Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Day 4: Reflections Essay

Written October 7, 2016

In a (Rather Large, Confusing) Nutshell

Who am I? I am Alyssa B. Hansen and I live in Utah. This is as much as you need to know for this essay because frankly, I find introducing myself boring so I am going to continue to the subject of this essay.
Seeing the world depends on perspective, and everyone’s perspective is slightly different from the rest. One person may have a small family where everyone loves each other, there is rarely a raised voice heard, and they love school. This person’s perspective or how they see the world is going to be different than say a person who was adopted at ten years old, and lived a rough life before then. They may scare easily with things that bring joy and laughter to others. I know both types of people, and honestly prefer to spend time with the person whose perspective is the most different from my own because then I can learn from them and their life experiences. The trick is just finding an “in.”
      When you meet someone who has had a rough life, how are you supposed to gain their trust and then compel them to tell you their life’s story? Let me just say it is easier to type the process mentioned above than to actually do it and I know this because of past experiences. The reason I find people so different me so interesting is because their perspective on life can really open my own eyes to some things I may never have known or thought of before speaking to that person. If someone were to tell me that, “ignorance is bliss” I feel I would have to disagree.
      When dwelling in ignorance, it is hard to know what really goes on--just like in some of the dystopian novels when some character  finds that their world is not as peaceful and perfect as it may originally seem. I feel like I can relate to those characters although when I started to find the imperfections in our world, I was much younger. Most of those characters are in their early to late “teens” when something starts to change, it’s either slow and steady or in some of these books it is like a cold bucket of water being splashed in their faces, right? Ignorance is something that should be limited, because with ignorance there can be stupidity or the appearance of not knowing anything about the world around you. This isn’t exactly good, especially if you are trying to debate a point when you only know a couple, small things about one side of the story.
      So how does this relate to how I see the world? It’s like what is mentioned above, preferring to surround myself with people that are different than me, because it’s like tuning a radio to get just the right station, only in this case, it’s trying to create a vision of the world that is the most accurate. I like being able to understand people which is hard to do without knowing their story. A lot of the time, people are quick to judge based off of a glimpse of a person, which is something I prefer to avoid. I believe you need the whole story before you even begin to think about judging which is again, easier said than done.
      I see the world as an oxymoron. The world itself is so huge but as everyone it always saying, it’s also a very small world. When looking or attempting to look through the eyes of another, people gain a sense of something that is beyond them. When I realized the way I could see through my eyes and have thoughts and move around the way I want to and that others were doing the same thing, it changed my perspective. I was no longer the only living thing, with a bunch of other “people” who seemed more like robots moving around solely to teach me and train me and talk to, but rather that every person I looked at was looking back at me, and whatever I was thinking, they could be thinking something similar or completely different. Now, everything someone else did made a sort of sense. Of course I couldn’t tell the exact meaning of others’ actions but now I could tell that there was a reason to anything and everything people did.
      I feel like I should now end this essay which if you have actually read the entirety of it, I applaud you because I don’t know if even I will be able to do that now. I would also like to thank you for following this almost stream of consciousness because that is my perspective. My perspective on the world is a stream of consciousness that ebbs and flows to places all over. My perspective is something ever moving, ever changing or evolving. Morphing into something to help me better understand the world. What is my story? I am different--and I appreciate that.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Day 3: My Opinion on the SRI and Lexile Scores

     I know as a student that finding books considered to be appropriate for a person's reading level can be hard for those in junior high and high school with a love of reading and usually a higher "Lexile score." Just taking the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) is a pain and then trying to find a book to correspond with whatever score you end up with? Forget it!
     I was recently told to find a book "on my level" which is difficult for any student when they get to the 1400's, 1500's, 1600's, and even higher. There aren't many books that score that high, let alone would interest middle or high school students. (If you don't believe me, go to and in the boxes that say "Lexile Min" and "Lexile Max" write 1500 to 1700 and start reading just the titles.)
      If by some chance you do happen to find a book "on your level" that might not have you snoozing within moments, it's not available anywhere near you and probably costs $25 or more (which isn't worth paying if you aren't even sure what you are paying for). I therefore think students should just be encouraged to read, not necessarily some book that a computer generated score thinks would be "appropriate" for them.

     Throughout this post, I will be referencing and quoting an article I found the other day while searching for a book on my Lexile level that was posted in 2012. I would recommend reading the whole article, because I am having a hard time not just pasting the whole thing here but first, that would take up way too much space and second, I feel like that may deter some people from wanting to read this post (which I understand, I have a tendency to skip paragraphs of anything I find boring and long to just find the point).
     Seriously. I even tried to just cut out the parts that don't apply as much and everything applies! So before you continue reading (unless you want to read it without context), please read the article found at the link below.

