Thursday, July 30, 2009

Success vs. Failure

Persevere is defined by Merriam -Webster Online as "to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counter influences, opposition, or discouragement."

I believe this is a quality that defines success in all that we do and the beginning of the school year is an important time to address this issue with students and even ourselves. Success is very rarely a spontaneous occurrence (unless you win the lottery) and it is never easily attained. It is something that we all strive for through hard work over an extended period of time. I think we tend to learn as much or more from our mistakes as we do from our successes.

I had the opportunity to listen to John Smith (1988 and 1992 Olympic Gold medal winning wrestler, six consecutive world championships and current OSU wrestling coach with five NCAA team championships) where he stated that he doesn't really remember all of his 436 wins, but he could tell you everything about his 15 losses. Those failures are what motivates him, what drives him to succeed.

I found a couple of videos that discuss failure vs. success (thanks to the Successful Teaching blog) and I think it clearly demonstrates that success is created by ability and perseverance. You MUST create a drive to succeed even though you are faced with adversity.

Michael Jordan "Failure"

Famous Failures

Just think of the power that you have as instructors to create a POSITIVE environment for your students!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Vision of Students Today

I found a video created by Kansas State University that makes you realize how much technology has changed our lives. I can think of how technology has affected me, but the current students were born within this technological revolution. Watch the following video, "A Vision of Students Today" and ask yourself what is my first step as a teacher or administrator to reach these students? How can I prepare them to compete in today's highly connected world?

Now that you are thinking of technology and the future, what does the Rand Corporation think of the "technological revolution?" This is a very interesting read and I hope you will take a look at it and ask yourself if you are preparing yourself and your students for the future? The changes and advancements in technology and science will only get faster and that means that we must respond to these changes at a faster rate than we ever have.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Free Teaching and Learning Resources

I found an interesting website: Free Federal Resources for Educational Excellence. Basically, it's FREE teaching resources from Federal agencies. The site has four primary areas, Animations, Primary Docs, Photos, and Videos.

The Subject Map includes numerous educational topics including,
Arts & Music, Health & Phys Ed, Language Arts, Math, Science, World Studies, U.S. History Topics, and U.S. Time Periods. There are also numerous sub-heading under each of these general headings.

According to the site, "FREE makes it easier to find teaching and learning resources from the federal government. More than 1,500 federally supported teaching and learning resources are included from dozens of federal agencies. New sites are added regularly."

You can also get new resources delivered to you several times a week or sign up for the FREE RSS. If you're looking to involve teachers in developing teaching resources, see their lessons learned.

FREE is among the most popular K-12 websites maintained by the U.S. Department of Education because of the many great resources being offered by contributing federal agencies.

Words of Caution: Once you start looking you will be wondering what happened to the last couple of hours! Check it out! J.T.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CareerTech Testing Center: 100 Posts and Counting

It's hard to believe that we have reached this #100!

We started the blog in October of 2008 and the numbers continue to grow, so THANK YOU!!! It amazes me that anyone reads at all, but apparently there is a need for information on testing, educational technology, and a few other odds and ends thrown in here and there.

I mean, after all, we stayed out of Presidential politics (President Barack Obama vs. President George Bush), the Wall Street meltdown, ESPN (which the total absence of sports commentary sometimes kills me), or my beloved OSU Cowboys.

Somehow, we still managed to reach readers in 86 countries and 49 of these great United States and the District of Columbia. Does anyone know somebody in Wyoming? Oh well, I can already envision my mass email campaign to the great people in Wyoming.

Enough beating around the bush, it’s time to get down to brass tacks (new personal record of two idioms in one sentence!). We will continue to search for things that will hopefully make your job easier.

PLEASE let us know your thoughts! What are we doing right or wrong? Any new ideas that will make the blog better? In other words, we can always use some help! Do you think this fountain of knowledge can hold out forever? Most days, I feel, not so much like a fountain, but more like like I'm spitting in the wind. So help is always greatly appreciated.

Last, but not least, I'll try and highlight some of my favorite posts from the past when school starts. Feel free to let us know if you have any favorites and always remember to SHARE THE BLOG WITH OTHERS. The only way to make it better is for you to help!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Honor Codes: Do They Result in Academic Honesty?

