Blogs - 2/95 - Merit Educational Consultants

Simona Grace (2020 Mother of the Year)
and
Susan Tatsui D’Arcy (2019 Mother of the Year)
will be featured in the American Mothers California special “Meet the Moms” event!

June 11, 2020 @ 5:00pm

Come get to know these two wonderful mothers and hear about Susan’s exciting year, as well as help us welcome and hear about the amazing plans of Simona for the year to come!

We will also be introducing the new AMC board members and have exciting information to share!! To see the new board members and read their bios, click https://americanmotherscalifornia.org/california-board-members/

Zoom Connection instructions are listed below and are accessible by phone or computer:

Topic: CA American Mothers, Inc.

Time: Jun 11, 2020 05:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81908980606? pwd=M1BXUmpjVTFpUVpHSlpKNkRZcDFCQT09

Meeting ID: 819 0898 0606

Password: 153478

One tap mobile

+16699006833,,81908980606#,,1#,153478# US (San Jose)

+12532158782,,81908980606#,,1#,153478# US (Tacoma)

Dial by your location

+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kqVAHji6M

Zoom meeting ID: 819 0898 0606
Password: 153478

Simona Grace
Simona is a hardworking L.A. mom who is dedicated to her 10-year old son, Luke, and considers motherhood her greatest privilege in life. She is also the founder of “Moms in Office” a political action committee (PAC) as well as a writer, and a publishing professional. After spending her childhood in Hungary, Simona moved to the United States to pursue her academic goals with one suitcase and no knowledge of the English language. She earned a degree in Comparative Literature from UCLA, summa cum laude. She writes about parenting topics at the intersection of culture and society, and major online media outlets, such as “Scarymommy”, have published her work. With “Moms in Office” Simona became the first single mom in the United States to form a political organization, which has helped her further her mission to strengthen the political voice of all moms and to help elect mothers to public office.

Come and meet this amazing mom and see why all her opportunities as well as the obstacles she’s overcome have helped her to become who she is today!

Susan Tatsui-D’Arcy
Susan grew up in Southern California and currently resides in Santa Cruz. After her first child was born, Susan set up a preschool so she could spend more time with her daughter and provide engaging activities for her. She invited other children to join them to create a stimulating and social environment. Realizing that no existing school met the standards she wanted for her children, she opened an elementary school for accelerated students that expanded with her children as they advanced each year. When her daughters were in middle school, Susan created ProjectMERIT to inspire teens to find their niches and pursue independent projects. Later she expanded Merit Academy to include high school and college advisory. Susan has written eleven books on parenting, education & time management. Susan is the CEO and founder of Merit Academy and Merit Educational Consultants. For fun, Susan skis, ATVs, and manages her aquaponics garden and permaculture fruit orchard.

Come and help us congratulate Susan on all that she was able to accomplish as 2019 Mother of the Year and to wish her a bright future of success!

June 9, 2020

Meet the Mothers!

Simona Grace (2020 Mother of the Year)
and
Susan Tatsui D’Arcy (2019 Mother of the Year)
will be featured in the American Mothers California special “Meet the Moms” event!

June 11, 2020 @ 5:00pm

Come get to know these two wonderful mothers and hear about Susan’s exciting year, as well as help us welcome and hear about the amazing plans of Simona for the year to come!

We will also be introducing the new AMC board members and have exciting information to share!! To see the new board members and read their bios, click https://americanmotherscalifornia.org/california-board-members/

Zoom Connection instructions are listed below and are accessible by phone or computer:

Topic: CA American Mothers, Inc.

