Sunday, February 28, 2010

Management Drivel

Politics are a sad thing.
Perception is every thing. Reality is nothing. This is because institutions are run for and by politicians, not front line workers like you and I.

In education, principals develop principals based on memos from head office, no matter that it doesn't make sense for the students. I'm glad I retired!

My RN friend published a post about such. She works in an Emergency Department.

Best Management Drivel. Evuh!

She says, in part,
I am to provide an “experience”, like an amusement park ride. Though I am not quite sure what the “experience” entails.
Have we actually come to the point where we are substituting a perception of good patient care for actual patient care? So it seems.

Yes, it is true. There are times we cannot have a child repeat a grade. There are times when common sense goes out the window. Discipline is hidden behind the importance of sending a child out to recess, rather than working one-on-one in a moment when one can give him or her a little quality time.

When classroom management is driven by upwardly mobile politics/principals who want to be seen doing the right thing,  or aspiring movers and shakers afraid to speak their minds, the whole deck of cards falls.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Creative Writing Session #4

Now that the group is getting to know one another, they are more comfortable sharing of themselves.
First: welcome the group. Do a check in of their writing work.

Following last week's discussion, we were working on developing character.
I created a Picture Game – cards with images of people cut from magazines, pasted on recipe cards. Having them select the cards, 3 each. The task: Create a biography of 3 – 5 people they see.

We debriefed: is it was or hard to create a biography of someone you simply see? Guided Imagery #D

Take participants on a journey into the city. Imagine you are on a subway. Who do you see with you? Where are you going?

The train pulls into the station. The conductor opens the window beside you.
He asks,

“Who are you?

What are you looking for?
What do you know for sure?”

A person sits down in front of you. Look at them.
Who do you see with you? Where are they going?
What do they look like?
You get off at the next stop.

How do you develop character?
You need to have a deeper understanding of your character than the reader. Some suggest fillling in a job application for the character. You can make a list of the basic characteristics of the character:

Here is a basic list of character details to help you get started:

                * Name                * Age                            * Job                     * Ethnicity                                                *Appearance      * Residence                *Temperament     * Favorite 
                 * Friends                * Favorite foods                * Drinking patterns                 
 * Phobias                    * Faults

What’s in a name?
Names are important.

'You wouldn’t have a character named Charles who works at the local Gas-n-Go. He would be called Charlie or Chuck, right?'

Once you’ve developed the basic characteristics, you’ll need to dig deeper. Does your character have any pets? Maybe they have strong religious beliefs or maybe they are an atheist. What are there hobbies? Are they single, married, with or without children?

Consider the following:

    * Your character’s secrets
    * Something your character hates
    * Memorable moments in your characters life
    * What are your characters sleep patterns
    * Any illnesses?
    * Nervous tics?

One part of the discussion can revolve around the setting...

What is it every human needs?
Food, clothing, shelter, potable water
This is different than what one wants - for those seeking wants vs. needs, the setting, and plot will be shaped by such.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs: this is how conflict occurs: the characters needs or wants are unfulfilled = conflict between characters or between nature and the participants.

Further to the setting: what about continuity? ALL of these must be in keeping with the temporal setting, modern day vs. medieval times, for example.
  • Clothing     
  • Family Life
  • Climate                   
  • Education
  • Work
  • Technology
  • Communications
  • Transportation

Character Development

From Barrie Summy, she suggested we read:
The Writer's Journey by Chris Vogler
Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood

Then, she suggests:
Also, we can take a book where we love the characterization and deconstruct it. And take a book where we thought the characterization didn't work. Deconstruct both books. Look at what is said when the character is first introduced, how the character grows, how the growth takes places vis-a-vis the plot, etc. Seriously, I learn a ton from taking a book apart.

I found another resource:
Creative Writing Character Development Exercise

Jennifer Jensen suggests asking thought-provoking questions that will reveal character, and then to write character sketches that put your people into action in order to reveal traits that wouldn’t otherwise manifest themselves. Below is a list of probing questions. Pick only two or three to answer and then write a scene to develop the characters in a richer, fuller way than creating a mere list can do.

        * Of what is your character afraid?
        * What gives your character joy?
        * How does your character show love?
        * What makes your character angry?
        * How competitive is your character?
        * What does your character think about during downtime?
        * What “unreachable” dream does your character have?
        * What would your character have to give up to realize this dream?

Personality Development
Gives your reader a visual understanding of the character. Your reader will need to know:
[For this worksheet: see Character Analysis 2 at Teachers Pay Teachers.]
Show the reader what kind of person your character is, by describing actions rather than simply listing adjectives.

