Tag Archives: writing

Since When Is A “B” Not Enough?

And not just a “B” but an 88.5.

For a 10 year old.

Are you kidding me?

Don’t get me wrong. I love this college-prep elementary school. I’m glad they have high standards. I’m glad they’re pushing my son to reach his full potential.

But when is enough, enough?

Or, more specifically, since when is a “B” not enough?

My son is bright. And imaginative. And active. (You can see where this is going, can ‘t you?) Some teachers love his exuberance, his joie de vivre. And he thrives in their classrooms. Other teachers? Not so much. They just don’t get him.

Not to be redundant but,  did I tell you he is bright? This isn’t just a delusional mom. I have perfect standardized test scores to back me up. As a result, he gets bored. Easily. But emotionally, he is right there with his peers. So, in the 5th grade, he stays. I’ve put my foot down and no one will convince me otherwise.

I received an email today asking for a conference. “He isn’t in trouble, by any means, I just don’t think he’s working up to his full potential.”

notebook-and-pencill-2

I scan the grade sheet. The detailed rubric of his progress in this one class. Writing Class. A 93. An 88. Another 88. And an 85. For an average of 88.5.

So what’s the problem?

I don’t want my kid to be lazy. I want him to always give 110%. But he hates (gasp) to write. He doesn’t like to write fiction. He doesn’t like to write non-fiction. He won’t even like to write his own autobiography. Apparently, I didn’t pass down the writing gene to him. And that’s okay with me. Because….

He loves math. And science. And engineering. And taking things apart. And putting them back together. And Greek mythology. And history. And reading. He loves, loves, loves to read.

So, the writing will come. Someday. For right now, an 88.5 in his least favorite class, and his lowest grade in all subjects, is fine with me. In fact, a high B in a class he doesn’t enjoy is pretty impressive in my book. And because he is bright, I know he will glean from writing class what he needs and apply it when he needs to apply it.

C’mon. He has an 88 in writing mechanics. At age 10.

I’m not worried.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Observations, Soapbox

More Writing Tips From Jane

I’m not quite sure to whom to attribute this little gem – Frank L. Visco, Grammerly.com, various bloggers across the net-waves. But, this list has been making the Facebook/Twitter/Blog rounds and I’ve only just discovered it.

It made me laugh out-loud.

On the off chance you haven’t seen it yet, or you need to be reminded of this funny list poking fun at our funny ways…

You’re welcome.

____________________________________________

How To Write Good

  1. Avoid Alliteration. Always.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than is necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  6. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  7. Be more or less specific.
  8. One word sentences? Eliminate.
  9. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  10. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  11. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  12. Profanity sucks.
  13. It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
  14. Avoid archaeic spellings, too.
  15. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  16. One should never generalize.
  17. No sentence fragments.
  18. Eliminate quotations. As Emerson once said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  19. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  20. And always be sure to finish what

8 Comments

Filed under Because It Amuses, Blogging

Sometimes You Say It Better Than I Can

Did I say sometimes? Let me re-phrase. A lot of the time. I read your posts some days and I’m shaking my head wishing I had said that.

Here.

Let me show you.

1. When I need to shake things up inside my own little head, I visit Big Little Wolf. She always gets me jazzed about some new thought/idea/controversy/event. She tackles all kinds of issues, including  personal responsiblity with our own health.

2. LL Cool Joe offers glimpses into his life that I adore. Especially here, talking about his daughters. (And not really about Beyonce’s @$$, as the title suggests. 😉 

3. I love Rudri’s  introspective writing. So feel free to peruse any of her posts. But go here to wish her a happy birthday!

4. For a laugh, I love to visit Nap at Naptime Writing. This post is the perfect example of why I love her so!

5. And my dear, sweet, TKW. All about picture day. I, too, loathe picture day. And I have boys. Try to figure that one out. It’s not the getting ready or which clothes to wear. It’s the goofy faces or half closed eyes that I face when they come home with those pre-paid-pics. Ugh.

So many more of you that I read and love. Truly. Thanks for always putting out such quality material. I love visiting you all. Even if I’m reading from my phone and can’t (because I’m technically challenged) comment.

5 Comments

Filed under Blogging, friends

Google It. A Blogger’s Best Friend.

I’ve tried other search engines, but quite honestly, Google is my best friend.

