Teamwork is the focus in my son’s co-taught, third-grade class

Jase started third grade this year and for the first time, he is being taught in a co-teaching atmosphere. In the past, he has always had one teacher who has about 20 students.

This year he was assigned to Mrs. Y’s class. She has 22 students. She, however, co-teaches with the teacher next door, Mrs. S who has 23 students. They share three classrooms worth of space.

3rd grade

There are many types of co-teaching  such as parallel, team, alternating, and station. In his class, they mix several of these varieties depending on what they are doing.

I would say parallel teaching is their main focus. Their schedules are the same. So if one is teaching science in her classroom, the other is also teaching the same science lesson in her own classroom. If one teacher is stronger in one subject, they might actually combine the classes for a lecture and then break into groups to put the lesson into practice.

Along this same line, when they do math, Mrs. Y teaches 10-12 kids, and Mrs. S teaches 10-12 kids. The remaining kids are divided into groups of 4-5 students (some from each class) and rotate through four different math stations. The kids are encouraged to work together and discuss the math problems at each station, and both teachers (along with a classroom helper) check on each station periodically.

This method of discussing and working together is used throughout the day. Whenever they are not in “lecture” mode, the teachers have the students pair up or work in groups. There is almost nothing that they do individually except for taking a test.

The teachers are constantly encouraging the kids to explain how they reached their conclusions. This allows the other students to see that you can get the right answer multiple ways.

Now co-teaching is not new. Co-teaching is about the two teachers working together. Yes, there are times when the classes retreat to their own areas but the majority of the time, the kids are intermingled and working together.

Their classroom is also set up to be changeable. The tables are on rollers so that the configuration can be set up to meet whatever the teachers need. They have projectors hooked up to their computers so all kids can see what they are talking about in multiple locations, and both teachers have auditory systems that can project their voices to either their own or both classrooms as necessary.

I find it a unique setup from what we are used to. And Jase really loves the format. It helps that Mrs. S and Mrs. Y work so well together. This is their third year teaching this way.

Our principal likes it so much that he has recommended all the classes be set up the same way. So Lexie’s class is set up with three classrooms too but her teacher and the teacher next door do only a small part of their day together. They by no means have the system down as well as Jase’s teachers. But it is a start, and I suspect the next year her classes will be more like Jase’s was this year. Or at least I hope so because I like this teaching method.

Today’s Featured Author: Chris R. Pownall

Today, please welcome Chris R. Pownall to my blog.

Interview

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

During my long career in technical sales, I had to produce a lot of reports, and over the years, I worked at improving my writing skills. Throughout my last couple of years, I was tasked with producing strategic marketing plans for countries including China, India, South Africa, plus several European countries. This served to further improve my written presentational skills.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences is in your books?

I would hope that my biographical books capture my true personality, and my experiences in life, is what they are all about.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? 

For me, writing is a pass-time and a hobby. Retirement from full-time work as an Industry Marketing Director didn’t come easy, as I missed the challenges of a very busy lifestyle. Writing provides new challenges as English grammar was never my best subject.

I write a little most days but it doesn’t dominate my life.

Following my retirement, my home office became my study where I do my writing. My wife Pat calls it my den!!

We both enjoy walking in the countryside, and we are seeing lots of places around the world by taking as many cruise holidays as we can comfortably afford.

Mornings are when I do my writing and this can begin as early as 05-00am, depending upon how well I have slept.

 What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

Writing provides a sense of purpose, in addition to family life and travel. It brings a certain discipline to how I spend just a few hours each day. I’m not a good reader, therefore, I need something to occupy my mind and provide a reason for research and a quest for further knowledge.

Once I start a project, I see it as a challenge until it is completed.

Do you outline your books or just start writing.

Before my retirement, I started writing my memoirs, with no specific structure to what I was doing. Basically, I ran out of steam, and decided to delete the lot.

Following my retirement, I reflected upon my earlier failure and considered a framework around which I could build. I decided upon five chapters and had several underway, at any one time.

Now, no matter what I am doing, be it a book project, or a magazine article, I set out a plan before putting flesh on the bones.

 Please tell us about your current release.

My current release entitled Majestic Norway, is a short book about our recreational travels in Norway. It is not intended to be a travel guide, rather, an account of our observations, experiences, and lasting impressions of this magnificent country.