"A Cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do." - United States Military Academy

"On my honor I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this (exam, test, paper)." - Rice University

"I pledge my honor that I have neither given or received aid on this test or paper." - Charlotte Catholic High School

"As a Member of the William & Mary community I pledge, on my Honor, not to lie, cheat, or steal in either my academic or personal life. I understand that such acts violate the Honor Code and undermine the community of trust of which we are all stewards." - The College of William and Mary

Wikipedia defines "honor code or honor code system" as "a set of rules or principles governing a community based on a set of rules or ideals that define what constitutes honorable behavior within that community. The use of an honor code depends on the idea that people (at least within the community) can be trusted to act honorably. Those who are in violation of the honor code can be subject to various sanctions, including expulsion from the institution."

Are you currently using an honor code at your school or have you attended a college or university that used one? I have read about honor code systems that are either student enforced or enforced by administration. Do you have a preference in who enforces the code?

My thoughts are that competition is a wonderful yet complex issue. The competition between students may create enough pressure that a small number of students will cross that thin line between right and wrong. At the same time, that same competitive spirit will create a "policing" of actions by their own peers.

Is cheating a problem at any academic level.....YES! Will an honor code help? Check out what some students at Vanderbilt University think of cheating and their honor code:

I personally think an honor code and system is a worthwhile endeavor and it serves as a constant reminder of what we should demand from ourselves and those around us (maybe a few people in the financial markets could have benefited from an honor code???).

I'll leave you with a brief history of honor codes:

(from Wikipedia) "In America, the first student-policed honor system was instituted in 1779 at The College of William & Mary at the behest of Virginia's then-Governor Thomas Jefferson. [1] Jefferson, who graduated from William & Mary with honors in 1762, inked a basic honor system for his alma mater.

Jefferson later envisioned a similar honor system for his University of Virginia; it was at first based on strict laws limiting student behavior, but later based on student self-government. However, he never lived to see it in practice there.

UVA's early years were marked by contentious relations between students and the faculty, which culminated on November 12, 1840, when John Davis, a professor, was shot to death in an attempt to quell a disturbance on The Lawn. Davis refused to identify his assailant, stating that an honorable man would step forward on his own. On July 4, 1842, College of William and Mary alumnus Henry St. George Tucker, who had replaced Davis on the faculty, proposed that in the future, students sign examinations in the form "I, A.B., do hereby certify on my honor that I have derived no assistance during the time of this examination from any source whatsoever."[2] The idea succeeded with the students. The wording of the honor pledge has changed over time, and the definition of what constitutes an honor offense has evolved as well, at times including matters such as smoking, cheating at card games or insulting ladies.[3] As of 2006, an honor offense is defined as an act of lying, cheating, or stealing, performed intentionally, of sufficient gravity such that open toleration of the act would impair the community of trust sufficiently enough to warrant expulsion of the offender. Despite the evolution of the system over the years, UVA's Honor System is rare in that it is administered entirely by the University's students.[4] Princeton has also maintained an entirely student-run Honor Code since the beginning of their Code in 1893.

What did Thomas Jefferson NOT get involved in???

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Developing a Rubric?

I was attending a meeting yesterday and a few of the instructors began discussing rubrics. I wondered how many of you use rubrics and how much time you might invest in their development? As you probably know by know, I'm all about shared knowledge. Anything that is open source, well constructed and ....FREE!

I began my search last night after the meeting and I found RubiStar, which is a free tool designed to help teachers create quality rubrics. If you aren't familiar with rubrics, Heidi Goodrich, a rubrics expert, defines a rubric as "a scoring tool that lists the criteria for a piece of work or 'what counts.'" Generally rubrics specify the level of performance expected for several levels of quality.

According to the site, "RubiStar is a tool to help the teacher who wants to use rubrics but does not have the time to develop them from scratch. RubiStar provides generic rubrics that can simply be printed and used for many typical projects and research assignments. The unique thing about RubiStar, however, is that it provides these generic rubrics in a format that can be customized. The teacher can change almost all suggested text in the rubric to make it fit their own project."

Another interesting thing about Rubistar is that it can be integrated with Moodle and Blackboard. The site claims that you can "easily aggregate student achievement across classes, programs, and even entire schools to generate NCLB data or customized outcomes data for accreditation purposes."

Check out a rubric for "Building A Structure : Alternative Energy Models" developed by Janice Haney.

I hope this site will help those of you that develop rubrics! J.T.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Search Engine Alternatives: Specra and Search-Cube

I just wanted to quickly tell you about a couple of new search engine alternatives: Specra and Search-Cube.

When you enter a query into Specra, it searches the big three search engines for your query. It then gathers the results from them and ranks them according to a simple algorithm. The end result is improved quality of results for the query. You can also assign weights to search engines to vary the importance given to their results.

