50 Small Things to Make a Perfect Day w/#51- Use Interesting Weather Apps

What makes a perfect day for an educator like me (and you too?) – A SNOW DAY (sort of)!

Well, I went to bed last night suspecting the possibility and woke up at 5:30 am confirming it. Lately though, here in Central Ohio, we’ve had more “calamity days” the past couple of school years due to sub-zero temps with wind chill rather than because of the more traditional – ice/snow covering the streets in the early morning.

On a day such as this, I’d much rather be either creative or lazy rather than productive. In other words, I’d rather write or read instead of grade (the 50+ freshman mid-term essays from before Christmas Break). So, I’m going to create a few posts here and also over at my personal blog too. And I have until Tuesday of next week to get those essays graded!

What makes your perfect day? One thing high on my list is echoed in this great list from Lifehack at #11 – “Take a walk in nature.” I’m hoping to do this today – so that I can meet my Fitbit goal of 10,000 steps for today. But, my WeatherUnderground iPad app tells me that it’s currently 15 degrees, but it feels like 7 degrees. Ugh – I may have to go for a walk indoors at a nearby mall instead.

BTW: Now that it may or may not feel like winter in your neck of the woods, you might want to update your weather apps. In addition to the aforementioned WeatherUnderground app, I’ve also begun enjoying on my Android phone – 1Weather (which has great widgets with it), Weather Timeline and the social-media inspired Sunnycomb 

Oh yeah, here’s the list from Lifehack:

1. Once you wake up, just stay in bed for a couple of minutes and relax.

2. Always have a book with you, we never know when boredom might decide to appear.

3. Set mood playlists on your device of choice.

4. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

5. Smile to a stranger and see what happens!

6. Have a quick fresh shower first thing in the morning.

7. Show your love to someone else.

8. Before you go to bed, say thanks for everything you have and don’t have.

9. Connect to yourself, by using a journal: write, draw, make collages, let your mind wander.

10. On your nightstand, put something that makes you smile.

11. Take a walk in nature.

12. Do yoga.

13. Make a to-do list to help you achieve your main goal for the day. And stick to it.

14. Eat healthily and accordingly to your own taste.

15. Take an hour and do as you please.

16. Write 3 good things that happened to you and what you can do to see it happen again.

17. Put some fresh flowers in the room you spend time in the most.

18. Take a long and warm shower before going to bed.

19. Get out of the house and explore your neighborhood.

20. Sleep naked to feel sexier.

21. Boost your confidence by engaging in your favorite hobby.

22. Act crazy, put the music on loud and start dancing like there’s no tomorrow.

23. Take a 30 minute nap after lunch; as an alternative, engage in a different relaxing activity.

24. Giggle with your friends– make time for them in your day.

25. Read an inspiring quote and incorporate it into your day.

26. Declutter you life by asking “Do I really need this? Why?”.

27. Be kind anytime you can and don’t expect anything back.

28. Meditate and write down everything you’ve found out.

29. Learn something new, even if it’s just a different way of doing stuff.

30. Have some sweat and exercise. Do it mindfully by choosing an activity you enjoy.

31. Sleep a bit more if you feel tired or you’re in the middle of a situation that you can’t solve.

32. Smile. Smile. Smile. And smile some more.

33. Walk barefoot.

34. Experience flow by working at something you’re passionate about.

35. Make your surroundings a little bit better: declutter, reuse and recycle.

36. Plan a trip, even if you can’t travel right now.

37. Be aware of your emotions, but don’t control them: understand them.

38. Remember your accomplishments every time you feel like a failure.

39. Lower your expectations, little by little — most of them are unrealistic.

40. Be offline for as long as you can.

41. Enjoy the now.

42. Challenge yourself!

43. Don’t worry about your problems, but work toward a solution.

44. See everything as an opportunity to learn and grow.

45. Forgive yourself and forgive others.

46. Don’t quit: make baby steps.

47. Do your best.

48. Slow down.

49. Put everything you are into everything you do.

50. Follow your heart.

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Stuff You Should Know – Winter 2015-2016 Predictions

Hi, my name is Rick and I’m a weather junkie. And I’m embarrassed to say exactly how many weather apps I have on my iPad and smartphone

Yet, for your perusal and edification, here’s one of the best infographics I’ve seen which shows a prediction for this winter’s weather. I’ll try to find another one in April 2016 which shows how the winter actually was. It will surely be interesting to see.

