Tag Archives: Florida

Praying to the Electricity God: Irma leaves us on our knees.

Writing was only used to text or post for help. We had to preserve electricity.

Funny how we call it power.

Well, we lost power. By that I mean, the kind we depend on for everything lately, even our brains. We are so accustomed to Googling everything that we use, essentially using electricity inadvertently instead of our brains.

Needless to say, everything slowed down after Irma ripped electricity from us.

And, all I have to say about it is a lot.

Treemailboxdown
Irma takes our trees at their roots and eliminates our electricity.

After the storm: Irma ripped away our electricity.

If you’ve never been to Miami during a humid hot summer day–and I don’t mean at the beach–then don’t roll your eyes when I repeat what everyone is complaining about. One day without electricity left us baking inside our houses, even with the windows open. By day three, my daughter slept on the tile floor while my husband fanned her with my son’s science board.

I kept getting up and putting the pillow under her head, but she still had bumps from hitting it against the floor.

I thought I could deal with it, but the hurricanes before Irma left us with somewhat of a breeze during the long days of no electricity. Irma left Miami and the Keys and other parts of Florida with not even a small breeze to tease us enough for a hint of hope.

Dead heat sucked away all of our energy.
So that brain power, which needed to be harnessed and used for the lack of power we have become so reliant on, that was useless except for reading books and minimal movement.

Homegoing
Homegoing kept me going.

I picked up Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and read it finally. I’d been pushing it to the side in the name of parenthood, work, cleaning, sleep, and even writing. The hellish descriptions of enslavement intertwined with the lyrical tone of love and resilience kept me more than thankful for what we had despite the extreme discomfort during the days without electricity. I also relearned history and was continually reminded of how lucky and spoiled we are.

Incredible people emerge when circumstances leave us vulnerable.

Let’s be realistic. There were the crazy creeps who crawled out of the woodwork and thought it was the Walking Dead come to life, so they hoarded all the gas to power their pickup trucks and generators. But, for every single creep, there were multiple kind-hearted humanitarians who came to the rescue for the elderly and all of us who were so anxious and tired.

We picked up tree branches and cut trees from our fences, mailboxes, and cars.

Especially those with electricity, neighbors and friends asked each other if anyone needed help: a charger, a warm shower, a place to breathe fresh air.

Then there were those we couldn’t even contact.

Phone service was terrible.

Landlines didn’t even work, let alone wireless phone service. Most of the first three days after Irma hit, texts wouldn’t go through and phone calls lasted maybe 10 seconds if you were lucky to get a signal at all.

We had to walk or drive to hospitals or grocery stores that were able to open just to try to contact relatives. It wasn’t just the heat that kept me from sleeping for five days. I would wake up drinking in hot air after passing out from lack of sleep. Panic attacks plagued me after 12 and sometimes 24 hours without a word from my parents.

Irma took my parents’ home.

My parents lost their dream home in Plantation Key. They are the hardest working people I know. My father’s a 74-year-old war veteran, who was awarded a bronze medal for his service, never shed a tear over it; but he was heartbroken. He quietly stood tall and accepted his loss as my mother cried then grew strong with her own acceptance.

Slowly their hearts were mended when the police officers and fire rescue in Miami-Dade and the Keys checked on them. Most of their neighbors also came to their rescue, even locals who didn’t have any idea who they were responded to my pleas for help on social media and checked on them.

Police
Police officers all over Florida are helping and keeping us safe. If you look at the top right of the photo, you can see that sometimes we had one dot of service from AT&T.

They have another home in the Keys where they took shelter and remained without electricity, cleaning up debris and flooded areas while enduring this damned heat. Those beautiful police officers and fire rescue workers got the word out and managed to restore their electricity yesterday.

Electricity Gods

When our electricity finally blipped on, everyone in our entire neighborhood, windows open, cheered. My mind flashed to us with spears in hand dancing in honor of the electricity gods. My children panted, “I will never take it for granted again.”

I joked that we now worshipped the electricity gods. Before this one, our children just took it for granted. Now they understood adults spouting words such as “spoiled” and “lazy” as they relentlessly played with their electronics and inhaled fresh, cool air.

The only good think Irma gave us was a deep appreciation for everything she took away from us.

This is what my daughter played on the piano after we were blessed with electricity.

Here’s a link for those who need help: The Miami Herald.

