Moms Desparately Need To Do Something For This Generation’s Princesses? This Is What…

Guardian Princess Alliance: A New Generation of Princesses

Yes, People Of All Ages Can Improve Their Spelling Skills

We tend to associate spelling practice with young children who are struggling to understand why the English language is not written like it’s pronounced, but the truth is, a person in any age group can improve – and should improve – their spelling skills.

Spelling bees are not an event reserved for schoolchildren. There are plenty of spelling bee competitions for adults taking place around the globe — proof that spelling is both loved and seen as fun by many people, no matter how old they are.

This summer, the 11th annual Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee was held in the city of Opelika, Alabama. In this spelling bee competition, teams of spellers competed against each other for a good cause: raising money for the literacy needs of Lee County. Apart from raising money and showing people how they can help the Lee County Literacy Coalition, the spelling bee allowed people to flaunt their spelling skills in a fun and adrenaline-boosting way.

The Opelika Spelling Bee is not the only adult-aimed competition in the United States. Senior spelling bees are also quite popular in many regions. Although not as well known as the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the Senior Spelling Bee allows people over the age 50 to compete against one another in the pursuit of the Senior Spelling Bee Champion title.

This summer the  Senior Spelling Bee competition was held in Knoxville, Tennessee. The champion was an English Professor,  Lauren Matz from Olean, New York.

Ms. Matz had to correctly spell out words such as “sullage,” “iridescence,” and “harmattan” to win the title. An interesting ranking of the 2014 National Senior Spelling Bee is that a couple, David and Nancy Mullard, won the second and third place prizes.

Official and unofficial spelling bee events remind us that spelling is an integral part of everyday communication. Spelling is omnipresent. We understand its importance when our autocorrect messes up our text messages, when our editor flags our misspellings, and when we have trouble spelling a last name that seemed to be so simple to spell when we heard it pronounced.

Improving your spelling can be a fun activity. Don’t think that spelling has to be a boring chore you need to get through quickly. Several spelling games and apps available in software or on line can help you improve on your orthography skills in a way that feels more like play and less like learning.

No matter your age, there’s a game or fun spelling activity you can engage with today, and improve your spelling performance right away. Just think of all the fancy words you’ll be able to spell correctly, and impress everyone!

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This Sixth Grader’s Invention Might Actually Save Us From Floods

Peyton Roertson, eleven-year-old inventor, found a solution for flooding with his amazing idea that even stunned scientists and engineer!

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Into The World of Homophones: Discovering How They Are Affecting Our Writing

Unless you’re a ferociously passionate language user, chances are you’ve used a similar sounding word instead of the appropriate one, and more than once. How many times in the last week did  your Word editor flagged your errors when you confused “its” and “it’s” or “their” and “there”? Worse, what if your computer editor didn’t catch them at all?

What is a homophone?

A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same way as another word, but has a different meaning. This means that words like “to”, “two”, and “too” are homophones. We pronounce them the same, yet their meanings are completely different.

It’s not just simple words that get confused. The words “queue” and “cue” have a different spelling and meaning, but they too can be confused when you’re touch typing quickly and you’re already deep into your post-snack afternoon slump.

Why so much hate on homophones?

The English language has borrowed words from so many languages and cultures that it has become a very confusing and often unpredictable language to learn. “Tea” and “tee” are semantically different, but it’s unbelievably easy to swap one for the other in writing.

This is why people can get upset when homophones cause them problems. Homophones are little language bandits that steal away your thunder. Your writing will never be flawless because they’re bound to ruin it, you think. The thing is they’re embarrassingly good at it – but you can be better.

How to master homophone usage

The only foolproof solution to ban homophone misuse from your writing once and for all is to improve your writing skills.

Homophones, as we said above, are little bandits that wait for exhaustion to kick in to make their move and sneak into your writing. This means the best thing you can do is to equip yourself with the linguistic knowledge you  need to avoid them, or at least spot them when they creep in.

  • Revisit your elementary school years and practice your spelling and vocabulary skills. There’s no shame in trying to become a competent language user, no matter how old you are.

  • When learning new words, ensure you master both their spelling and their meaning.

  • It’s not enough to know how a word is pronounced, because chances are you’re going to confuse “keys” with “quays” at some point.

  • By properly learning a word’s orthography and meaning you are instantly minimizing the chances of confusing homophones in your writing. This will ensure that you avoid the always-awkward situation of having to explain yourself to your editor or manager. Yikes.

  • Practice your language skills with spelling games and even with spelling software. Good software will help you brush up on your language skills and give you a the tools you need to write clearly and proofread your writing afterward. Remember, “Ceiling the deal” is not an acceptable phrase any way you look at it.

