Tag Archives: writing

Every Day You Learn Something – Sometimes It’s New

“In three words I can sum up what I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  Robert Frost

I’ve had an amazing week learning about our little town and the surrounding area.  There is only one book in the library about Woodlake, published in 1971.  I have a digitized copy of that book.   This week I had the privilege of thumbing through the original handwritten manuscript of that little book housed in a 1950s-style blue canvas three-ring binder.

Grace Pogue ~ Within The Magic Circle copy-1

I have the original manuscript of her other book, The Swift Seasons, in a little blue canvas binder as well, which I am going to digitize starting today.  I get excited about the little things I’m learning or at least surmising.  Yesterday on one of my interviews Robert took me outside to his back yard.

“Want to see the old Antelope School?” he asked me.  “This is it.  It used to be on Grandma Fudge’s property.  Then it moved to Blair’s property, and then they brought it on skids here.”

Antelope School

Robert and I shared information back and forth for several hours.  “This is so much fun!” he told me.

What I know about Antelope School is that it was first built in 1870.  Woodlake erected a new Antelope School in 1895.  So would this have been the new 1895 school, or the 1870 one?

Antelope school3

The builder didn’t date the school anywhere, least of all the floor boards, but look how wide they are.  Keep in mind that we cut down big trees back in the 1800s.  This picture came from Linda and Bob Hengst.

Hengst1-42aR

When I came back from Linda’s house, Vince said, “What were you doing all that time?  You were over there for three hours!”

In the evening I started the boring work.  It takes 30 seconds to copy each picture, but I have someone to talk to the whole time.  I copied about 45 of Linda and Bob’s pictures, and 75 from Robert. At home it takes about 1 minute to create a TIFF file for each picture, and another minute or so to resize it for my blog so I can see what I’m writing about as I write each caption.  Finally I pick which pictures I know enough about to caption for the day, and that takes at least 20 to 30 minutes to write 50-70 words.  You wouldn’t think it would take so long, but here’s the deal.

  1. I wasn’t there when it happened.  I don’t know the people, usually the place, because they aren’t around any more, or the time.
  2. Usually I just have a name to go by, if that on the picture – that’s about 2 words.
  3. Sometimes I have a little story.  That’s about 20 words, if I’m lucky.
  4. I have tons of books about things like trains and floods in Tulare County, Native Americans, and the general history of Tulare County.  I have an 1892 Atlas of each township in Tulare County with the names of all the property owners at that time.
  5. I have notes from all the people I’ve interviewed, and sometimes audio files.
  6. I have a few newspaper articles that are photocopied, but all the archives from the Woodlake Echo have been destroyed, so all those pictures and original articles are gone.
Hengst1-41R
What do you think Abe and Carl discussed? I’ll give you a clue. It has to do with college.

So every picture is a bit of a puzzle piece, and I do my best to sort through my evidence, and write the best 70 words possible for each picture.   As of last night I had finished 109 or about 60% of the required 180-200 pictures.  As I talk to more people, I’ll have to narrow it down, and throw some of them out, I’m sure.

A friend asked me what I do all day, and how much time I take writing my book (probably wondering why I hadn’t been calling her much :)).  It seems like I don’t do much, but I don’t seem to have much time to do tons of other things.  I have lots to talk about – as long as you are interested in Woodlake’s history.  Otherwise, I’m kind of dull.  I chose the think I’m focused.  :)

Marsha climbingcr

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough – Mae West

My First Give Away

After being a teacher and a consultant for over twenty years, I produced my first original “How To” give away.  It took hours of editing to produce.   If you are interested in being on my email list, and getting free PDF articles from time to time, you can email me at tchistorygal@gmail.com.

editing

The article is “Ten Tips for Editing Before Your Editor Reads Your Novel.”  Editing takes me three times as long as writing!  WOW!

“What Did You Do Today?”

Don’t you hate it when your mate comes home from a hard day at work, or your boss comes up to you and says those words?  Moms do this to their kids all the time.

When it happens to me, my mind immediately goes blank.  I am programmed to answer something, so I do a quick mental scan.  I made the bed, I think.  Maybe my husband did it while I was typing on the computer.  I posted two articles, one for Manny and one for me. That’s fun stuff, so it doesn’t count.  I shouldn’t even mention it.

SFW K & S working

Kalev and I walked two miles.  That’s impressive.  I made lunch.  It was good, but hardly noteworthy when expounding on what I “did.”   Here’s the most time-consuming, “I answered emails.”  Again that activity falls into the ho-hum category.  Let’s see, I edited an article or two for “What’s Happening in the Foothills.”  That might be impressive if it hadn’t taken me two hours to tweeze out 75 words with the help of a Style Writing program that keeps shutting down.  I posted the assignment for my writing class online.  My last assignment didn’t get award-winning stars and A+ remarks from the teacher, so that took a while, too.

making lunch

So when my husband came home and asked me that intimidating question, I knew he would not be overly impressed with my morning’s work.  But now you know, I worked really hard yesterday morning, and accomplished quite a bit.  It just didn’t look impressive.

What did you do today?  (hehe)  :)

How to Do a Short, Quick Post

Readers like short posts.  I’m going to time myself.  It usually takes 2 hours at a minimum to do a post.  It’s 10:07.

IMG_1267

  1. Bulk process pictures as you take them.  I label them SFW to distinguish them from others.  They are saved at #3 Quality in Photoshop so they don’t take long to load.
  2. Don’t use too many pictures, or use captions and put them in a gallery.  I like the slide show the best.  The pictures are a nice size.
  3. Write about the picture.  PG like to help cook.  Sometimes I drop things on the floor.
  4. Don’t over think it.  (Good advice, Marsha, now just take it!)
  5. Add tags and categories
  6. Add a poll to see if your readers like your post.  Most of them will write comments instead, but at least you are offering an easy way for people to interact.
  7. Tell your readers they are important.  They are!  I adore my readers, so many have become really good friends.  Those close friends who read my blog at home make me feel even closer to them.

It’s 10:20, and I’m going to press publish.  If it doesn’t like my grammar, it will take me a little longer, but this is a record fast post for me.  How do you think I did?

