Calling Educators, Bloggers, Writers Interested in Helping Others


I am Looking for a Few Great Volunteers

(teachers, school admins, students, parents, anyone interested in education) who are interested in sharing their experience, expertise, education, viewpoints, tools, resources, articles, links, advise, etc. appropriate for an educational blog aimed at helping parents and children in multiple areas:

IEP’s, special education, NCLB, No Child Left Behind, school climate, education in general, ESL, English Second Language, problems, solutions, teachers, school administrators, and anyone interested in education and today’s schools. This site has been online since around 2004, but used somewhat commercially for educator’s private tutoring/educational consulting business. Owner wants to change the goal of site to become REAL resources for all concerned with valuable links, resources, support, Q/A, sources of “venting”, sharing perspectives, offering honest feedback and advice, etc.

I would love to get people who are truly passionate, honest, upfront and LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEER opportunities which can be used as building block and online reputation builder (very valuable to college applications and resumes). First and foremost, you MUST be honest, ethical, upfront and REAL. No advertising, insincerity or junk fillers needed.

Owner is also local SEO marketer and supporter of many causes including small businesses, ethics, children and women (people) rights, speaking the truth and walking the talk. Part of ethical network of similar minded people/businesses , which has helped launch very successful outcomes [The Making a Difference Network]. If looking to further a writing career, think Google authorship, large following. The opportunities are limitless.

If interested, the bulleted list below is a guide for what I’m looking for. Answer any or all, but please include the ones with **marked”.

You can also write me with questions only. I only want really interested, compassionate, committed, truthful and able persons to respond. My last attempt gained me multiple scammers, dishonest businesses, advertisers, job hunters and SEO marketers. PLEASE don’t respond if any of those.

I am not looking for “experts” with Master’s Degree or even high school. I have young readers-former students who will write their reviews and pros/cons of things like apps, tools, websites, policies, etc. Some parents write me, so frustrated and scared for their child in a what they consider an untruthful, unhelpful school system and need to vent or ask for help. Some educators want to write (not using their whole names or titles for fear of retaliation) and response to parent/student questions/concerns honestly but without losing their jobs. Some education admins use full credentials and write responses and articles. I want variety-and if necessary, can set up “alias” account for you if using real name somewhat feels threatening. Thank you!!

Please send a note with (at least some) the following if interested:

**name (first only is okay)

**email address

**why you want to participate as a volunteer for educational website

-what area or areas are you interested in writing/researching about

experience, education, background (you don’t need any to be involved-just for background knowledge)

-are you a parent, child, teacher, school admin, educational consultant, IEP writer, etc.

-how often would you be able to submit articles/feedback etc.

-just a little background

-problems/challenges/topics you are passionate about and why

-are you good at editing your work

-are you a bloggers/writers/commenter, etc. on other sites

-do you have the ability to “share” and which sites do you share with: Google+, Twitter, FB, Pin, Etc

-are you interested in being considered as “expert”-can be parent, child, anyone, just explain what makes you an expert.

-do you have interest in developing the blog-adding links, creating slideshows, optimizing, sharing, etc.

-would you be interested in social media networking?

-if experienced in blogging/writing not just in education, but other areas I need writers-would you be able to commit to being a consistent voice and sharing/social media the site (of course your promoting your work at the same time) in exchange for exposure, google authorship credit possibility, featured “blogger”, more exposure perks and being linked to your own website, blog?

Please send to Diana @ with “volunteer” in tagline. Thank you again! Diana


Why not being in the Church is the fulfillment of my Christianity

Now, this sounds like a lot of crud probably, but let me explain.

As a follower of Jesus, if such a person ever existed, I always sought the deeper meaning.

It was never just Bible-thumping for me, not even as a child, which caused more than a little unrest as I questioned both the Longer and Shorter Catechism of the Presbyterians. I wanted to mean, I still do. “Why did God make you? For his own glory.” Well, what’s that? Later I found meaning for this in some sort of universal aesthetic–glory is the beauty. But until I unfolded, and then unthreaded completely this Western idea of God–up there, far away, waiting to punish everything perceived as evil in us, and yet, as George Carlin would say, he loves us, and he needs our money. Thanks to both George Carlin and Bishop Spong for allowing me to become gently a quiet non-theist, and then whatever it is now between then and a total non-conformist. Believe me, one can be in several places at the same time.

