Why Regular Aircon Maintenance Is Necessary

The aircon is an important device for keeping a home cool. The device cools existing air and blows it around a home to lower the temperature. An aircon will only function properly if it has been maintenance on a regular basis. The benefits of aircon maintenance services are something that everyone should realize, and they can be seen here on aircon servicing review.

The most noticeable benefit of having aircon maintenance is more comfort. When an aircon gets regular maintenance, it is kept working properly. This means that it can properly output air at the right temperatures, which is necessary, especially in the months when the temperatures will be into the 90s or 100s. Even on the hottest days, the aircon will be able to keep the air maintained at the desired temperature for hours.

Accodring to Billy, not only will the air be more comfortable with an aircon that has received maintenance, but it will also have a higher quality. As an aircon moves air through it, dirt and dust particles can gather, and they are usually picked up by the filter. Eventually the filter will become full of these particles, and if the filter is not replaced or cleaned, the particles will still be in the air. Proper maintenance will keep the filter as clean as possible and the air as a result will be free of toxins that can enter the lungs and cause respiratory problems.

At some point, most people will need to call someone to repair their aircon. These repairs can often be expensive, depending on what needs to be fixed or replaced. Sometimes the whole unit will need replacing, which is the most expensive job of all. The more expensive repair and replacement jobs can be avoided when the aircon receives routine maintenance. Regular maintenance will keep the aircon running by catching anything that may be wrong on on the verge of going bad before it spirals into something much worse. Just a little bit of prevention can go a long way.

An aircon that has undergone maintenance will provide homeowners with more savings on their monthly bills. An aircon that hasn’t been serviced in a while will more than likely have to work harder to keep an area cool than one that has had regular service. This extra work uses more power, which will be reflected on a monthly utility bill. Over the months, this extra usage of power will add up and a homeowner will be able to see that they’ve been wasting money.

Aircons that undergo regular maintenance have a long life than those that go for years without being serviced. The parts of the aircon are kept in better conditions, which means they’ll be able to function for longer periods. Neglect will only mean that repairs and replacement will need to happen soon rather than later, and they will be costly for the homeowner.

Everyone should find a qualified maintenance professional to service their aircon before it’s too late. Only with maintenance will the aircon do its job as intended.

Tips For Fixing Water Leaks On Your AC

If your air conditioning unit is leaking water, it may be due to a number of reasons. Before you try to fix the water leakage on your own, it is important for you to know the exact cause of the leakage. So, follow the steps mentioned below in order to figure out the exact cause of the leakage in order to fix the water leaks on your air conditioning unit.

First and foremost, it is important for you to keep in mind that any air-conditioning unit that is leaking water is not running at optimum capacity. If you do not get it fixed at the earliest, it may not only affect the lifespan of your air conditioning unit but may also cause other issues. So, you should get it fixed at the earliest.

One of the most common reasons for air conditioner leak water is backing up of the drain pipe which leads to an overflowing drain pan. The drain pipe usually gets clogged with dirt which leads to overflow of water in the drain pan and since drain pan has a limited capacity to hold water, it leads to overflowing water. This overflowing water causes leakage. The only way to get it fixed is to ensure that the drain line is clean and nothing is clogging it.

One of the ways to ensure that the drain pipe is never clogged is through regular preventive maintenance. When you hire the services of an experienced air-conditioner servicing company, they will ensure that the drain pipe is clean and there is no build-up of dirt or dust inside that may lead to water leakage.

Another common reason for leakage of water in the air-conditioning unit is low level of refrigerant. Sometimes, low level of refrigerant in the air-conditioning unit causes it to freeze. The frozen water begins to melt once the unit is shut down and that leads to water leakage. Water leakage due to such issues may lead to moisture in the ceilings that may cause severe damage. Therefore, you should get it fixed as quickly as possible.

Another common reason for leakage of water from an air-conditioning unit is disconnected drain line. Therefore, the first thing you need to do before you call in an air-conditioner servicing company is to check the drain pipe and ensure that it is properly connected. If the drain pipe is properly connected and secure, the water leakage may be due to some other reasons. A blocked filter may also lead to AC water leakage if it is full of dirt and the dust blocks free flow of air through the filter. Once the airflow is hindered, it may cause freezing and once this frozen ice starts melting after shutdown of air-conditioning unit, it may lead to water leakage.

The drain line needs to have an air vent and p-trap installed. A p-trap is installed to allow proper water flow in case of negative airflow. If it is not installed properly, it may lead to a blockage that may cause the drain pan to fill up leading to overflow of water. If the duct work isn’t properly insulated, it may lead to condensation and water leakage.

Overall, it can be said that water leakage on an air-conditioning unit may happen due to any number of reasons. The best way to prevent such issues is routine maintenance. If you are unable to service air conditioner on a regular basis, it is better to hire the services of a reliable air-conditioner servicing company for preventive maintenance. Some of the things can be done on your own but an experienced and reliable technician is needed to take care of all the potential issues to prevent any such problems.

Tips On How To Find A 1940’s Fashion Dress In Australia

Buying vintage gives you the opportunity to own a one of a kind piece of clothing that has stood up to the test of time. Once you get your hands on a vintage clothing item, you have effectively invested in a piece of history that is bound to appreciate in value over time.

More importantly, you can be sure that the chances of bumping into someone on the street wearing the same piece of clothing are next to nil.

Now that you have made up your mind on acquiring a piece of Australian clothing from the 1940s, let’s look at some tips you can follow to ensure that you get your hands on a genuine item.

