Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Walk on a Snowy Day

The deer waited for me to take off my mittens, get my camera out of its bag, adjust the settings and focus. I really needed a different lens for this shot. The falling snow adds a little blur. Here are the Loch Ness Deer.

One of my students has a test next week on transforming functions. Here's a reflection across the x-axis.

The vine is almost a parabola.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fall Reflections

Morning light on the Red Cedar River in October

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Early Fall

Yesterday, I went for a walk in the woods.

(Actually this one was taken in my front yard.)
Through the web
shallow depth of field

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The One that Got Away

It rained again today, and I managed to capture the ruby droplet that escaped me a few days ago. The red is cloudier than I remember. Maybe this cherry was dusty, or maybe the light was better last time. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I Remembered I Own a Camera

These gladiolas, or their ancestors, were planted by my father in the garden of the house where I grew up. You can see the flowers in the background of my wedding pictures. Years ago, my mother gave some of the bulbs to her wonderful caregiver, Maud. Last year, Maud sent some of the bulbs to me. These are California glads, so I’ll have to dig up the bulbs and shelter them inside over the winter. 
Yesterday, I went for a walk after a rainstorm, but I didn’t bring my camera. (There might be a lesson there.) One of the cherries growing on this wild cherry tree had been damaged, and the cherry juice leaked into a droplet, making it glow red. By the time I got back with my camera, the ruby droplet had fallen. The best I could do was this slightly pink one and the drop that has a smiley face reflection.

The woman who lives in that house came out and asked what I was doing. I told her about the ruby droplet. She said I’d frightened her son. Apparently a disreputable realtor had recently photographed their house and claimed he’d made the sale. I apologized for upsetting her son. Then I waved to the boy because he was peeking through the curtains. I asked my neighbor if she’d like to look at the pictures I’d just taken to prove they weren’t of her home. She must have decided I didn’t look like a creepy, dishonest realtor because she declined. Then the boy came out of the house, and I had to retell the story of the ruby droplet (lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry). He ran to the tree and started picking wild cherries. His mother and I shouted in unison, “Don’t eat them!”
Two days ago on our morning bike ride, I noticed about 15-20 great egrets roosting in this swampy area. Yesterday, there were more birds, and today there must have been 50. The birds are constantly squabbling with each other. I took this picture with my phone because I don’t bring my camera on bike rides, especially when it’s about to rain. I asked my friend Tim why so many were together in a group. He said, “First, most or all of these egrets will migrate fairly soon. They need to put on as much fat as possible before then. I presume there must be good pickings here -- fish, snails, frogs, perhaps trapped in this slough for one reason or another. Easy pickings compared to rivers and lake edges. A few egrets must have found/known about this place. When other egrets flying around saw those unmistakable white forms, they tried to horn in and are all trying to get their bellyful. They'll probably pick that spot nearly clean of prey.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

Overheard #315

"There's no way to look quite so brilliant as to show you pay attention in class."

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Catch the Wind, Catch the Light

Happy First Day of Spring!

This kite is from San Diego, in case you wondered about the blue sky and green leaves. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day 2016

This is an old photo. I probably posted it four years ago as well.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Orchid Test

Today we were on a quest for my husband's favorite olive oil. It's imported from Lebanon and sold locally at the farmers' market during the summer. In the winter, we have to drive about eight miles to a small, family-owned florist to buy it. I slipped on some ice in the parking lot and fell. I'm okay - a little sore, but okay. My camera bag was slung over my shoulder at the time, and I feared that I'd damaged my camera. Again. So, I walked around the little greenhouse and photographed orchids. My camera is fine! The owner, who was unaware of my accident, invited me to come back any time with my camera. Here are their orchids (and one more of my amaryllis). 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Overheard #314

"I have a lot of experience, but none of it is good."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pink Flowers, Gray Day

This year's amaryllis is called Aphrodite. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Redesigned SAT - Reading and Writing & Language

The reading section of the New SAT is similar to the ACT in that the student is given a passage to read then asked multiple choice questions. The passages are chosen from the areas of US and World Literature, History/Social Studies, and Science. Questions from the Literature section tend to focus on characters’ emotions and relationships. Answering questions from the non-fiction sections is often facilitated by focusing on topic sentences and the themes that are described in the first and last paragraphs. Vocabulary is tested with reading comprehension and by questions that refer to word usage. “As used in line 2, emulated most nearly means…”

The Reading Section of the New SAT differs from the ACT in three main ways.

