Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tips for Writing College Essays: Literary Analysis

overcoming writer's block - crumpled paper on ...
Writer's block (Photo: photosteve101)
by Sam J Kotera

Writers block. Talk about the number one time waster when it comes to studying and assignment completion in college. And let's be realistic here, it isn't just WRITER'S block, it is really PROJECT CREATOR'S block.

Whether we are writing a paper, creating a PowerPoint presentation, a short video production, a website, or any time of major project in an English course, we eventually hit that brick wall of saying "what do I do next?"

Well, if you are participating in any sort of English class, whether it is literature, critical theory ... etc, there is a good chance that you will run out of the creative juices at some point. The problem is that it can sometimes take FOREVER to get back in track, when you really just want to get the project done fast. So here's a quick set of steps you can take to get the creative ideas flowing again.

Consider the Big Picture

Just ask yourself the following question about the (literary analysis) topic you chose to write about.
What are the primary themes or big ideas that are represented in the text(s) I'm concerned with?
Simple, right?

If you have narrowed the focus of your paper well enough, you hopefully don't have more than three of these. And those three should honestly be bridging up to an even bigger, singular idea. Anyway, take those ideas or that idea and take the next simple step.

Symbol Identification

English classes, and especially literature courses, are largely representing philosophy and world views (culture) through metaphor. This means that you can have a lot of creativity in your interpretation of a text. And you really can't be wrong, as long as you make a compelling argument for it. But here's the key to overcoming that writer's block ... symbols are a KEY metaphorical tool of authors!

So, simply pick out some symbol - whether it is a character, a description, an item ... etc - that helps explain the text's or texts' attitude toward that big idea. Now you can get into an elaboration of a particular symbol and big idea within your writing.

At this point, find a few quotes surrounding that symbol that help back up your position, and you've just crunched out another 250+ words in your paper. Also, add your own elaborations after each quote to explain how the quotes prove your argument.

Not only is this a great way to add some more description and elements to your paper, this same process can be used as a way to create your thesis statement:
- Just look for the big ideas
- Find a symbol (or a few) that make a statement about that big idea

- Then argue that the symbol represents your author's viewpoint on the big idea

- Or maybe the author is satirizing that viewpoint. Use your own discretion here

Looking for other study skills or time management tips? Check out for other strategies from Sam, so you spend less time in the library and more time living!

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How Important Is Recess?

students enjoying lunch during recess hour
Students enjoying lunch during recess hour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Janel N Spencer

What are the keys to improving student success? More technology incorporated into the classroom? Improved STEM education? Better teacher or principal evaluations?

The suggestions and even blame (is it the fault of the parents? the teachers? the students?) rage on.

Now, even recess is up for debate.

Based on a new master schedule released earlier this month, elementary students in Syracuse, NY will no longer have recess.

Aside from a half hour lunch, the schedule outlines every minute of their 6-hour school day for specified instruction:

  • 120 minutes for English language arts
  • 80 minutes for math
  • 45 minutes each for science and social studies
  • 40 minutes for special subjects like art or gym, and
  • 30 minutes for lunch.

This minute-by-minute schedule leaves no time for recess. And although Laura Kelly, the district Chief Academic Officer, says that teachers can decide to insert recess into the allotted schedule, she does not recommend it.

"If they are going to opt to do recess, they are going to be taking time from ELA (English language arts) and math, and that's a choice I hope every teacher considers very carefully," Kelley commented to the Post-Standard.

The new master schedule is meant to help student achievement in Syracuse, which has some of the worst student outcomes in the state. Last year, fewer than 30 percent of their students in grades 3 through 8 met state proficiency standards, only 13 percent of high school students scored at least an 85 on the English Regents exam, and only 51 percent of their students graduated from high school on time.

The new schedule was meant to ensure that teachers at every school spend adequate time on core subjects to meet state requirements, a part of the state's new teacher accountability rules.

According to a 2010 report, up to 40 percent of U.S. school districts have cut back on recess, either reducing it or completing eliminating it, in order to put more focus on the core subjects. One in 5 principals say that they have had to reduce recess based on federal requirements.

"Many schools, actually most of our elementary schools, have not been offering recess for quite some time. They've opted to spend as many minutes as they can on instruction," Kelley explained.

School psychologist of Meachem Elementary in Syracuse, Michael Gilbert, however, disagrees with the new schedule. Meachem's 15-minute recess has now been taken away, and Gilbert sees this as a problem that is also a part of a much larger issue.

Gilbert told the Post-Standard that in the last several years, the push to improve student test scores has eroded students' opportunities for social and emotional learning.

Last week, Meachem re-adjusted its schedule to include recess after there was a public outcry from teachers and parents about the proposed change. During a PTO meeting last Tuesday with a total 100 present including concerned parents and teachers, Meachem Elementary Principal Melissa Evans affirmed that the school would put recess back on the schedule.

Other states are also reevaluating recess: recently, Chicago and Atlanta public schools have been slowly introducing recess back into their schedules. This August year, some Chicago public schools had a scheduled recess for the first time in thirty years.

In May, Illinois passed a state bill mandating at least 20 minutes of daily recess for K-5, with provisions that school boards could extend recess for students in middle school if necessary, and forbidding schools from withholding recess as a disciplinary action.

"Our children deserve a chance to play and relax during the school day. Learning to make friends and use your imagination is every bit as important as learning multiplication and grammar," said Sen. Kimberly Lightford, who introduced the bill.