What To Look For

Australian fashion trends back in the forties were quite distinct due to a variety of factors. First and foremost, Victorian era trends experienced a rebirth of sorts at the start of the decade. Women’s clothing featured neck frillers and sashes once more. Additionally, most dresses bore a plain look that had to be accessorized with ornaments.

A fabric rationing system introduced in 1942 saw a new change in Australian fashion. To save on materials, skirts and dresses were made shorter. High quality and durable materials became more popular as clothes had to last longer due to the shortage resulting from the rationing.

Where To Buy

One of the biggest challenges in getting your hands on vintage clothing is finding reputable sellers. As the buyer you have two main options, as far as finding that 40s dress is concerned, online stores or brick and mortar establishments.

As a rule of thumb, stay away from trunk sales if you are new to vintage clothing shopping as the risk of ending up with fake are too high.

To find a selection of both online and brick and mortar stores dealing in vintage clothing across Australia, start by checking out the Vintage Shops Australia website. This is a directory of genuine vintage sellers, drawn from every corner of the country, dealing in a variety of products, including clothing.

Don’t Skimp On Research

To find genuine vintage clothing items, start by arming yourself with as much information about that specific fashion era as possible. Find out what the clothing item you want to buy looked like, distinct design aspects, materials etc. You can visit reputable brick and mortar stores dealing in vintage clothes from this era and find out as much as you can, from the operators or attendants, about the fashion trends back in the 1940s.

Research each online store claiming to deal in these clothing items, scanning through genuine customer reviews as well as reading what the website is about and how well they know their products.

Although the material rationing imposed during the 1940s dresses substantially reduced the amount of new clothes made, the fact that quality and durable materials were increasingly used means that it’s highly likely that a large number of them have survived through the decades. As such, you have a great chance of finding what you are looking for, especially if you follow the above tips.  You can learn more at dressific.com.

How You Can Locate Sales Training Professionals In Malaysia

Did you know it’s possible to locate is sales training company in Malaysia that can help you with your own company? These are individuals that understand how to train people how to sell better, which in turn can help your business make more money. It is so important to have a group of trained professionals that understand how to pitch your products or services so that more people buy them. In order to do this, you will have to find these sales training companies that will ensure that every employee that you have will have the best skills for getting your employees up to speed.

How Do You Locate These Businesses?

Locating these businesses is actually very easy to accomplish. You simply search for sales training companies in Malaysia. You will have several websites pop up, each of them offering different packages that they have available. You can also find comments that people have left about these businesses. You should be able to find one that is willing to work with your company on your schedule. They should also tell you how much it is going to cost. Based upon the estimates you receive, and whether or not they can fit you into their schedule, you can choose one of them to start helping you out.

How Long Will It Take To See Results?

It’s probably going to take several weeks to see results. It’s not just about understanding what must be done. They must incorporate these new training tips into the way that they are presenting the products and services that you are selling, and then become very natural at doing so. The key to making sales is to not look like you are making a sales pitch. You need to come off as normal as possible. The most successful salespeople are always those that can sell a product without pressuring potential customers, making them think it is their idea to make the purchase.

What Type Of Return On Investment Can You Expect?

You can probably expect to see a return on investment within a month of using these businesses. However, that is dependence upon three factors. First of all, not all of your salespeople are going to be adept enough to incorporate this training in the first 30 days. However, some of them might be able to do so very easily. Second, not all of the companies that you will work with will have the best sales training programs. If they are not very good, it’s not going to help your employees that all. Finally, you need to consider the total cost of the training itself. If it is too expensive, you may not be able to recover your initial investment for several years if it takes that long to learn and implement.

The choice that you make with a sales training Malaysian company will be a very important one. It could be a pivotal point in the success of your business in terms of generating more revenue. If you can find a sales trainer – TrainetAsia who provide this type of training, they can change the outlook of your business overnight. They simply need to start providing your employees with the information that they will need to sell more products or services.

The Benefits Of Penetration Testing

computer-lab-locksIf you’re worried about your securities, you may want to look into penetration testing. This type of testing is an effective way to identify weak points so that you can improve your security system. Read on to learn more about the benefits of penetration testing service.

It Can Help You Learn More About Your Vulnerabilities

Testing won’t just help you to identify your vulnerabilities. It will also show you the kind of risk that they pose. If you have a deeper understanding of what your weak points are, you will be able to see how much damage an exploit could actually cause.

The more you know about your weaknesses, the better. Testing is the most effective way to find your vulnerabilities, and it is also the best way for you to assess the risks you are facing. When you conduct a penetration test, you will gain information that will allow you to make smart choices in the future.

You Can See How Well Your Defenses Hold Up

It’s likely that you already have some sort of cyber security system in place. However, you won’t be able to see how effective those defenses are unless you test them. If you conduct the proper testing, you’ll be able to see whether or not your defenses are enough to withstand attacks.

If your current defenses aren’t strong enough, you may want to make some changes. There are a number of things you can do that will make your site more secure. If you run some tests, you’ll be able to see whether or not your current defenses are as strong as you think they are.

You Can Ensure That Your Site Can Obtain Certain Certifications

There are certain kinds of certifications that your site will only be eligible for if you have undergone testing. Running a penetration test on your site will open up a number of options to you.

These kinds of tests will also help to ensure that you comply with specific regulations. Online security is important, and conducting regular tests will help you to keep your site in-line with current security requirements.

