I'd Rather Wear Pajamas Book Promotion

3:30 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

 The opinions and words here are 100% mine!  This post contains referral links that provide a reward for me at no cost to you if you choose to shop.

Everybody has the awesome opportunity to find their own strength and path through life. Some come about their self-discoveries through studying and working hard. Others (Chelsea) spend their time nearly burning down kitchens and driving around the country with a car full of hangers.

I’d Rather Wear Pajamas
by Chelsea Walker Flagg


Chelsea grew up wanting to be “strong.” She thought arguing her way through childhood and becoming a world-class attorney would get her there. But, through a series of humorous, and only slightly embarrassing events, Chelsea comes to realize that maybe her strength is meant to shine in different ways.


Excerpt

“FTL’s biggest client was a fabric design company that made nothing but Hawaiian prints. I’m actually pretty sure they no longer make anything, but rather spend good chunks of their time suing other companies who copy their designs. For me, it meant perusing catalogues and clothing websites in search of items with designs similar to this company’s retired fabrics. How great a job is that, by the way? I was getting paid to look for shirts with palm trees and hibiscus flowers on them. This whole law thing was too good to be true.

My best assignment came when FTL caught wind that a men’s underwear line was infringing on our client’s design name. She came by and dropped a stack of male lingerie catalogues (yes, they exist) on my desk to go through in search of this name. I spent the better part of a week looking at pictures at mostly-naked men with socks stuffed in their skivvies.

Nobody knew what to do with me. On one hand, studying oiled-up men in scandalous poses just had to be against any number of company policies. On the other hand, I was legitimately doing work in an effort to make the law firm money, so they couldn’t discourage it. In the end, they just left me alone. And that’s how I learned that you can buy men’s briefs with pre-padded butt cheeks.”


AUTHOR

Chelsea was once obsessed with cats, longed to live in a big city, didn't think she would ever have children, and aspired to be an attorney. She now lives in Boulder, Colorado as a stay-at-home mom and comedic writer with her husband and three daughters. She has no current plans to own a cat.





Arranging Absent work to Allow Students Access

6:26 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Absent and make-up work can be a vortex that sucks time from any teacher especially as I am at the end of the semester.  I think papers that have been missing for months, suddenly appear.  After many years of spending my precious minutes hunting down work for absent students.  I developed a system that works well for the students and for me.

My process for arranging absent work puts the process and responsibility in the students' hands.  The first thing I did was create a student-accessible station where all daily assignments accumulate in an organized fashion.  I also use this place to store materials that students need access to like the paper supply, pencil sharpener, and hand sanitizer.  They can help themselves to work and the materials they need.



My Absent Work System

I use a file crate with hanging file folders for every day of the month: 1-31.  At the end of each class, I place the extra handouts for that day in the file folder corresponding to the day of the month.  That means on February 22nd I put all the extra copies in the folder with the tab 22.  This means that all months use the same set of 31 folders.  This can get a bit busy, so I have my aid clean the folders out at the end of each marking period and recycle what is left.

I also post directions on the wall above indicating what to do when they are absent.  At the start of the year I teach students how to use it, and reinforce daily until it becomes second nature.

1) You must make up your daily journal write and DOL when you are absent.
2) Ask a classmate what we did when you were gone.
3) If you are confused ask at least two other classmates to explain what you missed before coming to see Mrs. Koves
4) Collect any handouts or ISN pages from absent work bin
5) Set a date and time with Mrs. Koves to make up any quizzes or tests you missed
6) Complete work and write ABSENT at the top before turning in.



I desire for my students to build a level of independence and problem solving skills, so they aren't allowed to ask me until they ask three other students in their hour to find out what they missed.  This really does reduce the number of questions that I get from students because my first question is: who did you ask?  Then I ask them to tell me what they know.  

This serves three purposes: 

1) The repeat back the information in their own words to help commit it to memory.  
2)  I can check to make sure they did ask three people.
3) I can simply fill in gaps or correct miss-information rather than doing the whole process over.