Studies have show that a small break in the middle of the day can in fact aid learning: the later in the day the break is introduced, the more the students lose their ability to focus. The studies show that physical activity and free time boost academic achievement.

A major report published in the journal Pediatrics in 2009 found that among 11,000 children between ages 8 and 9, those who had more than 15 minutes of recess a day were much better behaved in class than children with shorter breaks or without them.

Another report by a children's advocacy group in 2009 found that poorer districts are among the first to get rid of recess in an attempt to improve student achievement (such as in Syracuse)-nearly half of poor children go all day without recess.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also reported this correlation between poverty and what they call "play deprivation." In Chicago, nearly 100 elementary and middle schools don't have playgrounds at all.

While some school officials may still maintain that allotting 15 or more minutes for recess is just a waste of time, researchers are saying that playing is essential to a child's social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being. Other schools are taking this research to heart and trying to incorporate recess into the schedule as an important part of curriculum.

"Monkeying around" just may be more important than it appears.

360 Education Solutions is your advocate in the search for quality online teaching degree programs. As an advocate group founded specifically for educators, we provide you with the support and information needed to help you achieve your teaching certification and educational aspirations.

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Healthy Eating in College - 10 Tips For Students

English: vegetables
Vegetables (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by James G. Carrington

Healthy eating in college can be difficult on a budget, but just because you have little money does not mean you need to eat food with little nutritional value.

With these few handy hints and tips, healthy eating in college can be simple ...

1. Make a list

If you make a list when you are going shopping you are less likely to be tempted by pricey, unnecessary items. On a side note, eating before going shopping will make sure that you do not impulse buy and keep to your shopping list.

2. Plan your meals

If you plan your meals for the week, you'll know what to put on your shopping list and it will motivate you to cook in the evening. Meals don't have to be difficult, look for easy recipes online.

3. Buy value ingredients

Just because ingredients are in the value range, it doesn't mean they aren't as good. It may be that the vegetables are different shapes and sizes, but they will all taste the same in the end. People shopping with their eyes instead of their head is the main reason supermarkets can charge more for standardized looking vegetables.

4. Keep an eye out for bargains

If you have a freezer, bargain shopping is easy. If something is buy one get one free, eat one and freeze the other. It is also a good idea to keep an eye out in the clearance section, although the food may be going out of date in a day or two, if you freeze it, it can last for months.

5. Buy tins

Fruit can be expensive and goes off quickly, but tinned fruit will last for months and is still just as good for you. It makes a great snack, try it with some frozen yoghurt. You can also buy tinned vegetables - be aware of what the fruit and vegetables are preserved in though, avoid salted water and syrup and look for those stored in water or their own juice.

6. Frozen foods

Frozen vegetables actually hold their nutritional value better than fresh and are far more convenient, they will also last longer so take advantage of buying larger packs as they are generally more economical.

7. Drink water

Although in can be tempting to hit the fizzy drinks, your body needs water, particularly if it has been put through the wars with alcohol! Water is healthy and free, so try to drink 7 - 8 glasses a day.

8. Eat breakfast

Eating breakfast will stop you feeling hungry during the day and prevent napping in lectures. Breakfast does exactly what it says on the tin, it breaks a fast, so make sure you grab something in the morning (even if you are running late!). It needn't be a cooked meal, keep some fruit and cereal bars handy to throw in your bag on the way to lectures.

9. Healthy snacks

Often people fall down when they are having an energy slump and reach for the chocolate or other naughty snacks. Keeping some healthy snacks on you is a great way of avoiding the sugar cravings, fruit and vegetables are obviously a great option, but if you are in need of something a bit more interesting, try taking some vegetable crisps instead.

10. Variety

A varied diet is important for health and to stop you getting bored. Try something new each week to keep your diet interesting. Variety is the spice of life!

Follow these simple guidelines and healthy eating in college really can be a breeze.

James Carrington lives in London, UK - and provides nutrition advice for sport and general health.
James help many people achieve their dietary and fitness goals via his website

For your FREE introduction to healthy eating guide please CLICK HERE

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3 Benefits of Reading Classic Literature

Charles Dickens
Cover of Charles Dickens
by Marianne Rittner-Holmes

Classic literature is a portal to the human spirit and imagination, a link to our history and development, and a path in which to navigate the educated world.

Its benefits include the knowledge of ourselves as human beings, the knowledge of our roots, and the knowledge of how these concepts and realities tie to our current life.

Universally binding

Literature becomes classic by embedding in its pages themes that tie humanity together. It presents conflicts, choices, human nature, character, ethics, morality-elements of life that are as relevant to someone in Beijing as they are to someone in Minot, North Dakota.

"The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck is a story of overcoming a criminal past, combating hunger and poverty, fighting to provide for one's family, encountering corruption, and fighting for a cause larger than oneself.

"Tess of the D'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy depicts the plight of a woman who is seduced, pregnant and unwed, searching for love, fighting for survival in an unequal world, and being rejected. Even Arthur Conan Doyle's stories of Sherlock Holmes remind us that brilliant eccentrics are quirky and, despite their intellect, they sometimes choose a destructive path as evidenced in his cocaine use.

Such shared human experiences cut across national boundaries, ages, languages, religions, ethnicities and gender. They bring us together to realize we all bleed red and we all struggle on earth although the circumstances may vary.

