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Results 1 - 25 of 65
1. Why I Am Ready For A Writing Conference

Spring is almost here, and that sense of spring - rebirth, renewal - has me thinking about making new vows for my writing career. It seems like every time I establish a goal, something unexpected happens and I end up off track.

That's why my first - and perhaps my only - vow is to get thee to a writer's conference ASAP. My only problem: the writer's guild workshop I want to attend is the same weekend as my state's press association convention. Since I'm the managing editor of a weekly newspaper, I feel like that should be the choice I make. Yet, our state's writer's guild is hosting some big name freelance and fiction writers who I have read (translate: adored and devoured every word) for years.

What's a writer to do?

No matter which conference I end up attending, I have three reasons why I am ready:

  1. Expand my horizons. I'm a freelancer by design and enjoy the newspaper and magazine business. Still, I've written two plays and I am intrigued with flash fiction. Attending a conference, especially one with a variety of classes, will let me investigate other types of writing that I may not have considered. 
  2. Practical, hands-on experience. One conference I'm contemplating offers direct instruction instead of roundtable discussions. I like the idea of being given certain elements that I can twist and stretch to create a new piece. I'm considering it an experiment, of sorts, where I can try out the latest, greatest technology and decide if it will streamline my writing process.
  3. Opportunities to listen. One of the main reasons I'm excited about one of these conferences in particular is because several authors are reading their work. There's something intimate about an author sharing his or her creation, hearing the rhythm and intonation they give each word and sentence. It makes me think about phrasing and structure and how they cram so much information and power into a single word or section.
Sure I'm looking forward to networking, meeting new people, and ok, having a weekend getaway, but the selling point, for me, is the opportunity to get excited about writing once more and know that what I write makes a difference.

By LuAnn Schindler

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2. Spark: Kallie George & Genevieve Cote

Book: Spark
Author: Kallie George
Illustrator: Geneviève Côté 
Pages: 44
Age Range: 5-8

Spark is a delightful easy reader by Kallie George and Geneviève Côté, the first of a new series from Simply Read Books. It consists of five short chapters, with extensive color illustrations. Spark is about a young dragon who struggles to control his flames. His parents attempt three lessons (the middle chapters) to teach him flame-breath management, but nothing works. Spark is simply not ready. But sometimes time is all you need. And when Spark's birthday rolls around, he's ready to give it another try. 

What I like about Spark is that although it's meant for new readers, it's plenty interesting enough to hold a child's attention. Spark is a sympathetic character. Five year old readers will probably be savvy enough to understand the parallels with potty training or learning to ride a bike, but the message of waiting until you are ready remains secondary to Spark's personality. There's humor in Spark aimed at parents, too, which is always appreciated in a book that's likely to be read over and over again. For example:

"Spark tried to be careful.
It was hard.

He set his hankie on fire.

He set some leaves on fire.

Mama got a book:
How to Tame Flames

Mama and Papa both read it."

Yes, what parent hasn't turned to a book for help with something?

Spark is relatively advanced in terms of vocabulary for an early reader. There are words like "crackle", "marshmallow", and "phoenix". But many of the more challenging words are repeated multiple times through the book, and are made clear by Côté's illustrations. 

These illustrations are beautiful. The dragons are drawn with a thick pencil outline, and then filled in with watercolor. This gives the pictures the appearance of something a child could have done. Except that your average child won't be able to use facial expressions to convey mood, and add humor. Spark's birthday party is a particularly joyous celebration, populated by whimsical creatures (including a "troll" who looks a lot like a regular boy). I challenge any five year old not to relate to and enjoy Spark. 

Highly recommended for home or library use. I look forward to future books in this planned series. I also look forward to reading Spark with my daughter tonight before bed. Simply lovely. 

Publisher: Simply Read Books (@simplyreadbooks)
Publication Date: November 30, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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3. Reading Aloud to Kids Builds Background Knowledge

I recently read the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook (more details here). The section (in Chapter 1) on Background Knowledge stood out for me. Trelease says: 

"Background knowledge is one reason children who read the most bring the largest amount of information to the learning table and thus understand more of what the teacher of the textbook is teaching... For the impoverished child lacking the travel portfolio of affluence, the best way to accumulate background knowledge is by either reading or being read to." (Page 13-14)

There is no question that my daughter has acquired background knowledge from books. Recently we were in the parking lot at the grocery store, and a taxi cab passed by. My daughter said: "Look! A taxi cab! I've never seen one in real life before." (Forgetting various airport trips, I guess.) She had, however, seen a taxi cab in Night Light by Nicholas Blechman. And despite the one in the book having been somewhat stylized, the rendition was accurate enough for my Baby Bookworm to know one when she saw it. 

