov, SFGate.com

For the first time, California community college students interested in a particular career can check a new state website to see what people earn after completing a degree or certificate in the field.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Department of Education: It Gets Better



ed.gov: Department of Education: It Gets Better

As part of the It Gets Better Project, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and employees from the U.S. Department of Education share their personal stories and a message of hope that we are working to make it better today, not tomorrow.  Check out StopBullyingNow.gov.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Updates to Drivers’ Education Reflect New Dangers on the Road

Updates to Drivers’ Education Reflect New Dangers on the Road
By KAREN ANN CULLOTTA, NYTimes


The old drivers’ education simulators at Maine West High School near Chicago are being replaced by equipment that will teach the realities of the modern road.
New simulators for training young drivers feature technology aimed at teaching them the dangers of talking on cellphones and texting while driving.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Amy Tan Performs at the White House



wh.gov: Amy Tan Performs at the White House

Amy Tan performs at the White House as part of a Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community heritage month celebration. Check out her reference to the SAT and the AP tests.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ways to Study the U.S. Supreme Court With The Times
By MICHAEL GONCHAR, KATHERINE SCHULTEN and SARAH KAVANAGH, NYTimes Learning Network Blog

This week, the Supreme Court is issuing a series of decisions that have the potential to transform three fundamental social institutions: marriage, education and voting.

In honor of those decisions, we’ve updated our Supreme Court resource page to include new ways to teach the Supreme Court. This list helps bring together some Learning Network “greatest hits” on the subject with key articles from the Times archives, current Times reporting and multimedia and additional resources from around the Web. (read more)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Justices Step Up Scrutiny of Race in College Entry

Justices Step Up Scrutiny of Race in College Entry

The 7-to-1 ruling was both modest and significant, and its recalibration of how courts review the programs is likely to give rise to a wave of challenges to college admissions decisions.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Online Classes Fuel a Campus Debate

Online Classes Fuel a Campus Debate

A heated discussion has emerged over whether free online college classes will lead to better learning and lower costs — or to a second-class education for most students.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

American "Dreamers": Kevin Lee



wh.gov: American "Dreamers": Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee is a Deferred Action recipient. His parents emigrated from South Korea in 1999, when he was 9 years old.

There are no stories that bring home the hope and optimism of immigration reform more than the stories of "Dreamers." They are productive members of society, brought here as young children, who grew up in our communities and became American in every way but on paper.

For more info, see: USCIS Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Biggest Mistake Parents Make With College Finances

The Biggest Mistake Parents Make With College Finances
WSJ.com


Our group of industry and academic thought leaders weigh in on the worst pitfalls to avoid when preparing to fund your child's higher education.

Look Beyond the 529 for College Savings

  • Look Beyond the 529 for College Savings

    WSJ.com

    Dan Yu of EisnerAmper says once a child reaches age 15, parents should redirect 529 contributions to an investment savings account in their own name.

Friday, June 21, 2013

With College Costs Ahead, a Need for a Better Plan

With College Costs Ahead, a Need for a Better Plan

WSJ.com

The Spaldings seem to have the projected college costs for their three sons in hand. But as a result, the Mishawaka, Ind., couple thinks they won't be able to retire. A financial adviser looks at their situation.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

WSJ Readers' Tips on Paying for College

WSJ Readers' Tips on Paying for College By DEMETRIA GALLEGOS

Readers offer their ideas on who should pay for college, and whether costs should affect where a student applies

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Japan’s ‘Science Women’ Seek an Identity

Japan’s ‘Science Women’ Seek an Identity

Universities in Japan are pushing to increase female enrollment in science and technology, despite a culture that pushes most women toward the humanities.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

China Dissident Says He’s Being Forced From N.Y.U.

China Dissident Says He’s Being Forced From N.Y.U.

