Sunday, December 10, 2017

Can 100% Renewable Energy Power the World? - Federico Rosei and Renzo Rosei

Every year, the world uses 35 billion barrels of oil. This massive scale of fossil fuel dependence pollutes the earth, and it won’t last forever. On the other hand, we have abundant sun, water and wind, which are all renewable energy sources. So why don’t we exchange our fossil fuel dependence for an existence based only on renewables? Federico Rosei and Renzo Rosei describe the challenges.

Lesson by Federico Rosei and Renzo Rosei, directed by Giulia Martinelli.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

How to Make Your Writing Suspenseful - Victoria Smith

What makes a good horror story? Hideous monsters and fountains of blood might seem like a good place to start, but as horror author H.P. Lovecraft wrote, “The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” Writers harness that fear not by revealing horrors, but by leaving the audience hanging in a state of suspense. Victoria Smith gives some tips for adding suspense to your writing.

Lesson by Victoria Smith, directed by Silvia Prietov.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Top 20 Most Commonly Confused Homophones

Here's a language refresher on homophones: words that sound alike but are spelled differently.

Our Raise a Reader blog has been doing some grammar celebrating this month, and we're seriously having a blast.

We are hearing that in order to raise strong readers and writers, parents could really benefit from some quick language refreshers themselves. And we totally get it. Some of the nuances of the English language are enough to make a person go batty.

So we thought we'd cover the top 20 most commonly confused homophones. Homophones are words that sound alike but are spelled differently, and there are some that get me every time.

Please note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. affect/effect
Use affect to indicate influence: The medicine did not affect her the way the doctor had hoped.
Use effect as a noun: The new medicine had negative side effects. (Note: effect can sometimes be used as a verb meaning to cause/achieve or to bring about – as in "The magician effected his escape with a false door" – but this is mostly a technical term and not used very often.)

2. than/then
Use than for comparisons: John is much taller than his brother.
Use then to indicate passage of time, or when: We went to the park in the morning, and then we left to pick up lunch.

3. which/witch
Use which as a pronoun when referring to things or animals: Cora wore her favorite pink shoes, which she received as a birthday gift.
Use witch to mean a scary or nasty person: The Halloween witch decorations must finally come down off of the wall!

4. here/hear
Use here as an adverb to indicate location: Please come back here and put your shoes away!
Use hear as a verb to indicate listening: Can you hear the birds' beautiful singing outside?

5. are/our
Are is a verb in present tense, a form of the verb "to be."
We are staying at the hotel closest to the stadium.
They are my cousins.

Our is an adjective, the plural possessive form of we.
They will bring our keys to the hotel lobby.
The pleasure is all ours.
(Note: I covered this example in my post 7 (More!) Grammar Mistakes You Don't Want to Make. Read more here.)

6. buy/by
Use buy when purchasing an item: I do need to buy new shoes for the kids.
Use by as a preposition to indicate location: Please put the sandwiches by the door so we don't forget them!

7. accept/except
Use accept as a verb to mean receive: The organization will accept donations through the first of the month.
Use except as a preposition to mean exclude: You may donate all items except car seats and cribs.

8. weather/whether
Use weather when referring to the state of the atmosphere: The constantly changing springtime weather is driving us crazy.
Use whether as a conjunction to introduce choices: Please tell us whether you would prefer steak or salmon for dinner.

9. there/their/they're
There can act as different parts of speech, depending on how it is used in a sentence. Most commonly, it is used as a pronoun or adverb.
There will be a lot to eat at the party tonight. (pronoun)
Put the book over there. (adverb)

Their is a pronoun.
The students put their coats in the closet.

they're is the contraction for they are
They're going to have practice immediately after school today.
(Note: I covered this example in my post 7 Grammar Mistakes You Don't Want to Make. Read more here.)

10. to/too/two
To can be a preposition.
We're going to the park.

To can indicate an infinitive when it precedes a verb.
We want to help in any way we can.

Too is an adverb that can mean excessively when it precedes an adjective or adverb.
I ate too much ice cream for dessert.

Too is a synonym for also.
I ate too much ice cream for dessert, too.

Two is a number.
Marcy ate two pieces of pie.
I have two books I'd like to read.

11. you're/ your
You're is a contraction for you are.
You're going to absolutely love this new recipe.

Your is a pronoun.
Please bring your books to class with you tomorrow.

12. bear/ bare
Use bear when referring to the large mammal or to indicate the act of holding or supporting: How did that brown bear open the security gate at the campsite? | The wagon can hardly bear the weight of the load.
Use bare as an adjective indicating lack of clothing or adornment: His bare neck burned in the direct sunlight.

13. one/won
Use one when referring to a single unit or thing: I have one more muffin left before the box is empty.
Use won as the past tense form of the verb "to win": Shelly's team won the tournament and celebrated with ice-cream sundaes!

14. brake/break
Use brake as a verb meaning to stop or as a noun when referring to a device used to stop or slow motion: The bike's brake failed, which is why he toppled town the hill.
Use break to indicate smashing or shattering or to take a recess: My back will break if we put one more thing in this backpack. OR Use break as a noun to indicate a rest or pause: We took a water break after our first set of drills because it was so hot outside.

15. complement/compliment
Use complement when referring to something that enhances or completes: The cranberry sauce is a perfect complement to the turkey dinner.
Use compliment as an expression of praise: I was pleased to have received so many compliments on my new dress and shoes today.

16. aloud/allowed
Use aloud when referring to something said out loud: Reading aloud –and doing it well–is a skill that requires much practice.
Use allowed when referring to something permitted: Dogs are not allowed to be on school property between 2:45-4pm.