Do you have examples of ways that your child has used books to build background knowledge? Or is this so pervasive that you don't even notice? 

See also my related post about making connections between books and day-to-day life, from this year's Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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4. The Quantum Classroom


Quick! What’s behind you right now? Did you peek over to see desks, the wallpaper, students, books, or toys? Were those objects there even before you looked at them? Are they there now, even though you’re reading this instead of seeing them? As strange as it sounds, some scientists believe that nothing exists definitely until someone measures it, such as you did with your eyes and ears. These scientists work in a field of science called Quantum Mechanics.

In the early 1900s, smarty-pants scientists like Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Werner Heisenberg studied, experimented and argued over the question of what light was made of. Light was very mysterious to scientists at the time, because in some experiments it acted like a wave, similar to the invisible radio and magnetic waves all around us. In other experiments though, light acted like a particle, a solid object like a Pop Tart, a textbook, a penny, a skyscraper… Anything that’s in one place and that weighs something is a particle. It didn’t seem to make sense for something to be an invisible wave and a solid particle at the same time, but in test after test, light was both! You might think it was time for these scientists to turn in their labcoats and get new jobs… this was too hard to figure out! Instead of giving up though, the scientists continued experimenting and studying the subject until they found a solution: light is a wave until it gets observed, then it becomes a solid particle!

This was huge news for scientists. If light acts like this, then other solid objects may not be so solid after all too. The scientists studying Quantum Mechanics presented this thought-provoking possibility: that that the world is actually a wave of possibilities until we observe it, then it becomes the solid place we can feel, touch, taste and smell. It’s a bit like hiding trash under your bed: if you can’t see it, it’s not there!

1 Comments on The Quantum Classroom, last added: 1/31/2013
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5. Storytelling Thurs??? Friday (oops)

I just finished The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Kean.  Not a story book at all.  HOWEVER, Kean tells the stories of how dozens of scientists, explorers, and other learned folks - to say nothing of isolated Scandinavian villagers and good old Neanderthal - contributed to what we know about DNA, the building block of our very selves.

If Kean had given his readers, "Just the facts, Ma'am," as Joe Friday was wont to say, I would never have finished the book.  The science is daunting - all those A's and C's and G's and T's and mitochondria and mtDNA and messenger RNA and, please, please DON'T ask me what these things are (I sort of know but I will bungle it, I'm sure).  But the stories, the life histories, the theories, the mangled logic, the loves, the victories and failures...the embarrassments and personalities - even the insane experiments - add them all together and you have a page turner.  Man, that Sam Kean can sure tell a good story.

And after we find out everything that is now known about DNA, Kean tells us stories of how scientists hope to use what they have learned.  DNA is awesome.  We, this world, all living things - totally awesome and scary and thrilling and wow....  Read the book.

Storytelling is a most effective way to get humans to swallow facts and remember them.  There is an organization dedicated to helping educators teach through storytelling.  Good Stories for Good Learning is made up of storytellers and educators who have seen how their personal stories have made the subjects they were teaching become real to their students.  Adding stories, your own or folktales or riddle tales or other people's stories, brings life to learning.  Try it.

There are studies that have shown how the brain reacts to stories differently than to lectures, and there are studies that have proven that students remember the stories they hear - and the facts attached to the stories - longer than those facts without stories.  (And, yes, I promise to share links to some of those studies soon but I am already a DAY LATE with this post, OK?  You can trust me.  Honest.)

So the next time you want to make a point, or help someone remember a fact, or teach something to someone, do what Sam Kean did in his book and what effective teachers are doing in classrooms all over the place - AND what humans have been doing since language began.  Tell a story.

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6. Messy Martha

Messy Martha, an educational book I illustrated recently, is now available on Reading A-Z.com,
 an excellent resource for teachers.

