Top Eleven Traits of a Good Teacher

By National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz and national inservice presenter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

For car family vehicle reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

“Some say that my teaching is nonsense. Others call it lofty but impractical. But to those who have looked inside themselves, this nonsense makes perfect sense. And to those who put it into practice, this loftiness has roots that go deep. “

Lao-Tzu,

First, there is no hard and fast list that tells you who is a good teacher or who is not a good teacher. However, there are traits that excellent teachers have in common. These are not the usual qualities such as being a good friend, or have a nice personality. These are what researchers from around the world have found when they watched those teachers whose students excelled once they left that teacher’s classroom. Of course, not every teacher is going to be a skillful teacher for every child and a child spends only about eight percent of the year in school which means that regardless of the quality of teacher a supportive home environment is essential to excellent learning.

Be unsatisfied

The first trait of a high-quality teacher is that he or she is a good learner. They are always eager to learn new things, expand their knowledge base, experiment with better ways to achieve success. They are life long learners and they produce life long learners. So, the first trait is to be unsatisfied with what is. In other words, the best teacher is always a student.

High expectations

High expectations are the second trait of outstanding teachers. I once had a principal who said that having high expectations created failure. In other words, the principal did not want to set high goals for fear of having parent complaints. In reality, setting high standards brings out the best in students and creates in them a feeling of accomplishment. They become self-reliant, learn to delay gratification, and fit more readily into adulthood where competition is inevitable. High standards are not impossible standards. Setting high expectations may require making the student uncomfortable, much like taking the training wheels off a bicycle. In other words, good teachers encourage risk taking and accept errors.

Create indepedencyThirdly, highly effective educators are adept at monitoring student problems and progress. They remediate when necessary and differentiate as needed. To do this they use their time well. They are not the center of the classroom. The students are encouraged to look for help and answers on their own. They are passionate about not teaching, but facilitating learning. As such, they are promoting their own obsolescence. Just as a fine manager has a team in place that can operate well without him or her, a good teacher creates in a student a sense of self that lasts a lifetime. They promote a deeper understanding or concepts and work habits than just learning the curriculum suggests. In other words, they create independency.

Knowledgable

Fourth, they possess a deep knowledge of the subject matter and are able to manipulate, simplify, and individualize this data more easily because they are a master of it. To gain this they are not just hard workers, but have a passion for the subject. They are able to empathize with students who might not like that subject and turn that lack of enthusiasm around by presenting the facts from a different angle. In other words, their bumper sticker reads, “ This teacher stops for new ideas.”

Humor

Fifth, first-class teachers have a good sense of humor. They make jokes and accept jokes. They are not comedians, but they are entertaining. They tell stories, point out silly things, bring joy to difficult situations, and are not afraid of laughter. They use humor to connect to their students. In other words, excellent teachers keep the students’ attention without fear.

Insightful

The sixth trait is to provide quick and accurate assessment of student work. Tests and other projects are evaluated in a timely manner. The student work may not be filled with red marks or gold stars, but it is returned with the understanding of what was right and what could be improved. Without constant evaluation a learning child cannot make the progress of a student who is guided. A helpful teacher does not discourage original thinking, but it must be proven. At all times, the best educator is looking for the student’s reasoning rather than the answer. In other words, student assessment is a teacher’s assessment and provides ideas of what changes need to be made for both of them to improve because they are insightful.

Flexibility

Seventh, the best teachers use the community as their resource. They see education as more than what is done in the classroom. They belong to civic groups, participate in organizations, and use their contacts to enhance student learning. For example, they bring in guest speakers, seek donations from the community as needs arise, and allow their students to display their work for the citizenry to critique and enjoy. They use technology as an extension of the community and find new resources to make their lessons more attractive. They use a newspaper and current events to open a child’s mind to what is happening in the world and at all times they search for a teachable moment. That is any instance where a child expresses an interest in something that could be used to stimulate their learning. This includes both negative and positive items and is the main reason that lesson plans are never mentioned as a trait of good teaching because superior teachers abandon them to follow more encouraging leads. This is why educators and education is so misunderstood by those who feel that children are cans of soup, all alike and open ready for knowledge to be poured in and sealed. Excellent teachers encourage student input and use the community to make for more invigorating teaching. In other words, a quality instructor is a master of flexibility.

Diverse

Eighth, a first-rate teacher provides an array of methods to learn. They integrate the lessons among several subjects, they have research papers, artwork, poetry, and even physical education as part of the learning process. For example, when a child is studying an explorer the teacher shows them how many miles per hour they walk, how to create a graph of the calories they would need, make a map of the trip with legend, write a journal of what they saw, draw pictures of the flora and fauna, and make a presentation of what the student felt was the best and worst part of the discovery. In other words, the proficient educator offers children a diverse array of avenues to pursue excellence.

Unaccepting

Ninth, a quality teacher is unaccepting. They do not accept pat answers. They do not accept first drafts. They do not accept false excuses. They are not the easiest teachers because of this trait. The rationale for this trait was the need for a child to be educated. Education is in essence the disciplining of the mind. A student who knows the rules knows what to expect and knows what is right. The best teachers are those that have standards that are appropriate and that build good habits. In other words, a superior teacher understands what a child needs now and in the future.

Unconforming

The tenth, and perhaps most interesting traits, is that a quality teacher keeps the children off balance. The student is not bored, but challenged. When a child who has a skillful teacher comes home they talk about what they did in class. They are riled up, they are motivated, and they know they need to be ready for the unexpected. A high-quality teacher can be dressed up in an outfit, show a video, take them to the library, have them work on a project, create lessons for one another, work on a computer, proofread a classmate’s work, and invent a game to play at recess all before noon. One day is seldom like the next. There is continuity, but diversity is everywhere.

A communicator

What is of note is that not one research paper or comment said that a trait of good quality teachers were their bulletin boards, tidy rooms, easy grades, ability to write neatly, or dress well. All the traits dealt with the ability to trigger learning and that is the most important trait of all, the ability to communicate. Number 11

Below are traits of good teachers as expressed by young people around the world from UNESCO.

From Indonesia

A great teacher smiles to his/her pupils even when they screw him up.

A good teacher shows the whole wide world to the students.

From India

One who help his students in all respects. He makes his students able to live better life. He teaches students to take decisions in all the conditions.