 

How to Conquer the Mountain of Manuscript Editing

You think you’ve done a great thing when your screen is filled with words and maybe some pictures.  As you read each chapter and smile, your accomplishment amazes you.  Pity the poor NSA person who has to read every keystroke because you’ve already made many changes before you completed the chapter.

Manny in prison

You finish.  It’s 50,000 words, and there’s a plot, characters, a setting, all the things it needs to turn it in to NaNoWriMo.  So you cut, paste, send, and they send back a verification.  You are done.  Take it to the publisher.  Right?  Not so fast.  There could be an error or two.  Oops, that was almost a month ago, and what happened?  Maddie sent me a great article she wrote on editing, so I’m working through it, but here are some additional tips I’ve found as I’m climbing the editing  mountain RANGE.

Manny's Big Boy pants

  1. Put on your big girl/boy pants.  Be prepared that some people won’t like things, or that the mistakes will overwhelm them, or they will be bored.  I’ve done a lot of writing, so I know to expect this, but it is always difficult at first because you have been smiling at your cleverness for a whole month, and you think everyone else is going to be blown away by what a magnificent writer you have become.  You need some of that self-confidence, or you’d never write in the first place.  If your writing is really horrible, probably you’ll never hear from the reader again, so accept the criticisms as a good sign.
  2. Enlist the help of close friends and family.  My husband didn’t read every word. In fact, he got stuck on Chapter One, and hasn’t finished it yet.  Nonetheless, he has been a great help.  I’ve gotten ideas from lots of other readers, and we talk them over.  For example, one reader said, “Take Trixie where you’d never go, and let her respond.”  Do you know how difficult that is to do?  My thought was where in the world could I take her?  My husband suggested a male strip tease club.  Sorry, I’ve been there – only once when I was in my 20s, BTW.  I begged my date to take me when we were in the big city of San Francisco.  It was a shock to see how ugly those girls were.  We stayed a few minutes, and left. After shocking my husband with this information, we got down to business and brainstormed where I might “take Trixie” that I’ve never been, and he came up with a great idea that ended up not being a place at all.  It means some research and adjusting, but it is very doable, and I’m pleased with the results.  I’m still smiling, so far at my little creation.
  3.  Get readers from outside your family and local area to read and help you see what is unclear.  One reader told me to explain what made my setting unique.   MORE research comes into play at this level of revision.  I used several books about my target city.  I looked up controversies on the internet.  I spent quite a bit of time looking at what others said about where I set my story.  I am very familiar with the place.  The investigations gave me new perspective.   So once I had the feelings are on the paper, I needed to go back and add those things that are unimportant to me.  It might be different to you.  You might notice the way things look, and have to go back and add the emotions.  Everyone is unique.  I had to cut back on my dialogue, and give the readers a little background information.
  4. Don’t worry about people liking or disliking certain characters.  One reader told me she didn’t like the character that I based mostly on my personality.   Oh well, my favorite character ISN’T me.  I can go back and change things about her/him.  Give him/her different interests, reactions, looks, setting, family.  I can even change “me” into a man or my male model into a woman. You name it, with the flick of a finger, you and your friends (who are your other model characters) are no longer in the book.  So don’t get hung up on whether someone likes your favorite character or not. It’s nothing personal. Different people appeal to different folks. That’s good.
Manny and Justina
Manny and Justina, with just a few easy changes! :)

So now it’s all good, (for now).  Darla says I’ll be done when I’m 64.  But YOU are ready to follow Maddie’s plan of attack.   http://breezybooksblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/editing-your-own-work/

Many thanks to Carol, The Eternal Traveler, for the many pictures she sent of Manny traveling the world over.  The photoshopping is mine.  You can catch Justin at theadventuresofjustinbeaver.wordpress.com.

Any guesses about where Manny is in these pictures?  Setting IS important, yes?

 

 

Monday: Ask Marsha: 5 Ways to Use Keyword Planner to Write Content from Home

One of the questions that many bloggers express is, “How to I write content articles from home and make money?”  To find out I began my blogging experiment, and got sidetracked having way too much fun just writing about my experiences, and hearing back from other folks.  However, as my spammers informed me, that is not how to make money writing content as an independent contractor.  Here are 5 simple ways to use Google’s Keyword Planner to help you earn income from your writing.

keyword search2

Know What People Want to Read

First, if you want to write content posts, you have to know what people want to read. This post is the result of using Google’s new product called Keyword Planner.  This is Google’s newest tool to help advertisers use the right buzz words in their ads to target the biggest market.  It is simple to use.  Enter a few words to start that have something to do with what you know.  I chose:  “blog, content, education”.  You enter your website, and choose a product category, and press enter.  Even if you don’t have a product, you can pick something from the list that describes your website.  It is surprising which words are popular, and which are not.  You can see what readers search most often, and you can also find out how much competition you would have for buying an ad for that word.  The chart also tell you the cost of purchasing that word so your article places high on the Google search engine.  It could cost me as much as $212 a day to buy 0-49 clicks some of the words I found and go to the top of the heap on the search engine!  You bid on how much you would like to pay.  Yikes!  :)

Use the Highest Use Words in Your Post Title

Maybe you don’t want to pay for a Google Ad.  Use the statistics you found to write a title for your post.  For example, “content writers” is a popular search, while “how to write a blog” is not even though both choices are about writing content.  Assumably, if you use the word content writer you will get higher traffic than if you don’t use those words.

Use the High Search Words in your Ad Boosters

Many people who write blogs, like me, have fan pages as well.  Most serious content writers sell their content, gather their reader’s email addresses, and offer a product. On their Fan pages they have advertising, and they pay for that service.  If you are going to pay to gather attention for your services, it just makes sense to know what words attract the most searchers.

Use the High Search Words to Combat Writer’s Block

Maybe you are not trying to make a fortune writing your blog, but you wake up and think, “What am I going to write today?”  And you draw a big blank.  This is pretty normal, which is why challenges and contests are so popular.  The trick is how to weave in what you already know into a great article that people want to read.  Keywords is the tool which makes that great – not just good-  post possible.   I just went down the list of possible keywords, chose ones that I knew something about, and narrowed it from there to high versus low-key words.  From my list I had only 10 words.  That made it easy to pick only one of those which was a highly searched keyword.

