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Blogging with

Maureen McGovern,


Academic Journeys

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January 12, 2021

Reading Speed vs Speed Reading

There is a difference!

As education theories have evolved in the last few decades two skills no longer get much classroom time: reading speed and automaticity in math. If these skills are strong, a student will rarely have trouble completing a timed test and homework time is reasonable. 


What is your child’s reading speed? How much math can they do without a calculator in their hand?


Reading speed, not the speed reading fads from the 1980's, is an important measure of a student's learning efficiency; in the classroom, during homework and on standardized tests.


College entrance exams need a reading speed of at least 200 wpm.  


What is your reading speed? Let's find out. 


I'm pleased to share with you a tool I have used for years is now available on-line and it takes about 15 minutes. Please follow the directions in the attached PDF.  

December 20, 2020


Why is it so quiet when it snows?


Here in New Jersey we had a snowstorm start on Wednesday afternoon and finish up on Thursday morning. At my house I measured 9 inches! 


I made myself a cup of tea and sat in the sunroom Thursday morning and watched the day get brighter, the snow fall diminish and enjoying how lovely the trees looked filled with snow. As I always do when I watch snow, I recited to myself the only poem I still remember from middle school, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. The line ‘easy wind and downy flake’ is what I was watching outside my window.


But why is it so quiet when it snows? Because when light, fluffy snow accumulates on the ground, it acts as a sound absorber, dampening sound waves. The reason snow is able to absorb sound is because it is porous. Snowflakes are six-sided crystals, and they are filled with open spaces. Those spaces absorb sound waves, creating a quieting effect over a blanket of snow.


It is also in middle school when physics is first introduced to students. The study of sound … acoustics … is part of middle school curriculum. This quizlet by a middle school teacher gives terms and definitions that can be interesting to discuss. One caught my eye, ECHOLOCATION. It reminded me of a video I saw of a young man who is blind loves to ride a bike because he is so receptive to sound waves.


By noon on Thursday the quiet gave way to the sound of snow shovels, plows and blowers, but for a little while I enjoyed ‘easy wind and downy flake’.

December 1, 2020

Greenhouse Gases, Cow Burps ... Seaweed to the rescue! Huh?

Back in February a friend told me about a website …. Visual Capitalist … which became a daily dose of sanity for me during March and April.  As an admitted data geek whose first foray into ‘data visualization’ was with Lotus and WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) in the 80s … I was hooked!

This one really got me thinking.  To see the amount of greenhouse gases attributed to cows was staggering.  I made some changes.  While I didn’t join my daughter and nieces as a vegetarian (pesco, pollo and lacto ovo) or vegan I did use vegetable broth instead of beef broth in my winter soups.  Instead of ground beef I came up with a mix of ground chicken, plant-based ground food and spices that I really like.  While I haven’t given up steak, my consumption has dropped by 75%.  I felt like I was doing something about greenhouse gases, albeit the size of a single grain of sand.

I look at this graphic regularly and share it with students to explain what data visualization is and to encourage curiosity.

Then on Sunday I read this article in the Washington Post and felt my first blog forming in the back of my mind.  Adding seaweed to a cow’s diet can reduce burping and thus methane emission by 98%.   WOW! (paragraph 4)

So, families I share with you the first AcJ Flip it! Instilling Curiosity: a blog devoted to helping restore intellectual curiosity to our day-to-day routine.  Using very visual resources like Visual Capitalist and traditional resources like the Washington Post; I’ll share topics and thoughts for family discussions.  I suggest family members familiarize themselves with the source material and set a window for discussion.  I welcome all feedback and ideas for future blogs!

Family discussion ideas for Greenhouse Gases, Cow Burps … Seaweed to the rescue!  Huh?

  1. VC  - Notice the beef doesn't include dairy.  Add Diary and 80% of the cheese number and the amount is a whopping 97.

  2. VC -  Rice, coffee, chocolate are biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in plant-based agriculture.  Why?

  3. RP -  Since rice is a diet staple for more than 50% of the people on the planet, should research be done to find another staple?

  4. SA -  Did the decline in rice biodiversity add to greenhouse gases?

  5. WP -  In addition to minimizing cow burps, seaweed also helps clean seawater (paragraph 25)

  6. WP -  Who figured out that seaweed could be useful in such an unexpected way; blocking methane from forming in a cows stomach (paragraphs 10 to 15)?

  7. WP -  How did they do it? (paragraphs 16 to 19).


VC= Visual Capitalist

RP= Ricepedia

SA= Scientific American - See PDF

WP= Washington Post