Trending November 2023 # How Progress Bars Work And Why They Are Inaccurate Most Of The Time # Suggested December 2023 # Top 16 Popular

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First, Let’s Look At How Progress Bars Work

A progress bar is made by slapping on a dialog and putting a bar in it. That bar fills up according to the percentage of progress made in accomplishing a task, hence the name “progress bar.” Programmers make progress bars tick by attributing certain milestones during a task to a percentage. So, once a progress bar reaches the third part of a task containing 100 parts, it knows it has to fill itself only three percent.

Sometimes, programmers can also put a timer on their progress bars. This will (always inaccurately) determine how much time a specific task will take until it finishes. Using the previous example, let’s say that the first three parts of our 100-part task was done in three seconds. That leaves one minute and 37 seconds (97 seconds total) remaining. But this stuff functions only in a perfect world. I’ll explain below.

Why The Bar’s Stuck

Progress bars are notorious for being stuck at certain points. It’s awfully frustrating, but there’s a reason behind all the madness. When a progress bar measures the progress of a task, it uses certain criteria. For example, let’s say we’re copying 1,000 files. Each of those files probably has a different size. Some people would divide 1,000 by 100. It sounds nice, but doesn’t account for differences in file size. Some files could be a couple of MB, while others could be up to 10 GB!

You can also divide the total size of all the files by 100. It sounds practical and more accurate, but it’s still a dud. The method doesn’t account for the speed fluctuations a hard drive experiences when copying different types of files, or when copying files while performing other short tasks. In the end, you end up with a bar that just shows you how far you’ve gone, but not how much you can expect to wait for the task to finish.

Hard drives tend to copy smaller files (or larger, but physically fragmented, files) slower than it copies bigger chunks of data. That’s because the process of seeking new segments within its physical platters is more tedious when accessing 100 small files as compared to the process of hunting down two huge chunks of a larger file. The same could be said about registry entries. They vary in length and sophistication.

Some Final Thoughts

Practically everything on your computer has so many variables attached to it, that it’s impossible to accurately determine the progress of a task. You’re left with a useless bar on your screen that’s just there to keep you from throwing a fit. The fight’s over. Your stubborn computer will always win over any attempt to accurately predict something that, in a vacuum, would otherwise have completed in a timely manner. You really can’t do anything about your progress bars, but at least you know why they act in such frustrating ways!

Oh, and here’s an interesting little game related to progress bars: Progress Wars.

Dark loading or progress bar by BigStockPhoto

Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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Fyi: What Are Cruise Missiles, And How Do They Work?

Tomahawk Cruise Missile U.S. Navy

The Obama administration is considering what sort of military action to take, if any, against the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, which stands accused of using chemical weapons against its own people. The most likely option: a cruise missile strike against assorted military and government sites, like the presidential palace and chemical munitions facilities. Here’s a primer on cruise missiles.

Cruise missiles are fast-moving, guided bombs that soar at a very low trajectory, parallel to the ground. They are distinct from regular (non-cruise) missiles primarily because they go really far. They are also distinct from drones, because they do not have on-the-ground pilots–instead, they fly a pre-set path–and you can only use them once. Germany used the first cruise missile in World War II. Called V-1s, after Vergeltung, the [German word for retribution, they were fired from sites in northern France and aimed at London. The idea behind the V-1, which is the core idea behind all cruise missiles since, is to attack from far away without needing a pilot to control it.

V-1 Rocket

A V-1 cruise missile at the London Imperial War Museum. These were the first cruise missiles ever made.

How do cruise missiles work?

All cruise missiles have an internal guidance system, though the types vary. The Tomahawk cruise missile, which the U.S. Navy has deployed since 1984, uses a system called “Terrain Contour Matching,” where an altimeter and an inertia detector plot the flight path against a pre-loaded terrain contour map. Later versions of the Tomahawk also use GPS, and there are other guidance systems that some cruise missiles use.

Cruise missiles can be launched by airplanes, submarines, ships, or from launching vehicles on land. Besides the United States, more than 70 nations have cruise missiles.

Snark Missile

A Cold War-era cruise missile.

Has the United States used cruise missiles before?