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Hashtags: A Revolution In Trending Topics

People love – and hate – hashtags. These linkable words in your tweets are the best way to lead people to your posts by using concepts and words you’re playing with in your Tweets and posts.

By putting a hashtag in front of a word, as in #summerfestivals, you’ll make it easy for people to click on this hashtag to quickly access a newsfeed of tweets that pertain to summer festivals – including your own posts and tweets.

Once they started to be widely used, it soon became evident how crucial hashtags are for brands and companies. Social media professionals learned to use hashtags’ searchability to boost brand awareness and create trending topics around their products and services. This technique is especially useful when it’s done in combination with something called “newsjacking.”

Take for example Germany’s recent World Cup victory. Adidas Football tweeted this message after Germany’s victory: “There’s only one way to win a #WorldCup: #allin”. By using this breaking news to link to the company’s website and news feed, Adidas Football made sure they were keeping the corporate brand in everyone’s mind, with a simple tweet that looks like a timely message of support and congratulations to the German national football team, rather than the advertising and brand messaging that it actually is.

Marketing moves like this are frequently applied by social media professionals, because they generate more followers and build wider recognition for brands.

Getting your timing right and linking to intriguing content are two important ingredients to make hashtags work for you. Needless to say, hashtags need to be properly spelled. Despite the lack of space between words, the spelling of those words needs to be correct in order for your hashtag to actually participate in the trending topic you’re trying to be part of.

If you accidentally write #greatful instead of #grateful, don’t expect much of an engagement with it, at least not connected to the topic you were aiming for.

Twitter is meant to be a place for witty, interesting ideas and conversations, and if you bring your corporate, serious voice to it, you are likely to drive new fans and existing clients away. Speak in your target demographics’ voice; speak in a language they use and understand. On the other hand, you need to avoid sounding  like you’re trying to be too hip or too urban, as it might sound exaggerated and fake. Keep the conversations casual with simple, direct language.

A/B Testing With Hashtags

The great thing about hashtags is that they allow you to try out different key concepts related to your brand. See what the most important and relevant keywords for your company are and play around with them on Twitter through hashtags.

Next, see how much and how frequently people are responding and engaging with each version, how many new followers you get thanks to them, and how your overall community reacts to them. If a keyword has too much competition, try out a different one with a different focus. Once you find the ones that engage your followers and create conversation, ensure you also integrate them in other social media related activities, including your landing page, your blogs, and your website.

Hashtags are a great way to take advantage of trending topics or create your very own viral topic that everyone will talk about on social media.

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How Kids Pronounced These 15 Words and How Adults Spell Them – Find Out!

Kids are just really good with messing up with words. But instead of correcting it, adults tend to just laugh it off because they speak of it in an endearing way anyway.

Astronaut in Restaurant = Restronaut

Alligator-Elevator? Rhyming It Is.

Another Rhyming Word for Babies

What Babies Speak of School Bus are COOL!

Boots + Ooops = Boops (LOL)

It’s Really Hard To Pronounce Though – For Kids!

Flies for Fries?

The Chicken Is In The Kitchen But The Kitchen Is Not The Chicken!

Yummy StrawBabies… I Mean Strawberries!

Kids Sometimes Neglect Starting Letter

Changing One Letter In A Word Is Normal for Babies

Pancakes are Mancakes Now?

Are Mustache Present In Pistachios?

The Nerd Noodles

A Crowd of Lobsters – MobSters!

Aren’t they A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E?

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Can You Spell These 11 Least-Known Words?

Aahhh … don’t you love the English language? It’s full of fancy words. Words that are tricky, words that are unpredictable – words that I can almost guarantee you will misspell.

The Center of Reading Research has looked into the English words that people are the least familiar with, using an online vocabulary test offered by Ghent University.

The participants had to press the “J” key if the word flashing before their eyes on the computer screen was a proper English word, and the “F” key if they didn’t know the word. Fewer than 3 in every 100 participants knew words like gossypol and alsike. Are you one of these people?

