education & tech

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Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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The Balance: Video Games Good/Bad for Kids

Is playing video games good or bad for your kid? It surely can be both. The anti-gamers have studied the effects of these games for thirty years or so now with some evidence. The pro-gamers have also made some very good argument themselves. With both sides going at each other it has become somewhat confusing to pick a side for children and parents alike.

A study by the Max Planck Institute in Germany found that people who played a video game actually had an increase in the size of the part of the brain that has to do with memory, strategy, and fine motor skills. A British study found that video gaming can increase the speed of perceptual processing. And a University of Iowa study found that playing certain kinds of video games may help the brain stay younger as we age.

There are many types of video games, so you cannot base your opinion only on shooters. Note as well that films and books can contain the same violent content as some video games. The 'Warrior Cats' book series features violent death scenes. The 'Edge Chronicles' books have extremely gory illustrations. Both books are in the children's section of most bookshops and libraries. I don't know whether Yu-Gi-Oh games are on video now.

Then it comes this story. At a soccer game the other day, a 6 year old was getting mad that the he couldnt get ball from another player, so he said "I want to chop your head, smash your body to bits and kill you." When questioned on where he had heard this, he said "I do it all the time on my Xbox". Kids that age and older can tell the difference between right and wrong. To me the easiest targets would be the children of a younger age who can’t tell the real difference between right and wrong, reality or gaming world.

Labeling one kind of game good or bad is simply a matter of opinion. Besides, good and bad are two subjective terms. While there are many games that can be considered bad, as they might rot your brain is nothing but your personal opinion. We have not come to a widely scientific support that games are either good or bad for kids. A fact must be proven and recognized to move on such direction. Following that logic, movies, books, TV shows, and even news reports rot your brain because they expose you to repetitive garbage.

Being smart in the real world involves a multitude of factors - so playing video games (or playing them practically all the time), isn't a strategy for success. The same way as everyone pretty much agrees that there are still down sides to video games. What's popular is the permanent complaint of parents and teachers. Having a son who plays at home I can say that we need to find a balance. Don't just let them play all the time. Video games don't necessarily decrease attention spans.

I know there are serious objection to multitasking, but watch a kid doing homework. What your going to see is a computer on, a TV on, a smartphone also on and then a pen a notebook and probably a book. It seems to me that video games might be making kids better at concentrating, and kids with problems like dyslexia, better at reading. Now I know many of you will start to give me your opinions. That's ok while I respect yours, I politely disagree.

Video games are also being studied for their effectiveness in helping with depression -- many kids say they feel depressed when playing and when not playing, to reduce feelings of pain and anxiety, and to improve eyesight. Games often require problem solving and decision making, great skills to have in the real world, too. And games where players work together remotely in real time, develop teamwork skills.

I'd like to hear of your experiences, or the scientific foundation to take part on the video games impact on young minds.

What Gamers Can Teach Us - Video



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Milton Ramirez

7 Fastest Ways to Get a Low Essay Grade

Editor's note: This story is a response to the article written by Andrew Alpert and recently published here: Top 7 Blunders That Essay Writers Usually Make. Learn more about the mechanics of writing an essay.
Writing corner by Kendra on Flickr
By Linda Aragoni*

I've seen students make each of those blunders, and I've even penalized students for making them. Alpert's blunders by themselves, however, may not result in failing grade.

Here are seven steps students can take to really make a mess of their essays.

1. Don't read the directions.

Instructors usually specify in the assignment's directions what they expect students to accomplish in the essay. In addition, they often have instructions in a syllabus that explain requirements that apply to all the written work in the course. Not bothering to read the directions for an assignment can mean failure on the assignment.

2. Procrastinate.

Putting off starting an assignment until the last minute leaves students with no time to change course if they discover something isn't working. By figuring out a tentative schedule for the essay as soon as the assignment is given, students give themselves freedom to do a good job with a minimum of hassle. Students who have problems with spelling, grammar, and punctuation need to plan to finish writing especially early to give time for several edits.