Ties to the Past

While the themes are timeless, classic literature keeps alive the progress we've made as a human race. In "Le Morte D'Arthur" by Thomas Malory, we see the evolution of our language from the Old English of the 1500's to the modern day spellings, nouns and contractions. We get a view of life in medieval times with suits of armor and swords compared to our suits with ties and intercontinental ballistic missiles of today.

Through the eyes of Charles Dickens, we see the world of Victorian England in "A Christmas Carol," along with how employees used to be treated and the conditions under which they worked. We see holiday traditions and even the limitations of medical treatments at that time. Certainly no computer or cell phone for Bob Cratchit and no MRI for Tiny Tim.

Brushing Up Our Image

While it is perhaps not critical, it is important that people understand classic literature as it is used in the course of daily interaction in a complex world. Knowledge of classic literature is the final coat of wax on a polished, educated being.

Hearing that Henry was "hoist on his own petard" in trying to undermine co-workers at the office just sounds better than telling someone Henry's plan backfired. We've all lived through examples of a Catch-22 and have been told that we must show "grace under pressure".

We've been warned "never a lender nor a borrower be," yet as teams, we should be "all for one and one for all." Do we know "for whom the bells tolls?" Certainly. It's "elementary, my dear Watson" (while Holmes never stated that exact phrase, he is oft misquoted this way).

Classic literature opens a lifetime of thinking and feeling and experiencing life in terms larger than ourselves, and yet strikes at the essence of who we are as individuals. Its benefits are watching our humanness in others in the past as we share in it in our daily lives. It makes more relevant the things around us and polishes us in an unfinished world.

Marianne Rittner-Holmes is retired from the corporate world of private, for-profit education. She has 25 years of experience working in business and with employees and students. You may find out more about her at

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Back to School Guide for Students

Tablet Computers at Yahoo!
Tablet Computers at Yahoo! (Photo credit: jzawodn)
by Edvinas R P

It's never too late or too early to start getting ready for school. Even if you have just missed out on the latest offers there's still something you can do. After all, the best things in life are free right (at least some of them anyway)?

It is vitally important to stack up on pen and paper for taking those life-saving notes. These are usually cheap as chips and if you're a university student, you can pull it off with only a couple of notebooks for your notes.

And if you have a tablet or a laptop with you most of the time, you can go ahead and download some free note taking apps, which will save you the money and the effort for buying pens and papers and keeping track of them.

Speaking of tablets, it is a nice thing to have for a student. It's really convenient to carry your books there, view slides and take notes. Saves loads of space and does not weigh as much as a book would and it may provide you with some great spare time activities or even let you start off with writing your papers early (doubt anyone does that anyway).

If you want a tablet, but don't know which one to buy, you can do a search for best tablets for students and you should definitely find something that will suit your needs.

If you're a fresher this year and are heading out to a different city or even a different country, you may consider getting a smartphone. You'd be surprised how many times you'll be saved by the map on your smartphone or the fact that you had internet access when you needed it the most.

If you have no idea what's on the current market, you can have a look at best top 10 mobile phones lists on Google and hopefully you will find a thing or two worth your attention.

This should get you started on getting out and about on piling up the precious resources for learning. All you need to remember that there are ways you can do things for the cheap.

Keep an eye out for the best deals and note down some good websites, preferably blogs, which throw out good tips and tricks (such as the best note taking apps ) on what should an everyday student have and how will it make your life easier. Technology Blog

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Are Online Tutoring Sessions Worth Buying?

Free online tutoring at
Free online tutoring at (Photo credit: familymwr)
by Sandeep Kumar Vyas

This is a commonly asked question by many students and even parents. Busy parents these days can hardly manage time to balance their responsibilities at home and work.

The child's education is always a serious concern to them. They look for someone to monitor his or her progress and give them a complete solution to all their academic requirements. In such a situation, online tutoring plays a pivotal role.

Attractive features of Online Tutoring websites

Flexibility in class schedule

You can schedule the class at any time of the day as per your convenience. This would help you to plan your schedule without affecting the set routine. Live tutoring provides one-on-one attention and also benefits you by providing anonymity.

The process facilitates students in availing instant help. Whenever you get stuck with math problems or homework you may attend a session. The technology makes it feasible for you to get the best service from an online tutor from any part of the world.

Round the clock availability

This is a 24/7 service. In case you miss an important class for any reason, an online tutor will be there to help you.

Cost effective

Online tutoring services are inexpensive compared to conventional tutoring.

Focused attention for your child

A recognized online tutoring website will provide a high quality specifically trained tutor who will give undivided attention to the learner. This is very important if a student has problems with a tough subject and needs more time to understand it. A classroom teacher cannot give equal attention to every student in a class.

Monitor your child's progress report

Progress reports are generated online and it is easier for parents to keep track of their child's improvement.

Interactive sessions

The technology allows students to learn the use of different internet tools and enjoy interactive and informative sessions. The virtual classroom environment and live chat makes learning motivating.

Convenience & Location

Students these days are packed with schedules; the process helps them to figure out convenient times  to attend a session. The websites allow you to check the quality of the tutors by taking a trial class. This would help you to choose the tutor according to your needs.

Students these days prefer online classroom sessions as they can convey their queries to the teacher without any hesitation. This helps them to understand the fundamentals of a specific subject.

Online tutoring services are now a well accepted concept amongst students and their parents. Several online tutoring companies are easily accessible on the web. They all commit to helping students of various levels to prepare their home assignments as well as their daily study lessons.

