About the PRAXIS

Here on the Business/Science floor we often have individuals ask us about Praxis test study manuals, and though it’s clear they’re asking about teacher certification testing when Praxis is mentioned, they often use teaching jargon such as “Core Content” and throw in seemingly random numbers like “It’s the 5150” or some such. Speaking for myself, this is a bit frustrating and confusing, because as I search for someone’s desired resource I want to know what I’m looking for with greater surety.

So, without further ado, here is some more detailed information about the Praxis.

There is an official site for the test that is very helpful, https://www.ets.org/praxis, on which it is stated:

“The Praxis® tests measure the academic skills and subject-specific content knowledge needed for teaching. The Praxis tests are taken by individuals entering the teaching profession as part of the certification process required by many states and professional licensing organizations.”

That description is clear and precise. More specific to a patron we may see at the reference desk, the site also offers state specific requirements, and the Tennessee requirements can be found here: https://www.ets.org/praxis/tn. It’s pretty detailed, and not something that a librarian would necessarily need to know, but that’s where you can find the information if you feel the need. In summary it tells what specific Praxis related materials are necessary, what to do if you take your test out of state to transfer it to Tennessee and similar issues.

What may be more helpful to a reference desk librarian is the About the Praxis link. You can familiarize yourself with the Praxis in detail on this page, and, among other items, this page links to the FAQ about the Praxis, the PDF document Understanding Your Praxis Scores 2016-17, another PDF the Praxis Tests Information Bulletin and a link to the Khan Academy’s Praxis study site. The important thing about the Khan Academy is their headline: “You can learn anything. For free. For everyone. Forever.” Here it is in living color on their front page:


As for the Praxis numbering system, here is a list I harvested from their site:

prax 1prax 2prax 3prax 4prax 5prax 6

Another resource we link to from our reference desk that specifically relates to the Praxis is Learning Express Library. This site has several study guides and practice tests for the Praxis, but does it offer comprehensive help for the Tennessee requirements? Let’s find out.

When you first log into Learning Express, you want to choose the Career Center:


From there choose Prepare for an Occupation Exam:


Then toward the bottom of the left hand side choose Teaching:


From there the two Praxis options are evident:


It looks as if it does have quite a bit for the Praxis, but it does not appear to comprehensively cover all of the options listed in the lengthy list above. This is, however, a good place to start for anyone asking about the Praxis.

Now you may be more informed about the Praxis, but ETS, the testing company, also covers other tests, such as the TOEFL and the HiSET. Those posts are for another day.

Not cheap shades or x-ray specs, just eclipse glasses!


Image from space.com

This blog has covered astronomy issues before, and I believe space.com has been mentioned in multiple posts, but a certain upcoming event definitely merits another mention. As most of you know, there will be a total solar eclipse coming up on August 21st (read about it here and here, or at your favorite news site).

Most of you also likely know that looking directly at the sun is very bad for your eyes and could even cause blindness. You are likely not alone if you feel that looking at the eclipse is ok, because the moon is covering the sun. This is wrong. Even though the sun will be covered by the moon, it’s still not safe to look directly at the eclipse, due to the corona of the sun still visible around the edges of the eclipse. This is the outer layer of the sun and is more than capable of damaging your eyes. So how may you view the eclipse safely and completely?

Space.com has a complete guide to the eclipse, including best viewing practices here: Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where and How to See It (Safely). They bill this page as “…information about where and when to see it, how long it lasts, what you can expect to see, and how to plan ahead to ensure you get the most out of this incredible experience.”

They wisely let the readers know about the risks of sun exposure even during this eclipse: “REMEMBER: Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or blindness. NEVER look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection . See our complete guide to find out how to view the eclipse safely. ”.

Many public libraries are giving away free glasses with which you may safely view the eclipse, and other libraries may have some later in July. With these glasses one may safely view the eclipse and the rarely seen corona of the sun, mentioned above. If you live in Memphis there are no libraries yet giving away the glasses, but the system is on a waiting list to receive some. Stay tuned, you may be able to receive some glasses soon, Memphians.

Here is a picture of the path of the solar eclipse:

Image from https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/best-places-to-view/USAtopten_1500px

Absolutely (NOT) Fake News!

We live in a strange time when the term Fake News is heard multiple times a day if you consume any sort of media regularly—TV, internet, magazines, etc. Our Dear Leader uses the term often, especially in his voluminous tweets. So how are we to figure out what’s real and what’s fake when it comes to news? Here is one fun tool that may help shed some light on the topic. Designed to foster certain tendencies in its users, the game Factitious is free on the web. The makers of the game, Game Lab at American University in Washington D.C. and JoLT, another cooperative of various departments at American University, hope to help raise player’s IQ when it comes to spotting the differences between fake and real news.