I hope it will bring some pleasure to those less fortunate in their scope of travel, and maybe of some assistance to anyone planning a trip to Norway.

If I find there is a significant demand for this type of book, I shall no doubt contemplate writing more.

What inspired you to write this book?

I make notes everywhere I go, and it’s almost become a habit. During our recent trip to Norway, I thought I would like to share some of the places and points of interest along the way. It’s a little like my working days when reporting about a business trip. I get great pleasure recording details of our travels, and it’s much easier than writing fiction, when I’m wearing the hat of Rusty Nock!! (Rusty Nock is a pseudonym under which I have written three erotic novels.)

Book Blurb

funny how things work outMy first book entitled ‘Funny How Things Work Out’ is my memoirs, containing a few revelations that might make some individuals cringe. True to say, I have had a colourful life and my employment has provided much opportunity to travel to faraway places, and experience many interesting things. With the exception of the first three chapters, the book is not structured in chronological sequence; instead it covers specific subject matters in separate chapters, which overlap in time. The book focuses upon the humorous aspects of my life, which have occurred in many forms.

Other books by Chris Pownall include Onwards and Upwards, A Long Journey Back, Dane Mills Bosley, This is the Life, Spanning a Lifetime and Majestic Norway.

Author Bio

CRP book signing - Copy[1]Author Chris R. Pownall, who now resides in Nottinghamshire England, was born in 1943 in the rural Cheshire village of Bosley.

Chris failed his 11+ examination and received a secondary modern school education, leaving full time education at 15 years of age, with no academic qualifications to his name. He managed to secure an engineering apprenticeship at a nearby mill and attended Macclesfield College of further education, studying mechanical engineering until the age of 22 years.

Upon completion of his education and apprenticeship, Chris was promoted to the drawing office, but after 18 months in this responsible job, he decided it was time to move on.

In 1967, he joined the Merchant Navy, serving with the famous Blue Funnel Line, as an Assistant Engineering Officer. Whilst this was exciting and adventurous, Chris decided a life at sea was not for him, so following his initial training and one voyage to the Far East, he called it a day.

To further his engineering knowledge, he obtained employment as a design draughtsman, working for an engineering manufacturing company, and eighteen months later, he was employed by James Walker & Co Ltd, which marked the beginning of a forty year career in technical sales.

Chris progressed within the James Walker organisation, in a succession of sales management roles, finishing as an Industry Marketing Director, specialising in high performance sealing technology, within the global Metallurgical Industries. This role was to take him on many overseas travels, and in the last two years of his employment, he focused upon writing strategic market plans for some existing, plus new sales territories.

Although Chris has a loving wife Pat, retirement didn’t come easy, and after a few months, he was missing the demands of his occupation, with the days seeming endless.

He decided to take up writing and to date he has published seven books, with a possibility of more on the way. Writing has provided Chris with a retirement interest, as well as a major challenge, giving him great satisfaction, when a difficult project is finally completed.

Chris has a long standing reputation for being there when things go wrong and there are many examples of this in his three autobiographical books. He has encountered freak weather in faraway places and some of his working colleagues were reluctant to travel with him, knowing that something unpleasant was more likely to occur if he was around. Earthquakes and tornedoes in China to ice storms in the USA are among Chris’ encounters with Mother Nature.

Humour has always played an important part in Chris’ life, which manifests itself in his written work. He has witnessed many amusing situations throughout seven decades of life and he has appreciated the humorous side of everyday living.

As in most people’s lives, Chris and Pat have had their share of sadness, when at the age of eighteen, their son Robert, suffered a near fatal head injury. This was a life changing situation, which required great courage and determination on the part of their son Robert as well as unrelenting support from their Daughter Tracey, for Robert to regain his life after this tragic event.

Please visit Chris’ website www.amazing-life-stories.webs.com, You can purchase any of his books on Amazon.

E-book press releases often don’t bring results

Many authors tout the importance of sending out press releases to announce your latest release or the writing award you just received. So far, I have yet to do this with any of my e-books.

I don’t do this mainly because I have been on the other side. I was the features editor of my college newspaper. I was inundated with press releases and freebies. Barely 1 to 2 percent of what came in would make it into our weekly publication.

There are just so many authors out there. Hundreds of new books are published daily. Editors of magazines and newspapers receive thousands of press releases. And here is the thing – they DO NOT read them. They scan them. If there isn’t anything that catches their attention in less a few seconds, they discard the press release.