But parents' trust and money are being put into their child's education. It's always advised to conduct a detailed internet survey before enrolling.

Tutor Pace, Inc. is leading Online Tutoring Company located in Fort Worth, Texas, United States. Tutor pace provides Unlimited Online Tutoring services for the students from K-12 to college level with all different Study Subjects including online maths test preparation, English help, science and Competitive Exam Prep Like SAT,ACT, STAAR Etc.. Get more information at

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No Child Left Behind

President Bush signing the bipartisan No Child...
President Bush signing the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act at Hamilton H.S. in Hamilton, Ohio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Joseph Parish

In theory the "No Child Left behind Act" initially appears as a win-win situation.

After President Bush signed the bill into law in the early part of 2002 everyone saw an opportunity to close the gap between American education and that of our European friends.

Even our representatives under the watchful eye of Senator Kennedy ushered the bill into law with little regards to the legality of the proposal or its potential ill effects.

When first reviewing the legislation one tends to think that this bill would be good for not only the individual child's education but for the overall public educational program as well.

Being human, we would all like to think that our tax dollar is drawing the most return that it can when it involves our children. We sit and gleam proudly when we think what high standards are in store for our children however the program has failed to achieve its intended goals.

The bill should have instilled the basic skills assessments as contained in its guidelines but to be in compliance with the laws of the land should have been administered by the state and not the federal government.

Whenever an individual state accepts financial backing from the federal government there are always catches involved. No federally sponsored agencies freely provide funds to states without desiring something in return. In this specific case it was control of the state subsidized educational systems.

In order to continue to receive the federal education assistance funds the state would now be required to open up their schools to the whims of the federal agencies. No longer would the state manage the school testing process but rather it would now be mandated by the US government.

The initial problem encountered here is that although the federal government was dictating the testing criteria it did not properly address the specific standards which should be adhered to.

In order to sweeten up the deal with the states the federal government increased the funding from its previous level of $42.2 billion for 2001 to that of $54.4 billion by 2007. Few states would be willing to forgo these funds in order to preserve its state sovereignty. With this said and done, I must graciously disagree with this increase in federal control especially within our educational system.

My first rationale for finding this legislation objectionable is the federally initiated standardized test. According to the new federal standard, students would be required to submit a state-wide standard test on an annually basis. This in itself is not a major topic of disagreement however the results of the test being critically evaluated by the federal government is the culprit.

Since the scores obtained are used primarily to determine the effectiveness of the schools teaching methods and the fact that the consequences of the poor student scores would ultimately result in greater federal control makes this an undesirable situation at best.

The practice as stated tends to provide an inherent cultural bias since it has been previously shown that different cultures often value different skills. It places the students at a great disadvantage since each year the students would be required to do even better than the previous year's students.

At the same time let's consider the violation of the "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act", which outwardly states that schools must provide effective accommodation for those disabled students.

If a student is visually impaired the student under IDEA would be allowed to have the questions read to them but unfortunately this LNCB act would invalidate the scores obtained since under Federal law all conditions must be equal. As a long-term substitute teacher for emotionally disturbed children I am aware that some children have difficulty taking tests and as such are often given verbal or performance based assessments.

Once again these are out of the question for the federal program as it is written. With the federal program in effect special education requirements of some children do not automatically exempt them from the federal assessment and in most cases these students will be required to take the same test as the non-disabled students.

Since the Federal government labels school which fail to achieve the suggested results as "in need of improvement", I feel it creates an unnecessary psychological and emotional stress upon the children themselves. To make matters even worse the students would than be given the option of transferring to a better school elsewhere.

During the third year if the standards are still not met the school must provide free supplemental education to those struggling students. When it reaches the fourth year the school is once again labeled, this time as requiring additional "corrective action".

This now has reverted to the point where the teachers and staff could be replaced, new curriculum introduction, or even increasing the class attendance time. Now we enter the fifth year where one option is to close the entire school, convert the school to a charter school, or hire outside professionals to manage the school program.

Closing a bad school and over populating classes at another school does not seem the proper way to resolve this issue. What we have now done is to bring down an additional school with added students, burdensome tutorial sessions and in some cases behavioral difficulties.

My second reason for disagreeing with this bill is that it opens up many of the students private records for public scrutiny. In accordance with the law schools must permit military recruiters open access to not only the students' contact information but other private student data as well.

It would not take much for an active imagination to foresee an undue influence upon the students with processes such as this. Undue military influence should not be administered to adolescent minds.

Another provision stated is that the parent of the child would receive report cards on the schools in question and the authorities are required to inform the child's parents if their child is being taught by a teacher who fails to meet the qualifying requirements. In view of this some states have even proposed linking the teacher's salaries to the scores achieved on the annual tests by the students.

Now, I ask you to think for a moment that if the teacher's livelihood were in jeopardy could not it be feasible that corruption and fraud could easily enter the picture? We are likely to witness more and more teachers resorting to "teaching the test".

It is highly unlikely that the federal government will retreat to a pre-1960 position in regards to the states verse the federal government's rights. It certainly appears for the moment that the federal government has the upper hand.

In conclusion, I suggest that systems such as this tend to lower the overall education of the schools as a whole. Tests are compromised and standards are actually at a lower level than they were previously. Often those programs or special subjects which are not necessary to achieve the federally mandated goals are completely ignored or eliminated.