Develop the character as a person — don’t merely have your character announce important plot details.

Bring the reader into your character’s mind, to show them your character’s unexpressed memories, fears, and hopes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Creative Writing Session #3b

Welcome –
Ask around the group: What do you know for sure?
"What I know for sure is that every sunrise is like a new page, a  chance to right ourselves and receive each day in all its glory.
Each day is a wonder."        --Oprah

Book Talk –  any good books you've read recently?

Did you do any great reading? Did you write about it? More or less? Learn any lessons?

Covenant - handout -

Beginning Product Name: Creativity Task: On Teachers Pay Teachers

Now set a timer for 2 minutes and start doodling. The goal is to use as many of the circles as you can. For example, you may turn one of the circles into an apple by drawing a stem, or you may turn two adjacent circles into a bicycle by drawing the frame. See if you can use all 20 circles in 2 minutes. It's not as easy as you think! Try to create entirely different pictures every time you try this exercise. If circles get too easy, use triangles or squares.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

 Éros is the sensual love and desire, romantic love we feel for a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse.

Philia is the brotherly/sisterly love we feel for our friends and family. It means friendship in modern Greek.

Agápe is the unconditional love we can feel for humanity and human kind, used in ancient texts to denote feelings for a good meal, one's children, and the feelings for a spouse.

In the good old days, we called this The Golden Rule, yet this notion crosses many faiths, and is discussed in many of them in official teachings. It is discussed in the philosophies of ancient India, Greece, Judea and China. It exists in both positive ('Do to others what you would like to be done to you') and negative forms ('Do not do to others what you would not like to be done to you').

To my mind, this is a day upon which to reflect what you have done for others, not for yourself, if you at all doubt your purpose in this world. This is the day, in my classrooms, when we would talk about these types of love. In elementary school, there was often much jeering and teasing around the issue of sexual proclivities, and I tried to direct our attitudes and discussions towards another direction: the Ethic of Reciprocity.

In my classrooms we would celebrate Random Acts of Kindness week. In this way, we turned our attitudes around not towards, what are you going to do for me, but what will I do for others?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rhyming dictionaries

Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary

For adults, I did a book review on this book:

Words to Rhyme with: A Rhyming DictionaryWords to Rhyme with: A Rhyming Dictionary

It is EXCELLENT, especially as a resource for teachers.

For more choices: try books like these: Synonyms, Antonyms, Homonyms, as well as the last on on idioms, which provide a lovely integrated learning activity (Cr. Wr & Art!) : illustrating one's favourite idiom!

Scholastic Dictionary of Synonyms, Antonyms, HomonymsScholastic Dictionary of Idioms

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Creative Writing: Pen Men #3

Well, brilliant ideas are spewing forth, but I'm not sure what will grab them!

A.   I'd like to explore letters and letter writing.
-Letter formalities

I left letter writing activity from last week -didn't feel right. With Valentine's Day coming up, it might be a nice idea for the men with children.

 B. History of punctuation.

Product DetailsFrom a terrific book, plus binder of black-line masters:

This book, now available in a CD version, is a fabulous step-by-step, with ideas, and incites in teaching elementary, as well as older learners.

Next, I'm thinking about teaching them about learning modalities. Another valuable insight, especially for older learners.

Excellent text for any poet, new, young or old! Here is a great text - I wrote a book review about it:

Words to Rhyme with: A Rhyming DictionarySalutations to rhyming poetry

Second Shift: Teaching Writing to Working Adults 

Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir 

 Merriam-Webster's Rhyming Dictionary

 Writers Have No Age: Creative Writing for Older Adults, Second Edition

Writers Have No Age: Creative Writing for Older Adults, Second Edition

Second Shift: Teaching Writing to Working Adults Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing MemoirMerriam-Webster's Rhyming Dictionary


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Olympic Activities Winter 2010

What a great time we had doing this unit. Here come the Winter Olympics.

We studied a lot of different things:
Olympic Unit uses a PPT to create a research opportunity for student

1. Begin with a KWL chart!
2. Write 100 words about one aspect of the Olympics. Do not forget to use the 'hamburger'.
3. Write a newspaper/sports report of an event.
4. Write a 250 word piece about the torch relay.
5. a) 5 paragraph essay assignment

b) Write a Letter to the Editor : based on the topic: "Role Models - Think Again"and present a logical argument.