How do you manage absent students and make-up work?

The Best Socks and Shoes for Teachers

8:00 PM Sarah Koves 0 Comments




Teachers and anyone on who is on their feet a good part of the day (like my mother, a nurse, and my husband, a chef) needs quality socks and shoes to prevent aches, pains, and damage to their feet and legs. I am always reading questions from teachers about great shoes, so I thought I would curate my favorites together in one post.


 I have received complimentary pairs of both compression socks in exchange for a review.
 The opinions and words here are 100% mine!  This post contains referral links that provide a reward for me at no cost to you if you choose to shop.

THE SOCKS

For many years I neglected to think about the socks that I wore to work, but after buying the following, I am convinced that the socks matter just as much as the shoes we wear on our feet.


I received a pair of these in one of my Birchboxes, and I have wanted more ever since.  I have an ankle pair, and they are the perfect thickness to provide cushion from first bell to last.  I am hoping that these tall ones end up in my Easter basket.



These were a winner for me from the time I saw the picture as I have always worn fun socks to school even with my dressiest clothes.  Only students that are really paying attention notice that you have....oh...hula-dancing monkeys on your socks (yes, that happened).  Compression socks provide extra support for your arch, ankle, and calf.  While they seem tight at first, by the time I get home, I am glad that I had them on.



These are very similar to the previous socks.  There are two major differences: 1) They have tighter compression (this is actually measured by a number) and 2) They are a trouser-type sock in black for a classic look.  I let my husband wear these to work one day, and I haven't gotten them back, but I am no longer being asked to rub his feet every night.


THE SHOES

 I received my first pair of quality teacher shoes as a gift from my mother when I was pregnant with my youngest, and they changed my life.  In fact for a long time, my wardrobe choices were determined by the shoes I wanted to wear.



These were the shoes my mother bought me; she got them for me in black and then brown and then bright flowers.  Yes, I loved them so much that she bought me two more pairs. Dansko Clogs have perfect arch support.  They do take a little getting used to as they have a heel (especially when you are pregnant).  My mother and I also got my husband to try a pair and now he is on pair number three.  I am currently in love with these plaid ones.



For almost a year I wanted a pair of Tieks, but they were so far out of my teacher budget that I knew I needed something else.  I have a pair of Mary Jane's from Dansko, but I wanted cute shoes for my cropped pants and dresses.  Some teachers had been talking about Ballasox as an alternative.  When I saw an ad for Ballasox on sale, I knew it was time to try a pair.  I recommend ordering a size larger than your normal shoe size.  I didn't at first, but they were very helpful with exchanging them, and I ended up with blue and these leopard print ones.  I bought my mother red ones for Christmas.




The lack of sandals in my wardrobe after the demise of my decade-old Birkenstocks was depressing.  I pretty much owned cheap flip-flops, and while we can wear them to work, they are not a wise choice.  I found these beauties in white (yes, I know, but they have stayed clean) at the Hush Puppies Outlet in Mackinaw City, MI while visiting my parents.  These are the only sandals I wear to work now, and as I own them in white, they go with EVERYTHING!




What are your favorite shoe and sock brands?



Best Advice I Was Ever Given

6:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments


The best advice I have ever received as an educator was given to me during my student teaching.  I put myself through college waiting tables at Boyne Highlands, and many teachers work summer jobs, so I had the pleasure of working with several teachers.  One of these teachers on summer vacation working waiting tables was a high school  social studies teacher.  He found out I had just finished my student teaching, and had some great advice for me:


Create one great lesson for every class every week.  The rest of the time just survive.

This is not only the best advice that I have ever received as a teacher, but it is the advice that I give to all the new teachers I come across.

This advice struck me because I strive for perfection in everything that I so, but teaching is tough work emotionally, physically, and mentally.  In addition new teachers often spend a fair amount of time recreating the wheel.  This advice helped me realize that there was no way that I could make six classes worth of lessons AMAZING five days a week.  Yes, my first job was six preps: all the English and Social Studies classes for grades 7-12 in multi-age classrooms.

