St. Barts Resorts – An Island Teeming With Life’s Pleasures

St. Barthelemy, or St. Barts in English, is officially a part of the overseas collectivity of France which includes the Leeward Islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Martin. Indigenous people of the island call this marvelous island as Ouanalao. This Caribbean island is located 35 km southeast of Saint Martin and north of St. Kitts. 240 km to the west of the island is Puerto Rico. When compared against neighboring islands, St. Barts resorts can rival them in terms of its natural splendor and exciting activities uniquely experienced in the island.

The entire island only occupies an area of 8 sq. miles. St. Barths is home to some diverse mix of iguanas, night-blooming cactus and the beach landscape tells a mystic story on its own. The marina is bustling with luxurious yachts. The streets are lined with designer boutiques. Restaurants serving delectable menus influenced by history and a multitude of cultures are sought after by classical wealthy Americans, Hollywood celebrities, auspicious media hipsters among others.

Other people who visit the island are people on vacation like yachtsmen who may decide to abandon their ship for a while and take temporary refuge in hotels and resorts for a more stable sleep. St. Barts hotels also play hosts to young professional Parisians. This group is easy to spot as they sport black and white clothes, pale-looking, poker-faced and well-calculated gestures. But after a few weeks in the mystic island of St. Barth, this group gets sun-kissed skin, warm personality, and an optimistic perspective in life.

There are two ways to get to St. Barts. If one prefers to go by air, one has to fly in to a neighboring island, St. Martin, via international flights then, take a connecting flight to St. Barts via local airline companies that fly to Gustave III airport. The same route is plotted if one has to go by sea. Ships would dock in St. Martin then passengers heading to St. Barts will have to switch to a charter speedboat or a daily ferry service.

Once there, there are many activities awaiting the adventure-starved visitor. The beaches are tempting and there are a total of fourteen resorts for one to explore. The great thing about the beaches is its uncongested tourist traffic even during peak season.

St. Barts resorts also offer relaxing services such as spa treatments. They have scuba diving, yachting/sailing, jet-skiing, deep sea fishing, tennis, volleyball, surfing, waterskiing and other outdoor sports. For those with the affinity for shopping, shops of all sorts are there. Night life is decent and mild. Locals put up a makeshift cinema at A.J.O.E tennis court featuring French movies complete with a stand for popcorn, hotdogs and cold drinks. Some restaurants would have live entertainment. The Yacht Club offers “Live Screen Concerts”. Then there are just a few disco houses where one can have mind-altering drinks amidst pumping music. If that’s your kind of trip then visit the “Cassa Nikki” or “Le Feeling”.

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Dealing With Conflict in the Workplace

Introduction

Conflict is a major concern in both your personal and working life. If not deal with quickly, tactfully and efficiently conflict could lead to serious confrontation and / or a complete breakdown of relationships. It could even lead to violent and dangerous situations.

A conflict could stem from a minor complaint that was not resolved and left to fester. This could then gradually grow into an insurmountable problem. A conflict can be as innocent as sibling rivalry – arguing over a toy – to a dispute with a customer or colleague over a product, service or procedure to a war between countries in extreme cases.

There will be times during the course of a working life where you will have to deal with complaints and conflicts. Your successful handling of these situations will have a direct bearing on you and your organization's reputation for customer service and its continued success.

What causes conflict.

Conflicts usually occur when people have different ideas and believe they have the superior view point. This is particularly true of conflict in the workplace – between collections and / or management. The issue becomes one of power, of gaining control or of 'being proved right'. To resolve this type of conflict it is necessary to move from the power clash, to one of service and responsibility – to work for the good of the group rather than individuals within it. In resolving a conflict it should be more important to make sure that both parties needs are met rather than winning the argument.

Conflict can also be caused by a lack of communication or by a failure to recognize the needs of another person. Whatever the scenario, the main component in conflict is misunderstanding. These misunderstandings can occur due to differences in age, culture, race or religion. Conflict situations can include customer related issues, misunderstandings or communication barriers or Conflict among work collections.

Conflicts due to customer related issues.

A complaint, no matter how trivial it may sound to you, is legitimate in the eyes of the customer and must be taken seriously. Customers come into your organization to do business. They have a need and they believe (or hope) that you will be able to fulfill that need. They are willing to pay you for your time, effort and service and they expect your full and undivided attention. If they do not receive this attention or a satisfactory product or service, then they are not receiving value for their money and then have every right to complain.

Conflicts arising out of customer related issues could include;

  • Problems or faults with services or products. The customer has not received the quality of service or product that they expected and are unhappy enough about it to complain. A complaint of this nature can be fairly easily resolved if the parties involved are prepared to communicate and compromise.
  • Delays or poor timing of product or service supply. The customer has been kept waiting longer than expected or advised for their product or service and, as in the point above, become upset at the delay. Delays can cause a great deal of inconvenience for customers, particularly if they have made time to be on hand and are then disappointed.
  • Difficult or demanding customers. Some customers are hard to please and are, by nature, very demanding and aggressive. If they are not handled carefully they could, potentially, become threatening.
  • Drug or alcohol related issues. These could include being refused entry or ejection from concessions due to their condition and the risk they represent to other customers or staff.

Conflicts due to misunderstandings or communication barriers.

No two people are exactly alike – not even twins. People have different points of view thought about by the many influences on their lives.

These effects include;

Genetics – the things that we inherit from our parents and over which we have no control. These things might involve the color of our eyes and hair to our health.

Upbringing – which involves the way in which our parents raised us and the values ​​they instilled in us.

Culture and religion – this influences the things that we believe to be true and the customs and traditions we follow

Economics – our view on life can be strongly influenced by our economic situation, whether we are financially comfortable or struggling to make ends meet.

Education – our level of education will also have a large impact on what we think and how we view the world.

The environment – this means the environment in which we operate: our neighborhoods, housing situation, and the people we are surrounded by.

Life experience – involves all the experiences we have had in our lives, the successes and failures, the lessons we have learned from these experiences and the many roles that we have played to date.

All of these things and more go in to making us the individuals we are and our thoughts and feelings about almost everything we come into contact with will be shaped by these influences. So we have our own opinions and points of view on a whole range of things and these sometimes clash with other peoples. These clashes can take the form of a lively but friendly debate but they could just as easily become heated and aggravated and degenerate into shouting matches. The beginnings of conflict.