From Croatia

A really good teacher should be child in his soul…

From Ireland

It is fundamental that a teacher cares about humanity in general.

From Chile

A good teacher is someone who can learn from his students, who can learn with them, and for them.

From Egypt

To win their confidence should be the teacher’s first aim – though strictness has to be in its place.

From Germany

A good teacher, of course, has to be humorous… a teacher has to enjoy what she does!

Has to remember how it was when he/she was a child

Pakistan

A guide…

A real friend is someone who knows all about you and still he loves you. A good teacher is a good friend.

Good teaching is keeping yourself in the shoes of your students.

Malaysia

One who doesn’t ‘teach’ but instead is willing to ‘learn’ with the child and from the child.

From Mexico

The teacher is to the students what the rain is to the field.

From Chad

A good teacher should answer all questions, even if they are stupid.

From Jamaica

To become a good teacher, you not only teach the children but you also have to learn from them.

From Nigeria

A good teacher must be prepared to be foolish if that will help his pupil attain wisdom.

“If you are not learning, you are dying.”
Albert Einstein

10 Crucial Errors: A Retired Teacher’s Guide for Retiring Teachers
by Alan Haskvitz, retired

I am not a financial expert or psychologist. What I am is a retired teacher and so the information that I am presenting is advice that I have learned from the often times wondrous and sometimes daunting task of retiring from a profession that, until recently, was my life.

Do Not Look Back

The first rule is do not lament. Yes, you may miss the students and the identity, but saying to yourself I could go one more year solves nothing. When someone asks what you do take pride in telling them you are retired. It is a noble task. You have done your best and time to take a brief rest. A brief rest. And, by the way, you are not alone. Every year there are about 75,000 teachers retiring for one reason or another. To help you avoid living in the past, you should take all those letters from students, awards, photos, and the like and give yourself one day a year to look them over. Just one day. After a few years it won’t take that long.

However, all those lesson plans you have created could be worth gold. There are sites where you can offer them for sale such as http://teacherlingo.com/. Here is an article on how to do it https://edsource.org/2015/teachers-become-entrepreneurs-by-selling-classroom-materials-online/86500

Every time you go by a school you may look at and wonder if they need help. The answer is probably yes. However, be aware that you are no longer going to be in charge of the situation and you may not like what you see. So, if you have time consider volunteering there are several sites that offer such opportunities, but I have found that those in need of tutoring are usually the most rewarding based on my skills.

So, to summarize, living in the past is a hobby that does not bode well for your future. You were a good teacher and had a long run, now is the time to capitalize on your investment in education and spend some time developing new interests and refilling your bucket list.

Build a New Life

That leads us to the second rule, your social life. Females don’t seem to have as much of a problem as males in making new friends, but regardless it is best to start cultivating new acquaintances. Expanding your social realm helps you gain new insights into what is happening and new opportunities to share. I participate in the Senior Olympics program that is offered in most states. You can participate in a variety of sports and doing so helps you meet new people and set fresh goals. No matter how uncoordinated you are or how long is has been since you have been in a sporting activity, here is your chance. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Read the newspaper looking for new clubs or social events. Go to city council meetings and look into becoming involved in organizations. These can result in opportunities to meet others. There may even be retired teacher groups in your area. There are senior centers in most communities where you can meet and greet a variety of people as well as participate in activities. The point is your social life is important because it provides you with an outlet, a place to learn and share, that keeps you in balance and provides that push you may need to get off the couch and away from the television. The most dangerous thing you can do is to become withdrawn and spend too much time thinking of what was instead of what could be. Remember that a successful retirement requires two main ingredients, patience and the desire to develop new habits knowing it takes 66 days to change a habit.

Ban the Nap

The third rule is your health. Go to a doctor and get a complete physical. Ask the doctor what you can do to improve your health and abide by that advise. I have high blood pressure. I joined a running club and found my blood pressure was back to normal after just a few months of walking and jogging. Do I run, barely, but I enter the frequent 5K runs knowing I can write-off the entry fee on my taxes. I am not competitive, but I set a goal for myself and try to get better little by very little. And, you don’t have to run. You can walk in these events and some even allow you to take a well behaved dog There are friends to be made and your health is going to improve if you pace yourself. Another item to be aware of is eating too much. While at school you had to eat when the students did. Now you can raid the refrigerator whenever you want. The result can be bad for your wardrobe and health. Set yourself some goals about what you are going to eat. I have found that a walk around the block or longer is excellent after eating. Perhaps the most dangerous thing you can do for your health, outside of eating too much, is watching television or spending too much time in front of a computer. Sitting too long can even contribute to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. So keep a record of when you started working on a computer or watching television and when you stopped. You are probably going to be shocked at how easy it is to waste away hours without challenging yourself.

Another aspect of health is your health coverage. Make a list of any medications you need and take it to the pharmacy. Ask them what company offers the best coverage for those drugs. By the way, remembering to take your drugs can be a real problem. I would buy one of those plastic containers with each day of the week on individual compartments and put your daily doses in them every Sunday. It is so easy to get busy and forget them and this method helps contradict that concern. Match that with your medical conditions and you can have a better way to shop the various health plans. Some medical plans also offer free health club memberships. Take it. Another important element of health care is too keep track of your body. Keep a log of your weight and check for new skin moles that might be cancerous. If you are brave, try doing the Five Tibetans. This is a series of exercises you can do every day that limber up your body. However, they aren’t easy so at first instead of doing the recommended 21 try just doing a couple.

Take a hard look at the weight scale. As you get older it becomes much harder to control your weight. There are two ways to lose weight. First, eat better and, secondly, exercise more. The first is totally a personal choice and may require some sacrifices such as your favorite ice cream. The exercise part is the hardest because it means you have to do something whereas eating less is not doing something.

With your doctor’s permission consider taking vitamins. Vitamin B12 is important for creating red blood cells and DNA, and for maintaining healthy nerve function. Also check your intake of calcium vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and omega-3 fats. There is evidence that omega-3s may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and keeps the brain sharper.