Use Your Stats to Search for Key Words

My top searched key words are “authentic assessments for social studies.”  I entered those words into the Google Keyword Planner.  I had 25 people this month who have searched for some variation of that subject. Google showed that only 560 people have searched for that topic.  I feel that I got a pretty good market share with my old article, so I don’t think I would ever consider buying an ad for using those words.  There is low competition for the words.  A much more frequently employed word would be “education websites.”  The cost for buying those keywords is high as well.

Google Ad Words

Since this is an experimental website, anyway, I’m trying this keyword tool. So far today the traffic on my site is almost nil.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a quick report on how this article fared.

Monday Ask Marsha: Assorted Questions

Do you hide your journal in the closet and bring it out in the middle of the night?  That’s what I used to do.  It had everything in it.  My gripes of the day, poems, pictures I drew of my guinea pigs, lesson plans, goals, prayer requests for people I couldn’t even remember, heartaches, books I read, and on and on.  I actually loved my yellowing journals which I kept for nearly 20 years.  When I married my current husband, I reread some of my entries, and thought, “What a whiney individual you are, Marsha Lee.   Someone (Vince’s son) is going to find this after you die, and think you are a shallow woman.”  That did it.  I shred those puppies.  And I cried.  I missed them.  But I was no longer shallow!  (hahaha)  You can’t prove it anyway!  :)

This is a journal I didn't shred.
One of my journals – NO I didn’t quit my day job to become an artist!  hahaha

My new friend Andrea and I discussed journals and blogging, and the similarities and differences.  We both have destroyed paper journals along the way of life.  Anyway blogging is sort of like a journal on steroids.  You write, and people actually listen and respond.  It’s amazing.  But what if you want to write something just because you’re a graphomanic?  What if you have secrets that you need to confess.  God listens, and I believe he even forgives, but after you’ve confessed for the 1,000th time, maybe you’d better write it down so you know you’re forgiven.  Maybe you want to remember some juicy gossip about the neighbor (husband, wife, boss …) – just in case.  Maybe bits of conversation that may show up in your next best-selling novel should be recorded in a journal, but not on your blog.  I don’t know why people need to write journals, but some of us do.  What do you do to keep them safe from prying eyes – your mother-in-law, your teenaged kids, your dad?  hmmm

I have two secret stashes.  One is Google Drive, and the other is a private blog that I’ve shared with just a few trusted friends because the work is SO unfinished.  I also use Dropbox a lot, but not for my journal.  I can get that on my phone and my computer without signing in, and so that is not secret enough for my deepest, most sordid tales.

What about you?

)

An other question came from one of my favorite new blogging friends, JT Weaver.  He asked me if I was Marsha Lee or Marsha Ingrao.  A lady at work asked me the same thing when I first started my blog.  She thought I’d gotten a divorce.  Sorry all you handsome 80 + year old men who think I still look young at 61. (Actually my mom’s 88 year old cousin would rather have a 20 year old - go figure!) But, no, Jane and JT, I’m still married.

Lee is my middle name, and I hated it most of my life.  Then my friend, Anna León, who was also my boss at the time, started calling me Mar’cha Lee’, and I loved it.  After that, I used my name with pride.  When I started this blog, I was nervous about telling anyone who I REALLY was – (like I was famous or something!!! hahaha).  So I used Marsha Lee to throw people off!  I actually thought it sounded kind of cool.  Maybe I’m Chinese???  Sordid fact:  I almost dated someone named Mark Lee once, and decided 1) he was kind of weird, and 2) I didn’t want to be Marsha Lee Lee.

I still think Marsha Lee sounds kind of cool, so I keep it.  That’s who I am now.  I’m still a little nervous about being Marsha Ingrao online, but Dianne is Dianne Gray, and Maddie is Maddie Cochere.  I guess I can be Marsha Ingrao.  But I like Marsha Lee, too.  :)

Send me your questions – anything.  I’ll see what I can do with answer them as best I can.

I’m excited! The Eternal Traveler asked me to do a guest blog post for her blog.  It will be coming out sometime next week, I think.  In the meantime, if you don’t already, check out her site.

Piggles Again

Yesterday I got a comment from TOM, the other Marcia, and she told me I needed a tablet and a stylus to draw.  Since she is an artist, and I definitely am not, I decided to try it.  V dropped me off at Best Buy, and they told me that I needed a Bamboo tablet.  They were only $99.00, and I decided that would be worth the amount of entertainment I would get from it.  So it came home with me.

After going through the tutorial ad nauseum, I wondered if I could draw a house for Piggles.  It looked like a square with a triangle on top.  So, NO.  There are no images in my mind for houses.  I have to see pictures, I guess.  So I went back to Piggles, and drew her again, using the same photograph, but this time using the stylus, and coloring in a background color.

Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.
Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.

So here is the Old Piggles, drawn with the mouse

Piggles 2

And here is the new Piggles, drawn with the stylus.  You can see that I am still not an artist. I just don’t have the eye, but it was my best try for as long as I want to sit doing it.  You can tell me what you think.

Featured Blog

Featured Blog

This seems the perfect place to feature my new friend, Marcia, or T.O.M. as she calls herself. There must be something to the name because she is married to Mark, and my first husband was named Mark.  Very coincidental.  So it only makes sense that since she taught me about this product and gave me a mini-art lesson that I should feature her blog.  Like my other friend Darla Welchel, who I plan to feature later this week – warning Darla, I’ll be over camping on your site, Marcia loves to read and review books.  I get one book read, and they probably are reading 10.  The important thing is that the books get read and reviewed.

Marcia's site

The other interest that she and I are sharing is writing.  I am so new at this sport as well, in spite of writing for a living in my job, teaching writing to children, having a few articles published in journals and magazines, and even a few pieces of poetry.  Books are a different matter.  Marcia, however, is all over art work.  She emailed me some of her work, and they are astounding.  You are just going to have to discover T.O.M. for yourself.  She’s astounding.  Too bad she’s not single, Ralph!  She’s got a great sense of humor, too.

A Truly Retired Day

V is home, so my alone-time retired day is over, but I thought I’d share what it was like to be truly retired today.

While I waited for the guy to fix the cabana, I spent several hours writing my first fiction book (short story – whatever it turns out to be), a romantic mystery about a therapist named Amanda Church.  V named her.  She’s beautiful and 41, widowed, smart, independent, and funny.  (Hold on there Ralph, she’s not real!!!)  I’m up to chapter two.