17. lie/lay
Use lie to indicate the act of reclining: I am tired just watching the dog lie in the warm sunlight.
Use lay to indicate the placement of something: Please lay the paper on the table.

Lay is a transitive verb, which means it always needs an object! Something is always being put down; lie, on the other hand, will never have an object because it is an intransitive verb.

to lie: lie(s), lay, lain, lying
to lay: lay(s), laid, laid, laying

18. it's/its
It's is the contraction for it is.
It's raining today, so the baseball game will be cancelled.

Its is the possessive form ("possessive" means belongs to) of it.
The cat is licking its paws.

19. capital/capitol
Use capital when referring to a city, a wealth or resources, or an uppercase letter: The capital of Maryland is the gorgeous city of Annapolis.
Use capitol when referring to a building where lawmakers meet: The capitol has undergone extensive renovations this year.

20. principle/principal
Use principle as a noun meaning a basic truth or law: Many important life principles are learned in kindergarten.
Use principal as a noun meaning the head of a school or organization, or a sum of money: The principal is a well-respected member of the community because of the hard work and effort she puts forth in her position.

Article Source:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How Does Your Body Know You're Full? - Hilary Coller

Hunger claws at your belly. It tugs at your intestines, which begin to writhe, aching to be fed. Being hungry generates a powerful and often unpleasant physical sensation that’s almost impossible to ignore. After you’ve reacted by gorging on your morning pancakes, you start to experience an opposing force: fullness. But how does your body actually know when you’re full? Hilary Coller explains.

Lesson by Hilary Coller, directed by Sashko Danylenko.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

8 Steps to Tutoring Success

After you’ve decided to seek help, what’s next?
Ignoring a child's school problems or waiting too long to seek help perpetuates a cycle of frustration and failure. Here, an eight-step plan:

Step 1: Reality Check

When you or the teacher identify a problem, take a step back and consider the whole child. "Many factors could account for a child's falling behind. Rushing to hire a tutor should be the last thing you do," says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., co-author of Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less. "Instead of slapping a Band-Aid on the problem, be a diagnostician and figure out the cause.”

"Your child could be tired," says Hirsh-Pasek. "Maybe he needs to go to sleep earlier, and you need to better enforce bedtime rules. Maybe he's not doing well because he's being dragged down by having too many high-fat snacks or fast-food meals. Or maybe he can't complete his homework because he's overscheduled and exhausted from too many extracurricular activities."

Step 2: Get Perspective

Talk to your child as well as his teacher or guidance counselor for their perception of the problem. Does he hand in homework assignments on time? Does he fidget in class or lose focus when the teacher talks? Does he seem unhappy or uninterested in school in general? Is his behavior disruptive in class? Lack of motivation or acting-out behaviors may be a sign that a child is having difficulty either understanding or processing information. Sometimes simply moving a child to a smaller class can make a difference. If that is not possible, ask if he can move his seat to the front row right near the teacher, which may prevent his attention from wandering.

Step 3: Consider the Best Setting

Once you've decided to find tutoring help, you need to determine what form it should take. Some children feel more comfortable working privately with a tutor in their own home; others are motivated by the dynamics of a small group and concentrate more easily when they are away from the distractions at home. They might benefit from a study group or supplemental class at a learning center. Also ask yourself: Does my child do better with men or women? Does he need lots of nurturing or a firm hand?

Step 4: Ask for Referrals

Whether you decide that a once-a-week meeting with a homework helper (say, an older student or moonlighting teacher) is sufficient, or that intensive remediation makes more sense, keep in mind that tutoring is only as good as the person who does it. Check with your child's teacher, the school office, and other parents for names of qualified tutors. Schools may have a list of tutors who work regularly with students, and may even be familiar with the teachers and course curriculum. Your school may also offer some sort of academic help — before, during, or after school.

Step 5: Meet and Greet

Meet the tutor or visit the learning center with your child so he feels a part of the process and you can see if there's a rapport between him and the tutor. Sit in on one or two sessions to be sure. Since anyone can advertise in the local newspaper that he's a tutor, check credentials. Your tutor should not only be knowledgeable in the subject matter, he should have experience working with children your child's age. If your child has a learning disability, the tutor should be trained to identify and work with youngsters with this specific problem.

Step 6: Discuss Plans

A skilled tutor does more than simply check over homework. She will assess your child's strengths and weaknesses, prepare individualized lessons, and use hands-on materials wherever possible. She should also consult and work with your child's classroom teacher. Finally, she should offer positive reinforcement so your child feels good about himself and his efforts. Ask if the tutor gives additional homework besides your child's regular classroom work as well as how she evaluates progress. Does she use standardized tests or other forms of evaluation? How often?

Step 7: Set a Timetable for Progress

Most tutoring relationships last several months to a year (meeting once or twice a week). Don't wait that long before asking for feedback. Talk to your child and the tutor after every session. Does she enjoy the sessions? Are her grades improving? Does she have more confidence with the subject matter? Is she feeling better about school in general? This informal observation, combined with her teacher's input, will help you determine if the relationship is working. And if it's not? It can take several months for a child's performance to improve, but if you sense something is not working, don't be shy about discussing your concerns with the tutor. If he's not responsive, find someone new.

Step 8: Stay Involved

Parents are part of the tutoring equation. Your involvement is necessary to make it work. Make sure the tutor has the phone number or email address of your child's teacher, a copy of the textbook and curriculum she's using (request this from the teacher or guidance counselor), and your child's past tests so he can see areas of weakness. Finally, be sure to reinforce skills at home. Ask the tutor for suggestions, look for ways to fit in real-world practice (cooking together is great for both math and reading), and don't forget to share books and stories often.

Article Source:

Thursday, November 23, 2017