Water is literally life. My wife is always telling me to hydrate. Constipated, hydrate. Dizzy, hydrate. Dehydration can cause a headache, dryness in the mouth, lips, tongue, and skin, fatigue, dark urine confusion, and chest pain. It helps regulate your body temperature, improves providing organs with sufficient oxygen, and bone and joint lubrication. It also affects the balance of electrolytes, vitamins and minerals are essential for the body to function, including brain signaling. Dehydration can cause both internal and external aging especially in the condition of your skin. So drink water frequently and make sure to tell my wife she is right.
Finally, work on your balance. Here are some statistics that should get your attention from the National Council on Aging: One-fourth of Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/

You should dedicate five to ten minutes every day on balance exercises. They can be as easy as you want, but they need to be tried with your doctor’s permission. Here are some examples, stand on one foot for ten seconds and switch to other foot. You can hold on to a chair if you wish. Walk heel to toe for several steps. Raise one leg towards the back and see if you can hold this position for a few seconds. Always use a chair to hold onto when you are just getting the hang of it. You can also raise your leg to the side or back. Slow and steady is the key. As you get better you can invent ways to improve your balance such as walking on a plank. Of note, vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to increased risk of falling.

Fight Forgetfulness

The fourth area to improve is your scheduling. All that time you used to work needs to be accounted for in a positive way. You need to keep a calendar of events and make sure there is something recorded every day for you to do. It can be as simple as walking the dog, washing the car, going to the library, shopping, or even writing letters. Now scheduling requires due diligence so don’t just write it down, do it. And, spending time on social media is not a scheduling inclusion. Scheduling is not keeping a diary, that is past tense. You want to be pushing forward in your planing and thinking. For example, tomorrow is Monday. What do I have planned. Nothing. Well, what could I do? Organize the photo books, weed the flower bed, wash the windows, write letters to the children, make a list of local organizations where I could donate my old books? Something often forgotten in scheduling is to take time every day to ponder, think, let your mind wander. Make it a habit. Just do it.
Take the time to write
The fifth area to work on is writing. It cost nothing to start a blog and they are easy to start and update. You can use a blog to post your thoughts, add photos, and create. We all have funny stories about incidents we survived while teaching and you can put them in writing. Make time daily or weekly to add something. It could be a poem, or your thoughts on investing, or a joke you heard or made up. Write a book about the story of your life and add to it on a regular basis. Regardless, writing is very therapeutic for your mind. In order to write you have to observe, restate what you are thinking, select the words that you want to use to communicate, and finally, after the work is written, to evaluate it. Here is a free site that I use: https://wordpress.com/ Above all don’t say you can’t do it. Remember that you may be helping others as well as yourself by sharing.

Let Your Mind Loose
The fifth area, and probably the most overlooked, is to work on your fantasies. I am not writing about those fantasies, but possible ones. Fantasies are important to the growing mind and provides you room to roam and let your thinking loose on the universe. Spending a dollar on a lottery ticket is essentially money thrown away from a practical standpoint. But in the days or weeks before the numbers are released you can spend hours of time planning how the money is to be used. As well, go to the library and read magazines that feature travel or science, or whatever. The point is it keeps your mind active and leads to the one item that every retiree should have, a bucket list. This acculturation of dreams and wants and perhaps a need or two can constantly be updated. The list does not have to make sense, it could include being the first person on Mars. Who knows when NASA is going to look for a well educated older person to help a young team solve problems.

Organize your affairs
The sixth area is legal in nature. If you don’t have a trust create one now. It will help your survivors when you die, prevent legal and financial headaches, and you can even do it yourself. This is a site that explains why and how it can be done. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/making-living-trust-yourself-29736.html While you are working in the legal area you might want to take a look at how your investments, if any, are doing. I am not going to spend a lot of time on this basically because I don’t know a hill of beans about it. Here is what I know. I have a pension and a small 401k and a saving account. I am making zilch on the savings, not much on the 401k, and the pension is static and thus fixed so if inflation rises I am a sitting duck. I am sure others know more, but I can offer you one suggestion, don’t let this area go without tending to it on a regular basis. Ask questions, search for better rates, and try to have enough for emergencies. Emergencies are real and expensive and can remove you from a life of leisure to one fraught with constant worry. You must have a good health insurance plan. Period. If you are young enough to qualify for a long term care plan that also would be advisable. But beware that these plans are very limited so you may need help. Here is a good site for that data: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/08/long-term-care-insurance/index.htm
If you are too old or do not qualify for this insurance, I highly advocate you start a saving or other type of account to cover assisted living costs for at least a year between in excess of $40,000 and nursing home care is about $75,000 a year. You might want to examine all your insurance policies and see if they cover what you want. The rates might have even gone down so check it out and get the policies organized.
Polish Your Knowledge
The seventh area is to become an expert at something. If you have enough room plant some milk weed plants and watch the Monarch butterflies appear as they journey from Mexico and back taking five generations to make the trip. Or start a vegetable garden even if you have to use large patio type containers. Learn about astronomy and buy a telescope or become an expert on geology. There are countless areas that you can study and, in doing so, strengthen your mind and body. I recommend auditing college classes in various subjects to expand your knowledge base. Online cases are another way to acquire new knowledge.
Simplify
The eighth area to consider is downsizing. Selling your house for a smaller one or condo or even moving into an apartment are considerations. However, most retirees are comfortable where they are especially if they have a one story home. Besides why move from what you know? There are also tax considerations if you own an expensive home and move to a less costly one you may need to pay a gains tax. There are a great many lists of what states have better tax advantages for retired people. However, if you are on a teachers retirement plan and, perhaps, Social Security, you may not find the saving enough of a motivation to move. While downsizing also consider your accumulated clutter. Many charitable groups can take that outfit you have owned for three decades and sell it to someone who actually feels it is stylish. The same goes for those student gifts and left over dog toys. Walk around your home and if you have not used something in a year make a decision as to whether to hold a garage or yard sale or get the tax deduction receipt for the donation. Something that is often forgotten when moving is to look for a place where the sun can shine in the windows or at least make it easy for you to go out into the sun. Research has shown that vitamin D, made when your skin is exposed to sunlight, plays a role in activating white blood cells and help protect you from flu, food poisoning and even cancer.
Expand your vision
The ninth area is travel. You may consider retirement as your time to see the world, or at least get those good off-season rates. Be warned that traveling may not be as glamorous as it seemed on a rainy day in the classroom. For example, if you are taking a tour that means you may be with people you just do not like. So what I recommend is what Larry Martz in his book, Making Schools Better, coined; the small bites approach. Start small. A day or week long trip and see how that goes. However, whatever you do don’t write off traveling. It is stretching your mind making you figure out everything from exchange rates to communicating in a different language to remembering where you are going on how to get back. If you enjoy driving and have the funds, you may want to check out a later model car that features a great many safety items such as blind spot warnings, automatic emergency autonomous braking, stability control, even adaptive cruise control. All these updates can save your life and those of others. Seniors have the highest death rate in vehicle accidents outside of teenagers so consider a safer car a good investment regardless of its residual rate. Here is the site with great reviews: https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/
A final area to help you with retirement is to reconstruct your work space. Take an inventory of what you have, what you want to keep, and what might be discarded or donated. Give your work area a fresh look and you can always do some research on Feng Shui decorating to give it more energy. Perhaps a new plant or reworking your file cabinets could be a start. You may also want to take an inventory of what is in each room of your dwelling including a garage if one available. Taking pictures or a video of the items would help as well. Replacing fire alarms, lubricating hinges and locks are all jobs that can help you assess what you have, need, and could sell or donate.
In conclusion, you want to avoid becoming lazy. Thinking, “I did my time, now I can relax, “is okay for a day or two, but what about the coming years? Take control of your free time and use it to your advantage. You do not want to be a would have, could have, should have type of retiree.

