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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Have you heard of “Serial”? (Seriously, listen to “Serial”.)


Have you guys heard of the NPR radio podcast called “Serial”? If not, where have you been?


“Serial” is a 12-episode audio series that explores the murder of a high school girl in 1999, and the trial that led to the conviction of her ex-boyfriend for the crime. The show reached an enormous level of popularity; it is the most downloaded podcast on iTunes, with an average of 5.7 million listeners per episode.


Each week, host Sarah Koenig untangles more about this enigmatic case. Koenig questions whether or not the convicted man, Adnan Syed, was wrongly accused and whether or not he received a fair trial 15 years ago. Adnan was 17 when arrested, and is currently serving a life sentence for a crime with minimal evidence against him.

Listeners form their own hypotheses: Is Adnan guilty? Who is lying?  What really happened on that day? This is, in my opinion, why the show has been so successful. It is a real-life mystery told in real time. And it is fascinating!

What I found especially interesting about the show was that it surrounds teenagers who were not much older than me when it all happened. “Serial” attracts a variety of listeners (both my mom and my grandma are obsessed!) but I think that even high schoolers would be interested in the fast-paced show.

Fans of shows like NCIS, How to Get Away with Murder, and Pretty Little Liars will find the same sort of thrill and intrigue by listening to Serial. But of course, “Serial” is actually real life and realistic (I mean come on, the supposed high school seniors  in Pretty Little Liars are actually 28-year old full grown adults. And seriously, who wears 5-inch heels and perfectly curled hair to school every day! Enough about the utter ridiculousness of PLL, though I could literally write a whole blog post about it!)

So, download episode 1 and listen while you go to the gym, drive to school, or are bored at home. Warning: you might not be able to stop!


Post by Allie C, Homework Assistant

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day crafts

Valentine's Day Crafts


Don't know what to give your friends this Valentine's Day? Here are some ideas for you all.  To go to the website or video, just click on the title of the craft.





                                            
                                         










Maria M. - Homework Assistant


Thursday, February 12, 2015

One Thousand Cranes

 One Thousand Cranes 

An ancient Japanese legend that says that anyone who makes one thousand cranes will be granted a wish. In Japan cranes are holy creatures. It is said that cranes live up to one thousand years which is the reason for making one thousand cranes. Cranes are typically given as gifts to family and friends. Usually, Japanese couples make one thousand crane to for happiness and prosperity. I  will embark on this challenge and will keep you all posted on the number of cranes I have made so far on each post I create.

Here is a video on how to make paper/origami cranes.


Maria M., Homework Assistant

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

K-Dramas

K-Dramas

The President's Day three day weekend is coming soon which means lots of time to relax and enjoy shows. I thought it would be nice to have a list of K-Dramas suggestions for the long weekend. If you are not familiar with K-Dramas there are mini series in Korean that are mostly done in South Korea. My friends first introduce me to K-Dramas junior year. When they described me some of the K-Dramas story lines they were so enthusiastic that one of them almost fell of her chair. They told me about a website called dramafever were one can watch k-dramas for free with the unfortunate interruption of ads every ten minutes, but again it's FREE. I have been impressed so far with all of the dramas I have watched that I thought I should share my favorites with you all. Below I have composed a small list of K-Dramas suggestions to tackle this long weekend. Please let me know me know, by commenting below the post, if you have any K-Dramas suggestion by commenting below on this post.

Here are some suggestions to start of with:
Pinocchio
The King's Face
Boys over Flowers
Mr. Baek
The Beautiful You
Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo

Maria M., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Book Suggestion


Book Suggestion

I thought I would share a book suggestions with you all. Last Friday, Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places (click on the link to go to the catalog) came to Los Altos High School to talk about creative writing and her book. I myself have not had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy, but from what I have read and heard it is an amazing book.  The story (from what I read on Goodreads) is about a boy name Theodore Finch, who is obsess with death, and Violet Markey, who anxiously awaits her graduation when she can finally leave her town. Violet and Finch first meet at the ledge of the bell tower at the school when they save one another from falling. They then meet again when they become partners for a class project. Through this project Finch and Violet learn that they can only be their true selves with one another. However, as the world of one begins to grow, the world of the other begins to diminish. I'll write another blog post where I will give my sincere opinion the book after reading it, of course without spoilers, and another suggestion.

If you have any book suggestions and would like to share them with others, please comment on this post. with titles.

Maria M., Homework Assistant

Monday, February 9, 2015

Candy Crush and Addiction

Everybody has seen them: the colorful notifications, enticing you to join the latest Facebook game or for you to look into your heart and donate a life to one of your friends.