     This article is written by an author, Mike Mullin, approached by the mother of a sixth grade girl whose school was requiring the students to find books "on their level." Through research, he found that his book had a marginally higher Lexile score than that of Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. This author says,
     "Is my work more difficult, more sophisticated, or more appropriate for older readers than that of Mr. Hemingway, a Nobel Laureate in literature? Of course not! Think about it: If this poor student stays in her school system, she'll NEVER be allowed to read A Farewell to Arms. It's allegedly too easy for her." 

     The point that I agree with the most in this article is when the author says, 
"There's a bigger problem: the Lexile system punishes good writing and rewards bad writing. I'll illustrate this point with an example. Here's the first sentence of... a book with a Lexile of 1650:
'ON the theory that our genuine impulses may be connected with our childish experiences, that one's bent may be tracked back to that 'No-Man's Land' where character is formless but nevertheless settling into definite lines of future development, I begin this record with some impressions of my childhood.'
"Forty-eight words that can be replaced by three with no loss of  meaning: 'My childhood was.' This is a truly awful opening, whatever your opinion of the overall work."

     There are a couple reasons I have heard that slightly validate the use of a Lexile score, such as that if you read harder things that push you, you can become a better writer. If this was really the case, then I wouldn't be a very good writer since most of the books I read every day are books with a score half of what my "reading level" is according to the Lexile system. I feel that you can become a better writer as long as you are reading. If you are reading regularly then you are getting exposure to at least a couple different styles of writing (and if not, then you need to expand your horizons just a little bit). Those writing styles, if carefully observed and examined can help you with what you endeavor to write.
     I would like to end this post by quoting Mike Mullin one more time.
     "Good writing is simple. The best writers never use two words where one will do, and they choose their words with precision. But the Lexile system rewards complexity and obscurity by assigning higher Lexile scores for works with longer sentences and longer words. In short, students forced to use the Lexile system in their reading are being taught to be bad writers. And some are likely being forced into books that will turn them off to reading...
     "Let your child pick books the way you do--based on interest and need. Ask your school to dump the Lexile system. The last thing we need is an expensive program that makes the great work parents, teachers and librarians do--educating our children--more difficult."

Mullin, Mike. How the Lexile system harms students. 21 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.

I would also like to acknowledge that this post ended up being way longer than I initially anticipated, but just remember that the length of this is without pasting the whole article by Mike Mullin. I apologize. Kind of--but not really. 

Thanks for reading my post about Lexile scores.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Day 2: What's in a Name?

     According to one website: "The name 'Alyssa' is of Greek origin, and it means 'Rational.' It's a name commonly given to girls." Some places also say that "Alyssa" could have been a variation of "alyssum" which is a small, usually white flower. Other places it also mentions that this name is an Anglo-Saxon name.
     Going to the first meaning of "Alyssa" listed, I've never seen this particular meaning for my name but as I was talking to one of my friends while writing this, she agrees that this is a fairly true statement for me. I am good at acting rationally (most of the time), and have a tendency to question what people say, to argue, and to debate. 

     According to, the name "Hansen" is, "Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, and North German: patronymic from the personal name Hans." Basically, children take their father's names as their last name with the suffix "-sen" or "-datter" depending on whether they are a boy or girl. For me, my last name is Danish.
     Most of my ancestors are Danish or English, however I have ancestors from all over Europe. On my dad's side, the first to come to America were my great-great-great-great-great grandparents (that is five "great" grandparents if you didn't care to count), Hans Jørgensen and his wife, Maren Pedersdatter. Hans' son, Niels, was the one to adopt the patronym and as the custom in Denmark of passing names isn't traditional in the U.S., it has been "Hansen" ever since. 

     I know that my five-times-great grandparents came to the United States for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A church that I personally believe in with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I am grateful for my grandma on my mom's side, who is a convert to the church, because without her, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I am also grateful for all my ancestors on my dad's side that stuck with it and didn't fall away from this gospel which has so greatly impacted my life. And no, I am not just saying that, "because that's what I am supposed to do." I am a Mormon. "I know it. I live it. I love it," (Ann M Dibb). I am willing to stand alone in my beliefs, if that is what it comes to.

     I know that the subject of this post has morphed into more of my religious views, but I honestly don't care, since this is supposed to be post about me, and being a Mormon or LDS is a huge part of who I am. I would rather just have it out there during the start of this blog, rather than keep it hidden. I also know that there are many people with differing views and opinions; to them I say, "to each their own!"