Archive for April, 2013

Author DAVID JAMES DUNCAN featured at Idaho Writers and Readers Rendezvous

A terrific line up of authors and publishing professionals are coming to this year’s Idaho Writers and Readers Rendezvous. One of the best is James David Duncan

Duncan is a father, a renowned fly fisher, a practitioner of what he calls “direct, small-scale compassion-activism,” and the author of the novels The River Why and The Brothers K, the story collection River Teeth, and the nonfiction collections My Story as Told by Water and God Laughs & Plays. He is also co-author of two fast-response activist books, The Heart of the Monster (2011, co-written with Rick Bass) and Citizen’s Dissent (2003, co-written with Wendell Berry).

Duncan’s work has won three Pacific Northwest 41OrJ4LJWwLBooksellers Awards, three Pushcart Prizes, a Lannan Fellowship, the Western States Book Award for nonfiction, a National Book Award nomination, an honorary doctorate from University of Portland, the American Library Association’s 2003 Award for the Preservation of Intellectual Freedom (with co-author Wendell Berry), and inclusion in more than forty national anthologies including Best American Essays, Best American Sports Writing, Best American Catholic Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing (six times).

In a new Afterword written for this twentieth-anniversary edition, David James Duncan reflects on the genesis of his book and on the surprising link between fishing and wisdom.

The River Why, Twentieth-Anniversary Edition: Since its publication by Sierra Club Books more than two decades ago, The River Why has become a classic, standing with Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It as our era’s most widely read fiction about fly-fishing. This captivating and exuberant tale is told by Gus Orviston, an irreverent young fly fisherman and one of the most appealing heroes in contemporary American fiction.

Leaving behind a madcap, fishing-obsessed family, Gus decides to strike out on his own, taking refuge in a remote riverbank cabin to pursue his own fly-fishing passion with unrelenting zeal. But instead of finding fishing bliss, Gus becomes increasingly troubled by the degradation of the natural world around him and by the spiritual barrenness of his own life. His desolation drives him on a reluctant quest for self-discovery and meaning—ultimately fruitful beyond his wildest dreams.

Stylistically adept and ambitious in scope, The River Why is a touching and powerful novel by an important voice in American fiction.

Come to the Rendezvous!
In the early nineteenth century the Rendezvous was the event of the year on the western frontier. Mountain men and Native Americans trapping along the streams and valleys of the Rocky Mountains gathered annually to sell their furs, trade for supplies, and tell stories. In that tradition, we welcome you to our annual gathering of writers and readers…
Featuring Keynote Speaker: New York Times bestselling author of over fifteen novels
C. J. Box
and a top-notch lineup of authors, editors, agents, screenwriters,
educators, publishers, and other industry professionals
  • Author panels
  • Writing workshops
  • One-on-ones: Manuscript and pitch sessions
  • Contests (cash awards!): Short story, poetry, short screenplay, and exciting new “collaborative story telling” categories
  • Open mic nights
  • Book signings and marketplace
  • Small-group dining with an agent, editor, or author
  • Saturday night awards banquet
  • PLUS Pre-Conference Interactive Workshop on Thursday afternoon
Click here to learn about the speakers and program schedule, or to sign up for a one-on-one appointment for a manuscript evaluation (fiction, non-fiction, or screenplay), or pitch session.


Pell Checkers

Spelling Checkers.

I have a spelling checker
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot see.

Eye ran this poem threw it.
Your sure real glad two no.
Its very polished in its weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.


Brod Bagert: The Power of Poetry Like Never Before

brod-bagertPoet Brod Bagert is the author of over ten books of poetry for children, young adults, and adults. A former lawyer and New Orleans City Councilman, Bagert penned his first poem as a favor to his daughter, who needed a poem to recite in a school program. Bagert realized that few poems written in children’s voices were available, and so wrote one himself. Since then, he has helped change children’s poetry in America, focusing on performance as well as the poem itself. According to Timothy Rasinski, a literacy instructor at Kent State University, Bagert’s poems Bagert’s poems allow children to “study art” through analysis of the poems, and then “create art” when they perform them. “Since he is one of the few poets to (truly) write in the voice of a child, it’s easy for (students) to use his material for expressiveness,” Rasinski told the New Orleans Times Picayune in a feature on Bagert. The Picayune noted that part of Bagert’s appeal to children was his ability to capture their swirling moods and emotions: “Bagert’s verses often feature the private emotions—raw, complex, humorous—of youthful characters he created,” the article’s author, Ramon Antonio Vargas, noted.
Bagert’s books of poetry for children include Elephant Games and Other Playful Poems to Perform (1995), The Gooch Machine (1997), Giant Children (2002), Shout! Little Poems that Roar (2007), and School Fever (2008). His collections for adults include A Bullfrog at Café DuMonde (2008) and Steel Cables.(2008).

