Posted by: thebestthingscomeintwos | November 6, 2009

Ed. 217 — Week 10

I just learned about the coolest thing.  Its called TinyChat!  TinyChat is sort of like a private chat-room with a video feature.   You can create a specific room for your group of friends to use and you can make the URL private or public.  Some of my favorite features are here:

1.  It’s so easy to use– your microphone and webcam just sort of automatically work.  There is no configuring and very little setup.

2.  Split screens– you can chat with multiple people and see all their faces simultaneously.

3.  You can log in using your Facebook account– if you want to.   You can also use Twitter or Myspace.   Or, you can just make up a name– there is no registration required!

TinyChat is a prefect site for the not-so-technologically inclined.  I used it last night to talk to some family members who claim they cannot even use the internet well enough to read this blog!    Tinychat is a great way to ‘see’ relative and friends living out of town and I would def. recommend that you give it a try!

Posted by: thebestthingscomeintwos | October 29, 2009

Ed. 217 Week 9

Remember back in elementary school, when teachers had you do pre-writing activities in order to help you brainstorm for a paper?  I know my teachers were fond of a tool which we called a mind map.  You know the drill, you put your main idea in the center and then draw lines connecting to sub-topics and keep extending outward from there.  I recently learned about a really cool website which allows you to create mind maps on the web!

The tool is called Webspiration and it allows you to do so much more than create mind maps.  You can make basic mind maps, but you can also view them in outline form.  Or, you can create outlines and turn them into mind maps!  In addition, the program offers preformed templates for easy organization.  You can also enhance your webs by adding graphics.  You can choose from tons that the website provides or you can upload from a URL.   You can even upload photos from your own computer!

The best part of Webspiration however is the ability to share your work.  Webspiration will send email invitations to whomever you choose.  When you send the emails, you can choose for the recipients to be either viewers or collaborators.  Viewers can check out your work.  Collaborators have the ability to make changes to your document.  The coolest part of using collaboration, is that Webspiration keeps records of every step along the way.  If you don’t like the changes someone makes, you can easily revert back to a pervious form!

I used Webspiration for two class projects this week, and my teachers, (who had never seen the program), were super impressed!    Give it a try!

Posted by: thebestthingscomeintwos | October 3, 2009

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Posted by: thebestthingscomeintwos | September 25, 2009

Ed. 217 Week 4

A recent New York Times article brings up a scary fact for those of us studying to be teachers.  Record numbers of teachers are being hired from abroad.  According to the article, in 2007 there were 19,000 teachers in the United States teaching on temporary visas.  Today, in 2009, this number is projected to be much higher.
Most of these teachers are being placed in hard to fill positions such as science, math, and special education.  Also, the positions are primarily located in extremely urban settings or in very rural settings.
Teachers coming from abroad are supposed to be proficient in English, but screening processes are not always thorough.  Teacher education programs in other countries also may not meet the high standards set forth by the United States.  Both these issues could potentially cause problems for students.
Another issue surrounding hiring teachers from abroad is that school districts are not recruiting teachers in the United States with the same intensity that they used to.  Teachers coming from abroad pay a recruiting firm between $5,000 and $8,000 for a placement in the United States.   Schools can then contact these agencies and fill all their positions at once rather than recruiting in many different places across the United States.  This is not to say that schools are hiring foreign teachers ahead of domestic ones, but teachers educated here may have a more difficult time finding positions since they will not be advertised as openly.
I was surprised by this article initially, but upon further thought realized that I should not be.   I grew up here, only 15 miles from campus and teaching jobs, especially at the elementary level are extremely difficult to come by.  I often worry about being able to find a job without relocating.  I realize that I need to expand my views beyond our little western PA bubble.  My problem with the situation is that according to the article, the hiring process is not the same for both foreign and domestic teachers.   I would not have a problem competing with these teachers for a position, but I believe the position should be made available to everyone equally.

Posted by: thebestthingscomeintwos | September 15, 2009

ED. 217 Week III

An alarming trend is hitting the American higher education system.  The problem?  Students are not graduating.    Colleges are doing an excellent job recruiting students.  Classrooms are more packed than ever but graduation rates are falling.
In Boston, the University of Massachusetts reports that only 33 percent of its entering freshmen graduate within six years.  The University of New Mexico maintains only a 44% graduation rate, while the University of Montana ranks in at only 41%.   According to former Princeton president, William Bowen, these numbers are the norm.  Bowen discusses this disturbing trend in his new book, “Crossing the Finish Line.”
In the book, Bowen sites many reasons why more students are dropping out than finishing.    First, Bowen believes that inadequate high-school preparation is a big reason.   As a second time in college student I completely agree with this.  I was able to graduate high-school with a 4.0 GPA, but felt completely unprepared upon entering college.
Next “Crossing the Finish Line” states that cost of education plays a major role.  Some students simply cannot afford to finish and are forced to enter the work-force full-time.   Hand-in-hand with this is a mismatch between students coming from low-income families and their colleges of choice.  According to a recent study, low-income students who are highly qualified college candidates tend to choose schools with lower admission criteria and graduation rates, even if they are qualified for schools ranked much higher.
A final contributing factor is the fact that colleges are more interested in filling their seats with freshmen than upperclassmen.  Large lecture classes are more cost efficient and most colleges and universities are funded on a per head basis.
Its no secret that major education reform is needed in America on many levels.  This problem however, is not being addressed.  Its true, record numbers of college freshmen are packing campus’s this year, but the statistic we should be looking at is how many are finishing.