We can avoid these situations by reaching an understanding between the parties. This can be done by communicating openly and honestly, being willing to listen to the other person's point of view – remembering that the influences that have shaped their beliefs and view points could be very different to yours – but no less valid.

Misunderstandings and communication barriers could occur because;

  • People do not listen to each other with an eye to reaching an understanding
  • People are not prepared to compromise in order to resolve the situation
  • People do not understand cultural differences and are not prepared to make allowances for them.

To resolve a conflict situation steps need to be taken to bring the two points of view closer – to reach a compromise that both parties can accept. Part of good conflict resolution skills is the art of communication and recognizing the barriers to a good two way communications flow. These barriers can include;

  • Not paying attention . Customers or colleges who are trying to communicate with you will feel ignored and frustrated if you allow yourself to become distracted. Not paying attention to them is rude and unprofessional and stops the communication flow. The result of this could be the loss of a customer, a complaint about you to your manager or a loss of respect. Do not allow yourself to be distracted – focus your attention on what is being said and really listen to your customer or colleague. If you must interrupt the conversation to answer the phone, or speak with another staff member, excuse yourself.
  • Not looking at a person . Maintainable reasonable eye contact with the person you are communicating with is very important. It shows you are paying attention and that you are interested. By not looking at the person who is talking to you, you are indicating not only disinterest, but are also making them feel uncomfortable. They may think you are not being honest or trustworthy – you may be trying to hide something from them.
  • Interrupting . Interrupting someone when they are talking is a major barrier to open, two way communication and could easily cause conflict. Once again, you are indicating that you are not interested in what they have to say. Breaking into what they are saying to make your own thoughts known, or worse, to finish their sentences for them is no way to gain a proper understanding of the other persons needs and expectations. Allow them to finish what they are saying and pay attention. If, for some reason, the conversation needs to be wound up, then take control by asking leading or closing questions – that allow for short answers only.
  • Tone of voice. The tone of voice used during a conversation could also start a conflict. Arrogance, demand, anger, whining, disinterest etc. All add a tone to the voice that can cause people to react negatively. When dealing with customers or collections you should keep your tone friendly, calm and pleasant. At the very least, if you do feel annoyed you should try and keep the tone of your voice neutral.
  • Sarcasm . Sarcasm has no place in any conversation between two people and is an open invitation for conflict. There are times, in everyone's working life, when you think "If I get asked one more stupid question, I'll go mad!", But sarcasm in the face of a silly question or remark does nothing but hurt the other person and, Possibly, dent their self esteem. We often forget that not everyone knows everything we do about our industry – in fact most customers know very little about the tourism and hospitality industries. We can forgive our customers or junior collectors, therefore, for asking questions that may have obvious answers – obvious only to someone who knows. Show patience and understanding – it's just as easy and much more pleasant than giving a sarcastic or snide answer.
  • Rudeness . There is never any excuse for rudeness. A respectful and courteous attitude on your part should avoid or defuse any antagonism a person brings with them into your office. Should you find yourself never the less, dealing with a person with whatever you simply can not get along – rudeness is not the solution. Speak to your supervisor or manager and ask for their advice.
  • Cultural differences . Cultural differences can be the source of a great many conflicts. When dealing with people from other countries, other beliefs and so on, it is easy to misunderstand words, gestures and customs. If you want to excel at your profession it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the more prevalent customs of other cultures. On the whole, however, people from all over the world, from all walks of life and from all creeds respond well to respectful and courteous behavior. Do not make fun of customs you do not understand. Treat everyone you deal with, both customers and colleagues, with respect and you should do very well.

Any one of these points could provoke a customer or a college into complaining – which could then, potentially, turn into a conflict. It is a good idea therefore, to remain courteous and polite when dealing with other people.

Signs of potential conflict

A conflict does not happen suddenly. People do not go from calm and cool one moment to angry and aggressive next.

Conflict builds. It may take hours, weeks or even years. However long the process takes, there are always signs that a conflict is building. If these signs are recognized early then steps can be taken to quickly and efficiently resolve the situation before it becomes a major issue.

Early signs of conflict can include (but are not limited to):

  • Aggressive body language: Narrowed eyes – trying to intimidate you Flared nostrils – a sure sign of building anger as the person takes a deep breath, either to control themselves or to go on the attack Stretched muscles in the face and jaw line – tightened in building Anger and aggression Tapping fingers or feet – shows impatience
  • Malicious or negative gossip among collections
  • Difficulty in discussing an issue calmly and rationally
  • Tone of voice – indicating boredom, sarcasm, irritation

These are all signs of irritation, dissatisfaction or impatience. If you recognize any of these signs when dealing with a complaint or a conflict you should endeavor to find out the reasons why the other person is starting to feel impatient or irritated. You can do this by asking relevant questions and listening carefully to their answers. In this way you can reach an understanding of the issue at hand and possibly avoid escalating the situation.

If not recognized and acted upon these signs could then be followed by;

  • Raised voice – speaking rapidly in a loud, high pitched voice – or even shouting
  • Body leaning forward in an effort to intimidate
  • Hand gestures – finger poking and pointing in an aggressive manner.
  • Refusal to cooperate
  • Storming out of a room, slamming doors, drawers or implements

At this point you may already have a conflict and it will take careful handling to bring the situation back under control

Crisis situations

Complaints can escalate into conflict and conflict, if not resolved effectively, could potentially escalate into a crisis.

People wish to be taken seriously. If they are not, or are repeatedly ignored, it can become aggressive and a threat to safety and security of the organization and the people in it. Equally, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and are not in control of themselves, can present a danger to those around them if they are not handled carefully.

Situations where personal safety of customers or colleges may be threatened and assistance required may involve:

  • Drug or alcohol affected persons
  • People with guns or other weapons
  • Situations where someone has been or may be hurt
  • People who appear to be violent or threatening
  • Situations where customers refuse to leave or to be pacified.

In these cases it is extremely important to:

  • Keep calm yourself and to try and calm the other person.
  • Move them, discreetly, out of the main area of ​​your office or shop
  • Take note of details of the problem for future reference
  • DO NOT argue with a person who is visibly upset or aggressive as this will only compound the situation.
  • Bring in the assistance of relevant management, security and / or entities such as police as soon as possible.