Candy Crush Notification: A very familiar sight

But before you roll your eyes and contemplate deleting half of your friend list, have a little sympathy and consider the neuroscience behind these vexing behaviors. 

Research has revealed chemical responses to games like Candy Crush that cause its players to become addicted. Rewarding events, such as clearing a level, release the chemical dopamine in the brain and make players happy. However, the more often you receive dopamine, the less happy players will feel from it, in a phenomenon called the hedonistic adaptation.

Structure of Dopamine 

The mechanics of games like Candy Crush ensure that players never get dopamine too often. After a certain amount of losses, players get timed out of playing. Additionally, the beginning levels are easy to complete, releasing dopamine often and compelling players to keep going. But as the game progresses, the difficulty increases, and more time elapses before players are able to clear the level. Both of these factors force players to wait for their next dopamine hit, making it that much more rewarding when they do get it and compelling players to keep going.

While Candy Crush addiction might not be as destructive as other types, it feels creepy. What seems like a simple, colorful game, seems to be harboring  darker intentions. But what do you think? Are these tactics deceptive? Or a fair way to keep players engaged?

Written by Jenna M, Homework Assisstant

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Love is in the Air! (And pages)

With February starting, only two things are on most people's minds: a well-needed week-long break, and of course, Valentine's Day!

Whether you are single or in a healthy relationship, these books will engulf you with the intense emotions of teenage love, with its extreme highs and lows:

1. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

In this debut novel, you follow the narrative of Hadley Sullivan, who is travelling to England to attend her father's second wedding. On the plane, she meets Oliver, and they connect instantly. They go their separate ways, and Hadley must see if they will find each other again. This simple story has a lot of emotional punch, with Hadley coming to terms with her parent's divorce while a romance develops as quickly as it disappears. This cinematic novel will keep you in suspense and leave you optimistic for the future.





2. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 
In this 80's set novel, you follow the story of Eleanor, an outcast living in poverty, and Park, a half-Korean living in a predominantly Caucasian community. Romance ensues, but life gets in the way. This novel features relatable characters with attitudes and voices readily seen on any high school campus. Check out this book if you are looking for a novel depicting a sweet but realistic relationship, without any fluff or over-idealism.





3. How They Met, and Other Stories by David Levithan
This anthology includes 18 stories, depicting all types of love. Awkward love, cute love, sudden love, straight love, and gay love. This book is a quick and casual read, and with such a variety, you are sure to find a memorable story you will want to read over and over. If you are a fan of ensemble romance movies, such as Love Actually or Valentine's Day, this is the book for you.


Hopefully these books will entertain and enthrall you, whether you are a veteran of love or a newcomer to it. But now I want to know what you think. Which romance novels do you hold close to your heart?

Written by Jenna M., Homework Assistant

Friday, February 6, 2015

Discovering "Doctor Books": an Introduction to Medicine in Literature




Sure, you’ve, been watching Grey’s Anatomy since before you could pronounce laparoscopic cholecystectomy, but there is still so much to learn about the *real* life and work of *actual* doctors. Since I was 10 I’ve wanted to be a doctor, proudly wearing a white coat and stethoscope around my neck. When I discovered “doctor books”, (as I call them) my excitement about medicine soared. Many accomplished physicians have put pen to paper and documented their experiences in nonfiction memiors. Whether you are interested in medicine or just want to read some fascinating clinical tales, I highly recommend checking out some of the many doctor books available at the library. Spoiler alert: you won’t likely find any plane crashes, ferry boat collisions, or bombs in body cavities in these books (shout out to all of my fellow Grey’s fans
).

If you want a doctor book that reads like a novel, I suggest the books of Atul Gawande. Unlike other books I’ve read by prominent surgeons, Gawande comes off as down-to-earth, unprecedented, and humble. His first book, Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science was actually the inspiration for Grey’s Anatomy. Don’t be surprised if you notice that some of Gawande’s stories were retold on the show! After reading Complications, I wanted to share everything I had read with everyone I saw, i.e. “Do you know what hyperemesis is?” (Unstoppable throwing up) or “Do you want to hear a story about necrotizing fasciitis?” (a flesh-eating bacteria).  Some of Gawande’s other incredible memoirs include The Checklist Manifesto, Being Mortal, and Better.



Next on my list: The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks. Great title, right?