If you’d like to read the whole article, check out The New York Times

Want to see where other colleges rank?

Will you see this day?

Will you see this day?

Posted by: thebestthingscomeintwos | September 11, 2009

Ed. 217 Week II

RSS Feeds:

I’ve been reading a lot about RSS Feeds this week and its actually pretty interesting stuff.   Basically, RSS Feeds are a system for syndicating websites with frequently updated content.   They are most frequently used by news sites and bloggers.    When a reader subscribes through an RSS feed they are able to see only the most recently updated content which saves time.

In order to subscribe to RSS feeds you will need a reader.  There are lots of readers available for free online.   Windows users can grab a popular feed reader by clicking here. Mac users can try this.    Once you have a reader, you need to subscribe to sites with frequently updated content.   The reader will then begin checking the feeds you subscribe to for new stuff.

RSS feeds are sorta like super bookmarks.   If you have sites you check regularly, you have to go to each of them individually.  One you have your Feed Reader all set up, it will look a bit like your email.  Sites with new content will be identified with bold text or in another easy to see manner.   You can then read the newly updated content right there in the reader, or click to go to the actual site.   Either way, the content will be marked read and you can move on to the next one with out wasting time on sites that have not been updated.

Sites identify themselves as RSS capable with many different logos.   Here is a conglomeration of some of the most popular ones!

Common RSS Logos

Common RSS Logos

I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical about the actual benefit of RSS feeds, but now that I’m using them, I’m obsessed.   Give it a try!

Posted by: thebestthingscomeintwos | September 4, 2009

Ed. 217 Week 1

Hello to all the new readers from Ed. 217 and welcome to The Best Things Come in Twos!  My name is Megan and as you can see I have been blogging for a while.  Before this blog I maintained a different one on another site.   Mostly, I blog about my life as a way to update friends and family who are far away.  It will be exciting to have some new topics to introduce and new comments to respond to!

A little about me:  I am not quite sure what year I am considered here at CUP.  I perviously attended  two different universities studying biochemistry.  Now, I am getting my combined masters in Mid-level science and special education.   I am a commuter and live in a small town about 15 minutes from the university.  I also grew up there, though I did move out of state for a few years!

In case you couldn’t tell by the rest of the blog, I am a proud mama to almost 9 month old identical twin boys.  They are pretty much the driving force behind everything I do and it kills me to be away from them while I am in class.  It seems they are adjusting to daycare much better than I am.  My life is busy, and crazy and wonderful and I look forward to getting to know you all through the course of the semester.   Since I will be blogging both for the class, and for personal reasons I will always title class-related posts with Ed. 217 at the top.  You can also find related posts using the tag cloud or categories on the right of the page!  Please feel free to comment on any and all posts however!

If you would like to check out some of my archives, try these:

Curious about life with twins?

Amusing stories from Bible School

Everybody’s Doin’ it – – 25 Random Things about me.

Here I am!

Here I am!

Posted by: thebestthingscomeintwos | September 1, 2009

HUGE Updates!

Its been so long since I’ve updated anyone on anything.  I apologize for that.  I decided I was going to spend my last few weeks at home with the boys, mostly just spending time with them.  It was a great end of summer and I am so sad to be sending the boys off to daycare.   Here’s what you missed:

Feeding:

Both boys are big time into solids these days.  They LOVE everything I put in front of them!  Spaghetti is a big favorite as well as cottage cheese and yogurt.  Their absolute favorite thing however is broccoli cheese soup!  I’m pretty sure that broccoli cheese soup is not listed in the “best baby diet” of any parenting book, but the smiles on their faces when they eat make it totally worth whatever arteries I’m allowing them to clog!

Both boys are also are self feeding things like puffs, wagon wheels, and mum-mums.   They also tried ice cream once and screamed when it was all gone!   I’m so glad they are not picky– I hope those habits continue well through the toddler years!

Development:

Baby C is thisclose to crawling.   He gets up on all fours and rocks back and forth.  He army crawls dragging his body to where he wants to go.    He can also get into a  sitting position from his belly and has pulled up a few times on various pieces of furniture.

Baby J is not quite as interested in crawling but prefers to roll where he wants to go.  He has also pulled up on a few times and gets very angry when he can’t figure out how to get where he wants to go.

Both boys are changing almost before my eyes.  They are babbling new syllables, laughing spontaneously, finding hidden toys, reaching their arms to be picked up and demand to have toys at all times!   We have had a couple rather unpleasant outings because I have failed to bring an adequate toy supply along!

