Sunday, February 20, 2011


By Sean Scarpiello

One of the most effective ways of learning, according to science, is repetition of information. The human brain is practically wired to soak up data that is repeated over and over. One tool that I have used in past for studying which utilizes the benefits of repetition is a website called Quizlet. I have found it to be an extraordinary study tool for tests.

Quizlet is a free service that is simple to use. All you need is an email address to set up an account and you have access to the program. The website allows people to make up their own flash cards of the information that they need to study. Quizlet then allows users to play games with their cards or just study the information as if they are real flash cards. It is extremely easy to use and completely free. Another advantage to Quizlet is that the website can save each user’s cards and organize them into separate lists for each subject of material. There is also a feature which allows people to share lists of cards so that users do not need to create new lists. Instead, users can simply search for a list of cards and get results which match their exact subject of information.

An advantage of sharing the information lets teachers make up lists and post them onto the site for their students to use. I feel that this is a great idea and gives students the ability to learn in a way that doesn’t involve tedious writing or outlining. Teachers can also use it as a class activity in the computer lab on a day before a test so that students can study in an effective manner in class. Also, the program can be used in practically every subject. I have found that Quizlet is extremely useful for learning the vocabulary in a foreign language class. There are also ways of implementing it in science classes for learning the definitions of terms and even in math classes to memorize formulas. Some people are even more creative and use it to study for standardized tests, such as the SAT, ACT, or even the MCAT.

Although Quizlet has a lot of benefits, there are some downsides to the website. For one, the list of cards that are placed up on the site for all to use may not be correct data. These days, it is not right to trust anyone online. However, one may feel that the information on the cards is correct, but in reality, students may be studying the wrong set of information. One other disadvantage is that some students may miss out on leaning the entirety of information for tests. It is easy to memorize long lists of information but simply not all types of information can be learned by writing it on a card and memorizing it. I have seen students memorize only terms on Quizlet for tests and then disregard the concepts and processes that accompany learning in subjects like math and science.

One final advantage which really sells Quizlet is that it has apps for the iPhone, Palm, and other smart phones. This is awesome because it enables users to study terms on the go. This allows students to study at times when they are not around a computer. It makes it easy for students to increase the number of repetitions for studying which is great.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Homeschooling: Hot or Not?

By Sean Scarpiello

In the past few years, there has been a steady climb in the number of students who are homeschooled. Some parents feel that their children can get a better education at home; a place where more can get accomplished in a shorter amount of time and at a lower cost. Are these parents actually helping their children by homeschooling, or are they denying them of a quality education?

The most important learning that takes place in schools does not happen in the classroom. It is in the hallway, cafeteria, and at recess. These are the main locations where students socialize, an extremely important aspect of schooling that is simply missed out by homeschool students. It is vital that children learn to associate and communicate with their peers, as well as making friends and developing basic people skills. These skills include things like sharing, apologizing, and developing some independence. Some homeschooled students definitely miss out on this sort of development and human interaction. Even as students become older, high school and college is a place to develop street smarts, independence, networking skills, and friendships. These are all experiences that are missed by homeschooled students. I’m not saying that all homeschool students are social recluses, but I definitely think that these students miss out on some awesome learning experiences and the opportunities to meet some pretty amazing people.

Another con of homeschooling is that it costs more money than public schools. Parents need to buy expensive textbooks each year. This makes it very difficult for the poorer students, who live in areas with bad schools, to be homeschools because of the expense. Also, unless parents can afford tutors, some students may lack in some skills such as writing, especially if their parents aren’t good writers. This could be a problem because students would only be as strong as a writer as their parents. This lack of academic skill may not be sufficient to pass the final exams that students must take each year. If they fail the exam, then they are year behind in writing or reading which poses a large problem for the students and parents.

There are some special cases where the school has a bad learning environment and homeschooling is the next best option. There is also the argument that a particular student may have a learning disability which is best handled at home or by parents. For these students, homeschooling can definitely prove to be more effective than regular schooling. Additionally, some religions also prefer that students are not subjected to some of the activities that go on at schools. Therefore, children with those beliefs are homeschooled and still have the opportunities to socialize with others. If parents do chose to homeschool their children, they should make sure that their children have enough exposure with other children their age in order to have some social skills for when they later enter the workforce as adults.