What would the person you were think about the person you are now.
As a 75-year-old retired educator I have a life expectancy of about 10 more years and women have close to 13 more years of life on average. With that in mind your motto and mine from here on in should be that retirement isn’t how long you live, but how well you live.
About the author: Alan Haskvitz is a National Hall of Fame educator who has received over 30 state, national and international teaching awards including being selected as a Reader’s Digest Hero in Education. Haskvitz worked in education for 45 years and is now a writer, athlete, and speaker.

Mazda’s CX-9: Seating for Seven
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Mazda, perhaps most renowned for building smaller, agile vehicles, is starting to expand its appeal by offering a new flagship, the seven passenger CX-9. The result is encouraging for SUV buyers as it combines a refined interior, good fuel mileage, and an abundance of safety features. Perhaps the most notable feature is that this well loaded, family oriented vehicle places the emphasis on utility and enhances it with the interior of a luxury vehicle. In fact, if you opt for the Signature edition no one is ever going to know you are not driving around in an upscale European model.

cx9_014-1

Adding to the uniqueness of the CX-9 is the fact it has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine while most competitors offer a six cylinder alternative. Don’t fret, the Mazda is plenty potent for two lane road passing or freeway merging thanks to its SkyActiv technology and smooth six-speed automatic transmission that keeps everything at peak efficiency. Even better our mpg average was 24 in mixed driving with 27 mpg on a quick trip to San Diego. As an aside, four cylinder engines are becoming the engine of choice as manufactures work to meet ever increasing environmental standards as such lxuru brands as Audi, Lexus, and Cadillac now offer these hard working units to consumers.

Mom’s view: If looks matter, Mazda is going to sell a lot of Mazda CX-9s and the good news is that the beauty of this SUV goes beyond appearances. You can get it with a full range of safety options including blind-spot monitoring, radar-based cruise control, and lane-departure warning that activate the adjustable collision-warning system and uses the automatic emergency braking system to avoid problems. The interior is splendid and feels scrumptious using real rose wood and aluminum accents as well as leather seats, and the exterior is snappy looking as well. This is not your typical SUV appliance. The ergonomics are easy to master and visibility is good, the automatic rear hatch gentle to use, and interior lighting is excellent. Even with the base Sport model you get three zone climate control, rear view camera, and seven-inch monitor with Mazda Connect, Bluetooth, and inputs. The CX-9 height helps eliminate worry when entering or leaving the vehicle and the ancillary controls on the steering wheel can be used easily even with long nails. It took me a while to get used to the accelerator’s need for a gentle touch as I am a bit of a lead foot, but once mastered it was pleasant to drive at any speed.

Dad’s view: The big news is how responsive the new 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is thanks to some creative engineering to combat turbo lag. Mazda uses three values in the intake manifold that can close to force more pressure into the system creating more power at low rpms. The engineers have also devised a better way to harvest gases from the exhaust to keep the turbo on task consistently. The result is an engine that thrives while producing 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque. The result is plenty of pep, even for mountain driving. You can order an optional all wheel drive, but it was standard on our Signature model. The ride was similar to a much more expensive luxury vehicle and acceleration to 60 mph took around eight second seconds. Touch the accelerator and the CX-9 is ready to play right now with no noticeable turbo lag to hamper its class leading mpg rating. Steering is a bit light, but perfect for tight parking spots, and the overall feel is of a much smaller, lighter on its feet, SUV especially when in sport mode. The CX-9 is impressive, especially when given its pricing and features.

Young working male’s view: There is plenty of standard equipment, but Mazda does offer some interesting options. My suggestion is to go for the loaded versions such as the Signature or Grand Touring models, which feature a power front seat, power liftgate, eight inch monitor, navigation, 12 speaker Bose system, heated front seats and all types of safety equipment. The dash has a variety of analog dials that work well, but when is the most startling is that one of them carries a color LCD screen that can display trip-computer information and a compass. The eight-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard was a long reach, but what I liked was the fact you didn’t have to use it to control functions as there was a large knob located near the console mounted gear shift that helped with imputing data. Mazda isn’t at the cutting edge of electronics, but its meat and potatoes approach should appease all but the most dedicated gadget break.

cx9-16-g-us-w1-011int

Young working woman’s view: There are several models of the CX-9 to choice from, but the Grand Touring and Signature are worth the extra cost because of the added features. Mazda’s price range is from just over $32,000 to around $45,000 so do your homework. Inside, the second row has ample room and the seats slide and are foldable so there is easy access to the third row of seats, which are best used for children. Cargo space varies from 14 cubic feet of space to 38 to 71 depending on which seats are folded down. I greatly love the Mazda 6 and find it better looking, better handling then the competition. The same goes for this Mazda.

Family conference: The Mazda CX-9 is enjoyable, useful, and well priced being a significant value over the more expensive seven seat models from Honda and Ford, among others. Just a fun family vehicle with a heaping helping of value over a topping of exceptional styling. It may not go Zoom Zoom so Mazda might change its theme to Room Room.

