Doing More With Less Since 1972

Tag: Reading

Daily Reading List — December 18th

The 16 Best Books Read by the AoM Team in 2014 – Need to get my nose back into some books as well now that things have settled down with the move a little.

Why a Hyped New Lottery Game Went Bust in a Hurry – If only they'd rented a hot air balloon…

App Calculates Where You Need To Go And Sends You A Bike Or A Tesla In Five Minutes – I got to go by and see Shift's place a couple of weeks ago, and they have a really cool model. One of the most innovative ideas they have is to include Shift memberships as part of ownership in high-rise condos–saving the builders a big chunk on dedicated parking spaces for each tenant, and eliminating the need of car ownership for residents. There would always be an appropriate vehicle available for use in your building's garage if you had to drive.

Finding the Right Metaphor – This one resonated with me like an episode of Grizzly Adams!

Can IBM’s Mountain Of Data Fix Your Email Nightmare? – "Everyone is doing something about solving email nightmares. Except the people who are responsible for causing email nightmares." Mark Twain (paraphrased)

An Exercise to Become a More Powerful Listener – Wait…what'd you say?

5 Sun Belt Getaways for Trail Runners – Coming to an out of shape jabroni like me this weekend!

F1 Race in Las Vegas? – I'm not big on auto racing at all. But..

This. Would. Be. Awsum.

Daily Reading List — August 20th

Underwear Meat Clock – Probably the greatest opening band in the history of the Knoxville music scene. And I was there for several shows.

It wasn’t long before this success led to temptation: an offer to headline a mud-wrestling show at Michael’s on the glittery Kingston Pike strip. Refusing to sell out to their dozen or so fans, Lucky issued this resolute statement to the South Knoxville Shopper: “We won’t headline. It’s pointless. It’s stupid. We open. We open because we like to get drunk after we play.”

The Key To Better Work? Email Less, Flow More – My recommendation is to set up the most aggressive inbox filters you can think of so that you only get notifications on the most important messages from the most important people–the ones that actually pass the filters and make it to your inbox.

A week later, make them even more aggressive.

My favorite filter is the one that sends every message that has me in the cc: field straight to a secondary inbox. I only check this inbox a few times a day. It’s amazing how many issues can get resolved without you having to work yourself up just because someone kept you in the loop.

I have another one just for automated positive notifications from various systems. 99% of the time, I only need the positive notifications to confirm something went ok. Yeah…uh, just notify me if it’s broken, please.

A Trip Through The Land Of Magical Realism – I’ve only been able to see a teeny tiny bit of Colombia (13, 14, 15), and it. is. awsum.

This has me wishing I could do the grand tour!

How Companies Can Unlock Billions With The Value of Code – I think maybe the best advice here is in the “Narrow Your Focus” section. Otherwise, holy Toledo, this stuff is overwhelming.

Beastie Boys Return to Paul’s Boutique – Cool tribute for the Beasties!

They should do something similar at the White Castle where they got thrown out.

Why Nobody Likes To Chew Gum Anymore – I think it’s because we don’t walk as much as we used to. Take away the walking, and you’ve taken away the challenge of gum chewing.

Build Your Own Tech Radar – This would be a great exercise to undertake quarterly as individuals, departments, and entire organization.. Probably well worth the time, and (hopefully not needed) an easy way to reference “I told you sos” later.

16 Cultural Critiques Every Man Should Read – I should spend less time reading blog posts about books I should read, and more time reading books. Too many options. Too many options.

Luckily, I’ve been able to check a couple of these off already.

Daily Reading List — February 19th

Make The Data Center The New Telco – Yammer just announced they are dropping SMS notifications. Maybe a way to hack that back together?

Tumblr Is Not What You Think – Bam. And, as always, what should be general knowledge for months is just now being reported.

10 Classic Books You Read in High School You Should Reread – I only read six of these the first time around. Good to know there's good stuff while I wait for Winds of Winter.

Senselessness of school math – "Life came first. Then we invented math as a way to describe life. Teaching math out of the context of what it's describing is like teaching a foreign grammar and vocabulary without ever hearing or using the language."

Exactly.

