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Why is the Supreme Court So Important

09 Dec

supreme court simulationWhen you think of the Supreme Court, you think of old people in black robes that dispassionately determine the fate of the country’s laws. That’s all true, but there’s more to maintaining law and order than a podium and a gavel. The Supreme Court is the apex of one of three branches in the American government:

  • The Legislative (the House and the Senate) passes laws
  • The Executive (the President) executes the laws
  • The Judicial (all the courts in the United States from the local courts to the Supreme Court) judges whether the laws and their execution abide by the nation’s Constitution

The Supreme Court consists of nine individuals who are nominated by the President and voted in by the Senate. Once approved, they serve for life, the hope being that this allows them to judge apolitically, based on the merits of the case rather than political leaning. These guidelines are not without controversy but are critical to a healthy, democratic environment.

But this year, an election year, is different. The death of Antonin Scalia leaves the court split evenly between those who lean Democrat and those who lean Republican. Rarely in our history has an outgoing president — in his last year — been tasked with selecting such a critical Supreme Court justice.

Really, it’s much more complicated than what I’ve described, but this isn’t the place to unravel what could become a Gordian knot of intrigue over the next few months. Suffice to say, this process will overwhelm the media and your students will want to know more about what is normally a dull and boring process and why it has become foundational to our future. This provides a rare opportunity to educate them on the court system in America.

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It’s Time to go Back to School. Lots of Ideas!

26 Aug

I’ve written a lot of Back-to-School articles over the last few years. They cover so many topics–see if you find what you’re looking for here:

3 Apps to Help Brainstorm Next Year’s Lessons

3 Organizational Apps to Start the School Year

4 Options for a Class Internet Start Page

5 Tech Ed Tools to Use this Fall

5 Tools To Shake up the New Year

5 Top Ways to Integrate Technology into the New School Year

5 Ways Teachers Can Stay on Top of Technology

5 Ways to Involve Parents in Your Class

6 Tech Best Practices for New Teachers

8 Tech Tools to Get to Know Your Students for Back to School

Back to School–Tech Makes it Easy to Stay On Top of Everything

Dear Otto: I need year-long assessments

How to Prepare Students for PARCC Tests

New School Year? New Tech? I Got You Covered

Plan a Memorable Back to School Night

Turnitin Releases Free Back-to-School Resources

What Digital Device Should My School Buy?

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What I’m Writing This Month

15 Aug

Much of my day is spent writing, either freelance articles, guest posts, or one of my many fiction and nonfiction WIP. Any leftover time goes to marketing what I’ve already written, trying to get the word out to as many people as possible. That includes outreach, responding to inquiries, and exploring new marketing channels.

Since I work out of my house, I like to break my day into three parts:

morning

afternoon

evening

I consign tasks to each portion of the day, stopping for lunch and dinner and a few breaks to pet the dog. Every once in a while, I like to look at what I accomplish on a daily basis with my writing. I don’t count words like some writing efriends. I count what I get done. My writing ToDo list this month includes:

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Is Whole Brain Teaching the Right Choice?

10 Aug

If you have challenging students in your classes, there’s a good chance someone has suggested that you look into Whole Brain Teaching (WBT). Whole Brain Teaching is an active teaching method designed to maximize student engagement in lessons, positive interactions with classmates, and educational fun. Instruction includes vocal directions mixed with hand gestures, inflections, full body movement, head motions,  and chants. Studies show that this multi-sensory approach is how the brain is intended to learn and will result in a much greater probability of reaching teaching goals.

Where it might have originally been intended for challenging classes — much like Orton-Gillingham started as a multi-sensory learning system for dyslexics — WBT has matured into a strategy that works for lots of learners, even the quiet ones. It uses “model and repeat” as ways to join the right and left sides of the brain (such as the hippocampus, the prefrontal cortex,  and the motor cortex) in student learning with the idea that if the entire brain is engaged in learning, there is nothing left over for misbehavior or distraction. For many K-12 teachers, WBT has become their primary teaching strategy.

WBT is based on four core components (called Core Four — part of a longer list of techniques):

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My New Non-fiction: 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Class

08 Aug

tech in the classroomJust a note to my wonderful community here that I’ve published a new nonfiction tech-in-ed book for educators called 169 Real-World Ways to Put Tech Into Your Class Now. It’s an overview of the most important tech-in-ed topics with practical strategies to address common tech problems. Each tip is less than a page — many only a third of a page. The goal: Give teachers the tech they need without a long learning curve.

Topics include iPads, Chromebooks, assessment, differentiation, social media, security, writing, and more.

OK, I see all the hands. You want a preview. Here are the top three solutions to any tech problem you encounter, whether you’re a teacher or a writer:

reboot, restart …

… close, reopen …

Google it!

I’d love to hear your most pressing tech problems. I may include it in the next edition!

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2017 Teachers Pay Teachers Conference Session Notes

04 Aug

One of the largest online marketplace for teachers is Teachers Pay Teachers. If you haven’t heard of this store, you are either new to teaching or long since retired. This vibrant educator community hosts teacher-authors who wish to sell their original lessons and ideas to other teachers, homeschoolers, and unschoolers. Since its start in 2006 by a former teacher, it’s grown to over 3.4 million teachers buying or selling over 2.7 million education-oriented Pre-K through High School lesson plans, curricula, videos, classroom activities, assessments, books, bulletin board ideas, classroom decorations, interactive notebooks, task cards, Common Core resources, and more. Teacher-authors have earned more than $330 million since TpT opened its doors with about a dozen making over $1 million dollars and nearly 300 earning more than $100,000. There’s no set-up charge, no cost to join, and no annual fee unless you choose to become what’s called a Premium seller.