Another reason I have not considered sending a press release to my local paper is that they have never published anything from independent authors and certainly nothing that is only available in e-book format. That isn’t to say that if you live in a smaller city that your newspaper will not cover your release or award but I live the seventh largest city in the United States. I am sure the editors are overwhelmed with notices from authors.

I guess instead of worrying about our main daily paper, I could always try a few of the smaller community weekly papers. And in fact, I may just give press releases a try when my next novel is released in a few months.

So for those of you wanting to send out a press release….

Tips for writing a press release

  • Keep it brief – no longer than one page
  • No flowery writing – simple is better
  • Keep it professional
  • Write in the third person
  • Target your recipient’s readers/viewers (If sending to local paper, might focus on the community/local angle)
  • Keep it to one page!
  • End the press release with ###

Example structure of a Press Release

(I was going to write an example but ran out of time to do it justice so here is the breakdown of what to include.)

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (or enter date)

Contact: Name, email & phone number

Short, catchy headline

Your city & State – Opening paragraph should only be 1-2 sentence and cover the who, what, where, when of your press release. Include your name, book title and why it is relevant to target readers.

Second, third and fourth paragraphs are where you add more detail about the plot, yourself or both. You can consider including a quote from the author. Remember you are writing in the third person and should refer only to your last name after your name is mention in first paragraph. Example – “This is an amazing adventure,” Noble said.

About the Author

A short author bio featuring your writing credentials. (This is only a few sentences!)

###

Be sure to include a high-resolution author photo and a copy of your book cover.

Where to submit a press release

  • Local newspapers – try to send it to the relevant reporter/editor or department. If you are emailing it, pitch the story in your email message and not as an attachment.
  • PRLog.org – this is a free website that can distribute your press release. They do offer paid services with more features.
  • Your own website – Make sure to post it on your own site as a blog entry or its own page so it might be catch some search engine traffic.
  • Magazines or ezines that fit the subject or genre of your book
  • 50 other press release sites – This is an older list but still might direct you to some sites where you can publish your press release

And of course, make sure you follow up with the press releases that you do send out.

 

 

Buying the kids’ Halloween Costumes

Anyone who knows me knows I am a planner. We will never be the family on Halloween still trying to find a discount costume. For as much as I like a bargain, I won’t want to wait until the last minute.

Who am I kidding? Like I said – planner here! I won’t even be waiting a week before Halloween to purchase the kids’ costumes. We had our costumes bought in the middle of September. No, we didn’t rush out and buy them as soon as stores started stocking them. I purchased them online. I have done this the past few years and love it.

Not only can I find a costume in the size I want (without running all over the town to find that size), but I get it at an awesome price which is lower than our local stores. I have bought them off E-bay (brand new), Amazon or Walmart’s website and usually saved 20-30% off the normal retail price. Add in the free shipping and these costumes are always great deals.

IMG_2465Now if I was a crafty-type momma, I would be making my kids unique costumes. But I am too busy for that and frankly, not that crafty. I did make a pirate costume for Jase’s third-grade performance. I just cut up some clothes we already had and added a $2 eye patch. Of course, he lost the eye patch the day before the performance, so we added a maroon pirate scarf for his head. I thought it turned out great. But this is the extent of my craftiness. I don’t sew but can use scissors!

So this year, Jase originally said he wanted to be a knight. But while looking online, he saw an ARF Trooper. For those of you not up to snuff on your Star Wars knowledge, an Advanced Recon Force trooper (or simply ARF Trooper) was used to scout enemy positions and sometimes to carry out surprise attacks. They wear special camouflaged armor. Jase being a big Clone Wars/Star Wars fan fell in love with this costume. It came in early enough that he even wore it to the Alamo City Comic Con at the end of September.

CIMG3400Now Lexie, on the other hand, has changed her mind a few times. For a while, she wanted to be a pink Power Ranger. But she kept coming back to Queen Elsa (from the movie Frozen – in case you have been hiding under a rock or don’t have kids). She received a Queen Elsa costume for her birthday. Originally, I was just going to buy her the wig/hair piece that she wanted. And then while on E-bay I saw a different Elsa dress I liked. It was cheap as it came from China, and they sold it with a tiara, wand and Elsa hair braid. Perfect. Lexie loves it. And she too wore it to the Comic Con and people raved about it.