You Can Get An Outside Opinion

While you and your staff may feel that your site is secure, it can be helpful to get an outside opinion. A third party may be able to point out things that you would have never considered.

If you truly want a secure site, you need to get opinions from a range of people. Others may be able to see flaws that you never would have noticed on your own. Running these kinds of tests will allow you to learn more about your site.

If you consider the benefits of penetration testing, you’ll be able to see why so many companies like Firmus employ these kinds of tests. The data that these tests provide is very valuable. If you do conduct a penetration test, you’ll be able to learn a lot about your security. If you have weak points, you can find and address them.

Benefits Of Diploma In Business Management

Business management is one of those things people will always be interested in, and it has a lot of value to add.

Those who are hoping to get into this line of work and want to enjoy the nuances of business need to think about a diploma in the subject. This is one of the best options for those who enjoy the subject and want to retain a lot of value out of what they are learning.

Why is this the route to take for those who want to learn as much as they can?

Here is a look.

1) Seasoned Professors

It all begins with the professors you are going to have teaching the courses.

These are professionals who are regarded as being the best in the business and have a lot of value to add. They are not going to skip over things nor are they going to provide meaningless information. They will provide value that is going to be worth it now and in the future.

This is important as you look to position yourself as an expert in the market.

You will know this is the value that is going to resonate for years to come.

2) Modern Curriculum

Your curriculum plays a major role in the value you retain from each and every minute.

This is a diploma that is going to provide you with access to world-class courses that are worth your time. They are going to fill you up with the knowledge that is usable for years to come. Why not tap into this and make the most of what you are getting?

The curriculum is one of a kind and is going to be worth it for a long time to come.

Make the most of it and feel secure about what you are doing and how you are doing it.

3) Reputable

You are looking at a diploma that is renowned around the world.

Business management is something that is always going to hold value, and it is going to be a part of society. This is why it is an ideal fit for those who want to optimize their position in the job market and want to get more out of what they are doing.

This is a powerful diploma and a great fit for those who are selective about what they study and how they study it.

Go with the Diploma in Business Management to get more out of your educational experience. This is a diploma that is going to bring a smile to your face and is going to illustrate the value of going with the best. You will know this is a solution that will work well for your needs and is going to power through the results you are after.

Those who are tired of not being able to do well in the job market or are scared of entering it will want to have a resolute solution behind them. This is the resolute solution you have been after. You can try visiting Mantissa to learn how you can apply for a diploma.

The Benefits Of A Montessori Pre-School In Malaysia

Many Malaysian parents are concerned about their children getting a quality education. They want to give their children the best possible start in life and to do that they know that they will have to start early. Often they start their children in a Montessori Style pre-school. This type of  montessori curriculum  encourages children to embrace their differences and teaches them lifelong skills that will stay with them throughout their school years.

The Montessori learning style has a long history of teaching children to think for themselves and it opens up new doors without pushing the children too hard. Children are allowed to learn in a natural environment and they are encouraged to interact and learn with their peers and to help one another learn and grow together. This is an ideal learning method and it allows children to learn from those around them. They become better society members and they are allowed to fit in and stay safe throughout their lives.

Utilizing this method, children tend to learn more quickly and they don’t stop as they reach specific goals but rather, keep going on. They are taught how to learn from the world around them and their curiosity is nurtured which makes them more interested in learning more. Thus, they don’t stop learning and are able to learn from their world around them. The lessons help them to pick up vital information and observations in regards to the world around them. These are things that they may have missed had they not been taught in this fashion.

Using the Montessori method helps to promote that children have a personal responsibility to learn and that they are to be respectful, however, they must always tell the truth and care about things that are theirs or that they’ve been entrusted with. They are able to learn on their own and by their own interactions as they affect themselves and the world around them. The lessons help them to interact with their peers and when they are older, with their coworkers and the rest of society. This helps tdownload (1)hem to learn to be good citizens and family members.

Lastly, Montessori kindergarten also focus on helping children to learn a variety of topics in a smaller amount of time. Children are given the building blocks to see their interest in various topics and subjects before they truly understand what they’re learning. They are taught to not be afraid of math and not to worry about science. They are taught that they can achieve anything that they put their little minds to and they know that they can accomplish amazing things. The lessons they learn will prepare them for their future in school and the workplace. It will help guide their chosen path in life so that they’re never held back by low test scores or fear.

All in all, a Montessori pre-school in Malaysia is by and far the most ideal option for children that parents want to see thrive and grow. It gives them a great start on the path of responsibility, kindness, success, academics and is an ideal gift from any parent to their child.

What Are The Benefits Of Home Tuition?

Education is one of the most vital aspects of people’s life because knowledge is equivalent to power. This is the main reason why home tuition KL has already become a requirement, as an outstanding student must compete healthily with other students and consistently get high scores while slow learners need to struggle just to get good marks in all subjects.

Home tuition has several benefits for parents and students alike. They are as follows: Extra Care and Attention — With home tuition, students will be able to get the attention and care they need from the teacher, which may possibly be lacking in their classroom. The home tutorial is very helpful when it comes to imparting the interest and knowledge in the students. This is the reason why parents who don’t have time to guide their children when it comes to studies entrust the job to tutors.

Enhance Learning Styles — Students will be able to discover a fresh learning approach and style. They can also change the way their study in the traditional classroom. With the help of home tuition, they will be able to build their confidence and expedite their process of learning. This is considered essential for students when it comes to exploring the best way for learning any subject so that they can stand out in their studies and future career as well.