Fun Activities and Facts about the Presidential Inauguration
http://americanhistory.about.com/od/uspresidents/ss/inauguration.htm

Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama during the inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. First Lady Michelle Obama holds a Bible that belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Lincoln Bible, which was used at President ObamaÕs 2009 inaugural ceremony. Daughters Sasha and Malia stand with their parents.  (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama during the inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. First Lady Michelle Obama holds a Bible that belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Lincoln Bible, which was used at President ObamaÕs 2009 inaugural ceremony. Daughters Sasha and Malia stand with their parents. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

What is the Inauguration?
An Inauguration is a ceremony to mark the start of a new four-year term of as president of the United States of America.

What was the first Inauguration like?
George Washington’s day found out from Congress that he had won the presidency. He borrowed money to pay off his debts in Virginia and traveled to New York. On April 30, he came across the Hudson River in a specially built and decorated barge. This custom gave rise to Inaguruation floats that are now scene in the official parade. Washington’s inaugural ceremony was performed on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York. The president then went indoors to read Congress his inaugural address. The evening celebration was opened and closed by 13 skyrockets and 13 cannons being fired. Today that tradition continues with a 21 gun salute fired from artillery pieces.

Inauguration Day takes place on January 20 and the president’s term starts at noon after the Chief Justice administers the oath to the president. Inauguration Day was originally on March 4, four months after election day, but this was changed to noon on January 20 by the Twentieth Amendment in 1933
http://www.npr.org/series/169619067/inauguration-2013

Why is it important?
The United States of America is a Democratic Republic. That means that the voters elect someone to represent them. The elections determine who is the representatives, or, in the case of the Inauguration, who will lead the country’s Executive Branch. The Inauguration is important because it represents the peaceful transfer of power. It also is a way to celebrate the voter’s decision.

Who gives the Oath of Office?
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/01/21/second-inauguration-barack-obama

What is the Oath of Office?
I, , do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

What is the inaugural address?
Newly sworn-in presidents usually give a speech called the inaugural address. They can vary in length with George Washington’s being only 135 words and William Henry Harrison’s 8,495 words. (Later in this article and you can test the president’s address for grade level and compare them.)
What is the Inaugural Parade
The Inaugural Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue passes the presidential reviewing stand in front of the White House. The typical duration of the parade is about two hours and proceeds along the 1.5 miles of Pennsylvania Avenue in view of the presidential party. The president, vice-president, their respective families and members of the government and military review the parade from an enclosed stand at the edge of the North Lawn.
Where is it held?
The event is held at the Capitol’s western front in Washington DC.
https://www.aoc.gov/us-capitol-building

What does the word mean?
It is a French word meaning an installation or consecration. Essentially, it is a word that is meant to convey good omens.

What do other nations call their inaugurations?
If a country has a monarchy, which means the leader is not chosen by the people, but born into that position such as a king or queen, the ceremony is called a coronation. It is highlighted by a crown being placed on the head of the one being honored.
http://www.telegraph.co.ukph.co.uk/news/uknews/queen-elizabeth-II/10066234/Next-coronation-to-involve-other-faiths-besides-Christianity.html

Who is in the parade?
Both military and civilian participants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia are involved as well as bands and floats.
Chapter two
What is the Executive Branch?
The power of the Executive Branch is vested in the President of the United States, who also acts as head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The President is responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws and appoints the heads of the federal agencies and Cabinet. The Vice President is also part of the Executive Branch, ready to assume the Presidency should the need arise.
Why is the position important?

The President has the power either to sign legislation into law or to veto* bills enacted by Congress. The Executive Branch conducts diplomacy with other nations, and the President has the power to negotiate and sign treaties, which also must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. The President can issue executive orders, which direct executive officers or clarify and further existing laws. The President also has unlimited power to extend pardons (A person is forgiven of a crime) and clemencies (mercy to a convicted individual) for federal crimes, except in cases of impeachment.
*A veto means that president does not approve of the bill and it cannot become law unless the Senate and House can override the decision by a 2/3rds vote.

Qualifications of a President
The President must be 35 years of age, be a natural born citizen, and must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

Elected by Electoral College
The President is not, in fact, directly elected by the people. Instead, on the first Tuesday in November of every fourth year, the people elect the members of the Electoral College. Apportioned by population to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Electors then cast the votes for President. There are currently 538 electors in the Electoral College.

What is the Cabinet?
The Cabinet is an advisory body made up of the heads of the 15 executive departments. They are the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services,
Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development,
Department of the Interior, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, The Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs

Chapter Three
Strange Inauguration happenings.
In 1865, Andrew Johnson was ill with typhoid fever and took the medicine that impacted his speech as he bragged about his humble origins and his triumph over Confederate States. Despite the best efforts of those around him he refused to stop. It is called that “hungover speech.”

Ulysses S. Grant thought that canaries would add a festive touch to his inaugural ball in 1873, but the cold March temperatures caused a recorded 100 birds to freeze to death during Grant’s inauguration.

During Richard Nixon’s Inauguration Day parade hundred years later he wanted to make sure pigeons didn’t ruin his day. The Nixon had a chemical bird repellant sprayed all along the inaugural parade route. The result was dozens of dead pigeons along the route of the parade.

After Andrew Jackson’s inauguration he threw an epic party at the White House and is was crashed by drunken backers who broke windows, china, and damaged the drapes. To get them out of the White House the staff placed a tub of booze on the front yard.

When President Herbert Hoover was sworn in, the chief justice who administered the oath, William Howard Taft, apparently substituting the word “maintain” for “protect.” An eighth-grade girl named Helen Terwilliger caught the errors and sent Taft a note. He denied it, but the newsreels showed the young girl to be right.

Unusual facts
George Washington’s wife, Martha, did not make the trip to New York
Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
James Monroe was the first president to take the oath out-of-doors in Washington.
Martin Van Buren inaugural parade saw first use of floats.
Franklin Pierce stood up in his carriage during the parade and memorized his speech.
Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural was the first to have African-Americans participated in the inaugural parade.
Rutherford B. Hayes was the first president to take the oath of office in the White House.
William McKinley had his inaugural recorded on a movie camera.
Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural was the first time that women participated in the inaugural parade.
Harry S. Truman’s was the first inauguration to be televised.
Lyndon B. Johnson was first to use a bullet-proofed, closed limousine.
Richard M. Nixon only allowed people with special invitations to the ceremony to be admitted to the Capitol Grounds.
Jimmy Carter was first to make provisions for the handicapped to watch the parade.
Ronald Reagan had first closed-captioning of television broadcast for the hearing impaired.
William J. Clinton’s was the first ceremony broadcast live on the Internet.

