Monday, June 29, 2009

Cameron Frye, this one's for you

Something about Books

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
-- Mark Twain

Teaching on a University campus is truly one of the great joys of my life. It has also brought me some surprising challenges. The one that I am continually looking to find the right answer to is how to help my students who HATE to read, particularly the male students.

Now, I could point you to a slew of scholarly journals with articles on why this happens (and there are lots of opinions and lots of reasons). Add to that the predisposition of children and young adults to believe books are outmoded in our “media age” and you have a sea of problems to wade through.

Goodness knows that when I first started teaching, I had no idea what kind of books to recommend to BOYS! Thankfully there are people out there with much better knowledge than I to direct me to wonderful books and resources.

One of my favorites is Guys Read – here’s a little of their press release

“GUYS READ is a web-based nonprofit literacy initiative for boys founded by Jon Scieszka. It is a sponsored program of the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Statistics and anecdotal evidence shows that boys are having trouble reading. The basic idea of GUYS READ is that boys can be motivated to read by connecting with texts they will want to read.

What boys like to read is not often the same as what they are required to read. Literary fiction is the mainstay of required school reading. Yet boys often prefer non-fiction, humor, information, comics/graphic novels, and more humor.”

Makes sense, no?

Even though I don’t have any brothers, my sister and I were the only girls on either side of the family until my teen years and I learned to climb trees and play war with the best of the cousins. After all, I was the inventor of the “sweet gum ball grenade”

(you roll one of those dried out prickly seed pods in pea gravel and then pack wet sand around it – explodes on impact! What I lacked in physical prowess, I more than made up for in sneaky.) Surely I can connect to these students in some way.

My challenge is that in my Oral Interpretation classes, some of what might be more appealing for them to read doesn’t work well with performance.

One of my favorite non-fiction topics is WWII history – I thought that might appeal to some of the guys and be a good place for me to start. So I set out on a search for great Children’s and YA literature focusing on that topic.

Here is what I’ve found.

That's one list on one topic. I develop more as I get input from my students. As always, I’m open to suggestions – class starts next week. Any theme is fair game, just needs to be children’s or YA. What could you suggest for my guys in these categories? Non-fiction, fiction, humor, and information

And finally a shout out to Jen Robinson and her Book Page. This will be a wonderful resource for me and my students for years to come.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lucy and Dinos and Art, OH MY!

Science Sunday

Photo by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Here’s a title for you – Paleoartist, i.e. artists using fossil remains and/or Paleontological study to inform their art. Art that is dependent on Science. I love it already.

Let me introduce you to Viktor Deak. I want to sit in his studio and just watch him work for a day. Watch this great video from the NY Times and then check out his personal website.

Then, if you are a geek like me, troll through this page from the American Museum of Natural History. And for good measure look at the exhibit information on Lucy that just opened in NYC. Note to my buds who live in the area – if you go see this (or the Titanic Exhibit) I expect a full report. We’ve been talking about a trip to the city, but just don’t know when we will get to go. So many things I’d like to see.

And finally, because I now have a family connection that has opened my eyes to the video gaming world, see what you can do if you have a bent for Paleoart in the iPhone app world. (There is an app for EVERYTHING.)

There, that should keep you busy for a while.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Competitive Baking

"I always had the will to win. I felt it baking cookies. They had to be the best cookies anyone baked."

Bette Davis

Home Ec. 101 Saturday

I have to be honest and tell you that I don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I don’t enjoy cooking – there – I said it. And fortunately, I don’t have to because for the last 20 years Himself has taken the baton. I am very spoiled because a) he loves doing it and b) he’s GOOD at it.

BUT – I do like to bake. And the more creative I can get, the better.

A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to this blog – Bakerella. AMAZING stuff and great directions and links and totally DOABLE projects.

Case in point.

Just look what you can do with cupcakes, brownies and sugar cookies.

Yep – that’s my kitchen. I made those (Himself did the sugar cookie French fries, ‘cause he wanted to play, too!) I am not a purist and used my favorite boxed mixes. Here is the direct link to the Bakerella instructions.

Sooooo cute – didn’t take any special tools. I used a juice glass instead of the cookie cutter. And I opted out of using icing for the lettuce, mustard and ketchup. My family is picky and wouldn't have enjoyed the icing on the brownies. Only thing that I didn’t have in the pantry was sesame seeds and sugar cookie mix. Had all the paper products (card stock, tracing paper) to use with the templates. Easy peasy. Got to bake AND paper craft. (Made me giddy!!!)