Here's a couple more images ...


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7. Speaking this weekend in Walnut Creek

Oh woe, is the blog sadly left aside as life swirled around me. Yes I had a wonderful tour for “Isabella Girl on the Go.” Someday I am sure to tell you all about it, with pictures, but sadly it is in line behind telling you all about BFNBT #2 that was completed last year.

End result = Girl on the Go was warmly received, I reconfirmed my ham- status in schools across the United States, and Girl on the Go was on the NY Times Bestselling list.

Been working furiously on Isabella book for next year (details to follow).

Kids have all passed with mostly flying colors and we are in “…relax, it’s the first week of summer vacation” mode.

But I am working, really, because I am preparing for a talk in Walnut Creek this weekend!

Yup, that’s right, I will be giving away the secret to my success. Or something like that.

Related posts:

  1. School’s Out for Summer (Summer)
  2. Thank a teacher
  3. My head might actually spin off my body

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8. Adjusting to a New Teacher

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Freefotouk

Our beloved Sunday water aerobics instructor was replaced recently. The class is having a hard time adjusting to the new instructor. She uses a different set of moves and it's hard to hear her instructions. She has dismissed one of my favorite moves, saying that it goes against the guidelines of <insert unknown acronym>.

I've been thinking a lot these past few weeks about what it's like for our students every fall as they adjust to new teachers and what we can do help them start thinking about what to expect and how to deal with the changes. Things we can do this spring while our students are still a part of our close-knit, safe and predictable classroom communities include:

• Talk about changes they've undergone in the past. List the positives of change along with the negatives. 
• Think about what they've learned from favorite teachers. Remind them that when you move from teacher to teacher, you carry them all with you -- you never really leave a favorite teacher behind.
We can encourage our students to
• Be patient. Give the new teacher a chance. 
• Be an independent learner. (For our children, this might mean reinforcing the importance of the learning they do on their own at home after school and on weekends and holidays. For me, it has meant abandoning the water aerobics class in favor of my own self-styled hour of water exercise. It feels good to swim laps again, and to decide for myself what arm, leg, and core exercises I'll do and for how long.)

In the fall...(I can't believe I just wrote that! We have only 6 days of school left before the much-needed summer break, and I'm thinking about next fall!!!)...In the fall, when I greet a new group of students, I'll try to be even more aware of the adjustments they are going through as we figure each other out. I'll try to remember to

• Ask for their input as we establish routines and norms and make the classroom ours
• Have them tell me the things they loved about teachers in the past...not that I could make any promises that I would be just like them, but so that we can explore my similarities and differences to their former teachers. 
• Be gentle as I guide them in their learning so that I don't completely contradict or disregard what another teacher taught them, but rather show them how learning is layered, and how the new learning they do with me will be added to, but will not replace their previous learning.

5 Comments on Adjusting to a New Teacher, last added: 5/23/2012
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9. Elefanta by Vanita Oelschlager

5 Stars   An elephant never forgets, or does he?  Elefante is a young elephant who forgets to tie his shoes and then falls down, having tripped over those laces he forgot to tie.  He forgets to clean up his toys and put them where they belong.  His sister tripped over the mess Elefante left [...]

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10. Mingo Mung’s : Hows and whys of sprouting seeds


Hey! I’m Mingo Mung Bean the speediest sprout in Seed City! Mung Beans are ready to eat in just 3 days, let me share with you some of the hows and whys of sprouting beans and seeds.

You can make your own sprouting jar with a jam jar conversion kit – a piece of net and a rubber band.  The book The Mighty Messenger starring me, Mingo Mung comes with Mung Beans, the jam jar conversion kit, instructions and a recipe.





This is what mung beans look like when they are ready to eat, shiny white skin like my face, curly bits like my hair and green shells.

Sprouting with Mingo Mung

So you sprouted your little pack of mung beans, how did you like them? Did you pop them in to your mouth as soon as they were ready? Or did you choose some delicious ingredients to mix them with in a stir fry? However you ate your mung beans, they aren’t the only things you can sprout, have a look in your store cupboard and see what else might sprout.

What else can you sprout?