Enhanced Academic Performance — There are times that a certain student is anxious about a certain subject because he or he lacks skills or knowledge on that subject. According to statistics, Math and Music are two of the hardest subjects for most students to learn. This is the reason why they feel afraid of these subjects. With home tuition, any student will be able to focus on that subject and have the chance to practice even more.

Personalized Relationship — In home tuition, a student will have a chance to share the ideas and opinion with his tutor. As a result, they will be able to build a strong and healthy student-teacher relationship, which is not possible in a traditional classroom setting. This will pave also the way for them to work towards reaching their goals.

Parents’ Involvement – With home tuition, parents can have a chance to keep track of their children’s overall performance. The tutor can also advise them on the steps that must be taken towards enhancing the academic performance of their child and helping them stay motivated. Parental support is one of the most essential factors that will help in honing the knowledge of any student because it will give him/her a high level of determination and willingness to learn.

Home tuition offers several advantages that will help a student achieve a bright future. However, to make this possible, a student needs to have willingness to learn, patience, determination and self-discipline. These are the most essential elements that will dramatically help enhance his or her academic performance. Parents are also advised to keep track of their children, so that they will not get disheartened in learning. Parents should speak with their child with regard to how they feel about the tutor and the home tuition itself.  Parents can get all these from Perfection Malaysia.

If It Ain’t Broke: The Workshop Model

If It Ain’t Broke. . .

don’t fix it, right?  But what if “fixing it” might make it better?  I have spent the last few weeks trying to make some important decisions about how I will teach next year.  I’m considering some major changes, but am also hesitant because my curriculum certainly isn’t broken.  My students learn a lot about writing and thinking.  They become much more active readers over the course of the school year.  Right now, my curriculum pushes them to excel and gives them the freedom to work on self-directed writing projects that inspire them.  For the most part, they work really hard, participate actively in discussion, and grow tremendously.  So why change anything?

The Master of Science in Education program at Northwestern University, the program I attended, requires two methods courses for new English teachers: reading methods and writing methods.  A foundational text for both methods courses is Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle.  Reading this book is paradigm-shifting.  Atwell argues that the English classroom needs to become a reading and writing workshop, not a teacher directed study of literature, even if being teacher directed does not mean being teacher centered.  Student motivation and achievement at her school in rural Maine dramatically increased when she made this shift herself twenty or more years ago.  It allows her to work individually with each of her students, to help them grow in the ways they need to grow.  In the second edition of the book, she also argues for some whole-class activities and reading.  Not everything can be on one’s own, but for the most part, Atwell says that we have to provide an environment for our students to become their own readers and writers.

I have long been tempted to run a classroom that fits the description of Nancie Atwell’s classroom.  The idea of giving students control over the direction of their own learning—but not the organization of it—appeals to me as a former student who remembers being bored in classrooms because I could and wanted to do and learn more and as a teacher who has worked with student who just don’t understand a concept and are forced to press on because the rest of the class is ready to do so.  The workshop model is the ultimate in differentiation.  It is the democratizing of the classroom.

What worries me, though, is that my students are already motivated and achieving.  Most of them do well with a push from their teachers.  Many people assume that high-achieving students will work harder on their own. In my experience, academic giftedness frequently comes along with a touch of academic laziness: what can I get away with not doing?  Clearly if a student is really excited about a lesson or project, this isn’t true, and there are some students of whom this will never be true, but for many it is just the way their brains work.  Part of their giftedness is finding short-cuts.  So, giving them so much freedom is, in some ways, a ticket out of hard work.

My own experiences teaching substantiate these fears.  I teach two different classes at EAGLE School: Literature and Drama of the United States and European Literature and Drama.  These designations were chosen because they correlate with the students’ history class.  When they learn about the Russian revolution, they read Animal Farm.  Having literature align with the lessons they learn in history allows them to consider the history from new perspectives.  It is a fun way to teach because the students are so knowledgeable about the historical and cultural backgrounds of the texts we read, especially in European, where the texts are more perfectly aligned.   Because the philosophy of this curriculum was set when I arrived at EAGLE, I did not want to change it.  Instead, I looked for ways to give students reading and writing freedom separate from the curriculum.

My first year, I had 30 minutes a week set aside for independent reading.  I brought in all of the appropriate and “fun” books from my personal library, told the kids to visit their community libraries, and learned about what our school library had to offer in the way of young adult and adult fiction.  In doing so, I learned how hard it is to find texts that challenge gifted readers that are still appropriate for their age group, which is one of the small bits of the reading workshop that worries me.  (I have since found terrific resources like Nancie Pearl to help guide me in suggesting books to students.  We also have a new librarian who is incredibly helpful.)  For independent reading, students could read whatever they wanted.  They had to keep track of the books that they read on a log sheet.  Once a week, they also wrote in their journals about the books that they were reading.  In the middle of the year, they had to complete an analytical project based on at least one of the books they had read.

Nancie Atwell and Dagny Bloland, my methods teacher, suggested that a teacher could coach a student to increasingly more challenging texts over the course of a reading workshop.  For about fifty percent of my students, that was true.  For the other fifty-percent, they were either already challenging themselves, too mentally busy for more challenge, or not interested in working very hard and incredibly resistant to greater challenge.  I had students who were reading twenty-five challenging and interesting books a semester and students who read two pretty easy young adult books.  I had students who were furthering a love of learning and students who were doing their best to avoid reading.  It was difficult to determine how to encourage more from the stragglers without making rules.  With complete freedom over their own choices, I lost some of the students.

