Please Vote Cassie and Matt in the Allure Wedding Contest

I normally only post about school related items but this weekend I am going to spread the word about a wonderful friend of mine.  My best-friend and maid-of -honor, Cassie Davies got really sick on October 5, 2012. On December 23, Cassie was discharged and she would begin outpatient rehabilitation to continue to work on regaining her ability to walk and move. That Sunday night that she got discharged,  Matt brought her back home (79 days after she had been admitted into the hospital) and had WILL YOU MARRY ME? set up in this lavish light display in her backyard.


Cassie and Matt submitted their proposal story to Allure magazine and they were selected among the top 8 stories. Please vote for their proposal story, which is amazing story about how love can conquer all.  Please Vote for Cassie and Matt everyday from any device until March 15th:


Cassie’s Story

Suddenly on October 5th, 2012, my best friend Cassie Davies became comatose and paralyzed. A rapidly moving disease had struck her immune system and left her and the rest of us with little hope. Doctors were baffled they had more questions than answers, and time seemed to be running out. Her family was at a hospital in Scranton, PA initially, but hours later Cassie was life-flighted to Geisinger Danville, PA where her lifeless body went through a series of devastating events that left recovery and survival in doubt. After 2 weeks of being comatose, kept alive on a ventilator and feeding tube, Doctors diagnosed her rare condition as Acute Disseminated Encepholomyelitis (ADEM). Miraculously, she awoke in the ICU on day 20, though unable to speak or move anything besides blinking her eyes. All the while, her family stayed within her ICU room almost every night “sleeping” on folding chairs, hoping and praying.


Her friends back home had created a facebook group (Updates on Cassie <3) that quickly had 700 members praying for her cause as well, and her small town of Newton Ransom, PA held vigils and benefits to raise money and hope for the family. The outpouring of support was overwhelming, but it was still unknown what obstacles would be in Cassie’’s way but with the love and generous support from family and friends we know she will be in great hands.

See how I used technology to cope and make a difference with a previous blog post.

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Obama re-elected, promises improvement in education reform. What’s next?

Guest Post written by Jillian Terry, who is a retired teacher and freelance writer who likes to help students improve their reading and writing skills. Jillian also actively contributes to a blog on If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to Jillian.

As the polls closed at 7 p.m. on Election Day, voters across the country began waiting in eager anticipation to learn the results of the Presidential Election. After hours and hours of waiting, around 10 p.m., it was announced that the majority of the Electoral College had chosen President Barak Obama over Governor Mitt Romney to lead the country for the next four years.

The Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago erupted in cheers and excitement as the newly re-elected president took to the stage to make a poignant victory speech. As expected, the President took some time to draw attention to the need for improved education policies across the nation. During his speech, Obama promised to expand “access to the best schools and best teachers” for the next four years.

This type of rhetoric is not foreign for President Obama. Time and time again, Obama has turned his and the nation’s attention to the need for education reform. For instance, during the final debate with Governor Romney, which was centered on foreign policy, Obama talked in detail about the Race to the Top program – an education grant that has incentivized the majority of states to implement education reforms. The President also alluded to the need to invest in all schools – ranging from preschool to university education.

Obama’s first term was focused on growing the accountability of schools so students could thrive and grow. During those four years, Obama attempted to pass a revised version of the Federal Education Act as well as a bill that would have significantly reduced teacher layoffs. Both acts were subsequently blocked by the Republican Congress majority. Furthermore, according to the National Education Association, the president also fought to keep class sizes small, protect more than 400,000 education jobs, and double investments in scholarships and financial aid programs. Enough with the first four years though; how will the Obama administration work to reform education the next four years?

“It’s clear the Obama administration will continue to make education a priority,” Jeffrey Henig, a political scientist at Columbia University told the Huffington Post. “It’s been a winner issue for them, even though teachers unions and some elements of the parent community are unhappy about some aspects.” Karen White, political director of the National Education Association – who was also quoted in the article – told the Huffington Post she believes Obama will focus his efforts on education affordability during this next term.

There are a myriad of agenda items Obama has said he wants to address while he is in office, but here are few of the major ones:

1. Tuition costs are rising, but President Obama wants to cut the cost of tuition in half by heavily investing in Pell grants, student debt management programs, education tax credits, and low-interest student loans.

2. Equality is always a controversial topic in education. Obama has said he wants to address the major ethnic disparities and education gaps amongst K-12 schools, colleges, and universities over the next four years.

3. Recognizing the importance of parental involvement in schools, Obama plans to further involve parents in the education process by providing $270 million for new parent-student education programs and activities

4. Back in his first term, Obama proposed a $30 billion bill to innovate and modernize schools throughout the United States. These improvements included new equipment, new textbooks, and numerous other upgrades. Those improvements are expected to continue throughout Obama’s next term.

5. Most importantly, Obama plans to revise the No Child Left Behind law. The changes Obama has initiated thus far have helped do away with the punishment aspects of the law and focus instead on celebrating growth and improvement in schools.

Other items to expect Obama to address in his next term include creating more substantial, long-term jobs for graduating college students; supporting job training initiatives for college graduates; and substantially growing the number of college graduates.