I asked Shena to take a look in her kitchen cupboard, this is what she found…


Lentils sprout really easily and have a great flavour. You can also try peas and other beans like aduki, you may discover more mung beans, chick peas too. Have a go! Some beans can’t be eaten raw, kidney and black eye beans. If you are unsure as to whether a seed or bean can be eaten raw have a look here. Let us know what you sprout.

If you can not find anything in your store cupboard visit Secret Seed Society Shop there are variety packs of beans and seeds and gadgets so you can sprout for all the family.


sunflower seed sprouting

Why should you sprout beans and seeds?

Inside every bean and seed is the secret to life. A seed contains so much goodness that it can grow into a whole plant, so seeds are very nutritious. The magic of seeds is that all that nutrition is locked away and preserved. Once you you sprout a seed you unlock it and your body can access that goodness easily and without the farting that beans that aren’t sprouted are famous for! Yes, no farting!


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11. Little Star Books

Little Star Books is a little eBook publishing venture I have embarked upon with celebrated children's book author and editor, Moira Butterfield. We are just publishing to Amazon's Kindle at the moment. Our first two titles are now live. (In fact one of them is downloadable for free right now (April 2nd and 3rd))

The two titles are: My Happy Bookand My Busy Book

Or if you are in the UK: My Happy Book and My Busy Book

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12. Facebook Contest…Enter to Win!

Don’t pass this up guys! It’s easy and fun, and you could win your own personal elibrary. Starting now through December 31, check out our facebook page and post on our wall.  All you have to do is write your favorite thing about reading or the holidays.  And hey, you could “Like” us while you’re at it!

For example my favorite thing about Christmas is the hot Russian tea at my hometown tree farm, and the smell of my favorite Christmas tree candle. 

If you are in the holiday spirit to share your favorite thing about the holidays, or your favorite thing about reading, do it now while you still have a chance to win! We will be giving out 5 free personal elibraries between now and the end of December.

With one click, these eBooks read aloud to the children and page-flip from the beginning of a story to the end. Put a child in front of this eLibrary, and they will “play” for hours on end reading and listening to wonderful, award-winning picture books. We encourage parents to take this excitement and discuss the “For Creative Minds” section at the end of each ebook with their child. Each book homepage also has 40-60 pages of cross-curricular Teaching Activities plus 3 Interactive Reading Comprehension and Math Quizzes.

And since I’m in such a holiday spirit, I can’t help but share the recipe to the best hot winter drink EVER!

  • 1 cup of instant tea
  • 2 cups of tang
  • 1 tsp of cloves
  • 1 package of Wylers lemonade mix
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar (or less depending on taste)

Directions: Mix all of this together and keep it in a tightly sealed jar. Use 2 heaping teaspoons for one cup of tea.

And Wha Lah! There you have it…the best winter drink of all time!

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Holiday Season

That will make YOUR KIDS happy!


Magic Carpet Ride



Go to 
Margot's Magic Carpet
to leave your answer

from my website

and get a

of my fun, eBook adventure for kids
I will AUTOGRAPH each book.

Written especially to celebrate the WOW factor
that gets kids READING!


Give BOOKS this  Holiday Season


* Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

* Margot's Magic Carpet


2 Comments on HOLIDAY BOOK GIVEAWAY !, last added: 12/2/2011
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During my 33-year career as an elementaryschool teacher in Gates, NY, I also became a poet. I became a poet partly becauseI loved the poetry of Shel Silverstein, especially Where the Sidewalk Ends, and also I wanted to sharemy ideas and sense of humor with my own students. So I started writing poemsfor them and my two daughters. Writing lots of poems not only made me a betterwriter and a better poet, but it also inspired my students and my own childrento express themselves through writing poetry.
Learning to write poetry--that is, carefullyselecting a few words to express an idea--not only helps a child express whatis in his soul, but it also helps him learn to think precisely. So I encourageall parents to help their kids write poetry.
One way you can help your child write poetry isto encourage them to write poems by using a "recipe" for the poem, orsimply by completing sentences in an organized manner.
Each month on my web site, www.joe-sottile.com,I host a poetry contest for kids. I usually post a new recipe poem and samplesto encourage kids to write poetry. These poems don't have to be great to win.They have to be interesting. Here are the instructions for entering my monthly contest.
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15. For our Beloved Book Lovers

Today, November 7th, is National Bookstore Day.  It is also Book Lover’s Day.  What better time could there be to make a trip to your closest bookstore and buy that book you have been itching to get your hands on.  I know that I have my own growing list that alternates between my purse and back pocket.  Go buy a book today, or buy several…the holiday season is here after all.  You may not think it, but I can assure you, books do in fact fit in Christmas stockings!