Time: Jun 11, 2020 05:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81908980606? pwd=M1BXUmpjVTFpUVpHSlpKNkRZcDFCQT09

Meeting ID: 819 0898 0606

Password: 153478

One tap mobile

+16699006833,,81908980606#,,1#,153478# US (San Jose)

+12532158782,,81908980606#,,1#,153478# US (Tacoma)

Dial by your location

+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kqVAHji6M

Zoom meeting ID: 819 0898 0606
Password: 153478

Simona Grace
Simona is a hardworking L.A. mom who is dedicated to her 10-year old son, Luke, and considers motherhood her greatest privilege in life. She is also the founder of “Moms in Office” a political action committee (PAC) as well as a writer, and a publishing professional. After spending her childhood in Hungary, Simona moved to the United States to pursue her academic goals with one suitcase and no knowledge of the English language. She earned a degree in Comparative Literature from UCLA, summa cum laude. She writes about parenting topics at the intersection of culture and society, and major online media outlets, such as “Scarymommy”, have published her work. With “Moms in Office” Simona became the first single mom in the United States to form a political organization, which has helped her further her mission to strengthen the political voice of all moms and to help elect mothers to public office.

Come and meet this amazing mom and see why all her opportunities as well as the obstacles she’s overcome have helped her to become who she is today!

Susan Tatsui-D’Arcy
Susan grew up in Southern California and currently resides in Santa Cruz. After her first child was born, Susan set up a preschool so she could spend more time with her daughter and provide engaging activities for her. She invited other children to join them to create a stimulating and social environment. Realizing that no existing school met the standards she wanted for her children, she opened an elementary school for accelerated students that expanded with her children as they advanced each year. When her daughters were in middle school, Susan created ProjectMERIT to inspire teens to find their niches and pursue independent projects. Later she expanded Merit Academy to include high school and college advisory. Susan has written eleven books on parenting, education & time management. Susan is the CEO and founder of Merit Academy and Merit Educational Consultants. For fun, Susan skis, ATVs, and manages her aquaponics garden and permaculture fruit orchard.

Come and help us congratulate Susan on all that she was able to accomplish as 2019 Mother of the Year and to wish her a bright future of success!

June 8, 2020

My new normal socializing venue: new redwood deck!

Just finished building a redwood deck in our oak grove so that we can socialize at 6 feet apart. Anything we do in our home means that we’re breaking that 6-foot distancing rule – sitting around the dining room table, cooking together, walking down hallways, and simply opening the front door. So I built a redwood deck about 150 feet from the house so guests could meet us there. With 2 entrances, it makes it safe to come and go. I’ve ordered 2 bistro tables and chairs so one couple could sit at one table while we sit at another. We can separate the tables but we can face each other at a safe distance. We’re among the old oak trees where it’s cool and refreshing, even on the hottest days.

Wearing masks and gloves, I bought the redwood and had plenty of help carrying the wood down to the oak grove. Nicole and Brad helped me cut, carry, and assemble the skirtframe (and 60 lb bags of cement). They even tried to dig post holes using an 8” auger, but the sandstone made it impossible to penetrate. Our maintenance guy later jackhammered the post holes and Mario set the posts. Rob helped me cut and place the joists. I rented a framing gun and compressor, and learned how to use a handy tool to straighten crooked boards as I framed the deck. Mario helped me install guardrails, posts, and benches. I’m putting the second coat of sealer on today. Thanks to a team of willing volunteers, the deck is done!

I’m excited about socializing in a safe way, while enjoying the views and a new space. Ready for guests in 2 weeks!

June 5, 2020

College applications now have essay prompts about COVID-19 and SIP

This is clearly the most unconventional and obstructive high school semester in our history since WWII. Everyone has been affected by school closures, shelter-in-place (SIP) orders, unemployment, and/or COVID-19. You all have your stories and the college admissions departments want to hear them. Schools will submit information about changes in class instruction, final exams, and grades or pass/fail as a result of SIP. Now students will have their opportunity to share their experiences on the college applications.

The Coalition for College Application has added a question to its application about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their education. It will also have optional checkbox-style questions that describe how COVID-19 impacted their ability to do schoolwork, parents’ unemployment or employment as an essential worker, and family/friends who have gotten sick or died.

The Common Application has also added an optional question about students’ COVID-19 experiences. Here is the prompt:
“Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces. Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.”

