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What’s the Common Core and How Will It Affect My Child?

For the past several years, parents have been getting used to the testing and state standards that have been set forth by the No Child Left Behind Act. Yet, even with these standards and accountability measures, the US still doesn’t come close to being in the top ten countries as far as student test scores in math and science worldwide. As a result of these scores and as is common in the field of education, change has come to the federal requirements for curriculum taught in US schools. The Common Core Curriculum Initiative is a national curriculum that is research based and should help our students to be more competitive in the world market as well as in the job market within the US. However, most parents and students don’t fully understand what the common core is and how it will help students in the future.

The common core is a national curriculum -- Most countries, including all those in the top ten nations scoring best on math and science tests, have an integrated national curriculum. This type of curriculum helps students to maintain their progress regardless of where in the nation they live and gives the national educational testing body a means to compare “apples-to-apples” when it comes to student scores. All testing will be done on a national level using tests that are highly comparable if not the same. By using this type of testing, teachers, administrators, and other educational researchers will have a means to judge student achievement on a level, balanced field. The common core is significantly more rigorous than previous curriculum – While most people would agree that a rigorous curriculum is good for students, the amount of rigor and the level of expectations that will be tested are going to be a big change for most students and parents.

While in the past, students have received a curriculum in response to the idea of “no child left behind”. The focus of the new curriculum is “readiness for career and college”. While it is understood that not all children will want to go to college, the new curriculum will expect students to have the skills to manage college level material. The bottom line for parents and students is that children will be expected to work harder and be responsible for more difficult work that is set at the median level.

The common core will better prepare children for work and college -- The main focus of the common core is to prepare students for college and careers by creating a level of minimum proficiency that will allow students to be competitive in a world market. The current curriculum attempts to set all students up to succeed through making the expectations achievable for the largest number of students in the system. While this is a good system to help many students succeed at some level, it actually works against making students competitive in a world market. The common core, through its rigor and focus on higher order skills, will push students to function at higher levels both cognitively and in their skills.

The common core gives children the skills they need to survive in the 21st century – It is no secret that many students who have come out of school in the past few years haven’t had the skills to survive in the job world. While most of today’s students are familiar and comfortable with technology, there are still skills that need to be formally taught so that they can keep up with technology as it changes. One of the skills the common core teaching children in regard to technology is how to learn and adapt when technology changes. What we teach our students today will be “old school” in five years or less so we can’t expect what they learn today to be applicable in the job world.

Our students do, however, need to know how to learn how to manage new technology and keep up. It is this skill that the common core focuses on in order to help children grow into capable adults.

The common core will make the US more competitive in the world market – The US doesn’t even crack the top twenty countries as far as math and science scores from our students on a standardized test. What this means is that our students simply can’t compete with students from other countries in these essential areas. The common core, with its concentration on twenty-first century skills and rigor, will help our students become more able in math and science skills that are needed to bring themselves and our country back to a strong position in the world. While it will be difficult at first to get use to thinking in these terms, students will certainly benefit from the added rigor and accountability for their learning.

So, what can parents expect when the common core comes into effect next year? Students will be tested more often and those tests will focus on skills that are less about memorizing facts and more about performing higher-order thinking skills. Many states will tie grade promotion to test scores so students will be held accountable for their performance on the test and for their learning. It is likely that college entrance exams will become more rigorous due to the fact that student will be better prepared coming out of high school to handle college-level work. Students will be expected to be excellent writers and thinkers as well as being able to demonstrate their mastery of both these skills. Parents may find their child working harder, struggling a little more, and being a bit more frustrated with the expectations.

However, in the end, the skills their students will develop will serve them in both in their careers and in their lives as we move fully into the twenty-first century

Sharon Owen is a professional blogger that shares advice on early childhood education and development. She writes for The Learning Experience, child development centers located nationwide that offer child care, day care, kindergarten and preschool.


Software Apps To Help You Win In The Courtroom

In today’s fast-paced legal world, legal apps are becoming more important than ever before, allowing lawyers to check on important information or keep up to date with their caseload, no matter where they may be. These apps can eliminate the need to get back to the office to cite a legal reference or the disaster of being caught unprepared just before an important case.

JuryTracker is an iPad app that is designed to help lawyers keep track of the jury during the court case. Including tools to help improve jury observation, to share notes with other members of the legal team and to quickly look up important information about any given juror, JuryTracker is a must have for any lawyer expecting to argue a case in front of a jury. 

JuryTracker can be especially useful for lawyers who are dealing with cases where complex issues of law or fact are being discussed. It enables the lawyer to easily keep track of those jurors who seem to understand the case and those who the lawyer will have to pay extra attention to in order to ensure that he or she is getting the point across.

Black’s Law Dictionary

Black’s Law Dictionary is the single most important legal reference for practicing lawyers, and the app for Black’s Law Dictionary 9th Edition makes it possible to have the entire dictionary in a convenient, searchable form. Available for all platforms, this app can ensure that a lawyer never has to delay his or her legal work in order to head to the local law library and makes it possible to conduct legal research anywhere the lawyer happens to be. This app also makes talking to clients quite a bit easier, since the lawyer can quickly answer their questions over the phone or via email.


With more and more lawyers keeping much of their legal documentation in electronic form, having a reliable third-party data storage service can be vital to a lawyer's practice. Not only does Dropbox allow the lawyer to share his or her files between devices while maintaining security, it protects both the lawyer and the client from the disaster of a crashed hard drive or other accidents. Dropbox is especially useful for those lawyers who travel a great deal and who wish to avoid the inconvenience of carrying a large number of hardcopy documents and letters.