Organizational requirements

You can not simply make a conflict go away by giving the complaining party whatever they want. Resolving a conflict is a deferred balance between reaching an agreement between parties while at the same time staying within the constraints of your organizations requirements and policies.

These constraints may include:

Costs issues. Often, a conflict with a customer will be centred around dissatisfaction with a product or service. If the product or service was actually found to be faulty then the simplest solution to the problem is a straight forward replacement. Sometimes, however, the situation is not as simple and the customer will demand further compensation. In these cases a replacement may not be enough and something extra may need to be done. When determining the amount of compensation, if any, to be offered to the client, there are a few issues to consider. These could include;

  • Customer good will & repeat business. If your organization is dependent on customers coming back again then this is an important consideration.
  • Organisations reputation. A dissatisfied customer will tell many people that they received bad service from an organization who did not meet their needs and this can lead to a loss of business.
  • Direct cost. Compensation to a client can be in the form of cash, additional products or services, or an upgrade to the product or service they have purchased. If compensation is to be of a monetary nature then the cost to the organization must be considered.

Organization policy on refunds or exchange . Most organizations will have policies on giving refunds. Some companies will give money back, others will give credit for products or services they provide. In the tourism industry you must also consider the refund policies of the principals you deal with. For example some advance purchase airline tickets do not allow refunds at all within a given period prior to departure and if the customer does not use the ticket, they have lost their money.

So before agreeing to provide a solution to the customer, you must first determine if it is financially viable to do so and to take the organizations policies and procedures into account.

Resolving conflict situations

When a person has purchased a product or service from your organization and it is not what they expected it to be, or does not perform properly they will feel dissatisfied and disappointed. As a consequence when this person complains that they generally believe that they have a legitimate reason for doing so and they may do so long and heatedly to the first person they come across in your organization. This might be you – even though you had nothing to do with the original sale and have never met the customer. The worst thing you can do is tell them its not your problem.

Take ownership of the issue, regardless of whether you were involved in the problem or not. "Passing the buck" at this point is not going to help matters. The customer approached YOU, so deal with the issue and do not pass them off saying "It's not my problem" or "The lady who handled this is not here now ….". At that particular moment in time the customer does not see you, the individual, they see you, the representative of the company, so it is you, the representative of the company, they expect to help them.

If you were not part of the original transaction where the problem occurred get as much information as you can from the customer to help you determine what to do. For example, you could ask;

  • Exactly what the problem is
  • When & where it occurred
  • How long ago the problem occurred
  • What they paid for the product or service
  • How they see the situation being resolved – this will give you an idea of ​​the person's expectations and how they impact on the organization's policies and procedures.

If the person who was involved in the original transaction is available you should ask them to join the discussion in order to get both sides of the picture. It is very important, however, to keep to the issue at hand and not to let emotions or ego get in the way of finding a solution to the problem; Stay calm, listen to all points of view with an open mind and try to keep the communications process flowing in a positive manner.

Finding a solution to a conflict involves a certain set of skills and techniques. It takes a step by step approach to ensure a positive income for all parties concerned.

Steps in resolving conflict

Finding a solution to a conflict will often become a matter of "give and take" where one party makes a suggestion that may not be entirely acceptable to the other. When this happens you will need to define the issues as seen by all parties and negotiate a mutually acceptable exit. This would normally occur in a logical sequence:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Work out what you want out of the conflict
  3. Brainstorm for options
  4. Evaluate solutions
  5. Decide on solutions

Define the problem

Everyone involved in the conflict needs to agree on a definition of the problem before it can be solved. This could mean describing the problem in terms of each persons needs and understanding of the issue at hand. Questions to consider might include:

  • What is the problem? Is it only my problem? Who else is involved?
  • Can I solve it? Is it worth solving?
  • Is this the real problem or merely a symptom of a larger one?
  • Does it need an immediate solution or can it wait? Is it likely to go away by itself? Can I risk ignoring it?
  • Does the problem have ethical dimensions?
  • What conditions must the solution satisfy?
  • Will the solution affect something that must remain unchanged?
  • Will I need help?

Asking these types of questions will outline what all the issues are from various perspectives giving you a firm foundation for exploring options. Depending on the nature of the problem and what it will take to resolve it, it might in extreme cases even be worth letting the matter go. It is important to keep a customer satisfied, but not at all costs. If a customer is being completely unreasonable and demanding then sometimes it is the better option to lose that customer.

Work out what you want out of the conflict

You also need to develop a clear understanding of the expected outcome. This could be; An agreement on acceptable compensation for faulty products or service a better relationship with the other party a mutually acceptable solution to an ongoing work issue the other person to respect your opinion With firm expectations of what would be an acceptable exit in mind, you can then begin To negotiate with the other party until an agreement has been reached.

Brainstorm for options – When all parties concerned have had the opportunity to explain their feelings on the matter, then all of the issues should be out in the open. At this point you can look at the various options available. There might be a number of solutions to the problem which could work for everyone involved. Do not get stuck on one solution just because it's the first one you find. Be creative about the possibilities available to you, and look for common ground. You can decide from the options later.

Evaluate solutions – In deciding the best result from the options available you should weigh up the pros and cons of each one based on the organizations policies and procedures, cost or budgetary constraints, legal ramifications and mutual benefit. When discussing and evaluating options it is often the case that each party will prefer an option that most closely gives them what they want regardless of its impact on the other party. In these cases you need to negotiate and compromise so that an agreement that both parties are satisfied with can be reached.

The Art of Compromise – Compromise does not mean giving in or losing. It means looking for ways to meet each others needs by making concessions to the other party involved. Compromise involves negotiating what you are, or are not, prepared to do in order to get what you want.

You should be open to good arguments rather than pressure or manipulation from the other party. Be open to reason but closed to threats. In difficult conflicts it might be necessary to bring in another person to mediate. This person may need to be skilled, mutually respected, and not have a personal interest in the outcome.

Decide on a mutually acceptable solution – When all available options have been tabled and considered then you can decide on the best one – the one that keeps both parties happy! Make sure each person takes responsibility for agreeing with the decision. This may take the form of a written agreement or contract, or a letter outlining what was agreed to.