Of course I read blogs and answered comments and emails, but I wasn’t overrun with emails full of things I need to do, like normal, so I took my time and explored new sites.  I made a few phone calls including an appointment with a man in our area to get learn more about the history of Tulare County.  His family was one of the first settlers, and in fact, started the first school in this area.

Yesterday when I was making a Valentine’s Day card for V I discovered that I could draw in Photoshop.  Now, I am not much of a drawer with a pen and pencil, (Dianne Gray’s gherkin-faced salesman looked pretty sophisticated to me) and have even less control with the palm of my hand, but I actually drew a flower – like you would see a first grader draw.  I actually scribbled all over V’s card, and had a great time. Fortunately I also made him chocolate chip cookies and yummy soup and sandwiches for dinner.

I don't think I'd win any card making contests!!!
I don’t think I’d win any card making contests!!!

So today, I tried drawing again.  This is what I came up with after a couple of hours, maybe.  The time disappeared.

Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.
Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.

 

So that was my wonderful, lazy, retired day.  What did you do today?

 

Writing efficiency

tchistorygal:

Writing is a skill we teach in many ways. How do we build the skill of creativity?

Originally posted on bottledworder:

Imagine a place where all roads are numbers. Imagine a school where all the kids sit in order of their heights and all kids greet each other in alphabetical order. Imagine a neighbourhood where kids no longer play but only have play dates. Imagine a country where all tunnels are the same height and all bridges are the same width, where all buses are numbered and all  underground trains are tagged with alphabets. Imagine a river with clearly cut banks in straight lines and trees that bend on cue with the wind.

View original 379 more words

Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

Kristen Lamb, author of Are You There Blog?  It’s Me, Writer., writes non-fiction in a folksy, easy to understand style.  Read like good fiction, the pages of this how-to book practically turned themselves.  Writers and bloggers can immediately apply her tips to improve their blog, Facebook and Twitter platforms.

In spite of the fact Are You There Blog?  It’s me, Writer. was easy to read I found myself highlighting, taking tons of notes, and rereading to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  I had to discipline myself to keep on track.  My thoughts were screaming, “Wow, I need to go to Facebook RIGHT NOW, and remove my birthday, but I did a little self-talk “Take notes, Marsha.  Copy down the tips you want to remember.”  Because LEARNING SOMETHING is the goal of reading a non-fiction book, it IS a different skill than reading fiction.

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts always lurk in my brain whenever I read now.  Across the United States, by the time they start high school, students will spend 70 percent of their school day reading non-fiction materials.  I would recommend this book for students from 6th grade up.  Common Core Standards also put a greater emphasis on writing than ever before.  Teaching students to blog, and having them interact with each other as well as others, means less editing for the teacher, more interest and commitment from the students.  For language arts teachers this book will address reading and writing standards at the same time.

Even young students can respond to a teacher’s blog about a topic.  This doesn’t mean that the teacher has to “write” every “topic” on their blog.  They can copy paragraphs or quotes directly from a book they cite.  By high school many students will have a Facebook account.  Lamb’s book teaches them to use it safely and wisely.  They also learn to use Facebook as a marketing tool to market themselves.  We often overlook, or feel too pressured to teach, the importance of the “soft” skills in education, of how to get along with people, how to motivate them, and get them to like us.  Those skills are an integral part of DOING social media.  Kristen Lamb integrates those skills as she explicitly teaches basics of blogging and using social media.

“Giving is when you take your time to read their blog, to repost their story and to congratulate their writing goal on Twitter. Giving is when you write a nice review of someone else’s book unsolicited and expecting nothing in return.”

Lamb, Kristen (2011-05-07). Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer (Kindle Locations 572-573). Who Dares Wins Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Students will learn that “people love feeling good” and that “a positive attitude is a key ingredient for a hit blog that connects with others in a meaningful way.” (Ibid Location 1519)

These soft skills that students learn will be useful to them no matter what profession or trade they choose to enter during or after high school.

Kristen’s book is available on Kindle, which means that note taking will be easy for students (and teachers who are beginning bloggers).  When a quote is copied from the book on the computer the biographical information is automatically noted.  WHEW!  That was EASY!

Mike Lebsock, 8th grade history teacher, President San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social STudies (SJVCSS), John Adams in Colonial Williamsburg

Mike Lebsock, an eighth grade teacher in Fresno, posts a blog entry then has his students write one response to his post, and one response to another student’s response.  How easy that would be using this book.  The teacher doesn’t have to write his or her own content.  He or she simply copies right from the book into the blog.  The biographical information is automatically there as well.

Are You There Blog? is easy to read, but that doesn’t mean that there is NO academic vocabulary.  The academic vocabulary is primarily content-based and can be grasped within the context of the book.  However, for students using Kindle or other e-readers, they can open a window with the definition of an unfamiliar word by just passing the cursor over a word and stopping.

When I started this review, I struggled with recommending it for Common Core because it was such an enjoyable book to read.  After analyzing how the book can actually meet many elements of Common Core I have changed my mind.  Non-fiction books can be enjoyable, and enjoyable books can be academic.  Read and enjoy Kristen Lamb’s book, Are You There Blog?  It’s Me, Writer. with your students – - or just for yourself.

Today’s Featured Blog 

My blogging friend Rommel, has taught me so much.  He was one of my first visitors before I knew squat, he had nominated me for an award.  I didn’t even understand what an award was.  He kept coming back when I was working full time+, and hardly had a second to visit any blogs, there was Rommel commenting on my blog.   Then recently he featured me on his site.  Who knew?  What a kind thing to do.  So it is with great honor and pride that I introduce my first Featured Blogger, Rommel.  The post that I chose, although he writes great travel stories, posts amazing pictures from all over the world, I fell in love with Once in A Blue Moon, a poem.  This is how it starts.

Another special post.

Here goes…

You know what…. I need to pause… An image first.

Can’t you just picture a vibrant young man venturing out on unfamiliar waters, writing a poem?

The Hilarity of Real Spam

Both Sex Gratis and Tattoo Age need to work a little on their persuasive writing skills. as well as their language usage.  Maybe that is why the Common Core standards are pushing teachers to teach persuasive/argument writing grades K-12.  These folks are so pathetic they are fodder for the funnies.

