Archives for April, 2010


Last-Minute SAT Math Study

I've spent this week rehearsing the Big SAT Math Ideas with my students. Here's a list of some of the most important.
Pass these last-minute refreshers along to any high-schooler you know taking the SAT on Saturday, May 1 (tomorrow!)
(And, take a look yourself and see how much you remember)

An integer is a whole number, including zero and the negatives. Fractions are not integers. Examples of integers: ....-3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3...
Figures on the SAT are drawn to scale unless they tell you otherwise. You can assume that segments that look equal are equal, angles are drawn to scale, etc.
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Last-Minute SAT Vocabulary Study

The May 1 SAT is almost here and I'm having a hectic week helping students get ready.

I've been doing so much vocab drill lately, I realized that the SAT-people really love certain words. I began making a list of the words that crop up on the SAT over and over and over.

You'll notice that I "define" SAT words in a loose, non-technical way. What's needed is a workable sense for what they mean, not their precise dictionary definitions.

Here are my Top Ten, perfect for last-minute memorizing! Pass 'em along to any high-school students you know (and take a look at them yourself):
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Photography To Help Us Grieve and Remember

We've been talking about the loss of beloved pets, their meaning in our lives and ways to process the grief we feel when they pass away.
I'm devoting the next several Mondays (Luna's Day) to sharing thoughts about the value of animals, and also about grieving and loss.

Look at this extraordinary contribution from Mark Estes:
One of my volunteer duties as a pro photographer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is photographing infants who have died as a tool for parents to grieve.
Do click on the link and learn more about this amazing organization. But brace yourself for a powerful experience. I'm still shaking.

Mark also shared his own memorial to his beloved cat, Moe. His photographs are incredibly beautiful and moving:

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Emotions and Feelings

Coping With Depression When Your Pet Dies

What happens when you are prone to depression and then your beloved pet passes away?

I've received so many wonderful comments since Luna died on Monday, and I'll be sharing many of them in the days to come.

But I want to address this one first:

...I've had this dog since I was little, she is now 10 years old, and not as "young" as she used to be.
I have suffered from depression for a while, and, you being someone who lost a precious cat...what can I do so that when this does happen, that I can be okay, and not become depressed.
Do you have any advice to share?

Here are some things that have helped me this week:
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Emotions and Feelings

When a Pet Dies, Our Grief is For Real

When Luna died early Monday afternoon, I took the rest of the day off. I was simply too sad to imagine sitting with kids and talking about algebra or SAT prep. I needed to just stay home and miss her and cry my eyes out.

But I felt a little embarrassed.

After all, Luna was "just a cat." Would my clients understand? (They are great people, and yes, they did).

I so am grateful to Tara Parker-Pope at the New York Times, who read my Luna post and responded with her own. She shared memories of her effervescent party-cat, Dave:

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Emotions and Feelings

We Love Our Animals for Their Honesty

One of the things that I find particularly compelling about animals is that they are honest about their needs and wants.

Whenever I moved Luna off of the couch to sit down, she didn't go easily or politely. She hooked in her claws, holding on as much as she could to the place where she wanted to stay. When I took her to the vet over spring break and she was displeased with her cardboard box cat carrier, she didn't just put up with it, she forced her way out and jumped into the back seat.

Animals are more comfortable with their desires than humans are, and I think we respond to that and envy it.

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Emotions and Feelings

When A Beloved Pet Passes Away

One of our cherished cats, Luna, passed away yesterday.

She was part of our family for 14 years; a long time! Still, I am stunned at how much I miss her and how empty the house feels without her soft round self asleep on the sofa.

With her passing goes a chunk of my son Matt's childhood. He was ten years old when he selected her out of a box of kittens abandoned at the wildlife center.

He chose her for her silver color, and then found himself challenged to come up with a name for a female cat!

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High School Homework: Imagine Having Bipolar Disorder

I make my living as a private tutor.

One of my students is a 16-year-old high school junior, enrolled in an elective English course entitled Psychology and Literature.

His most recent assignment was to research a mental illness and then write a creative piece from inside the mind of a person with this disorder.

What do you think of this assignment?

Is it helpful to get young people to try to imagine what mental illness might be like?
Is it disrespectful towards people with mental illnesses?

Of course I referred my student to the resources and blogs available here on PsychCentral, and I had him read excerpts from The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon. We also discussed the works of Kay Redfield Jameson.

Here's his creative piece.  We'd like to know what you think!
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