Friday, May 30, 2014

Mentor Texts

I just purchased this book from Amazon and had to share it with those of you who teach writing classes. The book is called, Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children's Literature, K-6 by Lynne R. Dorfman and Rose Cappelli. It was published in 2007, so it's been around awhile; but, in case you missed it, here's a short review.

First, the author's explain what a mentor text is and the value of mentor texts. I discovered that I had been using "mentor texts" but didn't know that is what it was called. For example, last fall when I was teaching my 3rd-5th graders, I used the book, Faint Frogs Feeling Feverish to teach them about alliteration.
After we read the book and saw how the authors used alliteration to tell a story, I had the children create their own story using alliteration.

The rest of the book provides examples and short lesson plans for using mentor texts. For example, there are lessons on using mentor texts to learn how to write details; how to choose topics; how to write beginnings, middles, and end; how to choose specific words, and and to write descriptive sentences. There are so many wonderful ideas! I can't wait to use them in my classes next year.

I liked this book so much, I just ordered Nonfiction Mentor Texts by the same authors, today!

I can't recommend Mentor Texts enough. If you're teaching writing, this is a must-have resource!

Scrapbooking Cards

Last fall I taught a class to 3rd - 5th graders called, Kids Can Write. In the process, I took up the hobby of scrapbooking. I taught the kids some of the techniques I learned so that they could use it in their writing journals. It was a lot of fun!

Unfortunately for my budget, the hobby didn't stop there. I got so interested in the making cards that I asked for and received a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas. I started going to a Stampin Up class taught by a friend of mine, Cindy Williams, and buying kits from Gina K Designs.

One of the first cards I made with my Silhouette was a Christmas Card for my Pink HAMster friends.

Next, I made a card for a friend who was going through some tough times. I used an idea from Gina K for this one. 

My brother who does clowning for the Shriners had a birthday, so I had to try out a clown card. I used the cut and print feature of the Silhouette for this project. 

My next project was a birthday card for a friend. I don't remember where I got this idea. I'm sure I stole it somewhere? 

A very nice sister of a friend of mine did some ancestry search for me, so I thought it appropriate to try to make an appropriate thank you card. This was what I came up with (based on a Gina K design). I tried to incorporate some old 50's images for the old look: 

In the meantime, I was having fun at my Stampin Up Class. Here are two of the cards I made there: 

This card was also a Gina K design that I made for a friend who is going through Chemotherapy: 

In the meantime, I was finding more ways to use my Silhouette. Here is some robots I made for my electronics class at school. We used this to make Robot "operation" games! 

I also used my Silhouette to create a poster for my ham radio club. I found this radio tower somewhere online and used it to create the focal point. 

Yesterday, I spent the evening making a belated Birthday card. I tried to create this design myself from a variety of ideas. Other than it is crooked, I was fairly happy with the results. I do hate it when things are crooked! 

So that is my scrapbooking adventures so far. I have a bit more time this summer, so I hope to create even more projects. It is my new favorite hobby! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hearing Aids, Part III

I wanted to give a last report on my MDHearing Aids in case anyone else is considering them. My recommendation: Do it! But, here's the catch: You have to be motivated to wear hearing aids to get through the "NOISY" stage!

The first two weeks, I wasn't sure I would be able to continue wearing them. I wanted to pull them out all the time. I left them in for five hours a day and then took them off. That was all I could stand. Then, about the 3rd week, I started finding myself leaving them in for longer. This week, I almost went to bed with them on!

The bottom line is this: If you really need hearing aids, you will have to go through an adjustment period. There is so much noise out there that you haven't been hearing, and it takes a while for your brain to adjust to the new noise level. If it had not been that I was highly motivated for the sake of my students, I don't think I would have persevered long enough to have success.

Now, I am very glad I persevered. I can hear my students MUCH better. My husband doesn't have to deal with my loud TV and radio! I can hear the birds singing and all the pleasant noises I've missed for so long. I've learned to tune out the fans, the car noise, and the other non-so-pleasant noises that interfere with my hearing.

I like the fact that, with a press of two buttons, I can tune out much of the restaurant noise. If you get hearing aids, make sure that they include this background noise elimination feature. It's well worth it!

If you are on a budget, or even if you are not, I highly recommend the MDHearing Aids. (I do not get free ones or $ for saying this!) For $600, I got two hearing aids that would have cost me $4,000-$10,000 elsewhere. Are the $600 ones as good as the $4-$10K? That I can't tell you. All I can say is that I am happy with my purchase. Perhaps, it's like cars. I can't afford a Mercedes, either, but I'm happy with my Prius. On my budget, the MDHearing Aids do what I need them to do. I can hear better and they are comfortable enough to wear all day.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Gathering Shadows by Nancy Mehl

Nancy Mehl is a new author for me; but, after reading Gathering Shadows, she is now one of my favorite authors! 

The story line is best described on the back cover: "Wynter Evans is a promising young reporter for a television station in St. Louis, but even a bright future doesn't take away her pain over the disappearance of her brother nine years ago. So when she stumbles across a photograph of a boy with an eerie resemblance to him, she can't pass up the chance to track him down. With research for work as her cover, she sets out with one of the station's photogs for the place where the picture was taken: the town of Sanctuary. 

Almost as soon as she arrives, she meets the town's handsome young mayor, Rueben King, and together they begin to uncover long held secrets that could tear the small town apart and change everything Wynter thought she knew about her life. As the truth of her family's past hides in the shadows, it's clear someone will stop at nothing to keep the answers she's searching for hidden forever--even if the cost is Wynter's very life.”

What I loved most about Gathering Shadows is that the author grabbed my attention from the first page and held it all way to the end. The plot is so intriguing that I had trouble putting the book down! Near the end of the book, I was turning the pages so fast that I had to read the ending twice to make sure I didn’t miss anything! This is a five-star plot! 

The book includes inspirational themes of love, forgiveness, and trust between the characters in the book, as well as between God and man. Personally, I didn’t find the Christian themes intrusive, but others may not feel the same way. It is obviously a Christian book and does not include any sex scenes or cuss words.

Gathering Shadows is Book 1 of a series. Many times, I avoid reading the first book in a series until after the other books are released because the first book doesn't “end” and I usually feel “cheated." I didn’t feel this way about Gathering Shadows. Mehl did a good job of tying up the major plots while leaving hints of what will happen in the future. I was satisfied with the ending, but I’m still looking forward to finding out what happens next to my favorite characters!

If you’re looking for an inspirational, nail-biting mystery with a touch of clean romance, then this is the book for you!

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book from the author and Bethany House Publishers to read and review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.