Category Archives: Creativity

Apples for the teacher

Apples for the teacher

My entire life has been focused on education, both in school and out. As explained in my poem Education is, I don’t consider education and school to be synonymous. While some learning may take place in school, education encompasses much more than that. It occurs through living and is lifelong.

While my views have always challenged the traditional approach, I haven’t always found other like-minded educators in my personal circle. When I do meet others with a similar passion for children and learning, I feel exhilarated and renewed, excited by the prospect of what could be.

Recently, on Facebook, I viewed this video by Prince Ea, musician and motivational speaker.

The video led me to the Innovation Playlist and Ted Dintersmith. I knew I had found others of similar mind when I saw that the first video on the Playlist was Do Schools Kill Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson, which I shared last week (and previously here, here and elsewhere). What joy!

There is much to explore on the Innovation Playlist, and I have only just begun. If like me, you believe traditional schooling could do with some improvement and are heartened by good things that are going on in many places, I highly recommend you take a look.

So far, I have watched Ted Dintersmith’s movie Most Likely to Succeed and am currently listening to his book What School Could Be. His book is a fascinating expose of schools in the United States of America. In one school year, he visited schools in every State discovering innovative “teachers doing extraordinary things in ordinary settings, creating innovative classrooms where children learn deeply and joyously.” His findings are inspiring and reassuring that schools can do more than prepare children for tests, they can prepare children for life. It is a fascinating read. If you live in the US, you will find something about schools in your own State. If you live outside the US, you will find something to inspire you.

For a quick overview of Dintersmith’s book and findings, read this article published in Education Week last year What’s Actually Working in the Classroom?

This discussion between Ted Dintersmith and Prince EA provides an insight into their motivations for improving education.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - poisoned apple

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a poisoned apple. Let’s explore dark myth. Deconstruct the original or invent something new. Negotiate the shadows, shed light, but go where the prompt leads you!

An apple is often used as a symbol for the teacher, and we talk about ‘an apple for the teacher’. Rather than write a fractured fairy tale, of which I am fond, I thought a poisoned apple was a perfect analogy for what happens when the focus of schooling is on test scores rather than children and learning. Let’s see what you think.

apples - which would you choose

It’s an institution

They arrived with bright eyes, open hearts and curious minds. As they entered, each was handed a shiny apple full of promises. They took their places and followed instructions. In unison, they bit off small portions of their apple and chewed to the beat of the enormous metronome suspended above. On cue, they swallowed but, with insufficient time before the required regurgitation, were unable to digest any components. Before they had finished, the taste was bland, swallowing difficult and regurgitation almost impossible. On exiting, their eyes were dull, their hearts closed, and their minds shrivelled, poisoned by false promises.

The antidote

They arrived with bright eyes, open hearts and curious minds. As they entered, each was handed a shiny apple full of promises. No instructions were given. Each was guided in making their own discoveries. Some investigated flavour, nutritional benefits, and created award-winning recipes. Some explored seed propagation, discovering ways of increasing productivity and limiting food scarcity. Some peeled the apple and inspected it layer by layer to determine its innermost secrets. Some cut it in half to reveal and release the stars within unlocking unlimited potential and the secrets of the universe. All were filled with wonder and learning.

«»

I conclude with a video in which Prince EA speaks to his teacher and explains to him why he is not a failure and why what happens in the classroom does not inspire learning. He includes one of my favourite quotes by Kahlil Gibran. What’s to not like?

Kahlil Gibran Children

 

Thank you teachers

To all the wonderful teachers in my community, I thank you for your hard work and dedication, and the positive difference you are making to the lives of so many children and their families. You make the world a better place.

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Move it like a rock star flash fiction

Move it like a rock star

Charli Mill's flash fiction challenge - rock star

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock star. You can feature a central character or write about the feeling like a rock star. Go where the prompt leads!

One of my favourite TED talks is Ken Robinson’s Do Schools Kill Creativity? If you haven’t watched it yet, I recommend it as a very entertaining 20 minutes. I find it both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.

In the video, Ken suggests that all kids have tremendous talents, and we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.” He quotes Pablo Picasso as saying that every child is an artist. Remaining one into adulthood is the problem.