Choosing Curriculum – The Never Ending Story Of History

At our house, “school” starts at birth…at least that’s the way we look at it. But things are shifting a little these days because “real school” will be starting soon. That means paperwork has to be filled out to declare that we’re officially home schooling. But there’s more…

Curricula must be chosen.

We may have a different approach than others, but here’s what we talked about and decided on for kindergarten/first grade history.

In our estimation, reading is the key to everything. The most important thing we can teach our children are the skills to read and comprehend, and (most importantly) to love it. A love of reading opens up every other subject. We’re easing the kids into this with the stories we read to them at bedtime. Pea (the 5 yo) has moved past the Dr. Seuss type books for bedtime stories since she’s able to read them herself now, so we have been increasing the density of what we read to her, continuing to model good reading habits and challenging her with tougher content and vocabulary.

Her current favorite is the Magic Tree House series, and it’s been great for introducing a little information about the histories of different parts f the world, although it’s fictional, and getting her to ask questions and wonder about different time periods and places. Admittedly, Bug (the 3yo) says that “Jack and Annie awe boawing!” There aren’t crazy pictures to look at, and they don’t do silly things like grow daisies out of their heads. That’s ok…she still listens to the stories, and she still gets her turn to pick books that are more appropriate for her.

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What we’ve decided to do to introduce history more formally is use the Story of the World books. All the reviews we’ve read lead us to believe this is the right choice for our family because it will let us introduce history as a story. What kid wouldn’t love that? We also have friends with older children who rave about these books and the results they’ve seen with their own kids. We’re hoping we can begin reading this book simply as a series of bedtime stories and letting Pea work through the accompanying activity books during the day. She loves when things “magically happen” during the day that she’s been learning about someplace else. That really helps her learn to make her own connections between what she reads and things that happen in her own life.

Feel free to share your own experiences with these books, especially if there are unseen pitfalls we need to look out for!

Link Dump From Stuff I’ve Been Reading

Denso (and others) Plea Guilty To Price Fixing – Coming soon, “Shame on Denso” signs in front of Alcoa Highway Wal-Mart.

Has the Higher-Ed Revolution Begun? – I’ll take advantage of the CS courses, but I’d really love to see a business school offer this type of program. We may have to wait all the way until next year for something like that.

What’s Wrong With the Teenage Mind? – In summary (I think), they need to be taught responsibility and experience in addition to facts.

A future President

It’s time for us to get to work. To get busy. My advisors and cabinet members are going to sit down to find ways to help get out of your way. To encourage you.

Re-elect this guy. If we ever elect him.

Whatever happened to: Rucking?

The key advantage of ‘traditional’ rucking was that it produced quick ball. It also occupied forwards who might otherwise loiter in midfield clogging up the pitch.

The game started changing in this regard as my career was ending, and I remember that feeling (we’ve all had it) just KNOWING that the boots were coming after doing something on the edge of the law in a tackle in order to steal or secure the ball for my team.

And then…nothing would happen. Occasionally someone would curse your actions, but they wouldn’t dream of chucking boot and letting you know that was not acceptable.

I do know of at least one referee who was more than happy to have the game become more about him than the players on the field and welcomed the changes in rucking.

10 Things You Can Do to Raise a Reader – On of the most important things you can do as a parent.

Sweden Plans A New Superhighway For Cyclists – Not going to pretend I wouldn’t like to see this here. Privately funded of course.

Federal government debt site – But it doesn’t track the federal government’s massive debt. Instead, it gives them information on decreasing their own debt. Isn’t that rich?!

So Why Read Anymore? – Damn. Just…damn.

Somehow we must convince this new wired generation that speaking and writing well are not just the DSL lines of modern civilization, but also the keys to self-mastery, a sort of code that one takes on — in addition to others, moral and legal — to uphold standards of culture itself, to keep the work and ideas alive of our long gone betters for one more generation — as if to say, “I did my part according to my time and station.”Nothing more, nothing less.

The Future of Personalized Medicine – Can’t wait for this to be widely available. Can I get a GPS add on?

QUnit – jQuery JavaScript Library – Free, and a time saver down the road.

Spotify Free Unlimited Music Streaming Ends After Six Month Promotion – Sadness. Extreme sadness.

