Are you ready for the PSAT & SAT?

Now that the school year has officially started, it’s time to begin planning your calendars for academic success. Sophomores and juniors should be thinking about preparing themselves for the PSAT®, while juniors and seniors should be getting ready for the SAT®. Both of these standardized examinations have their critics and some colleges and universities don’t require that you take the SAT®. Many of the most competitive and exclusive institutions of higher learning, however, still use student scores from these exams to qualify students for both admissions and for scholarship considerations.

The PSAT is only offered twice, both times in October. According to my search on the College Board’s site, the only school in Haverhill that is registered to administer the PSAT® is Whittier Regional Vocational Tech which is testing on Wednesday, October 15th. If you are a sophomore or junior interested in taking the PSAT®, please ask your counselor how you can register. The fee is only $25, but depending on your scores, you may be qualified to be entered into the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) programs. For more information about what the NMSC programs and how much money you may earn towards college, visit their site here.

Juniors and seniors should be preparing themselves for the SAT® and SAT II® subject tests. These exams are administered throughout the school year, but there is a difference in price depending on when you register. It pays to register early to avoid fees, and seniors that want colleges to consider their SAT® scores should take the test before January. Below you will find a table that I copied from the College Board’s site outlining test and registration dates:

This information is taken from the College Board website. Check their site for changes.
This information is taken from the College Board website. Check their site for changes.

You can find more information and register online at the College Board’s site. There you will also find tips, practice tests and the SAT “Question of the Day”.

With all this information at hand, remember the words of the ancient Greek philosopher, Demosthenes, who said, “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.”

Thanks for stopping by and let’s all lay the foundations for a better, more rewarding tomorrow.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Cosgrove’s assignment

I made the mistake of dropping by Mr. Cosgrove’s class in the middle of his lecture today. I thought he had a free moment, but he was still teaching, so I sat in the back of his class to wait to talk to him. Before I knew it, I had been given a homework assignment! He gave me the same task that he assigned his kids. So now I have to list 5 things that bring me joy, 5 things that fill me with wonder and 5 things I want to accomplish this year at HHS.

First of all, I know the word joy, but I wanted to find out the “dictionary” definition. So of course, I looked it up online at Dictionary.com and found that it means, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation”. That’s deep, and it’s asking for a lot, but here’s my 5 things that bring me joy (in no order of importance):

  1. Art – I love drawing, sketching, doodling, painting. I can get lost studying paintings by Pollock, Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse, and the Renaissance artists. I am fascinated by the talent I see in HHS students’ art and photographs.  I dabble in watercolors, and I’ve finished about a dozen paintings that bring me joy to look at.
  2. Words – Of course, as a librarian, former high school English teacher and college writing teacher, words bring me joy. Reading and writing are essential components of my existence. Even now, writing this, I am filled with a certain joy in being able to express so clearly what I feel. I am also the faculty advisor of the HS Literary Magazine, where I get to work with others who also love words.
  3. Figuring things out – As a kid, I terrorized my parents because I took so many things apart to see what was happening inside. Toasters, radios, televisions, clocks … none of these things were safe around me as a kid. Nowadays, I get a sense of joy when I get that “Eureka” around computers, software and hardware. I guess it’s a good thing that I’m in charge of AV.
  4. Helping others – I’m a teacher and a parent. I chose to become an educator because I wanted to help others achieve their dreams. My job as a father is to help my children be anything they can imagine. Whether I am helping a teacher with a jam in the copier, a student understand MLA formatting or one of my son’s deal with life’s curveballs, nothing is as rewarding as knowing you could make someone’s day (and maybe life) better.
  5. My family – Not just my wife and kids, though they are at the top of the list. But everyone in my family. I get joy from knowing that they are happy and succeeding in their own lives. My brother’s new job. My father’s retirement. My wife’s cousin’s new baby. My great uncle’s second cousin’s brother’s son by marriage … his graduation. If you go far enough, we all end up in the same family. So I get joy from success all around me.

Now if I list my 5 wonders and 5 accomplishments with so much explanation, it might be too much for the blog (even though I did do the work) … so I hope Mr. C will let me off the hook this time for the rest of the assignment.

Thanks for stopping by and no more homework assignments for Mr. T!

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Welcome Back!

Welcome back for the 2008-2009 school year! It’s been great seeing so many people that I really love working with all back in one place. As always, we at the HHS LMC are here to try to make your days as teachers, administrators and students better and more rewarding. Already we are getting many questions and requests, so I thought I’d use this opportunity to address some of these.

