Author-Illustrator Elisa Kleven’s Wondrous Worlds (plus a giveaway!) — Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Excuse me while I go all fangirl for a moment… I’ve admired Elisa Kleven’s work for years, beginning when I discovered the gorgeous delight THE PAPER PRINCESS…and then the sweet APPLE DOLL. My daughters and I had both books on our regular #bedtimereads rotation. In fact, for months the books never made it back to the […]

via Author-Illustrator Elisa Kleven’s Wondrous Worlds (plus a giveaway!) — Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

A Magical Tale From Start To Finish!

51wwaq7vpjl“Toren has been through a LOT. With a brother in charge who cares little for the family, she is forced to grow up fast. Toren’s strength is evident from the beginning; her little bits of struggling and defiance are really HUGE leaps of inappropriate behavior where she comes from.”

In Toren the Teller’s Tale by Shevi Arnold, “the main character is obviously a very special person, and I am enthralled repeatedly by Toren’s stories. I even find myself believing that she makes them up on the spot just for me. I catch myself wondering, “How does she do that in MINUTES? I would not be able to rhyme that quickly.”

“Her fantastic storytelling abilities aside, Toren has vast amounts of other talent. She is apprenticed to a wizard, despite the fact that this is illegal, and her training is very thorough. I definitely feel a stubborn streak in Toren, and this makes me like her that much more. Noa also exhibits stubbornness but, for whatever reason, in her I find it rude and insensitive. I connect strongly with Toren, so whenever anyone tries to harm or cajole, her I don’t like them very much.  Overall, Toren The Teller’s Tale is a FABULOUS book that I Highly Recommend to any Fantasy lover.” – Amazon Review

Have you ever been swept away by a story? If you have, you know the magic of the storyteller–and you know that magic is real. This is seventeen-year-old Toren’s magic . . . but is she brave enough to accept the power she holds? When Toren returns home, her little sister, Noa, is full of questions. Why does Toren awake only at night? What causes her almost constant pain? And above all, why, after completing her apprenticeship, has she has decided not to become a wizard? To answer, Toren weaves a tale about a journey that leads her to discover the greatest source of magic in her world–herself. It is a revelation that comes at a high price. Through her darkest years, Toren finds solace and strength in the stories she tells. But her greatest tale is not yet finished. Together with Noa, she sets out on a new adventure. And in the end, she must choose. Will she continue to cling to her dream of an ordinary life, or will she dare to let her own magic shine? TOREN: THE TELLER’S TALE is an inspirational fantasy about the enchantment of literature, because in Toren’s parallel world there is no greater magic than the magic of storytelling. TOREN: THE TELLER’S TALE is the first book in the Toren the Teller series.

Shevi Arnold loves writing, illustrating, and making people laugh—and she’s been doing all three since 1987 when she started working as an editorial cartoonist for a newsweekly. She’s also worked as a comics magazine editor, an arts-and-entertainment writer specializing in comedy and children’s entertainment, and as a consumer columnist. Nowadays, though, she enjoys writing (and sometimes illustrating) humorous fiction, fantasy and science fiction, mostly for children and young adults. Although she’s completed six novels since, she considered her first, Toren the Teller’s Tale, her magnum opus. You can email the author at shevi.arnold@hotmail.com. You can also become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter (@SheviStories), follow her blog http://shevi.blogspot.com, or learn more at shevistories.com.

Non-Fiction of Olympic Proportions (plus a prize!) — Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Karlin Gray What do I know about writing nonfiction picture books? After my book NADIA: THE GIRL WHO COULDN’T SIT STILL was published, someone said to me, “Great timing with the 40th Anniversary of the Perfect 10! How smart of you to write that book now!” Um, no. Well, yes . . . but […]

via Non-Fiction of Olympic Proportions (plus a prize!) — Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

AXS CEO Troy McClain Featured at Special Needs Conference

Troy and Kid sisIdaho Partnerships Conference on Human Services has a great featured speaker this fall: Troy McClain is the CEO of AXS , a full-service marketing, communications and business management firm focused on growing people and businesses to great heights.