Chen Guangcheng, the legal advocate, said he was being forced to leave the university over concerns that his activism was harming its relationship with China.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Standing Out From the Crowd


Standing Out From the Crowd By RON LIEBER, NYTimes

Young writers show an appetite for risk in college application essays about money, class and the economy, submitted at a columnist’s invitation.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Waitlisted for College: The Waiting Game



NYTimes: Waitlisted for College: The Waiting Game

The Times's Ariel Kaminer on how far high school seniors (and their parents) will go to get themselves off of a college wait list and into the school of their dreams.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How to Write an SAT Essay (updated 05/21/13)


“Begin!”

SAT Essay Prompt: Can knowledge be a burden rather than a benefit?

Read the quote—don’t ponder the meaning of the quote, it is simply there to prime ideas.  Read the prompt, again.  THINK, for one solid minute, THINK. 

Pencils up, but don’t write your essay just yet.

THINK

It is important to know how much you can write in twenty minutes.  Yes, I know you thought you had twenty-five minutes, but it is very, very important to take one minute to THINK, two minutes to ORGANIZE, twenty minutes to WRITE, and two minutes to FIX your essay.  The time that you invest in thinking about the prompt--taking a position and narrowing your topic—will help you formulate your thesis around which you can build an effective essay.  The students who start writing immediately will usually run out of ideas half-way through their essay.  Fore-thought and organization facilitates fluency and coherence.

ORGANIZE: Sequence

After you have spent one minute thinking about the prompt, select appropriate and complementary examples which support your thesis.  Choosing a side can also affect the sequence of the examples.  Take, for example, three novels from a secondary English curriculum: Fahrenheit 451, 1984, and Scarlet Letter.  If you wrote your essay solely according to chronological order, Scarlet Letter would come first; but if you focused on the protagonists’ responses to “knowledge,” Dimsdale represents the midway point between Winston Smith’s failure and Montag’s victory.

Knowledge = Power (benefit):
1) 1984: Winston Smith is liberated by knowledge, but is betrays his love;
2) Scarlet Letter: Dimsdale is liberated by knowledge and dies free;
3) Fahrenheit 451: Montag is liberated by knowledge and lives free in a new communityà ultimate victory for GOOD!

On the other hand, if your thesis proposes that knowledge is a burden, you world present evidence from the novels in a different order, building up to antagonist’s victory over the protagonist.

Knowledge = Power (burden):
1) Fahrenheit 451: Beatty holds secret over Montag, but Montag kills him;
2) Scarlet Letter: Chillingsworth holds secret over Dimsdale; however, Dimsdale neutralizes Chillingsworth power by declaring his love for Hester.
3) 1984: O’Brien manipulates both Winston Smith and Julia to betray each otherà ultimate victory for EVIL!

ORGANIZE: Two or Three Body Paragraphs?

Look at secondary and tertiary themes or topics that the novels have in common such as the characters response to technology, the environment, the government, etc.  With preparation, a quick and confident writer can easily knock out three body paragraphs of similar length and level of detail.  A slower writer, however, may forgo the second body paragraph about the “Scarlet Letter” in favor of delivering two fully-fleshed paragraphs about dystopian novels.  Perhaps, the writer would swap out “Scarlet Letter” for “Animal Farm,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Lord of the Flies,” “The Uglies Trilogy, or even the “Hunger Games.”  A good thesis, supported by the strong examples and concrete details, are critical for the Point of View rubric.

ORGANIZE: Examples

Besides from books, where do examples come from?  Some students write about stories they recently shared from Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube.  Other students look up and write about whatever is around them.  While they scribble away about the History classroom poster-boys (Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Gandhi), consider their contemporaries (Malcolm X, Delores Huerta, Harvey Milk) or recent covers of TIME magazine (Barack Obama, the “Tank Man” of Tiananmen, or Malala Yousafza of Pakistan). 

For those students who default to Hitler, I’m not going to say: DON’T; I’m going to ask: WHY?  The answer, “Because it’s EASY,” will result in the low score which your lack of effort deserves. Stalin, Pol Pot, and Nicolae Ceausescu are alternatives, but it more interesting to write about people who make ethical decisions in morally ambiguous situations: pair the protagonists in “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque with “Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.