The current law requires the schools to focus their attention on increasing the academic achievements of low-income students, those with disabilities, and the students of "major ethnic subgroups". This has resulted in a decrease in the quality of education.

Previously these high-profile children were provided with remedial instructions but now the rule is to reduce the training structure to the lowest common denominator. Several years ago we received a letter from the local school advising us that the educational level was one of the worse in our state.

This is the primary reason that I am homeschooling my grandson. Unfortunately all children are not created equal otherwise we would have a nation of either all Einstein or of Forrest Gump children.

Copyright @2012 Joseph Parish

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Teaching Assistant Resume Guide

resumes (Photo credit: realisticresumes)
by Steven T Johnson

Once you have taken the appropriate teaching assistant courses and meet the requirements to become a teacher's aide, the next most important step is writing a good resume.

Your resume is the primary document an employer will look at in determining whether to call you in for an interview and whether to ultimately offer you a position. When writing your resume, be sure to follow these tips to maximize the effectiveness of your application for a teaching assistant position:

• Studies show that job recruiters spend only about an average of six seconds looking at each resume, so make sure your resume has an appealing and easy-to-follow format.

The formatting for your resume is almost as, or just as, important as your content. If your resume looks sloppy or hard-to-follow, there is a very good chance that the employer will just toss it out and move on to the next one, perhaps without really even ready what is on your resume!

On the other hand, if it looks attractive and put together well, this may even impress the employer by itself, giving you an advantage in the application process. It is worth the time to make sure your resume looks good.

• A well-written Objective statement will help your resume stand out.

Keep your Objective concise and straightforward, and also specific to the school or district you are applying to. This means that you may need to slightly change your Objective statement for each place you apply to, but this will mean that your resume will stand out that much more from the rest of the competition.

A possible Objective might go something like, "To obtain a position as a teaching assistant at (name of the school or district)". Do NOT write more than what is necessary in your Objective.

• Include all relevant work and volunteer experience, especially those that have to do with children.
In your resume, you should have a category titled "Work Experience" for your relevant work experience, and a category titled "Other Experience" for your relevant volunteer or other related experience.

First, write out what the experience is, and then, if appropriate, list some details about the experience below it. Focus these details upon responsibilities within the experience that would make you a great choice for a teaching assistant position.

If you are looking to gain experience to build your resume, I would highly recommend that you look for tutoring opportunities, offer to help at after-school activities, and/or volunteer at organizations that work with youth, such as a Boys and Girls Club or a Children's Museum.

Find out more about becoming a teaching assistant and teaching assistant courses at my website at!

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Teaching Assistant Certification Information

ChaRandle Jordan facilitates a discussion for ...
ChaRandle Jordan facilitates a discussion for Teaching Assistants (Photo credit: Stanford EdTech)
by Steven T Johnson

The teaching assistant position usually does not normally require a particular certification, although certain schools and certain states (especially if a person is pursuing teaching assistant certification in New York) have different requirements for a teacher assistant.

Generally speaking, the most that someone will need to become a teaching assistant is a minimum of two years of college education.

In the past, almost anyone could become a teacher's aide, but recently, the regulations of the No Child Left Behind Act make it so that anyone working at a Title I school, or a school that receives special funding from the government, must have at least two years of higher education or pass a certain state test in order to work at this school.

According to these regulations, these two years of higher education makes a teacher's aide "highly qualified."

However, although these legal requirements only technically apply to Title I schools, more and more schools that are not Title I are also requiring teacher assistants to become "highly qualified," for various reasons.

First, districts and schools do not want to give the impression that they have lower expectations for their employees, and so have adopted the No Child Left Behind policies to demonstrate to the community that they have equally high expectations for the staff at their schools.

Second, adopting the same requirements as Title I schools makes the requirements for the state as a whole more uniform, so that all the schools in the state will be on the same page.

So, because districts and schools desire what is best for students, as well as consistency, those who seek to become a teaching assistant should seek to meet the two years of higher education requirement, no matter what school they seek to work at. By doing this, they will not have to worry about requirements potentially changing.

New York is a special situation concerning teacher assistant certification in that so far, it is the only state that utilizes an assessment for teaching assistant certification. After passing the New York State Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills test (NYSATAS), you will receive a Level I certificate.

After a certain amount of time and experience, you may proceed to a Level II, and then a Level III, and then finally a Pre-Professional Certificate.

The certification requirements here are based upon what is currently the law. However, when you apply for a teacher's aide position, be sure to check that you meet all the requirements necessary for the position, and that they have not changed since the writing of this article.

Good luck, and I am confident you will succeed in your goal to gain certification and make a difference in the lives of our youth!

Find out more about becoming a teaching assistant and about teaching assistant courses at my website at!

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Teaching Assistant Salary

English: Professor Jonathan Obar's teaching as...
Professor Jonathan Obar's teaching assistant leading a Wikipedia "lab" at Michigan State University, in which she advises student groups on how to improve their Wikipedia articles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Steven T Johnson

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median pay for a teaching assistant is $23,220 per year.

The actual salary for a teaching assistant will vary depending upon the school district, the number of years of experience, and the amount of education the TA has.

Teacher's aides are normally paid by the hour, but because the hours are so regular, they often end up being paid very similarly to a salaried pay schedule.

Just like the certified teachers in the district, they may be paid bi-weekly, and their salary may be spread out over the course of the entire year, rather than during only the school year.

