"And I as secret as yon buried stream / plod dumbly on and dream . . ."

What a year! I've learned so much about myself, and have gotten a part-time job that I absolutely love, teaching math to elementary/middle school students that struggle with it. Individualizing what students learn has always been a passion of mine, and I'm excited that I've gotten to do that with this class.

It's hard to come up with a list now; the things I really want are increasingly things that can't be obtained for anything. But here's my best attempt at it:

1. Software programming - Can you, or someone you know, write software programs? I have looked for a software program to be both a music database and music player, and that would have a specific list of features. I typed up a 14-page document describing my ideas for the program, including its layout as well as functionality. (I have looked at every single program everyone has suggested--and that's quite a long list, believe me; none of them were designed with all of these in mind.) I don't think the actual programming would be too intricate (I've had a programmer attempt this before but he quit working on it when we broke up--he talked about the logic behind it so I'm pretty sure I'm not too far off here), and I'm more than willing to test it to death. I'm also very willing to promote it to everyone and a half; I have several friends who have told me if this program ever gets created, they want it too! It would be far superior to most, if not all of the music database managers out there because of some of the features I'm looking for that no other program has. I'm passionate about Creative Commons and open source--I think that's the best route to take for visibility with this. I use Windows XP currently, but if Linux is easier for you to code for, I have a virtual machine with Linux Mint that I could happily test this on until I get a computer with just Mint on it (I'm going to be switching to Linux eventually anyways, once my XP machine is too old/sluggish to do the job.)

2. More software programming - The other software program I desperately want designed is actually for my teaching job (which is an individualized math class--every student works on different work, based on what they need, so no one's doing exactly the same work as anyone else); it would be a database manager (for a bank of math questions/answers) and student module (so I can input that a particular student has finished working on these particular topic--by number--and are ready for a quiz using those topics). Currently I create all the quizzes one by one by saving the previous quiz as a new file and changing the appropriate questions. It would be much easier to have the program generate all the questions (and answer key) from a database (which I can add to/edit as desired) and dump it into a Writer document for me to format and move on. I would love to see this as a Creative Commons-licensed program because the worksheets and materials I'm creating for the students will be licensed under Creative Commons (once this year's over and I can fix a bunch of errors here and there). This could be extremely useful for many teachers in many places, and I'm hoping to see it happen someday, but the only people I know who can program are swamped with real life stuff for a long while.

3. Linguistics/conlanging help - Do you know linguistics, or are you an experienced conlanger? I have a conlang I've been trying to overhaul but I struggle to grasp applications of some concepts. (I got stuck on using a split system of plurality--trying to negotiate in my head how singular/plural vs. plurative/singulative would work in tandem, etc., made my brain hurt and get lost and I had to give up on working on the language.) I just need to talk and ask questions and have someone break things down with examples so I can get it (and if you don't know the answer, being willing to be a go-between and help phrase my questions in the right way to people who do know). I speak Spanish as well as English (not natively, but I can have convos in it without real trouble), but that doesn't help with some of the trickier concepts that you only find in odder languages. I've tried the mailing lists, but real-time chat works much better for me because I always have a million questions and I don't want to make dozens of people frustrated at me for posting again and again and finding it difficult to grasp stuff. I can do IM or IRC (I'm in the #conlang channel on freenode a lot, but I pretty much just lurk).

4. Fanfic beta - I'd love a beta for fanfic for Rizzoli & Isles. If you've seen all of the show (up through the summer finale--2nd season resumes Nov. 28th), feel like you have a good grasp on the characters, and can do instant messaging or IRC (I'm in Pacific Standard Time but tend to be on closer to 8:30/9 p.m. and later rather than earlier), I would love to chat with you and get help with my fic/s. (If you haven't seen all the show, but would like to, let me know--it's harder to find someone that wants to help than it is to help someone get the rest of the show to watch.)

5. Donate to charity - Donate to ADRA. It's an agency that's often on the front lines when a disaster occurs; they provide the emergency water, rations, etc. to keep people alive and safe, and they're also involved in setting up microdevelopment projects where people can donate towards protecting vulnerable people (like providing education for girls in Asia to help keep them out of the sex trade), supporting families (through things like buying a goat for a family to sell the milk and raise up a small herd), promoting health (with things like vitamins to avoid preventable blindness), providing food and water (digging wells in regions without good water, for instance), and establishing livelihoods (like training in specific useful skills so people can have work). Their overhead is one of the lowest for humanitarian agencies, with over 90% going directly to support people in need. You can donate toward a specific project here, or just donate to a general fund that gets applied to the project/s that need it the most.