If you don’t like novels or history, don’t use examples from your English or History class.  If you are a nerd, write about math; if you are a jock, write about sports; if you are a musician, write about music. 

  • Same rules apply: ANSWER THE PROMPT IN DETAIL. 
  • Same process applies: THINK, ORGANIZE, WRITE, FIX. 
  • Same rubric applies: POINT OF VIEW, ORGANIZATION, VOCABULARY, GRAMMAR, SENTENCE STRUCTURE.

Writer’s Block

Finally, what to do when there is nothing but BLANK in your brain and on your paper.  Quick: jot down your class schedule—what has been the most interesting project or story from each class?  Are you involved with any extra-curricular activities, jobs, or internships?  Write about something that you actually have personal knowledge about and focus on how you changed during the experience.  Although teachers applaud academic success, they feel affirmed when their students apply book knowledge beyond the classroom walls.  What would you rather read: a rehash of the Industrial Revolution or the misadventures of a robotics team?  Narrow your answer and complement it with an appropriate anecdote, book, historical event, or “passion” which you can write about in under twenty minutes. 

WRITE:

Introduction: Hooks are nice, but don’t get stuck.  Write a bare bones introductory paragraph:
  1. Sentence One: THESIS = OPINION (about the essay prompt) + NARROWED TOPIC.  
  2. Sentence Two: EXAMPLE 1 + EXAMPLE 2 ( + EXAMPLE 3) will prove THESIS.
    1. Also known as the ABC Thesis

Vocabulary—while you write, vary your Vocabulary: use the word that most clearly conveys your most.
1.      Mix common words with academic and technical vocabularies to display mastery
2.      Limit colloquialisms.
3.      Rarely use slang or jargon.
4.      Never use vulgarity.

Sentence Syntax— while you write, vary your Sentence syntax: use the syntax that most effectively conveys your position.
  1. Mix simple, compound, complex, compound-complex sentences.
  2. Use lists or statistics to deliver quick, concrete detail (don’t name drop--be prepared to develop facts).
  3. Use parallelism, analogies, metaphors, dialogue, and quotes carefully.
  4. Use sparingly exclamatory and interrogative sentences or rhetorical questions.

Body Paragraph 1:
  1. Write topic sentence about EXAMPLE 1.
  2. Write one or two sentences anecdote or description about EXAMPLE 1.
  3. Write two or three more sentences with concrete detail about how EXAMPLE 1 illustrates THESIS. 

Body Paragraph 2:
  1. Write a transition from Body Paragraph 1 to Body Paragraph 2
    1. OR Skip 2 lines and add Transition 1 later.
  2. Write topic sentence about EXAMPLE 2
  3. Write one or two sentences anecdote or description about EXAMPLE 2
  4. Write two or three more sentences with concrete detail about how EXAMPLE 2 illustrates THESIS. 
  5. Key: EXAMPLE 2 must develop, expand, or contrast with EXAMPLE 2.

Optional Body Paragraph 3:  Teachers and readers prefer the standard five-paragraph essay because it allows a writer to fully expand ideas and fully explore topics.  However, students can deliver a solid four-paragraph if they compare and contrast their examples in depth.  Don’t forget to skip two lines to add transition later or to expand Body Paragraph 2. 
  1. Write a topic sentence about EXAMPLE 3
    1. OR Skip 2 lines and add Transition 2 later.
  2. Write one or two sentences anecdote or description about EXAMPLE 3.
  3. Write two or three more sentences with concrete detail about how EXAMPLE 3 illustrates THESIS. 
  4. Key: EXAMPLE 3 must develop, expand, or contrast with EXAMPLE 1 and 2.

BEWARE: One possible danger of writing a five-paragraph essay is that as the students writes against the clock, details and vocabulary drop by the way-side, leaving the essay lopsided by Body Paragraph 3.  Do not binge on verbiage—write a “normal” amount: four to five sentences—the essay still needs “room” for the conclusion.  Longer is better; complete and well-balances is the best.