Robinson then goes on to talk about having lived at Snitterfield just outside Stratford, which is where Shakespeare’s father was born.”

He asks, Are you struck by a new thought? I was. You don’t think of Shakespeare having a father, do you? Do you? Because you don’t think of Shakespeare being a child, do you? Shakespeare being seven? I never thought of it. I mean, he was seven at some point. He was in somebody’s English class, wasn’t he?”

Now that’s an interesting thought. I wonder if your English teachers remember you from their classes. Could they have made any of the comments that Robinson suggests may have been made about the young William Shakespeare, including:

“Must try harder.”

or at bedtime, being sent to bed by his dad,

“Go to bed, now!”

“And put the pencil down!”

“Stop speaking like that.”

“It’s confusing everybody.”

It’s quite a thought. Perhaps as writers, we should reveal our school reports that are relevant to our writing careers. How well did our teachers predict our futures?

But we’re not discussing writers in this post. We’re discussing rock stars. I guess most rock stars started out in someone’s classroom too. And that made me think of this inspirational video by Clint Pulver, professional drummer and motivational speaker, who discusses one moment and one teacher who changed his life.

We all hope for a Mr Jensen in our lives to help us realise our full potential.

Movin’ It

Miss Prim turned from the board just in time to see Max land a punch on Michael.

“Ma-ax!”

“He bumped me.”

Miss Prim sighed. “What were you doing, Michael?”

“Noth—”

“He was rocking the desk again.”

“How many times—”

Without direction, Michael removed himself to sit in the corner. Before long, his feet were twitching, his elbows were pumping and his whole body was squirming.

“Michael!”

Everyone looked.

“Sorry, Miss,” Michael muttered.

But he couldn’t keep still.

Years later, when he was a rock star, Miss Prim said, “I knew he’d make something of himself one day.”

«»

I chose the name Michael for my character for three rock stars, only one of whom is still living (the oldest) but all of whom had the moves.

Mick Jagger

Michael Hutchence

Michael Jackson

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School Days Reminiscences of D. Avery

School Days, Reminiscences of D. Avery

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am delighted to introduce D. Avery, poet, writer, blogger. I met D. when she rode up to the Carrot Ranch, dismounted and took a lead role around the campfire with her humorous tales and witty conversation. I also try not to miss her posts on ShiftnShake where she shares poetry, flash fiction and short stories sprinkled with philosophical pearls of wisdom and creates characters as like and unlike any you may chance to meet. Whatever the topic, there’s sure to be beauty in her words, wisdom in her ideas and smiles to lighten your day.

Books by D. Avery

I have read and enjoyed all three of D.’s books and was both honoured and delighted when she quoted me on the back cover of After Ever. This is what I wrote:

An interesting and eclectic collection of short stories and even shorter flash stories, this collection has something for everyone. Whether the situation be mundane or mystical, tragic or cheerful, D. Avery records events matter-of-factly, telling how it is or was, and leaves it to the reader to choose how to respond. After Ever is great for reading in bites or as an entire feast.

I thought I’d reviewed all three of D.’s books on Amazon, but all I could find was my review of For the Girls:

After receiving her own pre-Christmas un-gift of a cancer diagnosis, D. Avery unwrapped how the diagnosis affected her personal journey and view on life. Written from her own need and for others facing similar situations, D. Avery explores through poetry, the emotions that fluctuate in intensity from the moment of diagnosis until, hopefully, remission is declared. Anyone who has endured the pain of diagnosis or suffered alongside another who has, will find something with which to identify. None of us are ever free of the fear, but hope has a stronger pull. These poems are food for the soul.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow D. Avery to tell you a little of herself:

D. Avery, writer, fisherwoman

Born and raised in rural New England, D. Avery is never quite out of the woods, though she has been in other fields. She has been a veggie vendor, landscape gardener, and a teacher.

Cursed with a compulsion for wordplay and a growing addiction to writing, D. Avery blogs at Shiftnshake, where she pours flash fiction and shots of poetry for online sampling. D. Avery tweets ‪‪@daveryshiftn‪‪ and is a Rough Writer at Carrot Ranch. She is the author of two books of poems, Chicken Shift and For the Girls. Her latest release,  After Ever; Little Stories for Grown Children,  is a collection of flash and short fiction.