This is a good time for high school seniors to reflect on how SIP and the coronavirus pandemic has changed their perspective on life. This essay will help college admissions officers learn more about them. Need help getting started? Click here for a free session.

Source

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June 3, 2020

Do you need to take the UC Analytical Writing Placement Exam?

If you’re going to be a freshman at one of the University of California campuses this fall, you may need to take their Analytical Writing Placement Exam (AWPE). Normally, it’s given at one of the 10 campuses but this year – Surprise! Surprise! – it’s going to be given online. The AWPE is scheduled for Saturday, June 20th. You only need to take this exam if you haven’t satisfied their Entry-Level Writing Requirement.

If you have satisfied any ONE of these requirements, you do NOT have to take the AWPE:

  1. 30 or better on the ACT, English Language Arts; or
  2. 680 or better on the SAT, Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing section; or
  3. 3 or above on either Advanced Placement Examination in English; or
  4. 5 or above on an International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level English A: Literature exam; or
  5. 6 or above on an IB Standard Level English A: Literature exam; or
  6. 5 or above on an IB Higher Level English A: Language and Literature exam; or
  7. 6 or above on an IB Standard Level English A: Language and Literature exam; or
  8. Successfully completed a UC-transferrable English Composition course offered by a college or university (not high school).

You should have received an email from your UC Registrar about the exam requirements and test date.  If you didn’t, call the registrar to get more information.

Source

June 2, 2020

9 ways to deter students from cheating while taking online tests

Now that students are taking all classes online, teachers are struggling to find ways to test them. Many of my clients from across the country are not taking tests or final exams as the spring semester comes to a close. This may cause problems with accreditation companies that require comprehensive final exams. One of the reasons that schools have gone to pass/no pass grading during this shelter-in-place order is that they can’t find a testing format that prevents cheating. I did some research to look at ways teachers can test students to determine how well they’ve mastered the concepts taught in their classes. This is what I found:

1. No Copy-Paste
Don’t allow copy and pasting on the exam itself. Set this up by using programs like LockDown Browser, Blackboard and other programs. They can detect if students copy and paste during the exam. This eliminates students researching answers online and copying/pasting the answers.

2. Different Questions
Students often cheat by getting questions from other students who take the class during an earlier period. If a teacher has a 20-question test, then the teacher would create 100 questions and randomly select 20 for each of their five classes. That way, students who take tests later in the day don’t have an unfair advantage.

3. Timed Tests
Set a time limits for the tests that don’t give students time to go online to research the answers. By setting a tight deadline for completing the test, the students won’t have time to talk to friends, look at cheat sheets or google the question.

4. Problem-Solving Questions
Instead of asking questions that check memorization skills, teachers can ask questions that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills. By applying their knowledge about concepts taught in class, students will be graded on their ability to find viable solutions.

5. No Immediate Scores
Students will be less inclined to cheat if they don’t know how their accomplices did on a test. Rather than give immediate feedback on exams, give the tests back with scores after all students have taken the tests.

6. Disconnect Auto-Complete
If multiple students use the same computer to take the exam, disconnect the auto-complete feature so they don’t type in a few letters and get the previous test-taker’s complete answers.

7. Safe Exam Browser
By using https://safeexambrowser.org/, teachers can control what the students do while taking exams. They can make it difficult to do searches on browsers.

8. Monitored Online Programs
By using webcams and microphones, programs can monitor student activity and discussions while taking tests. There are several programs that offer these services: Online Exam, Online Video Test Proctoring, ProctorU, and Proctorio.

9. Trick Cheating Students
This is by far the most creative way to see if a student has cheated on an exam. A clever teacher wrote a difficult question that was impossible to answer, and then uploaded that question and INCORRECT answer to his lecture notes (or homework site). If students selected the “wrong” answer, they failed both the exam and the class.

Cheating has been a problem for all teachers, and now with online classes, it’s even more difficult to catch. Software companies are scrambling to offer solutions to cheating on tests now that millions of students have been and will probably continue to take online classes. As long as the teachers stay a few steps ahead of the students, the students will likely succumb to studying and preparing for exams. Getting an F on a test or failing a class is not worth the risk.

