Sunday, July 26, 2009


Oh dear, I’ve been so busy working this summer that I have neglected to post. Teachers? Working? Over the summer? Yeah, I know, we’re supposed to have the summers off. I guess I never got that memo, and I bet you didn’t either.

Just a few things of note… I am finally putting the finishing touches on my book. My fabulous proofreaders are supposed to return to me the mangled finished product in a few weeks, and then off to the printer it goes. Hails bails, I get dizzy just thinking about it.

In the meantime, check out a review of my blog here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All in a Twitter

Years ago I could sing (keep in mind I’m using that term rather loosely), most of songs from the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Those of you of my vintage (and you know who you are), certainly can sing along to “What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a happenin’.

But that buzz thing seems to outdate me (and you). Perhaps we need to revise that and say, “What's the twitter, tell me what’s a happening…” Or, What in the tweet is this all about…”

I'm not quite sure what the correct vernacular would be. What I do know is that I need to get a handle on this twittering thing before I become the teacher left behind, or worse yet, a twit instead of a twitter. Right when I was thinking about all these twittering things, I received an email from freelance writer Mary Ward offering her “Top 8 teachers to follow on twitter.”

Crackfire! See why I should have been twittering all along? I would love to be on that list… except I’m not twittering. So join me as we investigate this twittering thing, and what better way to start then take a peak at Mary’s list and then head on over to those sites…

Top 8 Teachers to Follow on Twitter
by Mary Ward
As Twitter is full of interesting people and perspectives, it can be compelling to follow top professionals in any given area. If you work within the education field or even have an interest in it, finding and following some of the top teacher sites can make for some great information and of course networking. Here we follow the top 10 teachers and educators on Twitter.

1. Tawny Press – What’s nice about this educator is that she has a distinctive background but a very approachable and realistic persona. She specializes in corporate education with a focus on e-learning so she knows the field well, but she is also a very normal down to earth woman talking about everything from dogs to cupcakes. She is definitely a good one to follow as you never know what you might find on any given day.

2. Vicki Davis – This teacher goes above and beyond what you can provide in the classroom. She works to link students up with technology and make natural connections between the two. While her main focus is on education, she can also provide a great recipe or insight on life lessons along the way.

3. Discovery Education – Though not a teacher specifically, Discovery Education is an excellent Twitter site to follow as its goal is to connect teachers. This is a forum whereby teachers can network with one another and really talk about their profession, their ideas, and any struggles that they deal with. This makes it a rather comprehensive Twitter site to follow.

4. Dot Schools – This is a unique Twitter site as it helps people as they search for their best fit for a college. It’s a great networking site and offers some excellent perspective and ideas for those interested in the best colleges.

5. Carol Utay – This educator focuses on the function of the brain and helping individuals to realize its full potential. Her mission is to help children with their learning and she uses Twitter as an excellent forum to do just that.

6. Boost Teacher – This educator has twenty-two years of experience teaching others. She is an enrichment teacher and takes us through her daily adventures in this role while also focusing on the integration of biotechnology. This Twitter site makes for some very interesting discussions.

7. Internet for Classr – This Twitter site works as a resource site which makes it unique and relevant to so many educators. The focus here is to unite teachers of K-12 students with parents and students. It offers a platform for interactive classrooms making it an interesting perspective.

8. Kathy Schrock – As a Google certified teacher, this in and of itself makes her Twitter postings interesting. However she has also spent much time in the education field and serves as a district Tech Director as well as an Adobe Education leader. She has some fantastic experience and therefore her posts are quite intriguing.

Mary Ward is a freelance author and writes about education topics, such as how to research online university reviews, accreditation, and more.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Workshops, Bill Cosby and Dancing Food

Call it challenging. Call it crazy. Call it dumb.

I just want to call it a day.

But no siree, Missy. I'm still here.

At a workshop.

With 22 kids.

Oh, and let’s not forget the 500 or so kiddos from other high school newspaper and yearbook staffs.

So call me just a tad perplexed when I read recently that comedian Bill Cosby said, “We’ve got to get people into the system who want to teach. We need principals who want to train teachers. In the name of God, or anyone else you believe in, 420 students need more than one counselor. Our children deserve better.”

Hey, Bill, in the name of God, or anyone else you believe in, what do you call this?

While I admit I would rather be sitting by the pool with my husband, swimming with my dogs, reading one of those books still stashed on my “books to read if only I can find the time” shelf and eating chips and salsa, well I’m here, aren’t I? And what about the 60 other journalism teachers here? I’m pretty sure they’re at this workshop because they want and love to teach.

Now before all you Cosby lovers and Richie hatas get all worked up into a tizzy, let me assure you that I love Bill Cosby. I’m just not sure it’s ever a good thing to toss everyone into the same generic teacher bashing grab bag.

Sure we have our moments. Hails bails, I have my moments. Sure there are those in the education profession that should have opted for a job somewhere flipping hamburgers instead of standing in front of a classroom of kids. Sometimes I even think I’d make a pretty good dancing hot dog, or better yet, one of those Chick-fil-A dancing cows. (Now, that’s a scary image.)

That one little remark by Bill Cosby really got me into a full court-press-5-alarm-dizzy-tizzy-frenzy. And because of that, I came up with this…

Richie’s Top 5 Jobs
She Could Do
If She Decides
To Ditch The Teaching Thing

No. 5…Dancing Food…A Chick-fil-A cow, a Route 44 Sonic drink or an Oscar Mayer Wiener. How fun would that be? Think about it. You’d never have to figure out what to wear to work. Now, on the down side, it might be just a tad challenging to drive to work encased in a Sonic cup, and perhaps just a smidge warm in a hot dog suit. We also have to consider my dancing ability, too. For those of you familiar with that or my sad little foray into the Zumba dancing world, well, such a job would probably be short lived. (You can read about that here.)