Christianity at its best and that is not often, unfortunately,

seems to actually want this–people involved in this silent search, constant, unending, questioning, affirming that life is more than what we see. That last part is beautiful, but it often leads to “the magical mystery tour”–a hallucinogenic souring of what true endeavor and questioning can mean. The wisdom is not in finding the answers but rather in continuing to find questions. It means that when I fell secure–something is very wrong. Human existence is based on the mystery of never knowing what will happen next and yet going on and trying to make a few helpful predictions along the way to make the row a bit easier to plow.

As I said, this is rarely where Christianity is these days. Even in my wonderfully open-minded Anglican tradition, the black and white thinking, the in or out, the yes or no, the warm or cold, is so there. Perhaps it explains this fascination that so many have with the Franciscan writer Richard Rohr and his emphasis on duality and plurality. Because, folks, that is the way we are. The only ones who can think in black and white and all those other inclusive and exclusive thought paradigms are brain-dead.

In the Christian tradition, this is the season of reflexion (used to be penitence,

but people really messed that idea up as though we were in some perpetual state of guilt and not as it really is–a perpetual state of self-harming and harming others) and new life, life as never before understood, a broadening and deepening not of “faith”–what is faith but just a “relationship”–but of seeking, and being quiet, and affirming that as much as uncertainty hurts and is uncomfortable it is indeed the true human condition and one that can motivate beyond any other.

So I am honored and pleased to have found the fulfillment of my questioning by more questioning and by a community of others on this or similar paths. That is why I say that freethinking and nonconformity are the true fulfillment of how I lived my Christianity. It frees me to believe not in some abstract, but in people and myself as we continue journeying.

7 ESL Modifications for Lesson Plans

Do you have English language learners in your classroom?

Use these simple accommodations and modifications to help them keep up with class material!

Source:  7 ESL Modifications for Lesson Plans That’ll Make Learning Easier | FluentU English Educator Blog

From Diana Smith of Test Prep and Tutoring:

Hi. I am sharing this great article I found on ways to modifiy your classroom to accomodate the needs of English as a Second Language stiudent [ESL]. As an experienced ESL and English teacher for over 15 years, I use many of these techniques–such as gamelogy, critical thinking, making lessons FUN!!, technology, etc. I also studied and used differentiated instruction–in an all inclusive ESL class as well as mixed English/ESL classes, and I was also very good at interjecting varied modalities to address the learning styles of students-building on existing strengths while also trying to develop skills in areas of weakness. If you follow the links from this article, you will see the individual background on some of these techniques. If you have any answers, please post on the blog so others can benefit, but also feel free to contact me–or any of the teachers here on Test Prep and Tutoring, as they are experts in their areas as well! We hope you’ll take a minute to comment and provide feedback for our readers. Thank you. Enjoy!! Diana

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Author: Diana Smith, MS, ed  Website: Test Prep and Tutoring      Phone: (860) 858 1  Address: 33 Commercial St Gloucester, MA  01930  Email:  Facebook |Twitter|Google+

Say What You Mean. But What DOES It Mean?

It took me most of my life to realize that I had no idea of what the words I used most often meant. Since part of my post-graduate education was in theology, part in humanities and linguistics, and part in psychology, I had a lot of unpacking to do!  This is the first part of a three-part essay in which I will look at three terms used often in speaking of theological thought and that may or may not have any meaning for the general public or even the specialists.

“Faith” is one of these words. It certainly does not have to be a “blind faith”. It is confidence and simply a relationship–like two points in a geometry less always have some relationship between them as regards their location, the distance between them, their relation to other points, etc. So I have this sort of faith with Life, capital letter concept of Life, something that exists as a curious combination of molecules in a universe that is generally lifeless and that allows at some point in evolution for those experiencing this phenomenon to be aware of their own existence. Victory over what wants to do away with Life or make it fit into little squares that limit it to be less than what it can be is the great hope for all.