Check out some of her Christmas creations. You'll love them.

And to quote my favorite renegade chef, “Do it bigger, do it better, do it AWESOME”.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Anything Can Happen Friday

Actually, it looks like everything happened yesterday. I'm on news overload.

One of my friends posted this on FB this morning. It about covers it...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy "Burt" Day - Burt's Bees that is!

Shopping Thursday

Have you started your Christmas Shopping yet? I have. Well, really I shop all year long and I know that isn’t a possibility for everyone, but it works great for me. I have a couple of plastic bins in a closet that I keep things in that I find. It has more than once saved me when I needed that last minute birthday or hostess gift. And I learned long ago to keep everything together so that when December rolls around I haven’t “lost” gifts because I’ve hid them so well.

I troll several discussion boards for deals – and not every day, just when I have some time. I’m pretty patient and don’t mind sifting through things to get at the bargains. BUT, I’ve figured out that I have to be in the right mind set and not be rushed.

One of my favorites is the Budget Board on the DIS site. It claims to be “The Internet's Largest Unofficial On-Line Guide to Walt Disney World” and it has been invaluable for saving us money on our many jaunts to the world. And as you would think, the Budget Board predominately centers around saving you money on your trip. However, there are many savvy posters there who view the “penny saved is a penny earned” to go into the Disney Vacation money jar and they apply it to their household yearly budget. You are never really sure what offers people will post. After looking through several pages, I found this.

Burt’s Bee Grab Bag - $25

Many have posted that they have divided into smaller bags and used for teacher and office gifts.
6 Regular-Sized Products:
Lip Shimmer Merlot
Lip Shimmer Toffee
Replenishing Lip Balm
Beeswax Lip Balm
Spearmint & Lime Body Wash (4 oz)
Nourishing Body Lotion (3 oz)
12 Mini-size:
Baby Bee Buttermilk Bath
All-in-One Wash
Lip Gloss Red
Lip Gloss Nude
Natural Skin Care for Men Soap
Peppermint Soap
Citrus Spice Soap
Baby Bee Buttermilk Soap
Orange Essence Facial Cleanser
Peppermint Foot Lotion
Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar
Therapeutic Bath Crystals
4 Special Gifts:
Bamboo Poof
Burt's Bees Gardener's Gloves
Red Wristlet Bag
Lip Balm Clip-On
Items may vary. All sales final. No returns or replacements.

Free FedEx Ground shipping on orders of $25 or more. Just enter BURTDAY (case-sensitive) at checkout.

I even had a free lip balm show up in my cart! I love, love, LOVE these products and will be hard pressed to give any up!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Something to see, something to do...

Theatre/Film Wednesday

Two exciting things today.

First Sceneshop – “Based in Fort Worth, Texas, SceneShop is a showcase for short dramatic works - scenes, monologues, excerpts from larger works- written by local and regional writers. Since 1996, the 'Shop has presented nearly 100 new works, performed by a core of regulars and featuring guest turns by some of the area's most gifted performers. With a focus on simple staging and casual ambiance, SceneShop has earned consistently positive reviews and a loyal following. Each edition promises a variety of works - comic, serious, thoughtful, sometimes silly- that comprises a memorable, intimate evening of theatre. Currrently, SceneShop produces a new edition each August, an irreverent holiday-themed show each December, and, for the past four years, has been a participant in the prestigious "Out of the Loop Festival" at WaterTower Theater in Addison, Texas.” The group is spearheaded by Steve McGaw. Here is their FB page.

They have a great June project titled “Ten by Tenn” – poetry and prose by, you guessed it, Tennessee Williams, curated by my dear friend, Assistant Professor, Natalie Gaupp. If you dwell in the metroplex, check it out.

Second, A.C.T. Unlimited – Great new studio in Plano, run by Brent Anderson. They provide audition taping and demo reel production among other services for area actors. Brent is the consummate professional (current President DFW SAG and AFTRA) who has everything it takes to make your support materials look great and work for you. You can find them on FB, too.

Oh, and did I mention Steve, Natalie and Brent are all University of Texas Arlington Theatre Alum?

How do you like them apples.