3. Don't write a working thesis statement.

A working thesis puts in a one-sentence nutshell the opinion or point the writer intends to prove in the whole paper. Writing a working thesis almost immediately after getting an assignment guides a writer's research. Key words in the working thesis become key search terms that speed up the research process. Writers need only record information pertinent to their working thesis rather than taking notes on everything related to their general topic. If research doesn't support the working thesis, the writer can change easily rework it so it fits the evidence.

4. Don't have a plan.

Few students do an adequate job of planning their writing. Writers need a plan that includes at least the working thesis sentence and at least three sentences stating a reason for believing the thesis is true. Anything less than a four-sentence plan puts the writer at risk of not having enough to say. Novice essayists almost always end up with two points that overlap, which causes their paper to contain repetition. If they cut out the repetition, they may end up with underdeveloped papers.

5. Skimp on evidence.

For each reason for believing the thesis is true, writers should have for three to five pieces of supporting evidence so they can select what works best in the essay. If writers indicate as they gather evidence which point in their plan it supports, they can avoid not gathering enough and having either to do more research or take a lower grade for having underdeveloped ideas.

6. Don't edit for your habitual errors.

By the time they are teenagers, most students know what errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage they make regularly. Students whose grades suffer because of those errors should edit their work for the serious errors they make nearly every time they write. Such editing is essential for errors that spelling and grammar checkers don't spot: barley for barely, for example, or it's instead of its.

7. Submit your work late.

Instructors don't like late work. Writing turned in after deadline almost always gets a grade penalty from the instructor. Some institutions go so far as to prohibit instructors from accepting late work at the end of a term.

(*) Linda Aragoni is a nonfiction writing advocate with experience in traditional and online education and communications.

Education & Tech

9 Blogging Perks for Only Committed Teachers!

By Frank Wilson*

In the modern era of technology, teachers have multiple roles to fulfill. Apart from teaching and managing the classroom, they have to get up-to-date with latest information about the teaching and learning methods. At the same time, they have to interact with their students outside the classroom to help them out on any issues related to their assignments.
Math Teacher Writing on Chalk Board by cybrarian77 on Flickr

Fortunately, today’s teacher has the blogging platforms to communicate with their students and voice their opinions on any matter. This helps them stay in touch with their students and provides them with feedback on any aspect of their studies. To know other reasons that make blogging a savior for teachers, you need to read on the article:

1. Expose Them To the World of Academia and Intellectuals

Blogging provides a platform to teachers where they can speak about issues related to their profession. Similarly, they can invite opinions of others who have a huge influence on education sector like social commentators. This helps teachers broaden their intellect and grow as a professional. At the same, they are able to accumulate knowledge from intellectuals and opinion makers from diverse fields.

2. Freedom for Teachers

Blogging makes teachers no longer dependant on time and space to educate their students. Blogging dramatically alleviates the burden of teachers and give them a sense of freedom. So, if a student bunked a class or if your demonstration class is cancelled, there is no need to arrange extra classes as you can share video link of the materials on your blog and make it available to your students. In this way, teachers have more control over their class and they are able to enjoy more freedom.

3. Engagement For Students

When students interact with teachers on a blog, they feel more motivated to know about a subject. Teachers use videos, images, slides, articles and references to other learning materials which activate their interest and thus increase their knowledge vault.

4. Give Voice To A Teacher

Blogging gives teachers an opportunity to communicate with their students and share insights across the faculty. It provides a podium for teachers to exchange ideas to their network of educators and students. This gives them a more powerful way to voice their opinions and bring out any significant change regarding education sector.

5. Teachers Can Efficiently Manage Their Life

Gone are the days when teachers have to go through entire lengthy sessions of lectures to impart knowledge to students. Now, busy teachers have more efficient methods in the form of web blogging which significantly contribute to their profession. Blogging serves as a personal assistant that helps busy teachers manage their resources and teach students in a time-paced manner. With professional blogging, teachers can manage their lesson plans, organize classes and share any learning materials on the fly.