Important Library dates

  • 8/28, Thurs: Teachers can arrange for class visits to check out books
  • 9/02, Tues: English teachers can arrange for classes to pick up portfolios
  • 9/02, Tues: Freshman English teachers can schedule for library orientation
  • 9/08, Mon: Study students can sign up for library study

For all your AV and media concerns, call at once (xt. 1143) if you need

  • a bulb for your overhead projector, and you should have it in minutes
  • help connecting your tv, vcr or dvd player, and it should be ok in moments
  • a vcr, cassette player, CD player, or radio, for we have plenty of those
  • a dvd player or video projector and screen, but I’d prefer to know two days before … and I can’t promise to get you one right away

Review of basic library rules

  1. Students may sign up for the library (if they have a scheduled study), only before homeroom starts or after school, after 2:05.
  2. Students may not get a pass from their study or directed study teachers to the library. Subject teachers may send students with a pass (up to 3) to complete class work or take a test. (Please call to advise us if you are sending students out of a class)
  3. Hats, hoods, cell phones, are not allowed. And every other rule in the student handbook also applies in the library.
  4. The library is a large common space, available and welcoming to all who wish to convene (after making arrangements or getting a pass), thus anyone who disrupts or interferes with the WORK being done, will be asked to leave – and may be banned for some time, depending on the wishes of the Oracle.
  5. Remember to leave the library the way you found it. If you moved a chair, put it back. If your students moved chairs, have your students put them back. Better still … don’t move the chairs.
  6. Food and drink are not allowed in the library. Food includes anything you put in your mouth that you intend to swallow or chew on. Drink includes water. I can’t make this any clearer.
  7. We are here to help anyone and everyone who asks for help, especially when they ask with a smile.

I think that’s it. Now I have to go do my homework assignment for Mr. Cosgrove. I’ll explain later. Thanks for stopping by.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

thinkfinity.org

This is what I love about how the internet seems to work. I go looking for one thing and find something else that isn’t exactly what I wanted; but what I accidentally find turns out to be cool and interesting. Such was the case when I went online today looking for a simple lesson plan template (Yep, it’s that time of the year again, isn’t it?). So, I started on Google, just like I tell all my students NOT to start their searches. Then, I realized that what I really wanted was a lesson plan template that was approved by the MASS DOE; so I turned to their site and searched there.

I didn’t find an easy blank template to use, but I did discover that the DOE has a partnership with this foundation called Thinkfinity.org (affiliated with Verizon). I also didn’t explore what the partnership offers Massachusetts educators via training and opportunities. Instead, I turned to see what was available at the Thinkfinity.org site. There you will find a number of useful, reliable and academically acceptable resources for the various subject areas. The consortium partners who lend their online resources to this site include such respected organizations as the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the National Education Association and National Geographic’s Xpeditions, among others.

The site has features specifically aimed at educators, students, and parents, so no matter who you are, you may well find what you are looking for at this site. So impressed was I by this site, that I have decided to include it as a permanent link in the TEACHER RESOURCES page.

I guess this counts as my last summer vacation post. For everyone who kept reading through the hot months (I got nearly 1000 hits this summer), thanks for stopping by and hope you had a great rest. Now on to a great new school year! (Though I still don’t have that blank template that started this whole thing).

© 2008 henry toromoreno

How about the Olympics?

Have you been watching the Olympics? I have. I am not a big sports fan, as anyone who really knows me can attest to; but I have always been a fan of the Olympics, for some reason. I am lucky enough to remember seeing Olga Korbut do her thing, and as a young kid I thought that maybe people could be superhuman in ways – though I can’t imagine now who in my home was watching the Olympics when I was 5. I also remember watching the U.S hockey team’s “miracle on ice” win over the Soviets (though that didn’t win the gold, as many people now falsely believe), and I haven’t watched a hockey game since the US won that gold. Why was I watching hockey or floor gymnastics? I don’t know, and I can’t tell you. But watching the Olympics I have seen Nadia Comaneci, Jackie Joyner Kersey, Mary Lou Retton,  Carl Lewis, Florence Griffith-Joyner, the original Dream Team, Michael Johnson, Kerri Strug, and a bunch of other athletes who did the unthinkable.

So I don’t really follow pro sports, but I love what athletes can do and I respect the incredible dedication it takes to be a world class anything. If you have been watching the Olympics, then you already know that this year’s Olympics have been nothing short of unbelievable (Michael Phelps’ 8 gold medals, Jason Lezak’s finish against France, Usain Bolt’s running, China’s dominance in gold, the rise of “rented” athletes). If you haven’t watched any of the games, I recommend that you tune in for a peek. There is still time to witness something worth remembering.

By the way, The New York Times recently published an interesting and interactive graph that illustrates all of the medal winners in the modern Olympics by country. Since its inception in 1896, the modern Olympics has served, in many ways, as a barometer of world politics. Social studies and history teachers could use this timeline/graph to talk about international events and how they were reflected in Olympic dominance, participation and location. I thought it was really cool … I think math and computer teachers would agree.

School’s so soon. I can’t wait to see you all.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Great speeches, inspiring words

As the new school year approaches, I know we’ll all be looking for some inspiration, so I thought I’d gather up some useful and FREE resources available for everyone, but especially useful for social studies and history teachers.