6. Tell me a story - I'd love to hear stories of your volunteer experience this year, whether it's just for the holidays or something you do all year long.

7. Send me a math game - I would love a math game of some sort suitable for approximately grades 6 through 8. Something they can play here and there in a few minutes at the end of class . . . I have no math board or card games. Logic puzzles are welcome too. (You know, those little gadgets like where you have to figure out how to get a metal ring off some contraption by sliding and moving parts here and there.)

8. Amazon.com wishlist - I've got a bunch of books and such on my wishlist that I can't bring myself to buy for myself. If you should feel like buying me one, or if you happen to have a copy of any of these lying around your house and you want to get rid of them, I would love them! I don't mind used books one bit (most of my library was "pre-owned") and would be absolutely delighted.

9. Get this book for *somebody* - Once upon a time, here on holiday_wishes some years ago, an author posted a wishlist asking for volunteers to beta read her original story that she wanted published. I volunteered to help with mechanics/grammar/that sort of thing, and over a period of time she e-mailed chapter after chapter of her fascinating sci-fi book, which reminded me vaguely of X-Men but more of genetic modification and all sorts of awesomeness. At the time she called it Judgment. I finished betaing what she had, she mailed it off to an agent or something, and that was the last I heard for a long time. Last year, in December, I finally got around to poking into my e-mail to find her name to look up and see what had happened with the story. I was extremely saddened to find that she had died of cancer only three months before, and I hadn't even had the chance to tell her how the story kept sticking in my mind and I enjoyed it. Her friends worked hard to get it published just before she died--she didn't even get to hold a copy or autograph one. The proceeds for the book go to the American Cancer Society. You can find more information about her and the book here. Her name was Zellie Blake and the book is now titled Lightning Spliced. I heard that she tweaked it some from the original, but I haven't bought it yet to be able to compare (last year I didn't have the spare funds to do so and forgot about it by the time I did :/). My request here is sort of unusual--just buy it for someone. If you think the book sounds interesting and you want to read (or you know a friend who would like it), buy it for yourself/them and tell me so--I'd love to hear that it made its way to other people to enjoy. If you (and anyone you know) don't go for that sort of story, buy it for me so I can read. :)

10. Prayer - I could use lots of prayer, particularly for my students. Some of them struggle so hard to make progress. I believe that God has offered us His promise to give us what we need if we only ask, and I would love it if you would join with me in asking Him to work in their minds and help the concepts to sink in.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Lets see. I always donate to Adra. And on my wishlist (when I do finally post it) I put the link for ADRA's gift catalog, because that is just an amazing site!

Sadly this year hasn't been that great for my volunteering time. I usually do more. But all I've been able to do this year is continuing efforts for the children I sponsor through Children International!

I'll send prayers every night.

And that book sounds awesome! When I get the money I'm going to get it! :D
Yay, glad to hear that! :D You'll have to tell me what you think of the book when you read, then. :)
I can tell a story of my time at the animal shelter. There was a cat named Jason in the kitten room, and he was really shy at first, but after a few visits and some coaxing he was ready to leap into my lap the moment I sat down to pet him.

Then one day a couple with some young children came by, and they said they were ready to adopt. They took one look at Jason and told me they wanted to have him. Days later, he was gone, but I'll remember adoption day with a smile, knowing he is now with a family that will love and care for him. I'm also glad I helped instill in him the confidence he needed to be comfortable around people. ^^
I'm a little surprised that something for your second wish doesn't exist yet! I'll do some searching, since it sounds incredibly valuable.

Would your students be interested in 24? Please email me (tarzanic at gmail) with your address/information and I can send you a game or two. Please put Holidays Wishes in the subject and include a link to this post.

By the way, if 24 (or similar) games turn out to be helpful, DonorsChoose.org is an excellent way to get funding for more math games.