“God” is another vague term. It is not as many propose related to the word “good”. That would be good, but false etymologies often only serve to confuse more. A god was thought to be some powerful non-human figure that somehow influenced our world. Monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam tried described this “god” figure as being omnipotent and omniscient–the “Almighty”. This might have been good for maintaining a sense of control over people and their thinking, but for our contemporary age in which science and reason play such an important role, we are aware that this is a very limiting and passé understanding. The term that seems to work best for many is “Life”, somewhat as described in the previous paragraph. “Life” is a concept that is and is not at the same time. It “is” because we are here and alive. It “is not” because it goes much beyond any individual existence and apparently at our level encompasses still much more than just the combining of molecules that can reproduce themselves in a hostile environment. Life, with a capital letter, a concept, can be much bigger than life. Goodness, charity, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, love, friendship, and many more “human” concepts go beyond just a biological explanation of passing on genes and allowing for those famous molecules of life to recreate themselves. They have a meaning in human existence and that gives them a meaning in the universe itself. These are concepts that change human social and psychological evolution, or perhaps these are sort of a destiny for that evolution–to go beyond the limits, as all life does, and extend itself into the material world.

A final glance at what “goodness” is. It is much more than the “quality of being good”!. This is an online reference describes its root: “good”:

good (adj.) Old English god (with a long “o”) “excellent, fine; valuable; desirable, favorable, beneficial; full, entire, complete;” of abstractions, actions, etc., “beneficial, effective; righteous, pious;” of persons or souls, “righteous, pious, virtuous;” probably originally “having the right or desirable quality,” from Proto-Germanic godaz “fitting, suitable” (source also of Old Norse goðr, Dutch goed, Old High German guot, German gut, Gothic goþs), originally “fit, adequate, belonging together,” from PIE root ghedh- “to unite, be associated, suitable” (source also of Old Church Slavonic godu “pleasing time,” Russian godnyi “fit, suitable,” Old English gædrian “to gather, to take up together”).

Irregular comparative and superlative (better, best) reflect a widespread pattern in words for “good,” as in Latin bonus, melior, optimus.

Sense of “kind, benevolent” is from late Old English in reference to persons or God, from mid-14c. of actions. That of “friendly, gracious” is from c. 1200. Meaning “fortunate, prosperous, favorable” was in late Old English. As an expression of satisfaction, from early 15c. Of persons, “skilled (at a profession or occupation), expert,” in late Old English, now typically with at; in Middle English with of or to. Of children, “well-behaved,” by 1690s. Of money, “not debased, standard as to value,” from late 14c. From c. 1200 of numbers or quantities, “large, great,” of time or distance, “long;” good while “a considerable time” is from c. 1300; good way “a great distance” is mid-15c.

Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing. [“As You Like It”]

As good as “practically, virtually” is from mid-14c.; to be good for “beneficial to” is from late 14c. To make good “repay (costs, expenses), atone for (a sin or an offense)” is from late 14c. To have a good mind “have an earnest desire” (to do something) is from c. 1500. Good deed, good works were in Old English as “an act of piety;” good deed specifically as “act of service to others” was reinforced early 20c. by Boy Scouting. Good turn is from c. 1400. Good sport, of persons, is from 1906. The good book “the Bible” attested from 1801, originally in missionary literature describing the language of conversion efforts in American Indian tribes. Good to go is attested from 1989.

This would be an entire article to just unpack this rich definition of such a common word. But how about starting with this part: “having the right or desirable quality”. I do a lot of scientific translations and one of the common phrases I must work with is that of the “desired value”, which may be about temperature, humidity, or a number of other very measurable factors. What is what we desire for humanity? Equality in rights and opportunities, respect for all, dignity for all, sharing what we have with those who do not have, allowing all to think and work and breathe freely. This is goodness. It is not a one time set of moral precepts or restrictions. It is an opening to all that is human and that works for all others to be fully human. This is the next step of “evolution”.



Dark Humor Vindicated!