An active presence in schools nationwide, Bagert compares himself to Johnny Appleseed because he journeys across America, planting a love of poetry in children. He both performs poetry for children and instructs teachers in his Performance Method, “a system which recognizes that poetry is an oral art, and that, for children, a poem comes alive when they perform it,” Bagert commented. Of his work’s overall impact on children, Bagert noted: “It’s an important moment when a child stands before an audience for the first time. There’s a lot of self- esteem at stake. My children wanted poems they could act out and make everybody laugh. They wanted poems that would help them succeed.

SOURCE: The Poetry Foundation.

My favorite of Brod’s poems is Rambo Teacher:

Interview with Tim Federle, Author of Better Nate Than Ever

400720807What is your birthdate?:

Previous occupations:
Broadway actor, with rest-stops at the Super Bowl (as a Christina Aguilera backup dancer) and Radio City Music Hall (as a CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR polar bear).

Favorite job:
This one!

Revealing Questionscvr9781442446892_9781442446892_lg

Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
A. Honestly? Extremely dangerous. Oh, wait. “LIFE,” not “knife.”

Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. If all else fails, chocolate milk and a nap.

Q. What’s your best quality?
A. (Can we loop my mom into this questionnaire, or will she need an internet service provider?)

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Humor and math.

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. If all else fails, chocolate milk and a nap.

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. For dancing: BILLIE JEAN by Michael Jackson. Writing: THE TOURIST by Christopher O’Riley. Crying: HIDE & SEEK by Imogen Heap. Reminiscing: GRACELAND by Paul Simon. Lip-syncing (tie): CAN’T LET GO by Mariah Carey (MTV Unplugged edition only); GIMME GIMME from “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

On Books and Writing

Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
A. See what happens if you keep throwing a “yes” at those quiet ideas.

Tim Federle was born in San Francisco, grew up in Pittsburgh, and began crashing New York auditions as a teenager, landing in five Broadway shows. Tim’s debut novel, Better Nate Than Ever, was inspired by his adventures backstage; Five, Six, Seven, Nate! chronicles Nate Foster’s further exploits in E.T.: The Musical. Find the author at and on Twitter @TimFederle.

Integrating Technology in the Classroom

800px-Technology_in_classroomStacey Roshan, an Advanced Placement calculus teacher at Bullis School—a private school for students grades three through 12 in Potomac, Md.—faced the problem of trying to keep her students engaged as she walked them through the difficult mathematics curriculum. During her previous three years at the school, Roshan notes, students were routinely stupefied by the traditional classroom lecture and often left class with more questions than answers.

“They wanted so much more time in the classroom to work on problems,” Roshan says.

To meet the needs of her students, Roshan made radical changes to her lesson plans. Using Camtasia Studio, a screen recording and video editing program, Roshan uploaded her lectures to iTunes and assigned them as homework. “We’ve kind of reversed the whole dynamic of the class,” she says. “Instead of lecturing in class, I lecture to them when they’re at home, and we work problems together [in the classroom]. I liken it to an English classroom where the kids go home and do the reading and then they come into class and have this lively, engaging discussion.”

Educators must constantly study new, emerging technology tools. Such inquiry and the results will provide classroom teachers and school administrators with powerful information and findings on best practices. I  partner with teachers as we study technology and its impact on P-12 student learning.  A recent study shows that emerging technology has a positive impact in the classroom. However, integrating technology into, for example,  a high school classroom,  is much more than a one-step process.

“You can’t just slap a netbook [computer] on top of a textbook and say, ‘Great, now we have technology,” says Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy organization.

Wise says that digital learning starts with teachers, whose performance is enhanced by technology—not the other way around.

Below are some ideas on how to  successfully bring technology into the classroom.

According to of U.S. News and World Report:

By assigning online course content, using adaptive software for students with special needs, and utilizing online student assessments and other digital tools. Educators, as well as parents, students, librarians, and community leaders, can learn about classroom innovations and get new ideas

According to tech writer Drew Hendricks:

It’s frustrating to be in a classroom where there are students at very different levels and needs to a degree where it’s impossible for one teacher to cater to each student as they deserve. A teacher’s job is just as much about knowing the students and understanding how to improve an individual’s learning abilities as it is about teaching students about algebra, photosynthesis, or how to use a semicolon correctly. Studies have found that a technology rich classroom is the perfect place for that level of specialized learning. When teachers and students are trained to use the technology, there are many tools to help track growth, give extra resources, and accelerate learning based on each student’s unique pace. The first step to improving education as a whole is realizing that there is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all education that will work for every student. From there, technology can offer tools for defining unique education.

