Monday, July 30, 2007

Thank You Friends !

Dear Friends-cum-Readers,
Your love and support is overwhelming. Thanks Alot !
Thank you to all the people who have sent me those heart warming comments !
I would love if you could send me some of your original articles so that I could publish them in my mag (hard copy).
With Regards

Friday, July 27, 2007

Book Review

The Legend Of Spud Murphy
Author - Eoin Colfer

Have you ever met the perfect terror? Do you absolutely abhor reading boring books in a boring library stacked from floor to ceiling with books, books and more boring books? Well, if you pick up The Legend Of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer you are going to meet two brothers, Will and Marty who would much rather spend their holidays playing with action man and putting war paint on their faces with mum’s makeup box.
But Will and Marty’s parents have other things in mind. They want their sons to do something ‘educational’ during their holidays instead of idling their time away. The library seems the ideal place for three afternoons a week! Will and Marty can’t begin to make their parents realize how dangerous the library is. The librarian is none other than the legendary Spud Murphy. Although Mum insists that Ms. Murphy is a perfectly angelic, sweet lady, the kids know better. Marty, Will and almost every small boy in town knows that Spud keeps a gas powered gun under her desk. She shoots big whole potatoes out of that gun if the kids so much as whisper in the library. After all Ugly Frank was spudded once.
Will and Marty are doomed to three afternoons a week under the hawk eyes of Spud Murphy. What ensues is an exciting adventure with a surprising end.
The Legend Of Spud Murphy reminds you of the classic Roald Dahl stories. It is one of the lesser known books by Eoin Colfer who wrote the Artemis Fowl series. Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen) was born in Ireland and was a school teacher before he decided to take up writing full time. When he was at school he learnt of the Viking stories in history class and was inspired by those tales and began writing. After he grew up and finished his University education he spent sometime teaching and then some years in Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. Benny and Omar, his first book is set in Tunisia and has now been translated into many languages.
Some of his other books include Going Potty (1999); The Wish List (2000); Artemis Fowl (2001);Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident (2002)Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code (2003) and many more.

Excerpt : We walked across to her desk, clinging to each other like two
frightened monkeys. There was a whole box full of ink stamps on the desk, and
two more hooked into her belt like six shooters.Spud Murphy glared down from a
great height. She was big. Taller than my dad, and wider than Mum and my two
aunties strapped together. Her arms were skinny like a robot’s and her eyes were
like two black beetles behind her glasses. ‘Mum says we have to join the
library,’ I said. A full sentence. Not bad under the circumstances. ‘That’s all
I need,’ grumbled Spud. ‘Two more urchins messing up my shelves.’Book

Facts :Publisher : Puffin ISBN Code : 0-141-31708-6No. of Pages : 90Format : Paperback

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Come On, Get Happy!

Does it feel like that school assignment is going to take FOREVER to complete? Looking for some inspiration? Here's a list of quick tips to give you the extra push you need to finish that pesky paper…and put a smile on your face!
Make a List, Check it Twice
If you have assignments flying at you from all
different subjects, create a priority list that
starts with what's due soonest as number one. Chances are the due dates will be
spread out over time, so what you thought was a gigantic load of work won't
actually be that overwhelming. Rate all the assignments based on how long you
think they'll take, which ones seem like the hardest, or by subject. No matter
how you rank them, you can start methodically working through them, and once you
finish an assignment, go ahead and check it off your list!
Get it Over With
If you only have one project to complete, JUST DO IT. Imagine how it's going to feel when that one essay is complete. You're free! You can play basketball! You can ride your bike! You can hang out with friends (assuming all their homework is done too)!
Work With Study Buddies
Bond over textbooks with your friends. As long as
you guys keep focused on studying, working in a group may indeed increase your
productivity. You're all working towards a common goal of completing your
assignments and when it's time for a break, you're already together!
Take a Break
There's nothing wrong with taking a 15-minute break if you feel like you need to rejuvenate yourself. Get up, stretch, make a snack, IM friends, hop in the shower, call your grandma, write a letter — do something completely unrelated to homework. Once you're refreshed, you'll be ready to concentrate again.
Reward Yourself
Make a deal with yourself before you begin to make a sizable
dent in your workload. It can be anything from "If I finish this paper a day
early, I'll buy that new DVD I've wanted," to "When I finish 20 math problems, I
get to watch the game on TV tonight."
Tap Your Feet
Understandably, some people can't concentrate with music playing. But if putting tunes on helps you plow through assignments, slip your favorite CD in the stereo or turn the radio on, and do your work to the flow of the melody. And consider this: studies have shown that the part of the brain that is used to solve mathematical problems is stimulated by classical music. So crank up the Mozart when you're multiplying fractions!
Show the Teacher What You Can Do
Maybe you're not looking forward to doing a
paper because you got a bad grade on the last one. Well, take this as an
opportunity to show the teacher what you've got! If you feel like the situation
is hopeless, just imagine the look on your teacher's face when you blow him away
with your brilliance.
Pump Yourself Up
Sometimes it's hard to settle down and do homework because you've been sitting in class all day and need to burn off some excess energy. Do some jumping jacks or sit-ups, run a mile, or just dance around like crazy in your room. It'll get the adrenaline going, and you'll feel like homework is just a little hurdle to jump over. So get to it!