“I think this is a powerfull site with much interesting blogposts about this stuff. And i just wanna say thnx for this. I’ll subscribe to your website to see if you post more stuff like these!”

I guess this person assumes is that I would WANT him/her to subscribe to MY website!!!  On what grounds would I want him or her to be part of my world?  Certainly their gravitar name and photo doesn’t do much to sell them.  Then there is the ignorance of simple rules of grammar.  I am not the best grammar teacher, but starting from the beginning powerful is misspelled.  I didn’t catch it, but by WP did on the routine proofreading checker.  I misspell words on purpose sometimes to make a point or make up a word, but this is not the case here.  Next “much interesting” should be many interesting.  I love the old red pen, don’t you?  Next, could he/she be use a more specific word than “stuff” What “stuff” is he/she reading on my blogpost that is so powerful and interesting?  I didn’t see anything too sexy or tattooish about my vase stories.  Rules of capitalization and spelling in a formal email such as this one should be followed if he/she wants to be believable to a stranger like me.  Finally, Is “stuff” singular or plural?  He/she is referring to one post, but using a referent “these” to refer to the plural “stuff” that was found in the post?  It is confusing if not incorrect.  

“Hi there you have a good weblog over here! Thanks for posting this interesting information for us! If you keep up the good work I’ll visit your website again. Thanks!”

You know, I like praise as much as the next person, but is this a threat?  If – then statements are great for science, but for enticing someone to do good work?  Not to helpful unless you are the parent.  IF you get your homework done, THEN you can visit your friends.  Kids love this – and RUSH to get their homework done!  My husband might TRY an IF – THEN statement like that, and substitute homework for housework.  On the other hand, IF he did try that, THEN I probably would have the dirtiest house in the world – and I don’t (BTW).  On an aside I think people who dislike each other and live together have lazy contests – who can do the least around the home? Maybe they used too many IF – THEN statements in their conversations with each other.

“everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. it contains truly information. your website is very useful. thanks for sharing. looking forward to more!”

Who writes this stuff? OK Spam Geeks, EVERY sentence starts with a capital letter, unless you are a published writer with a huge following, and even then…  So lets assume that this is computer generated, and the programmer doesn’t understand the First grade rule of capitalization.  I get computer generated messages from WP, LinkedIN, Facebook.  THEY know how to generate a simple sentence that is correct and motivational.  I actually do endorse people when the generator asks me to – if I know them and like them.  So take a lesson from the experts and put a capital at the beginning of every sentence.

“hey, great job friend, cheers.”

I can live with these spams.  OK, there’s no capital, but it’s simple and sort of “Good morning” kind of innocuous statement.  I know, as a teacher, that “great job” is no longer acceptable.  I used to say that so much that my students would imitate me – voice included!  My spam friend, be specific in your praise.  What is great about my work?  Nonetheless, a simple, “great job friend, cheers”, well it’s happy and positive – no threats.  I can live with this one.  However, with enough of real people out there reading with faces instead of computer generated pattern gravitar, I’ll still delete this one permanently.  No sale.

What is you favorite spam, or do you look at them?  One of them might be me, so please look.  Have you found me there?  Are you still finding me in the Spam with sex gratis and tattoo age?  Are you finding more interesting Spam than I have?  Please share!

P.S.  My website was immediately shut down when I published this article this morning.    I had copied and pasted a gravitar of one of the spammers because it was so nonsensical.  Just a warning.  DON’T DO THAT!!!

PSS.  Thank you WordPress for reading my plea and restoring my blog.

Blog and Retirement Management

Books are in place.  I’m open for business.“What business?” you wonder, then you advise.  “Well, Marsha, now that you are retired and blogging you ought to blog about things that are everyday here, and other people have probably never seen.”  Great idea – I wrote the first article like that about picking table grapes  - as I came up on it.  It’s soon to be a best-selling book, I’m sure.  So far there are no comments.  I drove by a field of walnuts being shaken.  Dust spiraled into the blue sky giving it that aged look.  I had an appointment, so I had to hurry on.  When I came back, the shaker and the dust was gone.  Missed opportunity, and that only rolls around once a year.

“Marsha, you ought to write a blog about retirement.  Just go day by day and tell people what it’s like to be retired.”   Great idea – so that’s what I do every day when I blog.  I’m doing it.  I’m retired.  Therefore retired people might do this kind of thing.“Marsha, it just seems like retired people are so driven by their schedules, and it’s not as important as the working person’s schedule.”   Yes and no.  I haven’t established a schedule yet.  I exercise every day I’m home.  I fix more meals, and do more grocery shopping.  I write every day, but times vary. I may stop to talk to someone on the phone, do laundry, run an errand for myself or someone else, but I’m still too new at retirement to have set times for retirement activities.  And thus a month has zoomed by and I haven’t accomplished anything of great import other than working on the CCSS Bylaws and Standing Rules, arranging my books, and committing to cyberspace a journal of my life.“Marsha, we could take off for a month and just drive.”  Great idea – we’ll see how that one plays out.I could quilt.  I’m almost set up in the other room – no pictures yet – it’s wall to wall mess right now.  But I’m set up with enough quilt ideas to last me the next 20-30 years without buying a single book, or coming up with a single idea of my own.  AND I have friends who share the interest.  That one has definite possibilities.

I am taking classes on things I want to learn.  Photoshop is first, so today I practiced renaming this batch of photos at the touch of a button.  It wasn’t nearly as easy as when Steve was right there guiding us through it.  Some folders work.  iPhoto acted like it didn’t have any files, therefore I couldn’t choose them to alter, and I couldn’t save altered files to iPhoto.  I did save them all as low quality gifs, and that took about 2 seconds.  The hardest part was finding them after they were done.  They are all supposed to have a watermark on them as well, but I sure can’t find it.  So I still have a lot of work just implementing that simple lesson.Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time photoshopping Puppy Girl into a picture she didn’t get into.  That was quite time consuming, then at the last second, when I thought it had been saved, and saved again, I pressed “do not save”, and it didn’t.  Retirement and learning new skills is frustrating.  I think I should tone her down a bit because this was a picture of her outside in the sun playing with Mama Kitty.  Obviously the tones are a bit more muted in here.  Nonetheless, I thought she came out pretty well.  I used the marquee tool, the eraser tool and the clone tool, and it took about an hour the first time, and about 15-20 minutes the second.I thought I could do book reviews of all the great books I never had time to finish (start) when I was working.  “And Marsha, you could put the reviews in the form of power points, so they’d be ready to use.”   Great idea.  Oh yes, and my newest professional history books are in the car still from my last presentation.  Not to mention the ones I have on Kindle.  Since I haven’t done an official review, just a couple of blog reviews, I’m not sure what that all will entail, but one thing is for sure – I have a lot to read!

