Friday, April 27, 2012

Today I wanted to share some house-cleaning/organizational resources that I found awhile back and should really take advantage of over the next month...

1.  Vocalpoint's Spring Cleaning Worksheet - I'm not sure if you have to be a member of Vocalpoint or not to get access to this page, but even if you do, you really should join.  This is a great website that provides occasional, if not frequent, freebies, which they refer to as "Try-and-Tell" programs.  Basically, you get something for free in the mail and then review it on the site - so worth it.  So anyway, this worksheet is a downloadable pdf that is very visually pleasing and almost exciting - makes you want to clean and takes away the work of having to come up with all the various things that need to be done!  From vacuuming to dusting to donating and even hanging wall art, pretty much everything is covered.  Although I do love making lists, I think this worksheet may be far more effective in the long run for cleaning my house.  Check it out.

2.  Extract the Odor With Vanilla guest post by Alesha on The Krazy Coupon Lady's blog - I personally LOVE the smell of vanilla.  It's such a clean and comforting scent.  Well this article gives some great tips on how to use Clear Imitation Vanilla Extract to provide pleasant smells throughout the house whether as a replacement air freshener or to wipe down your fridge or microwave.  I don't know about you but, after I order pizza and it sits in the fridge for a few days, my fridge couldn't smell funkier :-(  I'm looking forward to trying to wipe away that smell with something far more inviting.

3.  4 Weeks To a More Organized Home Challenge from Money Saving Mom - This is an incredibly inspiring series that I just have not been able to start this month as it does happen to be the very end of the semester and I'm trying to wrap everything up with flying colors.  I may set aside the month of May to go through this challenge as it would be incredibly helpful for me in regards to having a respectably clean living space and developing habits of maintaining neatness.  While the big projects would still be around for me to focus on throughout the year, this challenge would SO help me reduce the distracting clutter that makes the big projects SO much more difficult.

Hopefully I can soon share that I have actually taken advantage of these great articles.  I really need to just suck it up and put the pedal to the metal!!

And just a super quick update on my April Goals which....oh wow...there are only 3 more days left in April!!!  Well, the bugs are all nicely organized - I just need to clean out the empty vials.  I can easily set aside an hour tomorrow to throw out old food in my pantry and freezer - the fridge is totally up to date (yay).  It shouldn't take too much effort to figure out what to do with the containers laying around...I hope.  And in regards to the education stuff, I'll just come up with a practical list of separate goals to think about in the coming months.  Could be better, but hey, every little bit counts :-)

Happy cleaning/organizing!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

4 Book Reviews - educational, dystopian, and horror

So, per usual, I didn't follow through with my hoped for later posting a few days ago. Goodness I have issues with staying on track!! Anyway, I wanted to go ahead and share 4 more book reviews: 2 education-related, 1 dystopian fiction, and 1 horror...ish...

Science Stories: Using Case Studies to Teach Critical Thinking edited by Clyde Freeman Herreid, Nancy A. Schiller, and Ky F. Herreid (Book #22 of 2012)
This is an amazing resource that has gotten me really excited about some innovative ways to approach a number of topics in my future biology classroom. Who woulda thunk that you could teach the scientific method through stories about real life issues rather than getting students to memorize each step of the process as if it was a rigid structure? While this is partially a statement of the obvious, it was also a wake up call for me. Each case study includes classroom management strategies, questions for students to think about and discuss, and sometimes additional useful resources for understanding the case. All of the included case studies can even be found in FREE pdf format @ The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science website. So cool!! There are a variety of methods covered throughout the book on how to run case studies in the classroom from interrupted case to mostly at-home work to panel role-play. This allowed me to see that even within the case study method, a teacher can differentiate ways in which to approach this method! My favorite was "Love Potion #10" which covers the scientific method, advertising claims, and evidence based critical thinking - I think it would be really fun to open up a school year with this case :-)

