book review · Five Star Review · Online Learning

Learn Chemistry Concepts in Under a Minute With This Book

Know it All chemistry
Image courtesy of WellFleet Press

Know-it-All Chemistry by Nivaldo Tro

Wellfleet Press(2017)

ISBN: 978-1-57715-151-7

Grab Know it All Chemistry on Amazon today!

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As I always say, any book on science and math that uses colorful images, charts and illustrations, automatically gets an A+.

Know it All Chemistry has this and more going for it; I highly recommend it- but only as a companion to studying chemistry on a deeper level.

If you are looking for a simple, easy to understand book for help on areas dealing with tough topics like ionic bonding and chemical equations, this book is for you.

I wish this book was available when I was taking honors chemistry in the tenth grade years ago. The class was tough. Thank goodness for sites like Khan Academy  and  Thought Co.  where you can learn this subject and more for free. There are also several books you can buy to help you with chemistry.

Earlier, I mentioned that this book is better paired with a deeper study of chemistry.

I say this because the book is broken into one minute bites- chapters that give you the bare bones about specific topics and even runs down the timelines of famous chemists and theorists.

A fascinating fact I learned from reading the book was about the Yew Tree. This tree is very special even though on the surface it seems it may not be. Chemists have found out that its bark actually has cancer fighting agents in it.

In summation, I find this book to be very much needed as a companion to whatever you are using to study chemistry now. Highly recommended!

*Book received for free from Netgalley.

Online Learning

Kudos to autodidacts: Are you one?


When you catch the first sight of him, immediately words like: Goth, depressed, different may enter your minds.

But Andrew De Leon is an autodidact who can actually Sing!

Wait. What in the heavens is an autodidact?

Upon finding the word in Dean Koontz’s book “Breathless”, I researched it and found that it describes me perfectly: A person who is self taught. This means that person has to have self motivation and dedication to achieve what it is you want.

I first realized I was an autodidact when I was sixteen or seventeen and it was my first time taking Acapella Choir as an elective and Music Theory 1. It was high school and I was learning under strict but knowledgeable teachers who thumped in our heads that going to college and getting that superior education will ensure that we will have a secure future.

Not that I didn’t believe it, but even then not many people had jobs with degrees and sometimes a semester is not long enough to learn a challenging area.

So there I was- a newbie at singing and learning musical notes. Trust and believe I knew nothing about either. I knew I sucked at singing but Music Theory was enlightening and I enjoyed the challenge it presented.

Many students in my class were already in band or in Jazz Choirs and had beautiful voices. Not me. Many couldn’t read music either but they can sing their butts off. Needless to say, I played the keyboard my dad bought me every night. I studied the music notes and memorized how long to hold a beat and a pause. I bought books on piano lessons and theory with my own allowance money.

I practiced so hard I passed the course with a good grade(A or B) and on my first musical arrangement homework I got a high B. That is what self learning did for me.

When you grab a book, watch a video on YouTube, or listen to a taping on “how to do” something and you truly understand it and able to apply the principles…you are an autodidact.

Technically, you are learning from someone because you had to grab their materials. But it is on your own terms. I realized that the foundation I had in music theory, choir, and the Spanish class I took still hold  my interest to this day nearly sixteen years later…and I continue to learn them too.

Andrew De Leon is a great singer. Whether he used materials to help or not, I don’t know. But without formal training, he sounded amazing on America’s Got Talent.

Adult Education · Communication · Distance Learning · Online Learning · writing

If You’re An Online Teacher, You Should Read This…

A compassionate teacher is a good teacher for mind and soul

As someone who is familiar with distance learning since (roughly) 2005, I have begun to notice the good, the bad and the downright ugly. These terrible things have not kept me from learning online, however it could prove to do a working student in, especially when the culprit is a bad online teacher.

Before I begin, I must say I will try to refrain from being too harsh because distance learning teachers have a life too including spouses, children, and some tend to be on travel, so of course that much is understandable.  I will discuss this topic by topic. They are: Online teachers, communications, and technical know-how.

Online Teachers

  • A good online teacher logs in just as regularly as a student. Some students who are working(or not) log in at least three to four times a week or more. An online teacher should log in around those same times too because students may have questions that need an immediate answer. Solution: As a teacher, set up a time you will be online. What seemed to work well for one of my instructor’s classes was being online in the morning, checking online in the afternoon while out(if you have a high tech phone), and then once at night.
  • A good online teacher has tons of patience. I ventured online and found a post where someone said a math teacher helped them out for two hours over the phone! That is an amazing picture of patience. I’ve come across teachers who sounded impatient in their emails and discussion posts. Not good.  Solution: If you find you have no patience to teach, especially when the subject is difficult, perhaps you need to re-evaluate why you took on this job and find out the true source of your stress.
  • A good online teacher knows how to direct discussions in an online environment. True story: My husband was taking a perspectives class online and the teacher literally said “I want the students to lead discussions, and you have to post in this manner. This is what I found to work for ME”; during his time in class was hell because the instructor graded more harsh on the student feedback than the initial posting and art work! Huh?!…..This was not good at all. Solution: As a teacher YOU should direct all traffic in posts, the students are depending on you for your help and expertise. Even if other students are doing better than others, conversations should not be graded harder than the actual assignment.* What works for you just doesn’t count. Sorry.
  • A good online teacher does not let personal favortism get in the way. This is another NO NO if you are an online teacher or a teacher who works in a physical building. This isn’t a good morale booster when a student makes a bad first start with a low grade and you continue to downgrade him/her and not really looking deep into their work anymore because you assume it isn’t worth checking into. I’ve witness this happen as well. It is not a way to keep a student there. Solution: Treat every student the same. Everyone is different and unique and deserve a chance. If the student is literally having trouble with assignments, make a phone call or send an email asking what is going on. This shows a more human, mature side of you.

*When it comes to distance learning, it has been said that discussion boards are there to make a classroom seem more real. A discussion board is accessed through a virtual classroom and is similar to a forum or chat room. The idea is to keep communication lines open. However, along the way, higher education forgot what goes on in an actual classroom. In an actual classroom, the teacher is the director and all assignments are turned into him/her. Class discussions work best with peer editing in a writing course or something like that, but you are not graded down because of your “conversation”, you are graded for particpation.

My husband’s perspective teacher at the Arts Institute wanted “conversations” to weigh more heavily than her difficult assignments and main assignments/main posts. This is not real or ideal. Students don’t wish to be graded heavily on feedback, they want the higher grade to be the one they busted their tails for. I will venture back to this problem in another post.

I hope you enjoyed this post because there will be more. I am trying to figure out much needed changes in the online school environment.