Mexico is vindicated. Few countries enjoy or permit dark, dark humor. Mexico seems to revel in it! From “Kentucky Fried Children” after the San Juanico explosion to doctors tagging a burn victim as “Sr. Matchstick”, finally the truth is out! Personally, I believe it also has to do with the emotions. We can only take so much tragedy and then it must come out, one way or the other. Tasteless jokes (“that what the kidnap victim after they cut his out”–that is a real joke in Mexico–ha-ha?) and strange nicknames (“Mochaorejas”–the Ear Cutter, a famous kidnapper who also cut out other parts and is now an Evangelical ministry in jail after having seen the light!–Must’ve been one helluva light!) are included.

The following is taken from the IFL Science page and is meant to be shared:
We recently wrote an article about how a man fell into one of Yellowstone’s many hot springs and was dissolved within a day. It’s a grim but strangely intriguing tale to which people reacted to in a variety of ways. One of the most common comments, however, was something along the lines of “Well, now I know where to hide a dead body in an emergency.”

If this (presumably) tongue-in-cheek comment made you laugh, then congratulations – you may have a high IQ. According to a new study in the journal “Cognitive Processing“, there is a strong correlation between intelligence and dark humor.

Led by the Medical University of Vienna, 156 people – a mixture of men and women with an average age of 33 and from a range of educational backgrounds – were first given a generalized IQ test involving verbal and non-verbal reasoning questions. They were then asked to take a look at and react to 12 cartoons by a German cartoonist, Uli Stein, all of which had a rather bleak component to them.

One particular example features a couple being spoken to by a medical professional, with the woman, in this case, being pregnant. The GP then tells them “To begin with, here is the good news: your child will always find a parking space.”

Undoubtedly, you will react differently to this than to others, but if you did giggle while questioning your moral fortitude, then you probably enjoy so-called dark humor. This type of humor has long been associated with people who are of a rather melancholic disposition, and has rarely been linked to those with higher cognitive functions.

However, this study suggests something rather interesting instead. Those that appreciated and understood the jokes the most not only had the highest IQ test results, but they also scored lower for general aggression, negative moods, and were better educated.


Does this induce a little giggle, dear reader? Sergey Zaykov/Shutterstock

Those that absolutely hated the jokes seemed to have average IQ scores, along with the highest levels of aggression and most potent negative moods. The participants that moderately understood and appreciated the humor of the jokes also had average IQ scores, but they were only averagely aggressive by nature and had a mostly positive outlook on life.

The point here is that dark humor is a complex form of thought. Grim subjects like death or disability put many people off, but by being able to quickly see through the darkness to instinctively laugh at the clever construction of language – assisted by a generally good frame of mind – takes a higher level of cognitive processing.

So don’t worry if you have a giggle at a bit of gallows humor. It doesn’t mean you’re evil – just a bit smarter than the average Joe.


Darwin Day–February 12th

It is important to be careful about celebrating and commemorating the great contributions to science and to humanity of Charles Darwin. Today is the day to do that–February 12th. First, no one wants to make a parallel “saint’s calendar” for those who are non-theistic or other freethinkers. All humanity can celebrate a great scientist.  Reason, science, and logic have always been an integral part of the Anglican tradition and many other Western and a few non-Western religious traditions: no reason to stop with Darwin in recognizing that these elements form a great gift of Life whatever one may believe or speculate about how we got here. Darwin Day should be inclusive to the nth degree so as to avoid the exclusion that is often found in many religious traditions. Darwin does for anthropology and biology what Copernicus and Galileo did for astronomy: he humbles us all–believer and unbeliever. We all started the same way, not even human, but merely potentially homo sapiens. “Humble” comes from the Latin “humus”, earth, dirt. So for believers “From dust you come, to dust you shall return.” And for freethinkers of all brands “From dust you come, to dust you shall return.” Perhaps future ecumenism will be about those facts that connect us–birth, death, and certain moments of the in-between–and not about those ideas and beliefs that tend to separate us. The work of Darwin allows us to be human beings, and, in the end, being human and all that really means in fact and as evidenced in our biological history, perhaps even biological destiny, is about the best we can do. (Apologies, not very heartfelt, to the new Secretary of Education of the U.S. and all those who continue to fight scientific information in textbooks and public schools.)