Prison Nation by Jenni Merritt (Book #23 of 2012)
This piece of dystopian fiction was actually quite cute. I couldn't help but love the main character - Millie, a jail baby about to reach her 18th birthday and freedom. Basically, the United States has been turned into a nation of imprisonment where every small infraction is compounded and leads to years of incarceration. Four large cities at each corner of the country have been turned into massive prisons to hold the vast majority of the population. Secrets are slowly revealed as the book moves forward and poor Millie has to rethink the way she was brought up to understand the world. After she is freed from prison life she meets up with Eddie and Reed who both make her feel loved in a strange world. I have to admit though that the ending left me wanting more...*sigh*...why can't books ever solidly end anymore??

The Devils Harvest: The End of All Flesh by Glen Johnson (Book #24 of 2012)This book was grotesque and disturbing. The synopsis spoke of a disease that ravaged the world, but there was NO disease in the novel...needless to say, I remain quite frustrated. Towards the end of the book I started skimming because I just wanted to see what happened and was really getting sick of reading descriptions about dead bodies... Honestly this book made me feel dirty. The only other thing I have to say is that it went from speculative fiction to horror to another genre all together which just made for a REALLY confusing ride... Read it if you dare...I felt like I wasted my time :-(

A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas by Committee on Conceptual Framework for the New K-12 Science Education Standards (Book #25 of 2012)
So my professors tell me that nobody ever reads the framework... Well, I did. Maybe I just have too much time on my hands, but I found it incredibly interesting regardless, otherwise I would not have actually read all 400 pages!! Yes, 400 pages - no wonder so few teachers read through the whole thing! Anyway, this document was created to enhance science education in our school systems and I thought the way it pulled together all aspects of science was incredibly helpful. Even though I have an M.S. in Biology, the connections made between Chemistry and Biology really did hit me upside the head...duh! At least I now feel like I can enter the classroom with a more integrated view of the sciences. I only have a couple of issues with this document. First of all, what is the deal with not using the word Ecology to label what goes on in the natural environment?? I really don't get it, but I do have a B.S. in Ecology and Biodiversity so maybe I'm just biased... Also, I really wish more time had been spent on giving examples of how to incorporate crosscutting concepts/disciplinary core ideas/scientific practices. I feel as if this puts a lot of responsibility on the teacher and frankly scares me just a bit... Pre-service teacher education needs to be modified quite a bit before new teachers can be expected to enter the classroom, automatically knowing how to carry out the ideas in the Framework. If you're interested in checking out this document, click on the link above and you can download the pdf for FREE as soon as you register (for FREE) with the National Academies Press.

Goodness, we're just over halfway through April and I've already read 25 books...I might get to 100 this year!!! Craziness :-P [Sorry for the weird formatting - I really did try to fix it...]

Friday, April 13, 2012

STAR WARS book review + April Goals Update

There's SO much that I want to share right now!! I'll start with a book review and a goals update atm and will probably post again later on today :-)

Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith by John Jackson Miller (Book #21 of 2012)
This novel is actually made up of 8 separate novellette sized ebooks available for FREE on Amazon. The above link will take you to the first book in the series. Although this series is obviously written with a young audience in mind, I couldn't help but love it. Maybe it's the Star Wars nerd in me, but I just found it fascinating to explore a realm of the Star Wars universe that I had never encountered before (5000 years BBY nonetheless!). Seeing the Sith as a culture and a people was so different from the usual portrayal of them as a pair of super evil dark-robed deviants. The series takes place over a couple thousand years, which was a surprisingly fresh approach that allowed the reader to see how this Lost Tribe evolved over time. The first 4 installments focus on the beginnings of the Tribe's settlement on Kesh and the reader gets to see how this story of survival gets twisted into a glorious legend as centuries come and go. [Readers should note that the opening few chapters are a little confusing as they detail the ship crash, but stick with it b/c it gets WAY better.] Installments 5 and 6 take place 1040 years later and details the love between Ori (a Sith) and Jelph (an enslaved flower farmer). Their relationship is so cute and the secrets held by Jelph are completely unexpected! Finishing out the series (960 years later), installments 7 and 8 take a humorous turn with Caretaker Hilts, the blustering nerdy legend-keeper whose best friend is a Kishiri (a native of the planet). His interactions with Iliana, the leader of the Sisters of Seelah sect, move from nervous hatred to camaraderie. As I've mentioned before, I absolutely LOVE these sorts of evolutions in relationships - how cool is it when the most random group of people become friends? Anyway, the secret that they jointly discover is mind-blowing and it was truly unfortunate that the book ended there :-( The complete set is coming out soon in print format and I believe a 9th installment will be included - which I CANNOT WAIT to read!! I want to know what happened post-discovery SO BAD!!!. In summary, I totally recommend this series - FREE + STAR WARS = why not go for it??