Dinner, PARCC Testing and Intentionally Losing a HS Basketball Game

Last night I enjoyed a fantastic dinner with former colleagues from a major educational publisher with whom I worked a few years ago.  The woman whom I sat next to had a similar career path as me – teaching few a few years, working as a consultant in educational publishing, and now returning to the classroom.  For me it’s high school teaching.  For her it’s third graders.

The topic of standardized testing came up, specifically the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) Assessments which are linked to the controversial Common Core Standards which have their outspoken supporters and detractors.

This third grade teacher rattled off the laundry list of standardized tests she will give to her nine year olds, including the PARCC Assessment.  We talked about the websites which encourage the growing number of parents who are choosing to opt out of the exam.  I shared about the test anxiety that my bright fifth grade daughter is feeling right now as she is preparing to take it.  And we laughed at how this daughter of mine is telling people that “PARCC is CCRAP spelled backwards.”

The issue of the efficacy of standardized testing, especially for young elementary students was discussed today on The Conversation website.  Jennifer Keys Adair, Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Texas, writes:

“Over time, it was seen that testing was not the best measure. Researchers at Stanford have, in fact, found that testing is a terrible, stand-alone measure of accountability. Other evidence against testing has been mounting as well. Earlier in 2015, teachers testifying to Congress emphasized the effects of standardized testing on teaching and learning from NCLB…”

“Testing emphasizes learning as “right and wrong answers”, which is not the way most kids learn. Kids have been shown to learn through trial and error as well as discovery. Testing values directions and achievement over creativity and a range of learning experiences.”

“As an early childhood teacher educator, I find myself sympathizing with teachers who, under pressure from administrators and policymakers, have to prepare young children to be successful on tests that begin in third grade.”

Learning as “right and wrong answers” is much like saying that the only value to playing a competitive basketball game is to win.  Anyone who has coached youth knows that there are myriad benefits to competition in organized sports just as there are many benefits to learning besides getting “right and wrong answers.

Also today, I saw this article in the Washington Post. 

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Both high school teams were tied in the standings going into the game.  Which ever team lost, would be seeded in a more advantageous spot in the post-season tournament bracket.  In the story published by the local Tennessee newspaper an official says of one of the coaches: “He [the coach] said he talked to them about bracketology,” [TSSAA executive director Bernard] Childress said. “He told them, ‘This is where we will be if we win, this is where we will be if we lose.’ “ 

Apparently the players of this coach understood the message and took the court with the intention to lose.  Once this team intentionally missed free throws, sought to turn the ball over, and allowed their opponent to score easily, it was clear they were seeking to lose.  Then the other team adopted some of the same tactics and the refs stopped the game b/c it was obvious neither team was playing to win.

To these teams and coaches the only value of the competition was the outcome, in this case losing and not winning.  I wonder how many youth who take myriad standardized tests in their educational careers have come to view learning as simply about the score-based outcome.  I wonder how many test-jaded students take the rebellious tactic, like my then seventh grade son did last year, of intentionally doing poorly on a standardized test.

Most of all, I wonder if and when the pendulum will swing backwards from standardized testing to other, more holistic based assessments of student learning.

One thing I do suspect in light of this spate of ridiculously record cold in Columbus (-11 F yesterday morning) is that God doesn’t like the PARCC test either as tests have been postponed or canceled both last week and this week due to so many school closings!

Windchill Warning Day – A Good Day for Weather Apps

Another day off from school this week – this time for “dangerously” cold windchill readings this morning.  I didn’t have to scan and refresh the local news sites this morning as every local district sent out announcements last night canceling school today.

I did check my iPad weather apps when I awoke this morning just to have my eyes pop out at the frigid numbers:

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From WeatherBug, my go-to app.

 

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Yahoo Weather – a beautiful, free app, but one I had to delete today b/c it kept crashing

 

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From ClearWeather – a clean, colorful look which gives you the basics at a glance.

 

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Dark Sky – a very cool app that will send you notices when precipitation is on its way to your pinpointed location.

And it also gives you richly colored maps for both precipitation and temperature:

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Makes me shiver just looking at it!

 

As cold as it was today, it pales compared to our air temp and windchill last year on Monday, January 6th:

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-29 windchill.  Note the igloo for the “current” conditions.  Cute.

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And this one, also from Jan 6, 2014 with a “RealFeel” of -39!  Yow!