Over the weekend, I revisited Jack Kerouac’s novel, On the Road. I’ve read the book several times, but something nagged at me this time.
In several passages, the author mentions money—a pack of cigarettes costs X amount; a cup of coffee and a slice of apple pie cost X amount; Sal earns X amount for picking 50 pounds of cotton and so on.
As a contemporary reader, I had had no good way of knowing what this money amounted to in 1947, the year in which much of the novel takes place.
If you’ve ever wanted to convert “old” money into contemporary figures, stop by Today’s Dollars. Just type in the amount of money you want to convert, the year, and out pops the amount in “today’s dollars.”
The results are all based on the Consumer Price Index average for each year compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Today’s Dollars is useful for book nerds, but it might also come in handy for history and social studies teachers.
This morning we came across 18 Things Great Principals Do Differently, a free infographic based off of Todd Whitaker's book of the same title. Enjoy!
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been collecting any sort of quote or aphorism that relates to language translation. This week, I browsed my list and grabbed 10 of my favorite quotes to share with you.
10 More of the Best Quotes for Language Translators
“It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language that is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.”
“In antiquity, for instance, one of the dominant images of the translators was that of a builder: his (usually it was him, not her) task was to carefully demolish a building, a structure (the source text), carry the bricks somewhere else (into the target culture), and construct a new building - with the same bricks.”
“Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes.”
“I just enjoy translating, it's like opening one's mouth and hearing someone else's voice emerge.”
“The first rule of translation: make sure you know at least one of the bloody languages!”
―Faiz Ahmad Faiz
“Without translation, we would be living in provinces bordering on silence.”
"Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture." ―Anthony Burgess
"The best thing on translation was said by Cervantes: translation is the other side of a tapestry."
"To translate, one must have a style of his own, for the translation will have no rhythm or nuance, which come from the process of artistically thinking through and molding the sentences; they cannot be reconstituted by piecemeal imitation. The problem of translation is to retreat to a simpler tenor of one’s own style and creatively adjust this to one’s author."
"A translator is the most observant reader. Watching a life of the book under a different cultural context, with respect to other people is for me a great adventure and challenge. I enormously respect the translators’ arduous, solitary and unrewarding work."
Universe Sandbox is an interactive space simulator that is just as much about breaking scientific laws as it is about learning them.
Most astronomy software allows you to click your away around the solar system, but Universe Sandbox is a powerful gravity simulator. Add another star to our solar system and watch it rip the planets from their orbits. Create impossible planet alignments and watch it all unravel.
The very fact that students can dismantle their electronic universe in a few simple mouse clicks is destructive, sure, but it also shows them just how precarious and complicated our world really is.
The free version allows users to explore and discover any simulation. You can also upgrade to the premium version ($9.95) for unlimited control.
Here are some additional features of Universe Sandbox:
- Explore our solar system, including planets, asteroids, comets, and moons
- Line up planets and reorder them according to mass or velocity
- Rip Saturn's rings apart in 3D: Put on some 3D glasses to see Saturn's rings ripped away by a passing planet
- View the paths of hundreds of asteroids & moons
- Compare the moon and dwarf planets
- View constellations
Keeping the classroom volume at a reasonable level can be tricky, especially when our classroom sizes continue to increase! Sometimes, the collective classroom volume rises so incrementally that we don't even realize it until we’re shouting to be heard. To help you better manage your classroom volume, we’d like to share two new apps with you.
As Richard Byrne points out in one of his recent posts, both apps are similar to another “decibel manager” called Too Noisy. Unlike Too Noisy, though, both of these apps are completely free!
Bouncy Balls behaves like a popcorn machine that runs on noise. The louder your students are, the higher and more frequently the balls bounce. All you need is a microphone so that the app can register the volume and react appropriately.
We also want to mention that you can choose from four different types of “bouncy balls”: eyeballs, plastic balls, bubbles or emotocons.
Calmness Counter is a lot like Bouncy Balls with two exceptions: 1) Users can adjust the microphone input sensitivity directly on the computer screen; 2) Rather than bouncing balls, Calmness Counter uses a meter to track volume.
Test anxiety needs no formal introduction. Most of us have experienced it—and if you haven’t, you’ve probably seen the impact it can have on your students’ performance and self-esteem. Below we’ve pulled a few stress-management tips from Neal A. Glasgow and Cathy D. Hicks’ book, What Successful Teachers Do: 91 Research-Based Classroom Strategies for New and Veteran Teachers.
6 Ways to Reduce Your Students’ Test Anxiety
Model low levels of anxiety in front of your students
It should be no surprise that research shows a connection between the way we negotiate stress and the way our students handle it. If we’re stressed, chances are that it’s going to rub off on our students. We can apply every stress-management strategy in the book, but if we fail to create a positive classroom culture, even the best stress-management activity will fall flat.