He’s always there for me. With information, with a laugh, with the unexpected.

And I absolutely love the suggestions it creates with each of my Google searches. Most of the time.

I TiVo most of my television. I love the convenience of watching when I want to watch, on my comfy couch, on my fancy (for us, anyway) television screen. I was watching the last episode of the season of Detroit 1-8-7 (I’m addicted to cop shows) and decided to “Google it!” to learn more about the program and when it might start up again. Imagine my surprise as I’m typing in the title of the show and one of the suggestions is “Detroit 1-8-7 cancelled.” No, not surprise. I was officially ticked.(Who are these people at Nielsen, anyway?) But thanks to Google, I can write the futile letters to the powers that be and begin mourning the inevitable.

I also love the clever visuals they provide, celebrating the holiday du jour. Like this one for the 119th anniversary of the first documented ice cream sundae. Yum!

Or more recently, Earth Day….

When I’m lost for a blog topic (like today) I will often “Google it!” with “it” being anything. I’ll just start typing letters and see what Google suggests I write about. Sometimes the suggestions will jog a memory or remind me of something that really irks me or make me want to research something I’d never considered before. Like warcraft ( I still don’t get it) or study island (my kind of place – yes, I am and always will be a nerd) or chocolate rain (a viral video on YouTube that reminded me of another post I want to write. Hey! Two for one!)

I’ve even googled “Google it!” and found these clever sites:  Just (blanking) Google It and Here, Let Me Google That For You. (Oh, how I wish I had thought of these first.)

Google is my friend. My best friend when I have a bit of writer’s block. Or some extra time on my hands. Or when procrastination is more fun than productivity. But then, when isn’t procrastination fun?

That’s my secret. And I’m sharing it with you, dear readers. It’s the kind of blogger I am. Little Miss Share My Best Kept Secrets. 

Wait, you say I’ve shared this before? This is a secret re-run?

Uh-oh.

Oh, and you don’t think this is much of a secret? Every blogger knows this. Well, aren’t we all la-ti-da?

Hmmmmm….

Guess my next google should be “original blog topics.”

9 Comments

Filed under Blogging

Jane’s Back. Back In The Saddle Again.

I almost didn’t come back.

To Blog World, that is.

I had a wonderful break from you all.

(No offense.)

No deadlines. No pressure. No skimming when I’d rather savor. No frantic ramblings or desperate Google searches for post ideas. No struggles for what to say in a comment. No second guessing cryptic spam messages. No hurt feelings. No insecurities wondering if my writing is “good enough.” No more incomplete sentences.

But……..and it’s a big BUT…..

No one to share my off-the-wall ideas with. No inspiration from reading your posts. No cracking myself up over the absurdities of spam or Yahoo headlines. No commiserating or sharing or giggling with you all. No new ideas. No one to shake the cobwebs off the little dusty corners of my brain. No. No-thing. Nope.

I honestly toyed with the idea of not coming back. I don’t really know why. I just enjoyed the laziness of not logging onto a computer every single day, multiple times a day.

But then, something happened to me at a stop light and I thought, ‘Oooooo! Great post idea! First I’ll tell them this. And then I’ll share with them that. And then…..wait, Smarty Pants. I thought you were giving up the blog?’

Give up the blog? Who am I kidding? I have too much to share. Too much to say. And I’ve made too many darn blogging friends that I’d hate to lose touch with. Oh sure, I could just read and comment. But we inspire each other with our posts. And frankly, I’d hijack too many of your blogs with long-winded comments if I didn’t have a blog of my own for an outlet. It wouldn’t be pretty.

And, I refuse to become a statistic. (Average lifespan of a blog being approximately 2 years) Since I’ve been blogging only 16 months I’d bring down the average. I just can’t take on that responsibility.

So.

I’m back.

On a further abbreviated schedule. (For you fellow OCD visual learners out there my pretty little calendar will be highlighted on M, W and F — in case you were wondering.)

But, I’m back. I couldn’t stay away. From writing. From you all.

I’m back.

And it feels good to be home.

37 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Deep Thoughts, Lessons Learned

The Evolution Of A Blogger Or What Jane Will Write To Get Dessert

I have evolved.

Into what, I don’t know. But I know I’m different. I know that I possess more information than I ever thought I would about blogging. I also know that I know very little about the world of blogging.