The game is easy to play. You log on and see this screen:


You can either go right into the game via quick start or you can register via full start and enter your name, age, gender, educational level and email address to keep track of your progress. Either route you choose the game begins with this screen:


You are shown a full, brief article that actually appeared somewhere on the web and asked to discern whether or not it is fake news. If you think it is fake, you either swipe left or check the red x. If you think it’s true, swipe right or click the green check mark. Pretty easy, right? Well, not so fast. The article in the second picture above sounds sensational, so it has to be fake right? How can you be sure? It just sounds implausible, right—eating brains has a health benefit?

As it turns out, there are clues, such as are there verifiable details in the story? Are there individuals mentioned by name that can easily corroborate the story? Is the story verified by other outlets running the same or similar stories? These are all good clues that a story is genuine. What are some earmarks of fake news? There are often few to no details for a fake news stories: anonymous sources make spurious claims, there are vague mentions of locations and many other specific details are lacking specifics. Additionally, many fake news stories fail to link to other, known reputable sites, such as major news networks or popular, widely read blogs, and many times the journalists are not mentioned by name.

As you go through the game you are given the opportunity to test how well you do or do not use these tools to make discerning choices in your reading material.  There are three rounds, and you’re given a score at the end of each round:


By the time you finish you are given a final score and given some mild praise (note the confetti):


This game is a good way to begin assuring yourself and others that you get your news from reputable sites and are not taken in by deceivers. The game can be tricky, with some outlandish stories proving true and other, more innocuous appearing stories exposed as fake. The real world will often present the same difficulties, so we have to do our best to help decide for ourselves, and others, what sources we can trust and what sources we cannot.

One problem with this site is that there aren’t enough stories loaded onto the site to play more than a few rounds before you start to see stories repeated. I have made a request to see if there is a planned upgrade, but as of this writing I have not heard back. I will update if this status changes.

You Can Conduct Your Own Pre-Employment Screening

US Citizenship and Immigration Services has a tool on their site that anyone may use to confirm their employment eligibility. When you go to the site: https://www.uscis.gov/mye-verify/self-check here is what you see:


When you click “start self check” you are taken to this screen:


This seems to indicate you must create an account, but if you scroll down a bit you’ll see there are some tools you may use without creating an account:


I clicked “self check” on the upper left portion of the window and it took me through a process in which I entered my full name, social security number and current address. It then gave me a short quiz (3 or 4 questions) about personal details known by the system, such as previous employers, phone numbers or other information that usually only the individual will know. After passing the quiz it did a check and confirmed my eligibility to work!



60% of Students Find Statistics Education Confusing

I just made that statistic up. What is not made up however is that many of us feel nervous and confused when confronted by statistics and those states are heightened if we are required to explain statistics. Fear not, the re are plenty of knowledgeable statisticians out there to help those of us who are statistically challenged.

The site Hyperstat Online Statistics Textbook is one such resource. It is a long running blog resource curated by David Lane, who is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Statistics, and Management at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

The site definitely looks dated, as if it was time-warped here straight from 1997. It is, however, full of up to date primers on many, if not all, of the basic components of statistical measurements: univariate and bivariate data, sampling distributions, ANOVA and more are all covered in their own chapters.

So this is how it works:


In the upper left hand corner is a classic, book style table of contents, listing 18 chapters. For our example let’s click chapter 10, Testing Hypotheses with Standard Errors, which takes you here:


I chose General Formula for Testing Hypotheses and it showed me this:


Now I cannot explain to you what this means, but Mr. Lane’s pedigree is outstanding, and the fact that this site remains online after so many years is a good sign. Additionally, he has plenty of links to other sites and volumes on statistics & related topics, which, as we all know, is a solid way to present a topic.

Comprehensive Career Services

Careeronestop.org, a site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, bills itself as “Your source for career exploration, training & jobs”.


But what can you actually do on the site? Well, it is a large site with many trails, so let’s imagine a scenario and work from there. Let’s say you just graduated from high school and you want to simply get a job. This is where you could click “Resources for” tab and you see this:


I selected “Entry Level Worker” and it took me here:


So you can see that it’s very easy to follow along. The site anticipates various questions that an entry level worker might have and provides answers. It’s very straightforward. They look to have as their mission helping any worker at any point in a career find guidance to beginning, augmenting or even changing a career. They also have a job search section that has everything from job listings to help with resumes and interviews as well as links to training, how to get local help (including information on how to file for unemployment) and lists of top videos, questions and links associated with the site.

Of special interest to students is the section on finding grants and scholarships, the scholarship finder:


Icon of Liberty: The Magna Carta

Whether or not you remember it from school, the Magna Carta has been one of the most influential documents of the last 800 years.  After all, it is the foundational legal document that promoted democracy in the 13th century, and still holds relevance and international esteem up to this day.

To learn about the rich, varied and long history of the document, the American Bar Association’s Division for Public Education has created the site Magna Carta: Icon of Liberty. The site was created with a grant from the Magna Carta Trust, who also hosts an informative site on the Magna Carta.

On the ABA’s Icon site you can read about the history of the Magna Carta, see artwork inspired by it, reproductions of the oldest extant copies of it, how the document has been displayed in public buildings, flags, crests and other public symbols internationally and even connect with entities on various social media platforms celebrating the importance of this valuable document.