Separate your feelings from the problem . When your emotions get tangled up in the pros and cons of an argument you can not reach the best conclusion. If you take a strong position because of the way you feel, you can not work out the best solution to the problem because your perception of it is controlled by things which are likely to have nothing to do with the problem. It's not about who is right or wrong. Arguing over who fault it is or placing blame will do nothing but increase tension and get in the way of resolving the situation. You should not let your feelings get in the way. Points that can help here include:

  • Act and speak calmly. Arguing with a customer or colleague could result in a full blown confrontation. Pause before making a response to them. This will give you time to collect yourself, to calm any irritation you might feel and also gives you a chance to work out how to phrase your response in the most appropriate way.
  • Try to put yourself in the other person's place; Empathise with them. Use expressions such as "I can understand why you would feel that way" and encourage them to share their point of view.
  • Listen carefully and completely to what they are saying. Hear them out without interrupting them. Show you are interested through a positive listening attitude and ask clarifying questions to make sure you have understood them correctly.
  • Be patient and understanding. Do not interrupt them. Once they have had their say, they will generally be a lot calmer and easier to reason with. The problem can then often be resolved in a civilized manner.
  • At the appropriate time, acknowledge their point of view and ask them to give you the court of now listening to your (organization's) position. For example; "I understand what you are saying, may I now explain our position to you, and then we can see how we could solve the problem together?"

Documentation

Recording accurate information about complaints, conflicts and their outcomes is a very important part of any business. This type of information will show (among other things);

  • Areas of the business that are not working properly
  • Processes and procedures that need to be changed.
  • Things that customer like / or do not like about your products or services
  • Gaps in the supply and demand of your products or services

With this information in hand, an organization can then use it to continuously improve its products, services, image and reputation.

Information can be recorded by way of (but not limited to):

  • Letters (or emails) of complaint. These should always be taken seriously. A written complaint should be answered immediately – even if it is simply to advise the customer what will happen next. An investigation of the complaint should follow and the customer should then be advised of the outcome. A report of the complaint and the outcome should then be sent to the relevant supervisor or manager for any further action needed.
  • Notes taken during a phone call or after a face to face meeting. Once again, it is good business practice to record the details of complaints or discussions about conflicts. These notes can be used for the organization's continuous improvement program but they can also be used as reminders of the conversation should a dispute arise.
  • Formal documentation. These could be; Refund forms Credit notes Contracts or agreement forms

Evaluating conflict situations

It is good business practice to continuously look for ways in which an organization can improve its practices and procedures. One of the main ways an organization can do this is by seeking feedback – comments from customers, staff and other visitors to the organization. Reasons for seeking feedback can include;

  • To ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business
  • To maintain its reputation
  • To learn from errors or mistakes
  • To make improvements to the service or product delivery or quality to improve productivity and efficiency
  • Follow up to see if customer is satisfied in the case of a complaint or conflict

In a matter as important as a complaint or a conflict, feedback can also be taken by way of a phone call, letter or even even a personal visit to the person concerned to ensure that any issue that exists between the conflicting parties has been successfully resolved.

When looking for how effective the solution to a conflict was, some of the questions that should be asked could include:

Why did this situation happen in the first place ? A close examination of the circumances surrounding the matter of conflict from both the customers and the organizations perspective can show up problems in procedure, policy or product or service delivery. Issues to look at could include;

  • Was there a breakdown in communication?
  • Is the service delivery as good as it could be?
  • Are the organization's policies and procedures as effective as they could be?
  • Was the service / product faulty in some way?

Did we resolve it effectively ? This is a very important question from the customers and the organizations point of view.

  • For the customer, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they are satisfied, that they have received value for their money and most importantly that they will probably continue to do business with you.
  • For the organization, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they have retained a customer and kept within organizational guidelines and budgets

When looking at how the problem was resolved:

  • Ask critical questions about the output – was it the best possible option for every one concerned? Did it cost your organization money? Too much money? Was the income worth the cost?
  • Evaluate the customer's reaction to your proposal – were they happy with it? Were they prepared to be reasonable? Will they continue to do business with you?
  • Compare the situation to any previous incidents of this nature. How was it handled last time? Is there a pattern emerging that should be addressed?
  • What can we do to prevent it happening in the future? By looking at how the problem occurred in the first place and how effectively you resolved it you can then take any necessary steps to prevent the same thing happening again. This might mean; A change in policy or procedure A change in a product or service training staff in customer service skills Training staff in conflict and complaint handling

By asking these, and other relevant questions, you can make improvements to the organization. This could lead to greater customer and staff satisfaction which will have a positive impact on the organizations continued success and prosperity.

For more information go to: www.lptraining.com.au

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Differentiation 101 – A Basic Guide to Differentiated Instruction

Differentiation. Differentiated Curriculum. Differentiated Instructional Strategies. At conferences, parent gatherings, and curriculum planning meetings, the term differentiation is thrown around like a Frisbee. As a newly hired teacher, I recall nodding my head and blinking blankly whenever the term was whizzed at me. The definition of differentiation is taken for granted; thus, no one ever pauses to tell what differentiation means. This article will do just that.

In a nutshell, differentiation–which is sometimes called differentiated instruction–refers to a method of curriculum planning and instruction that offers learners a wide variety of ways to acquire understanding. The following bullet points offer a quick and dirty guide to differentiated instruction. These bullets outline the three elements of the curriculum that can be differentiated as well as the three learner characteristics that can be taken into account while differentiating your instruction.