Their website says:

Our annual conference is an opportunity to bring professionals, self-advocates and family members together in order to increase education and hands-on training surrounding topics such as mental health, developmental disabilities, autism, supervision/leadership and self-advocacy. Additionally, it’s an opportunity for individuals to network professionally in order to build stronger support groups for family members, clients and participants.

As a seasoned entrepreneur with over 14 years experience in the financial industry, Troy has learned how to create budgets, manage costs and cost-effectively market and communicate products, services and causes. Using innovative techniques and strategies, he has been instrumental in providing successful growth concepts to companies and professionals working toward a higher level of achievement.

Today, Troy is an international speaker on a variety of topics, such as entrepreneurism, finance, advertising, marketing and communications, personal growth, and giving back to one’s community.

Troy  became America’s sweetheart and underdog sensation when he was selected from nearly a quarter million applicants to vie – on national TV – for a job working with Donald Trump. Millions of viewers watched this one apprentice hopeful without a college education excel past the other 16 finalists on his way to the final four. After the unfathomably successful season 1 run of The Apprentice, Donald Trump said, “Guys like Troy are what make America great.”

Troy’s “kid sis” is profoundly deaf and developmentally delayed, so he knows firsthand the challenges families and organizations face when it comes to serving the needs of the Special Needs Community.

***

AXS has redefined collaborative community. We are the leading successful living membership club of cause, and purpose-driven people who understand that the power of community creates opportunity, energy and purpose. Our promise is to inspire, uplift and serve, while equipping our members with the entrepreneurial mindset and practical tools needed to live successful lives, as each defines success. Through online and in-person education and training, impactful events, business networking opportunities, experiential travel, courses and workshops, publications, mentoring and more, our members manifest their fullest personal, professional and philanthropic selves.

See allaxs.com

Julia Vanishes Skillfully Blends Steampunk, Fantasy, Adventure and Magic

barker_TRC_juliavanishes“Egan’s debut novel sparkles with storytelling that skillfully blends elements of steampunk, fantasy, adventure, and magic…A beautifully rendered world and an exquisite sense of timing ensure a page-turning experience.” – Publishers Weekly

Julia has the unusual ability to be . . . unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people’s senses.

It’s a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it’s a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned—crime pays.

She’s being paid very well indeed to infiltrate the grand house of Mrs. Och and report back on the odd characters who live there and the suspicious dealings that take place behind locked doors.

But what Julia discovers shakes her to the core. She certainly never imagined that the traitor in the house would turn out to be . . . her.

Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan is the perfect magical fantasy book to fill those long summer days at the beach or by the pool. Murder, thievery, witchcraft, betrayal — Egan builds a dangerous world where her fierce and flawed heroine finds that even a girl who can vanish can’t walk away from her own worst deeds.

“Readers will find themselves immediately immersed in the narrative and invested in the fate of Julia, who is both feisty and flawed,” Booklist said. “There is a richness to this inaugural volume of the Witch’s Child trilogy, and readers will be hard pressed to put it down.”

“Olive-skinned Julia’s a wonderful, fully realized heroine with moral dilemmas aplenty,” wrote Kirkus Reviews. “For those readers waiting for the sequel to Marie Lu’s The Rose Society (2015), a well-realized page-turner in the same vein.”

Julia Vanishes is a solid start to this YA fantasy-mystery trilogy. It is filled with promise. Julia’s world fascinatingly magical. Urban fantasy mixes with a dystopian feeling along with throwback Victorian sensibilities. Witches are real and feared. Their spells are cast through writing. Blended with mystery the sharp, curious narration is very effective. Readers are charmed into overlooking some of the lesser developed characters while hope arises that they too will flesh out more in the forthcoming novels.

“Teens will experience the emotions and actions as the narrator travels around her world and is betrayed again and again. VERDICT Recommend to fans of light fantasy and character-driven narratives.” – School Library Journal

“An exciting novel with magic and serial killers…. One of the hottest books coming out.”
—Hypable.com

“In the suspenseful, action-packed debut of the Witch’s Child trilogy, Canadian author Catherine Egan spins out a dark and deep world of magic and crime where powerful mortals and terrifyingly violent creatures fight behind the scenes for the future of a realm.” – Shelf Awareness

What Mastery-Based Learning Would Look Like in Idaho

As we discuss children’s literature, it is important to examine connections between learning with and through the written word and the policies that determine what goes on in classrooms.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra  is working to help lawmakers “move from the notion or the concept of mastery-based education to the actual concrete view of what it could look like in Idaho.” The initiative would move away from traditional academic schedules.