As Tim Haston, a 7th grade math and science teacher at Earlimart Middle School, suggests, teachers would do well to approach test days like athletes do game day. “It is the performance; it is the thing we grow all year to be excited for. I don't want them to work around any anxiety, I want to teach them how to channel it as athletes do for a game, musicians do for a concert, and actors do for their play/movie/show.”
In addition to modeling low levels of anxiety in front of our students, we can also teach them how to be in tune with their bodies and minds. Here’s a simple deep breathing exercise we like to use before tests:
With erect posture, breathe in deeply through the nose and hold your breath for a count of 8-10 seconds. Then, slowly exhale through the mouth, counting 8-10. Repeat this procedure several times until relaxation occurs.
This mindfulness exercise fits in nicely with what Tim Haston said in our first point.
Tell students to try what Olympic athletes do to develop confidence in their performance. Picture yourself in a tense situation, such as taking a test, and visualize yourself looking over the test, seeing the questions, and feeling secure about the answers. Imagine yourself answering the questions without too much difficulty. Complete the picture by imagining yourself turning in the paper and leaving the room assured that you did your best.
Where do your students feel most at peace? One spot could be at the ocean. Have students identify a place and use all their senses to imagine themselves there and how they feel when they are there. Guide them in an activity: Watch the waves with the whitecaps rolling up the shoreline onto the beach. Listen to the waves and the seagulls. Smell the salty air and feel your fingers and toes in the warm, soft, and grainy sand.
Keep in mind that this activity should be done with some reserve. It may not work for all of your students, so gauge the class and encourage students not to give up on relaxation exercises just because this one doesn’t work well for them.
Write Letters of Encouragement
This activity will require more effort on the part of the teacher, but it’s one that will certainly stick with students. Before a major exam or standardized test, write a letter of encouragement to each student the day before. If you have the time to custom-tailor each note, your effort will go a long way, but a generic note will also have a positive impact on your students.
We’d like to thank Angela Oliver, a 7th and 8th grade teacher from Leggett, Texas, for sharing this idea with us!
Watch This Test Does Not Define You
This Test Does Not Define You is one video we always show students in the weeks preceding big exams. Not only does it do a nice job of dispelling a few myths about testing, it also sends them an important message: They are not defined by test results! The video also highlights some simple research-based activities that reduce test-anxiety.
We’ve known many teachers who believe “bell-ringers,” warm-ups, or informal writing assignments are a poor use of time, but we still stand by them.
Because we do not “grade” informal writing in the traditional sense (students receive credit simply for completing the assignment) we find that students are often more willing to take risks. Many students have even expressed that these exercises increase their confidence and get them excited about putting pen to paper. Is there a note of music sweeter to the writing teacher’s ear? We think not!
When we’re looking for writing prompts, our first stop is a site called Writer’s Digest. Below are a few examples of the writing prompts you’ll find there:
- “You’re leaving your favorite restaurant after eating breakfast when a stranger taps you on the shoulder. But this tap leads to a conversation—and adventure—that leaves you with one item that you never thought you’d ever own. Start your story with “I hate to bother you, but I have something important to ask.” And end your story with, “And that’s how I ended up being the proud owner of a (fill in the blank).”
- You are a world-renowned mystery writer living a life of seclusion. A random email informs you of a great story, the next bestseller. Unfortunately, you find the details to be a little too close to home. Write a scene where you confront this mysterious informant, who seems to know a little too much about your personal life.
- The snow is coming down and school has been canceled. Your brother, who has an important government job, has asked you to watch his kids during the day so he can go to work. While watching his kids, they reveal something top secret about your brother’s job—and it’s something, for the sake of your family, that you need to stop.
- You receive a mysterious email and the subject line reads “Everything you know is a lie.” You open the email and read further: “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”
If you’re looking for more writing prompts, we also recommend checking out a site called Writing Prompts. Each prompt on the site comes with an accompanying photo and a brief explanation of how the prompt fulfills Common Core Standards.
YouTube is an excellent resource for STEM teachers, but sorting through the clutter and finding videos we can use in the classroom is often tedious and time consuming. There are plenty of alternatives to YouTube, but our current favorite is Glean.
Every day, you’ll find hundreds of new teacher-created videos on Glean. To ensure that you find the math and science content you’re looking for, Glean organizes these videos, tags them by educational standard, and wraps them up in interactive tools (like Q&A and practice exercises).
But Glean is much more than a massive database of educational videos: Using “Insight” technology, Glean pairs students with lessons that suit their individual learning styles. Each lesson is short enough to hold students’ attention, but substantive enough to cover an entire textbook topic.