Welcome, D. Now let’s talk school. First of all, could you tell us where you attended school?

I attended public school, my first three years at a K-12 school in Skagway, Alaska, then third through sixth grade in a four room graded school in Vermont, before attending a 7-12 regional school that serves a number of small towns.

What is the highest level of education you achieved? What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I experienced a year of small private liberal arts college in Ohio and that was enough of that. After a year off from school I completed a two-year program at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst, earning an Associate’s Degree in Science, Commercial Floriculture. This course of study had practical and immediate application for me, and served me well. I spent the off season from greenhouse work and landscape gardening subbing and volunteering in the elementary school and after a few years I decided to answer the call and get my teaching certificate. I got my Masters of Education at Antioch New England Graduate School and switched careers, becoming a fourth grade classroom teacher and more recently a sixth grade math teacher.

What is your earliest memory of school?

I have lots of early memories. I do think back on how cool it was to be in a small K-12 school that was the center of a small (and isolated) community. The entire school, K-12, took part in a Christmas pageant every year for the town to see. Likewise Field Day had everyone involved and the high school kids might be on the team of a kindergartner or would somehow be helping out.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I was reading before attending school, something I picked up at home. We were read to, and there was plenty of print around. One day while looking through a comic I realized I knew the words. It was pretty exciting. I went through the stack of comics and numerous picture books. By second grade I had read all my brothers’ Hardy Boys books. And we had quite a stack of Classics Illustrated, classic novels condensed into comic book form; I started in on those at this time. When we moved back to VT I read every Vermont heroes and histories books on those dusty shelves of that old graded school. There was a collection of William O’Steele books too, historical fiction for kids, pioneers headed west. Of course there were the Little House books. Then they instituted the Dorothy Canfield Fisher program and our school library got built up with more modern young adult novels. I still enjoyed the historical fiction the most though.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

D. Avery was always confident as a writer

Norah, you might remember when I gave some detail about being taught to form my letters in school. It was kind of fun so here’s a LINK. But school did get better after that. My second grade teacher did a great job of integrating reading and writing. I became a writer the day that my writing was hanging in the hall and some of those high school kids were reading it and even complimented me for it. Throughout my school years some of my writing got some attention and publication. I had encouraging teachers and still remember the Poets in Schools program. I was always fairly confident as a writer, using it to baffle them with bullshit if I couldn’t dazzle them with brilliance.

What do you remember about math classes?

D. Avery: maths should be accessible and meaningful

I could neither baffle nor dazzle with math. Math was never taught very well, I realize now, and I did not like it. It was a lot of rote drill-and-kill work.

Fortunately, my great grandmother got me straightened out with times tables in one briefing so that helped.

I managed, barely, but never “got” math until a course at ANE Graduate School. Since then I have taken a number of courses. Now I truly enjoy math and have enjoyed demystifying the subject for students third through sixth grades.

I don’t remember ever having fun in math class, but my own math students have had fun. Math students need to see patterns and to make connections, to keep math accessible and meaningful.

I also realize that the best math practice I ever had, and what really built number sense, was not from school at any level but from my summer work as a teenager on a truck farm where there was no cash register or calculator. My mental math got quite good. Working there and earlier helping my dad out with different projects also built my math skills.

What was your favourite subject?

D. Avery: it's the people who make a subject more interesting and more accessible

I have always enjoyed history and social studies, and those were probably my favorite subjects in high school. But I also enjoyed Latin and English (reading and writing). I also was very fortunate to have had some remarkable people as my teachers. That’s what one remembers as much as anything; it’s the people who make a subject more interesting and accessible.

What did you like best about school? 

D. Avery, what did you like best about school

I liked learning. I found most of my subjects interesting. There were some excellent teachers and also an excellent library. School had books and magazines to be read, it was a place to pursue ideas and interests. It was a path to possibilities. And school was where my audience was, it’s where I performed and entertained. But I did manage to learn in spite of myself.

What did you like least about school?

I liked being with friends at school, but people are also what I liked least in school. Kids are always having to navigate the social waters and to find their own balance between conformity and individuality. It’s stressful. I was always grateful and glad to be home at the end of the day, where I could have quiet alone time in the woods.