Better yet, take a hunt around our website.  To those of you with younger children, we have many fun to read books that you can order today.  As you may know, Sylvan Dell has grown to include more than 75 authors and illustrators in the United States and Canada, and 65 titles – honored as finalists or winners of over 70 book awards. Our Science and Math Through Literature Program integrates reading, science, math, geography, character skills, and language learning through fun, cross-curricular activities. Sylvan Dell also provides more online educator resources than any other publisher in the United States.

And on a random note…here’s some interesting facts about Daylight Savings Time…that wonderful mock holiday of ours that bewilders us all:

  • According to computer scientist, David Prerau, Ben Franklin—of “early to bed and early to rise” fame—was the first person to suggest the concept of daylight savings.
  • Franklin noted that the sun would rise far earlier than he usually did.  He determined that resources would be saved if he and others rose before noon and burned less midnight oil.
  • Germany was the first place to adopt these time changes, thereby saving coal for the war effort during WWI.
  • In the USA, a federal law standardized the yearly start and end of daylight saving time in 1918…during WWII, it was made mandatory, in order to save wartime resources.  It was even enforced year-round during this time…essentially making it the new standard time for a few years.
  • During the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo, the USA again extended daylight saving time through the winter.  This caused a 1% decrease in the country’s electrical load. 

1 Comments on For our Beloved Book Lovers, last added: 11/10/2011
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16. The Many Facets of Halloween!

Our celebration of Halloween today is but a pale representation of its actual rich and multicultural history.  It was once a celebration marking the end of the growing season, and a heralding of the coming winter months.  It is told that this day, of all days in the year, is the one in which the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest.  It is the day that ghouls and ghosts can walk among the living.  While costumes today are for entertainment and fun, they were once used to confuse the dead and keep the living safe on this supernatural night.  Blended from several origins, including the Celts, Romans, and Catholic tradition, Halloween came to be it’s own special celebration.  Today, however, it has become a nationally commercial holiday, supported by a consumer based economy. 

Back in the old days…with the history of the Celts, Druid priests were believed to have the ability to commune with the dead.  It was rumored that their powers were the most powerful on the last day of the year: Samhain (sow-en) according to the Celtic calendar.  On this day, the Celtic people would extinguish their hearth fires and gather in front of a bonfire for the evening instead.  A celebration of singing, dancing, and listening to stories would ensue.  At the end of the evening, each family would take some of the bonfire home and relight it in their hearths in hopes of good fortune for their home and family in the coming year.  If it did not light, misfortune or death would come to someone in the house that year. The celebration of Halloween does not come directly from this day, however, for credit can also be given to the practice of several other cultures.

For instance, in the New World, Halloween was largely disallowed.  In Maryland, however, it was encouraged, and people would attend parties with singing and dancing and ghost stories.  Children would dress in costumes and try to scare one another.  The actual tradition of trick-or-treating from door to door, did not begin until the Irish immigrants brought it with them when they came fleeing from the Potato Famine. 

In relation to Pagan tradtion, this night was determined to be the night that a young woman would find out her future husband.  This would be done by looking into a mirror in a dark room or by peeling an apple and casting the peel over her shoulder.  Many Christian churches, who believed such paganistic rituals would lead to witchcraft and Satanism, created “Hell Houses” (haunted houses to us today), which were meant to scare children and young adults away from ever tampering with such damning traditions.

As you can see, this now famous American holiday is due to the old practices of many cultures throughout the centuries.  There is so much more to learn about the history of Halloween as well all the other holidays we celebrate with our friends and loved ones.  The best part is that ALL of the learning can be done through the simply wonderful act of reading!

Tomorrow, Nov. 1, is the start of National Family Literacy Month.  Take advantage of this time to spark a budding love of reading in your child.  Read to them about interesting facts they don’t know, and let them read with you.  Sylvan Dell Publishing has a whole slew of options that can help aid you in educating your little one on a parent-child basis.  Check out our homepage, and from there you can read about every book we have to offer you and your child!

