Reminder to Refuse the Tests

It is no secret that I am passionate about education advocacy. I am a teacher and I am not too shy to admit that for the second year in a row I will be refusing the tests for my oldest son.

Public School Parent Advocacy

My fifth grader will not be taking the New York State ELA and Math exams that begin on April 1. While the date is humorous, it really is no joke that the kids of NYS and across the country are being used as guinea pigs. This generation of students are taking high stakes testing that is tied to the new bungled Common Core Standards. Please understand that this is not about making education more rigorous for our children, and improving public education like the education reformers claim. Follow the money trail and check the facts. This is simply about the privatization of public schools and companies like Pearson, Gates, and others making BILLIONS off our our children and their data. Yes, most of this is just about data and companies hungry to make money off of it.

The Innocent Victims of Common Core

Please take a moment and view this powerful video from Change the Stakes. When you finish watching, remember this is the reality that all of the children in grades 3-8 in New York are going through all year long.

Do not forget, as parents and guardians, you have the right to refuse the tests for our children. There are no consequences for children, schools, teachers, or districts. Scare tactics are being sent out via the New York State Department of Education. Commissioner John King is spreading his propaganda about how the tests will help students, but it is not true. Our children are more than a number. My kids and yours deserve to be learning in a way that does not focus on tests that give us no feedback. Teachers are professionals that know how to use authentic assessment tools to let us know how our kids are doing. High stakes testing needs to end and we must move away from the theory that Common Core is a mess simply because of the implementation. That is a myth, but only made matters much much worse for the kids that are stuck dealing with this on a daily basis.

It is time to stand up tall and join the education revolution and REFUSE the tests because it is the right thing to do for your children. For more information about refusing the tests (it is NOT too late) please head over to NYS Allies for Public Education to learn more.

It's Me

Previous posts about education advocacy:

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Disney Letter U

Once again it is time to celebrate the alphabet with my Disney Side. This week the letter “U” had me focus in on one specific Disney character. I had to feature Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Ursula made an impact on me the first time I saw her the movie, but she came to life when I saw her at Art of Animation Resort. Yes, this larger than life villain made a major impact in my world. What are some of your favorite Disney Letter U items?

Ursula at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Focused on the Magic

Be sure to stop by Focused on the Magic by clicking on the button above to join in the Disney magic this week.

It's Me

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Smartphone Video to the Rescue

Confession: I am always forgetting to take our little video camera with us. While I usually have my point and shoot camera with me, the quality of the video is not the best if I need to zoom in from a distance. Thanks to being a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I have the new Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone. While in NYC on Friday, representatives from Nokia came to talk with us about the technology available from this powerhouse. They began by sharing this slide, which really was a powerful statement.

 Nokia's Philosophy

I sat there thinking about those words for a while as we learned more of the Nokia specific technology within this phone. When they were talking about the video camera, I knew that I had just tested it out at my son’s band concert. With over 100 children on the stage and countless families moving around in their seats, I wanted to see – at least for a short time – what the video on the Nokia Lumia Icon could do. I knew that it would record in full HD, but would the PureView imaging help me to get closer to the stage during the concert without reducing the quality of the recording? How would the four high-performance microphones and Nokia Rich Recording work together to capture the music rather than the background noise of people sitting in the seats around me?

While my video is not very long, I think it showcases several items in the low light auditorium. Here it is to see what you think.

As you can see, it was a low light venue with a lot of things going on in the background. The audio clearly picks up the instruments on the stage and not my wiggly six year old sitting next to me. In addition to this, the zoom feature works and does not take away from the quality of the video. I now want to test this out in better light to see if it helps a bit and add in my portable tri-pod to help. The Icon has image stabilization built in and it definitely helped with my shaking hand.

So time to fess up. How often have you had to use your smartphone to capture video on the go and did it live up to your expectations to capture those priceless memories?

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Icon to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. My trip to NYC was paid for by Verizon Wireless. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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NYC for #VZWBuzz Learning

Hello from New York City. I arrived here Thursday to meet up with my fellow Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers.

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Timon came along with me for my adventure. JSL asked me to take his picture along the way like I did in Atlanta. Who could say no?

More coming about my adventure here later because it was an interesting story. TechyDad joked that it would be a great blog post. I leave you with a photo of Timon at dinner.

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Be sure to follow along #VZWBuzz on Twitter and Instagram to see what we are up to tomorrow.

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices to test out and share ways that I use it in my life (like mobile blogging right now). My trip to NYC was paid for by Verizon Wireless. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Purim Carnival with the Nokia Lumia Icon #VZWBuzz

Sunday was a big day in the Jewish community as we celebrated Purim. I have so many memories of this holiday as a child and now as a parent. This is the holiday when people dress up and celebrate, make noise with groggers at the mention of Haman, and eat delicious hamantaschen. It truly is a great time when you see kids of all ages parading around in their creative costumes (see the photo below). I thought that Purim would be the perfect time to test out the new camera on my Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone because while working at the carnival I would not have time to use a regular camera. I received this phone last week as part of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers program.

Which is the Lumia Icon Photo

When we dropped the boys off at Hebrew School Sunday morning, TechyDad and I went to help with the setup of the Purim Carnival. Of course, the moment TechyDad walked in, fellow Whovians knew exactly who he was and started geeking out with him. By the time we arrived, most of the games were already set up.

Purim Carnival Games

The Prize Table where I was going to be working during the carnival had not been started, so we went over to sort things out and get it ready for all of the kids.

Purim Prize Table

I took the photo of TechyDad just before the Purim Carnival started. I took one with the Icon and then decided to snap another one with a recent Android smartphone I have received from Verizon. The lighting in the room was tricky and in hindsight I should have asked TechyDad to move. This would have helped with the light that was odd over his head in the background and the entire wall of windows scattering light. Again these were quick on the fly photos like I would take with the kids while out and about. I do believe that one of the photos was more true to the colors in the room, much more crisp, and handled the lighting better. The answer will be below, so make sure to look at the original from above again.

I kept busy with another member of our synagogue at the prize table the entire time. I really never saw the boys unless I happened to catch Harry Potter, Hiccup, or Doctor Who in the distance. Thank goodness the boys came to get some prizes from time to time.

The boys at the Purim Carnival

I had hoped to test out the video of the band playing during the festivities, but I never had a chance to get over. I think it really would have been a great test with all of the background noise from kids playing games. No doubt there will be another opportunity. Over all, I am beyond impressed with the camera on the Lumia Icon. Next, I hope to learn how to use the manual settings because I have never seen a smartphone with so many advanced options and I truly want to explore it more when I have time.

So did you take a guess at which photo from the original at the top of this post came from the icon? Well, here’s the answer now:

Droid Mini vs Lumia Icon

Did you guess the right one? More photos coming again soon along with others ways I am exploring with the new smartphone in my life.

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I received the Nokia Lumia Icon to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. There was no other compensation. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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