Oh, yeah. If the drone is the signature weapon of the 2000s and 2010s, cruise missiles were the go-to in the 1990s. Deadly, launched from far away, and without a pilot on board, they promised to destroy enemies without risking American casualties. Here are three American cruise missile strikes from the 1990s:

In 1993, Kuwaiti authorities foiled a plot by Iraqi Intelligence services to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush. In retaliation, President Bill Clinton ordered the firing of 23 cruise missiles at Iraqi intelligence headquarters. In 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered a cruise missile strike against the El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries plant in Sudan, under the assumption that it was a chemical weapons plant. Also in 1998, Clinton ordered troops to fire cruise missiles at Osama bin Laden in the Khost province of Afghanistan. Both of these 1998 attempts were retaliation for the bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa.

What were the consequences?

Following the 1993 strike, Iraq and the United States existed in a state of simmering hostility for the next decade. America (together with the United Kingdom and, for some of the time, France) imposed a “no-fly-zone” over the country, to prevent Iraqi’s government from attacking Kurds in the north and Shi’ites in the south. The no-fly-zone was deeply problematic: Iraqi anti-air missiles occasionally fired at American aircraft overhead, and Americans bombed Iraqi anti-air missile sites in return. It only ended with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Tensions and violence in Iraq persist to this day.

The El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries destroyed by the United States in 1998 was in fact actually just a pharmaceutical plant. The ruins were left untouched and now serve as a shrine to American incompetence.

The cruise missile strike in Khost failed to kill Osama bin Laden; a mission that would take 13 more years, a ground invasion of Afghanistan, a decade-long man-hunt, and a special kill team of Navy SEALS to complete. From the National Security Archives, there is also evidence that “the strikes not only failed to hurt Osama bin Laden but ultimately may have brought al-Qaeda and the Taliban closer politically and ideologically.”

Advanced Cruise Missile

An all-but retired missile. It is stealthy and carries a nuclear warhead.

What are cruise missiles’ limitations?

A 2000 report by the U.S. Air Force on Tomahawk cruise missiles notes several limitations:

Although the consensus is that Tomahawks are a highly successful weapon, these weapons have several limitations. One of these is that their flight paths are relatively predictable, which is a function of the fact that some terrain, notably deserts, provides relatively few features for terrain following guidance. A second problem is that mission planning for terrain following guidance systems is more time consuming and complicated in terms of intelligence requirements than one might expect. For example, to use Tomahawks a unit would have to request a targeting package from such agencies as the Defense Mapping Agency to gather the data necessary for a mission. A third limitation was that Tomahawks could not be used against hardened targets because the 1,000 pound warhead, the weapon’s accuracy, and its final kinetic energy when it hits the target do not produce high probabilities of kill. The final limitation was that Tomahawk cruise missiles cannot attack moving targets because they are guided to a position rather than to a specific target. Similarly, a Tomahawk cruise missile could not attack relocatable, that is mobile, targets because these may move while the mission is being planned or during the flight of the cruise missile.

Since then, cruise missile guidance systems have improved, but the overall limitations of the weapon system remain. The weapon requires good intelligence and good maps to hit the target. It also needs the enemy to stay in one, relatively vulnerable place.

Will the U.S. use cruise missiles in Syria?

It’s not entirely clear. More certain is that idea that drones won’t be used. Drones are great at tracking individuals from safe skies. But Syria’s government has anti-aircraft weapons, which can easily shoot down drones. Cruise missiles, instead, fly faster, hit harder, and instead of hunting individuals take aim at big, fixed targets like military bases or palaces. Also, the United States has a lot of cruise missiles near Syria, and very few available drones.

Several publications, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal expect the U.S. to use cruise missiles if the Obama administration does order strikes. Anonymous senior U.S. officials told NBC that a three-day cruise missile barrage against the Assad regime is possible. Of course, there’s no guarantee that strikes will happen at all. Yesterday, President Obama said he had not made a decision on whether to intervene in Syria.

Launching cruise missiles feels like a strong military action for a president to take, but it’s very unlikely to be a decisive one.

Why Synthetic Data And Deepfakes Are The Future Of Data Analytics?

Synthetic data can help test exceptions in software design or software response when scaling.

It’s impossible to understand what’s going on in the enterprise technology space without first understanding data and how data is driving innovation.