One of the major benefits of introducing technology into the classroom is the effect it has on the students. In traditional teaching (lecturing, working from a textbook, and taking notes, for example), it’s easy for students to fall into a passive role. Even the best students who have a natural passion for learning can have trouble paying attention to a teacher’s lecture. But when technology is involved, students are more likely to be engaged in learning. Students need to press buttons, think out problems, and manipulate the tools they have to achieve a goal. Educational technology can improve focus among students and it caters to students who learn independently and to those who are more collaborative.

Here are 3 Tips on Integrating Technology into the Classroom:

1. Plan ahead: There has to be a comprehensive strategy in place to implement technology into the school system, Wise says, and the teachers have to be involved in the planning stages.

2. Try something new: The Digital Learning Day website includes a number of teacher “toolkits” with lesson ideas and devices for enhancing lessons with technology. One tool mentioned is the website Animoto, which allows students to create and upload videos, such as oral book reports. There are also lists of ideas for digital learning, which have been submitted by other teachers.

One idea that has seen great results, say Wise and Hall, is the “flipped classroom.” With this setup, they explain, the lectures and homework are reversed. Students will listen to a webcast or recording of the teacher’s lecture at home, and then they will come to class and work on projects and problem-solving activities related to the lecture with the teachers. With this system, says Wise, “The teacher is able to engage with each student and immediately determine what their needs are.”

3. Become an educational designer: As technology evolves, so must the teachers. “For the last 100 years, teachers have essentially been the sage on the stage,” Wise says. “They’re the only access point of knowledge.” But now, Wise says, teachers are more like designers, who get to choose and develop what kinds of content their students access and which technologies they use. Wise says that with new content technologies, too, teachers can quickly see assessment results of their students. “They have tools so that instead of seeing 25 students sitting in front of them looking the same,” Wise says, “they now know that this student needs this particular assistance, and this student needs that something else.”

[These high school classrooms are the most connected.]

[Experts give parents tech tips on embracing ]

[Some schools rely on in-house tech experts to train teachers.]

How Classroom Libraries Work

Research shows that classroom libraries help students attain reading achievement. These key points from Scholastic’s Classroom Libraries Work: Research & Results provide concrete examples that will help you build an effective skill-building library for your students. Additional research support for the importance of classroom libraries can be found here.

  • Children learning to read need access to meaningful and personally interesting books.
  • Effective teachers of reading incorporate diverse trade books into their reading curriculum, introducing their students to the wide range of genres, authors, and topics.
  • While the best predictor of reading success is the amount of time spent reading, reading achievement is also influenced by the frequency, amount, and diversity of reading activities.
  • By providing access to a rich classroom library, teachers promote greater amounts of reading, increased reading frequency, and more diverse reading experiences among their students, thus helping them to attain greater levels of reading achievement.
  • Effective teachers of reading know that comprehension is enhanced by reflection and social interaction. Therefore, they provide their students with multiple opportunities to respond to their reading and interact with their peers through a variety of activities such as book clubs and discussions.
  • Increased vocabulary knowledge helps students understand what they read, and reading comprehension is enhanced when students understand the meaning of words. Thus there is a reciprocal benefit to independent reading of trade books — vocabulary growth and reading comprehension.
  • Effective teachers know the reading levels of their students and reading levels of the trade books in their classrooom, so that they can match their students to texts that can be read with success, thus assisting their students to grow as readers.

Five Major Functions of the Classroom Library
Excerpted from: Your Classroom Library: New Ways to Give It More Teaching Power, by D. Ray Reutzel and Parker C. Fawson800px-ClassroomLibrary.

If you think of a classroom library as a cozy, welcoming space where students can read quietly or browse through a rich collection of texts, you are only partially correct. The fact that classroom libraries are places for storage and quiet is only one small part of their purpose. They are, in the broadest sense, the backbone of classroom activity: Much of what goes on each day draws from or occurs in or around the resources and space within the classroom library. As we see it, there are at least five important functions of an effectively designed classroom library.

1. Supporting Literacy Instruction
The first function of a classroom library is to support reading and writing instruction—in school and out. To this end, outfit your classroom library with books and other media materials to support student learning in all of the daily curriculum subjects. Include materials related to science, health, mathematics, history, economics, geography, music, art, drama, dance, languages, grammar, spelling, literature, computers, and other topics. Build an adequate collection of fiction and nonfiction materials at enough different levels to accommodate the many interests and abilities of students designing to check out books for take-home reading.