 

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Distracted by Distractions

Watching students test has become an obsession for me, as a teacher and as a mom. I first began studying The Test about 10 years ago.

I had always held a deep disdain for even the mention of the word “test” while plowing through my school years. I hated tests because I’d shut down and perform poorly on tests. This happened after an encounter with a terrible test at a young age. So, I began to loathe testing.

mctest

It wasn’t until I became a teacher that I felt compelled to study and ultimately understand the process of taking a test. After all, teachers have to create tests so I needed to know exactly how I should start, so I searched different websites dedicated to teaching educators how to create tests.

I began with multiple choice questions and answers because those were the kinds of test items that made no sense to me. I rarely understood why my answer was wrong when teachers reviewed answers with my classes.

The reviews usually consisted of teachers ticking off the right answers and only explaining one or two in a very matter of fact way, as if to say, “Don’t you dare question the logic of the test.”

So, I never did. I only questioned my intelligence, which meant I thought I was an idiot. Until now.

The first question I had

was why in the hell am I creating a multiple choice test anyway? Where did the damn thing come from?

The Washington Post has a great article about the origins of the multiple choice test. The writer also adds some background information about how educators assess students and questions the validity of the act of testing at all. It’s definitely worth the read. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/13/AR2006111301007.html

According to The Washington Post, an educator named Frederick J. Kelly, the Dean of Education at the University of Kansas, created the first multiple-choice test in 1914. From that point on, that style of testing mushroomed into what we find students struggling over throughout their educational life.

So when I sat down to research the very idea of creating the multiple choice tests, I found a mountain of information on the subject. So much information, that I really had to sift through it quickly or I could’ve been reading for months nonstop.

The most surprising and most valuable information was the method of using a distractor in the multiple-choice answers.

Ironically enough, the word “distraction” has become the 21st century go-to word to describe everything associated with everything electronic and has young students drowning in schools.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching a student test nowadays, you’d see very quickly how and why students often struggle with standardized tests. First, they see a paper with words on it and cringe. If it’s on the computer, they won’t cringe but that doesn’t mean they’ll concentrate on the material being presented to them, especially if it requires reading.

Most unsuccessful students seem to skim or scan whatever they’re reading and answer the questions by returning to the text to search for answers, which means that they’ve most likely missed the main point of the passage, which then throws off their answers to just about everything.

They end up with low scores and are left feeling stupid, anxious, and defeated.

They go home and become more addicted to the distractions that help them to feel confident, happy, and friendly—gaming and social media.

These are the distractions that reward them. The test drains them. And, we, parents and teachers, feel twice as frustrated and confused.

However, by observing this, every year I don’t begin my multiple choice creations with distractors. I begin my journey with my own brand of distractions.

And it works.

Written by Lisa Chesser

This post and others to follow will focus on teaching and helping children succeed in school. I’m working on a book that will have more details on sifting through the minds of children in order to help them find success in a system that often destroys their ability to succeed.

Distractor Rationale

http://images.pearsonassessments.com/images/tmrs/tmrs_rg/distractor_rationales.pdf

Dream Home in Venus Domes

Tucked away somewhere in Florida, there’s a place called Venus. In particular, it’s the Venus Project created by Jacque Fresco. Dreams live there.

And, the homes do too.

They’re domes and at first glance they look like igloos, but in Florida that would be a paradox to say the least. I found out about these futuristic homes when my sister last visited because she and her boyfriend were trekking over to see the Venus Project first hand.

When she first showed me a picture of the homes I shunned them and thought, I like my box. But the more I read and learned about the ideas that Jacque proposed,  the more I like the idea of domes.

English: Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows at ...
English: Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows at The Venus Project. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) proposed, then the more I returned to my own home, my box, the more I dreamt of a dome.

The global vision that he created with the Venus Project condones living in harmony with earth by embracing technology. It quite literally creates your own little world for you. The homes mean less environmental damage and also more safety. It’s hard for a tornado to pick up a dome and domes clean themselves. Leaves float off. Life flows.

When I look at my children, I think, where will I live when I grow old? I don’t want to burden them. I don’t want to burden anyone, not even the Earth. I also think, I want to have a sanctuary, a place to live, a place of my own.

The way our Earth holds us, the dome cradles us. I dream of domes with anticipation in a future where, well, we aren’t cruel or greedy, where the news isn’t all about hate, death, damage.

I dream domes.