So, the following year, I introduced an independent reading list.  For the US class, I called it Great American Novels.  Students were responsible for reading one novel off of the list before they could go on to their own reading.  Setting the bar high like this seemed to work much better in terms of giving students similar, but different experiences.  Every student read a book that challenged them, and they were able to apply their reading of that novel to the study of other texts in class.  At the end of the first semester, they were required to complete a writing assignment—there were six options ranging from an analytical paper to letters between characters.  I was pretty happy with how this independent reading experience went, but the joy of reading and sharing of books they loved with each other was not really there.  The previous year, the students who were racing through books became a community of readers.  They would bring books in for each other.  I could say to them, “Hey, I really think you’d like this one,” and they would read it and then share it with four other students.  The energy of the workshop was there.  It was muted in this less independent format.  So, I gained rigor and thoughtfulness across the board, but I lost some of the joy and energy that more freedom allowed some students.

To try to amend this situation, I decided to have students complete their independent reading in pairs this year.  To some extent, doing so was successful.  If the students read at a similar pace, the partnerships ended up having interesting discussions, helping each other through difficult parts, and modeling good reading skills for one another.  There was more active discussion happening.  Most of the students seemed to prefer having a partner.  I also felt comfortable giving a little more time to independent reading because the students were being more active in their reading.  Once a partnership was done, they completed a written project together and then were able to move on to reading books of their own choosing.  Not many got to this choice part, which is what still worries me.

Independent writing has taken a similar progression.  Initially, I gave the students complete freedom.  They were lost and only the most serious writers produced writing that was valuable to them.  Then, I used writing circles, as suggested by Jim Vopat at the 2009 NCTE convention in Philadelphia.  Here students had interaction with one another and were invested in their pieces, but the pieces were all short and something was missing for the students who had been the most motivated to write.  They did not get to choose to work on their longer projects.  So, this year, I developed an independent writing contract, where students had to set goals for themselves as writers, list objectives for how to meet those goals during independent writing time, and suggest the categories from the six traits rubric in which they should be graded based on their goals and the type of project.  This turned out to be a huge success.  Students cherished independent writing time.  Several wrote novels, some wrote screenplays, a few wrote scientific research, and one practiced writing essays more quickly in order to help her better prepare for high school.  In the end, independent writing needed to be highly structured for my students to produce writing that mattered to them.  The freedom of the workshop is tempting because of how much time students have to write, but it also takes away some of the structure that the contract provides.

So, I am thinking about experimenting with the workshop model with my European class next year.  Partially, I feel comfortable doing this because I taught all of the students who will be in that class this year, so I know their learning styles pretty well.  Also, the class will be small—seven students—which will give me a lot of time to work individually with each student.  I just want to make sure I am not losing more for the kids than I am gaining for them.  The major lesson that I have learned with my small forays into student independence is that with freedom, my students need structure.  I have some ideas for how to provide that structure.  I would love to know what you think about them.

1) Directed Independent Readingà  it is still important that the students cover European literature in order to better understand the historical periods about which they learn.  I have been thinking that I will present the students with a major reading question:  How did European literature evolve over time?  We could make a gigantic timeline in the classroom with several colors for the different countries they study.  I could mark off each major literary period on the timeline.  Students would have a list of major authors and works within each period.  Then, they could choose from the list.  As students finished their reading, they would post note cards with information about the style and content of the piece to the timeline.   Then, at the end of the semester—or a little afterward— they could choose from a variety of projects to present an answer to the initial question.

2) Second semester, we would read more as a class with choice reading time—more like this year—or, if the question went well and the students enjoyed this pursuit, we could either continue it or ask a different question.

3) I teach 6 periods a week.  I need one of the periods for drama, which leaves 5 periods a week.  If students have writing workshop 3 days a week, time one day a week to discuss reading, and one day for participating in reading activities, that will be all of the class time.  This plan would allow for the reading and writing time that Atwell suggests as a minimum.

4) I would still want students to start with goals for themselves as writers, but not require them to complete one large project in order to work toward that goal.

5) Atwell gives the students a list of 6 assignments that they must complete in the workshop: “a short story, three to five poems or songs, a profile of a local citizen based on original research, or an op-ed piece or essay about an issue that matters to you, a book review, a memoir” (Atwell 112).  I could, likewise, give them a similar list.  That way, they would be sure to experience the types of writing that it is important to me that they experience and they could choose when to come to those pieces as writers.

6) Grammar and mechanics would be taught in an individualized way and through mini-lessons to the whole group during writing workshop time.  Students would have individual grammar plans to keep track of errors they make regularly.

My hesitations about the workshop are not about giving up control.  I have thought long and hard about that, asking myself tough questions about whether I can live up to my philosophy of education. I can. What I am most worried about is changing something that is working.  What do you, our educated and educating readers, think about all of this?  Has anybody made a similar shift?  Does anybody have any thoughts or suggestions?

Taking the Sting out of the SAT Essay: Tips for English teachers

In my experience as a tenth-grade English teacher, most students have been terrified of writing the SAT essay. There are so many stressful (and usually unfamiliar) aspects to this kind of essay test that students aren’t applying themselves to the task as well as they might without the burden of anxiety and fear. I’ve heard complaints ranging from apprehensions about the time constraints to not being able to come up with anything to “say” in response to the prompt.