The following elements of your curriculum can be differentiated

CONTENT: Content is considered the “stuff” of the curriculum. This “stuff” includes what the instructor plans for learners to understand as well as the ways the learner will gain access to the desired knowledge and skills. To differentiate according to Content, an instructor can do the following:

  • Provide text on multiple levels of difficulty
  • Use part-to-whole or whole-to-part instruction
  • Use manipulatives, Internet resources, audio recordings, and other non-conventional “text”

PROCESS: Process refers to the activities in which learners engage in order to gain understanding of the subject. A conventional way to think about Process is to consider it as the things learners do in the class and for homework. To differentiate according to Process, the instructor can do the following:

  • Vary amount of support given by the instructor
  • Give learners choices about how they express what they learn
  • Provide varied assignment options at differing levels of difficulty or based on learner interests

PRODUCT: Products are the end result, the things learners create to demonstrate what they understand and/or are able to do after they have moved through the curriculum. Some examples of learning products are essays, poems, quiz/test answers, presentations, blogs, websites, skits, videos, plays, and other dramatizations. To differentiate according to Product, the instructor can do the following:

  • Provide rubrics (a grid showing how learners will be assessed) for assignments
  • Vary types of resources learners can use in preparing products (text, Internet resources, books, encyclopedias, interviews, tours, pamphlets, etc)
  • Allow learners to design a product around essential learning goals-to express what they know in varied ways (e.g. speaking, writing, drawing)

The following are three learner characteristics instructors can take into account when planning to differentiate:

READINESS: Readiness refers to the understanding and preparedness learners have at the start of study. Because learners vary in preparation and knowledge (in other words, what they bring to the classroom and to specific assignments), they require different levels of difficulty. To differentiate according to Readiness, instructors can do the following:

  • Add student teach-backs to assignments
  • Add or remove peer conferencing, instruction, and models for a task
  • Make the task more or less familiar (e.g. by adding or removing information and resources)

INTERESTS: Interests, in terms of differentiation, can be thought of as the learner’s “academic taste buds.” Because learners have different taste buds, instructors can align curriculum with topics or pursuits that satisfy the palate of each learner. To differentiate according to Interest, instructors can do the following

  • Provide a wide variety of choices for topics and products
  • Provide a variety of avenues for learner exploration of a topic
  • Give learners a choice of tasks and products, including learner-designed options

LEARNING PROFILE: Just as the height and shape of students vary (even within the same grade), so do their learner profiles. No matter how students are grouped, each group will have learners with different interests, levels of readiness, learning styles, talents, and standardized test scores. One understanding of learning styles is Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner’s theory delineates the following categories: Bodily-kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Verbal-linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Naturalistic, Intrapersonal, Visual-spatial, and Musical. To differentiate according to Learning Profile, instructors can do the following:

  • Provide choice of spaces for activities (e.g. desks, couches, and floor seating)
  • Present information in a variety of ways (video, handout, lecture, peer-to-peer talks)
  • Provide learning opportunities in various modes (musical, visual display, movement and manipulatives)

Differentiation helps instructors engineer curriculum that reaches the widest number of learners possible. With the above guide highlighting the primary tenets of differentiation, you can approach your curriculum-and the next faculty meeting-with a basket full of knowledge and tools to differentiate in all of your curriculum.

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10 Types of Jewelry For Men

When we think of jewelry, we automatically think of jewelry for women. These days it is becoming increasingly common and fashionable for men to wear jewelry. Although much of men’s jewelry serves a purpose, there are many items that have no other purpose than to complement a man’s natural good looks. Read on to discover some obvious (and some not so obvious) jewelry choices for men.

Make a Statement with Men’s Jewelry

1. Watches

Timepieces have been around for a few centuries and serve a useful purpose. Jewelry or machine? Honestly, a watch is really a piece of jewelry that also happens to tell time. This is a way to get men who do not like wearing “jewelry” to actually wear jewelry without knowing it. The type of watch worn has to match the image the man wants to project,: a watch for the executive, a Swatch for the artist, a Nike for the athlete. Since many men have active lifestyles, there are different watches designed for different activities.

2. Rings

The next most common piece of jewelry men wear is a ring. The reason being in just about every culture, rings are worn to symbolize marriage between two people. Rings have been around for ages. Unlike watches, they do not serve a purpose, but when worn on the left ring finger, they do send out a signal about a man’s marital status. Wedding rings used to be made out of just gold or platinum. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that wedding ring designers began to experiment with the idea of using alternative metals. One of the first alternative metals was titanium. The metal was valued for its light weight, white color and strength. It is used for many other types of jewelry, not just rings. Only less than 5 years ago, tungsten carbide – a relatively unknown metal to the general public – suddenly exploded in popularity. It now comprises 20% of all men’s wedding ring sales in North America. Men’s tungsten wedding bands are valued for their extreme hardness. They are four times harder than titanium and have a hefty weight that men like. Tungsten is so hard that only a diamond or sapphire can scratch it. Tungsten is also very affordable. If you want to stick to a precious metal ring, but don’t want to pay through your nose for a gold or platinum ring, palladium may be the way to go. Palladium rings look and act just like platinum because both these metals are from the same family of metals, the Platinum Group Metals. Palladium, however, is about 70% less expensive than platinum rings. Many jewelers only deal with a few select metals.

3. Earring(s)

Traditionally for women, the earring is now accepted by society for men. Some men wear one earring and some wear two. Men that have traditional jobs in an office setting are often discouraged from wearing earrings or not allowed to wear them by company policy. Although, less popular as a man’s gift, earrings are here to stay as men’s jewelry.

4. Bracelets

Although less popular than watches, bracelets are a piece of jewelry many men wear. Men’s bracelets used to be made of heavier and more expensive metals such as gold, but alternative metals are becoming increasingly popular. The variety of materials used for bracelets are more varied than for rings or watches, and many of them are not even metals. There are bracelets made of wooden beads, carbon fiber, and ceramics, as well as stainless steel and titanium. Frequently, they incorporate more than one of the above mentioned materials.

5. Necklaces

Necklaces were worn by more men in the past than today. Men who wear necklaces tend to wear just one. In the past there was a higher tendency to wear multiple necklaces. Multiple necklaces can be viewed as tacky or “slimy” today, and as such many men today avoid wearing multiple necklaces.

6. Pendants

Men have mostly switched from wearing necklaces to wearing pendants. Pendants can be used to show a man’s religious faith or just to express oneself. The most common pendant to wear is the cross, in countless variations, and much like bracelets, pendants which were mostly made of gold in the past are now being made in all kinds of metallic and non-metallic materials. Some men wear pendants in conjunction with necklaces, while others choose to wear their pendants around their neck with a modest black leather cord.

7. Cuff Links

Commonly referred to as men’s accessories, cuff links are actually jewelry that men wear without thinking they’re there just keep shirt cuffs buttoned, right? Cufflinks are most often worn in an office setting where more professional dress is required. They make great Father’s Day gifts or birthday gifts. They are usually made of stainless steel or in some cases titanium. Gold is used, but is less common.