The real meaning behind this advice is that if you create one amazing lesson in each class, each week you are getting great instruction in for your students without killing yourself.  The other four days it is okay to use the textbook, an lesson you find online, or an activity or handout you find on Teachers Pay Teachers.

If you do this every year, in five years or less (if you teach the same class or classes) you will have a full year of AMAZING lessons.  Now many of us don't teach the same lessons for five year (some are that lucky), but often you can adapt what you already have, so you don't really end up too far behind.





Activities for the Psychology Classroom: Dopamine Neckalce

9:38 PM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

 I have received a complimentary product to review.
 The opinions here are 100% mine!

This a series of posts with ideas for the psychology classroom. 


I bought this because I teach AP Psychology, and I thought it would make an interesting talking piece for classroom.  We just finished consciousness where we talk about drugs and the receptors they mimic; dopamine is one.


“This review is based strictly on my opinion. Others may have a different opinion or  experience with the product listed above. I was provided the sample free of charge by the  company or PR agency and I provided my honest opinion. No other type of compensation  was received for this review.”



2 Broads Abroad: Moms Fly the Coop

6:11 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

 The opinions and words here are 100% mine!  This post contains referral links that provide a reward for me at no cost to you if you choose to shop.

2 Broads Abroad: Moms Fly the Coop
by Deborah Serra and Nancy Serra Greene


When sisters, Deborah & Nancy, discovered that motherhood was a temp job they decided to run away from home. After packing up that last kid for college, and facing the sad stillness of their suddenly quiet homes, they decided to leave the country. 2 BROADS ABROAD: MOMS FLY THE COOP is a funny, irreverent, occasionally poignant travel tale of their impulsive road trip around Ireland.

In this witty warm-hearted adventure, they experienced some of Ireland’s quirkier history while sharing universally relatable stories of maniacal school coaches, neurotic neighbors, and tiger moms. Having kicked that empty nest into their rearview mirror, the sisters took off careening down the wrong side of the road, making questionable choices, getting trapped in a medieval tower, sneaking Chinese take-out into a famous cooking school, drinking way too much, and gaining a changed perspective on their lives ahead.


Excerpt:

As Nancy and I attended to the final decisions of our trip we bumped into Nancy’s neighbor Susan again.  Evidently, Vicki had had enough since Susan was out trolling unsuspecting neighbors on her own.   

“You realize that they have no Americans With Disabilities Act in the UK,” Susan said as she leaned in toward me.  


Susan stood too close and never blinked.  Have you ever tried to have a reasonable conversation with someone who doesn’t blink?  You look at one eye, then become uncomfortable and look at the other eye, then you think, “Maybe I’ll look down.”  I spent more time strategizing about where to put my gaze than listening to her babble.  Susan was nosy and toxic, not that I’m judging or anything.  I exchanged a look with Nancy who raised her eyebrows at me as a warning.  I knew she was concerned about what I might say because she thinks that sometimes I’m blunt or impatient, which is absolutely untrue, or at least only modestly true. Gossipy negative women are a flash point for me. (Nancy claims I have several flash points, but…naw…what do little sisters know anyway?)


Trying very hard to keep the scorn out of my tone I explained, “The UK stands for United Kingdom and not United States, so the laws are actually different, Susie,” I said.

“It’s Susan,” she replied with a little edge.  

Go ahead, I thought, get edgy – I’ll meet you there.

“I mean to say,” she continued, “that the European airports have tons of stairs and don’t you think it will be so difficult physically for you both to lug suitcases up and down all those stairs?”

“I do usually like to bring my husband, who doubles as a personal Sherpa, but since we are only taking one rolling bag and one personal item it’s not going to be an issue.”

“We are?” asked Nancy wide-eyed.

“And, Susie…”

“Susan.”

