May, 2011

San Francisco Maker Faire 2011

The National Writing Project sent a group of teachers from around the country to the Maker Faire in San Francisco. The faire showcases projects from adults and children who enjoy tinkering with everything from knitting needles to robotics. We were there to study the practicality of  combining Make projects with writing components in order to engage students in our schools. I was amazed by the ingenuity, critical thinking, and creativity many of these projects showcased.

I traveled out of Springfield with fellow teacher Kristin Sholtis, a Maker in her own right, who teaches art at Cherokee .




Good company makes any trip that much better :)  The other NWP teachers I met were amazing and are already incorporating Make into their curriculum through gardening and culinary arts. I came away eager to propose ideas to several area teachers and plan a Make Conference for Ozark  Teacher Consultants.

I saw so many amazing things: robots, hand carved wooden bikes, Steam Punk Zombie Hunters, mechanical cupcakes. Here’s a few pictures : (I’ve posted many more on my Face Book page)

Saphire, the fire breathing dragon


Hand carved bikes.

Along with good company-there was plenty of good food too. Check out these ho-hos!

May Madness

Change is in the air. The VERY brisk, cold air, that is blowing at a pretty good clip and trying its best to convince me that perhaps it is still winter rather than spring. I have barely recovered from the OWP Youth Conference, yet find myself contemplating the myriad of choices for the Maker Faire that I will be attending,  courtesy of the National Writing Project, May 20th-23rd in San Francisco.

The possibilities are endless.  The Water Bowloon, a bow that uses water balloons as amo. Making Seed Bombs: The Throwable Garden. Paper -Engineering: Make a Pop-Up Creature. Hands on Sauerkraut. Keeping Urban Livestock. Life-Size Mousetrap. Chinese Noodle Making. Cantar: Guitars Made from Tin Cans.Kanzashi: The Art of Japanese Fabric Flowers. Growing Gourmet Mushrooms on Recycled Coffee Grounds. No Sew Projects Using a T-Shirt.Paper Alchemy: Turning Paper into Metal (Making Paper Jewelry).Paper Airplanes.

And in between sessions there will be entertainment! I can watch the original Internet sensation by Eepybird live! (Geysers of soda shoot 20 feet in the air) or listen to bands like Battlehooch, Zen Finger Painting, Charlemagnet,  or Abby and the Pipsqueaks.

I think it is safe to say I will not be bored :)

And to round out all the good news: I have started the sequel to Momma Don’t Own a Machine Gun AND my hubby brought home a new Suburban to replace the one that was totaled by a drunk driver-so my horses and I will be hitting the trails again soon.

Sigh of content.

Mother’s Day

I had a fantastic week. 500 students and 30 teachers converged on Missouri State University for the third annual Ozark Writing Project Youth Conference. Students attended three of the following sessions:

 Comic books and Story-Telling “Comic books are a fun and inventive way to share stories. While most readers assume that comic books are written and read the same as a normal book, but this isn’t really the case. The combination of words and images provides a unique reading and writing experience that takes some effort to execute effectively. In this session, students will learn how words and images interact with one another to create a comic book story and they will write their own.

From the Page to the Stage: Writing a Stage Show for Children Perfect for the student actor, director or writer looking for a fun and creative challenge, writers will learn how to adapt short plays from established, published material, workshop their pieces and present them in a final reader’s theatre performance put together by the students This class will stretch the student’s creativity in ways that will give him or her a sense of confidence and accomplishment while they have a blast. Come prepared to have an amazing experience!.

 Marionette Madness! Characters Come to Life with Writing and Art! Join the adventure as we explore character development through writing. Then watch that character come to life through art. Challenge your mind and hands to create a Marionette.

Poetry Sketching. Ever wonder how to wrap emotion into the words of poetry?   How to deepen the meaning of a poem?  It is much easier than you think; with a little thinking outside of the box.  You will be amazed that you are a poet through a simple, amazing technique: Poetry Sketching!  Experience poetry sketching using word groups that you would never expect to fit together and watch a powerful, emotional poem magically erupt before your eyes.  Sketching will give you a fresh perspective on a familiar genre. 

Personification Penguins Power yourselves up to dive into figurative language. Teams compete to complete a poster–watch penguins personified–create your own! Best in show earns a prize and it won’t be little fishies!  

Sensory Details : A View of the Wild Side Allow yourself to escape to the Arctic Circle and chill-out with polar    bears that are sure to evoke your senses for a unique experience combining art, poetry, and observational writing. 

 Do It Yourself – Become a Maker and Writer Participants will be invited to explore the connections between making and technical writing through hands-on projects and shared reflection.

Come Rap with Me: Writing Rap Poetry Come learn about writing rap lyrics. We will listen to a Rap artist, discuss his message, write our own message, and then perform our very own rap.

 Six-Word Memoir Sometimes simplicity and minimal words can have the most impact. Create your own Six-Word Memoir using text and images to create a story to share with your friends. In the computer lab, your memoir will be part of a larger presentation that will be shown at the end of the day.