Conclusion:
  1. Gather your examples and link them back to your thesis
  2. State how your thesis addresses the SAT prompt.
  3. Link your thesis through the SAT prompt to a universal theme/truth.
  4. State why your argument “matters.”

FIX

Remember: Leave two minutes to FIX your essay:
  1. Check paragraph order—are the examples developed in a logical sequence? If not, label each paragraph with the correct paragraph number. 
  2. Correct grammar mistakes, especially verb tenses and dangling participles. 
  3. Look for “to be” participles and change them to active verbs. 
  4. Scan for repetition and substitute appropriate synonyms.  Add technical vocabulary to demonstrate mastery. 
  5. Smooth transitions between paragraphs.

“Pencils down!”  Take a deep breath--there’s a whole lot more test (and life) to come. 


--How to Write an SAT Essay by Teacher Jennifer (gagliajn@gmail.com) (updated 05/21/13)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Twas the Night before the SAT


Don't cram for the SAT!
  • Put down that box of flash cards and back away from the BLUE BOOK.
  • Follow you normal Friday Night Homework routine.
  • Pack all your SAT supplies (ex: CHARGED-UP calculator, pencils, check your transportation/ride, etc) before you go to bed.
  • Go to bed early.
  • Set you alarm to wake-up fifteen minutes early to focus your thoughts.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

SAT May 2013 Countdown: 1


Critical Reading
  • Vocabulary: flash cards, word lists (Latin/Greek roots/prefixes/suffixes), word games--good! But the best way to acquire vocabulary is to READ.
  • Use POE (process of elimination)
  • Avoid answers that are too extreme (narrow, general, always/never, etc)


Sentence Completion--1 Blank

  • Cover the answers.
  • Read the sentence.
  • Note trigger words (ex: conjunctions, prefixes, modifiers, negation) which change the meaning of the sentence.
  • Read the sentence again, substituting your own word in the blank.
  • Match your choice with the supplied answer choices.
  • Not sure of the meaning? Look at the root--is similar the root similar to the root of a word that you know?
  • Use POE to target the correct answer.
  • Yes, the word you don't know can be the correct choice.

Sentence Completion--2 Blanks

  • Cover the answers.
  • Read the sentence.
  • Note trigger words (ex: conjunctions, prefixes, modifiers, negation) which change the meaning of the sentence.
  • Read the sentence again, substituting your own word in the blank.
  • Uncover the first column of words. Match them with your choice in the first blank (two answers should be retained, the other three should be dismissed).
  • Not sure of the meaning? Look at the root--is similar the root similar to the root of a word that you know?
  • Uncover the second column of words. Match them with your choice in the second blank (the target choices in the 1st blank are usually synonyms of each other; and the second blank is usually opposite of each other; OR the target choices in the 1st blank are antonyms of each other and the second blank is are synonyms).
  • Remember: there is only one correct answer!).

Short Parassage (updated 1/25/2013)

  • Read the questions first.
  • The short passage questions are usually about the tone, main idea, or inference.
  • There is usually one dual short passage set per SAT test.
  • Each of the four questions compare/contrast both passages.
  • Draw a quick Venn Diagram to organize the info.
  •  Remember WHAT the topic is about, and the AUDIENCE.
  • Four Types of Dual Passages
    • Pro / Con (opposite positions)
    • General / Specific
    • 2 different academic disciplines (ex: literary criticism / autobiography)
    • Tone (objective / ironic)
  • Dual passages can be combination of the Four Types

Long Passage (updated 1/25/2013)