Obama struggled to negotiate, reason, and work with a Republican Congress during his first term, but perhaps the next four years will be different now that Obama has secured another four years. Will the president make significant enough progress in education reform so the U.S. can catch up with nations like South Korea, Finland, New Zealand, and Belgium when it comes to test scores and student performance? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.


Jillian Terry is a retired teacher and freelance writer who likes to help students improve their reading and writing skills. Jillian also actively contributes to a blog on If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to Jillian.

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Read it Anywhere

Read It Later lets you save what you find on the web to watch and read on any device, at any time.
It’s been called “a DVR for the web” by the New York Times, Business Week, Time, TechCrunch and more. This App is so useful when you want to read something but don’t have the time. You can: save pages from your phone or computer, read it on or offline (even no internet), and access it anywhere. This is a great new application that you should check out today!

Read Anytime, Online or Off

Easily access any page saved in your reading list, even when you are not connected to the internet!

Read It Later can download offline copies of each page in your list. You can pick whether you want to download the entire page complete with images or an optimized text-only view.

Once Read It Later has downloaded your content, you can read your list at 30,000 ft while in airplane mode, or stories below the ground in the subway on the way to work.

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Current Events as Interactive Guides

From the E coli outbreak in Europe to the US presidential election 2012- Guardian News and Media takes the top current events from around the world and makes them into interactive colorful graphics complete with images, information, and links.

I particularly like the US Presidential Election, which comes with graphics and information on all the potential candidates.

The website says “No clear Republican challenger to Barack Obama has emerged for the presidential election on 6 November 2012. Click on the faces to see who is standing and who else may join the contest. Use the menu (top right) to see who is a serious contender, who has stood before and who has Tea Party links.”

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Teaching Post 9/11

September 11, 2001 was a defining moment in American history. It is so interesting that many of the children who were 8, 9, or 10 years old when the World Trade Center towers fell and the Pentagon burned are now in college.  According to CNN news article, The 9/11 Generation’s Bogeyman is Gone, the 9/11 generation is made up of two subgroups, one who were in high school and college and the other who were in elementary school.

t1larg.huot.irptThis generation has grown up in a world very different from our parents generation. We are familiar with increased security, terrorist threats, and an increased awareness of the world. We have  grown up accustomed to long lines at the airport and terror alerts. Since 9/11 this younger generation has feared names like Sadam and Bin Laden.

I as well as my students were forever effected by 9/11/01. I remember exactly where I was when the WTC was attacked.  I was sitting in my US government class in high school. I remember the silence of  the halls. I remember my friends getting called out of class to go home because their family members were unaccounted.This new generation of students are used to filtered news; many watched live television reports of the attacks in their living rooms and classrooms. I remember the  overwhelming sense of pride and love for our nation. I wore red, white, and blue and felt an urgency to plant a tree in honor of the victims of 9/11. These feelings will never leave me.

As a teacher, I think it is so important to educate our students about 9/11 and the residual effects. I used the capture and death of Bin Laden to talk about 9/11 and the War on Terror. I use letters, personal stories, interviews, and newspapers from the day to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who defend our freedom.

For more information on teaching resources visit:

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Week in Rap

I am always searching for new ways to get my students engaged in the world. I started using Week in Rap this year and have found it to be a useful and educational way to motivate my students and make them more aware of the news. My students seem to enjoy the rap and are more informed about the world. We usually watch the rap on Monday’s, discuss it, add other current events throughout the week, and they take a ten question quiz on Friday’s. Do you feel more informed about current events with the Week in Rap?

The Week in Rap is a weekly summary of news headlines in the form of a short rap video. The site was created by Flocabulary, and the songs and videos are written by Flocabulary artists.

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Sexting: New Law Proposed

The state of Texas is considering a new law focused specifically on the issue of “sexting.” The Texas Attorney General says the goal of the new law is to educate students rather than make them criminals. Today, sexting is becoming a very serious issue with harsh consequences.

A new survey shows one in five teens admitted sending or posting suggestive images of themselves. Nearly four in ten teens admitted sending sexually suggestive messages. The proposed law would charge the teen with a misdemeanor, forcing a court appearance, and require parents to enroll in an educational program. Eventually, offenders could wipe the slate clean at 17 years old.

For more information visit: National Campaign to Support Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

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First Presidential Ad of 2012 – Courage to Stand

Wow this is one of the most moving political advertisement’s I have seen in a very long time. This is a political ad for the 2012 presidential race – in this case – by Tim Pawlenty who used to be the governor of Minnesota. It goes with his book, Courage to Stand. Even though he will not will the Republican nomination he sure makes a good video that hits every American Ideal and value.

It hits us with every American value. I plan to use this in the classroom when I talk about American values. I may have them try to guess what American values they “see” in this presidential advertisement.

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What’s Next for America?

Great video organized by CBS where they ask What’s Next in 2011? It asks a lot of great questions like what’s next for America? Are we no longer the dominant world power? Will America’s future be brighter?

Application to Education: I used this video in my class to introduce the idea of the American Dream and the idea of public policy with my Advanced Placement Class. It was an interesting conversation starter especially since the current recession has impacted so many of our families.

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