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Archive for December, 2015

What Homeschoolers Missed

December 28, 2015 2 comments

In the years of our homeschooling, we’ve covered many of the basics. Our sons are or should be accomplished readers and advanced in mathematics. History has been focused mainly on their interests while the other parts of history were covered but lightly. Science has been a major part of our curriculum, too. There is one area that we haven’t stressed, and this has the chance of hurting.

Never once did I create a multiple choice test. In math, I would create maybe three or four multiple choice questions and seldom did I do this. In fact, my sons only encountered multiple choice questions through standardized testing and the SAT as well as ACT. This isn’t much of an experience for my sons to acquire the ability to understand and handle a multiple choice test, and this is needed.

My oldest son in years at the university has experienced quite a bit of multiple choice exams much to his dismay. Typically, you see these type of exams where there are hundreds if not thousands of students taking the same course. Yes, thousands. His one class had around 350 students and there were three or four sections. This means the grad students, not the professors, have a lot to grade. It becomes easier to do a multiple choice test. Now if you think a smaller school wouldn’t have this problem, think again. If you are a professor teaching three to four classes, that may end up being 75 to 100 students. Now if you are teaching history or math, that is a lot of grading. If you are doing some type of research yourself, then a multiple choice exam becomes more important. Now you need to get tricky with your exams.

I would recommend homeschoolers introducing multiple choice exams and increase the difficulty. The design is not to focus on content. It is to focus on the ability of the student to dissect a question and separate the bad from the good. This experience provides an added tool to the student taking this type of exam. It will even help with the SAT and ACT. Again, the goal is to teach the student how to take a multiple choice exam.

Learning to take exams is something we seldom think about. I’m used to giving a mathematical problem with the expectation of seeing the work and answer. This type of test I am looking for the thinking skills. I am able to mark where the student went wrong. In multiple choice, I am not looking at the thinking skills. It is answer only and nothing can be gleaned from this type of exam other than the possibility of seeing that a student has difficulty with these exams.

 

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Star Wars the Force Awakens

December 28, 2015 Leave a comment

The new Star Wars movie was not anticipated by me. I don’t know if the last three were the issue, or maybe I had grown up; moved onto better things in life to take my time. Whatever it is, I was rather tired sitting in the theater as I listened to people mumble their discussions with each other. My expectations were low.

The previews were the most disappointing ever. I recognized the loss in telling a story in the cinema. Violence, action, and forced drama are the key ingredients with the previews. Two were of super heroes fighting each other.  These previews guaranteed I will not watch them in the near future or ever. I don’t need this garbage or the forced drama. The Star Trek preview was little better but relied more on action than it should. For the life of me, I don’t know what it was about. There was one interesting part, but I have no context with which to discuss it. Note to Hollywood, you talent is lacking. Special effects are far more superior when a good plot is involved. That would require talent in creating and writing.

To get to the point, Star Wars number 7 is very predictable. It is following a very familiar pattern that anyone familiar with the Star Wars saga will recognize. There are those that complain about this, but they are missing a potential clever idea. We can all agree this movie is much better than the last three which were horrible and sadly missed a great opportunity. To continue on with the predictableness of this movie is to give away something I believe the viewer should discover themselves. Believe me, you know what will happen to the old characters and when they will appear in the movie.

The one great part about this movie is Chewbacca’s weapon! He actually uses it instead of carrying it like a prop. Even Han likes this weapon. I wonder, did Daryl of The Walking Dead awaken someone to the neatness of a crossbow? I think it is called a bowcaster, though this may be someone else’s idea.  This leads me to wonder how long Wookiees live. He is very sprite for a guy who is in his 60’s or 70’s.

Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher show their age in this movie, and Anthony Daniels voice just isn’t the same. In fact, I find Ford’s acting not as good as if he’s ready to retire his character. Fisher’s acting was okay and she seems to have mellowed. As for the new characters, obviously Finn was not cloned. Why was this? He was great in this movie but the fact he is not cloned was a bit of an issue. Did the cloning factories get shut down after the empire collapsed? Maybe it did. Face it, we were conditioned to believe the storm troopers were clones. Speaking of Finn, he does a nice job in this movie and makes you like him and root for him.  Poe seems too much of a forced character that can do anything.  He fails with me. He needs to be killed off in order to make him more realistic. He is the ultimate hero that does everything right. Well, sort of. He shouldn’t have given his position away. Rey is an up and down character for me. I find it too much for her to be so skilled against a much stronger and talented opponent. There is a scene where she injures a person and then the distance between the two stretches in order to prevent her from finishing the character off.  She fails for me, but this is one of many of the holes in the Star Wars saga. Okay, the other is why do storm troopers have armor that doesn’t work and helmets that filters smoke but not poison?