Here are the definitions of some of these obscure words. Be sure to learn their correct spelling in case you ever need to use them!

chersonese” – This word comes from the Greek “??????????” which means peninsula. A peninsula is a piece of land that has one of its four sites connected to the mainland of a territory while the other three are bordered by water.

dasyure” – According to the website, dasyure is “any of several nocturnal, carnivorous marsupials of the genus Dasyurus and related genera, of Australia, Tasmania, and nearby islands, typically having a reddish or olive-brown coat marked with white spots.”

pyknic” – This is not an archaic spelling of the word “picnic.” According to the Oxford dictionary, “pyknic” is etymologically derived from the Greek word “??????” which means thick. It describes any living species with a tendency to get fat and have a “stocky physique or a rounded body and head.”

kalian” – A word of Persian origin, it refers to a Persian tobacco pipe that has the smoke go through water before drawing and inhaling the smoke. You might be more familiar with the terms “Hookah” or “Shisha”, the waterpipe use for smoking tobacco.

Yogh” – This is a phonological term that describes a palatal fricative widely used in Middle English. Its sound approximates the Modern English sound of the semivowel “y” as in the word“young.”

didapper” – The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines didapper as “a dabchick or other small grebe.” It’s the shortened form of dive-dapper.

ossify” – The process of making something impermeable to change. The word means to become hard like a bone, or to transform into bone.

stibnite” – The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers this word definition for stibnite: “a mineral that consists of the trisulfide of antimony and occurs in orthorhombic lead-gray crystals of metallic luster or in massive form.”

“penurious” – This is what many young people are by the end of each month: extremely poor or poverty-stricken. It also means parsimonious, having an unwillingness to spend money, or being stingy.

skullduggery” (also written with one “l”) – defines “skullduggery” as trickery; it’s an informal word used to describe an underhanded deal.

brummagem” – This is a word that refers the English dialect spoken in Birmingham, or just relating to the city of Birmingham as a whole.

There you have it! 11 obscure words you can learn to spell, and impress everyone with your spelling knowledge!

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Cli-Fi Movie Awards To Honor Best Climate-Themed Movies of 2014 (Guest Post)

Dan Bloom

Film festivals and film awards program are taking over the world, and one of the newest entries in the movie awards category is the first annual Cli-Fi Movie Awards Program, dubbed “The Cliffies” and set for global announcement in early 2015.

The Cliffies will recognize and honor the best cli fi movies of 2014, with categories for best director, best actors, best lines of dialog and best movie.

Sci fi movies, move over, here comes The Cliffies.

Maybe you have heard of the Los Angeles Feline Film Festival, the Food Film Fest or the International Festival of Short Fiction Films from the Islands of the World. Yes, movie festivals are like never before and they are growing year by year.

The Cliffies hopes to shine a bright Hollywood spotlight on the new crop of cli fi movies from both major studios and independents. Among the Cliffies nominations are: “Snowpiercer” from South Korea, “Into the Storm” from Hollywood and “The Rover” from Australia. Awards will also be given to films that best highlighted current climate issues,
and those that created the best marketing and PR strategies to raise awareness of the movies in relation to the very real issues of climate change and global warming.

The Cliffies are not just about glamor and glitz — and movie stars and famous directors. The Cli Fi Movie Awards intends to wake up the world about the very real and pressing issues humankind faces in regard to the what may very well be the Climapocalypse some 30 to 50 generations from now.

How do I know so much about The Cliffies? I created the event, and I am shepherding it to public awarenss worldwide as the awards are announced just around the same time as the Oscars are handed out in Los Angeles in late February 2015. I think it’s February 26.

Nominations are still welcome from film fans around the world, and just send your selections to with the subject line ”The Cliffies”.

“People are always searching for communities that are like-minded,” Jane Rosenthal, a founder of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, told the New York Times over the summer. “Niche festivals allow every oddity and every interest to come together. There are ones for every cultural group, for human rights, for religions. And then you have obscure interests you can curate for: from sumo wrestlers to reptilian advocates, agro-terrorists to films that the grand rabbi has blessed.”

She didn’t mention The Cliffies because she had not heard about them yet, but she has now. And her Tribeca festival partner Robert DeNiro has heard of the Cliffies now, too.

In Britain this summer, Sam Roberts of the New York Times reported, the Mental Health Foundation screened 15 films during an ”Anxiety Arts Festival”.

“The history of film is the history of anxiety,” the film program curator, Jonathan Keane, was quoted as saying, recalling that in 1896, filmgoers supposedly fled screaming from a Lumiere brothers movie because they believed the steam locomotive on the screen was careening right at them.

The Cliffies will not be a high-anxiety concept awards program. No, the awards will be grounded in our anxiety of the future of climate change and global warming, but they will honor those cli fi movies that best tried to tell the story in the way that movies can do, with
sound and light, with music and storytelling. In color.

An annual awards program, The Cliffies might very well pave the way for cli fi movies to be recognized and honored as the Oscars someday, too. Stay tuned.

