Thursday, May 17, 2018

TED Talk #18: A Life Lesson From a Volunteer Firefighter

Volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos tells a story of an act of heroism that didn't go quite as expected -- but that taught him a big lesson: Don't wait to be a hero.
Image result for a life lesson from a volunteer firefighter

Sunday, April 22, 2018

In this Blog Post I will Explain Why You Should Never Use "I know this because..." and other ideas to strengthen your writing.

Good afternoon, writers!! We're here from lovely West Warwick, Rhode Island with 2 fantastic tips to strengthen your writing today. These teeny-tiny tips are easy to put into action and add a punch to your writing.

Tip #1: Don't write about your writing.

I don't know when this became a fad, but some writers write about their writing instead of just writing it... You've all seen this. Maybe you're even guilty of doing it yourself.
It goes a little like this.
"In this essay, I will talk about why twins are so important to the world."
"For my next paragraph, I will say the second reason why twins are important to the world."

Instead of just writing your claim--- Twins are important to the world. The writer chooses to do this, kind of strangish narrator voice-over of their own writing.

The narration might work for documentaries -- the lion will walk over to the pond-- but it doesn't work in writing. We just don't speak like that.

Your reader is smarter than you think.
If your writing is clear, your reader will be able to tell what the essay is about. No need to tell them. If you've done your job, the reader will know what the point of your paragraph is.

Anytime you feel the urge to write about your writing, stop, put your Chromebook down, and walk a lap around the room. When you come back, look at the page with fresh eyes and just write your thoughts. Forget the empty phrases. Get down to business.

Usually, all you need to do is to take out the narration. "This essay will be about the differences between Anne and Peter." can be changed to "There are many differences between Anne and Peter." Then go into your explanation. Simple as that most times.

Tip #2: Do not write "I know this because..."

As a writer, your job is to state your arguments or tell your story with
authority and strength.  
Paying attention to your word choices will help you succeed.
It’s important that your words are varied (different, not repetitive) and sophisticated.

One bad habit that some writers develop is to explain their evidence basically
same way...
over and over.
They say, "I know this because..."

"Now, wait a minute, Miss Enos! I thought we were supposed to avoid using the
word "I" in our writing!" You might say.

Well, you'd be right.

Not only do you use the word I when explaining your evidence that way, but when you
repeat similar phrases over and over and over our writing gets boring and
lacks sophistication and energy.

There are so many interesting words and phrases out there that
you could choose instead!

Don’t stick with the same words that you used in your younger days.
Get creative!  Think beyond your writing comfort zone.

Click on this document with some sentence starters
and Try some of these instead!

Friday, April 6, 2018

TED Talk #17: Living a Life Without Limits

Hi Everyone,

Get your tissues ready for this one!  Some talks are funny.  Some talks are educational.  Some talks are jaw-dropping.  Well, this talk is a combination of all those things and so much more. 

When she was 19, Amy Purdy lost both her legs below the knee. And now ... she's a pro snowboarder (and a killer competitor on "Dancing with the Stars"!). In this powerful talk, she shows us how to draw inspiration from life's obstacles.

Here is the link to Amy's talk about living life without limits.

Oh, in case you missed it, here is a video of one of Amy's best dances on Dancing with the Stars.

I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire

A little while ago, I was introduced to a new podcast called Launch that I knew I had to listen to!  Launch, hosted by a famous screenwriter named John August, chronicles John's journey of publishing his first book called Arlo Finch.  Although John has been a successful screenwriter, writing scripts for films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Big Fish, this was his very first book and so a brand new adventure

I was intrigued to join him on his journey and hear about both the creative and practical process of publishing a book.  As most of you know, I'm an avid reader, so it makes sense that I would enjoy the behind the scene viewpoint. 

I'm now finished with 5 episodes of the podcast.  He's talked about pitching the idea, meeting with publishers, selling the rights, editing, production, carefully choosing fonts and colors for the titles, visiting where the books are printed and bound, and even going on a book tour to visit middle schools and bookstores.

I've enjoyed hearing about the process so much, that I knew I had to buy the book!

The book's title is Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire.  It is a middle-grade adventure/ magical (fantasy?) book.  There is some magic and real-life mixed up.  Those kinds of books are always a favorite of mine. Sometimes we refer to stories that seem real but have an aspect of magic or fantasy as magical realism.  I love that genre!  It is fun to imagine that there are pockets of magic hidden in our real day-to-day life.  These types of books make me think, "Why not?!"

Arlo Finch is a 6th grader who has moved to the woods in Colorado with his mother and his sister.  His mother grew up there and, because of some difficulties, they have to return to her family home.  When Arlo gets there he meets a few great friends who introduce him to The Rangers.  The Rangers are a group similar to the Boy and Girl Scouts.  Arlo goes on a camping trip with them and discovers something magical in the woods!!

Image result for john august book tour

If you liked Harry Potterish kinds of stories or adventure stories, I would highly suggest this book!  I'm not done with it yet, but I'm really enjoying it!  There will be more in the series and I would bet they are planning to make a movie.  Check it out!  John August seems like a great guy and writer.  It's fun to support his work!

Here is a passage that's on the back cover of the book:

As Arlo looked around, the walls of his room began to vanish, revealing a moonlit forest.  Only his bed remained, and the frame of the window, thorugh which  he saw the girl.  The world on her side of the glass was sparkling with silver and read and gold, like a palace made of autumn leaves. 

Here words came in an urgent whistper:
"If I can see you, they can see you.  You're in danger.  Be careful, Arlo Finch."

Doesn't that sound good!!  See me if you'd like to borrow this book!  After I finish it, that is :)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

TED Talk #16: Want to Be an Activist? Start with your toys!

Hi Everyone, 

Our talk today comes from a girl who is right about your age.

McKenna Pope's younger brother loved to cook, but he worried about using an Easy-Bake Oven

— because it was a toy for girls. So at age 13, Pope started an online petition for the American toy company Hasbro (based right here in Rhode Island!) to change the pink-and-purple color scheme on the classic toy and incorporate boys into its TV marketing.
 In a heartening talk, Pope makes the case for gender-neutral toys and gives a rousing call to action to all kids who feel powerless.

I hope her talk will motivate and inspire you all.