WP Photo Challenge: Refracted Light

The underground gardens in Fresno gives shows off refracting to the maximum.  This hand dug castle took years to create, and served it owner as a garden as well as a home.

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His guests could drive right in.  We had to park on the street with the rest of the tourists!

Forestiere Underground Gardens

You can imagine how much the trees loved this filtered light.

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If I’m down, I just need to look at this next picture to feel up again. My brother took this picture at Navy Pier in Chicago when we traveled for his birthday last October.

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For more ideas on refraction click the image below.

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Market Analysis for the Neophyte Author

When I went to Barnes and Noble in Fresno to check out the competition in romance novels and children’s books, I looked through the new lens of market research instead of Common Core Standards.

Romance Research 1rt

Most of the romance books lined one aisle filed alphabetically by author’s last name.  Commonly the bookstore displays the titles spine out.  Occasionally an author earned the right to face cover out.

market research 2RTBarnes and Noble displayed more Nora Roberts books than any  other author.  Since I had never read one of her books, I found one in another display of bargain books, a hardback book selling for $6.98, originally $27.85.  What’s interesting for the neophyte author is how many books there are, and how few of them are actually spotlighted.

Market research 3RT

It was easier to read in the children’s section, so I spent the most time in that section.  It intrigued me how few of even the spotlighted books were what I would consider “great reading.”

Market Research 4RT

I stayed three hours in the bookstore until I got hungry, and in that time read, took pictures and made notes on about 20 picture books as well as the romance books.  In that time probably three or four children came with their parents to read. A clerk stayed close by to help them find books, and she talked to me about the children’s birthday bonus I could sign up to receive.

Market research 5RTOut of the many, many children’s picture books available, only a very small percentage of authors made it to their own shelves. Many of these are books that are common household words, like Dr. Seuss, and Clifford the Big Red Dog.  One can find some classics in several different places around the bookstore. Packed into the back corner, one bookshelf housed prized picture books by age level.

Market Research 6RT

You can see Eric Carle’s books on the bottom for the very young. Next are the oldest pre-school aged books.  I read two of them, one I liked and one I didn’t.  Days later I saw a wordless cartoon telling the story of Flying Books by William Joyce.  I thought it needed words, but I had read the book.  At the very top, out of reach sat books for two year olds. My favorites were in the younger stories.  I especially enjoyed The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen.  This story began, “The dark lived in the same house as Laslo.”  What a catching first line, then the story unfolded from “dark’s” point of view. “Sometimes the dark hid in the closet…”  These were among the best I read.

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I read books from the less advertised sections.  I chose a book by Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Welton Hamilton because they offered an online class on writing children’s literature.  The Fairy Princess Sprinkles in the Snow had all the glitz a little girl would want.  It seemed long, but I didn’t count words.  The book centers around a spoiled little girl who wants to be in the concert but was not chosen.  It seems contrived and didactic in places to me, but Julie Andrews wrote it, so how awful could it be?

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I also noted publishers, and published dates, award-winning books.  I photographed book jacket marketing statements, and purchased my favorite books.  When I came home, I looked for my favorite authors online, and friended them on Twitter and Facebook if they were available.  Now I am a veritable expert on the market for romance and picture books.  Onward to getting ready to publish and hit the shelves.

Market Research 9RT

Oops, where’s that book by what’s her name, Marsha somebody?

Ask Marsha: The Ins and Outs of Guest Blogging

Before I get to guest blogging, let me make a confession.  The pure, honest, and whole truth is I’m not sure why my husband thought people would write in and ask me questions on my website.  Really!  It’s not that I don’t get tons of questions daily.   I do.  “Where are my glasses?”  “Have you seen my keys anywhere?”  “Could you come here and hold this?”  “Do you know if this or that person is on this or that committee?”  “Do you want me to make coffee this morning?”  “What are we having for dinner?”  “Did your power go off in the storm last night?”  Each of those questions would make a marvelously interesting post, don’t you think?

Glasses male

I mean, after all, where could glasses be?  In the refrigerator, I doubt that?  I’m always in the middle of something when Vince asks me that question in a  tone reminiscent of lost homework when you can hear the school bus is turning the corner approaching your stop.  So mid-email, I get up, start looking for the glasses, in all the right places, and can’t find them.  I’m worried for him.  I know he has an important meeting sometime that morning.  So I search all over the house, and in the meantime, he quietly slipped outside to check the truck, found the glasses, put them on, and is now out in the back yard watering.  Meanwhile I’m still looking for the glasses.  There ought to be a rule, if you answer your own question, please tell the researcher so they will quit researching.