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Reference Check: What Employers Do Before Hiring You

You have a killer resume and your first interview went surprisingly well. Now, the HR staff will delve into the danger zone: they will be contacting your references.

To ensure this step also goes well, you need to consider a few factors before even sending in your application. First, you need to decide who you choose to be your reference.

What does your future employer look for in a background and reference check?

  • Duties and responsibilities during your current or former jobs

  • Performance and communication skills

  • Salary verification

  • Mastery of skills pertaining to potential new job

  • Professional conduct

  • Academic qualifications

  • Strengths and weaknesses

  • Verifying the validity of resume claims

  • Confirming a company culture fit

Given the issues the HR staff will focus on when contacting your references, you need to make sure the references you’ve chosen see eye to eye with you as to what kind of employee you were.

Contact your potential references and let them know you’re considering them as a reference. If you sense some reluctance, you should probably contact another reference candidate.

Choose people and former employers that know you well so that they will paint an honest, positive image of who you are and what your strengths are.

There’s no right way to contact a potential reference. It can be done by email, phone, and even in person. It goes without saying that you need to contact your reference before the hiring manager does. Inform them about your intention and if they agree, give them some more information on the company you are trying to get in. It’s best to have fewer good references than having multiple references that include some bad ones, as this could eliminate you from the hiring process.

When does the reference and background check take place?

There’s no fixed schedule for when a reference check is made. Most companies run a reference check post-interview to narrow down the field, and perhaps one more after they’ve selected the finalists to be their job candidates.

Other companies follow a different policy, in which they run a background check before even calling up candidates for an interview to ensure they’re not wasting HR personnel’s time on unqualified, unfit candidates.

To be prepared for both scenarios it’s best that you have references available in case these are requested from you during the interview, or right after the interview is over.

For extra interview points, bring a copy of your reference list along to the interview and be ready to hand one to your interviewer. It makes a good first impression to see someone act proactively and in such an organized manner. Ensure it has no typos and spelling mistakes in it, though! Even if it’s just a list of names, make sure it’s as professional and well-formatted as your resume and cover letter. Good luck.

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Dr. Michael Kindler Talks About The Value of Digital Learning Technology in Mount Stromlo High School

Dr. Michael Kindler

Mount Stromlo High School welcomes both Australian and international students to its Canberra campus, where classes incorporate 21st-century technology with comprehensive education in the timeless skills of mathematics, language, humanities, and the arts. Dr. Michael Kindler, Mount Stromlo’s principal, recognizes the importance of understanding past, present, and future in order to develop a truly effective educational program. We asked him to explain his philosophy.

UT: On the school’s website, you mention that the school received a powerful telescope from the ANU Mt. Stromlo Research Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, and you speak about the connection between the past and the future. How does that perspective inform the way classes are taught at your school?

The first and obvious answer is that our school is an early adopter of Science in the Australian Curriculum. In this regard, Astronomy lends itself ideally as this science includes physics, chemistry, mathematics, archaeology, even history. What the School has to consider is that by the time students complete year 10, they must have had broad exposure to a balanced science curriculum as prescribed. This they indeed have. Where our school is able to capitalize on the partnership with the ANU Research Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, is in several ways. One way is because the ANU gave us the Dobsonian telescope. Another way is two years ago, 6 June 2012, we ensured that every student saw the Transit of Venus, a once in a life time event. A third way this year is that through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), entitled The 10 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe, developed by Nobel Laureate Prof Brian Schmidt, 17 students undertook this one semester course, all delivered online. The Assessment was also completed online, and 10 students passed. The course required considerable mathematics, and was quite challenging.

Arguably the best way an astronomical perspective informs the way we teach is by having teachers who are enthusiastic about the last great frontier – space! We are fortunate to have a Science teacher who is an ardent astronomer himself, and his enthusiasm and energy infects students. That, and having several parents who are astronomers because they work for the ANU and live in the area also helps. Astronomy is a growth industry, given that everyone’s GPS is synchronised to a commercial satellite or other. We deliver our curriculum using online textbooks, YouTube clips and teacher generated materials as well as digital learning objects which are accessed through Scootle from Education Resources Australia, a data base of units of work that most Australian educational jurisdictions contribute to. Even textbooks can now be purchased at a fraction of a hard copy price. Pearson is a leading Australian publisher and not the only one in this regard. MacMillan and Oxford and Longman are not far behind.

UT: Rather than focusing solely on core subjects like reading, writing, and science, you actively promote students’ involvement in music, theatre, and visual arts. Doesn’t this mean that you have less time to teach key skills like mathematics and literacy?