What is synthetic data?

Synthetic data is data that you can create at any scale, whenever and wherever you need it. Crucially, synthetic data mirrors the balance and composition of real data, making it ideal for fueling machine learning models. What makes synthetic data special is that data scientists, developers, and engineers are in complete control. There’s no need to put your faith in unreliable, incomplete data, or struggle to find enough data for machine learning at the scale you need. Just create it for yourself.  

What is Deepfake?

Deepfake technology is used in synthetic media to create falsified content, replace or synthesizing faces, and speech, and manipulate emotions. It is used to digitally imitate an action by a person that he or she did not commit.  

Advantages of deepfakes:

Bringing Back the Loved Ones! Deepfakes have a lot of potential users in the movie industry. You can bring back a decedent actor or actress. It can be debated from an ethical perspective, but it is possible and super easy if we do not think about ethics! And also, probably way cheaper than other options.  

Chance of Getting Education from its Masters

Just imagine a world where you can get physics classes from Albert Einstein anytime, anywhere! Deepfake makes impossible things possible. Learning topics from its masters is a way motivational tool. You can increase the efficiency, but it still has a very long way to go.  

Can Synthetic Data bring the best in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics?

In this technology-driven world, the need for training data is constantly increasing. Synthetic data can help meet these demands. For an AI and data analytics system, there is no ‘real’ or ‘synthetic’; there’s only data that we feed it to understand. Synthetic data creation platforms for AI training can generate the thousands of high-quality images needed in a couple of days instead of months. And because the data is computer-generated through this method, there are no privacy concerns. At the same time, biases that exist in real-world visual data can be easily tackled and eliminated. Furthermore, these computer-generated datasets come automatically labeled and can deliberately include rare but crucial corner cases, even better than real-world data. According to Gartner, 60 percent of the data used for AI and data analytics projects will be synthetic by 2024. By 2030, synthetic data and deepfakes will have completely overtaken real data in AI models.  

Use Cases for Synthetic Data

There are a number of business use cases where one or more of these techniques apply, including:

Software testing: Synthetic data can help test exceptions in software design or software response when scaling.

User-behavior: Private, non-shareable user data can be simulated and used to create vector-based recommendation systems and see how they respond to scaling.

Marketing: By using multi-agent systems, it is possible to simulate individual user behavior and have a better estimate of how marketing campaigns will perform in their customer reach.

Art: By using GAN neural networks, AI is capable of generating art that is highly appreciated by the collector community.

Simulate production data: Synthetic data can be used in a production environment for testing purposes, from the resilience of data pipelines to strict policy compliance. The data can be modeled depending on the needs of each individual.

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Seo Vs. Ppc: How They Work Together To Boost Your Business

You’ve heard the age-old question: If a tree falls in the forest but nobody is around to hear it, does it really make a sound?

The same could be said for your business online: If you invest in a web presence but nobody finds your business, does your web presence even exist?

If you want your business to exist online, digital marketing is your best bet. And some of the best digital marketing strategies help you get seen by people where they’re starting most of their searches for new businesses – on search engines like Google and Bing.

Many experts might say that you need one or the other – SEO versus PPC.

But, the reality is that you need both. Here, we’ll get into the SEO versus PPC debate to understand what each strategy is, how it works, and how SEO and PPC can work together to help you get even more customers and build your web presence.

What Is SEO?

To truly understand the SEO vs. PPC debacle, let’s first chat about SEO.

SEO stands for search engine optimization and is the practice of optimizing your web presence, including your website and offsite factors, to help you rank organically on Google and other search engines for relevant searches.

For example, if you’re a vet in Columbus, OH, you want your site to rank for a search like “vet near Columbus.”

Organic is another word for “unpaid,” so these are the results that show beneath paid search results on Google and can include the Google 3-pack results, featured snippets, and the rest of the organic results listed on the page.

Search engines use an algorithm that takes a lot of factors into consideration (we’re talking hundreds) when determining which search results to show for specific queries. With SEO, you’re optimizing for those factors so you can show up for relevant searches.

SEO entails both onsite optimizations — including the content on your site and the backend structure of your site – as well as offsite SEO factors like your listings, reviews, and social media sites.