It’s not our responsibility as English teachers to prepare students for success on the SAT – and we’re not allowed to provide specific SAT instruction to the students who take our English classes. But the SAT essay requires students to use good writing skills that will be useful throughout their lives. The College Board is simply assessing these skills, and I feel that we should respect the fact that students need to be able to write this kind of basic response. Being able to communicate a strong opinion supported by substantial “evidence” within 25 minutes can be an invaluable skill in the real world. And that’s why I teach students to master the skills they’ll need to write their SAT essays successfully. Here are a few of the ways I’ve been doing that, and I hope they’ll assist you in your efforts to prepare high school students for higher education and the workplace.

Developing & Substantiating Opinions

Just about everyone has an opinion if you ask the right question. Some questions elicit strong gut reactions from some people, while others are hard-pressed to take a side. But in the real world, if you don’t have an immediate opinion, you’re not going to be an influential force in whatever issue is being debated. It’s impossible to have an opinion about everything, so it’s important to learn how to form a solid one quickly and judiciously.

To help students learn this valuable process, I assign two take-home essays each semester. These essay prompts require students to develop an opinion on the issue described, gather extensive examples to support it, and write an argumentative or persuasive essay that “sells” their perspective to the reader. This kind of basic writing is integral to the process of learning how to communicate clearly and professionally.

Using Timed In-Class Writing Assignments

Being able to write a successful timed essay is a valuable skill – and not just for AP, IB, SAT, and other types of tests (like my midterms and finals). It’s important to teach students how to analyze a prompt or question before they worry about how they’re going to respond to it. I teach my students to look for contextual clues in all of their writing assignments, but it’s an especially important step to take with timed writing. I never use SAT prompts, but I do ask students to analyze questions and assignments in terms of keywords, unfamiliar words and their possible meanings, context, and objectives.

I make this a class activity by writing a prompt or question from one of my past midterms or finals on the board just before class starts. Each day, a different student is required to analyze the prompt – this involves underlining key words, defining difficult terms, clearly stating the writer’s objective in response to the prompt, and describing any contextual clues. All of this happens within five minutes, after which we have a short class discussion about the prompt and the student’s analysis of it. While students are usually uncomfortable during their first analyses, the process eventually becomes second-nature and they learn to think analytically under pressure.

I give two timed in-class essay tests each semester – a midterm and a final. I have found that this is just the right amount of practical reinforcement for the skills I’ve been teaching throughout the semester. And while I’m not teaching students how to write the SAT essay, they’re learning to use the skills they’ll need to succeed at this challenge and many others.

Get on the School Bus: Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers

Any public school teacher will attest to the difficulty of organizing a field trip. There’s paperwork to fill out, signatures to obtain, and money to raise. Not to mention the logistical headache of shepherding an unwieldy troop of hyperactive youth through public spaces. I, myself, have an uncomfortable memory of taking thirty 9th graders to the Jewish Museum in Manhattan during my first year as a teacher. As we were walking across Central Park, one of my students lit out across the grass and unleashed a premeditated and brutal airborne tackle upon an unsuspecting (and much smaller) friend. “He’s killed him,” I thought.

This isn’t to say that field trips aren’t amazing learning experiences, just that they can be a challenge for the already overwhelmed teacher. Which is one reason why Erin Gruwell’s story of taking 75 Los Angeles teenagers to Europe to learn about the Holocaust and the Bosnian Genocide affected me so powerfully.

If you don’t know already, Gruwell is the teacher made famous by the book, The Freedom Writers Diary, and even more famous by the subsequent film version starring Hillary Swank. To us mortal teachers, she is like some kind of rare and exotic bird—the celebrity teacher—looking down upon us from on high along with Jaime Escalante of Stand and Deliver, LouAnne Johnson of Dangerous Minds, and other colorfully plumed celebriteachers.

Five minutes of conversation with the down-to-earth Gruwell and you realize her good fortune has not sidetracked her from her life’s purpose: to create meaningful educational experiences for urban youth, specifically those kids who are too often expected to fail. The trip to Europe was one of these experiences, a kind of experiential capstone to a four-year odyssey of reading such books as The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata’s Diary while committing their own stories to paper.

“We visited the Chelmno extermination camp,” Gruwell recalled, “and there were residences right next to the site. The people living there [during the Holocaust], they heard the screams, saw the ashes, and did nothing.”

Gruwell and her students received an important message from an elderly townsman. “Evil prevails when good people do nothing,” he warned them. To a group of students familiar with the sound of gunshots in their own neighborhoods and a prevailing snitches-get-stitches inner city culture, these words resonated deeply.

There was also a symbolism in the timing of this trip. As Gruwell and her students were walking amongst the ghosts of two of the 20th century’s most horrific tragedies, The Freedom Writers Diary, a compilation of her students’ writing, was going through the final stages of publication.

“We were surrounded by those who could no longer tell their story,” Gruwell related. “And here were my own students’ stories, about to be published.” Without Anne Frank, how would we know what it was like to be a teenager during that terrible time? In the same spirit, Gruwell’s students’ stories—rife with the struggles of growing up around violence, poverty, racism, etc.—are immortalized for future generations to read.

If a trip to Europe with 75 students sounds a bit decadent in light of the typical public school budget, you don’t have to tell that to Gruwell. She worked three jobs to pay for this trip—that’s two jobs on top of that other sort of important eight to three (yeah right) gig.

This above-and-beyond mentality was very much in line with my own preconceived notions about Erin Gruwell. In my mind, she was a wildly dedicated teacher who did good work in a tough school. And she worked hard. Like, really hard. So hard her personal life suffered tremendously (see the movie).