What Your Kids See You Read

George Washington Crossing The Delaware

I’ve read articles before (someone can provide links in the comments) about how important it is to have books around the house and to set an example for your kids by making sure they see you reading. But I’ve always looked at that as a general idea–just make sure they see that you read, and the magic will happen later on. Last night I got my first glimpse of how it can affect them in ways I hadn’t considered.

I’m currently reading To Try Men’s Souls, which is a historical novel about George Washington and the Continental Army’s crossing of the Delaware on Christmas night, 1776. The cover of the book features the famous painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze. Yesterday afternoon, Pea was looking at the cover and asked, “Who’s that?”. I told her it was a painting of George Washington crossing a river in a boat, and the book is a story about him going across the river. She’s familiar with George Washington because she’s seen another painting of him when going over the Presidents of the United States with Ana. She immediately said, “Look Mami! Daddy’s reading a book about George Washington! He’s one of the Presidents in my pictures!” She looked through the pages for a little while before putting the book down. I assume she was looking for more pictures–that’s what I did when I was little. It didn’t take long for her to get bored and go play with something else.

We read books together before bed every night, then Pea climbs up to her top bunk and looks at books in her bed before she goes to sleep while I hang out on the bottom bunk and read. Last night, as she was looking at her books and going to sleep she whispered down to me, “Daddy, are you looking at the book about George Washington in the boat?”

Cool! She just made a connection between two paintings she’s seen at different times and something the person in those painting did, and it’s stuck in her memory! She also understands the that I’m reading the story (learning) about what happened from the book. Hopefully this will lead to more questions about George Washington in the future. Maybe she’ll even ask me to tell her the story.

Stuff You Should See– September 3rd through October 13th

Top 5 things to HATE about Marathon Runners -Ha! Best list since “Stuff White People Like”. I made every annoying thing on this list!

Amusing Ourselves to Death – Awsum.

Higher education bubble poised to burst – "The people running America's colleges and universities have long thought they were exempt from the laws of supply and demand and unaffected by the business cycle. Turns out that's wrong."

Market: Over 12 Year Period You Made More on 1st Day of Month.. – That is a pretty amazing fact.

What if the Postal Service runs out of money? – Cheese and crackers! Just let it die already!

Testing Teachers On Math and Reading – I can just hear their excuse now…"I may not be able to lay an egg, but I can tell a good one from a bad one" or "Do you think Tiger Woods' golf coach is better than Tiger at golf?"

Google SEO Starter Guide updated

The Most Influential Consumers Online are on Twitter – The easiest way to get a lot of retweets is to write an article praising Twitter users.

Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? – "Stupid jock" isn't always true.

Stop Repeating Yourself: Set Up a Workplace Wiki – I tried this at a former job a few years ago. The result–I used it. Then we had the middle management who would copy the contents of a help file somewhere and paste it into the wiki. That gets you bonus points for authorship when you show it in your PowerPoint!

IEEE Spectrum: Get on the Optical Bus – Good news for 3rd party software vendors. Now they can blame software issues on the fact that you don't have hardware with optical bus!

A few fabulous homeschool rants – heh.

Stuff You Should See– January 15th through January 26th

Celebrity Rehab 3 – Take it day by day. If you can go the whole season without watching an episode, more power to you. But I'll bet you a cold cold beer you can't do it.

Mardi Gras 1956 – This is cool. I haven't been to New Orleans in 6 or 7 years. This makes me want to go back. Not for Mardi Gras, but I still want to go back.

Lost Fans Soon To Be More Annoying – I can't wait to hypothesize on Twitter. For hours.

Trees toppling in national park kills – Wow….this is really sad and such a freak accident. You don't think about things like this happening.

Lane Kiffin Dirt and Cover Up – I've heard for a while there is some of this type stuff out there, but haven't seen anything other than stuff on message boards. I run a message board and can attest that it's not much more than a bunch of monkeys banging on keyboards. But once a blogger takes the time to type it up…maybe there's something to it. Interesting!

Background Apps To The iPhone? – An Apple fan girl told me this already existed. I guess not. I have to say, I LOVE having the ability to stream Pandora and run a Cardio program simultaneously while I'm running. It works just like you'd think it would. Cardio lowers the volume of Pandora to give you distance and pace, and raises the volume back when it's finished.