Why SEO? 6 Benefits

SEO is a beneficial marketing strategy for a number of key reasons. Here are six benefits of SEO:

SEO Increases Your Brand’s Credibility

The higher you rank on search engines like Google, and the more often searchers can see you, the more credible your business seems. This is because people trust that Google and other search engines are providing them with the best results for their searches — which is partly why many searchers don’t go past the first page of Google.

SEO Is Free(ish)

You may spend some dough by partnering with an SEO agency to optimize your website to be easily searchable but you won’t be paying for the number of visits you receive or ongoing traffic as a result of your SEO efforts.

SEO Promotes Better Site Usability

In order to have better SEO results, your website needs to be in great shape, which is why SEO and website design go hand-in-hand. So, you basically get a two-for-one with SEO because optimizing your website for search engines enables it to become more user-friendly and easier to navigate with more readable and keyword-rich content.

Site traffic generated via organic searches translates into higher conversion rates for most sites. Why? Because in order to rank in search results for queries, your site and your content has to be relevant to that search.

SEO Has Sustained Success

Once you invest in an SEO strategy, it can take anywhere from three to nine months to start seeing success. But, that success is long-lasting because you’re putting in work to optimize the foundation of your website and your web presence and then continuing to build off that foundation with additional strategies.

So, it could take three months to start seeing some of your pages rank on Google, but you can continue ranking with minimal effort for many more months.

SEO Success is Self-Perpetuating

Once you start to rank high on search engines, it’s easier to continue ranking high and for other pages you publish to improve their rank. The better your rank, the more traffic you get, and the more traffic you get, the better your rank.

Related: See how your online presence stacks up with our website grader. 

What Is PPC?

Next up, let’s talk about PPC.

Related: We discuss the differences between SEO vs SEM here.

Why PPC? 5 Benefits

There’s a reason so many businesses run PPC campaigns. It’s a highly successful marketing strategy for a lot of reasons.

PPC Gets You on Top of Results PPC Has a Controllable Cost

Although PPC costs money, you’re completely in control of how much it costs. Your PPC cost will never exceed the budget you set at the beginning of your campaign, so you always know how much you’ll be spending for your PPC.

PPC Gives Quick Results PPC Is Highly Targeted PPC Is Easily Measured

Image Source

3 Ways SEO & PPC Work Together

Now that you understand the differences between SEO and PPC plus the benefits of each, let’s talk now about why the conversation shouldn’t be SEO versus PPC but rather SEO plus PPC.

Here are three huge ways SEO and PPC work together to help your business:

A Combined SEO + PPC Strategy Boosts Results

We already know that running a marketing strategy that encompasses multiple tactics is your best bet at reaching consumers across the web. So it’s no surprise that running SEO and PPC together can boost your results.

An SEO + PPC Strategy Gives You More Chances of Getting Seen

As mobile search becomes more popular, organic results are getting forced further and further down the small screen’s page. PPC gives you more real estate on the page so you have a better chance of attracting searchers to your site.

But that doesn’t mean you can discount organic results, either. In desktop or tablet search results, Google My Business listings appear on the right-hand side of search results and also impact how you appear in Google Maps results. Plus, Google often uses information pulled from websites to flesh out its featured snippets.

After searching “leaky faucet repair Columbus,” I received this featured snippet as a result.

Running a combined strategy that includes both PPC and SEO gives you a better chance of appearing multiple times on a single search results page for relevant searches.

Running SEO + PPC Gives You More Marketing Data

You might not always be able to see results like that, but if you’re working on a combined approach, there are opportunities to execute on trends that you’re seeing from your campaigns based on the comprehensive marketing data you’re able to collect from each strategy.

Throw Out the SEO Vs. PPC Debate & Get Started with Both Stephanie Heitman

Stephanie is the Associate Director of Content for LocaliQ and WordStream. She has over 10 years of experience in content and social media marketing and loves writing about all things digital marketing. When she’s not researching the latest and greatest marketing news and updates, she’s probably watching reality TV with her husband, reading, or playing with her two pups.