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17. Story of stuff – extraction-production-distribution-consumption-disposal

Very interesting, especially when she talks about designers openly talking about planned obsolescence.

Related posts:

  1. Danger requires a Brain
  2. Twitter story about foreign rights

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18. Home "Work"

After reading Making Learning Whole last summer, I really got to thinking about how to make the game of school transparent for my students, and how to honor the work they do at home for fun and personal learning.

Last summer when we were doing some cleaning in the basement back home, I ran across this straight line design I made with embroidery floss on black poster board back in middle school, and I remembered doodling endless variations of these designs for hours on end with ruler and well-sharpened pencil. I remembered the sketchbooks full of floor plans that my cousin and I made, as we imagined ourselves becoming architects in the future. I still have the writing journals I filled with adolescent angst, cartoons, poetry and fits and starts of stories.

It's this kind of "work" that I want to honor in my students. I want them to see connections between the learning we do in school and the playful exploration of these ideas that they can give themselves as "assignments" and bring in to share with the class.

Filling the wall around the straight line design which was my long ago home "work" are photos of students and the things they've brought in. One budding car enthusiast brought in the engine he made from a kit during the summer. Several have brought in collections. One girl has made several different tri-o-ramas, following directions she found either online or in a craft book. They have practiced math facts, and made a connection to a read aloud (I got a cupcake in honor of PAULIE PASTRAMI ACHIEVES WORLD PEACE).

When we were studying landforms, they made paper and cardboard and clay models of the landforms we were learning about. Although the landform unit is complete, a student was looking at the wooden M on her wall (one of the letters of her name) and she saw a canyon between the two peaks of the letter. When she shared it with the class, another student saw two plateaus on the flat tops of those points. They have seen that learning and thinking about a topic don't have to end just because they've taken the end of unit assessment.

Last week, when I was exhausted beyond belief and in a value-added/data-induced funk, my student who has inspired girl and boy readers of all abilities with her quest to read every Babymouse book in the series (she and several others have created checklists), brought in the Cupcake Tycoon board game she made.

Because of the way we start our day, I was able to play the game with her in the ten minutes the class and I spend together at tables in the cafeteria before

6 Comments on Home "Work", last added: 10/17/2011
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19. A Day In The Life…

If you read my last post you know that much of what I do entails thinking of ideas and forging them into some semblance of acceptable reading material. That is what writers do.

The question is: What else do writers do with their time each day?

I can only clue you in as to what I do. Right now I’m beginning The Artist’s Way course. Therefore, the very first thing of the day is my Daily Pages. If I’m working at home on a given day, I deal with correspondence before moving on to website perusal.

I can’t speak about why other people check out websites. I have specific ones I follow. I’m also a member of SeededBuzz , which promotes the viewing of member blogs, etc. (Check out SeededBuzz if you’re curious. I’m a member of several groups of varied interest. I also look for specific information about agents, editors, publishers, etc.–the usual business end information towards writing. That activity takes care of the clock until around noon.

Of course, within that is also social networking. That’s a must for any writer today. We were told that, we listened, and we do it. Simple as that.

The afternoon gets used for actual writing, whether non-fiction, fiction, journalism pieces, what-have-you. Then, too, it depends on whether submission deadlines loom in the near future and I’m struggling to catch up. Those deadlines take precedence, as every writer knows.

The evenings go through a kaleidoscope of activities. I might be studying research material, reading and studying writing course information/lessons/etc. or working on a piece previously written but not polished. It all depends on if I need a break from the computer and how badly I need rest.

Occasionally, as I did for the past couple of days, I take a major break from active writing. Or, I tag along on a photo shoot with my sister. We’re   making plans for the future which are exciting, intriguing, and scary all rolled into a convenient carrying case called the “Unknown Next Few Months.”

We’re trying to do away with plans other than those immediate ones that call our names and point in interesting directions. I’ve heard that kind of living called “spontaneous,” but I’ve never allowed it take hold before. I’m hoping to do better in future. We’ll have to see how things play out on a couple of fronts before we can commit ourselves to going to the gypsy mindset completely.

So, there you have my day, my life, my example, poor as it may be.