Thanking good thoughts for your students!
Well, there is software that has certain preset math questions, and there *might* be some software out there that one could input questions into. But none of them have the quiz output format I'm looking at. See, I'm actually creating the entire curriculum my students work on--including the diagnostic test mapped to 245 topics and everything. Since I came up with all that structure, no program out there is going to match it. Mind you, I intend to release all of it as Creative Commons next year when I have time to do fixes and stuff, so people can use it freely. But it would require someone programming the software specifically for that, to really be useful, I think.

My students all work on work in their binders for most of the class period--there's no set time they finish, and sometimes they do or don't before class ends. I can have anywhere from no students finished to half a dozen or more, and they range from 5th through 8th grade (anywhere from 4th to 7th grade level more or less), so large group games tend to not be so useful, though I might plan a game day sometime or something (like when we celebrate Pi Day on March 14 :D ). (To be honest, I had a hard time figuring out what the 24 game was supposed to be about, from the website. Do you mind explaining?)
[Sorry, not sure how this comment was posted in response to the original post, rather than your comment.]

Oh, I see. Wow, that sounds like a massive amount of work, but very, very valuable. I hope you are able to find someone to help!

Out of curiosity, may I ask what state you're in? I'm familiar with the NYS Math curricula for grades 7-12, but don't know much about younger grades or other states.

Yay, Pi Day!

24 is a game in which you are given 4 numbers on a card and you must figure out how you can add, subtract, multiply, or divide the numbers to make 24. Operations can be repeated or omitted, but you must use all four numbers to make 24.

Examples: 2, 3, 4, 1 could be 2 x 3 x 4 x 1 = 24

2, 4, 5, 6 could be (5 x 4) + (6 - 2) = 24

They have different versions for different skill levels: sets that only use addition/subtraction, sets that use only multiplication/division, single digit cards that use all four operations, and so on. I've played with people of many different ages (5th grade or so to adults) and many have greatly enjoyed it. 24 can be played solo or with groups. For a whole class, I've separated the kids into small groups and given each group a stack of cards. You can also play tournament-style, where pairs of kids play best of three.

I also offer/suggest SET. It's good for developing mathematical thinking, but different from what kids may normally be exposed to in a math classroom. SET is easily accessible to a wide variety of ages and skill levels and can be played solo or in groups. I've played it with five-year-olds, middle school students, math teams, and math professors; each greatly enjoyed it.
Oooh, SET! I have played SET, but do not have it. And now that you describe 24, that sounds really really awesome--any math game that can be played solo or that can be joined/left/started at any point is perfect for my classroom. Either one would be amazing!

It IS a massive amount of work, lol--the curriculum, I'm the only one who can do it, really. No one else I know has the time to do it as well as thinks the way I do when it comes to breaking down concepts into explanations and stuff (though I will probably be improving all my introductions as I re-read and go "what was I thinking when I wrote that?" lol). (But I'll be happy to send pdfs off for people to look over if someone wants to.) The software? Hopefully I'll find someone someday. :)
Great! Please email me your address and which skill level of 24 (see their website for what's available) you're interested in at tarzanic at gmail dot com.


Both have been sent (via Amazon). Hope your students have a great time playing them!
Oooooooooooooooh, they came today! Can't WAIT to see how my students like SET! They're already having a blast with the sample 24 cards I could find online. :D

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The other software program I desperately want designed is actually for my teaching job (which is an individualized math class--every student works on different work, based on what they need, so no one's doing exactly the same work as anyone else); it would be a database manager (for a bank of math questions/answers) and student module (so I can input that a particular student has finished working on these particular topic--by number--and are ready for a quiz using those topics). Currently I create all the quizzes one by one by saving the previous quiz as a new file and changing the appropriate questions.

I wish I had the money to gift you a subscription, but the site EdHelper.com is pretty much exactly what you're looking for. There's a lot you can do without the subscription fee being paid and it's an *awesome* test/worksheet/test prep generator. In about twenty minutes, once a week, it generates entire reading selections for an entire week for each of the 5 reading levels in my special ed class. It's pretty awesome. If the comm admins allow it, maybe you can adjust your list to ask for, instead of new software, a subscription to Edhelper.
Well, what I'm doing for math is an individualized program that I have created myself (based on what I've learned from working for the math tutoring center I do for my other part-time job)--with the concepts from 5th through 7th grade (including some that aren't taught anywhere) in one level and upper 3rd to 4th in a second, lower level, 245 topics all with specific topic numbers and delineation of what fits in what topic, and worksheets that I've created to teach and practice each topic.

