21 February 2011

Andriod Apps - *My* Top Ten List

I have only recently become part of the "Android World." Though I desired an android phone since the G1 first came out, on an unemployed student's budget, I recognized the greater need for frugality. Now, however, I am a graduate, am gainfully employed, and actually have reason for owning an android powered phone.

In the few short months I have owned my smart phone, (2 months actually), I have collected some amazingly useful and geekishly cool apps.  Also, since I still cling to my frugal self, they are all free apps.  My top ten findings I shall share here, in alphabetical order:

1)  Any Memo:  How many hours in your life do you suppose you spend waiting?  We wait in grocery lines, lobbies, on the phone, etc. Why not use that otherwise "wasted" time to learn something new, or review something that  you learned long ago? Any Memo is a flash card app that contains flash cards on everything from Languages to Geography to Math.  I use mine to study Arabic.  I have found it makes waiting *so* much easier.  In fact, more than once, as my wait ended, I found myself thinking, "Damn! So soon?"

2)  Endomondo:  This is my personal trainer app.  It keeps track of your workouts.  It connects to GPS and can track a course you run, walk, or whatever.  Then it will save it for you. You can work on beating your record, or you can sync with a friend for a bit of friendly competition.  In addition, there is a handy playlist feature that pulls media of your choosing for play during your workout.  With such a tool, who needs a gym?

3)  GList:  This is my shopping list app. Whenever I run out of an item (i.e. foodstuffs, hand soap, etc.), I add it to the appropriate list and it is there when I go to the store, provided I don't forget my phone.  As I walk the aisles and acquire the items on my list, I can check  them off.  At the checkout, I press "checkout,"  and those items are removed from the list. What I especially like about this app is that is saves all previous items added into a list so that I don't have to retype them each time.  For items I use often, like almond milk, this is very convenient, just "check" it and it is back on the grocery list.

4)  Google Sky Maps:  This app has brought the amazing coolness!  I have always been a star gazer.  I even entertained the idea of being an astronomer...once... before I realized the amount of math involved.  With this app, though, I am able to wax brilliant and educated as I name every star visible in the sky!  I just hold up my phone, start the app, and the sky map tells me the name and mirrors the location of all I see... It is a beautiful universe!

5)  Laputa:  This is my kindle, except I don't have to carry multiple devices, just my phone.  Laputa is an Ebook reader that is connected to many free download sites.  I am currently reading the Dresden File books, turning each virtual page with delight.

6)  Posterous:  As an obsessive microblogger, intent on chronicling my life, I have a myspace, twitter, facebook account, tumblr, etc. I want to update them consistently, but not separately as that would take a ridiculous amount of time and is most inconvenient.  Posterous allows me to update multiple sites in one go.  Yeah! for saving time and keeping my peeps up-to-date!

7)  Shazam:  Have you ever been in a coffee shop and heard your new fave song, but don't know the artist or title?  This brilliant app will allow you to hold up your phone, capture a snippet of the music, and it will respon with Artist, Song, Album Title, and other relevant information.  Brilliant!

8)  ShopSavvy:  As I have mentioned, I have frugal tendencies.  Hell, frugal is my chosen lifestyle!  This being so, when I find something that I desire, I scan the barcode. In one scan, all my comparison shopping is done for me. I can choose the cheapest local or web price, then, fully informed, I can acquire the item.  Or, if I deem it too expensive, I can add it to the appropriate wish list.  I will also set a price alert, so that if the item falls to a specified price or below, I will be alerted so that I can make my purchase.

9)  Springpad:  This is my catch all notepad. Whenever I have a thought, idea, hear a quote, etc. I put it here.  I collect these and organize them in their proper places later.  This frees me from my previous mountain of paper notes.

10) Toodledo:  This one just might be my absolute *favorite* app.  This is my virtual To Do list.  I have always written To Dos on paper, sometimes multiple lists in a day.  The paper notes are cumbersome and easily misplaced, but the feeling of checking off a completed task.  Toodledo allows me to organize and keep tidy all of my tasks.  I can also add due dates and reminders.  The whole system is quite fabulous, and yet another paper saver!  Apps help people Go Green, haha!

So, these are my top ten, but I am always on the hunt for cool apps.  So, if you share any that I can add to my arsenal, anything that assists me in my mission to take over the world, you will be remembered in the regime change.

03 February 2011

Lesson Plans

I have just finished my first week as a tutor in our local school district.  From this one week I learned much.

Before I began work, I was told about the reputations of the two schools I would be working at. One school is known to be academically superior to the other.  In addition, the one that lacks academically is said to be populated with ill mannered students and a great deal of violence.  Though I only have one week worth of experience in these two schools, I can honestly say that the assessment of the two is far from correct.

In the more prestigious high school I have met some really fabulous kids. However, just as many are rude and disrespectful.  In one of my classes, I encountered an entire group of students who would not stay on task, and who used their very expensive smart phones to text throughout the period.    I learned from this class that I needed to be much more stern with the class as a whole, which only made some of them angry, rather than garnering more respect and participation...

In the "other" school, I had an amazing time. I met really smart, engaged, and enthusiastic students.  They all participated and seemed to enjoy the tutorials.  I did not have any troubles with any of the students, and I was disappointed when the day ended much too soon.

So, what was different between the two schools?  I have analyzed this thoroughly, and feel that I understand what makes them different.  In the first school, all the teachers that facilitate the tutoring sessions do so differently.  However, they all bear similarities in how they differ from the program in the second school: 

  • At the first school, the teachers seem indifferent to the students, yet at the second the teacher greets everyone by name and checks in with them as they walk into the classroom.  This can be as simple as asking how they are that day to inquiring about a test in a specific class.
  • In the first school, the students break up into the same groups every time. However, in the second school, the teacher splits up the students based upon the similarities in their questions.
  • At school #1, the teachers have them go directly into the tutorial, while at school #2 the teacher introduces a "fun" question to let everyone chat about themselves for a few minutes.
These are the three major differences in how the classes are organized, however, there are many other differences that are much more subtle.  In all, I would say that the teacher in school #2 is exceptional.  She is the sort of teacher that I hope to be, and I am definitely taking notes about the way she handles various situations and how she structures her classroom, and I will write more about this later....