April Goals Update
1. Conquer the bugs!!! - making headway
a. Consolidate M.S. bugs - I'm so close to finishing up this task. I have 4 more Falcon tubes that contain TONS of bugs that I need to separate out into small vials. The Falcon tubes are awkward for storage since they are so much taller than the flats. But besides that, I HAVE separated out all of the empty vials and put everything in order without any spaces b/w vials. I'm down to 6ish flats now...still SO many lol.
b. Buy alcohol - I double checked and, YES, isopropyl will work - thank goodness
c. Throw away any rotten bugs - I do have a couple, but JUST a couple!!
d. Wash out all empty vials and place them in a grocery bag in my field box. - This will allow for a lot of freed up space!
e. Organize my Sewanee bugs.
f. Organize my spider collection.

2. Go through food - good progress so far :-) And I've thrown away a lot :-/
a. Pantry - I've maybe completed a 1/4 of this
b. Fridge - All done except for condiment packets
c. Freezer
d. Stockpile box - (yes, I do have one lol)

3. Trash I'm saving - haven't started yet
a. Possible arts and crafts items
b. Storage containers

4. I think I'm going to figure out some first steps to move towards organizing my education stuff - you know, the goal I mentioned I wanted to finish in the last week of March...HAHA yeah, that did not happen.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April Goals has been a long time! I've been sick since last Sunday hence the lack of posting :-/
I'm still not feeling 100% well but, I'm slowly getting there...

Today I'd like to post 4 general goals for April. Hopefully this time around, I'll actually stick with them... Although I did make decent progress on some things in March :-) I threw away all of my old medications for one - I can now close that drawer! This is just a start - I'll probably think of more sub-goals as I get started.

1. Conquer the bugs!!! Well at least I finally have all of them in my apartment now...that's a start...and all the M.S. bugs are in one stack in a corner of my living room (rather than spread out under my coffee table).
a. Consolidate M.S. bugs - Since I don't have to do anything more with them, I really don't have to worry about having them spread out in such-and-such a manner. They're all in flats which makes them nicely stackable - I just need to completely fill each flat rather than spreading the vials out.
b. Buy alcohol - Lots of my vials from years ago have hardly any alcohol left in them due to drying...yeah, that can be gross *blech*
c. Throw away any rotten bugs - I do have a couple, but JUST a couple!!

2. Go through food - I stockpiled a lot of yummy things that I was eating all the time and then school kicked me in the butt and I started eating way too much fast food, although I am trying to change that. Anyway, I stopped eating the food I had bought and no doubt a LOT of it has gone to waste :-(
a. Pantry
b. Fridge
c. Freezer
d. Stockpile box - (yes, I do have one lol)

3. Trash I'm saving - I have a SUPER hard time getting rid of stuff, especially things that I think could be usable in the future. These include broken plates (art projects!), glass jars (storage containers), and other odds and ends that the average person would just throw away. These items are just spread around the apartment at the moment and need to be corralled in some form or fashion.
a. Possible arts and crafts items
b. Storage containers

4. I'm still gonna have to consider what this one should be...

Wish me luck!!