Here are some Awesome Stories links to inaugurations.
https://www.awesomestories.com/search/full/inauguration

Fast facts about First Ladies at Inaugurations.
Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Elizabeth Monroe, and Anna Harrison were did not attend the inauguration.
Sarah Polk was present at the inauguration and attended the Inaugural Ball, but the ball was stopped in deference to her religious beliefs.
IJane Pierce did not attend because was upset that her husband lied to her about running for president.
Mary Lincoln was in attendance and is said to have danced with her husband’s opponent, Stephen Douglas at the Inaugural Ball.
Julia Grant attended.
Lucy Hayes was at the Inauguration.
Crete Garfield was there and made a statement that was startling as she proclaimed how super human her husband looked only to have him die a few months later.
Grover Cleveland was a bachelor at the time. A year later the 49-year-old president married a woman 28 years younger. When Cleveland lost the election she vowed to return, and she did four years later.
Carrie Harrison was there.
Ida McKinley was witnessed the swearing in of her husband but fell ill at the Inaugural Ball.
Edith Roosevelt watching Theodore’s swearing-in ceremonies.
Nellie Taft was there for William’s inauguration.
Ellen Wilson was in attendance, but when she died Woodrow remarried and his wife, Edith, attended his second inauguration.
Florence Harding was very active in the Inaugural.
Grace Coolidge not only witnessed the ceremony, but talked with Nellie Ross, the nation’s first woman Governor.
Lou Hoover was late to the ceremony.
Eleanor watched her husband take the oath of office four times.
Bess Truman was there and hosted the first integrated inaugural ball.
Mamie Eisenhower was there and was kissed by her husband.
What is called the “First Lady” Inauguration was done so because first ladies and future first lades were in attendance such as: Edith Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford.
Lady Bird Johnson was there and held a Bible while her husband took the oath of office.
Pat Nixon was there but was forced to sit down as protesters threw rocks. This happened at both inaugurations. Richard Nixon later became the first president to resign after the Watergate affair became public. He was replaced by Vice President Gerald Ford and there wasn’t an inauguration.
Rosalynn was there. With her husband, Jimmy Carter they got of of the chauffeured cars and walked during the parade.
Nancy Reagan was there dress in very expensive clothes and watched her husband, Ronald, take the oath on the west side of the Capitol. During his second inauguration she was wearing an outfit estimated to cost over $40,000. The event was held in the Capitol Rotunda due to freezing weather.
Barbara Bush was there both times and walked back to the White House.
Hillary Clinton was there and walked back to the White House with her husband, William Jefferson Clinton.
Laura Bush was there both times her husband took the oath.
Michelle Obama was there both times her husband, Barrack Obama took the oath of office.
For more information read First Ladies by Carl Sferrazza Anthony
http://parpro.zweb.com/Inauguration.html

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Here is a lesson plan for your school
Making School l Elections Meaningful: A Relevant Civics Lesson
by National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz
http://articles.latimes.com/keyword/alan-haskvitz/featured/1
Almost every school has school or class elections with the idea of sharing the true nature of a democracy where everyone can vote. Usually those students who want to run create posters, give a speech, and come election day the results are tabulated and the winner announced. What I would suggest is to consider making it more representative teachable moment.
The Campaign
First, every one who wishes to run for office must meet certain requirements such as a 2.0 GPA. When the person signs-up to vote they are given an agreed upon number of poster paper and they are numbered and signed. They are accompanied by a list of where they can be placed and proper etiquette. In that way all the participants have an equal chance. There can also be interviews in the school newspaper, using the public address system for a fixed number of ads, and a speech that can video tapped to play on the school system, if it is enabled. The whole idea is to make the election fair and to promote creativity within set bounds.
Election Day
The next step takes place before the voting. Students line-up at registration tables where the school attendance folders are duplicated. Students sign by their name and are give a ballot. They have a day to consider the person they wish to vote for and the ballots are cast the following day. This means that some students who don’t care simply can’t vote because they didn’t take the time to register.
The Vote
After the election there is a registration process in which every student who wants to vote registers to vote and receives a ballot.
Integrating the Lesson
I also recommend having an art competition for the best campaign poster and one for the best slogan. The competition could even include the best campaign song. A panel could do the judging, teachers, or it could be on the ballot. In this way the election becomes more interesting to the students and gets them more involved. This site provides information on what is called the “youth vote.” It makes interesting reading, but it also provides more evidence to support educators who use voting as a teaching tool. Have students reach conclusions from this data:

25 Facts About the Youth Vote This Year


Of course, integrating civics is a given. Here are some recommended websites that have good lessons to accomplish that goal:
National Student/Parent Mock Election
The best site to get involved.
http://www.nationalmockelection.org/
iCivics lessons
You can register, but it isn’t required. Some lessons are interactive.
https://www.icivics.org/teachers/lesson-plans/mock-election
Scholastic
Lessons by grade level
http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/unit/elections-everything-you-need
For federal elections
http://www.educationworld.com/a_special/election.shtml
Types of propaganda. It is important for students to understand how propaganda is used to influence them in elections and elsewhere.
Print out
http://shepherdenglish.pbworks.com/f/AdvertisementAssignment.pdf
An exceptional source of Constitutional related materials
A great newsletter, lots of lessons, and a knowledgeable staff.
http://www.crf-usa.org/bill-of-rights-in-action/

Fiat’s Playful Pair
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

When you think Italian you think chic, voguish, trendy and all those words rightly describe Fiat’s retro styled vehicles, including the station-wagonish L and the cuddly C convertible models. Both are loaded with a plethora of goodies to entice those searching for value and utility. We tested the Fiat L Trekking and Fiat C convertible and found them fun and frugal. Base prices start in the teens and low $20,000 range. Add to that good safety scores and exceptional fuel mileage and you have vehicles that just don’t appeal to the daring, but to those who looking to make a change from the same old to the playful new.

Fiat offers a plethora of other model as well with the daddy sized, SUVish X, zippy Abarth 500, battery powered E model, and new 124 Spyder. All of them have a few things in common besides being cute and that is a vibrant color palette and playful attitude.