2. Helping Students Learn About Books
Next, an effective classroom library provides a place for teachers to teach and children to learn about books and book selection. Here children can experience a variety of book genres and other reading materials in a smaller and more controlled environment than in the school or public library. You can also use the classroom library to teach students how to take care of books. You can set up a book repair area for instruction on repair, and display a poster with clear directions on how to mend torn pages, remove marks in the books, cover frayed edges, or fix broken bindings. You can also use the classroom library to teach students effective strategies for selecting relevant, interesting, and appropriate reading materials. A good classroom library helps students locate books easily and gives them room to get comfortable.

3. Providing a Central Location for Classroom Resources
You can also use your classroom library as an organized central storage location for classroom instructional resources. Here is additional space for organizing science equipment, CD and tape players, VHS and DVD tapes, computers wired to the Internet, games, magazines, and other materials that support learning. In this respect, the classroom library mirrors the organization of media centers at the individual and district levels.

4. Providing Opportunities for Independent Reading and Curricular Extensions
The fourth important function of a classroom library is as a resource and location for independent reading, personal exploration, project research, and individual assessment. Every good comprehensive reading program provides students daily time to read independently. The classroom library is typically the resource that supports children’s daily independent reading of self-selected books that meet their personal, recreational reading interests. The classroom library also provides students with readily accessible print materials, expository books, computer technology, and media for conducting research or completing curricular extension projects. Further, an in-class library offers a setting for students to quietly read aloud and discuss a book with a peer or the teacher. This provides an ideal opportunity for you to conduct an informal assessment of each student’s reading, which will help you to plan individualized instruction.

5. Serving as a Place for Students to Talk About and Interact with Books
The effective classroom library also functions as a gathering spot where students and teachers can express their lives as readers. Think of it as a place that makes books exciting, that sells reading. It should be a place students can’t wait to get to. Here they can talk about their reactions to books, write a critical review and share it with peers, or draw a poster to advertise a favorite book. A few other ideas follow:

  • The library can be a place where students can contribute to a list of “The Top Ten Books This Week in [__] Grade.”
  • It may also be a place where students can advertise a “book swap” with other students.
  • It can be a place where students plan a dramatization of a book with a small group of peers.

NEW: Graphic Novel Series HILO by Judd Winick, Cartoonist and former cast member of MTV’S The Real World

First Book in the Series to be Published in Spring 2015

“Winick has a sense of timing and adventure that is rare in children’s literature,
and a knack for thinking like a kid that’s even rarer. I think it’s because he still is one at heart.
HILO is delightful, silly, tender, and most importantly: funny.”
—Jeff Smith, Bone
“A perfect book for any kid who ever needed a friend and then had one with superpowers fall from space.”
—Seth Meyers, actor, comedian, head writer and performer Saturday Night Live
a9b09e527d29d56c698aae513f14baaeHILO is an action-packed, full-color, middle-grade graphic novel series bursting with robots, aliens, humor, and adventure. It introduces the loveable D.J. and Gina, whose uninteresting lives get a lot more interesting when a mysterious boy, Hilo, falls from the sky and lands outside their small town.  Together, their raucous adventures take them to the ends of the universe to save the world from Robot Destroyers and discover the secret of Hilo’s past. HILO is Judd’s children’s book debut.

Random House will publish the first book in the series in North America in spring 2015, with simultaneous publication as an ebook.
“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Judd Winick to Random House Children’s Books and bring his genius to a new genre—children’s,” says Loehr. “Judd’s comic book background will lend itself brilliantly to this new age group and we know kids will love the characters and enjoy the adventure that HILO offers.”
JUDD WINICK is a former cast member of MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco in 1994.  In the wake of the death of his Real World roommate and friend, AIDS activist Pedro Zamora, Winick embarked on a national AIDS education lecture tour. Later, that lecture and his friendship with Zamora were documented in his award-winning graphic novel Pedro and Me.
Judd is also an award-winning cartoonist.  He followed up Pedro and Me with his original comic book series Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius and a long-running stint as one of the top writers on mainstream superhero comics. He has also scripted such bestselling titles as Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Catwoman, Batwing, Superman, Shazam, Outsiders, Titans, Justice League for DC Comics, Exiles for Marvel, and Star Wars for Dark Horse. Judd was the creator and executive producer of Cartoon Network’s series The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, and was the screenwriter for Batman: Under the Red Hood, the animated feature adaptation of one of his Batman stories. He is currently head writer on the HULU network’s brand-new animated series, The Awesomes.
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