Other posts by Stephanie Heitman

Meal Kits Are Full Of Wasteful Packaging—But They Might Still Beat The Grocery Store

If you’ve ever listened to a podcast, you’ve probably heard of Blue Apron. It’s just one of the many meal kit delivery services that have sprung up over the last seven years, delivering preassembled meal kits to the homes of their subscribers. Think of them as Lunchables for adults who are allowed to use the stove. These meal kits have garnered criticism for their prices, and also for their environmental impact: after all, each preportioned ingredient comes wrapped in its own packaging, much of which is plastic.

A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan offers some surprising results: when compared with the average grocery store meal, five nights of Blue Apron meals purchased by the research team have a far lower environmental impact—33 percent lower, in fact. Blue Apron did not contribute to the study financially, and was chosen as a representative of meal kits more generally. The study authors state that the company’s packaging practices parallel those of other meal kit services, although may not be exactly the same.

“Meal kits represent a fundamental shift in how food is supplied,” the authors write in the paper. “Meals are pre-portioned for consumers and delivered to their doorsteps, circumventing the process of consumers acquiring and portioning ingredients for a meal themselves, but still providing the experience of cooking their meal at home.”

These kinds of kits aren’t accessible to everybody: they can be pricey, especially for folks with special dietary needs, and not everyone can be home for delivery (or receive their purchases in a safe place). And it’s not like they’re perfect or even environmentally friendly: they’re just better for the planet than buying identical meals at the store, which should tell you how inefficient and environmentally damaging the grocery industry is.

In the study, researchers Brent Heard and Shelie Miller, along with undergraduate colleagues, received five Blue Apron meals for two: cheeseburgers, salmon, chicken, pasta, and salad. Then, they went to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients to make those meals again.

“We took kitchen scales and weighed the food and the packaging,” says Heard. Then, they did the same with all the stuff bought at the grocery store. Of course, at a grocery store, hamburger buns aren’t sold in packs of two, but packs of six. The same idea extends to other ingredients. To compensate for this difference, the study assumed that some of those buns and other unused ingredients would go to waste, in line with estimates about different kinds of food waste from other peer-reviewed sources.

The researchers employed several common metrics to estimate the impact of each meal and the packaging its components came in: greenhouse gas emissions from the field to the landfill (known as comparative lifecycle assessment) along with the same for land and water use, as well as water pollution. With the exception of one meal (the salmon), all were significantly lower impact than the same meal from the grocery store.

The difference in food waste was a big factor, Miller says. “When people were talking about meal kits, they focused a lot on the plastics and the packaging that were generated,” she says, “but they weren’t really focusing on the whole lifecycle.” In her previous studies of meal kits, she says, many people expressed a lot of guilt over the packaging, which usually includes plastic cold-packs and insulation to keep food fresh. It’s true that meal kits have significantly more of this single-use stuff, Miller says, but there’s a substantial tradeoff in terms of food waste and the amount of energy expended in getting the food to consumers. The trip from the grocery store or the delivery center to your house is commonly known as the “last mile.” A direct-to-consumer model means that the last mile trip is more efficient, since one vehicle generally has to drive fewer places to make the deliveries than each meal kit user going to the grocery store and buying the ingredients for only their own meal.

All this produced a surprising finding: “Meal kits were actually better overall than grocery store meals when you take into account the full system, including food waste,” says Miller. Given that her original motivation for conducting the study was “anecdotal conversations of individuals who were feeling guilty” because they were certain the packaging made such meals more wasteful, this finding came as quite the surprise.

We know that almost half of the food that the U.S.produces is wasted, which has impacts on everything from food security to climate change. With all the research out there on plastic pollution, it might seem like excess packaging would outweigh other concerns—after all, wasted food is biodegradable. A rotting head of broccoli will release greenhouse gases if it molders in a landfill, but it’s not going to stick around and continue polluting the way a piece of plastic will. That just illustrates how limited our view of the food system can be, Miller says: we rarely consider the full lifecycle of the products we rely on. “It really does go to this idea of thinking through as consumers what we actually use,” she says.

The fact that preassembled meal kits have less of an environmental impact than store-bought meals, despite their higher packaging load, also illustrates how messed up our food system is. Grocery stores themselves, which frequently overstock to give that feeling of abundance to their shelves and make sure everything is on hand for consumers, are a big contributor to the food waste problem.