My general observations and To Do list from the conference can be found here (if the link doesn’t work, that means it’s not live yet. Check back later!). I didn’t want to overwhelm you-all by including my thoughts on the sessions I attended so I saved them for this post. I start with a schedule of seminars for the three days (only those I attended). Then, I post my notes and screenshots from the sessions. These aren’t exhaustive by any means, just an idea of what was included. For the real thing, you’ll have to attend next year’s event!

Copyrights

One of TpT’s attorneys talked about the importance of using only media that you have permission to use or created yourself.

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10 Posts on How to Involve Parents in Teaching

28 Jul

Here are ten of the top posts on involving parents in your class:

Four Ways Teachers Can Stay Connected With Their Student’s Parents Using Technology

Parent Questions About Edtech

How Parents Can Protect Their Children Online

3 Digital Tools To Keep Parents Up to Date

What parents should ask teachers about technology

How to Run a Parent Class

19 Ways Students Keep Learning Fresh Over the Summer

How Do Non-Techie Parents Handle the Increasing Focus of Technology in Education?

Tech-Savvy Seniors: Myth or Present-Day Reality?

5 Ways to Involve Parents in Your Class

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3 Important Books for Kids

17 Jun

Summer’s approaching. Kids love playing outside, visiting friends–and reading! To encourage that last activity, here are three great books that will entertain, motivate, and educate–all in one fun experience.

  • Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Dough Bees Story and Cookbook — a clever blend of baking and reading. This is one of several Robby Cheadle and family have written
  • Why are There Bullies and What Can You Do About Them — an interactive Q&A about bullying and its solutions
  • The Piper Morgan Series — addresses issues youngsters are curious about, told in first person through the eyes of delightful Piper Morgan

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Visit Me at My Blog Hop for Twenty-four Days

16 May

twenty-four daysThis week, my wonderful efriends here in the blogosphere are helping me get the word out about my second novel, Twenty-four Days. I’ll be visiting their blogs to chat about the book, the process, and anything else on their minds. Some of the questions we’ll cover:

  1. Can science make a warship invisible? 
  2. Exactly how cool is Otto, the AI? 
  3. What is an ‘AI’?
  4. What pick-up line does the story’s geek,  Eitan Sun, use to attract his first wife? 
  5. Are there drones in this book? 
  6. Is the submarine’s invisibility shield like the cloak in Harry Potter? 
  7. Do you have to read the prequel, To Hunt a Sub, to understand this book?
  8. How does Otto find submarines anywhere in the world? 
  9. Is this a romantic thriller? 
  10. Is the tech included in the book really possible? 
  11. When is Book 3 in the Rowe-Delamagente series out?

Here’s the schedule of who’ll I’ll visit. I haven’t included the question–you’ll just have to drop in to see the answer:

Date

Blog

Blogger’s Books

5/15/2017 Michael W Smart Amazon page
5/15/2017 Jessica Marie Baumgartner Amazon page
5/16/2017 Stephanie Faris Webpage with books
5/16/2017 D. Wallace Peach Catling’s Bane
5/17/2017 Juneta Key
5/17/2017 Ken Meyer
5/18/2017 Grace Allison Do You Have a Dream?
5/19/2017 Andrew
5/19/2017 M. C. Tuggle
5/19/2017 Jill Weatherholt Second Chance Romance
5/19/2017 Tyrean The Champion Trilogy
5/19/2017 Heather Erickson Facing Cancer as a Friend
5/20/2017 Carolyn Paul Branch Tangled Roots
5/21/2017 Betsy Kerekes 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage
5/21/2017 Robbie Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Dough Bees Story and Cookbook
5/22/2017 Glynis Jolly
5/22/2017 Erika Beebe
5/22/2017 C. Lee McKenzie Double Negative
5/22/2017 Sharon Bonin-Pratt
5/22/2017 Bish Denham Amazon page
5/23/2017 Cathleen Townsend Dragon Hoard and Other Tales of Faerie
5/24/2017 Chemist Ken
5/25/2017 Wendy Unsworth Amazon page
5/25/2017 Rob Akers
5/26/2017 Don Massenzio Amazon page
5/27/2017 Annika Perry
5/28/2017 Jean Davis Sahmara
5/29/2017 Jennifer Kelland Perry Calmer Secrets
5/31/2017 Carol Balawyder Amazon page
6/4/2017 Ronel Janse van Vuuren
6/9/2017 DG Kaye Debbie’s Amazon page
6/16/2017 Laurie Rand

Please join me whenever you can. I’d love to see you.

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Can You Help Me Launch Twenty-four Days?

02 May

twenty-four daysI’m finally ready to publish the next in the Rowe-Delamagente series, Twenty-four Days:

A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don’t know what it is, where it is, or who’s involved.

I have a cover:

…a good Kirkus review:

A blistering pace is set from the beginning: dates open each new chapter/section, generating a countdown that intensifies the title’s time limit. Murray skillfully bounces from scene to scene, handling numerous characters, from hijackers to MI6 special agent Haster. … A steady tempo and indelible menace form a stirring nautical tale

…a review from a valued reader:

“This is great!” — from my sister

…a second-level blurb

A female Naval officer assigned to the cruiser, USS Bunker Hill, is deployed to protect the US and its allies from a nuclear threat spearheaded by North Korea. Before she finishes, America will become embroiled in a dramatic naval battle, a hunt for two hijacked submarines, and preparation to defend against space-based weapons.  

And someone unexpected will fall in love. 

…successful upload to Amazon Kindle.

…ten questions potential readers want to know about my book:

…and a modest amount of courage, but I need your help. As a self-pubbed Indie author, ‘how we roll’ is by spreading the news via word of mouth. I’m looking for bloggers who will help me by participating in a blog hop to celebrate the launch of my new book:

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