Tag Archives: education

When I Was Their Age…

I was going to start this by wondering if you could stand another post about dictionaries… and then I realized, it really isn’t! The background is that I recently wrote an article for The Dictionary Project Newsletter and have had several nice comments on it. It was some of the comments that made me realize I didn’t just write about dictionaries–I wrote about the relationship between schools, volunteers, teachers, students, parents–that wonderful conglomeration of people who make up the community.

And in a strange irony, I had a short but wonderful conversation today with a third grader who recognized how a quilt is like a community… you find lots of different things and put them all together to form a pattern that is both many things and one thing.  It also ends up being quite colorful and pleasing to the eye.

So in a larger sense, I wrote about communities and expectations and communication and working together. To see if you agree, check out “When I Was There Their Age…”


Okay… now how bad is that? They’re are differences between there, their and they’re! And I really do know what they are!  Technology got me on this one… because I made the mistake, saw the mistake… but the automatic send happened before I could edit out the mistake! So there’s another advantage of subscribing to this… the odds of seeing my mistakes are higher! (For those who didn’t get the emailed version, I made the mistake in the title too.)

Ask Somebody!

For a number of years I’ve been conducting dictionary presentations with third graders. There’s a point at which I ask the kids, “What do we do if we come to a word we don’t know?”

Historically, the kids have pretty much unanimously replied, “Look it up!” (The pile of dictionaries behind me is probably a clue that helps them with the answer.)

Well, this year I was a bit surprised to hear a few kids say, “Ask somebody!” This in spite of the prominent pile of dictionaries.

And then today I learn about a project whereby Amazon.com has hired some folks from Quorus–a service that is adding a “social dimension” to online shopping. Say you are shopping for a gift and are having trouble deciding. The Quorus program would allow you to “discuss” the purchase (online) with other members of the family both in real time (chat) and offline.

Imagine being able to ask all of your friends online, “Will these pants make my butt look big?”

As if to reaffirm this trend, when I was getting instruction regarding my newly aquired SmartPhone, the representative pointed out that “the best thing to do when you are looking at an ‘ap’ is to see what the reviews (other people) have said about it.” Yep, that sounds like “ask somebody” to me! Instead of researching the developer and the features of the ap, I’m supposed to count stars I guess. (Actually, I do read reviews–but that’s only one component of the research.)

Surely we could spend days discussing the ramifications of this trend.  I’ll bet if we involved Madam DeFarge she’d opine, “It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times.”

My relationship with technology is at times tenuous, although I confess I have personified my GPS and will occasionally argue with her, but often rely on her. “Greta says that I’ll be arriving in 45 minutes…” In practice, I’ve asked Greta (her last name is Garmin) how long the trip will take. So far, I remain convinced I’m still smarter than she is.

Let’s set aside the question of whether or not this is all good stuff. (Personally, I like seeing kids looking up things in the dictionary instead of asking somebody. I also still have arguments with Greta when she tries to make me take a turn that doesn’t make sense. Suffice it to say, asking somebody is not a substitute for using our brains.)

One of the questions this does raise… Where are we going to learn the social (media) graces? To wit, if I bump into you at the bank in Dover Foxcroft, I’m probably not going to show you a picture of what I had for breakfast. For that matter, if you invite me to lunch, I’m probably not going to whip out my (yet unnamed) SmartPhone to ask people what looks good on the menu.

Whaddya think?

Don’t say, “I’m not sure, let me ask somebody.”

Course and Class Schedules Posted!

You can use the tabs at the top or the page listing in the side bar at the right… to review at least three categories of courses I’ll be offering in 2012. Of course there’s the usual real estate licensing courses–a section unto themselves. Courses offered through PVAEC tend to overlap, but there’s plenty of excitement and opportunities. The “You Can” series developed as a collabaration between UMaine Extension and PVAEC includes plenty of “self-sufficiency” skills from backyard poultry to food preservation. Of course I’ve already announced my “Cash as a Crop” course

We’re also starting a “Solopreneur” Series… courses geared for folks who are or want to work alone and run their business single-handed. Of special interest may be a short course that will get you started with your own free WordPress Blog–much like this one!

All of the courses could also fall under the heading of “Personal Growth” — why not take on a new challenge in 2012?! If you have a special interest that’s not covered, let me know… we’ll see what we can do!

Bad Business Alert

This is a warning for my fellow educators… Let me save you some frustration, aggravation, and maybe some money. Do not attempt to purchase academic software from a company called “JourneyEd.”  They also do business as Academic Super Store and perhaps several other similar names.

The process is supposed to be fairly straightforward. You place an order, then submit documentation proving you are qualified to purchase. The website says “one business day” is required.

Being a somewhat thorough person, I decided to call before ordering to get some assurance I was qualified. The customer service rep who took my call started reading to me from the website. I kept interrupting; he kept reading. I finally managed to speak to a supervisor who assured me I was qualified, so I placed the order and submitted my documentation for verification.

What followed was several days of nightmarish sorts of communication. I would email customer service–they would eventually reply assuringly that verifications are handled in the order received. I resubmitted my documentation several times, using different channels. Just about the time I was becoming suspicious, I received an email reminding me they were waiting for me to submit my documentation.  At this point I did the research I should have done at the start and discovered they’ve been getting negative reviews since at least 2003.

So I cancelled the order. I did so by emailing, faxing, and placing a phone call to a thoroughly apathetic customer service representative. Now here’s where it gets funny. This morning I had a handful of emails from them assuring me that my order was cancelled and that I would not be charged nor would the order be shipped. So we have a company that is quite adept at cancelling orders but can’t seem to process them and ship them.

The good news is that I found another supplier and placed the same basic order late yesterday afternoon. Creation Engine also emailed this morning, advising that my order has been shipped from California and is already in Louisville KY. Lessons learned:

If you are looking for academic software, do NOT order from JourneyEd. Do order from Creation Engine.

If you are considering a business relationship with an online company, google “customer reviews and the name of that company” BEFORE you go too far.

 

Grab Some Tissues…

And watch this video. Please.

http://www.flickspire.com/m/HPP/MakeADifference

All the way to the end. I’m not going to do a spoiler, but I will tell you that part-way through I found myself thinking how hard I wished people could realize that it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in a child’s life. But in the end, that wasn’t the point.