Mom’s view: The Fiat L’s interior design is excellent with ancillary controls on the steering wheel and air, heat and radio controls where you can easily reach them. The standard five-inch monitor does not bleach out when the sun shines in as happens in most of the competition. Everything is easy to use, although the emergency brake location is difficult to reach when wearing a bracelet unless the slim center console is raised. The L has a heavy rear hatch and opens very high so be warned, especially if you are wearing a short dress. The side doors swing wide and you simply slide into the comfortable seats. Attaching a child’s seat is easy thanks the height of the L. Outward visibility in all directions is unmatched in the L. The dual glove boxes are handy and the rear seats are cleverly positioned even higher than the fronts. Fiat states that there are over 1000 possible seating combinations, including sliding the front passenger side forward to be used as a picnic table, and over 20 cubbyholes for storage. You really have to spend some time in one to appreciate its usefulness.

2016 Fiat 500L

2016 Fiat 500L

Dad’s view: Fiat’s C is one of the most fun cars you can have for trips to the mountains or sea-shore thanks to its nifty handling, spunky driveability, and feisty attitude. It is perfect for wamt the benefit of an easy to park vehicle, over 30 mpg, and the ability to go topless in seconds. If it rains, it could happen, the top is a snap to raise. The C handles like a go-cart with good brakes and sharp, if a bit heavy, steering. A manual transmission is available, but we much prefer the new six-speed automatic when coupled to the base 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with its 101 horsepower. There is also a 135 horsepower Turbo model.

Our L Trekking had a MultiAir turbocharged inline-4 providing 160 horsepower with an mpg overall rating of 25. Passing and on-ramps were no problem, but there is torque steer evident when accelerating hard from a stop, and the engine can sound gruff when pushed. The L isn’t a slouch, but Fiat really designed it for transporting the family. The rear seats can recline, there is an optional large sunroof that covers both front and rear passengers, and 22.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and 68 cubic feet with them folded. Interior space is nearly identical with a Ford Escape. I enjoyed the L. It grew on me because it was so maneuverable and handy thanks to the Koni suspension components. However, I recommend you test the Fiat X with its all wheel drive capabilities and similar dimensions and stick with the convertible if you are a fashionista.

Young male’s view: The front-wheel-drive Fiat 500 C has a cute rump and comes in several flavors based on your option selections. They are babe magnets and economical as well. However, there isn’t much interior space. For that you need the L. Either way, Fiat offers a standard Uconnect infotainment system with a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity. You can connect your phone to the system and reply to texts using voice commands. The fonts are easy to see and the system works as well as those on a Mercedes. The L offers a Beats audio system that I recommend. Other options include automatic climate control, rearview camera, rear parking sensors and 6.5-inch touch screen. My choice is the 500 C, but if you want something more wicked get the 500 Abarth.

2016 Fiat 500c Pop (left) with 1962 Fiat 500 (center) and 2016 Fiat 500c Lounge (right)

2016 Fiat 500c Pop (left) with 1962 Fiat 500 (center) and 2016 Fiat 500c Lounge (right)

Young working woman’s viewpoint: Fiat is for those brave enough to leave the safety of same-old for the challenges of change. To that end Fiat has priced their vehicles very aggressively. To assuage quality worries, Fiat Chrysler of America offers a 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with roadside assistance and a 3-year/36,000-mile no-cost maintenance package. There are a variety of C models from the more basic Pop to the loaded Lounge. The L comes in several flavors as well with the Pop, Easy, Trekking, Urbana, and Lounge each adding new levels of considerations. Standard safety features include seven airbags and more, but be warned, ladies, that getting in and out of the C takes modesty practice.

Family conference: Fiats are unique and may not appeal to everyone, but they do offer consumers the safety of a good warranty, friendly ergonomics, and some exceptional lease deals and incentives. There is also an extensive option list to make them easy to individualize. Fiat also offers through its website a Mix and Mingle program that brings users together. In essence, owners have made Fiat a life-style choice and well worth a look for those seeking a little Italian to call their own. Ciao.

Mazda 6 : Not Just Another Pretty Face

by The Car Family
for more car reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Overlooked, underestimated, and undervalued, the Mazda 6 is not only a bargain, but an exceptional family fun sedan with a frisky disposition, above average fuel economy, and a responsive engine. If you enjoy driving and still have frugal family obligations the Mazda is a must drive. For example, if you opt for its i-Eloop system you can get over 30 miles per gallon, and this isn’t a hybrid. And you don’t sacrifice quickness either as the 6 is energetic, maneuverable, and nimble. The steering is excellent as are the brakes. The downside of the Mazda 6 is two-fold. First, the ride can be a bit rough for roads that have been deprived of taxpayer funding. Secondly, the competition is staggering. There are the Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy, Kia Optima, and Toyota Camry tugging at the buyer’s dollars. However, none of them are as fun to drive as the Mazda, although each has its own attributes that make this segment of the market a treasure trove of choices for buyers.

2016_Mazda6_-57

Mom’s view: Finally, a sporty looking family car. The Mazda 6 comes in three flavors, Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. We tested the premium packed Grand Touring. Standard safety features included anti lock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat and side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Our test car also came with a rearview camera, parking sensors and blind spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring.

The 6 also had Mazda’s frontal collision mitigation system with forward collision warning system. Crash test scores were good as well. I feel saddened that this Mazda is overlooked by so many. It does everything well and yet feel people even know what a “6” is. Perhaps Mazda should consider going back to naming their vehicles instead of giving them numbers to help people identify. Everyone knows what a Miata is, but a MX-5 even though it is the same car? Different vibe. The interior is functional, but not without much charm. The aluminum trim pieces are well placed and the 7-inch screen on our test car was easy to read and use. The touchscreen has a knob controlled on the center console that helps with interactions, but it takes time to master. The trunk is ample with a fairly low lift-over and the doors open wide enough to make entry wearing a dress worry free. Plenty of storage areas and comfortable seats. Overall, the Mazda 6 is your morning cup of coffee that keeps you going.

Dad’s view: Peppy and personable, the 6 is a front wheel drive sedan powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and can even be ordered with a manual transmission if the six-speed automatic transmission isn’t to your liking. It isn’t blistering fast, but it will keep up with most anything in daily driving and still provide 30 mpg in mixed driving. The Mazda 6 feels light on its feet with a sporty feel that can be stiff at times. The engine is very responsive and eager to please. Quiet, efficient, and easy to love, the Mazda 6 is athletic and appareling to those stuck in daily grind who enjoy driving home in something that isn’t an appliance. This is one of the few family sedans you can order with a standard transmission. Basically, this is a five passenger Miata. I liked everything about it except for the GPS interface. I found it better to utilize Waze. The fact that it is available with a stick shift is noteworthy and tends to deliver on the Mazda zoom message. Fun and practical.