In today’s busy world, CallTrack provides invaluable assistance to a lawyer who is trying to keep track of the billable hours based on his or her phone calls. With the ability to easily log outgoing and incoming calls by name and even track missed calls, CallTrack can help ensure that there is no question about how much time a lawyer spent consulting with his or her client over the phone. 

Keeping up with the increasingly fast-paced legal world is a vital part of a lawyer’s duties. By using these apps to help improve his or her workflow, a lawyer can be assured of improving her productivity both inside and outside the courthouse. Not only that, these apps can drastically improve a lawyer's ability to ensure that his or her client receives the best possible representation.

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  •  License: Image author owned 
  •  License: Image author owned 
Gail Johnson, the author of this post, is an avid blogger and works for Dribbin and Brown, home to the finest traffic lawyers. In his spare time, Gail likes to watch movies on social justice and human rights documentaries.


Three Android Apps For Professional Sound Engineers

It can be very cumbersome to take every tool you own onto every small job. Decibel meters, frequency monitors, and tone generators are a few of those tools that are needed but not necessarily wanted on every job. However, thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones and Android technology, we have the solution for you! Not only can your phone be a simple recorder, but it can now be a decibel meter, frequency monitor/detector, and a tone generator! Here are three apps that can be found on Google Player: Sound Meter, Spectrum Analyzer, and Pro Audio Tone Generator.

Sound Meter

A decibel meter, especially on a simple job, can be irritating to have: it’s a sensitive instrument that needs to be carefully stored, needs to be kept up with, and is non-upgradeable. The ability to have your decibel meter within your smart phone, though, could be a solution to all of those problems. Introducing Sound Meter for Android. Sound Meter is a handy, free app with a 4.3 rating on Google Play. It has a great interface in the shape of a meter and chart that allows you to see real-time decibel levels, and it also allows you to see the chart of them for the past thirty seconds. It is important to keep in mind that, when using your smart phone for this type of application, the microphone inside of your phone is in fact limited to a certain range. It varies by phone, so you may want to check that out.

Pro Audio Tone Generator

The final addition to your digital toolbox should be a tone generator. Being that this is a popular tool (for many reasons), there are quite a few that are competing for your attention. The best one that we have found is Pro Audio Tone Generator. Among the several features that we find in this app that are not available in others is the ability to choose either the left, the right, or both speakers for audio output, instant preset tones on the left for you to immediately choose from without having to roll the dial, and the ability to choose the type of wave (sine, square, etc.). This tool is most commonly used for “ringing out” a room, also known as finding what frequencies will naturally reverberate and thereby cause feedback. Again, this app is much better than only using a phone because you have the ability to send the sound out through the headphone jack to much larger, more powerful speakers.

Spectrum Analyzer

The next tool that every professional sound engineer needs to have migrated from their tool box to their Android phone is the spectrum analyzer. Coincidentally, the next incredibly handy app is aptly titled Spectrum Analyzer. This spectrum analyzer is mostly useful for its visuals. The best parts about this app are its price tag and rating: 4.0 and free. This app should definitely be on the radar of any technician who is on a budget. This app can also be used to detect signals that can interfere with hearing aids and other sensitive audio equipment.
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  •  License: Image author owned 
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The author of this post, Wayne Bendtner, works at Autex, a company specializing in manufacturing internal linings. When he is not working, he spends most of his time listening to music or indulging in some jamming sessions with his buddies.


Pack Away Your Stress When You Move Home With These Super Smartphone Apps!

Moving home is right up there with getting married, getting divorced and giving birth, yes…it’s a biggie alright! The statistics say that the average family will move home at least twice in their lives, and each time tends to be a right pain in the ****. Some of us move a lot more frequently and to be honest it never seems to get any easier. The forward planning is supposed to be the way to go, but something inside the typical home owner starts to get a bit crazy when that removal truck rocks up on the big day. So let’s look at a few ways to derail this stress and bring things back in order again. We’re talking about good old fashioned Smartphone Apps here, and both of them have something to offer you for that next move – Enjoy!
Suddath’s Moving Guru By The Suddath Companies – Free
This App will run on your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad and requires iOS 5.1 or later for smooth running. Okay, this App is a seriously cool moving guru that feels all of your pain and wants to give you a massive hug all the way through your moving experience. That may get a little annoying after a while, but you’ll see the point in the end. You’ll get a very definitive task list that allows you to start planning 8 weeks before the big date, and that should be enough of a window for even the more list orientated individuals amongst us. You will also get a bunch of tips for picking a moving company, all based on personal recommendations. There are even a few ‘how-to’ videos onboard that will show you exactly how to pack those delicate items that usually get smashed to pieces. The Guru even has some pre-written ‘We’ve Moved’ notifications ready to send to your contacts list. This App rocks and you will love it!
Moving Day By Mighty Ants – Free
This App will run on your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad and it requires iOS 4.2 or later for smooth running. Moving day has a very smart take on an old favourite – the dreaded box label! When you pack all of your family’s valuable and sentimental possessions into those boxes, how do you know that they’ll all be there when you open them in your new home? This app allows you to make up some pretty accurate labels that work on a bar code system that keeps track of all of the good stuff. You can also take some photos and use the App to email your box contents to any recipient. If the box has been tampered with, simply refer to the label’s bar code and start making enquiries. This really works and any insurance claim will be simplified as a result. It may be taking a harsh look at what can happen when you move, but we prefer the word ‘Realistic’.
All Moved In?   
We’d advise you download both of these Apps before you even start to pack your belongings, they’re cool and they’re both free!
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Amy Rand, the author of this article, is part of the team at, Abacus Self Storage, leading providers of rental storage units in Richmond Hill. She is passionate about tennis and tires to go to as many games as she came.