So this year we are all set for Halloween. Now it is just a matter of not letting them ruin their new costumes and not losing any of the pieces like we did on that pirate costume. There are only 18 more days until the big candy-hauling night.

Today’s Featured Author: Maggie James

Today, I welcome author Maggie James to Into Another World.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Maggie James, and I’m a British writer of psychological suspense novels. Fiction is a relatively new venture for me, although I’ve always wanted to be a novelist. As a child, I never doubted I’d write books as an adult, but things didn’t turn out that way. The desire to write still nibbled at the back of my mind throughout the decades, although I didn’t do anything about it until I reached my forties. Then I began writing fan fiction, starting with a short 1,800-word story, which received good reviews. That gave me the confidence to carry on, and I wrote several more stories. The idea of writing a novel, though, seemed overwhelming. So what changed? Well, my fiftieth birthday appeared on the horizon. Such a milestone date; I couldn’t bear to pass it without having written the novel that had been burning inside me for so long. I had my epiphany in December 2010; by the end of February 2011, I’d drafted the first version of ‘His Kidnapper’s Shoes’. The moment when I typed the final word was highly emotional, and I’ll always remember it.

What else about me? Well, unlike the characters in my novels, I rarely swear, and I loathe violence and confrontation. Travel has been a lifelong passion of mine and I’ve been lucky enough to indulge it extensively, with more trips planned. I adore food and everything to do with it; restaurants, cooking, browsing recipe books, etc. I’m into healthy living, although the characters in my books definitely aren’t! I am a yoga aficionado, doing four classes a week, and I’m a gym member. And I adore animals, especially cats!

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

There’s a myth that writers pour themselves and their issues into their books, but it’s not true for everyone. Sure, some authors operate this way – Stephen King is a well-known example – but I definitely don’t. I’m a private person, and the idea of revealing snippets of myself via my novels is a complete no-no for me. My experiences? Well, my books are based in Bristol, so I draw on my knowledge of my home city. That’s the extent of it, though. None of the traumas to which I subject my characters has ever happened to me (for which I’m grateful!) My books express my desire to write; they’re not a catharsis.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I’m working hard to bring my fourth novel, ‘The Second Captive’, to the state where it’s ready to publish. The novel centres on the fascinating psychological condition known as Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his or her captor. Here’s an idea of the book’s plot:

Beth Sutton is eighteen years old when Dominic Perdue abducts her. Held prisoner by him in a basement, she’s dependent upon him for food, clothes, her very existence. At first, she hates him, but as the months pass, her abhorrence changes to compassion. Beth never allows herself to forget, however, that Dominic has killed another woman. She has tangible evidence to prove it, not to mention Dominic’s own admission of murder.

Then Beth escapes…

And discovers Dominic Perdue is not a man who lets go easily. Meanwhile, despite being reunited with her family, she spirals into despair. Release from her prison isn’t enough. Can Beth also break free from the clutches of Stockholm syndrome?

A study of emotional dependency, ‘The Second Captive’ examines how love can assume strange guises. If all goes well, it should be on sale by the end of October 2014, and I’ll probably make it available for pre-order before then.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing? I’ve fulfilled my lifelong desire to be a novelist. Nothing beats creating a novel from the first glimmer of an idea through to a finished book. The sense of satisfaction that comes from shaping words into entertainment is immense. The worst? It’s hard to think of any downsides. Some people have strange ideas about writers, which means I get the occasional weird comment, but other than that, I can’t think of anything bad. It’s the best career in the world!

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Plot ideas can come from anywhere. The world is a cornucopia of possibilities, from conversations overheard in bars to events on the news. In turn, these spark questions such as ‘how would that feel?’ or ‘what if…’, generating dozens of potential plot ideas. I always have a notebook and pen on me to jot down possibilities.

When the right idea strikes, I recognise it instantly. I get an unmistakable gut feeling, accompanied by huge excitement. My brain goes into overdrive, taking the raw idea and spinning it into a fully-fledged novel over the course of four to six weeks.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I outline in a fair amount of detail before I begin. I can’t simply pitch into writing a book; I need to follow a pre-designed sequence for what will happen to my characters. That way I stay on track, avoiding the nightmare of complicated revisions later. As I’ve progressed in my writing career, my planning has become more detailed; as a result, editing is easier. For my first novel, ‘His Kidnapper’s Shoes’, I kept track of it via an Excel spreadsheet, with a tab for each character and a brief synopsis for each chapter. It wasn’t enough; I ended up with a 146,000-word first draft that needed severe pruning. Nowadays, I plot each chapter and scene in detail before I start. I firmly believe planning staves off the dreaded writer’s block. After all, if a novelist has extensive notes for what comes next, it’s not hard to write it.