Tips From an Ex-Procrastinator

  1. Does everything else around you seem far more interesting than doing your assignments? Can't keep your mind from wandering off task? Here are tips for staying focused so you don't end up leaving homework until the last minute.
  2. Block off time beforehandIt's Tuesday. Your science project is due Friday. You have choir practice after school until 4 p.m. Mom serves dinner at 6 p.m. Your favorite television show is on at 8 p.m. And bedtime is 9:30 p.m. How can you possibly fit your science project in? You think, "Better just wait for tomorrow to work on it."
    But why put it off when you can get some of it accomplished today? As tempting as it is to delay work that isn't due for a couple of days, getting a little bit done at a time will make your life easier in the long run. Take a good look at your schedule. There's a 2-hour block after choir practice, so choose about 45 minutes — say 5:15 until Mom puts dinner on the table — and start plowing through your work.
    There. You've gotten some of it over with and you get to watch your favorite program. When you schedule a chunk of time to do projects or homework, it's like any other commitment you have to uphold.
  3. Seclude yourselfGet away from potential distractions before you crack the books. Now, you shouldn't be working in a dungeon or anything, but it certainly helps the progress of your work if there's no television in the room, your friends aren't around, and your bed can't beckon you to take a nap. Find a suitable workspace with a comfortable chair and tabletop to spread out, either in your house or at the library. Make sure this is a place where you can concentrate without interruption.
  4. Turn of instant messenger, the cell phone, whateverIf your assignment requires you to work on a computer, do yourself a favor and don't bother signing on to instant messenger. Once just one buddy IMs you, it's going to be difficult to do anything productive.
    Similarly, if you have a cell phone, put it on silent or turn it off completely. Unless you are expecting an important call from Mom or Dad, tuck it in your bag so you can resist the urge to text message or call your friends.
  5. Fix a snack before you startOne of the best excuses for taking a break? Getting some grub. Of course, the best procrastinators will mull over what they want to eat, take forever to browse the fridge or candy machine, then spend extra time actually eating the snack. So here's what you do: make a tasty treat for yourself before you start working. Whether you are at home or going to the library, just fill a Ziploc baggie with cookies, crackers, or carrot sticks. That way you can save the snack for when your stomach starts to grumble and not waste time.
  6. First is the worst…so get it out of the way When each of your looming assignments has equal importance or urgency, do the worst one first. Finishing it will make all the other assignments such a breeze that you'll sail on through, knowing that the least appealing isn't waiting for you.
  7. Envision the light at the end of the tunnelYou're chugging along, being productive…and all of a sudden you feel like you're never going to finish, which, of course, makes you want to veg out, watch TV, surf the Internet, or do anything that doesn't involve school.
  8. Don't give up. Use the power of positive thinking to envision the light at the end of the tunnel. Mentally go over what you have left to accomplish, breaking the work into small portions. Say to yourself, "Okay, once I finish these 5 math problems, I'll write observations from my science experiment. After that, I'll only have 5 more math problems to go. Piece of cake!" After chipping away what's left of your homework, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see that you're all done.

When Your Writing Isn't Your Own

What Is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism is using someone else's writing as your own without proper documentation. Whether the words come from a friend's paper or a school textbook, the author must be properly acknowledged in your paper. Otherwise, this serious offense can be considered copying, cheating, even stealing.