To a newish teacher who very much wanted to last in this profession, that message was hard to take. Surely, I thought, there’s a way to be a great teacher and maintain a healthy, balanced personal life. Surely you needn’t martyr yourself.

When I asked Gruwell about this, she agreed. “No new teacher should have three jobs,” she said. “Teachers need an advocacy program. They need a supportive principal. Extreme sacrifices happen in the classroom, not in one’s personal life.”

Twelve years after the publication of The Freedom Writers Diary, Gruwell is still working hard, though that work is more on her own terms now. As founder of The Freedom Writers Foundation, Gruwell works with teachers around the country (via on-the-ground outreach and The Freedom Writers Institute) to bring her Freedom Writers method to an increasingly wide-cast net of at-risk students.

As testament to the power of this method—and to Gruwell’s bond with her students—twenty of the original Freedom Writers now serve as teachers for the Foundation. Their journey, and Gruwell’s, will be documented in the forthcoming documentary, Freedom Writers: Stories from an Undeclared War.

Make no bones about it, taking 75 teenagers to Auschwitz is a seriously bold undertaking for a young teacher working within the confines of the public school system. Though just one short chapter in the Freedom Writers story, it is emblematic of Gruwell’s commitment to an education that transforms and empowers.

“They came back more compassionate, more sensitive human beings,” she told me.

In a culture in which The Test seems to dictate so much of what happens in our public school classrooms, it is refreshing to hear from an educator who believes so deeply in teaching to the individual. Unfortunately, to be a progressive teacher in today’s schools, one has to have somewhat of a revolutionary spirit, cranky assistant principals be damned.

Here’s to Erin Gruwell. Here’s to dreaming big. Here’s to rebel teachers.

Have You Gotten Your Students Involved Today

An educational tool that won’t lighten your wallet

It may seem like a strange question. Learning demands that students be involved in their own education – that’s just the way it works. But there are two major types of involvement: passive and active. And in many cases, students are passively involved at best, a phenomenon I’ve encountered more times than I care to admit. I love being a piano teacher, but it’s always hard not to take it personally when a student just doesn’t care. That’s why I stopped letting that happen.

Of course, you can’t control students, and there will always be one or two who refuse to become invested in their own education. But I’ve adopted a philosophy of student choice over the years that has helped me gain students’ active involvement. In addition to using this strategy in piano lessons, I’ve found it useful when teaching writing as well, so it may be adaptable to different classrooms with a little creative tweaking. If you want that rewarding feeling that comes whenever you’ve got a student hooked on learning, try asking your students to share the decision-making process to jump-start your classroom’s involvement.

I discovered this by accident, which is a bit ironic since I’m a control freak myself. I didn’t think about the reasons behind its efficacy until I’d already found it to be useful, but it’s a logical step in education. K-12 students feel like they’re being controlled by everyone – parents, teachers, even friends – and they have almost no role in determining their own education. That can be a huge turn-off, so if you can share your decision-making responsibilities even nominally, it can go a long way toward earning the trust and intellectual investment of your students. Here’s an example from my experience:

I had a piano student who was completely ambivalent about piano practice, but she loved to chat and socialize. I was tired of trying to teach lessons that obviously bored her because I couldn’t get her engaged at any point. Frustrated, I asked her what kinds of games she liked to play with her friends. She mentioned playing with a “cootie catcher” (see image) at school, using it to “predict” the future for her and her friends. This was a lucky break for me – for the next lesson, I prepared a “cootie catcher” of my own with different warm-ups printed on the inside flaps. Instead of telling my student what to do in order to warm up, I let her “choose” by randomly selecting one of my predetermined warm-ups. She loved the idea, she got involved, and she asked me to make another one so she could use it at home to warm up before practicing. A little bit of observation, creativity, and “shared” decision-making can go a very long way.

Other Applications

Not everyone is going to be impressed by a little piece of basic origami, but the idea of bringing students’ interests into educational involvement is a powerful one. In addition to brainstorming your own ideas to promote this, you might try some of the following:

• Keep an anonymous suggestion box in your classroom. After introducing a new activity, pass around small sheets of paper and encourage students to give you their honest feedback: what did they like about the experience? What would they change about it?

• If the material you’re teaching isn’t sequential, have students vote on what they’d like to learn next.

• Create a randomized system of selection so your students can “choose” how to spend the last ten or fifteen minutes of class. You might make a “wheel of fortune” with options like peer editing, homework time, spelling game, math bingo, or any number of other educational activities your students might enjoy.

• If you incorporate any role play into your classroom, let students choose their characters out of a hat.

• If you can set parameters for a decision that affects your students’ education, give them the chance to make a selection within those parameters. You retain control, but they get the satisfaction of being actively involved in their own education.

About The History

Teacher, Revised is for teachers and by teachers. It is an education grab bag of classroom reflection, a compilation of news that matters to teachers, essays, interviews with the brightest minds in pedagogy, and even the occasional book and movie review. Basically, it deals with anything that affects teachers, could make teachers’ lives better, or that we all should be very, very afraid of.

But it’s also more than that. As teachers, we are in a state of perpetual revision. We revise our lesson plans, our classroom management strategies, our seating charts, and our teaching philosophy.  The ability to do this with sincerity and courage—often in the moment—is essential to a teacher’s shelf life. Without that, we “go bad.” Undoubtedly you are familiar with the stench of teachers who have reached their expiration date. It ain’t pretty. To avoid this, we must make a life partner of revision. It is the natural preservative that keeps us fresh. This means looking inward and outward—reflecting on our own practice, and keeping an ear to the ground for what’s new (or old) in the world of education.