Dysfunctional Leadership Quotes – It's funny to read this and know that somewhere out there, there are even worse examples of leadership than those described here. LOL!

Venues Can Display Foursquare Mayors – It will be awesome when I'm featured on the WalMart, Publix, Panera, and IKEA websites. You may already believe that's me on the Sea World site when you visit, but that's an actual whale.

15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning – Very nice article here. Even though I sort of know all of these things intuitively, I need to be more active in implementing some of them.

Delicious Link Dump– December 28th through December 29th

The 30 Freakiest Commercials of 2009 – I love commercials, and not just because they make LOST free for me to watch.

Star Wars/A-Team intro mashup – Seriously? It took us until late 2009 for someone to make this happen? Where is your creativity people?

E-Books Beat Regular Books – December 25, 2009 is the day we turned the corner in publishing. Publishers probably thought it would never happen. If only there’s been some sort of warning…maybe if it had happened in other industries (music, movies, newspapers) they could have been better prepared.

Into the Wild – I read it over the weekend. I haven’t seen a movie for…ever, and the guy who was telling me about the movie gave me the book as a gift. I can’t really say that I like Christopher McCandless as portrayed in the book, but I think that was done on purpose. I can relate to him in some ways though. We’re pretty much the same age, and I know a lot of guys who have some of the same character traits as him. I think it was pretty common for young men from our generation to be a little angry about not having much to be angry about. But I think if this guy had played rugby he’d still be alive today. If you play(ed) rugby, you probably understand why. If you don’t, it’s not something I can really explain to you.

The Sexiest Magazine Covers of 2009 – I wasn’t aware that any magazines were still being printed. Thankfully, there are web sites out there to filter through them and find the things I need.

Happiest States Revealed by New Research – Climbing the ranks in best cities to live in and happiest states to live in as well. Soon, we’ll reach residential nirvana. As soon as we have a house.

Thank you, Janet. – She should get dressed up in a flight suit and have her photo taken in front of a banner reading “The system worked” on an aircraft carrier. Now, watch this drive.

Celebrate The Freedom To Read What We Want

It’s that time of year again…the time to celebrate Banned Book Week. Held every year on the last week of September, BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or to create books that may sometimes be viewed unorthodox or controversial by some. Their goal is to promote intellectual freedom.

I remember one year in Florida there was a lot of buzz about a certain book that was being banned in all schools county by county. Guess what happened? EVERYONE wanted to read it…and just about everyone did. It’s still one of my favorites! It’s funny how banning books has that effect, no?

So go check out what it’s all about and also to see what titles are creating buzz this year. Enjoy your freedom!

Read Between The Lions

I love this show! Even though PBS’s Read Between The Lions has been around for seven seasons, I always like to refer parents to it just in case they don’t know it exists. It’s a show that can do a lot to add to your child’s reading skills. Here are some of the things you’ll see on the show:

  • Books and stories are read aloud (book characters even come to life!)
  • New vocabulary is introduced in context
  • Words, syllables, and letters are highlighted as they’re spoken (this really helps fluency and word recognition!)
  • Silly songs and rhymes that promote reading in a fun way

Check out this video to get a peek at what it’s like:

You can also visit the PBS Lions’ page for cool games, stories, and videos that extend the activities you see on the show. It’s a really useful site that compliments a great show!

Age Guidance For Children’s Books…No Thanks!

That’s what Philip Pullman and over 80 other authors, illustrators, librarians, and booksellers are saying in their petition against the proposed age banding for children’s books by leading publishers. This proposal looks to add suggested age ranges on children’s books (such as ages 5+ or ages 7-9) in order to help parents, teachers, and kids tell which books are appropriate for children to read. This has sparked much debate amongst those involved with children’s books. The publishers claim that this will be very helpful to parents when choosing books for their kids at bookstores and for teachers selecting material for their students.