Today many students take for granted that if something important, newsworthy or unusual is happening, that someone will have a way of taking a picture or recording it for posterity’s sake. In fact, technology has made it so easy to capture the events of the world, that nowadays news broadcasts often include video or pictures sent in from “citizen reporters”. But this was not always the case. Until very recently, most historic events could not be photographed or recorded in any significant way. If there is video or audio of something out there, the internet gives you a ticket to find it (and a front row seat if it exists). Here then, are three web sites I’d like to refer you to for some classroom resources (text, video and audio) and for inspiration:

YouTube: Sure the company’s trademarked tagline is “Broadcast Yourself”, and there are some people who are doing that on YouTube. Many more people, however, are not posting videos of themselves, but instead using this technology to post their favorite clips from previously televised programs or videos (a big problem for the original creators of content). Besides all of the music videos, pirated movie clips, and other non-educational stuff, you can find some really interesting and classroom-friendly resources on YouTube. Without straining my brain too much I was able to find video clips of JFK’s inaugural address, Nixon’s resignation, Malcolm X debating James Farmer, Chomsky debating Buckley, Khrushchev at the UN in 1960 (old style news reel) and the July 1969 liftoff of the Apollo 11. Have a favorite speech? Type it into YouTube and see if there is a video or audio clip of the “original”.

Wikipedia: I know, I know. First You Tube and now Wikipedia? I tell all my students that Wikipedia is a good place to start, just like the more traditional print encyclopedia. I also remind them that Wikipedia is an open source work meaning that anyone can and does “edit” the information available. Still, with all those considerations in mind, this web-site is definitely worth checking out, including its list of notable speeches. Follow enough links from the Wikipedia article, and you may find such hidden gems as Faulkner reading his 1949 acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize.

American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches of the 20th century: This is a diverse and somewhat uneven collection (7 DNC speeches?) that provides the full text of all one hundred speeches. There are limitations to its video and audio collection, though. Some speeches have streaming video (usually from other sites), and 78 of the 100 speeches are available for downloading as an mp3 file. This site does not seem to be affiliated with any college or university. Instead it is copyrighted to Michael E. Eidenmuller, who just recently published a book called Great Speeches for Better Speaking. According to his bio, he is an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Texas. Of course you’ll find MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but how many people have ever heard Elie Wiesel’s “The Perils of Indifference” or MacArthur’s farewell address to Congress or Reagan addressing the Shuttle Disaster? Worth perusing. Which was my favorite? You guessed it … I couldn’t choose between the DNC speeches.

So, we all know now that the countdown to a new school year has officially begun! Just got my welcome back letter from Mr. Nangle. Hope you all find something inspiring to bring to school. Thanks for stopping by and see you all next week.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Science News

Why do I love science so much? I guess it’s because I truly believe that science more than any other human endeavor has radically transformed the way we live – for better and for worse. Today science impacts every aspect of our lives, and yet many people treat science as though it were something exotic and esoteric. Students and teachers need to stay current about developments in the various sciences and use this information in their discussions in art, history, math, and social studies classes. In reality, every discipline of study, even culinary arts, is informed by what is happening in science, if you search long enough for a connection.

Here are some of my favorite science “news” sites:

Science blogs: Maybe I am paying too much attention to blogs as a legitimate source for information because I am writing a blog. I mentioned this site twice before in the May 15th and July 14th posts. Still, Scienceblogs.com is not a collection of your run of the mill bunch of bloggers. This site boasts a humble 72 blogs in all – obviously they have some pre-requisites for joining. The writers of these sites are professors and graduate students in the fields they are discussing. Unlike so many other sites, these blogs tend to be well-written, informative and accessible to the average person.

Live Science: I mentioned this site on my third post ever on December 18th, when I said, “This is one of my favorite ‘science’ websites because it is really at the intersection of science, culture and news. Besides the latest science headlines, you’ll also find a number of top ten lists here, such as 10 urban science myths, 10 ways weather changed history and 10 of life’s little mysteries.” I stand by what I wrote then, and remind you to check it out.

Science Daily : I hope you didn’t feel cheated by my mentioning two sites I’d already talked about in previous posts. The two new entries to this list, however, are worth the reading (IMHO). The first is ScienceDaily.com which goes by the tagline “your source for the latest research news”. One of the great features of this site is that every article includes a box with cut and copy information about how to cite the source in both APA and MLA format.

The Bulletin: The second new site has to do with me being a child of the Cold War. One of my earliest nightmares had to do with the threat of nuclear proliferation. When I found out later on that there was actually such a thing as a “Doomsday Clock”, it gave rise to my adolescent nightmares. As an adult, I’ve got a whole new set of more immediate nightmares to deal with, but The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists keeps tabs on the dangers that threaten us all. It used to be that these scientists only gauged the consequences of political actions to assess the health of International Relations. Their last update in 2007, however, began to consider the consequences of global climate change as it impacts the course of human history towards it eventual demise.

Happy reading and stay informed. See you all soon.

© 2008 henry toromoreno