Armor is practical piece in warfare. Once it stops protecting, its use is no longer required otherwise we would still be in chain maille. This is a huge problem. They can have more practical uniforms. Hey Star Wars people! Read Marshal Herman Maurice de Saxe’s book.

Back to characters. The new Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, fails as an evil guy. He is more of an unhinged, wanna be bad guy. He doesn’t threaten me, nor does his outfit. I keep thinking of the bad guy on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He appears all powerful one moment but weak the next. He doesn’t have the strong gait of Darth, though he shouldn’t, I guess. He just isn’t bad enough and nor is Gollum. Okay, watch the movie and research a little and you’ll understand my Gollum reference.

Plot holes. Too many to list. I mention the uniform and request clarification on the storm troopers. I do ask, how does a laser weapon cause bleeding? In the early scene, was the helmet chafing or maybe the glove? What about this powerful new weapon? How can it be aimed and fire at sundown when it is in a fixed position and can only traverse a planet’s rotation? Maybe these can be easily answered with some inventiveness. I would like to go on about the First Order, but my post length is already too long.

So the movie is horrible, right? No. I actually enjoy this movie. There is character development even though there are silly parts inserted to move the story along – those three creatures on the merchant vessel being one. It follows a well-known pattern but succeeds in doing so. In fact, I think this was a great way to do the movie provided they are looking at the future as I am. Some of the humor seems forced but for the most it was enjoyable. You truly care for some of the characters and us veterans of the original three feel nostalgic as we see recognizable faces. The story moves at a nice pace never leaving you bored. There is a scene where some have wanted a pause for reflection of sorts. I can see what they mean, but it would have caused an unnecessary halt in the story. The holes in the story are easily passed by in order to be discussed afterwards. You’ll be hoping for 2017 to come quickly.

If you are a fan of Star Wars, go see it. If you enjoy Sci-fi, then see this movie. The great thing about this movie is you only need to see the first three. I would actually see this again.

Internet Rhetoric

December 16, 2015 Leave a comment

For the most part I find the political rhetoric to be a fanciful waste of time. You have these groups such as liberals and conservatives in America blaming the other for doing what these groups themselves are doing. These groups are filled with “talking points” people that believe they are spewing forth knowledge instead of refuse. News for them – you are spewing forth refuse, and it’s toxic.

I was on a liberal or progressive site to discuss an idea unrelated to politics. The discussion was about a book and its plot. A nice discussion appeared to be taking place, so I involved myself. After posting my comments, I decided to investigate this site and boy is it ever a comical site.

This site is very concerned about Republicans and conspiracies. It references the GOP as a fascist group and how conservatives are basically stupid. This is coming from a site that believes some of the silliest ideas. I am currently searching to see if chem trails are mentioned. They do not add anything to any intellectual discussion or provide any useful knowledge for the reader. It is simply relying on like-minded individuals to perpetuate this hateful rhetoric.

I enjoy reading blogs and websites that have differing viewpoints than me. The good sites challenge my ideas and make me think. This helps me improve my beliefs by either strengthening them or having me re-adjust my point of view. Some of my views have become obsolete because of quality sites. I have discussed evolution with a Mormon and his site. Though he didn’t win me over, we had a good conversation that was amiable. I believe I got him to think about his views more clearly. There was a person and his global warming review that had me re-adjusting on how I looked at this topic. Sorry for you believers, it was more fact based and did not proved a conclusion without evidence. It was more scientific, and it made me harsher on my judgement on claims of global warming from all sides.

The internet has provided an opportunity for nobodies to have a say and influence. What I mean by a nobody is a person who has little to offer on a topic because there is no substance behind what they say. These people are insignificant. It is their baseless argument that makes their secret identity into a nobody. These people become harmful for they mislead by creating anger and hate within the readers of these sites. They purposely build walls and demonize those on the other side. Another way to look at is these people see a mirror as the wall and the demonize that person on the other side of the mirror.