“Sure.  The rolling bag we’re taking is by REI and it can turn into a backpack should we encounter a long staircase so we actually have it all figured out.  But thank you for helping us to identify yet another possible negative.”

“Oh,” she said with a fake grin and squinty eyes.  “Certainly.”

As we walked away, I saw Nancy looked a little pale.

“Hey, I’m sorry.  There is just something almost hyena-like about that that woman.  You know, sitting in the weeds, hoping for a kill she can live off of?”

“Deborah, that’s a little dramatic.”

“The only analogy that came to me.”

“But about the carry-on thing, you’re just annoying her, right?  You don’t really think we can go away for a couple of weeks with one small suitcase?”

So maybe I have a reputation as a woman who is still wearing the jeans she bought in 1975, but that’s not true. Those jeans fell apart last year.  I cremated them and they sit in an urn on the mantle — sometimes I light a candle.


“Nancy, I am serious.  We need practical and comfortable.  It’s only the two of us. I’m thinking two pair of jeans, a pair of stretch sweats, several shirts, raincoat, done.”

“I’m thinking I am traveling to a foreign country and I want clean clothing and options.  I want to be prepared.”

“For what?”

“For whatever?”

“Won’t it be awesome to travel light and not worry about those things?”

“Won’t it be awesome to have something clean and appropriate to wear no matter what we encounter?”

“But if we check luggage, you know the airlines will probably lose our luggage, and we’ll be moving around so much it might be hard to catch up with us.  We won’t be tied down by anything this way.  And there will be extra baggage fees.  Let’s do this like we expect to plan a lot of future trips.  I really want to travel light.  We need to be flexible, not fashionable.”

“What if we need something nice?”

“For what?  It’s only you and me.  We’ve watched each other give birth, really, we’ve already seen the worst.”






About the Authors
Deborah Serra has been a sought-after screenwriter for twenty-five years having written for NBC, CBS, Sony, Lifetime, Fox, and others. She was a recipient of the 2012 Hawthornden Literary Fellowship. Her first novel was a semi-finalist for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Award given by the Faulkner Society in New Orleans, LA.

Nancy is a graduate of San Diego State University. She worked in medical sales before stepping away to raise her two children, at which point she became: Team Mom, Snack Mom, PTA member, Assistance League Volunteer, and the list is never-ending. Nancy was the editor and publisher of the Buffalo Hills Echo newsletter with a circulation of 1400. She also designed and managed her community website.


Creating Classroom Art

6:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments


Our school just cut our elementary art elective, but we have a growing middle and high school art program.  I just stared teaching photography to my journalism students with some amazing results.  Craftivities, like the ones we did for Frankenstein, have always been a big hit with my high school kids.


So what is my point in all of this?

Art is good for students, and art enhances learning.

In addition the play-therapy of coloring has begun to take on new meaning in the adult world with the advent of adult coloring books.


The combination of art as a tool to engage students in learning and coloring as a stress-relief therapy for my seniors entering their last semester of high school led me to an interesting idea.

Class-sized coloring sheets.


This Disney's The Sword in the Stone coloring sheet I received as free reward through my Disney Rewards Club.  We just finished read T.H. White's book The Once and Future King as an intro to our Arthurian Legend Unit, so this sheet seemed perfect for my class while they watched the Disney movie as a reward for all finishing part I of the novel.

At first I was just going to print a copy of the page for every student.  However, when I opened to print it, I remembered that last year my coworker and I printed a Pinterest image of The Hulk on multiple sheets of paper to make it poster-sized.  So, I did it with this page and here is how:

1)Save your coloring sheet as a pdf if it isn't already

2) Open your pdf with Adobe

3) On the print menu change the settings

4) Select Poster Printing

5) Tile Scale: Set this to somewhere between 200 and 400 depending on how many pages you want the image on.  The dotted lines on the preview image show the borders of the pages that will print.

6) Set Overlap to between .25 and .5 to create a border to overlap the images when they are printed and assembled.

7) Click back and forth between Tile Scale and Set Overlap to display the pages printing on the preview.