Ybarra2

Sherri Ybarra

According to the Idaho Education News.teachers from Kuna Middle School and officials from the Council of Chief State School Officers briefed lawmakers, highlighting the mastery-based education recommendation issued in 2013 by Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education.

The idea behind mastery is that students would advance academically once they demonstrate a thorough understanding of educational concepts, said Stephen Bowen, the CCSSO’s strategic initiative director for innovation.

Such a move would replace seat time requirements, and could allow more students to graduate early or work towards college credits while still in high school if they master concepts early. On the other hand, some students who struggle could theoretically need more than four years to graduate high school.

Some districts and states that moved to mastery replaced traditional letter grades with scores of one to four. A “three” indicates mastery. A “two” indicates students are progressing but have not yet achieved mastery.

“They’ve taken out all seat-time requirements,” Bowen said. “It’s not about did you sit in class long enough to get a C-minus and pass the class. It’s about did you master that (subject area).”

The IEN article by Clark Corbin reported that a statewide move to mastery is complex, and could require legal changes to everything from a state’s funding formula to the laws governing diploma requirements, he said. In some mastery-based schools, students of different age groups are found working together within the same classroom.

“We give (students) a problem we don’t have the answer to and they have to use elements of math, science, English and history to find the solution,” Murphy said.Kuna Middle School teachers Kevin Murphy and Shelby Harris said they’ve experienced positive results in the two years since their team of four teachers moved to a mastery- and problem-based learning system they call Synergy.

Murphy described his team’s classrooms as “a beautiful mess,” where students collaborate (sometimes loudly) in groups, don’t observe traditional bell schedules and view teachers as mentors, not traditional educators who deliver lengthy lectures that consume a class period.

The situation took some getting used to, and some trust, but he said students in the Synergy system outperformed their peers on last year’s ISAT by Smarter Balanced (SBAC) tests.

While mastery offers an opportunity for advanced students to progress more quickly, CCSSO experts said it is equally important to personalize learning opportunities for students who fall behind or struggle.

“One of the most important things when a school moves toward a mastery-based system of education is, if students are working at a different pace, there must be systems of support in place,” said Jennifer Poon, CCSSO’s Innovation Lab Network director.

In a 2015 interview, Ybarra emphasized her support for mastery, but described the transition as a “generational change” that will not be completed during a four-year term in office.

Otter proposed spending $1.2 million to continue developing mastery in Idaho. That money would allow 20 school districts to begin piloting a mastery system.

Comments on my Facebook page included:

I devised a mastery system for remedial math in 1976. I can’t imagine a mastery system for government or literature. They are based on concepts, not skills, and student interaction is an important to learning.

and

This sounds suspiciously like the “level system” that was in place in Maryland in the 70’s. In sixth grade I was in level 8-4 in math, or hslf way through 8th grade math. The Jr. High I went to did not use the same system and I sat in class bored for two years. It is a good system if it is enacted system wide. If it is only in place in a few schools as an experiment it is extremely dangerous. Also it requires a high degree of professionalism for the teachers. Another reason it failed in Maryland is teachers became focused on cultivating the rapidly advancing students to the detriment of those who did not advance due to the lack of instruction.

However, Key features of mastery-based learning (MBL) include:

1. Curriculum design hinges on assessments
2. Assessments may take any form as long as they determine proficiency
3. Graduation to the next grade/level/topic is contingent upon successful completion of prerequisite assessment.
4. Curriculum is committed to the success of all students; students are not “allowed” to give up.

This initiative is intriguing and has promise. It should be looked at and discussed further for the possible benefits to Idaho children.

Winners…and Another Contest! — Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

I got zapped with the flu two weeks ago. Really walloped me, like being endlessly pummeled with pillows at a sleepover party. Just when I thought I was getting better—PHHHHHHUMPT! Down I went. Cold compresses, hot tea, lukewarm toast. Sleepless nights, endless days. What a funk! Now I’m happy to be back in the land […]

via Winners…and Another Contest! — Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

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