May 28, 2020

How to plan meals and shopping lists for 2 weeks

Even before the shelter-in-place (SIP) orders, most of us shopped for groceries a couple of times per week – even if to just pick up some bread. Back then, these frequent trips to the store actually increased our monthly spending because we usually bought more things than we intended to buy. But today, planning out our meals for 2 weeks and creating a good shopping list can decrease our exposure to coronavirus AND save us money.

I created a “Weekly Menu and Shopping List” to make it easy to plan out meals and shopping lists all at the same time (link below). This list is part of the Busy Woman’s Organizer that I wrote and Prentice Hall published back in 1997. Here’s how it works:

Step One: Plan your Meals
Enter in breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the entire week. Include your family favorites as well as new meals that you’ve always wanted to try. Check online to get recipes to spice up your menus.

Step Two: Check off your Ingredients
Using the Weekly Shopping List, enter each ingredient you need for every meal. I’ve made it easier for you by listing vegetables, fruit, meat, frozen foods, seasonings, packaged goods, canned goods, bottled goods, bakery, toiletries, kitchen supplies, pet supplies, and cleaning supplies.

So if you’re planning to make chicken tacos, you’d check off chicken breasts, taco seasoning, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and corn tortillas. Continue to do this for all of your meals.

Step Three: Check your Fridge and Pantry
To reduce waste, check to see what you might already have in your kitchen before heading out to the store. My husband loves to cross off items I put on the Shopping List when he finds them in the pantry…

Step Four: Order Online
By ordering online, you’ll save lots of money because you won’t be impulse buying as you walk around the store. They’ll deliver exactly what you ordered and nothing more.

Step Five: Shop at the Grocery Store
Now that SIP restrictions are easing up a bit, you can venture out to the grocery store to do your own shopping. Still, wear a mask and gloves – and don’t touch anything unless you plan to buy it. Careful not to touch your face.

You want to get in and out of the store quickly so stick to your list. You know where things are located so put them in your cart and then check them off your list. Don’t buy anything that’s not on the list and you’ll save money and time.

Step Six: Place your Weekly Menu and Shopping List on your fridge
With your Weekly Menu and Shopping List on your fridge, you can easily remember what you’re preparing for all meals during the week. Also place a new Weekly Menu and Shopping List on the fridge so you can start planning the next week’s meals and add to the shopping list as you run of staples like mayonnaise, butter, and milk.

With the SIP order here in Santa Cruz, CA, I plan menus for 2 weeks. The first week has more fresh salads and vegetables meals, and the second week has more lasagnas, chilis, stews, and soups that require less fresh veggies. I’ve save hundreds of dollars on food while I SIP.

Click here for the 1998 BWO Shopping List and Menu

May 21, 2020

On campus this fall – online after Thanksgiving?

Colleges are struggling to make decisions on whether or not they’re going to have fall term on campus or online. Seems that about 30% of the incoming freshmen are waiting to make decisions about which colleges to attend based on whether or not they’ll start college on campus. Many parents are leery of spending over $60,000 for an online college experience for their kids.

On the other hand, colleges, like businesses, have been hit hard by shelter-in-place orders, and they need student tuition to stay afloat. While they want to protect their faculty and students from the coronavirus, they know students (and parents) don’t want to pay full tuition for online classes. That’s why several colleges are planning on a half-and-half solution.

With this new proposal, colleges will open for fall semester/quarter on campus. This gives students the opportunity to get out of the house and back on campus where they can have fun and get the full college experience. Parents will pay tuition, room and board, and travel expenses just as they had expected. Colleges reap the financial security they need for this term.

There will be no fall break (like spring break) in October for colleges that normally have them. Colleges worry that students will be exposed to the coronavirus at home and then spread it around campus when they return. Each college will set up social distancing protocol to meet their local requirements.