6. Teachers Can Host A Classroom Community

Blogging can serve as a tool for classroom community. With blogging, teachers can set up a web portal where they can add educational materials, news, reports or discussion-forums for students. In this way, teachers can communicate critical information with student and inform them about any upcoming event.

7. Learn Advancements in Technology

With blogging, teachers can benefit from the modern advents of technology and invite the students in the process. Students would feel more than happy to accompany them in this journey. In this way, both teachers and students can avail the benefits that technology has to offer to them.

8. Ensures Healthy Relationship With Parents

Teachers often have issues tackling with parents of students. However, blogging gives them an effective way to report progress of their kids and pinpoint areas that require improvement. Similarly, parents can make comments, share feedback and respond to queries of teachers. Blogging helps teachers establish a strong understanding with parents.

9. Teachers Can Educate Wider Aspects of a Subject

Being a teacher, there is always a race against time. No matter how prepared you are for your next class, there is always something that you miss during the lecture. This is why teachers can use blogging to share additional knowledge about a subject. Teachers can also use blogs to inform students about different aspects of a subject and answer their questions. In this way, they are able to facilitate learning process and help students who cannot solve problems on their own.

(*) Frank Wilson is an experienced and keen blogger. He loves to write for travel, career, technology and education topics. In his spare time, he prefers to read fiction books and watching action movies. He is currently a regular blogger at Coursework Experts.

Education & Tech

3 Things That Make Big Differences in the Classroom

Maths in classroom by Charles Pieters on Flickr
Teachers have a daily workload that begins before school and it only ends at the time they hit their beds. That's a good reason to remember that classroom activity doesn't have to be so stressful if we give something from ourselves, rather than teachers but humans. Below you'll find little things that make a big difference in your classroom brought to you by Enroll - Collaborative Blogging:

Keep smiling: It gets students so motivated to learn because they have the impression and even the belief that their teacher is friendly and tolerant with the many problems they have to face in their learning process. They’re at ease to ask questions when unable to understand, ready to take risks while giving answers and actively connecting to what the teacher is doing.

Never frown in the face of students.

Give a positive feedback: When a student does something, he believes that he’s done it well; otherwise he might not have done it in the first place. Instead of saying for instance "that’s bad" or "that’s a shame", it would be positive to say "good job" or "you can do better". It could be so motivating for students, especially low-achieving ones to progress.

Celebrate success: By stopping to highlight their achievements, it boosts their egos and increases their self-confidence that nothing is impossible to happen. Rewarding them with little gifts such as chocolate, sweets, postcards, short stories or books in general can be practical to remind them of what they were able to do with the skills and competencies they have acquired in the classroom.

Little thing can make a big difference. Isn't it?

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Milton Ramirez

Top 7 Blunders That Essay Writers Usually Make

Writers blunders
By Andrew Alpert*

Good writing skills aren’t something that one can develop easily since it takes years of practice as well as a knack for learning. Students in the US and UK are often asked by their teachers to compose an impressive essay. It’s not like their teachers won’t want them to be a great essay writer, but this assignment is given to them to help them unleash their potential and creativity.

However, there are a lot of blunders that students often end up making while writing a complex piece such as:

1. No thesis statement
They often forget to write thesis statement on which the entire essay is based. It is recommended to write statement at the end of introductory paragraph. Thesis statement is very important because it summarizes in the mind of reader what the whole essay is about and what kind of ideas will be discussed in the entire essay.

2. Tense mistake
The first thing that writers should do before starting to write an essay is to decide which tense to use. Let me explain this mistake with an example about what writers usually do especially when they are in a hurry.

Incorrect: Mike wants to go to park, but then he got so busy and could not join his friends for fun.
Correct: Mike wanted to go to park, but then he got so busy and could not join his friends for fun.

3. Avoid using ‘You’
In essay writing it is preferred to use ‘one’ instead of ‘you’, so avoid using it.

Incorrect: If you don’t understand the situation, you should not speak in the middle.
Correct: If one does not understand the situation, one should not speak in the middle.