This isn’t to say that everyone should subscribe to a meal kit service to save the planet; you may not be able to fit them into your lifestyle, and chances are you can make choices on your own that are as good or better. If you’re financially and logistically capable of doing so, you can lower the environmental impact of your diet by buying locally produced food, going car-free for as many shopping trips as possible, and cutting down on animal products, which are the biggest greenhouse gas offenders. And when you have the choice, go for foods that have been through less processing and have less packaging: a can of lentil soup is easy to enjoy, but lentils in a bulk bin will likely have created fewer emissions on their journey to your shopping cart.

Not everyone has access to these foods or the time to prepare them. But cutting down on food waste is also crucial, Heard says, and a great way to do this is to meal plan. That ensures that even if you do have to buy bigger portions, you can use them up efficiently—which saves you money, too. Another step we can all take is to stick with the common wisdom of not going to the grocery store hungry: you’re more likely to make an impulse purchase that may go to waste later.

How To Make The Most Of Winter Break

In my teaching experience, winter break arrives at the moment when both the students and I need it most. As we are nearing winter break, I look forward to some time to relax and renew my energy before school resumes in January. Some years I realized a day or two before the end of my time off that I wasn’t any more rested than I had been in the days leading up to break. Over the years there are some things that I have found to help me have a truly revitalizing winter break. 

Plan Ahead

Before break, I designate days on my calendar when I won’t check email or do anything work-related. Allocating days when I won’t engage in work helps me to be intentional about spending time with family as well as spending mindful time alone. Around a week before winter break, write down all work-related to-do items. Check off as many as possible before break. Listing what needs to get accomplished helps me stay organized. Even better, if I succeed in checking off all of the items, I return from the break with a clean slate. 

A few days before break, plan a lesson for the first day back. Write out all ideas in detail and gather any materials needed to implement the lesson. Having a day planned for my return allows me to enjoy the break without worrying about the first day back. 

The winter break can be a busy time filled with shopping, cooking, and chores, which means running the risk of arriving at the last day of break and realizing that I haven’t taken any time for myself. To make sure the break isn’t only full of responsibilities, I make a list of fun things I hope to do over break and then schedule them on a calendar. I include items such as outdoor activities, leisurely walking around a bookstore, taking exercise classes, baking, traveling, or watching a movie. Designating time for these activities means they are more likely to happen. 

Nurture Relationships  

Over the years, some of my best friends have started out as colleagues. I have found that having those supportive relationships at work helps reduce stress throughout the year. Over long breaks, I like to make plans with a colleague or group of colleagues to hang out and enjoy each other’s company. We commit to not talking about work during that time together. Building relationships with colleagues outside of the work environment can reveal what is important to them other than their work. 

During the school year, my schedule is often very busy, and I don’t have a lot of time to connect with friends and extended family. The winter break is an opportunity to visit friends and family outside of school. 

Pick a Book

I read throughout the year, but it is typically work-related. During the break, I forgo reading young adult literature or nonfiction and instead find a relaxing book purely for pleasure. Over winter break, choose one “beach read” and take some time to read for fun. I also spend some time casually reading online for inspiration. I scroll Twitter and Instagram and read some of my favorite education bloggers for inspiration. This allows me to gather some new ideas for the second half of the year but doesn’t feel like work. 

Reflect and Set a Goal

I have never been much for New Year’s resolutions, but I find that making one professional goal for the second half of the school year is inspiring without being stressful. When making a goal, I often begin by reviewing student feedback from first-semester student surveys. From these surveys, I may learn that students feel we need to spend more time on a certain aspect of the curriculum, students enjoy being read aloud to, or certain students feel distracted by the organization of the desk. I combine that feedback with ideas from the social media. 

Possible goals include:

Try at least one new technology tool with students before the end of the year.

Ask students to name some of their favorite books they have read this year, and choose a few to read myself.

Send at least one positive note home to each child’s parent before the end of the school year. 

Collaborate with colleagues in another subject to add interdisiplinary elements to a current assignment. 

Incorporate new texts based on student interest and needs.

Find opportunities to make changes to assignments in order to provide more student choice. 

Attend more events with students outside of school, such as sports, concerts, or plays. 

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