So now I feel overwhelmed.  Think I’ll listen to Tale of Two Cities for a while as I load in some more reading material, then sit down to knit a hat before working out.  One thing for sure.  I won’t be bored!!!!

Finding My Journal

Thank you all for visiting my site yesterday – I had 100 views!  I don’t know about the rest of you bloggers, but that fact makes me forget that I have any other worthwhile work to do, and makes me want to think of what to write to y’all today.   I do love that contraction.  (I’m not a Southern Belle, but I just love using it in honor of PT, who reads my blog every day.  Thanks PT.)  Don’t you just love her dimples.  She’s amazing, but that’s another story. One of the unanticipated benefits of retirement is to have my library all in one physical location.  That means I found my journal that I kept during my Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.  These are VERY cool.  They are handmade – even the paper.  I was afraid to write in it at first because I didn’t want to mess it up. So I may bore you from time to time, sharing my reflections that accompany the hundreds of photographs I took while I was there, and have just sat in my Facebook gallery, my external hard drive, and who knows where else.  I didn’t want to spend time too much time writing about them because I didn’t want to get my facts wrong. And I didn’t want to spend time researching when I knew that somewhere I had written downs tons of notes.  Ah the bane of not having a photographic memory.  Just think what a joy I could be to y’all if I could just remember things perfectly.  Actually I remember large bits of things, but somewhere they get jumbled, and my facts get scattered, and come out incorrect.  Then, because I am supposed to be somewhat of a history guru, I am embarrassed when I err, and my guru credibility is lost.  But I meander…In addition to being Clementina Rind for the week, I was also assigned to be on the Military Committee.  I had no recollection of that for several reasons, but I wrote it in my journal, so  it made SOME impression at the time.  Clementina is still with me 4 years later.  I was really into taking pictures of 18th century military life.  I have 97 pictures, and NO Notes!!  The sad thing is that we participated in amazing feats of war.  I accidentally hit the woman next to me in the face with my wooden musket when we were standing in formation practicing loading aiming, and firing our supposedly harmless weapons.   I didn’t volunteer to attempt loading the cannon.  It was real.My entry for the day we went to Yorktown reads, “I forgot my journal when we went to Yorktown. ”  

Ever consider what it might have been like if you got a toothache on the battle field – or even back home in the 18th century?  When I was a  dental assistant, believe me none of our instruments looked this vicious.  Of course, without my notes I don’t know if these WERE dental instruments or something with which to take out bullets.  Whichever, the look malicious, and I know there was no anesthesia involved.  No laughing gas.  No Novocaine. No topical anesthetic to numb your gums BEFORE you got a shot of NO Novocaine!!!  So maybe these wicked tools for the little balls that came out of muskets.  The point is I FORGOT TO TAKE MY JOURNAL.  Do you see how disastrous the effect merely four years later???  Can you imagine if I waited 40 years to label my precious pictures?George would never have forgotten HIS journal.  This desk was center stage in his tent.The troops did eat, and what you see in the background is part of the outdoor dugout oven.  This piece of equipment, as I recollect, was not a branding iron, but had something to do with cooking.  Wish I had taken my journal.This was my 75th picture.  I bet you are wondering what’s in the box.  Well, if I had brought my JOURNAL, I could have told you, but NO, it rested safely in my room where it wouldn’t get dirty.  (It still isn’t dirty.)  Judging from the pictures sequentially around this photo, which I can see, but I won’t bore you with, the box has something to do with canons.  My solid hypothesis is that it holds cannon balls.  Where is Mike Lebsock when you need him?  Probably sitting in his Colonial Williamsburg home office writing memoirs in HIS JOURNAL.  Or maybe he’s sketching.  He actually painted the middle picture right above his books.  What a talented SJVCSS President we have!!!  When I got back I quoted Clementina as saying, “I have watched as this revolution became inevitable.  I published Thomas Jefferson’s first declaration.  I strained to see this conflict that I might rejoice at our freedom.  Freedom of the press (of course that was of GREAT interest to Clementina), which we have as British citizens, but which could as easily be taken from us, as surely as taxation without representation has already been taken.  I regret that I did not live to report this great event.”Don’t try to read THAT quote, I photographed a page that had better handwriting!!!  Then I did what I do most in my journals.  I introspected.  “Its amazing to me to understand what bravery and sheet luck has play a part of my privilege of being born and raised as an American woman.  This privilege becomes clear and dearer as I age and I realize the foundations that were laid to make my life possible.”  I still stand by that statement.The moral of this story.  Buy a journal.  Take your journal with you.  Write in it.  Don’t lose it.  Then share it with someone.

tchistorygal:

This is not only clever and entertaining, but include helpful hints that work. TChistorygal.

Originally posted on That Writing Lady:

 

THere is a new tool that I have been working on to help new teachers brainstorm effective ways to inspire their students. I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

View original

Bicycle Needs a Fish Part 2

 

The last time you heard about BICYCLE she had just left the garage in the worst flood in 50 years.  The flood waters carried her out into the creek along with her new friend, FISH.

Faster and FASTER spun her tires. Bicycle’s pedals spun around too. Bicycle rolled over and over. She had never been upside down. It seemed that every part of Bicycle moved. Even her handlebars jerked from side to side as she jolted from one rapid to another. “OUCH!” she complained to the swirling waters, but they didn’t listen.

“I’m right HERE with you,” Fish tried to assure her, but Bicycle couldn’t hear him.

Fish swam out in front where Bicycle could see him. Being a fish, he could sense what was around him without even touching anything. His eyes allowed him to see right and left at the same time and keep clear of dangerous objects crashing through the angry creek waters. Fish knew better than to swim between Bicycle’s spokes now. They would tear him right in two as her tires turned rapidly to and fro in the raging current.