4. Repetition
When writer discusses the same idea in essay again and again, readers get bored and frustrated. This happens when writer has too little to say. Expand boundaries and find more ideas to avoid repetition. Also, make sure that each paragraph elaborates only a single idea.

5. Spelling and punctuation mistakes
Writers must inexcusably use auto spell and grammar check option while writing essays on word processor. Just a second to turn it on will save your thirty minutes for correcting it. However, spell checker will not point every mistake that you make, so you should be careful yourself as well.

6. Contractions
While writing essays, writers use isn’t, instead of ‘is not’; don’t, instead of ‘do not’; can’t, instead of ‘cannot’; and won’t, instead of ‘will not’. This kind of writing style is not appropriate for essays.

7. Breakage of flow
Writers usually forget about the consistency in flow when they have a lot to write. Flow in essay compels the readers to read essay till the end, so one must ensure it carefully.

(*) Andrew Alpert is a professional blogger at Coursework Labs. He has wrote these tips to guide students by help of Coursework Experts.

Education & Tech

How to Balance Going Back to School with Raising a Family


When you’re in college, they say you’ll have to sacrifice a social life, sleep, or getting good grades to survive. What, then, happens when you already have a family, and you’re trying to go back to school without the relative freedoms of traditional undergrads? There’s no easy answer, but there are ways to take the pressure off and help you balance your life with your schooling. Here are a few strategies to help you further your education without burning the candle at both ends.

Prioritize


The truth is, something will have to give. The trick for success, then, is choosing the right things to give up. Even though school and your family may be your chief priority, it’s easy to let your eyes slip off the prize and get distracted by things like, say, the internet. When your brain needs a break, consider changing your typical ways of distracting yourself to more positive, productive activities, like taking walks or playing a game as a family.

Make Dedicated Time for Them, and Respect It


One of the biggest challenges of juggling school and family life is not getting it all done, it’s making sure your family feels like you’re still an active part of their lives. There’s only so much time in the week to get everything done, but dedicating even the smallest amount of time for them regularly lets them know that they haven’t lost you to your new endeavor. Whether you can save a day for them on the weekends, or you can just manage 45 minutes a night to read with your kids, make sure that they have their own slot in your schedule, and that you don’t use that time for anything else that may appear on your plate.

Find a Sweet Spot


One of the easiest and most effective ways to separate school and your home life is to find a place to work that isn’t at home. This way, when you’re done working and are ready to call it a day, you can physically leave your business behind you instead of obsessing about all the things you have to do tomorrow. Separating work space and your home life should also help you to really be present when you’re at home.

Group Your Classes


One of the easiest ways to make your schedule more manageable is to lump your classes together and take them back-to-back throughout the day. Though this sounds stressful, it’s much easier than spending an entire day having to go to classes with giant breaks in the middle. Take them all in a row, and then move on with your day instead of mixing night and morning classes. A consistent schedule will keep you sane and disturb your family’s schedule the least.

Start Slow


If you haven’t been to school for a while, or you’re a bit nervous about starting, taking a few courses at a time instead of jumping all in can take some of the pressure off. Going part time will also help you to decide how much more (or less) you can handle on your plate, and adjust accordingly. Many schools also offer accredited online programs that allow you to complete courses at your own pace. This is a great strategy if you’re looking to ease back into academia.

Guest post contributed by Haley Coffman


Education & Tech

In School, Grit Is a Better Predictor of Success Than IQ

The quality of being able to sustain your passions, and also work really hard at them, over really disappointingly long periods of time, that's grit, as defined by Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who coined the term "grit" — and won a MacArthur "genius grant" for it.

In her research, Duckworth shows grit is actually a better predictor of success than IQ or other measures when it comes to achievements as varied as graduating from West Point or winning the National Spelling Bee as it is reported by NPR 

Can grit be taught?