If a school district pays a TA over a twelve-month period, rather than over a nine-month school year period, this is beneficial because then there is no period of time when a teaching assistant is not receiving pay.

Furthermore, because teacher's aides are often including in bargaining agreements by teacher unions, they also receive the benefits that teachers receive through these unions.

These bargaining agreements ensure that teacher's aides receive fair compensation and benefits, as well as receive just treatment by the administration. Just like certified teachers, teacher's aides often receive great health and retirement benefits in addition to their salary.

Although the pay for a TA is less than the salary for a certified teacher, there are many advantages to a teaching assistant's salary:

• The pay for a teacher's aide is significantly better than minimum wage, and the minimum requirements for becoming a teaching assistant are not only very reasonable to achieve, but also ensure a level of job security, since only a portion of the population meets these requirements.

• Teacher's aides have far fewer responsibilities than certified teachers, so for many, the lower pay is worth the significant decrease in stress. Teaching assistants often find that they have much more time and energy to enjoy time with their family and to pursue other passions.

• In many places, if one is careful about budgeting, the salary of a TA is more than enough to live on.

• A teacher's aide can experience the satisfaction of making a significant difference in the lives of countless children without becoming as involved in the politics and drama of the certified teaching profession.

Many teachers have been discouraged by the increased pressure and responsibility placed upon teachers, and by the lack of appreciation and respect they feel. However, as a TA, you can remain much more removed from such negative feelings and spend more time enjoying life!

To learn more about becoming a teaching assistant and teaching assistant courses, check out my website at!

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Study Now Pay Later: Australian Government-Approved Diploma Courses

Improve your employment prospects with an online Diploma Course!!

*VET-FEE HELP approved courses with a variety of online colleges….


ENROL NOW - Currently taking enrolments for the following courses:

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0433 354 383

*VET-FEE HELP Eligibility criteria apply, must hold Australian Citizenship or a Humanitarian entry visa, aged over 16 years

Free Career and Course Counselling Sessions for Australians

Hi everyone! 

Are you looking for an opportunity to change your direction in life? Is there something that you are passionate about that you could study and then work in for the rest of your life?

Well, my name is Dr Robert Muller and I offer educational services to the community, including teaching, editing, and homeschooling advice. 

In addition, I offer career and course counselling advice, a skill I developed as a careers counsellor at the university level. You can see my educational sites at: and

Today, I have a SPECIAL OFFER that can help you!
As part of my annual “pay-it-back” services to the community, from the 1st of October until the 31st of January every year, I offer free no obligation online career and course counselling sessions, particularly for people who live in the disadvantaged areas of Adelaide, or who come from disadvantaged families.

Of course, the offer is also open to the entire South Australian community and to people right across the nation. In fact, if you are from an isolated part of the state, contact me as this could become an important part of where you are going in life. For people on the south side of Adelaide, I also offer free face-to-face sessions.

As part of this free service, you will find your ideal career choice, or choices, and which courses can lead you in the right direction.

You can contact through my website at: or by email at: or on 0433 354 383.

Universities Must Adapt Education Models: Conroy

Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband...
Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy for Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Charise Palmer, Editor, The Conversation, interviewing Professor Jim Barber, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer at University of New England, The Conversation:

Australian universities need to adapt their education models or face becoming irrelevant says Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

Speaking at a forum being held at the University of Melbourne on high-speed broadband and higher education, Senator Conroy said universities could choose to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by ubiquitous high-speed broadband.

“This is a sector that has a choice, you can be a dinosaur, you can keep bellowing like some of our retailers, but there are new business models coming to challenge enormously in this sector." However, University of New England vice-chancellor Jim Barber said there were specific government-induced problems at play in higher education.

Professor Barber said Australia is at risk of surrendering its education market to international online providers as a result of government regulation. “Our regulatory environment is obstructing innovation in online delivery and therefore jeopardising the nation’s competitiveness,” Professor Barber said.

He cited numerous quality assurance standards universities were expected to comply with, forming what he called a quality framework “derived from dubious assumptions about how teaching should be performed”.

Professor Barber’s comments come as more universities around the world move to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs). University of Melbourne last week became the first Australian university to offer its courses with MOOC provider Coursera.

Professor Barber questioned the role of the many input standards that go to creating Australia’s education quality framework. “Even if there is evidence for their association with student outcomes, who’s to say they are superior to the methods that are emerging in the new world of MOOCs, social networks and augmented reality?”

Professor Barber has called for a Bradley-type inquiry leading to federal government policy on the role of broadband in education. Senator Conroy said the higher education sector needed to consider how its delivery model must change. He agreed that ubiquitous high-speed broadband meant students, including children, could choose to learn anywhere they wanted.

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Academics Behaving Badly? Universities and Online Reputations

Computer Science
Academic at Computer (Photo credit: Lower Columbia College)
by Dr Inger Mewburn, Research Fellow in research education at RMIT University, The Conversation:

Trying to control your reputation online is a bit like trying to clean up wee in a toddler pool. You are much more likely to get your hands dirty than achieve any kind of meaningful damage control.

Many universities in Australia are trying to define what is acceptable - and unacceptable - for their staff members to say online.

Academics too, are exploring the boundaries between expression of academic freedom and the obligation to their institutions in an age when anything you say or write can be easily posted online.