I feel bad for the kids today who, because of their devices, are never able to be alone and to decompress. I feel bad for people who do not have the outside time and space. I know it was vital for my time in school to have good work and play experiences out of school and time to get re-centered. People now are never alone and never lonelier. I still require lots of alone time.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

School girl D. Avery coming in from skiing

With the pervasiveness of computers and social media parents have an extra responsibility, an extra worry now, and most don’t fully comprehend the depths of that. Technology has made teaching and learning more difficult; it has distanced people from nature, from each other, from generational wisdom- from their selves. “Knowledge” at our fingertips is not lasting; internet access in many ways erodes curiosity and problem solving skills, critical reading and thinking skills, and the stamina required for meaningful learning.

I know arguments could be made in defence of technology, but I rarely see a healthy balance. Gaming addictions, cyber-bullying, plagiarism and general distractions are some of the issues that impact teaching and learning nowadays. That maybe didn’t really speak about schools, but these phones are a huge change in our society and so our schools.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

Schools have changed, but they are still staffed with people, most often good caring people who are educated in their subject area and also in pedagogy and in best practices based on research. Educators take into account how students best learn, and how to engage them in that enterprise.

More than ever before, schools look out for and provide services for a student’s mental health, their social/emotional wellbeing. A person with trauma or health issues is not the best learner, and schools are learning to take a more holistic approach to all students.

How do you think schools could be improved?

D. Avery "Schools should be creative safe havens"

Our schools don’t always seem to measure up, but what is the measure? Not everyone is measuring up to standardized tests, but if we really want to close achievement gaps, if we really want to leave no children behind then we need to reform much more than our schools.

While I think we should first focus on out of school factors, within school we have to do more than give lip service to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Which means schools need to not succumb to the testing culture; schools need to be less programmatic and prescriptive. Curricula should encourage empathy and build flexible and adaptive skills and strategies required for individuals to pursue their own interests and inclinations. Schools should be creative safe havens that sustain a sense of wonder and curiosity.

thank you for your participation

D., thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general. I would have liked to take your responses to the last three questions and make them all quotes. You express it all so perfectly.  It’s been a delight to have you here. I learned so much from and about you. I enjoyed learning about your own school days and totally agree with what you have to say about education in general.

 

Find out more about D. Avery

from her website ShiftnShake

Connect with her on social media

Twitter: @daveryshiftn

Purchase your own copy of her books from

Amazon

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Susan Scott

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

interview-with-jacqui-halpin-author-of-wheres-lucky

Interview with Jacqui Halpin author of Where’s Lucky? – readilearn

This week it is my great pleasure to welcome author Jacqui Halpin back to the blog. In this interview, Jacqui talks with us about her recently published picture book Where’s Lucky, the story of an orphaned joey and his road to recovery and release.

We previously met Jacqui in 2018 when she discussed her first picture book Parmesan, the Reluctant Racehorse. As we talked with Jacqui in that interview about her writing process, today we focus our discussion on her new book Where’s Lucky?

About Jacqui

Jacqui Halpin’s passion for children’s literature started when reading bedtime stories to her children. They outgrew their childhood books, but Jacqui never did. Jacqui writes picture books, junior fiction and middle-grade fiction. Her short stories appear in anthologies by Stringybark Publishing, Creative Kids Tales, and The School Magazine.

Her first picture book, Parmesan, the Reluctant Racehorse, illustrated by John Phillips, was published by Little Pink Dog Books in October 2017.

Where’s Lucky?, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini and published in April 2019, is her second picture book with Little Pink Dog Books.

While writing and editing, Jacqui loves to sip tea from fine china and eat copious amounts of chocolate. She also has a love of bookshops and should never be allowed to enter the children’s book section with a credit card in her possession.

About Lucky

Lucky, the orphaned swamp wallaby, has a knack for getting into mischief at the wildlife rescue shelter where he lives.

Continue reading: Interview with Jacqui Halpin author of Where’s Lucky? – readilearn

Why Kindergartners Must Learn Technology – readilearn

Today I am delighted to introduce you to Jacqui Murray, the Tech Teacher, who is able to answer all your questions about using technology in schools.