This question is predicated on a couple of fallacies. The first is not recognising that students who are proficient in the arts and physical education are not also proficient in literacy and numeracy. The fact is that research shows a correlation between students who are successful in one learning domain are also successful in another. In other words, success breeds success, or success in one area does not preclude success in another. This is the principle that students can be polymaths, skilled in several learning areas. The other fallacy is to believe that one domain gets more time than another. In fact, the current timetable is one that holds parity of esteem, that is, equal time for each learning area without privileging any one over another, or short changing one for the sake of the other learning area.

UT: You’ve gotten rid of your blackboards, and provided all classrooms with interactive whiteboards instead – and the whole school is a wireless network hub. Did you experience any resistance or concern from the teachers or parents about this emphasis on digital learning technology?

The short answer is that holding this approach was a process of self-selection: if teachers did not like this approach, they were free to leave or transfer. In fact, this did not happen. Issuing every teacher with an iPad was well received, because it extended their teaching repertoire. Every teacher further has an Apple Lap top computer issued to them with which they can work in a dual operating system (by selecting Apple OS or Windows). This jurisdiction’s system-wide network further is such that using Enclave, that is a remote access Citrix digitally based secure device, they can log in from home into the school’s network. This gives them access to reports, data bases and provides enormous variety of ways of working anywhere, anytime. In practice, it is true to say that some teachers take to technology faster than others. So train the trainer is an approach we take that gets everyone mobile with this, some sooner, some later. Not going down this path jeopardises a work environment where the kids are digitally more dexterous than the teachers, and we can’t let that happen, can we?! So we are discussing nothing less than a paradigm shift by which we move an entire learning community forward, ensuring a quality education for every child.

UT: Students are generally 12 or 13 years old when they arrive at Mt. Stromlo, and in today’s world that means they’ve had around ten years of experience with computers, keyboards, and digital devices in general. But do they all know how to type properly, or do you still see a lot of thumb-texting and two-finger hunt-and-pecking?

Speaking as a practicing (less than 10 finger) typist of several decades of experience, my (what you might imply to be a) finger dexterity or mobility impediment has not prevented me from doing my job, completing my PhD or living a rewarding and fulfilling life. In fact, I regret back in the 1970s having to teach typing, because that skill has taken care of itself. There are many typing software applications and software versions available on the market for those who want to upskill themselves, and most of these are free. Some do, some type however they best see fit. We do not discriminate for or against a 10 finger typist, or a digitally less successfully adjusted typist. What we are interested in is the quality of what is written. The meaning precedes form, if you like to express this in terms of Platonic philosophy.

UT: You have implemented a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program in the school, with the goal of improving student outcomes at all grade levels. How does making sure every student has an iPad in the classroom achieve this goal?

There are several reasons.

One is that iPads are very user friendly, appearing to make certain tasks easier than traditional paper and pen. For example, we have a Learning Management System in place which is electronic storage in the cloud. This allows students to keep an online diary, assignment, unit outlines and feedback from teachers all in the one place. To our surprise, we have found that students with learning difficulties have taken to this like a duck to water! So have our Year 7 students, and parents have been most supportive and have come to the party by purchasing the device. Secondly, we have certain learning programs, such as Mathletics and Spelladrome which can be accessed anywhere, anytime and this expands the learning environment for students. Thirdly, an iPad, coupled to a wireless router, makes researching and generating work that much more convenient. Of course students already have access to laptops at school and at home, having an iPad is simply adding another learning tool to their learning satchel. It is our experience that the predominant technology trend if for individuals to prefer personalizing their digital devices (such as by customizing what Apps they do and do not want on their device). I recall a time back in the 1980s when word processors became fashionable that contain spellchecking software. Anything that makes learning easier is to be embraced. In this vein, unlike more traditional schools, we allow students to bring their smart phones to school. Provided they abide by the traffic light system (red, not in this lesson, amber, only with teacher permission, green used for educational purposes allowed – no social networking).

Why are we digital? Because the digital revolution is the sequel to the white goods revolution. It is here to stay, it is user-friendly, enables instant messaging, and generally makes students their parents and teachers more connected with the world. Prof Geoff Blainey coined the phrase the Tyranny of Distance by which he referred to Australia being far from the more settled and developed continents and therefore developmentally and culturally delayed. Well with Skype, email and instant messaging this is no longer the case! Even movies can now get sent around the globe with a touch of a keystroke or mouse. That includes blogs, news, self-generated film, etc. The 21st Century is already here, so we need to meet the learning expectations of the NEXT generation!

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Typing blog.

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