Where are my glasses

To be fair to Vince, turn about is always fair play, and I FINALLY found my sunglasses the other day wound up in the dog’s retractable leash laying on the antique sewing machine, right inside the front door, where we always dump stuff.  I don’t remember if I told Vince that I found them after we both looked for 10 minutes – EVERYWHERE – even in the bathtub.

The the only question that might interest you this week involved preparing a guest post. My friend, Carol, graciously asked me to do an article for her blog.  I think that is an honor, by the way. I mean she could have just pressed the reblog button.  I’m not sure there is a lot of difference, really.  The problem she ran into was that even though she had access to all my pictures, some of them were in galleries.  WordPress galleries don’t transfer when you cut and paste.

When you trade posts, or write articles for magazines, it is best to have the pictures in a folder to pass on to the publisher.  In the case of blogs, it is best to resize them to either 400 X 600 or 600 X 400 pixels.  If you want credit, you can either put a watermark signature or embed it in the photo information.  Then save them at a low quality – I choose 3.  This takes time to prepare the photos unless you do batch processing in Photoshop, and that is another lesson.

I have a blog just for unpublished materials, and Carol has administrative access to that blog.  In her case she could open two windows of the post from “our” blog.  Leaving one post open in preview form, she could use that as a template to see what pictures were intended to got with which paragraphs.  Then, in the other window, she could edit the post, remove the galleries and go to the media library to insert the pictures individually into the article.  Finally, she could cut and paste the finished article into her other blog, The Eternal Traveler.  Look for it on September 3rd.  She’s already scheduled it.  How cool is that?  (Another question!)

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Take a journey with the Eternal Traveler to a far away place, Fresno, California.  

Sharing blogs with someone else is another lesson for another day, but it can be either interesting or forgotten.  I’ve done both!

So is my husband right?  Do you have questions for me?

 

 

Common Core/History-Social Studies Presentation

The Six Shifts in the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts impact all subject areas K-12:

  • an increase in reading non-fiction texts
  • content area literacy
  • increased text complexity
  • focus on text-based questions
  • focus on writing arguments
  • academic vocabulary

Saturday, April 14th Mary Janzen, Fresno County Office of Education, Dr. Melissa Jordine, California State University, Fresno, and Marsha Ingrao, Tulare County Office of Education, all members of San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies, formed a successful tag team to present an awareness session to history and language arts teachers, literacy coaches and principals about the effect of the Common Core Standards in History-Social Science classes.

Getting acquainted with  Kagan Strategy, Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up

Administrators, college professors, and teachers wondered how the Common Core Standards will impact elementary, middle and high school history instruction.

Mary Janzen explains the Six Shifts.
Teachers discussed different perspectives between the strategies language arts teachers use to teach reading of information texts in the content areas, and the specialized strategies unique to social science.

Teachers examine the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to answer, "Did the states have the right to Secede?

Dr. Jordine shared the Civil War Blueprints, a California History Project document on which professors and teachers worked collaboratively for over a year to complete.  This extensive resource  contains lessons, primary sources, and strategies to help teachers integrate the Common Core Language Arts Standards in this Civil War unit of study.  Teachers in the workshop compared the legal rights of states in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to answer the question, “Did the South have the right to secede?”

Teachers examined a Toolkit which aligns the Analysis Skills of History-Social Science to the skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking to assist teachers in crafting quality critical thinking questions in both reading and writing    Marsha Ingrao explains ways to use the Toolkit to implement the Common Core Standards using existing materials in both language arts and history.

Teachers paired up to strategize how to use the Toolkit effectively in the classroom.

They also read and discussed a sample 6th grade Reading Informational Text assessment for 6th grade.

“Students trace the line of argument in Winston Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” address to Parliament and evaluate his specific claims and opinions in the text, distinguishing which claims are supported by facts, reasons, and evidence, and which are not. [RI.6.8]”  Common Core Standards Appendix A p. 91.

Thursday, April 12th, Mary Janzen and Marsha Ingrao also made a short presentation to student teachers in Robin Perry’s Fresno Pacific University‘ s teacher preparation class about the Common Core Standards and the Toolkit.  Students were also invited to become members of the San Joaquin Council for the Social Studies.

 

 

 

The Common Core Standards provide  justification for elementary teachers to spend more time teaching history-social studies during the language arts’ block of time.  Teachers in middle and high school learn more reasons to collaborate to effectively implement the rigorous and relevant Common Core Standards.

To present effective instructional strategies specific to teaching history-social science analysis skills,  additional workshops will be held May 16th at Tulare County Office of Education, then in Fresno at Literacy Conference on May 22nd.  This summer, July 16-20th, Tulare County Office of Education will host a 5 day Common Core Institute featuring special presenters, as well as a complete roll out of the Toolkit, and technology training appropriate to implement the standards.