N2K: A Competition to Overcome Math Illiteracy, Enter to Win!

A guest post from the National Number Knockout team:

N2K-dice-for-website_Play1As math teachers head back to school, they must overcome budget cuts while being expected to teach Common Core and STEM standards to students who may be ill-prepared. We all know teachers who pay for classroom expenses from their own salaries. We all know teachers frustrated by standards that their students can’t begin to meet. Teachers need support from organizations like National Number Knockout (N2K).

National Number Knockout is dedicated to improving speed and accuracy in calculating skills for middle school students by promoting a national competition that is free to enter, can be played by any number of students, and accommodates all levels of math skill. N2K allows a teacher to lead a class of students at different levels of competency through the basics of arithmetic while fostering a calculating proficiency that surprises even the best teachers.

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Review: The Quintessential Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

The Quintessential Porcine History of Philosophy and ReligionThe Quintessential Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion by James Taylor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A funny, winsome summary of the various philosophies and religious theories throughout history. Each is summarized in a sentence or two and imagined with cartoon pigs. Some are very clever, some are okay. It’s a fun bathroom read.

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Review: The Walking Dead, Book Two

The Walking Dead, Book TwoThe Walking Dead, Book Two by Robert Kirkman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m really enjoying this series, although I know it’s still early. You should be forewarned that there is foul language and adult situations, but it’s probably to be expected in a post-apocalyptic zombie-filled world.

Book Two continues the Sheriff Rick Grimes story. It continues to delve into questions about what it means to be human in a world where the institutions of humanity have ceased to exist. Will the gang become more like their zombie counterparts, or will they grow further apart and more human themselves? These are the kinds of questions this book (and the television series) seeks to answer.

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Review: The Walking Dead, Book Three

The Walking Dead, Book ThreeThe Walking Dead, Book Three by Robert Kirkman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not much to say about the series so far that I haven’t already said in the previous two reviews. I do think the characters, especially Rick Grimes, are types of the ideal man in the same way that Achilles or Odysseus or Hamlet or Dante are. There’s something to Rick’s character that should draw us further in to the story. How is he behaving in a way that we should imitate? How is he behaving in a way that we should eschew? What would be the proper way to behave in such situations? If we can learn to live rightly, via our imagination, in a post-apocalyptic world, then certainly we can learn to live rightly in our own world.

I’m drawn to this series, and I’m surprised by that in light of this being a graphic novel.

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Review: The Walking Dead, Book One

The Walking Dead, Book OneThe Walking Dead, Book One by Robert Kirkman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally got around to reading The Walking Dead graphic novels, my first foray into graphic novels, to be honest. A note about graphic novels in general: they seem to be able to do things that traditional novels cannot. A graphic novel can have an image from a previous scene while displaying text (conversation) from the next scene (or vice versa) the same way a television show or movie can transition in that way. While a novel, on the other hand, cannot move the images in my head to another scene while simultaneously continuing conversation or a description from the previous scene. In that way, at least, a graphic novel has an advantage over traditional novels. Traditional novels, of course, have the advantage of being able to go into greater detail to describe the scene, setting, thoughts, feelings, and emotions of their characters; so, there’s that.

The Walking Dead, Book One, is worth reading if only for the introduction. Kirkman describes his intention for these books, and it is exactly what I’ve picked up and noticed from watching the television series: the zombies are a foil to reveal what true humanity is or should be. It is definitely intriguing enough that I will continue to read the entire series.

If you can’t stomach the television series, then you should definitely read the graphic novels. If you can stomach the television series, then you will probably find the graphic novels are worth reading as well.

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Review: Inheritance

InheritanceInheritance by Christopher Paolini

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I definitely enjoyed this book more than the others. I will say, though, that this book still had many of the same things I’ve criticized in the earlier books, namely, over-explanation and over-description of the world he’s created.

That said, Paolini has created an exciting, magical, and imaginative world. And I really enjoyed the way he ended the battle for Alagaesia. The ending came far sooner than I expected, though. He wrote a rather lengthy conclusion describing what happened in Alagaesia after the battle ended. I am glad I pushed through to this last book; it is worth reading.

I’m not sure the Inheritance tetralogy will ever be lumped in with The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings. But, it probably will be a book series that young kids will read for a long time.

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