Post By Allie C. Homework Assistant 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Read All About it! Easy and Fun Ways to Keep Up on World News


Read All About it! Easy and Fun Ways to Keep Up on World News

For many of us teenagers, we are only a few short years being able to vote. How crazy is that? I, for one, cannot believe that in the next presidential election (in 2016) I will actually get to fill out a ballot! At this point, I feel so woefully uninformed about what is going on in the world we live in. I have made a goal for 2015 to follow current events more closely so by the time I can participate in our democracy, I’ll actually have an educated stance (rather than the current extent of my political perspective: “Paul Ryan? His forehead is hilarious!”) In my quest for some degree of education in current world issues, I’ve discovered some easy tips for keeping up with the news.
1.       1. Change your browser home screen to your favorite news site
 By customizing your Google home page to a news source (consider Associated Press, the New York Times, NPR, or BBC) every time you open the browser you can skim the always-changing headlines. If a story catches your eye, read on!

2.      2. Get news updates sent to your smartphone.
Many journalism apps have the capability to send notifications of breaking news right to your phone. Every time something notable happens, you will be the first to know, and you can impress your friends with your crazy knowledge!  Alternatively, you can sign up to have the New York Times' morning and evening news briefs (containing all the necessary information to start or end your day) sent directly to your email account. 

3.      3. Watch news parody shows
Have a little fun with your news! Shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart report accurate stories with a satirical twist. A disclaimer: don’t use these shows as your only source of news because they tend to have bias towards the liberal perspective. I consider myself to be quite liberal, but it’s always good to read a more objective report as well.
4.       4. Curate your social media
Another way of receiving notifications on breaking news is to follow news sources on Facebook or Twitter! Their posts will show up on your feed, bringing you up to speed on current events.

5.     5.  This one takes true dedication… Make NPR a preset channel on your radio
Ok, ok, so NPR (National Public Radio) might bore you to sleep most of the time. But honestly, I now find it really soothing and interesting. I love it because the news is more comprehensive than simple headlines; you often get to hear different perspectives on the same issue.
Join me, you guys! Let’s impress our teachers by having a legit opinion on current issues! Let’s impress everyone who stalks us on Facebook or rides in our cars (i.e. “OMG you listen to NPR, you’re so classy”)! And you guys, let’s be the most informed generation of voters yet!

Post by Allie C, Homework Assistant

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Scholarships

Scholarships


It's never too early to start looking for scholarships! There are scholarships out there that apply that have no age limit, so sixth graders out there you can start looking for scholarships already. I will post some scholarships sites below.

Fastweb - This site has tons of links to scholarships. All you need to do is create an account and embark on the journey of seeking scholarships. To make searching easier, they have a profile component that helps you narrow down scholarships by responding questions on your interests, academics, and involvement in your community. Also, you can build your own scholarship list on the website.

Zinch- Another great site to look for scholarships. It is similar to fastweb, so you will need to create an account. It  helps you narrow the scholarships based on likes, essay requirement or online application and you can sort them by date, so you can ignore the ones whose deadline have passed.

College Green Light- Great website for scholarships, but also for exploring colleges. Again this website requires making an account.

SVCF (seniors only) -This is an application where seniors can find over 40 scholarships with awards up to $40,000. The deadline for this application is February 26 at 11:59 p.m. PST, so start working on this as soon as possible!

I hope this helps and remember to keep track of all your usernames and passwords in either a notebook or an online document, so you easily access the websites!

Maria M.-Homework Assistant


Monday, February 2, 2015

Test Taking Tips

Second semester is coming in full swing, and with that comes the inevitability of test-taking season. Whether it be the SAT, ACT, AP, or IB, standardized testing is a common experience among almost all high school students. To try to alleviate some testing anxiety, here are some tips:

1. Familiarize yourself with the test
Standardized testing is not necessarily a measure of intelligence. Knowing the test is often more important than how smart you believe you are. The format and types of questions don't change between tests of the same type (unless you will be taking the redesigned 2016 SAT or any redesigned AP test). This means that before going into the test, you can learn how to work through each type of question, and maybe even learn how to avoid some traps. 

For this, I would recommend taking the time to work through a prep book. Many companies publish these, and many books come with multiple practice tests to work through and really learn the test. 

2. Give yourself time to study
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will mastery of a four hour test. The amount of time you need to study depends on your study style. Some people prefer studying for a little bit at a time, over a long period of time, while others prefer studying for extended periods at a time, over a shorter period of time. Once you know your study style you prefer, note the test days (ACT test dates  and SAT test dates) and create a schedule. Stick to it,and your practice will surely aid you when the test comes around.


3. Relax! (Really)
Even if it seems like your life is going to be ruined by a bad test score, remember that at the end of the day, your score is just a number a paper. It doesn't define you or indicate your future success. And even if your score is lower than desired, there are opportunities to retake until you have reached your target score. On test day, don't let anxiety prevent you from doing your very best. You studied, so let that show.

With these tips in mind, I wish you all success in your testing future. Study hard!

Written by Jenna M, Homework Assistant