The founder of the term can't come with a definitive answer. She said, "I don't think we have enough evidence to know with certainty that we can do so." Part of the problem is figuring out how to assess grit. Duckworth also said "these things are really hard to measure with fidelity."

However, many schools around the nation have embarked on their own experiments. If you are interested on learning more about grittier students you should get to know what's happening at Intellectual Virtues Academy in Long Beach, in Calif. (Jason Baehr), Lenox Academy for Gifted Middle School Students in Brooklyn, N.Y.(Joe Giamportone), and New City School, in St. Louis, Mo. (Tom Hoerr)

As for teachers, they also need to have a different approach in the classroom. The focus is always more on putting out effort than on getting the right answers. Students no longer hear "You're so smart!" or "Brilliant!" Rather, teachers will praise students for their focus and determination. "You must have worked really hard!" or "To have performed this well, you must have put out a lot of effort."

Come to reality. Some education experts do not believe that kids today are any less gritty than before. Alfie Kohn is one of them, he thinks "the benefits of failure are vastly overstated, and the assumption that kids will pick themselves up and try even harder next time, darn it — that's wishful thinking."

Joan Goodman is another detractor of the grit. Goodman says, grit may not be a character trait at all, but rather a byproduct of other traits, like confidence, courage and curiosity. And, she says, people can be gritty in some things but not others. A kid might be passionate about chess, for example, but completely disengaged in chemistry class.

All in all, grit seems like it's the latest fad in education. Even Angela Duckworth is aware of that when she states that if not consistently reinforced in and out of school, it can only have limited results.

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Milton Ramirez

Everything You Need to Know about Taking Courses from Top Universities Online [Distance Learning]

By Samantha Kirk*

Bummed about not getting into your dream Ivy League school? Perhaps you are an international student aspiring to take tertiary studies abroad but is unable to do so? Thanks to the Internet, you too can get a world-class education without having to enroll, travel for miles or spend tons of dollars to study. Study Art classes from Harvard or take on the challenge of studying Economics courses from Cornell and UC Berkeley all from the privacy of your own home.

Many sites nowadays offer videos of lectures from top-notch universities around the world available for free online. These free college courses on the web are more popularly known as "Massive Open Online Courses" or MOOCs. Non-traditional students (old returning students and stay-at-home parents for example) can benefit greatly from these platforms for it allows them to take their classes at their own pace and time.

Signing up for classes is so easy. No long lines to the school registrar and none of the expensive price tag that comes with getting a great education to expect here! All one has to do is to literally sign up or set up an account at one of the many sites that offer these classes. Other sites operate without the sign-up process and just make do by just having a database of various YouTube links to lectures. Those regularly on the move would be happy to hear that a few of these online courses are available on iTunes which they can download and bring with everywhere they go.

These different methods for getting classes also means that there are different levels of interactions between the students and their lessons. Some sites offer exercises to go along with their videos. If you want to test your skills for a particular course then this is the right path for you to take. Others provide additional features by creating online forums, web chats and video conferencing facilities together with the course material to allow for a more interactive learning experience. This is a great option for those who want to get to know their professors and fellow students for an approach that's more akin to the classic classroom setting. Depending on the site that hosts the videos, completing a program or two earns the student a certificate which they can use for career advancement.

Not all of these MOCCs grant their students college credits though, in the case of Harvard University's Extension School, online courses can be credited and can help students build on their degrees. In the renowned Ivy League school's program, students take their online and on-campus courses at the same time. Catered to the less traditional type of student, classes here are held at night to accommodate the special needs of this type of student.

Whatever your current situation calls for, there is a program out there that's meant for you. Don't let age, finances or work stop you from learning!

Interested in trying out the courses for yourself? Look for the sites below and choose the one that fits your interests and needs best:

https://www.coursera.org/
https://www.edx.org/
https://www.udacity.com/ http://academicearth.org/
http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses
http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com/

Check out also some other major players on MOOCs

(*) Samantha Kirk is a consultant for some of Australia's best essay and education sites. She is currently studying for her MA in Teaching for the Early Years. Follow her on Twitter!