What I need the software for is mostly to track as students finish topics, to put in the numbers for those topics, so every week when I want a quiz for a specific student, I can have the program look at it and go "oh, they have done these 45 topics, I'll select 10 from there and pick a question from each one" or something like that, then dump them all into Writer so I can format and print out. Customizability up the wazoo, and features that would only be available in a custom-built program, that's the problem. (I can create my own worksheets for just worksheets, and I'm pretty fast with the quizzes as is, but a system like that would really save on time plus allow me to do things like generate a review sheet of stuff so they can practice concepts they've learned for homework.) EdHelper I have looked at and unfortunately it wouldn't be able to work with my system, which is designed for mastery learning in an intense individualized tutoring setting, pretty much. Thanks for the suggestion though! :)
[EDITED TO ADD: Sorry, reposted comment in response to proper comment, rather than original post.]

Oh, I see. Wow, that sounds like a massive amount of work, but very, very valuable. I hope you are able to find someone to help!

Out of curiosity, may I ask what state you're in? I'm familiar with the NYS Math curricula for grades 7-12, but don't know much about younger grades or other states.

Yay, Pi Day!

24 is a game in which you are given 4 numbers on a card and you must figure out how you can add, subtract, multiply, or divide the numbers to make 24. Operations can be repeated or omitted, but you must use all four numbers to make 24.

Examples: 2, 3, 4, 1 could be 2 x 3 x 4 x 1 = 24

2, 4, 5, 6 could be (5 x 4) + (6 - 2) = 24

They have different versions for different skill levels: sets that only use addition/subtraction, sets that use only multiplication/division, single digit cards that use all four operations, and so on. I've played with people of many different ages (5th grade or so to adults) and many have greatly enjoyed it. 24 can be played solo or with groups. For a whole class, I've separated the kids into small groups and given each group a stack of cards. You can also play tournament-style, where pairs of kids play best of three.

I also offer/suggest SET. It's good for developing mathematical thinking, but different from what kids may normally be exposed to in a math classroom. SET is easily accessible to a wide variety of ages and skill levels and can be played solo or in groups. I've played it with five-year-olds, middle school students, math teams, and math professors; each greatly enjoyed it.

Edited at 2011-11-14 01:27 am (UTC)
Oh, and I'm in Washington state. I'm working for a private school that uses the Saxon math curriculum, though, so I took the Saxon math books for grades 5-7 to pull the entire list of topics to cover. The diagnostic test ended up being 425 questions / 27 pages long, lol. I just told the kids "do what you know, skip anything you don't, there will be tons of things on there you don't know and that's okay".
Ah! I'm somewhat familiar with Saxon Math 2 and 3. They don't do things as traditional units, really, but the homework is really nice in that it has review of previous skills built-in to each assignment.
Yeah, it works well for the average child. For kids like me, who picked it up faster and didn't need as much review, all of the review was actually tedium--I could've done with about half as much homework, lol, and still remembered it just fine. *ended up hating Saxon as a child* For kids like those in my class, it doesn't give enough practice of the *lesson* topic for them to grasp it thoroughly, so they end up only half-understanding all these topics and struggling all year long. *shrugs* No single math class works for every kid, I think. But the method of tutoring I'm doing can be adapted for every child, at least, which is good. :D

And yeah, I just picked through the books and pulled out every topic from every lesson and grouped it so I had a complete list by type. That way my diagnostic test actually has some order to it so I can go "oh, you need to learn how to simplify fractions, then you can add them and simplify the answer" and actually know where to find that instead of it all being jumbled up, lol.
I will make a donation to ADRA. It is a worthy organization.

I just purchased the book from amazon. Decided to buy the paperback. This book seems very interesting and I am always on the look out for a new book. The fact that the money goes to the ACS makes me happy. Cancer has impacted my life in so many ways. Both my Grandfathers died of colon cancer. My uncle and my beloved Daddy passed away from pancreatic cancer and my one of my Aunt's is a breast cancer survivor and my other Aunt is battling Breast cancer.