Then, the Friday before Thanksgiving, the students pack up their dorm rooms and head back home for the rest of the semester/quarter. That way they enjoy the holiday with family and friends, and then their courses all transfer to online sessions. The benefit here is that they’ll have already completed midterms and have a good grasp of each class’s protocol so switching to online classes should be seamless.

Colleges fear that the second wave of the coronavirus will wreak havoc on campus and it will be best for students to be safely at home after Thanksgiving and through winter break. Nobody is speculating about what may happen for winter or spring terms yet. Uncertainty seems to be the only constant here.

This is the buzz I’ve heard about a new fall term scenario on college campuses. It offers something for the students/professors and the college bursars. There are many options and colleges will be making announcements about fall term in the next few months.

Source

May 18, 2020

UCs make bold plans to eliminate the SAT and ACT!

The University of California (UCs) plans to drop the SAT and the ACT, and create a new test for high school juniors and seniors. Over the years, UCs have complained about the validity of the SAT/ACT and the SAT II.

For 2021 and 2022, the UCs will not require the SAT or ACT. For students who do want to submit them, they don’t have to submit the writing test.

For 2023 and 2024, the UCs will be test blind for California applicants, which means that the SAT/ACT scores will NOT be used in admissions decisions. The SAT/ACT scores may be used for scholarship consideration and for the guaranteed admissions for the top 1/8 of California high schools. Out of state applicants could use their SAT/ACT scores.

For 2025, all California students will use the new UC test instead of the SAT or ACT. Out of state or international students will have the option to use the new UC test or the existing SAT/ACT. If for some reason the new UC test is not ready by 2025, students will not be required to submit either the SAT or the ACT – the UC will go fully test blind and eliminate standardized tests in their admissions decisions.

It’s not clear whether or not the California State Universities (CSUs) will follow suit. My bet is that they will follow the same standards as the UCs; their policies have usually aligned in the past.

The new test will be based on simulations and real performance to reveal more about the student’s reasoning potential, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. They’re hoping that this new test will assess these factors because these are important in determining college and career success. According to the UCs:

“While we acknowledge that this recommendation is multi-faceted, the university would be remiss not to offer students flexibility beyond one admissions cycle. During this period, UC will learn what it can about how its own policies can advance (or limit) student achievement, access, school choice behaviors and educational outcomes,” the plan said. “The university can also exercise its leadership in making available to students a properly designed and administered test that adds value to admissions decisions, enhances equity and access for more students, has a positive impact on student preparation, and does so in a manner that reduces the social and monetary burdens associated with the currently required ACT/SAT tests.”

I have never considered either the ACT or the SAT to be a good test to determine whether or not a student will be successful in college or career. The only reason I like the SAT and ACT is that all students, around the world, take the exact same test on the same day. Up until now, it’s the only factor that is fair amongst all of the college-bound students. GPAs vary by school and recommendations vary by teacher. Looking forward to seeing this new UC test. If it is a success, it may become the new SAT/ACT.

Source

May 18, 2020

New Podcast: Amidst chaos — Reinvent yourself!

During the chaos that the coronavirus pandemic has caused, take this time to reinvent yourself. Listen to my 10-minute podcast as I discuss where this really started and how we can use these lessons to rethink how we do things in the future.

May 15, 2020

Gen Z Slang Dictionary

I remember back in the 60s and 70s when my generation’s slang was a unique form of communication created to exclude the “square” older generation. It was kind of like speaking in Pig Latin as a code during slumber parties and in elementary school. Well today, a clever high school teacher created a slang dictionary of Generation Z’s vocabulary.

Unlike our generation where we used completely different words, Gen Z teens add a little gangsta for some of their phrases – “Witchu” for “with you.” But they also use clever phrase like “spill the tea” for “gossip – as in something you do while having tea with gossipy old ladies.”

One thing for sure: our English language constantly changes –whether we like it or not – so take a look at this slang dictionary to get up to speed with the Gen Z. In order to communicate with these young people, we need to understand their new slang.

Source