8. Money Clip

Men who like to show they have higher status, or at least the appearance of high status, tend to use money clips. With credit cards beings so ubiquitous, many men do not have cash in their pockets, which defeats the purpose of a money clip. The clip part of the money clip is typically made of stainless steel and if there is a decorative element on the clip it can be made of silver, gold or some other type of material. Money clips are usually given on the same occasions as cuff links.

9. Fountain Pens

Designer fountain pens can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, and tend to be gifts that companies give to their male and female executives. They can also be given to friends or spouses. In today’s high tech world, writing with pens is less common – even signatures can be electronic now. The fountain pen is becoming more of a piece of jewelry than a functional item.

10. Key Chains

Key chains are a jewelry item used to perform a function more than jewelry. For this reason, few key chains are made of expensive metals. Most are made of stainless steel, leather or titanium. This is a gift that is popular for Father’s Day or birthdays, particularly from a son or daughter.

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Crony Capitalism – How Bad Has It Gotten In The US?

We all know the problem of the revolving-door in our political leadership and bureaucracy. Folks are in and out of government, keep their contacts and make a fortune from the known reality: it’s not what you know but whom you know. The problem with all this is exactly what Adam Smith warned us about; the incestuous relationship between government and business. Corporations in the US are large and powerful, and have and hire the best talent, retain and control endless resources – these corporations do not NEED government favors, nor does their executive leadership, they are doing fine.

To secure the most optimum efficiency in our economy, we must keep the free-market as free as possible, when we allow a skew due to political favors or inside information, or allow lobbyists to the run the table, often at the expense of the people all we do is prove the cynics correct that; the game is rigged. Perhaps this is why Donald Trump has promised to; Drain the Swamp. And, he’s human too, I have no doubt he will drain the left-side of the swamp first, but it’s still a good start. The trick is to set a new set of rules, lay down the letter of the law, and move forward.

In Harvard Business Review, December 2013 Issue, there was an interesting article titled; “Unwinding Inequality” and in that article was a quote by Angus Denton; “When people use their success to change the rules in their favor, that success is no longer to be celebrated.”

“Yes,” I say, “Indeed.” But let’s take this argument to a higher level shall we. First, I find it rather hypocritical to read of this in the Harvard Business Review, as most there believe in the concepts of Adam Bellow who wrote the book “In Praise of Nepotism” which might explain why all the Supreme Court Justices went to Ivy Leagues, Harvard or Yale, some both. Worse, look at the academic records of the last 5-presidents of the US, and a darn good many senators, and heads of major bureaucracies, corporations and NGOs.

Second, if we dissect that quote, it talks about “success” and the concept of changing the rules once one, a group or corporation gains in the synergy of their own success. Well, isn’t this really the same challenge with guerrillas or terrorists attacking the status quo, authority and government – if they succeed, they are then in control and then they inevitably seem to use the same so-called tyrannical methods of ruling that their predecessors had before they ousted them – thus, the word “revolution” as it just goes round and round as another group comes along to then unseat their new authority.

Now, one can see a similar process in business and industry. For instance, read;

1. “Rule Makers and Rule Breakers,” by David Garnder
2. “First Break All the Rules,” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
3. “The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business,” by Clayton M. Christensen

Once the company garners market share synergy, and industry status, it moves to change the sector’s associations to lobby to get the rules and regulations changed to its way of doing things blocking future disruptive competitors from coming along to change the industry just as they had to get to where they are today.

The easiest way to do that is through crony-capitalism, campaign contributions, public-private business partnerships, which also leads to selling goods and/or services to the government and secure a free flow of money to further continue their dominance by playing with the political elite – who all went to Ivy League schools. Thus, I find it so fascinating that HBR (Harvard Business Review) had the gall to even publish that article – due to the obvious hypocritical nature of the norm which comes from that elitist institution. Please consider all this and think on it.

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Know When Your Business Needs IT Consulting Services

Businesses must ensure that only the latest technologies and software are deployed at the workplace, in order to provide quality solutions to their clients, and to be ahead of the competition. With the ever-changing technological trends in the industry, businesses find it cumbersome to adopt these technologies. Instead they can hand the entire function over to a sound IT consulting services company – who in turn will tap into their global pool of highly skilled IT professionals, who have the advantage of working in various IT environments, and have extensive experience across sectors. By providing assistance to business, IT consulting services providers free up existing resources; ensure IT transitions are smooth and problem-free; optimise key business processes; identify areas that benefit with further cost saving; build competitive advantage through IT; reduce IT complexities; provide IT strategy consultancy services, IT project management services and provide specialised programme management solutions – all of which, help the organisation achieve significant business efficiencies and cost benefits.

Choosing to work with an IT firm definitely boosts a company’s overall efficiency, which in turn decreases costs. Firms tend to look for a flexible and bespoke solution to address the client’s IT needs, thereby delivering solutions that are in tandem with the client’s goals.

The advantages listed above necessitate hiring an IT company. But how will a business know that it needs IT consultancy services?

A business may function with its existing IT architecture without knowing the benefits of such services. In order to discern the need for IT consulting services, businesses must first understand the details of their services. According to Wikipedia, ‘IT consulting is a field that focuses on advising businesses on how best to use IT to meet their business objectives. In addition to providing advice, IT consultancies often estimate, manage, implement, deploy, and administer IT systems on businesses’ behalf, known as Outsourcing’. IT consulting services firms thereby help businesses strategise and evaluate their IT functions as a whole and take the necessary steps to implement and/or deploy and then administer effective and robust IT systems in place. Businesses can seek the services of an IT firm when:

  1. IT investments regularly overshoot the set budget. Fast-paced technologies and trends warrant proper planning. When making strategic use of the allocated budget seems difficult, seeking the advice of IT consultancy services providers is imperative.
  2. A business decides to relocate or reduce staff.
  3. Projects regularly miss deadlines. Lack of specialists, complex projects and shoestring budgets lead to inefficient project management. A sound IT consulting services company designs bespoke, safe and cost-effective solutions, either full time or part time.
  4. Challenges of globalization, technical and regulatory changes arise. Business and technology management when integrated help the business survive, and therefore IT strategy consultancy is important.
  5. Programmes and projects eat into the budget. A business needs specialised programme management solutions to achieve significant cost savings. A robust IT services company provides either the co-sourcing or the outsourcing model to help businesses remain ahead of the competition, by providing tailored solutions.
  6. There is a need to change networks or when the need to shift to a new IT architecture arises.
  7. The company is in need of a robust disaster recovery plan.
  8. There are no data storage systems in place.

