Happy Holidays!

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I want to wish everyone a happy holiday. I am going to take the next few weeks off and enjoy them myself. See you in the new year!

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Edits and Craft Shows

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I’m in the middle of edits for my new book. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. I learn so much with each new editor. I always feel I finally have the editing process mastered. But, I don’t. (A side note to authors: No matter how you publish your book, you need a good editor!) Thankfully my publisher provides them and I am so grateful for that.

I know I write for only a small group of readers, and question why I keep doing it. Well, I do know why, I can’t stop writing. But sometimes it feels like a thankless job.

A few weeks ago, I set up shop at a craft fair. Before the doors opened, a young girl, who seemed to be about fifteen, strolled down the aisle. She stopped in front of my table and studied the books. She told me she loved to read and might come back and read mine. I thanked her and smiled while inwardly did a happy dance.

Fifteen minutes later she came back and asked if she could read some of the book. I told her to go for it. I sat and watched her read, set the book down and walk away. The earlier dance party in my head melted away.

Next thing I knew, she was back. Money in hand, she bought the first book of the series. She said if she liked it, she’d come back for the other two. She was a fast reader she informed me. Again, I nodded and smiled, but inside my heart raced. My mind was all over the place, “What if she doesn’t like it? Please like it. How long did she say it takes her to read a book?”

She helped her mom at a table further down the row. My niece, who kindly volunteered to sit at the table with me, spotted her reading. I couldn’t look. “Is she still reading?” I’d ask every now and then. “She has her head down, so yeah,” was the answer.

It was sweaty palms time. Would she be back? Would she buy the next two? I didn’t care about the money. I wanted her to like the book. Halfway through the craft fair, the girl made her next appearance. “I finished,” she said.

Heart pounding, I wanted to grab her and say, “Tell me everything! What did you like?” My niece calmly asked, “Who was your favorite character?” “Lindsey,” she replied. “Oh, interesting choice,” my niece answered.

Lindsey is my main character’s best friend. She is a good choice. Strong, determined, loyal.

Again, she walked away. My heart was now in my throat. Five minutes later, she was back, money in hand. “I want to buy the other two books.” The happy dance was back. She liked it. She really liked it.

We had a good conversation. I feel I can add her to my tens of fans. (That’s not a typo.) So thank you, fifteen year old girl from the craft fair. I will continue to write and hope someday more readers like you will find my books

Reading and Writing and ‘Rithmetic

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I’m glad I don’t teach anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I loved it. I miss the kids. I miss creating a great lesson. I miss the light bulb moments. The reason I don’t want to be in the classroom now can be summed up in three words—common core math.

I just watched an inspiring video on Common Core Math. A mother in a certain school district gave a well-thought out presentation to a group of officials as to why parents hate it. I gave her a standing ovation when it was over. She gave an example of a math word problem to the panel. One of the women answered the question after figuring it out in her head. The mom told her it would take numerous steps on paper to show the answer, many more than necessary. And that’s what children are asked to do, show those steps, instead of being praised for figuring it out in their head.

Math and memorization have gone out the window. No more training the brain to be a calculator. I’m glad I learned arithmetic the old-fashioned way. I even know how to count change back to a customer, not that it’s a needed talent anymore. The cash register does everything for the employee these days. But still, shouldn’t we all know how to do that? Math skills should be stored in the brain, not as a ten step process on two sheets of paper.

I have read up on Common Core Math. Not to bore you, or myself, here are some main ideas of what I found. There are no shortcuts. The math is conceptual, not procedural. When you get the answer, you have to be able to write out how you got there. And from what I can conclude, solving math problems are based on rounding place values to tens (or hundreds).

Not to criticize or critique, but I would like to emphasis not all children learn the same way. I had buckets of hundreds blocks, tens sticks, and ones cubes for hands-on sessions. After one particular good lesson, or so I thought, a child raised his hand. “I don’t get it,” he said. My first reaction was to think, “What? After that great lesson?” But I proceeded to take him to the chalkboard and demonstrate the same problem on the board. “Oh,” he said, “now I see.”

I am not an expert when it comes to this new math. All I can say is that I think it looks very confusing. We can all add 26+17 in our head. Got the answer already? Right, 43. That’s considered the wrong way.

This is the common core math way:

Break apart the numbers to make a ten.

Use a number that adds with the 6 in 26 to make a ten.

Since 6+4=10, use 4.

Think: 17-4=13

Add 26+4=30

13+30=43

There’s your answer!

I admit I found this popular example on-line and didn’t try to solve a problem myself. After reading through that given model, I didn’t want to. And I don’t have to.

But kids do. Every day at school.

It Finally Happened

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Buy Now at Black Friday Prices

Black Friday Preview Sale

Black Friday Prices Let’s Start Early and Save

Don’t Wait for Black Friday Save Now

Black Friday Now

Get Black Friday Prices Early

The Wait is Over! Shop Black Friday Deals Now!

Isn’t the idea of Black Friday to shop on one day? Friday? I knew it would happen. The sale already crept into Thanksgiving night and now it’s become a whole week’s worth of shopping. Just look at the headlines above. They were taken from ads in the Sunday paper and emails I received…before Thanksgiving.

First, let me be clear, I am not a shopper on that day. I stay home and put up the Christmas tree. But those of you who are, you have my most sincere sympathy. The thrill of the chase, the golden apple is being taken from you. Why get up early or stay out late when you can shop all week?

Good job, corporate America. You’ve watered down one of the best shopping days (for some people) of the year. I hope it comes back to bite you.

And by the way, I also hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving enjoying family and friends, which is what the week was about.  Really, it was.