2016_Mazda6_dash

Young working woman’s view: There is an abundance of standard features such as air-conditioning, cruise control, 60/40-split rear seat, mufti-information display, Bluetooth phone, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod /USB interface with axillary audio jack. I would recommend the Grand Touring with keyless ignition and entry, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sliding console armrest and a six-way power driver seat. For the 6 Touring there’s an option package that adds a sunroof, an upgraded 11-speaker Bose audio system and satellite radio. The Technology package that features LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, heated front seats and a collision mitigation system with automatic braking. I would also opt for the rear parking sensors. The Mazda 6 would probably be on my short list of family sedans.

Young sort of working male’s view: Back to school and working part-time makes one appreciate the advantages of being rich. Until that day arrives I must scuttle my dreams of a new Lexus and remind myself of the benefits cars such as the Mazda 6 offer the non-lottery winners such as being affordable, dependable and not a total bore to drive. The rear seat is actually usable and the trunk can hold nearly 15 cubic feet of Amazon Prime bargains. The base version starts in the low$20,000 range , but options can push the price over $30,000. My sage advise, look for deals with the loaded Grand Touring model. The added safety options are worth it.

Family conference: Mazda has a hidden gem in the 6 and that is too bad because this family sedan appeals to those who love to drive, but need the practicality of a four-door. The technology is current, the option package attractive and the pricing competitive. Besides, the sharp looks makes it easier to spot in a parking lot.

Toyota’s Top Hybrids: Prius and RAV4
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/
Toyota RAV 4 and the Prius have provided consumers with a nice combination of utility and frugality with both cars offering room for a young family and exceptional fuel mileage. Both vehicles have a lot in common from pricing, to Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrains to class leading fuel mileage in the over 50 mpg for the Prius and 30 for the RAV. Indeed, if you are after economical travel these two are tough to top.

Prius Tourning

Prius Tourning

RAV4 Hybrid

RAV4 Hybrid

Of course, the real reason hybrids are popular is their fuel mileage. However, buyers need to do some math homework with several important variables to consider. First, how much more is the hybrid going to cost over a similar vehicle. The government has a handy site that simplifies this math at fueleconomy.gov.
With that in mind we tested two of the best hybrids from the most successful hybrid company in the world, Toyota. We weren’t disappointed.
Mom’s view: The RAV4 hybrid is easy to drive, park, and use. It can seat five, but is only available in the more expensive trim models. I wasn’t impressed with the RAV’s interior as it just looks and feels dated. I did like the utility tray and storage areas and the easy to use automatic rear hatch. You loose a little cargo area with the hybrid, but still get between 35 to 70 cubic feet of room depending if the rear seat is lowered. Safety wise, the RAV4 top of the line Limited includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, full-length airbags, a driver knee airbag, rearview camera, blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert. An optional Advanced Technology package that includes an 11-speaker JBL premium audio system with a top-down-view parking camera system is also worth considering. We tested the Prius Four Touring model that has a much improved electronics and is loaded with safety features, too, with a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and air-bags most everywhere. My only problem with the new Prius was the white, really white, center console, and losing some rear seat leg room due to the placement of the batteries. Otherwise a really great car. My opinion is that the RAV4 is an excellent all-around family vehicle and the Prius, and I hate to write this, a really fun sedan. Both cars have excellent quality scores.

Dad’s view: The RAV 4 hybrid is all wheel drive and is the most fuel efficient vehicle in its class. The ride is excellent and, best of all, aggressive pricing makes it difficult to pass by for bargain hunters. The brakes take a bit to get used to as they are regenerative, but almost all hybrids have a similar feel. The RAV4 has the same system as Lexus NX uses and it shows. This is the best hybrid in its class for cargo and mileage. The ride is smooth and fairly quiet, but can be rough over tax-money deprived roads Driving the hybrid is enjoyable once you get used to the thrust the electric motors provide. All in all the RAV4 is a tidy SUV with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, electric motors front and rear and a continuously variable transmission. The result is 194 horsepower SUV that uses front-wheel drive in normal operation, but automatically engages the electrically driven rear wheels when needed. In other words, a perfect vehicle for readers who want to be prepared for whatever nature throws at them while still being fuel frugal. The Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine aided by a pair of electric motor/generators. Using the console mounted power button maximizes thrust making it easier to pass and merge. In fact, it is addicting. However, the best feature in this new Prius is its improved brakes, suspension and driving dynamics. My choice would be the Prius because it is fun to drive and consistently get 50 plus mpg. With its 11 gallon gas tank full of unleaded a 500 mile trip will cost under $25 and no TSA waiting line.

Young working girls’ view: Neither car is beautiful, but both have an inner beauty and that is reliability. The RAV4 is spacious and honest and doesn’t try to fool you into thinking you are driving a luxury car. I found the Prius too difficult to get into with its lower entry and the unique center gauge placement wasn’t to my taste. The RAV4 hybrid was much easier and, with certain options, was a breeze to park. I would definitely get Toyota Safety Sense that includes collision alert, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, radar cruise control and more. I really liked the intelligent park assist that can be used for both perpendicular and parallel parking especially living in a parking challenged city. The cargo space is very generous and rear seat room was ample. A perfect SUV for a single or young family who love to travel winter or summer.
2016_Toyota_Prius_Four_inter

Young working male’s view: Both hybrids are loaded with electronic choices that make option selections difficult. For example, one package includes larger wheels, parking senors, and heated seats. No substitutions allowed. One thing I would get is Toyota’s Entune with the bigger 7-inch screen, smartphone-connected services,and a navigation. Not the best, but much improved, and make sure you get help with the set-up and tie-in with your cell phone. As much as I liked the vastly improved Prius driveability, the RAV just appealed to me more for its usefulness.

RAV4 Interior

RAV4 Interior

Family conference: Loaded with safety features, both priced similarly, the choice between the RAV 4 and Prius Touring hybrids is basically perception. Are you bold enough to make the Prius your daily driver or does the utility of the RAV4 hold sway. Either way they are unique and family friendly.