Another noteworthy feature is that Glean allows teachers to monitor student engagement through an administrative account. From here, you’ll see what videos students have watched and how much they’ve watched.
Whether you’re already a freelance translator, or a translator thinking about going freelance, we thought you might benefit from a few tips we picked up from Steve Gordon, Jr.’s book, 100 Habits of Successful Freelance Designers: Insider Secrets for Working Smart & Staying Creative.
Going solo doesn’t mean you can’t be part of a team
Very often freelancers go solo because they want to escape the office banter, the “water cooler” chatter, and the constant interruptions. Ironically enough, after experiencing freelance isolation, it’s not uncommon for many of us to start missing these social interactions. Just remember: Going solo doesn’t mean you need to live in isolation.
Try renting a desk in an office once or twice a week through ShareDesk. That way you’ll still be surrounded by people, but you won’t be locked into a monthly lease.
Another suggestion that we’ve mentioned before: Connect with an accountability partner, someone you can call or email in the morning to report on what you’ll be working on for the next four or five hours. Then around lunchtime, call back and give a brief “account” of what you accomplished. This will keep you productive and connected.
There’s no such thing as talking too much
As the adage goes, it is impolite to talk about one’s self, but when you’re a freelancer you’d do well to throw that philosophy out the window.
Tell everyone what you do for a living. By talking about your work, you enhance the industry, educate the public, practice your pitch, and may even get a fun project in the process.
Keep that day job—for now
One of the best ways to start off as a freelancer is to keep a full-time day job and take on freelance work that you can do on nights and weekends. Try to build up projects and clients until you have a flow of steady work and enough jobs to keep you busy for at least six months.
It will take a lot of hard work and dedication to do this because you’re basically working two full-time jobs, but the benefits will be well worth it in the end. The biggest benefit is that all the stress and long hours will help prepare you for going solo, managing clients, and dealing with deadlines. Plus you’ll already have a roster of stable clients.
Remember the old Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared.”
Hopefully, if you regularly spend four to eight hours a week developing your business, you won’t experience harsh dry spells.
When you’re working on projects and have a lot of deadlines to keep track of, it can seem strange or silly to pull hours away from a client to work on business development and marketing. But doing so is critical because the work you do to promote yourself this week may not pay off for weeks, months, even years down the road. You have to always keep yourself in front of people and remind them that you’re available.
Learn the art of negotiation
You set your rates where they are for a reason, so don’t accept a counter offer if it isn’t fair. Instead, negotiate by doing one of the following:
- Offer to get the job done faster: Many clients would gladly pay extra to wrap a project a week early just so they don’t have to worry about it.
- Offer a discount for paying your full fee in advance: Getting paid in advance is a rare treat. If the client can’t (or won’t) meet you exactly where you want, accept a lower rate for full payment in advance.
- Ask for more time to get the project done: If you’re taking a job at a lower rate, ask if you can have an extension on the deadline.
- Offer a bulk discount. Does the client have any upcoming projects that she could offer you? If so, take on those projects and offer a bulk discount.
In preparation for “the big interview,” many of us invest our time anticipating all of the questions we’ll be asked. Less often do we give adequate time to preparing our own set of questions for the interviewer.
Indeed, we must know how to respond to interview questions, but we should also know how to ask questions that are equally concise, competent, and enthusiastic!
Why ask questions? According to Ron Fry, author of 101 Smart Questions to Ask on Your Interview, asking well-placed, finely-tuned questions:
- Impresses interviewers and shows them that you’ve done your research and thought about the position before the interview.
- Shows interviewers that you are assertive.
- Places you in control of the interview, which is what you want—especially if you are being interviewed by an unskilled interviewer or an incessant talker.
- Can transform an interview from a “Q & A” session (where the interviewer is the “Q” and you are the “A”) into a real conversation. This is precisely what you want. Dialogue is a collaborative activity, something that enables you to explore common interests, trade comments, and chat rather than “talk.”
- Gives you additional chances to demonstrate the extent of your research.
- Builds on whatever rapport you’ve already established.
- Aligns your skillset—that is, what you know and can do—with what the company needs.
- Indicates that you are truly interested in the position. Likewise, the complete lack of questions will undoubtedly convince most interviewers that you are not interested.
- This bullet point almost didn’t make the list, but I decided to add it anyway: Asking a good question is a slick way to get out of answering an uncomfortable question from an interviewer—at least for the time being. “What’s the story with the one-year gap in your resume?” Darn, we’re out of time….The topic probably won’t go away, but it’ll give you a temporary reprieve.
If you’re looking for more advice on asking interview questions, I highly recommend reading Suzanne Lucas’s recent article, “Job hunting tip: You don't need to ask for the job.”