Below is a good reference as a primer to get through to the truth about this great scientist and thinker, Charles Darwin:



Free ESL English Lessons | Lesson Two-Confusing Words

Lend and Borrow-Confusing Words!

The Lesson Plan, Confusing Words-Lend and Borrow, is the second in a series of free ESL lessons I am posting here on Test Prep and Tutoring as well as on Test Prep and Tutoring’s  Facebook Page.  It’s also posted on Google Plus in the hopes of receiving feedback on how to make the lessons better for my students. The first lesson was on English idioms called Idioms: Black Sheep of the

I teach English to ESL students to adult professionals in

China. I try and incorporate any suggestions my students have to improve my lessons. I want to provide the best ESL lessons! I am considering making at least some of my Free ESL English lessons more interactive. I am testing a couple of different screen video apps that will allow me to talk through each slide to provide more explanations and examples.  I provide private ESL lessons with complete lesson plans, but these are meant for students who aren’t ready for that commitment and want good, quality ESL English Lessons Free.

This is a grammar-focused lesson appropriate for an ESL students at around Level 4.

There are English language level descriptions for each language level on Test Prep and Tutoring. Here’s the simplified Chinese translated edition. If English or Chinese is not your native language, there is a Google Translator on the post. I apologize if the translation isn’t the best. Google should hear about it!

I ask only that you leave a comment even it’s just a thank you or a “Hello, I was here” comment. I hope you take a minute though to provide some real feedback so I can better help teach ESL English language students. I would also love it if you would share this post, the website and subscribe and/or like this website or our Facebook site,  pin us or share a Tweet. We need a following to keep the work up.

Don’t forget to check out the first free ESL language lesson offered here, Idioms: Black Sheep of the Family. Fun!

Thank you.


testprep and tutoring globe logo 100 Author: Diana Smith, MS, ed Owner: Test Prep and Tutoring  Phone: (860) 858 1736   Address: 33 Commercial St   Gloucester, MA 01930  Email:

Watch Lesson Plan on Facebook!



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Source: I Can Read Simple Sentences Set 1 NO PREP Packet! – Moffatt Girls

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Ethics and Everyday Life

Can You Teach Ethics

I was recently honored to teach Ethics to fifth graders at my liberal and welcoming Unitarian Universalist Church. It’s such a wonderful, loving, supportive and accepting community. We tend to think along the same lines, and because we fight social injustice, most of us are politically active at least in our democratically selected focus projects each year. I love the idea of being responsible for your own actions, for caring about your everyday actions and behaviors instead of being concerned with what will happen when you die. We talk of our spiritual leaders including, of course, Jesus, but in a tangible, relatable way, when he was a man, a human like all of us. We ask questions and challenge questions dating back thousands of years. We encourage honesty and discussions. So in a major way, I act as a guide, a facilitator supplying information and resources and encourage discussion and debate. The kids aren’t necessarily being “taught” ethics. They are learning about ethics and morals and values.

One of my favorite parts of the UU church as its so fondly called, or in the case of my local UU,All Souls“, the children play a central theme in our Sunday worship and our activities. The vision of the religious education is to create a “safe, joyful, welcoming environment where children and youth engage in interactive religious learning. Children and youth explore their Unitarian Universalist identity as part of an intergenerational community in worship, fellowship, and social justice activities.”1 The covenant we agreed on as our guide in religious education is the one I introduced the first day of Ethics class for the 5th grade students:

  • Everyone matters
  • Be kind
  • You are free to ask life’s big questions
  • Offer that same freedom to others
  • Everyone gets a vote
  • Work for peace and fairness
  • Take care of our earth

The children are encouraged to ask questions about anything and everything-no bounds; God, death, life, nature,politics….any of the big questions kids[we all] have. We want them to develop their own set of personal moral standards and hopefully develop  a healthy conscience. They share their thoughts, experiences, joys and sorrows, and listen to others and offer their support and compassion. This helps build confidence , compassion and empathy for others situations. The “Amazing Grace” curriculum for the 5th graders focused on moral and ethical issues. We hope our students develop stronger values and decision-making skills that take others into consideration. Personal responsibility and facing the consequences of our actions comes up often during the year.