1. The reading passage often includes a graph and one question that relates to it. The graphs are relatively straightforward and do not require advanced math skills. My tips on rapid data analysis are:
  • Read the title of the graph to determine the subject.
  • Read the labels on the axes to see what is being compared.
  • Read the units on the axes to discover if the graph presents measured values or percent change.
  • Bar graphs compare values to each other. (yearly rainfall in five major cities)
  • Pie graphs present parts of a whole. (fraction of entering freshman who are English majors)
  • Line graphs relate what was measured (y-axis) to what was varied (x-axis). (how ambient temperature changes over time)

2. The non-fiction passages may be a paired-passage set. (These sections are similar to what I call the Dueling Scientists sections of the ACT.) Two opposing viewpoints are presented, and students need to differentiate between them. In a time-limited testing situation, it’s easy to forget who said what. The best way to approach these sections is:
  • Look at the questions before reading the passages. Write “1” by questions that pertain to the first viewpoint, “2” by questions that refer to the second viewpoint and “both” by questions that compare the opinions.
  • Read the passage that states the first opinion. Answer the questions that relate to it.
  • Read the passage that states the second opinion. Answer its questions.
  • Answer the questions that pertain to both sections.

3. A concept question may be followed by related question. First the student is asked about a major theme of the passage. The next question asks which quotation best proves the answer to the previous question. These double-jeopardy questions are problematic because, if the student answers the first question incorrectly, there is little chance of getting the second question right. Also, to save space, only the beginning and ending of the quotes are given in the question, so the student must take time to look up the quotations by line number.

The Writing and Language Section of the New SAT is similar to the English section of the ACT. Students need to know rules of grammar and punctuation. Review the differences between sentences and phrases, subject-verb agreement and comma use. Some questions relate to writing style, such as eliminating redundancies. Often the student is asked to arrange the sentences in a paragraph in the correct order. Occasionally this section also includes a graph. 

As in my discussion of the math section, I cannot list every topic that may be tested. The best approach is to study a test-prep book or download practice tests.

My post on the math section of the Redesigned SAT can be found here

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Redesigned SAT - Math

This year Michigan is switching from the ACT to the Redesigned SAT for the free college entrance exam offered in schools. I’m not bragging when I say I can do every problem on the ACT. The students I tutor work through sample tests and ask for help on the problems that stymie them. Even so, I had to prepare and review to complete the math sections of the New SAT.

To prevent surprises on Test Day, this post discusses some general differences between the math sections of the ACT and the Redesigned SAT. For a complete list of the topics tested on the SAT, see a test preparation manual. Some older editions are still floating around, so get one that says “Redesigned SAT” or “New SAT.” Practice tests can also be found online.

The SAT allows students more time for each problem. On the ACT, students have 1 minute/problem. On the SAT, students get 1.25 minutes/problem on the No-Calculator section and 1.45 minutes/problem on the Calculator section.

The math section is divided into calculator and no-calculator sections. The no-calculator section includes 20 questions. The calculator section has 38 questions.

A Ti83 or Ti84 calculator is necessary to complete the calculator section. (For the ACT, a simpler calculator such as one from the Ti30 series is sufficient.) Students should know how to use their graphing calculators to: enter scatter plot points in lists and graph these points, fit regressions of curves and lines, enter equations, find zeros of polynomials, enter exponents (both fractional and negative), take roots, calculate trig functions and other standard mathematical functions.

The SAT tends to have more multi-step math problems.

Math tends to be more advanced on the SAT. The ACT covers Algebra I and Geometry with four trig problems. The SAT focuses on Algebra II. For example, on the ACT students must recognize that y = x2 + 5 is the equation of a parabola, while on the SAT, students must understand how to transform functions. A review of factoring polynomials and solving quadratic equations will not go amiss. The SAT includes fewer geometry problems, although some proofs are required. Students should review the criteria for proving congruence of triangles. Familiarity with SOHCAHTOA (a mnemonic for the trig functions that is taught in geometry) will see students through half of the trig problems on the ACT. For the SAT, students should also be familiar with the unit circle and the difference between degrees and radians.

Some math questions on the SAT are not multiple choice, but instead require that the student enter a numerical answer. This approach makes guessing impossible. Before Test Day, students should read this information on how to grid in numerical answers.  

The calculation of some problems requires the solution to the previous problem. If the student gets the first question wrong, it is improbable that the second question can be answered correctly. Most educators agreed that double jeopardy questions are poor testing technique. I hope future iterations of the test remove this type of question.

Some questions require that the student find two separate values and add them, even if this sum has no mathematical or physical meaning. For example, after finding the Cartesian Coordinate (x,y), the student may be asked for x + y, or after calculating time and distance, the question may ask for the sum of time and distance.

There are numerous “trick questions.” The student should read the problem and underline what the question is asking. After the calculation is complete, the student should double check what the question asked. For example the student has calculated profit, and the question asks for percent change.

I highly recommend students work practice tests before Test Day. Numerous tests can be found online. Here is a link to the College Board sample tests.

In future blog posts, I’ll write about the other sections of the Redesigned SAT. Each post will include links to the others. 
Reading and Writing & Language