Jacqui’s blog Ask a Tech Teacher is very informative. It is packed with helpful advice for both teachers and parents on children’s use of technology and the suitability of tools and software for use in different situations and with different age groups, especially in the classroom. If I need to know anything about technology, Jacqui’s blog is an excellent resource.

As Jacqui is often asked questions about teaching Kindergartners to Tech, a topic that is dear to her, this is the topic of discussion in this post. Please feel free to ask Jacqui any additional questions you may have in the comment section at the end!

Note: Jacqui is based in the US and the kindergarteners she refers to are 5-to-6-year-olds.

 Welcome to readilearn, Jacqui. Over to you.

When I started teaching technology almost twenty years ago, I taught K-8, three classes in each grade every week. I was buried under lesson plans, grades, and parent meetings. I remember suggesting to my principal that he ease my schedule by eliminating tech for kindergartners. They wouldn’t miss anything if I started them in first or second grade.

And back then, that was true.

Even a decade ago, technology was an extra class in student schedules where now, it is a life skill. Today, my teacher colleagues tell me kids arrive at school already comfortable in the use of iPads and smartphones, doing movements like swipe, squeeze, and flick better than most adults. Many teachers, even administrators, use that as the reason why technology training isn’t needed for them, arguing, “They’re digital natives.”

Continue reading: Why Kindergartners Must Learn Technology – Readilearn

Interview with Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Interview with Teena Raffa-Mulligan, author of The Apostrophe Posse

Today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Teena Raffa-Mulligan, author of a fun story for young readers The Apostrophe Posse.

This interview is part of Romi Sharp’s Books On Tour PR & Marketing and just one of several celebrating the launch of Teena’s book. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Teena’s work.

Note: Mostly, I publish these interviews first on readilearn but, until the readilearn blog schedule is resumed, I am sharing them here first.

About Teena Raffa-Mulligan

About Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a reader, writer and daydream believer who believes there is magic in every day if you choose to find it. She discovered the wonderful world of storytelling as a child and decided to become a writer at an early age. Teena’s publications for children include poetry, short stories, picture books and chapter books. Her writing life has also included a long career in journalism. She shares her passion for books and writing by presenting talks and workshops to encourage people of all ages to write their own stories.

About The Apostrophe Posse

Trouble comes to Tea Tree Bend…

In cowboy movies the sheriff forms a posse to round up all the bad guys. Cam and Ellie from Daisy Cottage and their friends Billy and Louisa have formed a different posse. Their mission is to find and fix all the signs in Tea Tree Bend with missing apostrophes. The summer holidays are almost over so they have just nine days to complete their task.
How can doing the right thing go so wrong?

My thoughts

I couldn’t resist reading a book with the title The Apostrophe Posse. Many writers, children and adults alike, have difficulty with apostrophes and I could just imagine a posse going out after all the missing or misused apostrophes. I see so much of it myself and would love to round up all those apostrophes and put them where they should be.

I also found the consonance and assonance in the title appealing. It hinted that the book would be fun, and it is.

The book would be a great stimulus to discussions about the placement of apostrophes, but it’s too good a read to be limited to that alone.

Let’s find out what Teena has to say.

The interview.

 Hi, Teena. Welcome to my blog.

Thanks for inviting me.

Teena, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I grew up in an English/Italian family, surrounded by natural story tellers whose tales about their lives captured my imagination. Once I learnt to read, books opened a wonderful window into the world of make believe and I knew from a very early age that I wanted to become a writer. I also wanted to be a ballerina, so I thought I’d write novels in the dressing room between performances while travelling the world. Reality woke me from the dancing dream, but I didn’t give up on the ambition to become an author and began submitting short adult fiction and poetry to publishers in my late teens. When I became a mum at the age of 21 and began sharing books with my small son, I realised I wanted to write for children.

Where do you write? Do you like to be by yourself in the quiet, or do you like to write in a noisy space?  