  • Read the blurb (who? what? where? when?)
  • Skim & underline for information (Proper Nouns, Numeric infoUnusual Punctuation, Lists)
    • Proper Nouns
      • Capitalized words tell us more about Who? What? Where?
      • possessive 's tell us more about the Proper Nouns
      • compound-words are tailored-made for the passage
    • Numeric Info
      • Numbers (especially years) tell us more about When?  How much?  How many?
      • centuries: seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth...
      • sequence words: first, second, third, next, prior, former...
    • Definitions (unusual punctuation) signals narrative transitions/development
      •  :colons. --dashes-- , (parentheses) give us more info about the word/phrase to the left of the punctuation
      • "air-quotes" one to four words between quotations--not reported speech, but used to  "signal" non-literal meaning, ironic tome, or that the author disagrees with the term.
      • italics, underline, or exclamation point! indicates emphasis.
    • Lists 
      • List deliver concrete details about the topic
      • look for multiple commas ,,,  semicolons ;;;   question marks ??? or repeated words in a close proximity
  • Mark-up the passage as per the Questions (Beware of stealth EXCEPT and Inference Questions)
  • Read the passage critically (why? how?)
  • Answer the questions via POE
    • POE: Process of Elimination
      • note similar vocabulary between the text and answer choices
      • watch out for negation in either the question, text, or answer choices
      • use symbols \ = no (not possible), ` = maybe (possible), + = yes (probable)
      • Check out The Critical Reader: Inference Questions

Dual Passages


Dual Passage--Intro
  • Draw a Venn Diagram
  • Read the blurb (who? what? where? when? audience? type of text?)
  • Fill out the Venn Diagram--note "dual questions" in the union.

Dual Passage--Passage 1

  • Skim & underline the First Passage for information (Proper Nouns, Unusual Punctuation, Lists)
  • Mark-up the passage as per the First Passage Questions (Beware of stealth EXCEPT and Inference Questions)
  • Read the passage critically (why? how?)
  • Answer First Passage questions ONLY via POE
  • Skip all Second Passage and Dual Passage Questions

Dual Passage--Passage 2

  • Skim & underline the Second Passage for information (Proper Nouns, Unusual Punctuation, Lists)
  • Mark-up the passage as per the Second Passage Questions (Beware of stealth EXCEPT and Inference Questions)Read the passage critically (why? how?)
  • Answer Passage 2 questions ONLY via POE
  • Skip all Dual Passage Questions

Dual Passage--Dual Passage Questions
  • Update Venn Diagram (tone +/-) (note if there is a switch in tone/argument)
  • Answer Dual Passage questions via POE
  • Finish!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

SAT May 2013 Countdown: 2


Essay:
  • Read the Prompt
  • Read the Quote
  • Read the Prompt again.
  • Think for 1 minute (don't write).
  • Brainstorm. Focus, focus, focus your complementary examples and connect these specific examples to BIG CONCEPTS. Organize. (2 minutes)
  • Write (20 min)
  • Intro Paragraph:
  • Thesis plus preview of your examples (Think DEVIL'S ADVOCATE--knock out objection to your thesis in your intro).
  • 3 body paragraphs. Topic sentence plus 4-7 sentences of concrete detail.
  • 2 body paragraphs is acceptable, but not advisable--write as much as you can to demonstrate the mastery of your tipic.
  • Transition between paragraphs.
  • Conclusion.
  • LAST 2 MINUTES: Fix errors and upgrade vocabulary--(replace to be/to have with stronger verbs).
  • Check out The Critical Reader: Essay Tips


Writing Section (multiple choice)


The Fist of No Error (see above and sidebar)
  • Subject/Verb agreement (number)
  • Tense (verb tense and aspect)
  • Pronoun (number, case, antecedent)
  • Adjective/Adverb (modifiers; infinitive/gerund)
  • Diction (correct word ex: affect/effect;phrasal verb & correct preposition)
  • Misplaced Modifiers (modifying phrases and clauses)
  • "Patterns": comparison, parallelism, list made of similar parts of speech
  • Conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating, correlative ; also relative pronoun clauses
Also checkout:

The Critical Reader: Complete SAT Grammar Rules or General Grammar Tips (updated 1/25/2013)

Improving Sentences
Improving Paragraphs
Identifying Sentence Errors