Availing the services of the right IT consulting services company may be a challenge. A business must choose a provider before the problems stated above get worse – and must choose a provider who is able to set in place a sound IT system in place. Therefore, a business must choose a provider who provides flexible solutions. Businesses must also remember that though they think they are able to fix small issues, the reality is that these issues must be treated at the root, and they can be properly tackled only with strategic IT solutions – only provided by an effective IT consulting services company.

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What Car Battery Should You Choose? Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM), Gel Or Wet Cell

An electrical problem that doesn’t let your car start and leaves you stuck in a parking lot or some place away from the fix that’s needed is an unwanted problem we all do our best to avoid. So what can you do to lessen the possibility of a possible unwanted situation that involves an electrical system crash in your vehicle?

First of all make sure you spend double the money on a good car battery. A lead acid battery can cost between $75 to $125 dollars. The only reason liquid lead acid batteries are the most commonplace is liquid lead acid batteries were first developed in 1859 and they are the least expensive in today’s world of automotive engine starting sources. In 1971 the sealed liquid lead acid battery was created that made it maintenance friendly.

VRLA (valve regulated lead acid) batteries include gel and absorbed glass mate which are not liquid. Gel batteries are as the name applies which is a “Gel”. AGM batteries are silicate glass fibers mixed with boron and formed into a mat that holds the electrolyte. Non liquid gel batteries were created in the late 1920′s and lead to the creation of the “Absorbed Glass Mat” batteries in 1957. The AGM (absorbed glass mat) battery was put into production in 1972 but mostly used for military applications and non vehicle applications like boats, motor homes, motorcycles and electronics. Nowadays you see more AGM batteries becoming available for use in production cars. AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries can cost from $160 to $250 but have more advantages over liquid lead acid batteries.

AGM batteries are basically used in applications where the use of the vehicle is only used now and again as in boats and recreational vehicles. The non use discharge rate is much lower in non use applications than liquid lead acid batteries. The charge rate is much faster also. Some automotive manufacturers are installing AGM batteries as their standard new car power source because of today’s higher vehicle power consumption. BMW right now is known to be the first to install AGM batteries in their 2007 models because of computer functions and braking.

AGM batteries are much better than liquid lead acid batteries but the downside of AGM batteries is you don’t overcharge them. They will charge faster with a normal output alternator up to 14.5 volts and a high output alternator is not needed. When an AGM battery is used in a non use vehicle a solar panel is recommended with a trickle charge. AGM batteries will go bad if charged over 14.5 volts. Most problems with charging AGM’s are in sports vehicles due to the rough environment they are used in. Toss away your old plug in garage battery charger and get a new one that maintains “Voltage” instead of amps. An AGM battery charger will sense a very low voltage in the battery and will start the recharge whereas an old charger does not sense low voltage and will not charge the battery.

These batteries are used in military vehicles that sit in storage for many years and start up after years in storage with no problem. I’ve read stories online where people have left their AGM batteries sitting in their garage for many years and they have retained their full charge. I use AGM batteries in my vehicles and disconnect the negative cable in the one that I don’t use that often anymore and it starts right up when I run the engine occasionally. I’ve read complaints about the AGM failing often but that’s only because of bad practices with them or using them in systems where the charging exceeds the recommended level. You can leave these batteries sitting for long periods of time without charging them but it’s recommended that a solar panel with an extremely low trickle charge be used when not in use. Again I will say from my own experiences is to disconnect the negative cable to the battery when not in use.

The AGM vs Gel and the wet cell? The AGM has thicker plates that tend to not warp that easily during deep discharges and resist sulfur buildup’s that destroy a wet cell battery. Wet cell batteries usually go bad after 4 years if they make it that length of time. The life expectancy of the AGM battery can be up to 10 years if not overcharged. Gel cell batteries are great for sports vehicles but tend to charge slower.

The Winner Is, “Absorbed Glass Mat” if you learn how to take care of them properly.

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20 Anytime Gifts That Will Last Forever

It’s that time again. You need a gift to take to a birthday, wedding, anniversary or any other occasion. Most of us don’t want to get just another gift, we all want to give and receive gifts that are timeless.

From the thoughtful custom necklace to the one-of-a-kind handmade trinket; we have you sorted out with our list of 20 anytime gifts that will never go out of fashion

The Thoughtful Gifts

1. Personalized Letter

In this day of technology, who wouldn’t love receiving a handwritten personalized letter? Personalized letters are particularly a great gift from children to grandparents or vice versa.

2. Memory Capsule

Memories are timeless. The best gift you could ever give a loved one is a piece of encapsulated memory. Recreate old photos taken with loved ones to form your memory capsule.

3. Quality Time

Sometimes your present is enough of a gift for that special person. Set aside ample time to spend a day together or go on a getaway.

4. Personalized Gift Cards

Personalized gift cards are still a timeless favorite from kid to parents or vice versa. Give out several with thoughtful tasks that they can be redeemed against.

5. Technology Lessons

Time has flown by and our grandparents, and parents, might need a little help catching up. Kids can gift their grandparents and immediate parents technology lessons to teach them about social media as well as the use of other gadgets.

Gifts for Him

6. RFID Wallet

Wallets are overly popular gifts for men, but not the RFID wallet. The RFID wallet will protect unwarranted card data theft, and it is one wallet he’ll be keeping for long.

7. Bartender Kit

Men love their drink, well most do. There isn’t a better gift for that drink lover than a bartender kit. A bartending set will also benefit you because, with it, he’ll be whipping up those delicious cocktails well into your hay days.

8. Balance Board

Balance is necessary for everyday life, and as we age, we lose our elementary balance. For the man looking to regain balance or just to keep fit, a balance board would be the perfect gift for them.

9. Smart Sprinkler Controller

Who is in charge of the sprinkler system, or just about any electronic, in your house? For that man, an intelligent sprinkler system would serve them well. Men love gadgets, and he will rave over the ability to control the sprinklers conveniently from a laptop/tablet/phone.