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's roll-top desk

I write in the lounge room in my recliner chair near the front window, in bed, at the kitchen bench, on the back patio, out on the deck overlooking the back garden, and I also have the luxury of my own office at home. When my children were small, I wrote anywhere around the house in snatched fragments of time. I didn’t have an office (they needed somewhere to sleep!) so I had a gorgeous timber roll-top desk in the kitchen that I bought with my first earnings from writing stories. It wasn’t quiet or peaceful with the business of the household going on around me and that didn’t seem to matter then. Those days are long gone, and I have become accustomed to my peace and quiet. I don’t even play music while I’m writing.

What do you use to write – pencil and paper or computer?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's writing process

I like to get started with pen/pencil and paper… a few paragraphs, some dialogue, a scene or two. Being confronted by a blank computer screen sends my words into hiding. They don’t come out to play until they have some friends to join. Once I have something to work with, I prefer to stick with the computer. I write, revise, edit and proof on screen.

When do you write?

Not often enough! I spend hours every day on writing related activities but not necessarily on progressing my current WIP. I’m volunteer coordinator of the local writing centre so that keeps me busy. I also visit schools, libraries and community groups to present author talks and writing sessions whenever I get the opportunity. I recently ventured into indie publishing, releasing some of my own books and also my late father’s collection of spiritual writing. Then there’s social media to keep up with, plus reading blogs and watching videos to develop new writing and publishing skills. My new writing happens around all of that. I do set myself deadlines each week but they’re rather elastic.

When do you get your ideas?

They can come anytime and anywhere. The best ideas often arrive unexpectedly in the middle of the night, especially in winter when the last thing I want to do is leave my cosy, warm bed. I’ve learnt to keep notebooks handy after losing some wonderful stories because I thought I’d remember them in the morning. Once I have an initial idea, I don’t plan my stories. I start writing and see where they take me. This means I often don’t know what happens next. Walking, driving and washing dishes are great times for figuring that out.

Do you think of the story in your head before you write it?

Always. I compose sentences, mentally write paragraphs, describe scenes and devise conversations.

What gave you the idea for The Apostrophe Posse?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's thoughts about apostrophes

I’ve spent most of my adult life working with words, as an author, a journalist, a sub editor, an editor, a proof reader. I cringe at the widespread misuse of apostrophes and itch to correct them. I love the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. I was driving to my job at the local paper one morning after dropping my children off at school when the idea for The Apostrophe Posse popped into my head. I watched quite a few cowboy movies as a kid and the sheriff often gathers his posse of men to ride out of town to catch the bad guys. In my story that’s Cam and company and they want to find and fix all the incorrect signs around town.  Perhaps there’s a secret part of me that would also love to go out under cover of darkness armed with my editor’s pen and make a few corrections.

What do you like best about The Apostrophe Posse?

The way Cam, Ellie, Billie and Louisa want to put something right, but everything goes wrong.

Do you like the way Veronica Rooke illustrated the cover?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's thoughts on Veronica Rooke's illustrations

Veronica has illustrated three of my picture books and created covers for four of my other books, so I was happy to have her create the cover of Posse. She’s talented, versatile, creative and professional. I usually give her a couple of vague ideas and she works her magic. I’ve never been disappointed.

How did you feel when you wrote The Apostrophe Posse?

It was fun coming up with what could go wrong when a group of well-meaning country kids set out to do their good deed for the community. Of course, everything worked out happily in the end, as it always does in my stories, so I sat at my computer with a big smile on my face.

How do you hope readers will feel?

It would be great if my story brought a smile to their day and left them with the feeling they’d made some new friends.

How would you like teachers to present The Apostrophe Posse? to children?

I hope it will be presented first as a book to enjoy, a fun story about a group of kids whose good intentions get them into trouble. Discussion could follow about community, cooperation, consequences and, of course, punctuation and why we need it if we are going to communicate clearly with each other.

Are there any messages you would like them to discuss?

Cooperation and the importance of working together to achieve something positive. Facing the consequences of our actions. Children could also think about why we have rules and guidelines in our communities and what might happen if there were none.

Do you have any advice for teachers in their role as writing guides?

If you’re excited about books and language, students will pick up on this. Create a spirit of adventure around writing stories and encourage them to explore where words can take them. A lot of kids get stuck at the start because they’re convinced they don’t know what to write or how to express the ideas they do have. It’s important to stress that they don’t have to get it right, just get it down. In the beginning, it’s all about creating something to work on.    