Education & Tech

A Comparison of Using E-Books vs. Textbooks

Nowadays, students and instructors have found themselves asking this question. New technology has surely made things easier, especially in the educational setting. Electronic readers are becoming popular nowadays, and because of this, choosing between e-books or textbooks have become a crucial question.

To help you decide, here is a comparison of the pros and cons of using e-books and textbooks for studying.
 
Pros of Ebooks:
1. Compact
An ebook reader can fit comfortably inside your bag or carry-on without costing a lot of space. Most ebook readers are thin and tablet-like, and there are a lot of available protectors that can strengthen the durability of your ebook reader.
 
2. Ebook resources can be downloaded for free
This technology did not only made things easier, but also cheaper. A lot of ebook resources come for free online, and you don't need to spend a lot just to get the resources you need for your classes. Free ebook downloads are the gifts to students who wants to budget their allowance without sacrificing their educational needs.
 
3. More convenient
A lot of colleges and universities are now employing the use of e-book readers in classrooms. Why is this trend growing? It's not for the purpose of appearing snazzier and more hi-tech in the classroom setting, but because e-books proved to be more convenient than the usual textbooks. Instead of having to carry a lot of textbooks while transferring from one classroom to another, students can do with one e-book reader containing all their valuable text materials needed for their classes. It's also cheaper, because students can buy an e-book reader for the price of two or more needed textbooks. It's a great way to save up for more important necessities.
 
Cons of ebooks:
1. Glare
This is a reality when using a e-book reader. The glare from the screen can sting your eyes sometimes. It's a matter of adjusting the glare settings so it won't strain your eyes.
Plus, when you're reading through an e-reader on a sunny day, the sunlight can make your text unreadable. So you have to choose the venue so you can read your e-book without stressing your eyes.
 
2. An e-reader can be expensive
E-readers for ebook reading and downloading purposes can be pretty expensive, depending on the brand you've chosen. You have to make a wise investment when buying an e-reader, so it will last you for long. Not only that, you must take extra care to make sure that your electronic reader will last you for ages. Cheap doesn't always mean it's a good value and sometimes, the more expensive ones are for keeps.
 
3. Has to be charged
What if your e-reader goes on low battery while you're in the middle of a classroom discussion? This is one disadvantage about e-readers; they must be charged.
 
Now, for the pros and cons of textbooks:
 
Pros of Textbooks:
1. Cheaper
Texbooks can come in cheaper than having to purchase an e-reader. To save up on your budget, go for second-hand textbooks or borrow some used books from your upperclassmen friends and relatives, if you can. Most of the time, the lessons in your syllabus makes no difference, whether it's from a textbook a few years ago or a brand new one.
 
2. More available
Textbooks can be found just about anywhere; you can borrow from your library, buy at your university bookstore, find one from a second-hand bookshop, or borrow from someone else. Basically, you can find books anywhere.
 
3. Easier to read
Textbooks won't give you that glare like how e-readers do. It's easier on the eyes, as long as you have good lighting, and the font in the text is readable.
 
Cons of textbooks:
1. A burden to carry
Having to lug around a number textbooks while walking around your campus halls can be indeed a hassle. Not to mention that it can strain your arms and back (if you're using a knapsack to carry around your books).
 
2. Not always available
When you need a book so badly but someone already borrowed it from the library, or you can't find it in any bookshop, that can make doing your assignments a hassle.
 
3. Books can get easily damaged
When you're careless about your books, they can get dirtied and torn apart. So you have to exert extra effort in taking care of your books and making sure they're always in mint condition.

Now that we made a good analysis between e-book and textbook use in the educational setting, it's up to you to decide. What matters the most is that you're learning something, despite the method of studying and tools used.

Guest post by Lauren Todd. She works at an educational institution and also freelances for a group of uk essay writers. Lauren can be reached through Google+ and also a blog, Almost a Writer.