A number of high-profile cases of academic trouble in cyberspace has prompted universities to try and protect their reputations. But often their reactions and policies are just making matters worse.

Damage control

The latest example is the case of an adjunct academic, Jim Nicholls, who was apparently sacked from the University of New England for writing a satirical poem. Nicholls wrote the poem to cheer up a fellow staff member, Jan-Piet Knijff, who had just been sacked. It is unclear whether the poem was ever intended by its author to become public, but trouble started when Knijff posted it online.

Another staff member took offence at the contents and demanded its removal. Despite Knijff taking the poem down, Mr Nicholls, who had been working as a largely unpaid adjunct for some years, was shown the door on the grounds that the poem bought UNE management into disrepute.

But this most recent case is one of many where an academic’s personal opinions or activity online has caused trouble for their institution.

Last year, then head of RMIT University’s School of Art, Professor Elizabeth Grierson, brought a cyberstalking case against a former staff member, Steve Cox. The case backfired, with Professor Grierson being ordered to stay away from Cox’s Facebook page for 20 years.

A couple of weeks ago Monash University stood down a staff member in a complicated “trolling” incident involving the presenter from Australia’s Next Top Model.

The Monash staff member was accused of making some unsavoury comments from an anonymous Twitter account. The staff member was not saved by the fact that the account was anonymous and did not mention any connection with the university.

Unintended consequences

These days universities need to think about how an incident like Jim Nicholls' might be summarised in 140 characters or less. In this case, the tweet might go something like this: “Dude writes a poem, gets fired”.

As, John Gilmore, one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier foundation once famously said, “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it”. The story about UNE management clamping down harshly on an employee is likely to travel much further than the poem could have travelled by itself, even if it stayed on the internet forever.

This kind of internet publicity problem has been called “The Streisand effect”. The phrase was coined after legendary singer Babra Steisand tried to stop photographs of her cliff-top residence being published in a public archive of coastal erosion in California.

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INTERVIEW: Finnish Education Guru Pasi Sahlberg: Treat Primary School Teachers Like Doctors

English: Finnish adult education centre, healt...
Finnish adult education centre, health and well-being (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Professor John Hattie, Professor, Melbourne Graduate School of Education at University of Melbourne, The Conversation:

The Finnish education system is one of the best performing and most equitable in the OECD.

With Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s promise to make Australia one of the best five performing countries for education in the world, what can we learn from the Scandinavians?

One answer might be more simple than we think: elevate teachers to the same social and professional status we hold doctors and other people with whom we trust with vital aspects of our health and well-being.

Today The Conversation presents a discussion between two of the world’s leading education experts on how Australia can learn from others and improve its educational outcomes.

Pasi Sahlberg is Director General of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation (CIMO) in the Ministry of Education in Finland. He has worked as a teacher, teacher-educator, policy advisor and director, and for the World Bank and European Commission.

Professor John Hattie is director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education. His influential 2008 book Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement is believed to be the world’s largest evidence-based study into the factors which improve student learning.
Read the full transcript here. 
John Hattie: In terms of teacher quality … the message that often comes through is that the teachers need to improve, they’re not good. What have you done in Finland on teacher quality?

Pasi Sahlberg: We decided when we started to build the current education system 40 years ago, we realised that if you have a system that is aiming to be, not number one but, equitable so that every child will be having opportunity and pathways to be successful that requires teachers that are better educated. And better education not just for some teachers but for everybody, all of them.

… Many other countries have probably done a different way. But in Finland, we decided that early childhood development and primary teachers, pre-school teachers and primary teachers are the key. And that’s why we require they will have an academic higher degree before they can teach.

I would say that this kind of systematic way of focusing on highly trained teachers and building a profession during the course of the last 30-35 years has created a system where becoming a primary school teacher is in very high demand in Finland.

… Because many young people when they look at what the primary school teachers do with a high quality academic master degrees that they earn in our universities, they see pretty much what the medical doctors, or lawyers or engineers or anybody else with a similar degree are doing, with their autonomy, independence, respect, professional collective nature of work.

And that’s why I think they are going there. Not only because the university degree is kind of a competitive degree but the image of being a primary school teacher is pretty close to how you would describe a medical doctor’s work. 

John Hattie: The temptation for me to say is for the way that we could do that and improve things and make sure our money is spent well, is tie it to the performance of children and look at the whole test accountability notions to make sure we’re spend in the money the right way.

Pasi Sahlberg: Well, this is your way to think about these things but the culture in this respect is very different in Finland. We are putting much more emphasis in Finland on well-being, happiness and health of children. So everybody is healthy and ready to develop themselves and to take the responsibility of their own learning.

What I hear from foreign visitors to Finland, and we have a massive number of people coming, many of them they are surprised to see how much responsibility for learning in Finnish schools is with the pupils.

So they are driving the learning and development, not the teachers and if you have this type of system, where the responsibility of learning and development is primarily with the learners themselves. You cannot rely on numbers and testing.

Of course, we do that as well, but I think the difference between our countries is that in Finland we tend to rely much more on the numbers, the assessments and tests that are made by teachers and schools and trust the numbers that they show are real.

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Social Media vs. Salary

by Staff Writers, Online College Courses:

Social Media vs. Salary
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Educate Don’t Decimate

English: TAFE college at Bairnsdale, Victoria
TAFE college at Bairnsdale, Victoria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Jonathan Jackson, 21st Century News:

Education is the lifeblood of this country.