This got me thinking about some of the little things in life that happen every day that many people never give a second thought about, but often make another person’s day harder or less joyful. How different are our consciousness? Things like getting into the 10 or under express line at the grocery store knowing you have at least 15 items. Or being the last person in a long line who runs to the newly opened register instead of letting the people who have waited go first

I see acts of kindness everyday,  which often bring tears to my eyes. I can also well up seeing the callousness of people to each other. I try to focus on the good, and work harder on my patience, tolerance and compassion, but some days I get so discouraged and frustrated, especially lately since the election. Everyone seems on edge.

You’ll see a little poll below, only 4 questions. Not big moral choices, but little, everyday life choices.Take a minute and answer honestly. You don’t need to add your name. We’re just looking to see how people think and act. Like I said, the UU church encourages asking questions and figuring out life’s challenges. Research is part of that game plan. Please check off the boxes you can say “yes” to. Thanks.

ESL Level Descriptions Translated

ESL Levels in English-Translated into Simplified Chinese

The translated version of ESL English Levels and Descriptions into simplified Chinese. I do not speak Chinese [although I might be learning soon], after I translated it using a translation tool, I ran it through Google Translator as well and it seemed to be very accurate. I did include the direct link below in case there were any questions. Please correct any mistakes. I will also be adding other languages to translate to and if you’d like me to translate to your language just leave a comment on the blog!

Here’s the Google Translator Tool


ESL学生的英语水平W /描述

级别1-2 不知道如何发音的英文单词:加强指导技能和实践通过重复讲。很难按照说明或回答问题(如询问他们的名字,他们是怎么做的等),了解简单的话(苹果,快乐,等等),但不能使用它们在一个句子来表达自己
3 就可以开始沟通熟悉的理念他们,但可以预期的精度不一致(如回答“我好”,而是说“我今天吃苹果”), 往往会给一个字的回答大部分时间,无法提供完整的句子作为一种表达 与认识现在时态,例如他是,他们是;我很喜欢,她喜欢
4 发音是OK 的句子可能缺乏连接词(如我喜欢橙色的这是很好的):。 不使用复杂的句子的 有限知识,关于时间的时态(但可以用一般过去时态即使他们不不记得使用它,他们通常可以纠正自己,如果顾问指出来) 更熟悉目前的紧张。开始用过去时态自己熟悉
5 置信的确定。 与句子结构斗争, 可能听起来,如果他们从课本背诵句子,而不是表达自己的自由,因为他们想(表达式限制)。 置信用过去时态。熟悉的将来时。 一个良好的基础与介词
6 可以表达更流畅的方式。 可以预期语法错误。 良好的发音, 知道了不少的词汇。 用进行时态增加了信心,可以主要时态加以区分。
7 能进行日常对话。 小发音上的错误,有时语调不清楚。 开始使用现在完成时和过去完成时熟悉
8 了一段时间一直在学习英语, 就可以开始形成复杂的句子。 他们传授正式/非正式用语(形成不同情况下的不同的句子:文化差异) 时态有一个良好的基础非常有信心的主题/动词协议简介:主动/被动。听力仍然problems-,因为他们可以在交谈所淹没
9 的客户端完成这一水平要讨论的既熟悉又陌生的话题阵列的能力和知识。他们可以进行与母语,运用表情,词汇和句子结构的对话。他们知道如何说话时纠正自己。他们要管理几乎所有的正常生活功能于一身的英语环境难度不大的能力
10 的客户端完成这一水平有很强的词汇,可以识别的英语表达和习语。他们可以直接对话,并评估他们需要更多地了解。他们知道如何参与范围广泛的辩论,即使他们不熟悉的话题,并能表达自己的意见方便。他们的词汇量是这样的,这些客户端可以很容易地替换共享相同含义的词。他们研究了几乎所有的语法的图案,并且将能够使用简单和更复杂的关系从句。他们还应该在使用宽安排从属连词的..舒适的 在这个层面上,学生也应该能够阅读和理解在报纸和杂志上的文章。这是通过补充学生的词汇量银行鼓励。

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