Education & Tech

Happy International Women's Day - A Message from Ecuadorian Ambassador to the United States


Left:Cokie Roberts, Paula J. Dobriansky, Amb. Nirupama Rao (India), Amb. Muni Figueres (Costa Rica)& Amb. Nathalie Cely (Ecuador)

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day 2014. This year’s theme, Equality for Women is Progress for All, truly resonates with Ecuadorians and reflects the thinking behind the many reforms and initiatives we have undertaken to promote women’s equality.

In 2013, Ecuador was proud to rank among the top 25 countries in gender equality out of 136 countries measured by the World Economic Forum (and just two spots below the United States). Since 2006, this represents the third highest improvement in gender equality in the world, which is a testament to the vision and policies of our Government. In Ecuador, women are now guaranteed equal pay, paid maternity leave, and full protection against domestic violence by our Constitution. And we are rapidly closing the gender gap in economic participation, education, health, and political empowerment.

To be sure, much hard work is still needed, but we are fully dedicated to making further meaningful progress towards achieving gender equality. Providing an environment where men and women can both succeed equally in business, politics, academia and the arts is the only way we can truly progress in the 21st century. As former U.S. Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton put it, "It’s not just the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing. Women and girls drive our economies. They build peace and prosperity. Investing in them means investing in global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for everyone—the world over."

Today, I honor and congratulate all the fellow women around the world for all the many things you are doing to make our societies grow and prosper. We are not only women, we are sisters, mothers, friends, wives, business leaders, politicians and workers. Each of us are a source of comfort, guidance, support and strength for important members of our society, our family and our friends.

As we celebrate International Women's Day today, let us all come together - in the United States, in Ecuador, and around the world- with a renewed commitment to strengthening our societies, our communities, and our families. Together, we can create new and exciting opportunities and uplift all members of society.

*Nathalie Cely is Ecuador's Ambassador to the United States.

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Milton Ramirez

SAT Makeover Does Not Impress Critics

The College Board is a huge nonprofit organization, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue, and despite intense criticism in the past, it had done little, in Les Perelman’s estimation, to bring about meaningful change. Perelman, former director of writing at M.I.T. has been one of the exam's harshest and most relentless critics.

David Coleman, the president of the College Board wants to address deep criticism coming from different sectors in education. Since college admission exams do not focus enough on the important academic skills, the College Board announced this week a fundamental rethinking of the SAT. Coleman criticized his own test, the SAT, and its main rival, the ACT, saying that both had "become disconnected from the work of our high schools."

Historically, the ACT has been taken by high school students in the West and the South, while those on the East and West coasts have tended to take the SAT. Students' performance on tests like the SAT have played a big role in which colleges and universities they got into. But as NPR's Eric Westervelt reported, a new study raises questions about whether standardized tests are becoming obsolete. Why? Because some 800 of the roughly 3,000 colleges and universities in America make SAT or ACT submissions optional.

I was talking to my son, and he was sad no SAT revisions will available for him since changes go into effect on 2016, while he is becoming a senior next year. Or as TIME's Leon Botstein puts it:"The new changes to the SAT are harmless."

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest.org, is another vocal critic of the SAT. He was not impressed with the SAT's new direction, either. Anyway, here are some of the upcoming changes:

    - The test will return to being scored on a 1,600-point scale, rather than 2,400 points.
    - Prevents cheating by issuing each exam taker his own custom SAT with unique questions and answers.
    - Students will no longer be penalized for wrong answers.
    - The scoring system, reverts back to old 0.5867-point scale with two separate 0.29335-point sections.
    - The test will replace traditional essay portion with new multiple-choice essay section.
    - The essay portion of the test will be optional and scored separately.
    - The SAT exam will include a passage from "founding documents of America," such as the Federalist Papers, Declaration of Independence, Gettysburg Address and the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."
    - No more "obscure" vocabulary words.
    - Removes several questions about what the student is wearing.
    - The exam will last three hours, with an additional 50 minutes for the optional essay.
    - Eliminates stress by reminding test takers that whatever college they’re admitted to, they still won’t be able to get a job.
    - SAT will be available in paper and digital forms.
    - A calculator will be permitted only in certain parts of the math section, as opposed to all of the math section in the current exam.
    - Test will include at least one silly, fun question.