My one year anniversary is coming up in August and I still feel like a newbie. But then, one of you visits my blog and you really are a newbie. Showing all the same, desperate signs I used to.

You know the signs. Commenting anywhere and everywhere. Plugging your blog, not knowing that your name is already linked. Singing the praises of a blogger you barely know. (Oh wait, that was just me.)

And then your traffic picks up a little. And you have a lot more comments. So, while you’re commenting everywhere and anywhere, just trying to keep up, the laundry falls behind and you start feeding your family more take-out. And you stop and say,

“THIS IS MADNESS!”

So you stop. You breathe. And you adjust.

You start writing 5 posts a week and not 6. And then wheedle it down to 4. You use the “extra” days of the week to catch up on comments or writing brilliant posts.

But it never seems enough.

And you start wondering…who am I? Why am I here? Do people really care about what I have to say? Why doesn’t SallyJo look at my blog anymore? What if I run out of ideas? What if I’ve plateaued? What does it mean to have more readers? Do I really need that validation? Can I have an ice cream sandwich? (Oh. Sorry. Just me again.)

Who am I? I am Jane. I speak my  mind. Sometimes it’s intelligent or insightful or indescribable (because I babble) but never insidious.

Why am I here? Because I saw a silly movie about a blogger and thought, Hey! I can do that! (And then started singing “I Can Do That” from A Chorus Line.)

Do people really care about what I have to say? Apparently. And you’re still here reading. I have to say, I’m a tad amazed that people still check in. That I haven’t gotten too stale, tired or boring. Thanks. I appreciate your stamina.

Why doesn’t SallyJo look at my blog anymore? I have to admit. This has me stumped. I don’t know why, but I miss SallyJo. (Names were changed to protect the neglectful.) I also have to admit, I don’t check in on her blog much anymore, either. It’s not a tit-for-tat kind of thing. I just wasn’t finding anything of interest. And my comments started to feel empty. But now, MillieSue? I miss her, too. And her blog is fantastic. She used to comment here all the time. I always have something to comment on her posts. But she’s stopped coming here, too. No matter how often I visit her. I just don’t get it.

What if I run out of ideas? Me? Run out of things to say? I’m actually laughing out loud here. Nope. Not Jane. Sure, I need a little nudge now and then and that’s where Google searches come in so handy. But let’s get real here. I might suffer a little slump but I’ll crawl right out of it.

What if I’ve plateaued? Now this, I do worry about. I may not run out of ideas but what if my writing never improves? Or, while I might have something to say, I never find a more creative way to say it? What if my 12 faithful readers are all I’ll ever have? Which leads me to…

 What does it mean to have more readers?  Do I need more people to feel guilty about not having the time to read their blog, too? Am I really like the Facebook fanatic that simply MUST have 10,000 friends? Isn’t it just more important to connect with someone, anyone…as in any one person out there? Yes. It is. But my emotional-10th grade-self still would love more readers.

Do I really need that validation? I suppose I do. That is where I have evolved. I enjoy writing. I enjoy engaging other readers. I enjoy being inspired and entertained by other bloggers. But I also enjoy the validation that comes with comments and emails, knowing that others hear what I have to say and are moved enough to say so. But quite honestly, I don’t like it that I have that need, no matter how small. So that is where I am evolving to. To a place where validation isn’t necessary. Wish me luck.

Can I have an ice cream sandwich? Yes, Jane. You have completed yet another post. You can have an ice cream sandwich.

Mmmmmmmm!

43 Comments

Filed under How We Roll, Lessons Learned, Observations, Ponderings

Mr. Spam? Thanks. But I’m Gainfully Employed. Just A Question. How Is It YOU Have A Job?

“I open your site and I saw you quite correctly wrote in your site and seeing your site I impressed from u site Employers say they are impressed by job candidates who have excellent communication skills, good grooming habits, and relevant work experience.”

First of all, thank you for visiting, Mr. Spam. I’m always happy to see a new tick on my visits counter.

And you noticed that I “correctly wrote in”  my site? Yes, really, it’s quite simple. I open up WordPress. Click new post and begin typing away. With fairly good grammar and impeccable spelling, thanks to the spell check feature. I even use punctuation!

U impressed? And u think employers would be impressed with me, too? Why, I’m blushing. Who knew that I might be impressing anyone? And I’m not even in the market for a job. I don’t remember filling out any online applications lately.