10. Watch

A good watch is always a great gift for that man in your life. It doesn’t have to cost much but go for a durable timepiece that will end up being an heirloom.

Gifts for Her

11. Jewellery

Let’s face it; time has proven it, women love jewelry. You can’t go wrong with a good custom necklace or just about any tasteful jewelry that she can pass on down the family tree.

12. Tea Set

Know a woman who loves tea? Then a tea set would make the perfect gift. This isn’t necessarily an age-restricted present; any woman who hosts company will like to add a good tea set in her collection.

13. Character Apron

Aprons are functional pieces of protective clothing and contrary to tradition; they don’t have to be flowery. Character aprons can instantly transform a lady into her beloved hero.

14. Scarf

Often overlooked, scarves are exquisite and complimentary outfit accents. Most women keep them for years, and that’s why they make it to our list of timeless gifts.

15. Handbag

Next to jewellry and shoes, women love handbags. Women also keep bags for years and getting her a good, quality bag is an ideal gift choice for any occasion.

A Custom Necklace and Other Custom Gift Ideas

16. Custom Pendants

A custom necklace is a good gift, but a custom locket is a great gift. A pendant allows you to take a treasured photo with you on the go. Anyone would love getting a personalized jewelry as a gift.

17. Picture Mug

Who doesn’t love a photo mug? Why not get her or him a collection of mugs with pictures of the people dearest to them?

18. Keychains

Everyone uses keychains at one point or another. Personalized keychains are thoughtful gift options.

19. Clocks

Clocks are also great options to personalize with custom photos. Go for a traditional wall clock or a wrist watch for a custom gift option.

20. Map

Have someone you have shared countless of adventures with? Get them a customized photo map to map out your travel memories.

There you have it; with our list of 20 anytime gifts that will never go out of fashion, you are equipped to give timeless and ageless gifts for any occasion.

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Why Has Online Dating Become So Popular?

The increasing number of dating sites goes to prove that this form of dating has become very popular. The fact is that these sites all have members meaning that large numbers of singles are trusting in them to find them the kind of relationships they could be looking for. But what exactly has seen to the increased popularity of the sites?

Exposure - If there is one major setback that comes with traditional dating is limited exposure to potential dates depending on where you stay and work. But with online dating, the boundaries are broken and you get exposure beyond your neighborhood and country. It is possible to meet singles across the globe and this comes is a good thing because the probability of you finding a compatible partner is quite high.

Convenience - Life can be hectic, especially when you have too many responsibilities because then it means you have less time to attend to other areas of life such as dating. The good thing about online dating is that you can maintain a relationship without having to interfere with your working schedule as it is the case with traditional dating. Considering that chats and emails are commonly used in online dating, you can handle them as you go about your usual duties and tasks. You also enjoy the flexibility of dating at any convenient time, even before retiring to bed something that would be impossible to do when you choose offline dating.

Flexibility - Online dating does not only make you flexible in time, but also in the number of dates you can have at a time. You can contact as many singles as you like and have the freedom to evaluate and drop them one at a time depending on your preferences. You can easily refuse approaches and end contact without worrying about hurting the feelings of other singles. You can also have more than one relationship going before making your choice without any awkward moments as it happens with traditional dating.

Variety – People have varying dating preferences. For instance, whereas some might be interested to date a different race, some would rather stick to their races and locations. Some might be interested in finding love and getting into serious relationships while others would rather do casual encounters with no strings attached. Online dating sites cater so such needs, offering a variety of all singles. Some sites actually accommodate singles from specific age groups and this is a feature that makes it easy for the singles to join the most relevant sites depending on what they are looking for. It is something that would be hard to do when dating offline.

Discretion – It is another thing that has made online dating popular today. When you join a dating site, you can keep it a secret for as long as you want or until a time when you are sure about the relationship and then you can let everyone who matters now about it. The privacy you enjoy can save you from ridicule that can arise from recurring relationship failures and it also gives you the freedom of enjoying relationships that would otherwise not be approved by people around you.

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Gambling: Online Casino

Gambling is considered to be an activity that involves betting on the outcome of a contest, playing a game for money, or paying for the opportunity to enter a lottery. It is a very old form of entertainment and one that will be with us as long as we continue betting. The pleasure of gambling comes from the very real risk of losing even your most prized possession. On the opposite side, gambling comes from wagering valuables or material things one cannot afford to lose. In a nutshell, gambling though how entertaining it is has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Gambling, which most people would really enjoy, could be of many different forms which include scratch tickets, pull tab tickets, bingo games, mahjong, charity raffles, lottery tickets, betting on sports games or casino games.

Casino games can be considered most common among people and it is commonly played in almost every country around the world. These days people could be entertained by just playing casino games online. Online casinos, also considered as internet or virtual casinos are online adaptations of traditional casinos that most people liked playing many years ago.

A casino game is similar with the land-based casinos that offer odds and payback percentages. Some of them claim higher payback percentages for slot machine games and make known to people payout percentage on their websites or homepages. The payout percentage for the games, being played by gamblers is established by the rules of the game.

Today, most people seem to be bombarded with lots of negative things. For this reason, they would really take up gambling though just from time to time yet soon it becomes their habits.

Gambling is undeniably fun and casinos create an exhilarating atmosphere, and there is always that slim chance of winning a fortune. Today whatever game you desire playing, the casinos available online could always provide you fun and excitement. It easy to find virtual casinos and if you have already chosen the game you want to bet on then you have to get ready and make a deposit, you will be entitled for some terrific first deposit bonuses for sure.There are various online casinos that could provide players free casino credits which can be credited into their real player account once they have met all wagering requirements.

Various online casinos with no deposits could provide players free of charge bonuses to try out the casino games available. Some casinos offer or give players up to $150 of free bonuses but on the other hand, the normal amount a casino could give is between $10 up to $25 only. Most online casinos have their own verification process to make sure the gambler or the person playing is really the one whom registered. This is to ensure their protection.

Here is a few of the casino sites that you could play at online.

1. BET365 CASINO

2. GAMING CLUB

3. GO WILD

4. CRAZY VEGAS

5. CASINO CLASSIC

6. GOLDEN RIVIERA

7. INTERCASINO

8. JACKPOT CITY

9. PLATINUM PLAY

10. RIVER BELLE

These are just a few of the so many casinos available nowadays.

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