Bicycle swirled around and around in the thrashing waters. She hit trees and rocks along the way that had also been dislodged by the flood “OUCH, OUCH OUCH! You’re hurting me water. Put me down! SLOW DOWN!!!!Water didn’t know any better. It didn’t care. It just churned and crashed along its widened course. Every once in a while Bicycle could look forward. There was FISH. She felt comforted by his presence.

Fish had never seen so many moving parts. It seemed that Bicycle’s parts NEVER stopped moving. Fish drifted along in the agitated creek as best he could. He glanced back often to make sure Bicycle was still following, and didn’t get herself STUCK in a fallen tree. Fish knew he would be swept downstream, and would lose her if she got caught, and he knew she was terribly frightened. Fish watched as Bicycle bounced against rocks, tree limbs,denting her pretty fenders. He felt sick to his stomach just imagining her fear as she bounded from the bottom to the top of the water. SWIRL went the creek. Up went Bicycle’s front tires clear out of the water. Fish could barely see the tire as kept spinning crazily above the water. Then SPLASH, the front tire dove under the roiling water, and the back tire went airborne.

The days wore on, the waters became calmer and calmer as they spread further onto the dry land. Bicycle had no idea where she was. There were no roads in the creek. No familiar landmarks, only water. The rain had stopped. Sunlight sifted down through the muddy waters during the day.

Now that the creek had become gentler, Fish dared to explore Bicycle’s many movable parts. He glided nimbly from Bicycle’s front to her back, and even between her chain. He would NEVER have tried that a few days ago when the water raged angrily blazing out a new path for itself. There were all sorts of hiding places for Fish. Peeking out from between Bicycles’ coiled springs under its seat, sun splashing through the murky waters down on to Bicycle’s handlebars reflecting rays of light into Fish’s eyes. Fish had no eyelids to shield his delicate eyes. Caught unaware by the unusual display of glittering metal, Fish dashed behind Bicycle’s seat coils. Fish had never seen Bicycle sparkle. Fish was dazzled. But Bicycle’s pedals had stopped spinning. Fish pushed on them to make them turn, but they didn’t move. He didn’t know it, but the sun’s rays made him sparkle, too. His scales sometimes orange, sometimes silver, shone like sequins on a prom dress.

Finally, Bicycle came to rest on a rock at the bottom of the creek. Bicycle saw many fish swimming by. Even a turtle floated along with the water’s current. The waters eventually began to abate, but Fish stayed and kept Bicycle company through the long dark night. He didn’t swim off with the many schools of fish that swarmed by. Bicycle was far from home in unfamiliar territory, but she felt safe. Fish was with her, brushing away the sand that was settling on the new indentations in Bicycle’s fenders with his strong tail fin, soothing Bicycle. Fish blew bubbles in Bicycle’s face making her laugh. Fish turned flips, imitating the funny way Bicycle had looked when she was tossed by the flooded waters. Things were changing. Bicycle could no longer move her parts. They stuck in the mud at the bottom of the creek.

As the waters subsided, more and more land appeared even in the center of the creek. Fish reluctantly had to move on, needing water to live. He felt Bicycle feeling her presence one last time with the special long distance senses that fish have. He felt the cool creek-water rinse his eyes and try to wash away the sadness that threatened to overwhelm him.

Bicycle sank into the mud at bottom of the creek, and sand and silt filled in all her parts. Even a few tiny gold nuggets lodged in the springs under its seat. Bicycle felt her handlebars, spokes, and chain begin to tingle. She looked at her handlebars, tiny red spots began to appear. She had always been proud of her appearance. Now nothing mattered. Bicycle’s heart was broken. FISH, who had been with her day and night, comforting her through the scary ordeal, swam away that morning. Bicycle knew somehow that she would never see her beautiful fish again. Fish’s silvery fins would never again brush Bicycle’s fenders. Bicycle would never again laugh at Fish’s silly under-water antics.

Weeks later Mr. Stingward found Bicycle as he was driving to work. He picked her up, put her in the back of his pick-up and took her home. Before Gloria got home from school, Mr. Stingward cleaned the mud and sandy grit off Bicycle’s paint, pounded out Bicycle’s dents, and made Bicycle shiny once more. He oiled Bicycle’s rusty chain and handlebars. Bicycle looked as good as new. He hung Bicycle from the ceiling so she could never be swept away by a flood again.

“I have a surprise for you,” Mr. Stringward announced when Gloria came home from school. Together they went to the garage.

“Oh Dad! Bicycle is back. And she’s not all tangled in your junk! You’re the BEST DAD in the WORLD!”

Gloria and her father never knew about Fish, but Gloria could tell that Bicycle was not the same as before. Bicycle moved stiffly. Bicycle’s brakes were not responding to her as quickly or enthusiastically when she wanted to stop along the road to admire the flowers. Bicycle could barely make it up the steep hills even when Gloria got off and pushed it. Gloria put Bicycle back in the garage, and hung Bicycle upside down safe and sound. Once again Bicycle’s parts were still.

The tears that stained the garage floor each night were always dry by morning, and Gloria and Mr. Stringward never understood the little circles of crusted salt on the floor. She swept them out every six months or so when she cleaned the garage and dusted Bicycle’s fenders and handlebars. And Bicycle dreamed about FISH.

I  hope you like the story. This story started with the quote by Gloria Steinem, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”, but it evolved into this children’s story about the loss of a friend.  In this case two friends that could not possibly exist together.

Thanks for reading and making comments.  Gloria Bicycle and Fish still desperately need an artist to become a real book.  I stole some of these pictures from the internet and altered them, but the story needs “characters” with more personality.  :)

 

The Importance of Writing in the History-Social Science Class

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin.

Both California’s Common Core State Standards (CCCSS) and the History/Social Science (HSS) Framework and Standards recommend writing as an essential tool for teaching the discipline of history/ social science because writing develops analytic and critical thinking skills.  History classes should include both informal and formal writing.

 Informal Writing

A history class should practice  informal writing “routinely over extended time frames for a range of tasks, purposes and audiences (CCCSS Range of Writing 10, Grade 3)”.