 Monsters and Mutants: Fear creeps into your mind, as you sense something is following you. You are afraid to turn  around, but you begin to wonder what type of creature is following you. Does it have fangs? Does it have sharp red claws? It is ten and a half feet tall? This session will allow you to explore your imagination to create and describe your                 own monster. You will use all five senses to describe how your hideous, terrifying creature looks, smells, feels, sounds a nd even what his breath taste like.

 Color Me Crazy Different colors and emotions are associated with certain colors. What colors represent your life and personality? Join me in creating a poem and poster that represents you in living color!

Map of Home Explore your neighborhoods, hangouts, and home. We will read, draw our neighborhoods, and write about where we live.

Creating Plays Develop and create short plays based on your experiences. Learn how to transform your favorite experiences, stories, legends, and tales into effective and entertaining short plays.

Choose Your own Adventure Have you ever wondered what would happen if King Arthur had decided not to pull the sword from the stone? Or if   had never gotten drowsy? In this session you will learn to write stories where the reader makes choices and decides what happens next. These decisions lead to multiple storylines, alternate endings, and create an all new form of storytelling.

500 students totally engaged in writing for hours and hours made all the hard work I’ve been putting into this event for the past several months TOTALLY worth it. Hoping to hold one for high school students in the fall.

After the conference-I attended an Aaron Lewis (Staind) show at the Gillioz. One word: Fantastic!

And if that wasn’t enough, I signed up for the ALAN (assembly on Literature for Adolescents) Conference.

The 2011 ALAN Workshop will be hosted at the Chicago Hilton from November 20-22 and will continue the tradition of celebrating the very best of young adult literature.  This year’s lineup is wonderful indeed:

M.T. Anderson will deliver the keynote address at the Workshop, and Jacqueline Woodson will serve as the 2011 ALAN Breakfast speaker (Saturday morning, November 19, during NCTE).

Several fantastic authors will speak on Monday, including Angela Johnson, Walter Dean Myers, Richard Peck, Janet Tashjian, Sean Beaudoin, John Green, Matt de la Peña, Leslie Margolis, Wendy Mass, Sarah Weeks, Rita Williams-Garcia, Sarah Dessen, Lauren Myracle, Cheryl Rainfield, Andrew Smith, Paul Yee, Kazu Kibuishi, Maureen Johnson, Abby McDonald, and Laurie HalseAnderson.  The evening will conclude with a reception honoring the finalists for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (AEWA).

Tuesday will feature an equally impressive collection of authors, including Chris Crutcher, Cara Chow, Sharon Draper, J.L. Powers, Matthew Quick, Cassandra Clare, Jennifer Donnelly, Neal Schusterman, Coe Booth, B.A. Binns, Simone Elkeles, Stephanie Perkins, Sara Zarr, James Dashner, Megan McCafferty, Veronica Roth, Dom Testa, Katie Alender, Beth Fantaskey, Michelle Hodkin, Thanhha Lai, and David Levithan.

The Workshop will begin with a cocktail reception on Sunday evening where attendees can mingle and chat with participating authors over wine and light snacks.  Monday sessions will be held from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, with the AEWA reception following from 5:15-6:15 pm.  Tuesday sessions will be held from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.  

How lucky am I?

And then there was Art Fest in downtown Springfield. Came home with two framed prints from Peggy Corpeny, a  watercolor from Vic Martin called “The Last Sugar Shack” and a hand built sea horse sculpture from J& R Pottery, which was bisque-fired, painted with raku glazes employing multiple metallic oxides and fired in an outdoor kiln-ensuring that no two pieces will have exactly the same finish. (Mine is gorgeous!)

I also drove out to Galena-for reasons to be disclosed at a later date. The river is still raging down there-amazing to see the huge trees down. Beautiful area. And last but not least, my wonderful family prepared dinner and presented me with gifts…

Life just doesn’t get any better.


I think I See A Glimmer of Sunshine…

It has been raining-really raining-for days. Our backyard creek is a raging river at the moment and I’m hoping the koi in our pond won’t swim away downstream! So when it stopped, just for a minute, I couldn’t resist snapping these shots of some of the spring flowers that have popped up.




As the rain began to fall again, I hightailed it back inside and  opened my envelope from Katie Davis. Inside was an autographed copy of her latest book, Little Chicken’s Big Day, and an adorable onesy that I won in her contest. You should check it out at   In honor of her book, we ate breakfast at Rosie’s cafe , where I snapped this unique chicken picture.






Then it was back to work! I spent Saturday morning at the LAD Fair which received over 5,200 entries from first through twelfth grade writers in SW Missouri. Here’s what that looks like:






I really enjoyed hearing some of the first place winners read excerpts from their work.  The Dance A Poem performance was also amazing , they did such a great job of making the authors words visible for the audience.

The rest of this week I will be focusing on the Ozark Writing Project Youth Conference. We have 475 students attending! Students will get to attend three writing sessions on topics as varied as writing rap , producing play scripts, and creating marionettes. I’m really looking forward to this day of writing! And I ordered 197 pizzas to consume at lunch!

Oh-one more piece of good news. Wrinkles, a poem I wrote about my late grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, is going to be published in Well Versed!

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