With Australia falling behind the rest of the world’s skills in literacy and numeracy, it is imperative that proper education in a range of fields remains viable.

Yet, State budget cuts in relation to TAFE courses will make vital education untenable.

Victoria’s Holmesglen TAFE’s Moorabbin campus will undergo a transformation that will leave 65 teaching professionals seeking new employment, courses will be cut and students will have to face a 10% increase in fees. The fee hike is the institution’s response to a $28 million budget shortfall, courtesy of the Baillieu government.

TAFE chief executive Bruce McKenzie confirmed cutting courses was “a real possibility”. “There’s a few that we’re looking at and we will have to modify our VCE courses quite a bit,” he said. He also confirmed that Holmesglen was considering buying out State Government ownership of the institution. “If funding keeps getting worse it is something we will have to look at.”

Victoria is not the only State in the gun. In NSW, $80 million and 800 teaching jobs will be cut from TAFE and student fees will increase by 9.5%. An accepted recommendation to the Queensland government would vanquish $78.8 million from training, tertiary education and employment.

The lack of appreciation by State governments for the TAFE sector is astonishing. No other institution offers such a broad range of courses and skills, particularly hands on skills.

Let’s look at some of society’s more basic needs. Plumbing is a public necessity. It is vital to health and infrastructure. It is taught at TAFE in conjunction with employers who are good enough to take on apprentices; apprentices who are paid to do a certain level of work to a particular standard.

Now, take away funding for the plumbing TAFE course and there are less teachers to properly instruct apprentices. There are fewer apprentices available to employers and the apprentices that are available can’t do the job properly, leaving employers to foot the bill for sub-standard work.

In this scenario the infrastructure and economy are widely affected. Plumbing is just one example; what about accountants, bookkeepers and engineers? The list goes on.

TAFE education, indeed any education, should receive more funding - not less.

Southern Metropolitan State Labor MP John Lenders said the Government was “robbing our children of their future.” Federal Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said Victoria was “destroying the TAFE sector.” No doubt, this is just Labor on the attack. However there is some merit to what they say.

A freedom of information request by the opposition, obtained by The Sunday Age, shows the government spent about $150,000 on advice from consulting firm KPMG before cutting funding to TAFEs.

The request found that KPMG’s information prepared on the ”project objectives, scope and approach” had been withheld. This was widely condemned by TAFE directors. Bruce Mackenzie said, ”It’s really quite important for the community perception that they do release that information unless they’ve taken it further than the modelling suggested. I can’t see why they’d keep it secret otherwise.”

In Victoria, the cuts present wide ranging problems. The TAFE Association estimated about 2000 redundancies across TAFE institutes. While many of the current State governments were left with diabolical economic circumstances, the education sector is one sector that must survive funding cuts.

The merging of TAFE colleges is no answer. TAFEs are one of the largest employers in regional or outer metropolitan areas; they focus on community and they serve and important economic and social function, not least by developing skillsets that can’t be taught at traditional universities.

TAFE provides a pathway to professional involvement and development. It contributes to the need for a higher educated workforce and social mobility. It meets social and economic requirements. TAFE is also at the forefront of innovation, future trend and ideas.

To decimate TAFE is to pull at the fabric of Australia’s future and let it unravel. Education is the most important social construct we have. It should be nurtured, not destroyed.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Social Media Missing Link in MBA Programs

by The Best

The Social Media Missing Link in MBA Programs

How to Explain a Difficult Concept When Teaching

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Dr. Erica Gamble

In learning, there are many concepts that are understood on a cognitive level but not necessarily on a practical level.

There are a number of teaching strategies that can be employed to teach students difficult concepts.

Actively engaging students in the learning process, including group discussions, problem solving, case studies, role plays, journal writing, and structured learning groups are just a few. The benefits to using such activities are many.

They include improved critical thinking skills, increased retention and transfer of new information, increased motivation, and improved interpersonal skills.

One of the strategies I strive to help students with and find successful is to provide real-world examples that allows the concepts to be seen via application.

In the Human Resources Management courses, there are many theories and techniques that are taught but the key is to understand how those theories and techniques are executed to meet the needs of people.

For example, in teaching a class on Organizational Behavior, I will provide or share articles that relate to organizational issues occurring today in Fortune 500 companies that the students can relate to. The articles would be related to the current weekly discussion, and touch on things such as confidentiality and legal matters, development, ethical issues and behavior overall.

I ask students to read the articles, give feedback, and ask further questions to help put the concepts into reality. This allows students to think about real life situations and how they would handle something similar, as well as challenges and preconceived notions of what organizational behavior really is.

Another example, in teaching Social and Cultural Diversity, I use relevant movies (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - about the struggle that certain Indian tribes went through with being pushed off their land; The Help - about segregation, racism and prejudice), and recently took an article out of the Phoenix Magazine about Mesa, AZ first Black Physician.

This physician despite the limited rights given to blacks during the late 1800s and early 1900s was committed to treating people no matter their race. He is being recognized for his service as well as his 1920s house being restored and deemed a landmark. In viewing these movies with the students, I have seen them become more aware of their own prejudices and judgments as well as their own pain.

This allows them to put the concepts into reality while making real-life commitments to become more sensitive towards others, challenging those judgments and beginning to see people from different perspectives.

This is important because it enables them to understand what it means to be empathetic, what it takes to address an issue and thus what a client might be experiencing and need to be supported on.

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