Is this really necessary? Has there been some sort of epidemic of concerned adults wandering the aisles at bookstores and libraries unsure of what material is appropriate for their children to read? I don’t think this age banding proposal is a good idea and here are a couple of problems I see with it:

  • Not all kids are the same: Every child reads at different levels at different ages! Parents who homeschool have much more control over letting their child read out of the “appropriate” range that will appear on a book’s cover, so I’m sure we will continue to make decisions that best suit our children rather than allow an unnecessary age range deter us from purchasing a certain book. Yet will kids who attend schools still have the freedom to choose the books they wish to read? Will the advanced 7 year old (like this one) who devours chapter books deemed for older kids be allowed to read them at school?
  • It may discourage readers or embarrass others: A child who is interested in dinosaurs may excitedly pick up a book about them only to put it down quickly once he realizes it’s a “baby book”. There’s no telling how much he could have learned or how much fun he could have had reading it because he never even gave it a chance. And trust me, kids don’t want to be caught reading books that are considered too young for them! So what about the kids who read below their current grade or age level? How would an 11 year old who reads at a 3rd grade level feel when they are given a book that says it’s for ages 8-10? My guess is that child would not want to read that book…or any other that reminds him how behind he is. Pullman says it best:

“…Everything about a book should seek to welcome readers in and not keep them out.”

I really hope that these publishers take to heart the wishes of the petitioners and decide against including these age ranges on their books. Parents, educators, and kids should enjoy choosing books based on interest and curiosity without such limits!

‘Reading First’ Not Working…Why Not?

The Reading First initiative is a federally funded program that aims to raise student performance by improving reading comprehension (as measured by state tests). The program has very strict guidelines that states and districts must follow in order to receive and maintain funding. Some of these guidelines include:

  • Having a reading coach – a person that works to train teachers and make sure they are up to date on the latest research on teaching the five components of reading. This person is to work side by side with teachers in and out of their classrooms to help them accomplish these goals.
  • Using approved scientific research-based curricula
  • Provide students with an uninterrupted 90-minute reading block each day
  • A set amount of time for teacher professional development in reading instruction

You’d think all of those efforts should pay off, right? Well, according to a preliminary report published by the Department Of Education, students who attend a Reading First school have shown no more gains than those whose schools lack the program. The program weighs in at about $1 billion dollars a year so far (for a total of $6 billion), so you can see why this would be disturbing to some. A final report that looks at the effects of the program guidelines on student comprehension is due out in late 2008.

So why is the initiative not working as intended? I don’t think it’s because of faulty research. I suspect the reasons why it’s not working as anticipated are due to the implementation, management, and expectations of the program. My experience as a reading coach in one such school lends me a bit of insight into the matter. While I definitely don’t think the following applies to all schools, it may still be true for many. Here are three reasons why I think Reading First may not be working to its full potential:

  1. Misuse of resources at the school level: I found that my time as a reading coach was not used effectively by the administration. Much of my time was diverted towards taking care of discipline issues instead of working with teachers.
  2. Lack of teacher “buy-in”: Teachers oftentimes need to buy into and feel like they own ideas in order to change. I found that many teachers were so bogged down with the other guidelines they were placed under (NCBL, state, and district mandates) that they simply couldn’t find the time to change and grow professionally, or, in a few cases, simply didn’t want to.
  3. Unrealistic expectations: Many of the children being served in the targeted public schools come in with such limited language and literacy skills, that it’s really hard to catch them up to “grade level” in a couple of years (at least to the point where they score well on state tests) . These kids would likely make great gains quickly if they had individual instruction on a daily basis, but that’s just not realistic in today’s schools.

Could this be the beginning of the end of The Reading First initiative? Surely people will not stand behind something that costs that amount of money with no proven results, but it would be a shame if the instructional methods of Reading First are dismissed as being ineffective. I truly feel that the research that has been done to support the program and reading instruction in general is solid and strong. I’ve personally seen it work and make a difference in helping many children learn to read. I guess we shall have to wait and see how it all plays out!

Reading . . . Is It A Natural Occurrence?

There is some debate regarding this question. Some parents and authorities maintain that children will develop the ability to learn how to read on their own when they are ready and exposed to text. Most others believe that reading has to be taught to children. So who is right? Both sides offer up what they consider to be convincing research or evidence to support their stance. Yet in the midst of this debate, you have to ask the question . . . If reading is a natural occurrence, why are there so many illiterate people in the world? I’m by no means claiming that I know the answer to this, yet I feel that part of the answer may lie in the possibility that these people may not have been exposed to much literature or to an environment that fostered a love for reading. Read about Karla to find out more on my theory. Continue reading

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