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Saturday, July 01, 2017

The Girl with the Turkey Tattoo

Happy 4th of July weekend!  On this near-holiday day, I thought I'd share an excerpt from the upcoming Learn Me Goodest that deals with another holiday - Thanksgiving.
Enjoy!  And comment are always appreciated.


Speaking of word problems, a few days ago, I had the kids using their workbooks, and I saw this challenging question:
“A man and his 2 sons want to cross the river.  The man weighs 150 pounds and each of his sons weighs 75 pounds.  Their boat can hold no more than 150 pounds.  How can the man and both sons get to the other side of the river, using only the boat, without sinking it?”
I noticed most of my kids either skipped this question entirely or wrote something that merely proved they had not read the question.
“The 2 sons.”
“Long division.”
V, however, had given it some thought and written down a sensible answer. 
“The dad will have to lose weight.”
I can guarantee the dad is not going to lose any weight with Thanksgiving right around the corner. There will be much eating and drinking, and anybody who wants to cross a river in an inadequately prepared boat is on their own.
Going to classes over the summer allows us to get the whole week of Thanksgiving off, and I couldn't be happier. And apparently, I;m not alone in that joy.  I'm always amazed how even the kids who have trouble putting one and one together can tell you exactly how many days are left until Thanksgiving break. K has given me a countdown every morning since the beginning of November. Today he was practically bursting with excitement.
“What do you like so much about Thanksgiving break?” I asked him this morning. “Is it the turkey and dressing?”
“No, it's not having to go to SCHOOL!” he sighed dreamily.
I must have looked offended, because he quickly sobered up and added, “And it's the turkey, too.”
The other day, I made a holiday-inspired pun, and it was received with mixed reviews.  The kids had spent a couple of days completing a self-paced scavenger hunt of sorts around the room, and we were getting ready to switch back to homeroom.  I was standing near S and A’s table, and I asked them, “Was the scavenger hunt fun?”
S replied, “Yeah, but kind of stressing!”
I remarked, “Stressing?  Isn’t that a Thanksgiving meal?  Turkey and stressing?”
A, who is totally the most angsty 16-year-old in a 9-year-old’s body there ever was, rolled her eyes and muttered, “Why do you always have to say bad jokes?”
Hey, why does the sun rise in the east?  Why does a scorpion sting?  Why is the Statue of Liberty the mascot for all income tax return companies?  Why ask why?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Win a keyboard cover, learn to type!

I was recently contacted by Abhishek at, and he asked me if I would be interested in obtaining some free keyboard cover samples for my classroom.  I of course told him I was no longer teaching but that I would love to give some readers the opportunity to get some of the samples for THEIR classrooms!

He graciously agreed.

I think that typing is definitely a marketable skill in today's age, as it was when I was a teen.  I remember learning to type by playing text-based (no graphics) computer games, especially those from a company called INFOCOM.

Now, you might already have an answer, or you might need to use our friend Google.  But here's what you need to do to win and have a free keyboard cover sample mailed to you.  Leave an answer to the following question in the comments of this post, and your answer MUST BE UNIQUE.  In other words, if you had the greatest answer EVER, but someone already posted it -- find another answer! 

So here's the question:

What is the name of one of these test-based computer games produced by Infocom?

The first 5 commenters with valid answers will win, so please leave me a way to contact you as well.

Now here's a nice post from the Keybodo team.

Why typing is a necessary skill all students should learn
As we continue to move deeper into the digital age, technology – as well as its role in the classroom and students’ professional lives - continues to develop drastically. Currently, voice and other input technologies are not relevant enough to meet demands in school or the workplace. Therefore, the keyboard remains the primary option to input information. Students nowadays have to use the keyboard in order to write their essays, reports, and work on projects in groups. Over the course of a school year, students will have to save hours of typing time. Without the adequate typing skills, many students will risk falling behind in their classwork as they waste unnecessary time on their assignments. Some standardized tests used for state-wide quality control are administered through computers, and having students type for questions is not unheard of. As they gradually integrate into the work force, the students who do not acquire keyboarding skills will lose an edge over the other job candidates that do.
Keyboarding skills impact a person’s ability to communicate with others, even in social aspects. Typically, typing skills are mostly applied to word processing software for students. However, typing plays an important role in using database software, programming, email, and instant message communication. Academically, keyboarding skills are essential for students who are interested in higher levels of education in field. Also, social media, text messaging, and chatting online continue to increase rapidly. A student who is slow to develop on these typing skills may miss opportunities to be more social and possibly interact with industry people to build a network.
Why Typing Should be Taught at Schools
Keyboarding should be taught at schools since it is a skill that is not too time consuming or demanding if properly instructed by trained teachers. It is important for students to learn how to use the proper technique early on so they don’t have to break the bad habits later. The developers of the known keyboarding software, Ultimate Typing, assert that it will take less than 10 minutes of practice every day to see improvements in typing speed and accuracy in two weeks. Many reasons aforementioned come up for teaching typing sills but helping academic performance and securing employment opportunities would be the two most important.
One Drawback of Typing
The one thing that has been lost in the shift to a more technologically advanced classroom is handwriting. What may seem a basic task is a multisensory experience for students, which is why handwriting notes has been proven to help with long term information retention. Typing does not have the multisensory benefits because each key is identical: a flat, naked surface. Users cannot differentiate keys by touch the they can with handwritten letters.
A solution to help provide a multisensory experience for students
To help combat this problem while still advocating students remain in line with using computers, a tactile recognition keyboard cover has been developed by Keybodo. The tactile (touch) keyboard cover makes typing not only a visual learning experience, but also a tactile experience. So, students are able to “feel their words” and visually see what they are typing on the screen. Keybodo’s cover has been patented and initial tests have shown a dramatic reduction of typing errors. Students using the cover have said they could feel when they made a mistake. This instantaneous tactile feedback provides a strong option to correct typing behavior gradually and give students a better understanding of the words on the keyboard without each key feeling the same.
Keybodo’s Tactile Character Recognition Keyboard cover can be found at along with similar products by the startup ed-tech company.