Do you have any advice for children as writers?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's advice for children as writers

Writing stories is fun. You get to create characters, put them in weird and wonderful situations and then decide what happens next. In your imagination you can be anyone, go anywhere and do anything at all. What will you be today? A super hero? A detective? An astronaut? Where will you go? Deep beneath the sea? To the top of the world’s highest mountain? To the farthest stars? It’s up to you! Don’t worry about whether what you’re writing is an amazing story. Just play with the words. Let one follow another and see where they take you. It’s an adventure.

What is your favourite children’s book?

I’ve read so many wonderful books for children over the years and it’s impossible for me to choose just one. Books I loved reading when I was in primary school were Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series, E. Nesbitt’s Five Children and It and The Railway Children and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. What Katy Did also struck a chord, as did books by Elizabeth Goudge. As a teenager I discovered John Wyndham and read all of his books including The Chrysalids, Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes. Fantasy also captured my imagination, particularly Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern series.

Who is your favourite children’s author? What do you like about his or her work?

When I visit schools and children ask me which of the books I’ve written I like best, I always tell them I have three children and they are all special in their own way. I could not choose one ahead of the other. I feel the same about authors. I am in awe of some of the writing being produced, from picture books to YA novels, and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve come to the final word in a story and closed the book on the thought, ‘Wow! I wish I’d written that!’

When my children were small, I enjoyed sharing the Dr Seuss books with them. I loved the way he played with words.

thank you authors and illustrators

Thank you, Teena. I enjoyed meeting you and finding out a little more about your writing process, your fun book The Apostrophe Posse and your purpose for writing it. As you said, there is much more to your book than a lesson in apostrophes. It is a lesson in life. You have shared so many valuable thoughts with us. I found myself nodding along with you and thinking, “I wish I’d said that!”

 

Find out more about Teena

from her website: Teena Raffa-Mulligan

or her blog: In Their Own Write

Connect with her on social media

Facebook: Teena Raffa-Mulligan.Author

 

The Apostrophe Posse blog tour schedule

Check out other posts about The Apostrophe Posse on the Blog tour schedule:

Monday April 1 – Friday April 5: www.justkidslit.com/blog

PLUS!

Tuesday April 2: www.instagram.com/thebyrdandthebookworms

Thursday April 4: www.authorjillsmith.wordpress.com

Friday April 5: www.littlebigreads.com

SPECIAL FEATURE!

Middle Grade Mavens Podcast: www.middlegradepodcast.com

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

the benefits of play and using imagination

Let’s pretend — play and imagination

If the title conjures up images of children playing dress-ups with forts and castles, saving princesses and defeating dragons, that’s good. Such was my intention.

Pretend play, in which children use their imaginations, allows them to try out different roles, experience different possibilities and enact a variety of solutions to problems they encounter.

But play and imagination isn’t just for children. It is through playing with ideas that new discoveries are made, inventions are created, and innovations implemented. Without imagination, everything would always stay as it always was. Science wouldn’t progress and stories wouldn’t get written.

Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Eminence

When Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses the word eminence. It’s a rich word full of different meanings. Explore how it sounds or how you might play with it. Go where the prompt leads!, I knew that imaginations the world over would be employed to respond.

Every week when Charli sends out a prompt, writers play with ideas to engage readers with unique and imaginative perspectives on the word or phrase. When all have been submitted, Charli searches for threads that bind the diverse stories together and compiles them into a connected whole.

Charli’s use of the word ‘eminence’ in her flash fiction story was unfamiliar to me, so I opted to stay within my comfort zone. With such a serious and imposing word though, what could I do but play? I hope you enjoy it.

Your Eminence

She glided in, regal robes flowing, loyal subjects lining the path.

“Your eminence,” they bowed as she passed.

She occasionally extended her gloved hand to receive their kisses of adoration or stopped to bestow a gift of royal chatter. Though her crown and responsibilities weighed heavily, she held her head high as she proceeded towards the throne. Decorum dictated every move. She dared not breathe out of sync. Her subjects depended upon her.

When seated, she motioned for all to sit. They obeyed, listening respectfully.

“I decree– “

“Lunch is served, Your Majesty.”

“Aw, Mu-um!”

“You’ll reign again later.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.