No. 4…Sandwich Sign Girl… We’ve all seen them standing on the corner. No silly, not those girls. I’m talking about the people wearing the “Going Out of Business Signs” placards. I could do that, and as an added bonus, no dancing required.

No. 3…Clicker Counter… Even though I am certifiably math challenged, I think I could still manage to click one of those counters when things pass by. Things like cars. I could sit in a little lawn chair by the side of the road with my glass of lemonade, some chips and salsa, and click, click, click away. I’d need an umbrella, of course. And maybe a little kiddy pool to keep my feet cool. And perhaps even a little lemonade stand on the side for those passersby who want to chat and sit a spell, but I'd probably end of chatting too much and clicking too little, so that job option might not last either.

No. 2…Flag Changer… Although I’ve never actually seen it done, someone must change the warning flags on the beach when conditions change. Bluish flags for jelly fish type warnings or yellow for calm to moderate waters. I could sit at the ready, flags by my side, lemonade in hand, and of course, chips and salsa for sustenance. I could probably even read some of those books from my “books to read if only I can find the time” shelf while I’m waiting to change those warning flags.

But the No. 1 job on my list…can I have a drum roll pah-leese…

Paint Color Namer…Yep. Paint Color Namer…My friend Mary (the Queen Bee of high school journalism advisers) came up with that one. Somewhere there is a person who has to name the color of paint. You know, things like “Steamed Milk” and “Saybrook Sage.” I could do that. Hails bails, I could do that sitting by my pool, eating chips and salsa, swimming with my dogs, all the while coming up with color names like Jack Shepherd Tan, Chilpotle Speckled Red or Wild Willy Weeds. See what I mean?

I could do that, but as funnyman Cosby said, “Our children deserve better.”

So I guess I'll stay right here…with my 22 kiddos and the other 60 advisers and their kids. That color naming gig is just going to have to wait.

(Writer’s note-A version of this post originally appeared at

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

As we celebrate our country’s Independence Day, let us not forget all those brave men and women who paved the way before us, giving each of us the freedom to pursue our individual American Dream.

We are a nation of freedom. We are a nation of dreams. We are a nation of dream makers.

As we celebrate our freedom, forget not those who made such a wonderful nation possible.

May God continue to bless America and let freedom ring!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Barbados, Brits and Barbie Freedom

(Writers note: A version of this post also appears at BlogCritics online magazine. You can access it here.)

Forget the hot dogs. Forget the parades. Forget the fireworks.

Although Fourth of July preparations and celebrations are well underway, I decided to declare a different kind of independence this year.

Barbie Freedom.

Yep. Barbie Freedom. After spending six days out of the country…Whoa, missy, I’ve waited 52 years to say that. It makes me sound so, well, cosmopolitan, my dear, and now I have my first official stamp on my nifty passport to prove it.

My recent trip to the wonderful Caribbean island of Barbados, billed as only 21 miles long but a “smile wide,” got me to thinking about things. (And, Jeez Louise, we all know what happens when that happens.)

Apparently relatively few Americans vacation in Barbados compared to Europeans — particularly the British. So I, along with one of my BFFs and my two daughters, had the pleasure of meeting quite a few Brits and participating in a rather loosey-goosey cultural exchange, in which we dispelled rumors that Texas was just one big, vast desert like in the movie Independence Day and offered such travel hints as to never eat Mexican food north of the Red River.

In return, a very lovely couple on their honeymoon explained why the Brits eat beans in the morning, while a group of young men provided my daughters with an entirely new slang vocabulary along with hand gestures. Don’t ask.

But the most important cultural lesson didn’t occur over afternoon tea. Instead, it occurred on that Caribbean beach. Surrounded by Brits, I felt good sitting on the beach for the first time in a gajillion years, and it wasn’t because I was wearing my sporty tankini supposedly designed to hide a multitude of what our fashion magazines term “problem areas.”

No siree, Missy. That was not the reason.

Everywhere around me were women wearing two-piece bathing suits, regardless of age and regardless of size. Hails bails, most were even wearing bikinis of the itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie-yellow-polka-dot-bikini type. One woman who tipped the scales upwards of 250 pounds was wearing a string bikini, and no one (except my friend and I) appeared to notice.

Now either the Brits are too polite to gasp, or they feel very, very comfortable in their own skin.

My friend noted that Americans seem to be the only ones who are so image-conscious, and who, despite steadily weighing in heavier and heavier on the scales, still yearn for that skinny, mini, photoshopped, wrinkle- and cellulite-free Barbie body.

She’s right, you know. I still have boxes of my childhood Barbies stashed in the attic in various stages of undress and sporting various non-Mattel-sanctioned avant-garde hair-dos guaranteed to forever ban me from entry into the Barbie kingdom and the world of cosmetology.

This epiphany comes as Barbie celebrates her big 5-0 birthday this year. I must say, she looks spectacular, but then again, she always looks spectacular, while I — now 52 — never, ever, (did I say ever?) looked that good at any year in my lifespan. At this point, I don’t think even plastic surgery could propel me into the spectacular world. Let’s face it, nothing short of a complete, all-out, full-body transplant would help.

Now there was a time, a pre-Barbados-meeting-the-Brits-time, when I would have pined away about all of that nonsense. But watching all those British women secure in their own skin made me comfortable in mine.

For that, I could hug each and every one of them.

Except I know better about that hugging thing.

Instead, let’s just fire up that barbecue, and while you’re at it, toss on an extra hot dog for me.