Wishes? Sure, I have them, with more arriving every day. Plans? More like desires than plans. Contingencies come into play always. I can’t do without those.

And my writer’s day. I’m here, aren’t I. I have two blogs, write for Associated Content, have begun doing book reviews, am gearing up to begin again with interviews, and have a few other irons in the fire.

Anyone one of those could control my day according to whatever schedule happens to hold sway that day. Take your pick and remember–You, too, could have a day like mine.

A bientot,


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20. Debbie Offers English Tutoring Services!

Improve your grades in English

And have fun while your you’re doing it.


Debbie tutors students of all ages, elementary through college.

• Writing Assignments
• Grammar
• Punctuation
• Spelling
• Vocabulary
• Reading Comprehension
• Test Prep (FCAT, PSAT, SAT)
• College Application Essays

Debbie Glade is the author of the award-winning children’s book/CD The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica. She visits South Florida schools with her reading and writing programs and has been a freelance writer since 1988. Her publishing company sponsors and judges writing contests. She is a book reviewer for LA Parent Magazine and a travel editor on www.wanderingeducators.com. She blogs daily on www.smartpoodlepublishing.com/blog, where you’ll find her weekly comic strip. Her credentials include a BA in Writing from Florida State University.

In addition to working with children, Debbie is very familiar with the grueling college application process, as her own daughter is now a freshman at an Ivy League University. She has helped countless students of all ages with their writing challenges and does so with humor, taking the frustration out of the reading and writing process.

Learn to Write Right, Right Now!

Call tutor Debbie Glade Today




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21. Teachers CAN Make a Difference

Did you read this article in the NY Times about a once- failing school in MA, that now outperforms 90% of the schools in the state on stadardized tests? What an inspiring story!

A simple program was put into place where reading and writing were incorporated into every single class at the school, including gym class. What is most surprising is that the high school featured in the article, Brockton High, is huge, with over 4,000 students! That certainly contradicts the theory that smaller schools are better.

Read the article and then you’ll see that there is indeed a great deal of hope for our failing schools!

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22. Adding A New Tool To A Writer's Toolbox

On Tuesday, I introduced my fourth graders to compound sentences. First, we brainstormed nouns and verbs and wrote simple sentences. Then, together, we connected two simple sentences with a conjunction (one of the FANBOYS -- for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). They all gave it a try with two or three sentences on their own.

Tuesday afternoon, in reading workshop, a student came up to me with DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE UGLY TRUTH in hand and pointed out a compound sentence in the book.

Yesterday, Wednesday, we started writing workshop by singing the School House Rock classic "Conjunction Junction." Then I challenged them to write at least one compound sentence for their SpellingCity sentences. (SpellingCity is another post for another day.) Eight out of eighteen who finished sentences wrote at least one compound sentence with some kind of success. Two of the eighteen (the one who sighted compounds in Wimpy Kid, and another very capable writer) wrote exclusively in compound sentences.

Every student in my classroom has a new tool in their writer's toolbox: compound sentences.

Some aren't ready to use this tool (and might never be). They are still struggling to put words together into simple sentences and sentences together in paragraphs that make sense.

Some will overuse this tool with partial understanding and create run-on sentences with a conjunction in the middle, causing more problems than it might have been worth.

The thrill in making this tool available to my writers was watching those two who were really ready to try something new in their writing reach out for it and put it right to work, gleefully creating sentences that were more and better than any they'd ever written.

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23. Best Quotes: Step Up to the Plate!

Learningsomething new and applying it each and every day

givesmeaning and purpose to our lives. Growth is the ability to

learn howto take any situation either good or bad and get the

most out ofit, and then share what you’ve learned from the 

experience.Makingprogress in life is about taking responsibility

forourselves and being responsible to others. It is about using

past painsas a motivator to embrace future pleasures. In summary
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24. Science is cool! Will.I.Am says so.

Here I am spreading my love of will.i.am. Again.

Thanks to The Miss Rumphius Effect blog for pointing this out.

My favorite part – Snoop Dog calling out Benjamin Banneker.
And of course, will.i.am.

Related posts:

  1. Cool Science Safety Video

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25. Show of hands: Who colors?

I spent a couple of FANTASTIC days this past week at Austin Academy for Excellence, a magnet middle school in…

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