Tag: testprep expert

The Breaking Point: A Body Farm Novel

Book By Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson, Reviewed by Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



“So be careful who you trust. Bad guys lie through their teeth. But bugs?” I pointed to the bloated face and the telltale maggots. “You can always believe them. Whatever they tell you, it’s the truth.”

Dr. Bill Brockton, the protagonist of the latest Body Farm novel, The Breaking Point, is conducting a training exercise with members of Evidence Response Team of the FBI. This latest forensic mystery features the writing of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Dr. Bass and Jefferson have penned eight previous novels and three works of non-fiction and all of which highlight the fascinating research on how actual corpses decay under various environmental conditions conducted at Dr. Bass’ Body Farm located behind UT’s Medical Center. Dr. Bass is a well-known forensic anthropologist now retired from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Read more →

Teaching Tolerance

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



Given the recent tragic events in Charleston, we are reminded once again of the importance of understanding and accepting different points of view in our society. Teaching Tolerance is an organization “dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences to our nation’s children.” Founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, this organization publishes free educational materials for teachers, students, and parents. Perspectives for a Diverse America is one such effort (http://perspectives.tolerance.org/). Read more →

How Educational Are Educational Apps?

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



Over 80,000 apps have been classified as educational, according to recent reports, and the number increases dramatically each year. How can parents and teachers decide which apps provide the “best” educational experience for their children or students? A new report from the Association for Psychological Science, “Putting Education in Educational Apps: Lessons From the Science of Learning”, provides guidelines drawn from decades of research into learning on how to choose apps that maximize the educational experience. This report argues that four principles from learning science can provide the criteria on which current apps can be judged. Read more →

Moving On From An Injury

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



was really looking forward to Tuesday evening, December 31. I was turning fifty. My family and I had planned a big birthday party with catered food, drinks, and invitations out to lots of our friends. On Monday morning, however, I awoke with an excruciating pain shooting from my lower back down the right side of my leg. I could not even stand up. What had happened? What was I going to do about my gigantic celebration? Read more →

Thinking Like A Historian

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



“To think like a historian,” said Dr. Ernest Freeberg, head of UT’s Department of History, “is the goal of National History Day.” Housed at the University of Maryland, the National History Day competition promotes innovative approaches to history. Instead of just memorizing names and dates, students learn to ask and answer authentic historical questions and communicate their results. Several thousand students compete yearly in local, state, and national venues. Projects inspire both teachers and students to be more deeply involved in the study of history. Read more →

Look At What’s Changing: The SAT College Admissions Test

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



Once again, the SAT, the oldest and most famous college admissions test, is changing. The College Board has redesigned both the SAT and PSAT with the new PSAT starting in the fall of 2015 and the first new SAT in the spring of 2016. Why would the College Board change its most famous assessment? Does this change have anything to do with the challenges it faces from its major competitor, the ACT college admissions test? Read more →

Reading For Fun

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



Do your children read for fun? A recent survey called Kids and Family Reading Report, issued by Scholastic and YouGov, outlines how often children read for fun, what books draw their interest, and how frequent readers differ from infrequent readers. A nationwide representative sample of parents, along with children ages 6 to 17, were asked many questions about reading activities. The results of this report can help parents understand how to promote reading books for fun with their children. Read more →

The Dream of Girls’ Education

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



“What have I done wrong that I should be afraid? All I want to do is go to school and that is not a crime. That is my right.” Those remarkable words are written by Malala Yousafzai in her recent memoir I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition written with Patricia McCormick). As a teenager, Malala spoke out for girls’ education in her native Pakistan. Her efforts brought international attention and led to her being awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest recipient ever at age seventeen. More astounding is what she had to endure. At the age of fifteen, a Taliban gunman entered her school bus and shot her three times. Read more →

Can You Guess The Origin Of “In A Nutshell”

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



I just recently published a book entitled Playing Fast and Loose: Match Wits with the Author and Guess the Origin of Common Idioms. My book invites the reader to guess the correct origin of common idioms. For each idiom, I constructed three scenarios. One scenario contains a short description of the likely origin of the phrase with some selected historical context that illustrates its usage. The other two scenarios also present short vignettes with factually correct historical citations; however, these two descriptions are not considered the likely origin of the phrase. Can you guess the origin of the common phrase “in a nutshell”? Read the three scenarios below and try to select the one that is commonly considered the origin of this term. The answer is below. (Note: Dr. Smith’s print and ebook can be ordered through Amazon.com) Read more →

The Creative Role Of Reading Fiction

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



When I was a senior at West, my English teacher, Mrs. Hooper, had us read and study a book by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren entitled Understanding Fiction. This text presented examples of well-known short stories with detailed critical commentaries. Brooks and Warren wanted a student to develop a deeper comprehension of fiction, so that the process of reading would change the student. Otherwise, there was little merit in offering an English course: “…if the views remain substantially unchanged, if the interests which [the student] brings to fiction in the first place are not broadened and refined, the course has scarcely fulfilled its purpose: the student has merely grown more glib and complacent in his limitations.” Current social science research extends Brooks and Warren’s vision: Reading fiction can actually increase empathy and help develop social skills. Read more →