In addition to developmental changes, their looks are changing drastically as well.  Their hair is getting longer and very curly!  Their little legs are filling out and getting almost chubby.  C is still much larger than J, but doesn’t weigh much more these days.

Sleeping: We are officially sleeping through the night!  (WOO-HOO!!!)  We are also on a semi-regular nap schedule!  I can’t really begin to tell you how incredibly excited these things make me.  I only hope my posting about them doesn’t jinx me!

Roadtrips:

We have been blessed to be out and about many times this summer.  The boys have gotten to experience many new things!

Grammie and I took them to the Pittsburgh Zoo which was  a big hit!  They loved, loved, loved the aquariums and shark tanks.  They would have stayed in there with their tiny hands pressed to the glass all day if we would have let them!  They also got to ride the Marry-Go-Round and train, both of which were much enjoyed!

On another fun day, Aunt Kate and I took the boys to Clear Creek State Park where they got to try out playing in the sand for the first time!   I was a bit nervous for this particular outing, but it went so well!   They LOVED the sand.  Baby J even loved the notoriously freezing water.   He sat near the edge and splashed and splashed!   Baby C unfortunately got bitten by a big bug which put a bit of a damper on his day, but all it all it was a successful trip!

We had yet another fun night when we watched the Pirates beat the Phillies!   Our entire family is a bit sports crazed so ‘Babies 1st Pirate Game’ was a big deal.    Of course, since the boys are the cutest babies on the planet they made it up onto the jumbo-tron!   They looked so darn adorable in their teeny-tiny Pirate uniforms!   PNC Park preformed a collective “awe” when their picture popped up.  It was a really special memory for me, even though they won’t remember!

The boys were also fortunate to (finally) meet their Aunt Pat, Uncle Lou, and cousins Sean and Matt who joined us from Kansas for two weeks in August.  It had been far too long and it was fun catching up with everyone.

We also hosted cousin Jamie for a week and she was a big help!

Finally, we did manage to get in the pool a few times!  Its a shame the weather was so cold and yucky this summer because the boys LOVE the pool.  They kick and splash and get upset when its time to get out!  Unfortunately, the pool water is freezing so we didn’t get to spend nearly as much time there as we would have liked.   Oh well, there’s always next summer!

Lots of pictures to follow– click on thumbnails to view larger images!  Email or Facebook me if you would like the password!

Posted by: thebestthingscomeintwos | August 31, 2009

Guess What?

I’m back!  How I’ve missed the blogging world!  Summer was a crazy and busy and wonderful time in my life, but I’ve missed keeping up with everyone and their goings on.   I have received more than a few emails/Facebook comments asking for my return to blogging.    Not that those things weren’t enough to bring me back, but here’s the best thing:  my fall semester started today and the first assignment for one of my classes was this:  “create and maintain an online blog using http://www.wordpress.com.”   How fantastic!   Some of my posts from here on out will be school related but I’ll sneak in plenty of babies too!   I have actually been working on uploading photos and typing a HUGE update post on the summer which will be published soon. . . I promise!

Lastly, welcome to all our new readers from ED 217!  Enjoy!

Posted by: thebestthingscomeintwos | July 15, 2009

Random Updates

Well, incase you had not noticed by the lack of posts.  Now that school has started blogging is taking a bit of a backseat.  I miss it, I miss you all.  I miss the daily email comments from the few of you that won’t post them here!  (Just kidding, I love your emails!) 

Anysways, this update will probably be  not all that interesting, but it will end with a funny story!

Nursing:  its going better.  Its not perfect, and we are still supplementing, but we actually had a full tandem nursing session today which we haven’t done in weeks.  I was so so so happy! 

Par-tay:  C & J are having their very first playdate on Thurs.  We are excited.   Ok, I’m excited.  I can’t wait to talk to spend a little time with other moms and talk to people who know what every day is like for me.  I also made super super cute invitations which I will post in my next photo post. 

Birthday’s:  Friday is my grandma’s birthday and Monday is my mom’s birthday.  If any of you have any quick/kinda inexpensive gift ideas, throw ’em at me! 

School:  Sucks.   I am taking a meterology class right now and its effing HARD.  First test is Thurs. so well shall see after that, but I am nervous! 

Random:  I ❤ Bach.  I ❤ Motzart.   More on this to come tomorrow!

Ok, thanks for reading all that crap that means nothing to anyone besides me.  Now, to tell you all about what my darling son did today.   Baby C was in his exersaucer.  Baby J was jumping like a  crazy man in his jumper (video coming soon!)   I ran down to throw the wet clothes in the dryer, and restart the washer.  I was gone a total of MAYBE 4 minutes.   I walk back upstairs and I smell it:  the sweet smell of a blowout.   Baby J had already done his business for the day so I assumed it was C.  I grabbed him and headed to the changing table to find him dry.  I go back out and pick up J.   Ohmylord.  Not only did he poop out of his onesie, but he pooped all over his jumper.   It gets better though, he not only pooped on his jumper, but all down his legs and onto the foam mat– where he has been jumping in it for the past 5 minutes.  

We went through a total of 9 outfits today.  I’m pretty sure its time to start potty training!

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