But I thought…
I was supposed to use other books as sources when I write a paper.You are. There's nothing wrong with referring to writing that is not your own. You can even include this material in a paper. Just make sure you cite the work by using quotations. And always include a bibliography with the book title and author at the end of your paper.
I was supposed to use the ideas in textbooks as part of my research.The ideas put forth in reference books should spark original thoughts in your head. When you research, read the material carefully. Then report the information with a unique spin that includes your opinions, thoughts, or reactions. You can put the textbook's factual information in your paper, of course, but once again, be sure to cite it.
…I was supposed to agree with the author.Teachers often assign papers asking you to agree or disagree with the author. So the question is, how can you do that and still use your own words? Start by asking yourself why you agree with the writer's statements. Write down a few reasons. Then you can acknowledge what the author thinks while adding your own two cents in a paper.
…I was supposed to model my own writing after someone else's.You could be given a poem or a fable and be asked to mimic the style. Come up with original ideas to write in the form of the piece of writing, but don't copy the author's words to complete the assignment.
Reading other people's work helps you become a better writer. You should never be afraid to build upon the information you read to show your teacher what you've learned. Give credit to the authors you use. When in doubt, cite the work — it's better safe than sorry!
Could I Be Plagiarizing Without Knowing It?
There's a difference between plagiarizing with intent and possibly plagiarizing by accident.
Intentional or Accidental?
How to Fix It
Asking someone to do the writing for you
You should always do your own work. If a fellow student seems to understand the topic better than you, ask for advice. Find out how he does his research or what writing techniques he uses.
Giving another student money to do the assignment for you
Never, ever pay someone to do your homework. It's wrong.
Copying information from an encyclopedia word for word
Take notes from reference materials and combine with your own thoughts to form original content.
Turning in a paper posted on the Internet by someone else
This is stealing. Teachers are very aware that this happens, and the punishment will be severe. Write your own paper.
Using an author's words without putting them in quotation marks
Lifting someone's words or thoughts without giving them credit isn't right. Always use quotes or paraphrase.
Paraphrasing information without quotes and then not tagging it with its author
Possibly Accidental
In some cases you may mistakenly think it's your own thoughts. Don't risk it. Either put it in quotes or mention the source before, during, or after the information is recorded.
Interviewing someone in person, by phone, or by email and using his words without quoting him
Possibly Accidental
Just because a person doesn't write down his thoughts doesn't mean they are not his thoughts. Be a responsible interviewer. Write down the exact quotes so you can properly acknowledge the interviewee.
What doesn't need to be cited?
Anything of your opinion is just that — your opinion. You certainly don't need to quote yourself! Also on the safe list: 1. Common knowledge (something the reader already knows or information that is undocumented in all other sources)2. Accepted factual information 3. Things you personally observe and record4. Personal experiences

Vocabulary Boosters !

Vocab In a Flash

Make flash cards with words that give you problems. Write the word on one side, the definition on the back. Underneath the definition, write a sentence using the problem word in context. Hint: You're not going to learn the word if the sentence goes something like, "I don't know the word 'onerous'." Make sure the sentence gives clues about what the word means. For example: "Learning all these vocabulary words doesn't have to be an onerous task; in fact, I can make it pretty easy!"

An Earful of Words

English can be a tricky language. Just look at all the words that are spelled differently but sound exactly the same! Learn the difference between homophones: to, too, and two; write and right; there, their, and they're; accept and except.
Make up reminders to help you tell the difference between the meanings as well as what meanings go with what spellings of the words. Here's one for the set of to, too, and two:
"To" is usually used when you go somewhere or do something, like running to the store or getting to the point. Just remember that to has the same number of letter as "do" and "go" — and substitute the "t" for either the "d" or the "g."
"Too" indicates "as well" or "more," like "Me, too!" or "There are too many vocabulary words!" The idea is that there's something extra, including and extra "o"!
"Two" is the spelling of the number 2. This is easy — ask yourself how many "v's" it takes to make the "w" in the middle of the word. The answer is, of course, 2 or "two".
Get to the Root of It
Most words are made up of mini words called roots that come from the Greek and Latin languages. These roots appear in the middle of lots of different words but always mean the same thing. For example, the root "spec" means "to look at." Now think about all the words that have "spec" somewhere in it:
A spectator is someone who watches something, like an event. All those people at your little sister's dance recital are spectators.
When you inspect an object, you're looking very closely at it. And inspectors examine evidence when they're trying to solve a mystery.
Respecting another person means that you look at him with admiration.
A spectacle is an exhibition that people look at with great interest.
Speculation means looking at something you don't know a lot about and guessing its meaning.
So basically, every time you speak these words, you're using a little bit of Greek or Latin. Pretty cool, huh?

It's All in the Details

Try to pinpoint the best word to use when you describe something. Think about specific colors, whether a common word works for a situation, or how something makes you feel. Is the chair best described as red, or is it more a like a deep maroon? Was it simply a good day because you got picked first for soccer, or was it fantastic because you also got an A+ on your math homework, your crush talked to you during lunch, and the weather was perfect for a bike ride after school? Did your brother simply make you mad, or are you furious about the mess he made in your room? Picking the word that's "just right" will help you write better and improve your vocabulary.