Search-Cube is a visual search engine that presents web search results in a unique, three-dimensional cube interface. It shows previews of up to ninety-six websites, videos and images. See what happens when you search for the CareerTech Testing Center Blog?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Financial Literacy and

WeSeed is a social site that has a specific aim, namely helping ordinary people get into the stock market and understand the way it is operated. The team behind this project propounds that we all know more about the stock market that we realize, as every single decision we make in our real life has an effect in the financial world at large.

As a result, the site gives users a closer look into the companies they are connected with in their daily lives. What’s more, since the site is a social resource, users can interact with each other and see which ones of their preferred companies are worth buying. In actuality, users do not invest real money, but a currency named WeSeed cash. This currency is employed so that users can practice investing without risking their real money. A $1 million in WeSeed cash is provided when you sign up. From that point onwards, you can start buying and selling stocks and expanding your virtual portfolio. Once you feel confident enough, you can resort to any brokerage firm and put your newly-acquired skills into practice.

I believe that WeSeed can complement the new Financial Literacy Skills curriculum available through CIMC and it would also be a great preparatory instrument for the online Financial Literacy assessment available through the CareerTech Testing Center (please check out our Financial Literacy Skills Standards)

Empower your students to get a better understanding of the stock market through the things they already know and love — the clothes they wear, the cars they drive (or the bike they ride), and the burgers they eat. Everyone has the right (and responsibility) to know how the market works, not just the guys on Wall Street or your local broker. GET EDUCATED about your personal finances and let your money work for you. WeSeed has created a fun, free, risk-free way for real people to get a clue about the market and make better financial decisions. Try it and tell us what you think! J.T.

Monday, July 6, 2009


I just found out about a free site,, while reading The NeverEndingSearch.

According to the site, this is how VocabSushi works:

With VocabSushi, flash cards are a thing of the past. The best way to build your vocabulary is not rote memorization. It's seeing how words are used in everyday language. VocabSushi helps you prepare for the ISEE, SAT, ACT, GRE or other standardized test by teaching you vocab words with real-world, contextual examples found in the daily news. We're different than any other test preparation option, and here's how:

Real sentences from the news teach context along with definitions
We scour the daily news from around the U.S. to find actual examples of your vocab words. Read selected sentences or whole articles to build a strong grasp of context.

Comprehensive vocabulary for major standardized tests
Our background is in tutoring, so we understand the ISEE, SAT, ACT, GRE and other standardized tests from the inside out. We've compiled our vocabulary lists based on the actual word sets used in these tests, so the words you study stand a good chance of being on the test!

Adaptive technology grows with you
To make the most of your time, our system only gives you words that will challenge you, and skips the ones you might already know. And as you learn, we track your progress overall and for every word. When you learn words, they're automatically replaced with newer, more challenging ones.

Never-ending supply of new sentence completion questions
On the major standardized tests, you need to know how to use words in context by filling in the blank. With VocabSushi, you can practice these questions for all your words as long as you like using real-world sentences and usages from the news.

Hear how words are pronounced
We've recorded MP3 pronunciations, definitions and sample sentences for nearly every VocabSushi word. Next to any word you can click the Play icon to hear the word spoken aloud.

Learn on the go: MP3s Downloads, Podcasts, and Printables
You don't have to be at a computer to learn with VocabSushi. With our offline tools, you can download MP3s of words you're learning, have those MP3s delivered automatically with a podcast, or print a customized quiz or study sheet for the words you're learning.

Stay informed while reading articles that include your vocab words
We customize your reading lists to the words you're actually learning, so you can just read the news that you're interested in and will help you prepare for the big test.

Look up any word, anytime
If you're studying and get stuck on a word you don't know, use VocabSushi to look it up, see it in context, and add it to your list to learn it.

According to The NeverEnding Search, "Activities remember the user and grow progressively more challenging. Sentence completions draw content directly from current linked news sources and allow students to visit the complete article for further context or simply, to learn more. Students may also add articles to a personal online reading list. Other activities include definition matching, and reading articles with tagged vocabulary words and definitions. Articles may be filtered for either national or regional news and come from such sources as: Wall Street Journal, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Motley Fool, Reuters, ESPN, The Philadelphia Inquirer, CNN, Science Daily, and Politico."

can see this as a valuable tool across many educational disciplines. Sign up for free and let us know your thoughts! J.T.
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