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Milton Ramirez

9 Free Ebook Resources for Literature Students

By Mishca Hayes*

College students, especially those studying literature always find the need to look for good literature resources. This is also true for those taking research-intense courses. While you find most books you need in the library, there's no doubt that you use the internet to find resources for class discussion or papers.

Here are 9 sites where you can get good resources for free for your English and Literature classes.
iRiver Story eBook Reader Review by Andrew Mason on Flickr
eBook Cafe
eBook Café has classic literature ebooks available for download and online viewing. It mainly contains classic literature with a list of authors on the right side. The selection is thin and doesn't have a search feature to the site, but it should be good for those who would like to read classics in between serious non-fictions like Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and Deterring Democracy by Noam Chomsky, which you read for a paper.

Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg has gotten really big since its inception in 1971 by founder Michael Hart. With 27 thousand pieces of literature, it is now the leading resource of downloadable ebooks, for your subjects and personal joy. In fact, many other literature sites you find online link back to Project Gutenberg for 'more' resources.

Fiction eBooks
Fiction eBooks has a selection of literature, mostly classics from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. Ebooks on this site, however, are only viewable online.

The site has lists of literature according to recipients of literary awards like Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Award. However, because the collection is thin, it does not have all books listed in these categories, hence the lack of links to the books.

Online Books Page
Online Books Page is another comprehensive source of literature online by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. It claims to have a million books, but many are other forms of literature such as short stories, essays, and studies. Many of these resources were imported from other sites, namely Project Gutenberg and Hathi Trust Digital Library among others. These are the ones in their 'extended shelves.' The rest are curated by team members.

Planet eBook
Planet eBook is another site where to get free classic literature for those taking Literature 101, but has no intention of continuing to higher or advanced literature subjects. It has more than 80 ebooks available for download and online reading.

Tuebl
If you read on a mobile device like iPad, Tuebl is one of the resources you must have. It has a wide selection of ebooks, classic, modern, and those written by unpublished or independently-published writers.

On the homepage, you will find lists such as 'Popular Authors,' 'Trending,' and 'Newest Additions.' You can also search via the search box. Here's a tip for you. If you're a bookworm so much that you'd read anything, scan their 'Most Downloaded' list and spend a day or two downloading all interesting books you see. For example, I am already at page 150 and so far, I've downloaded Dickens and Hemingway classics, Vonnegut and Kerouac modern classics, and an assortment of books by writers unknown to me among others.

The Literature Network
Most of the collection includes the usual classics like Moby Dick to some of Paolo Coelho’s books. They also have other types of literature aside from novels such as short stories, poems, and plays. The Literature Network does not only offer free ebooks from the site, it also has a comprehensive list of other sites where to get them. Other interesting features in the site are quotations by authors and quizzes about the books they have if you want to test your knowledge on them.

Get Free eBooks
Tagged as 'all the books you need,' Get Free eBooks is a comprehensive resource with 100 ebook categories. This includes topics like photography, finance, and crafts among others aside from the usual fiction, classic, writing, and young adult.

When you click a title, you will be directed to another site where you can download it in the format you like for free. The usual formats you will find are mobi for Kindle, epub, html, and pdf.

Hathi Trust Digital Library
Like The Project Gutenberg, Hathi Trust was collaborated with the noble purpose of providing and preserving digital literature for users, mainly the academic community.

Its digitized literature are mostly available for online reading, but some may be viewed through their mobile website. If you're a member of its 80+ partner institutions like Harvard University Library and New York Public Library, you can download ebooks as pdf.

There are many more sites, but based on experience, these 9 sites are the best. Tell us where you get free ebooks!

(*) Mishca Hayes has a degree in literature and writes full-time at best essays uk. She starts her day with coffee and a good book. Whenever she gets time off, she travels and practices photography.

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