6. Write 250 words about the medal ceremony.
7. Cloze activity: Fill in the Blanks.
8. a) Crossword Puzzle | b) Wordsearch
9. Check out our photos of this Global Village math/LA activity.
    a) Mapping the World by Heart
   b) If you do not have time to read the book, The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman. Watch the video (on-line) , hosted by MIT.

c) Clara Hughes, our flag bearer, is concerned about others' Right to Play. Not every country can afford to send athletes. Nor can athletes afford to participate themselves.

10. Write about your dream of becoming an Olympic athlete. What would it take to get you there?

11. Opinion chart: for discussion


  1. Look at our chart for medal standings. Make a chart of the top ten countries and their medal standings. We kept track of medal counts.
  2. Compare the gold medal standings, how many medals is the mean, median and mode? Do the same for the silver and old.
  3. Using the medals standings chart on,
  4. We have been keeping a chart about medal standings. Students were required to write 3 conclusions and 2 predictions based on the standings, the number of competitors and the population of different countries.
  5. Compare Canadian medal winners by gender.
  6. We created a chart on opinions and values around sports by gender.
  7. Go to: History of the Winter Olympics Make a graph of the previous medal winnings. Compare and contrast the medal standings between then and 2006.
  8. Are the results that same on Sportsline Historical Data website?
  9. How much would you pay for Tickets to an Olympic event?
  10. You have $100 for souvenirs, which things would you buy? How many euros would you be able to spend? Use the Yahoo currency converter.

Web-based Research

  1. Who are the Canadian Olympic hopefuls? Write a biography of one of them.
  2. Read the headlines: Sportsline Headlines. Which is the most important story to you?
  3. Visit Enchanted Learning: They have great handouts. What do the different rings represent in the logo? What are modern medals made of? What are the Olympic values?
  4. Create an Olympic PowerPoint. Once you have read about the requirements, open the template and begin your task! Remember to plan first!!!!! Include final medal chart standings, scores or speeds for your athlete or sport.
  5. Use this RUBRIC for assessment.
  6. If you are convering a particular sport, write about it - 5 paragraphs.

The Arts

  1. Design your own logo as host country for the Winter Olympics. Which colours will you use and why? What symbol(s) will you use? Create a mascot and a motto.
  2. Design your own medal.
  3. Design your own torch holder and a method to keep the flame alive during the games.
  4. Design a new Canadian uniform.
  5. Integrated Activities e.g, PPT
  6. Write up an e-biography of your favourite athlete.
  7. Write about your favourite sport.
  8. What do you know about the new skating rules?
  9. Invent an athlete, a sport, a country, and a team of participants.
  10. Compare the coverage from various news media.

The Canadian Olympic School Program is delivered online at and Teacher- and student-specific areas maximize individual engagement and learning experience.

Monday, February 1, 2010

If the world were a village

We read the book: If the World Were a Village. It speaks of world population ratios.
 UNICEF has created a video.
This book is perfect, since we are looking at the spirit of the Olympics, LA, Math:
See also the website that speaks of

This book gives a great launching point for the world, in preparation for the Winter Olympics, talk about the haves and 'have nots' in the world; underdeveloped and developing countries. Talk about countries like Haiti.

   b) If The World were a Village -  picture book. If The World Were A Village DVD.
The animation of If The World Were A Village is available as a DVD or as a VHS tape, in English or in French, at reasonable prices.
To see a clip from the video, please click here.
If the World Were
a VillageThis helps students understand the size of our world. The World is, indeed, flat. We are connected by our planet, our environment and our humanity.

If the world were a village of 1,000 people, it would include:

  584 Asians
*  124 Africans
*   95 East and West Europeans
*  84 Latin Americans
*  55 Soviets (including for the moment Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians and other national groups)
*    52 North Americans
*    6 Australians and New Zealanders

The people of the village have considerable difficulty in communicating:

*    165 people speak Mandarin
*    86 English
*    83 Hindi/Urdu
*    64 Spanish
*    58 Russian
*    37 Arabic
That list accounts for the mother tongues of only half the villagers.  The other half speak (in descending order of frequency) Bengali, Portuguese, Indonesian, Japanese, German, French and 200 other languages.

In this village of 1,000 there are:

*    329 Christians (among them 187 Catholics, 84 Protestants, 31 Orthodox)
*    178 Moslems
*    167 "non-religious"
*    l32 Hindus
*    60 Buddhists
*    45 atheists
*    3 Jews
*    86 all other religions


Food we eat: most in the world eat chicken:

(BCE is the politically correct term for Before the Common Era - NOT: BC - Before Christ)

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