What inspired you to write Guilty Innocence?

The inspiration for my third novel, ‘Guilty Innocence’, came from this question: what would it be like to discover somebody you love is concealing a criminal past? I don’t remember what sparked the original idea, but once I’d decided it had potential for a novel, I was hooked. I started with the character of Natalie Richards, asking myself: what’s the worst felony I can attribute to her boyfriend, Mark Slater? The answer: being a convicted child-killer. A crime that incites strong reactions, and I’m drawn to examining events with a fierce emotional charge.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I went to Moretonhampstead, where some of the action takes place, taking photos and finding the field where Abby Morgan was murdered. I’m glad I did, because when I wrote the first draft, I’d not been to the town; instead, I based what I wrote on internet research. After my visit, I rewrote much of the relevant chapters; going there intensified everything in my mind, making it more vivid. I also consulted with a senior police officer, one with over thirty years’ experience. He gave invaluable help about the process of creating new identities for offenders. Not an easy task, because such details are kept from public knowledge due to the possibility of vigilante action. He was also helpful concerning the dialogue between Mark and the police officer handling his case.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

Without doubt, the murder of Abby Morgan. The brutal killing of a two-year-old girl is hard to contemplate for anyone who’s not a psychopath. Yet the story required me to include the circumstances of her death. What happened that day was pivotal in the lives of Mark Slater and Adam Campbell, the two individuals convicted of Abby’s murder. I needed to include her death, but do so in a way that isn’t graphic or hard to handle. That wasn’t easy. I can’t contemplate how anyone could harm a tiny child, so I had to dig deep to write the scene, and set aside my natural revulsion.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

No, it didn’t, despite the fact I planned the novel beforehand. Sometimes it goes that way – a plot can appear neatly sewn-up at the planning stage, but once an author starts writing, the characters pull him or her in a different direction. You realise certain things won’t work and that changes are necessary. That’s not a bad thing; it’s important to stay true to where the story and characters lead the writer. In the first draft of ‘Guilty Innocence’, Mark Slater kills Adam Campbell and goes to jail for his murder. When I came to edit the novel, that part didn’t gel with me. Mark, although he’s a tortured soul, isn’t a murderer; I needed to find a different way for him to resolve his issues.

Book Blurb

GuiltyInnocence_BlogTwo eleven-year-old boys.

One two-year-old girl.

A murder that shocked the nation.

Ten years after being convicted of the brutal killing of a toddler, Mark Slater, formerly Joshua Barker, is released on parole from prison. Only the other boy jointly sentenced for Abby Morgan’s murder, the twisted and violent Adam Campbell, knows the truth. That Mark played no part in Abby’s death.

Four years later, Mark’s on-off girlfriend discovers a letter revealing his conviction as a child killer. At risk of having his protective cover made public, Mark’s need to confront the injustice of his sentence becomes overwhelming. Desperate to find answers, he initiates a friendship with Abby’s older sister, something strictly prohibited by the terms of his parole. Rachel Morgan, however, unaware of Mark’s former identity, is battling her own emotional demons.

Meanwhile, circumstances have thrust Mark back in contact with Adam Campbell, who, aged twenty-five, is more domineering and chilling than ever. Can Mark rewrite history and confront his nemesis?

A gritty novel examining child murder and dysfunctional families, Guilty Innocence tells of one man’s struggle to break free from his past.

About the Author

Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

 

The first draft of her first novel, entitled His Kidnapper’s Shoes, was written whilst travelling in Bolivia. Maggie was inspired by an impending milestone birthday along with a healthy dose of annoyance at having procrastinated for so long in writing a novel. His Kidnapper’s Shoes was published in both paperback and e-book format in 2013, followed by her second novel, entitled Sister, Psychopath. Her third novel, Guilty Innocence, has now been published, and like her first two, features her home city of Bristol. She is currently editing her fourth novel, The Second Captive.

 

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

You can find out more about Maggie on her website or check out her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter or visit her Goodreads page.

You can purchase Guilty Innocence on Amazon.