The springboard for this blog was a book project that the authors embarked on a year and a half ago—a kind of survival guide for new teachers titled Teacher, Revised: A Generation Y Guide To The World’s Most Important Profession. We will be publishing excerpts from the book here, but mostly this blog will be a place for us to pontificate, propose, and ponder in a less rigid format. Anything ed-related is fair game.

We hope you gain some insight into your own practice by reading a little about ours.

Alistair Bomphray is a former New York City Teaching Fellow who is currently an English teacher and journalism advisor at Tennyson High School in Hayward, California. He also taught in Washington Heights, NY, and at the University of Michigan’s New England Literature Program. He holds dual undergraduate degrees in English and Film from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in secondary English education from City College of New York. Alistair is co-founder of the non-profit One Picture Puzzle Piece, which focuses on telling local stories from Oakland with words and pictures. He has the lowest winning percentage of any girl’s tennis coach in the history of California.

Jesse Scaccia has taught high school-aged students in Brooklyn, San Diego, and Cape Town, South Africa, where he currenty teaches at a home for young men. His journalism has been published by The New York Times, The San Diego Union Tribune, The International Herald Tribune, and The Virginian-Pilot. He co-executive produced a documentary series for BET about post-Katrina life for the band and football team at an HBCU in Louisiana. He holds dual degrees in English and education from the University of Connecticut, a master’s in education from Connecticut, and a master’s in journalism from New York University. He is currently the Perry Morgan Fellow in the MFA program at Old University Dominion in Norfolk, Virginia.

Contributing Writers:

Benjie Achtenberg teaches 8th grade Humanities at Melrose Leadership Academy in Oakland, CA. As an avid SF Giants fan and self-proclaimed history dork, he faces many uphill battles in his Oakland classroom, but loves every moment. Teaching is a new adventure everyday for him. While he brings to life Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal, Evidence Sandwiches, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and literary analysis thesis statements, he laughs with his kids and strives to find the best in all of them. He regularly enjoys beating his students in touch football after school with his fellow teachers.

Jennifer Yael Green is currently an English teacher in Pusan, South Korea, where she teaches over-stressed, sleep-deprived and academically brilliant students. She has taught English to underprivileged kids in Buenos Aires, and worked with a non-profit arts program for 3rd and 4th graders in Rancho Mirage, California. She graduated with honors from the University of Washington with a degree in Creative Writing.

Jill Guerra is proud to be a Language Arts and Social Studies teacher in an Oakland public elementary school. The students she works with are some of the strongest people on the planet and they teach her about the most important things in life: humility, resilience, forgiveness, and that it’s important to laugh often. Her other job is as the mother of a very vocal and passionate daughter and of a calm and breezy son. Her undergraduate work was done at U.C. Berkeley and she recently finished her master’s degree in Teaching Critical Environmental and Global Literacy at New College of California. She likes to spend her time dancing Cuban rueda and Afro-Brazilian samba, sipping Chai tea while walking through the flea market, and swapping frontline stories over Thai food with her comrades.

Gabrielle Lensch Plastrik currently teaches 7th and 8th grade English and Drama and k-2 computers at EAGLE School, an independent (private) school for students k-8 who are “talented and gifted” in Madison, WI.  She previously taught high school in Janesville, WI and in the suburbs of Chicago.  She earned a BA in English with a sub-concentration in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan and an MSEd from Northwestern University.  She is reminded every day how wonderful it is to work with students who have naturally inquisitive brains.  It makes the study of literature and writing all the more fun.

Gehry Oatey the Schoolyard Foodie teaches at Melrose Leadership Academy in east Oakland. He spends his weekday afternoons turning over the soil in the school garden and cooking with 7th and 8th graders. He is also a member of community groups working to improve school lunches in Oakland. There isn’t a day at school where middle school kids don’t remind him how little he knows about this life. He has also heard more shocking curse words in the past three years than most humans walking the earth. He is a food lover and one of the few white boy salsa dancers living in Oakland. You can reach him at gehry@mac.com.

Veronica O’Brien is the owner of VM Education, Ltd, an educational consulting and tutoring business. She has served the tri-state area’s (NY/NJ/CT) private and public school student needs since 1998. Veronica earned her Baccalaureate degree in Biology, Chemistry and Anthropology with a specialization on Biological Evolution, cum laude. In 2008, she was accepted into the New York City Teaching Fellowship to teach high school science in the Bronx, NY.

Mose Williams teaches 6th grade math/science blocks in east Oakland.  Today he attempted to convey the grandeur of pi, broke up a fight, and started a project with bathymetric maps.  Last year he taught 8th grade humanities and now remembers that year fondly because of the fun books he read with his students.  Mose has seen some beautiful places and met some amazing people.

Chris Bacon teaches English and facilitates teacher training in Busan, South Koreawhere young people study 12 hours a day and sleep far less than that. Before Korea, Chris worked with the U.S. Peace Corps as a Youth Development Volunteer in Morocco and has also taught English in The Czech Republic (Prague) Additionally, Chris is co-director of a non-profit called, The Thambo Project that promotes social justice through the performing arts, and he enjoys singing/songwriting in his spare time with his acoustic guitar. His bachelors degrees in Theatre and World Religions were awarded by Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter Minnesota, and he can be reached.