Sunday, March 22, 2015

Going, Going, Gone...

I usually don't write book reviews for books that are disappointing, but since Gone Girl seemed to be "such a hit", I thought I'd add in my two cents.



I finished this book last week and have been debating on how to write this review.  I think the best way to describe Gone Girl is that it was a book I loved to hate. 

The book was given to me and, at the time, the only thing I knew about it was what I read on the back cover.  I knew it was made into a movie, but I never read a review about it.  That being said, as I read Part I of the book, I thought it was a bit slow moving.  After Amy's disappearance, I felt sorry for Nick, but when it was revealed that Nick was cheating on his wife, I felt he deserved whatever came to him.  At this point, I loved to hate Nick. 

Part II really captured my interest and I was glad I continued reading.  Many more layers of Amy are revealed and without saying too much, believe me when I tell you, you will begin to feel sorry for Nick and love to hate Amy.

By the time I arrived at the third part of the book, I was ready for some true justice or straight out revenge, and this is where I became very disappointed.  As I read the last page, all I can say is, I loved to hate the ending.  ( I actually read it twice thinking I missed something.)


I give Gillian Flynn 3.5 stars for her writing style (some of her word choice was crass and I could have done without the quizzes) , 4 stars for twists and turns in the middle of the book, and 1 star for her ending.  

Gone Girl is 555 pages long and that's way too many pages to invest in a story that leaves the reader feeling short-changed.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Testing Season...One more reason for kids to hate school!








As we turned the calendars to March, our next season is quickly coming upon us.  But, the warmer weather and the sunny days of Spring take a back seat to the real season about to unfold... TESTING SEASON!  After a brutal winter, citizens look forward to opening their windows and doors to let in the fresh air and hear the birds singing. This year will be different though.  Fresh air is being replaced with the stagnant air that happens while sitting and taking test after test after test, and all that is heard is the clickity-clack of computer keyboards, the sound of #2 pencil lead filling in test bubbles, and the frustration of students who await the next round of tests. (Allegedly, some of which are said to be meaningless.)



For public schools in Illinois, students will take the PARCC Test for the first time this month.  Allegedly a low stakes test. (Read: meaningless) This session is comprised of five days of testing for the first round.  Then in April, students take the NWEA Test, the test that currently counts for all things important in the grade school system.  After this, can the students breathe a sigh of relief?  No!  Round Two of PARCC testing arrives in May. (Allegedly still low stakes, allegedly still meaningless.)





I took the PARCC practice test at home and all I can say is I am glad I went to school when I did.  If anyone is feeling "in the mood" to see what is going on today with Common Core and PARCC, just click this link http://parcc.pearson.com/practice-tests/  I'd love to hear what you think about this low stakes (meaningless?) test.  No wonder so many states reversed their decision about giving this test.





In related news...

CPS announced that it will be extending the school year until June 19th for the students because of the days CPS closed for inclement weather this winter. According to CPS they value highly the instructional time in the classroom and they want students to receive their full education.  It's amazing how a couple of days off for bad weather can be detrimental to the students' education, but taking standardized test after test after test for weeks at a time over a period of a few months has no negative affects.  


Other resources: 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

As usual...Follow the Money








Currently, here is the list of states taking the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) Test - Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia (which isn't a state, but makes the list look a bit longer), Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusettes, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island.  (Source: http://www.parcconline.org/parcc-states)

As is common knowledge by now, there were more states that signed on to take the PARCC Test, but little by little as more came to be known about this test and the way concepts are being taught, etc. many states chaged their mind even though that meant losing the federal purse strings that were attached.  As recently as this past week, Arkansas is setting up a task force led by Lt. Governor Tim Griffin to look at the Common Core Standards to decide if this is the route for them.

Last month CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett in conjunction with the school board said that only 66 CPS schools would take part in this test this year because so many schools were not prepared and ready for the technogy requirements to complete this exam.  This decision was made "despite the potentional for sanctions that could include some loss of federal funding."

(Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-chicago-schools-testing-met-20150116-story.html)


The federal goverment attached to the educational money tree is now threatening to cut the purse strings for Illinois if all CPS students do not take the test. It's being reported that no final decision has been made, but all CPS schools should be prepared to take the test.  Meetings have been taking place behind closed doors, which I'm sure means a decision really has been made, they are just deciding how best to spin it for the public.

(Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-cps-testing-met-20150213-story.html)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Will CPS teachers strike again?




Karen Lewis spoke recently spoke at the City Club and told listeners that with the current Chicago Teacher's Union contract expiring this summer that the Union members are ready and willing to strike again if they don't get better working conditions.

All I can say is that the months ahead will be quite interesting.

Three years ago CTU members walked the picket line for one week.  On the eighth day the strike was suspended and the Union called it a victory.

Let us remember some of the things that were won:

  • Working 45 minutes longer very day
  • Working 10 more school days every year
  • An evaluation system that is more complex than the reading of the Magna Carta
  • And of course a raise! A RAISE that amounts to about $1.00 more per day (and that's before taxes).  Many teachers bring home less money now than they did three years ago.
If the Union decides to strike again, I wonder if they'll recall how much was won the last time around.


Read the full article here: http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/7/71/339219/ctus-lewis-warns-new-teacher-contract-will-cost-money-members-willing-strike