ACS is a worthy cause.

Edited at 2011-11-14 02:32 am (UTC)
:) I hope you truly enjoy the book! I'm glad more people will be able to read Zellie's story and share in it even though she's not here to see it.
I am trying, desperately, to grant a wish for everyone on here, even if it's the smaller ones, in some way or another. Your list, and granted it's very early on, was the first one I really struggled with. I did, however, put LIGHTNING SPLICE on my Amazon wishlist, and recommended it elsewhere, to a few people.

Given that I beat cancer this year, this particular book's story touches me deeply, and I keep looking at my bits of a manuscript not finished yet, and wanting to cry over all the things that I would have left unfinished had I not won my fight.
*hugs* Glad you made it! :) And thanks for telling people about it, that is pretty much in the spirit of that wish--that's exactly what Zellie would have wanted.
A story for #6
I posted this to my journal a couple weeks ago:

I volunteer at an animal shelter run by the MSPCA. One of my jobs is to write descriptions of the cats, which will go on their cage and on Petfinder.com. It's like writing ad copy, only I have to be more honest (if the cat isn't good with other cats, for example, we need to say so. But in a way that sounds positive). I had finished my shift in the spay/neuter clinic and was visiting the cats on my way out, when a couple came in and asked one of the cat room volunteers where they could find a cat named Peanut Butter. They had read about him on Petfinder and wanted to adopt him! You guise, I wrote that description. I know that the descriptions help get the cats adopted, but I'd never had any reason to think they made a big difference. But they do, and apparently I do. I got that cat a home. Go, me!
Re: A story for #6
Aww, yay! :D I'm so glad to hear that he got a home because of that. :)
I am totally bookmarking that book, it sounds right up my alley. I have a couple of friends who might also like it, so I'll see how I go.
I'm a linguist, but my approach to conlanging is different from most people's; that is to say, I am a minimalist and am rarely into very very finicky/unusual categories, and often feel that people try to stuff too many unusual grammatical categories into a language without good justifications of how things would work together as a system (and I refuse to be apologetic about this). That said, I can explain most grammatical concepts pretty well if you can bear my "why do you need this?" and "how would you justify this in the culture?" questions. I started out working in morphology/semantics interface, but turned sociolinguist in my dotage. Also, do keep in mind that I work with a variety of languages, but none of them are really obscure. If this sounds tolerable, please contact me - I am all over the internet :-)
OK, *finally* I get around to this. (Man, I haven't done anything on LJ for ages--this is the first time I've seen their new commenting system and I am NOT IMPRESSED.) Ahem, sorry, back to the point of this.

So I would welcome help, but I should warn you, LOL, that I created this more for my personal fun of having a private language (and to teach friends a few bits and pieces for inside communication, etc.), not so much to create a culture/world/etc. So I actually have little to no "culture" to accompany it (this drives some conlangers nuts, but it's really not my thing and I would find it very hard, actually, to create a culture--I barely understand my own at times), most of my choices for grammatical categories and things were from me going "hmm, I'd love to be able to clarify that concept in fewer words" or "that would be neat to be able to encode into that sentence without a long phrase to explain it". I *have* done some revamping here and there over the years, but it's been about equal in terms of making things more complex vs. simplifying overcomplexity. So you might go nuts looking at what I came up with. *g* (As a college freshman, mind you--I've let it sit for years at a time and come back to it because of the struggle with really grasping some concepts or seeing how things play out. I understand elementary math as a system perfectly, but language--especially the abstract concepts--is much more difficult for me.)

The hardest thing is I don't do well with back-and-forth posted messages, because I tend to need to ask for clarification--and for something like this where I'm trying to learn a new concept or figure out all the possible ramifications, a live chat is about the only really good solution. I don't know where is best for you--I have IM (Yahoo/MSN/AIM/Jabber), Skype, and can do IRC easily (I'm currently hanging out in #conlang on freenode, but you can find me on undernet.org and sff.net as well--undernet is unreliable at times, though--I'm Doranwen in all locations). I'd prefer IRC or Skype for ease of use--my IM can be finicky at times. If you're still willing to help me out there, let me know. :) I live on the West Coast and tend to be up late, so not sure how that works for your schedule.