  • Students must learn how to take notes.  They should always record their source of information whether from a lecture, an online source, book, or article.
  • A double-sided journal works well for this activity.  On one side of the paper the students record important facts from reading the text or primary source materials, lectures, student reports, and videos.  On the other side they record their own thinking, beliefs, questions, and ideas to analyze as they learn.
  • learning logs
  • outlines
  • doodles
  • lists,
  • graphic organizers such as Venn diagrams and concept maps.
  • Digital notes:  Evernote is a free online product that allows students to record and insert pictures into their notes.

After they take notes, they should analyze their notes to decide the main idea, the author’s or speaker’s opinions or point of view, and find the credibility of the information source.  Informal writing is most effective when it is shared with one or two peers.  Typically these written works are not edited by the students or teacher for errors, but they may be expanded and modified after being shared with a classmate.  Writing informally to learn is one of the first steps students use when preparing to write a formal history/ social science essay.

 Formal Writing

Formal writing in history/social science answers a question and includes:  arguments, informational texts and narration of historical events in both short and sustained research projects.  All three of these writing types consist of answering question and presenting facts and examples to persuade a reader to accept the student’s interpretation of history.  The teacher’s responsibility is to begin a writing project with a question prompt about a significant issue within a larger historical context that will stimulate student thinking.

Writing programs differ only slightly in describing five steps in writing a formal historical essay from pre-writing to a published document.  The steps are:  pre-writing, draft, revising, editing, and publishing.  Students do best when teachers clearly communicate what they expect by showing examples of similar papers at each stage of the process about other topics in which students have written successfully to a prompt.  It is also helpful to demonstrate to students what is not successful, but teachers must always end by showing the successful model.

  • Pre-writing
    • Students must understand and analyze the prompt, place it in the proper context, and develop a thesis statement in which they state their opinion about the topic.
    • Students need to know the purpose and audience for which and to whom they are writing,
    •  Pre-writing also includes collecting and sorting information.  Students may need direct instruction on how to use the Internet to research, how to tell secondary from primary resources and understand why both are important.  In addition to gathering information, students will discard unimportant details, and keep only those that support the claim they make in their thesis statements.
    • Finally in the pre-writing stage students need experience with academic vocabulary.  Teachers need to be clear in their instructions as to which words students are required to use in their final product.
  • Draft
    • Starting with a hook like a quotation or interesting fact students will turn their outlines or graphic organizers into an essay with an introduction, body and conclusion.  The thesis, stated somewhere in the introductory paragraph, controls the argument and answers the historical question in one sentence.  It states the author’s opinion authoritatively using the verbs “to have” or “to be” rather than using specific opinion words.  The thesis statement should be followed by persuasive words such as “This is historically important because…” or “This shows that…”
    • Each paragraph also has a main idea, general and specific details, and a transition or conclusion.
    • In the body of the essay, students should start with the weakest argument (Scarcella, 2003; Schleppegrell, 2004.).  Students should aim to include 3-4 factual details to prove each argument or concept.
    • Rather than offering a simple summary, the formal historical essay concludes by restating the thesis and applying the analysis to a broader context to show its significance in history.
  • Revising
    • Word sorting activities, using word banks or thesauruses they make edits to revise and improve their reports.
    • They read each other’s work and “question the author” to make sure that the message they have is clear.
    • They allow time to distance themselves from their work so they can be objective as they make deep cuts and edits to their original draft.
  • Editing
    • Proofreading and editing still needs to take place to perfect the product.  They need to check for punctuation, complete sentences, capitals, grammar.
    • Finally they should include text features such as: font sizes, bold and italicized print, charts, maps and pictures.
  • Publishing
    • Finally the works is ready to be published.  This may be in the form of a paper, book, brochure, or a digital production such as a blog or photo story.  There are many other forms of publications each with their own requirements.

Writing about history is often controversial, and cannot be understood unless writers imagine themselves in a different period of history, in a different place and culture.  They must garner facts and evidence to take up a new identity and make sense of the events of history.  Tom Clancy states, “The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.”  Often history doesn’t make sense, and student historians have the opportunity to investigate and produce their slant on what really happened in history”.  Writing helps students learn from and make sense of history, and develops their critical and analytic thinking.  Write on, historians.

Just Finish It

Such the Like motivated her with her blog post about what books she is reading.  I, too, love to read, at least I think I do.  If it’s not fiction I love to start reading.

That’s why I read so little fiction.  I can’t stop reading fiction until the end of the book – even if I keep my scratchy eyes open until 2:00 a.m.  Unfortunately, there is so much else on my list to read, so I feel guilty reading heart-stopping, bone-chilling fiction.  I did take time to read all of Cristian’s book, Remember,  because it was short, and I wanted to see what kind of writer he is since he is writing about how to write.

I like reading on Kindle because it keeps track of what you are reading, and how much of you read.  Kindle would tell me if I read 100% of Cristain’s book because all the dots should be blackened to the end, but since I read it on my iPhone while I was waiting for an appointment, the dots won’t be filled in until I sync my Kindle.

When it comes right down to it, I’ve been ignoring one of my favorite hobbies, reading books, and substituting it for reading on the internet.  It almost seems like I’m not reading when I read the internet because I’m just scratching the surface.  I read for information.  My friend has an ailment, I look it up.  I read a post on Facebook about a movie I’ve don’t know, so I stop and look it up.   I have friends who are way over my experiential head, and I can’t stand that, so I check things they write about out – on the internet.  I’m at a lecture, and the speaker says he has a web page – I visit it.  He makes a comment about the newest thing that the Igeneration is using.  I google it.  It’s five years old, and out of production.  Good thing he’s entertaining!

http://media.zeromotorcycles.com/press-2012/small/ds/location/2012_zero-ds_action-02_1680x1200_press.jpg

My step-son wants me to buy a Zero.  We check it out together.  I can’t even read the specs without his expert help.  I don’t think I’m ready to own a Zero, but I’m intrigued.

http://www.hgtv.com/decks-patios-porches-and-pools/creating-privacy-on-decks-and-patios/pictures/page-4.html

My husband wants to put up an awning.  We check out the newest things on HGTV’s blog.

But I can’t finish my books.  Here they are, and I like them all.

Now that I’ve confessed to you I promise that I will finish one of them today.