But you noticed that I have “excellent communication skills?” Why, thank you. I’m blushing again. I do try. It’s why I practice here, at my blog, a few days a week.

And my relevant work experience? Well, you’re right. I was a high school teacher of both literature and math for 13 years. I’ve worked in the restaurant industry – even shared ownership of a small coffee house. I’ve worked in human resources and coached swimming. And now? The job of a lifetime. I’m a stay-at-home mom and loving every single minute of it. Well, not every minute, but most minutes. And that’s what counts. Right?

Now, here’s where I’m stymied.

You’re impressed with my good grooming habits.

As I sit here in t-shirt and pj shorts, with brushed teeth and my hair up in a clip (I haven’t even washed my face yet) – you’re impressed? Are your standards low or am I really in the top of my class when it comes to grooming? I mean, I can’t see (or smell) my fellow bloggers. If they’re like me, they’re lucky to get a shower once a day or a pedicure once in a blue moon.

Or are you big brother (I have a brother-in-law who actually believes this kind of stuff) with cameras strategically placed in my home? You speak as if you know me. I will look at my heating vents or my children’s stuffed animals or knick knacks on the bookshelves in a whole new way.

And while I’m flattered with your impressions of me – and my site and my hygiene – I wonder how you were able to secure YOUR job.

Here’s a little hint. Spell check and grammar check? They’re your friends.

29 Comments

Filed under funny

They’re just words!

To educate

“Well, I don’t get what the big deal is. They’re just words!” I was floored. I was a teacher at a small private school. Teaching World Literature. We were studying Dante’s Inferno out of Norton’s Anthology of World Literature. Three students turned in papers quoting, verbatim, sections of the editor’s comments that introduced the work. Word for word. 10thGraders. Been writing papers for about 6 years now. Introduced to the concept of plagiarism many times. We discussed it ad nauseum in a lecture I gave. We even worked on exercises together, explaining how to footnote, how to use the MLA method, how to quote within your paper. And clearly, in bold, at the bottom of the assignment sheet, handed out when the paper was first assigned, was typed: “Plagiarism = O”

I couldn’t have been more clear.

But still it happened. The repercussions are simple, right? A zero to each offender. Nope. Two of the three students were board member’s children. A zero could not be “given” to a board member’s child. Whether she earned it or not. Unacceptable. The head of our Upper School questioned me. “Maybe you weren’t clear about just what plagiarism really is.” The Headmaster called a meeting with the parents and me to “sort all of this out.” I was stunned. The infraction was as clear as day. The proof irrefutable.

I received threatening phone calls from a board member’s wife. She’d have my job before her daughter “earned” a zero. One of my colleague’s called me stubborn. And then a parent of a child that wasn’t even involved called me for a conference. Prepared to talk to her about her son’s progress (he was doing beautifully) we sat down. All she wanted to talk about was this “silly business” about plagiarism and she wanted to know why in the world these girls were in so much trouble. I told her this was between me and the girls. She wouldn’t back down. I told her, “Well, for one thing it’s stealing.” “Stealing what?” she asked. I said, “Another person’s thoughts, opinions, words.”

“Well, I don’t get what the big deal is. They’re just words!”

I don’t have much of a poker face. My jaw must have dropped to my knees. There was no reasoning with her. And I sat there thinking, I get it. These entitled, privileged people, used to getting their way, used to sneaking ideas by bosses to get ahead. They just won’t get it. Words don’t have a monetary value to them. And that’s how it has to be explained to them. With a dollar sign. So just like Martin Luther King in his “I Have A Dream” speech laden with monetary references I explained copyright infringements, how being published is like a patent. She nodded slightly and said, “ohhhhh.” But I don’t think she really got it.

Bottom line? Precious Suzy doesn’t cheat. Precious Sally doesn’t fail. But I fought to keep the zero grade and thanks to an incredibly supportive department head it stuck to their precious grade reports. Needless to say, the rest of the school year was a living hell. I received no respect from the parents and as a result that attitude trickled into the classroom and spread like an insidious virus to the other students.

Words are a precious commodity. Especially when combined to create new and intelligent, thought provoking opinion. Protect your words. Protect the words of others. Respect their value.

8 Comments

Filed under Plagiarism, Teaching