Pick a Word of the Day

Open the dictionary, close your eyes, and point to a word on the page. Whatever you pick becomes the word of the day. Once you know the definition of that word, use it at least once in conversation during the day. Your teacher will be in awe when you tell her you're disgruntled that the cafeteria ran out of pizza at lunch (it means you're not happy about it, annoyed, or displeased).
If you don't want to pick the word yourself, there are other ways to get your word of the day. Bookstores often sell tear-off calendars with a different word for every day of the week. There's even Word of the Day toilet paper!

Play Games

Who knew that something like learning could be so fun? Word scrambles, Mad-Libs, crossword puzzles, and word-find games all help expand vocabulary, believe it or not. Board games like Scrabble, Boggle, and Scattergories also offer some pretty entertaining ways to discover new words.

It's very simple: The more you read, the more you'll build up your vocabulary. So pick up a book today and work on advancing your reading level.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

De-Stress for That Test: A Before and After Guide

Before the test:You've done the studying, but you're still jittery. Nervousness can potentially distract you prior to — and even during — a test. What can you do to ensure that you're confident when you sit down and raise your pencil? Read on.

1. Pace Yourself
Don't wait until the last minute to study. Cramming before a test rarely yields good results because you can't fully absorb the information into your brain. At the same time, you don't necessarily want to study too early and then forget everything. Instead, find a happy medium: once the test date is assigned, set a timetable for reviewing material, even if at first it's only for 15 minutes a night.
As the big day nears, spend more time on the parts that confuse you. Pacing yourself allows you to take your time, relax, learn the material, and most importantly, ask the teacher ahead of time if something isn't completely clear to you. If you set a steady pace for studying, you'll be good to go.
2. Exercise
Get all that excess energy out when you're nervous! You can't spend every waking minute exercising your brain or you'll burn out. So why not exercise your body for a while? Take a bike ride to a study buddy's house, go for a jog, or play a game of basketball with your big brother. If you don't feel comfortable taking that much time away from studying, just stand in the middle of your room and do jumping jacks for 5 minutes. You'll feel exhilarated and ready to dive back into your notes.
3. Pre-pack Everything
Don't go into a test unprepared. The night before, pack extra pencils and pens, paper, and make sure the textbook, novel, or calculator that relates to the material is zipped in your backpack. You don't want the added stress of realizing you forgot something crucial immediately before the test starts.
4. Meditate
Like exercise, mediation can be a great way to clear your mind. It doesn't matter if you have no idea how to do it — you don't even have to bend your body like a pretzel or chant! Simply take a break for about 20 minutes and sit somewhere comfortable. Close your eyes and let your mind wander. Think about your friends, your favorite television show, what you want to do over the weekend, anything that makes you happy, or even nothing at all. A quick meditation will leave you refreshed and more confident about your studying.
5. Review Your Notes
Get to class a few minutes early on the test day, so you can review your notes. If you've been pacing yourself, everything should be familiar. In fact, you'll probably know all the answers!

After the test:Congratulations, the test is over! Unfortunately for some, the stress doesn't automatically disappear once you hand in your exam — you want to know how you did, what you got right, what you got wrong. How can you be calm until you get your grade back? Here are some ideas.
1. Exhale!
Take a deep breath in, and let it out. You've survived the test, and it probably wasn't even that bad. Be sure to acknowledge that you did it, it's over, and now you have the freedom to concentrate on other things. Whew!
2. Reward Yourself
After all, you deserve it! Go get an ice cream cone, buy the CD you've been saving up for, or take a break from homework to watch a movie. You've been working hard, so treat yourself.
3. Hang Out
Unless you were studying together, chances are you didn't get to really hang out with your friends much prior to the test. Now you can de-stress with your buddies and get back to normal. Have fun!
4. Put Your Notes Away
Resist the urge to obsess over your notes when the test is over. While it's definitely okay to check your answers, try not to relive the test in your mind. That might just add unnecessary stress to waiting for the results. Look over your notes or a textbook quickly to see if you got that borderline question correct, and then store those notes until you get the test back.
5. Believe in Yourself
Always think positive — after all, you won't know otherwise until your teacher hands back the test. So sit back and keep telling yourself that you worked hard, you know the material, and you were well prepared. With that combination, the results should be just fine. And what to do if you know you did your best to prepare, but the grade doesn't reflect your hard work? Think of that test as a way to see what you need more help with rather than a judgment on how smart you are. Maybe you need to look at the way you're studying, or ask for help in certain areas. Keep everything in perspective: one bad grade is not the end of the world.