8) Print

9) Have students color their portion of the image

10) Cut the white margin off on of each side and lay out on table or floor to piece the image together.

11) Tape together and display

My classroom art is held to my whiteboard by these great pushpin magnets from Ava's Office Solutions and will be available for purchase on Amazon soon.



I have received a complimentary game to review.
 The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.


Book Review: The Coupling and Giveaway

8:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

 The opinions and words here are 100% mine!  This post contains referral links that provide a reward for me at no cost to you if you choose to shop.

The Coupling (The Letting #2)
Release Date: February 15th 2016 TODAY

The Hunger Games meets Divergent!

This pair of books was so engaging that I read both books in one weekend; I couldn't put them down. This pair of books will be a pair that I will recommend to my students, especially those who are part of the current trend of dystopian literature. They would also make great addition to a literature circle or book club project featuring novel choice for students.

The second book is not a clear story without the The Letting. I actually started The Coupling and had to stop and go back and start the The Letting because there were some pieces missing. I am so very glad that I did go back and start with the beginning because The Letting (even when I had an idea of how it was going to end after starting The Coupling) was an interesting take on an alternate future of The United States.

The premise of blood being the commodity of trade intrigued me and then sucked me in.





In Ronnie Billings’ dystopian world, surviving the Letting and breaking free of a corrupt government is less of a surprise than falling in love with Phoenix Day, the leader of the Peaceful Revolution…

When the government sentences Ronnie to a Coupling under the guise of producing a coveted blood type, Ronnie discovers the one she’s slated to Couple with expects even more.

Prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to save those she loves most, Ronnie devastates Phoenix with her impossible decision. Whisked away from her rebel life to another world ravaged by despair, Ronnie meets her greatest nemesis...her biological father.

Steeling her nerves against the dangers of escape, she embarks on the perilous journey back. She is convinced she belongs with Phoenix and his revolution, but will her friends, and especially Phoenix, be ready to accept her when she returns? Because this time, evil is in her blood...




Buy Links:
          

About the Author

Given my love for cities and all that is gritty, my new obsession with trees really has me stumped. (Sorry.) Maybe it's because trees are the inspiration behind my new YA/NA novel, THE LETTING.

Whatever the reason for my new infatuation, some things remain constant -- like my love for: coffee (although sadly, it's now decaf); yoga; Luna bars (I am petitioning for them to bring back Chocolate Raspberry!); running in my neighborhood; Hemingway; Bukowski... and, above all, my husband and my girls.

I am the author of the bestselling novel, Sleeping With Mortals: The Story of a New York Mistress, and I'm also a playwright. I have my B.A. in English and my M.A. in Theatre. 

Author Links:




I have received a complimentary game to review.
 The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

Author Interview and Giveaway: Brains and Beauty

3:00 AM Sarah Koves 2 Comments

 The opinions and words here are 100% mine!  This post contains referral links that provide a reward for me at no cost to you if you choose to shop.

Brains and Beauty
by Jeanette Watts

Regina Waring seems to have it all. A loving husband, a successful business, and the most expensive wardrobe in town. But nothing is what it appears to be. Her husband is critical and demanding, the business teeters on ruin, even the opulent wardrobe is a clever illusion.


I had the opportunity to interview Jeanette Watts, and she is an inspiration to the writer in all of us.

What was your inspiration for this book?

My readers were more than a little annoyed with me because of the way I ended my first book, Wealth and Privilege. I love ambiguous endings. Apparently, most people don't agree with me. For every reviewer who likes the fact that it's unsettling at the end, and we're left not knowing what happens, there are four threatening to wring my neck. Same is true with my readers. I had no intention of writing another book, but my readers had other ideas. After being glared at and told, "You ARE writing ANOTHER BOOK, right?!?!?" a lot of times, I was "inspired" to write another book... and I'm glad I did. I learned all sorts of things about my characters that I hadn't known yet!

Who is your favorite author?  Why?

My readers are tired of hearing this, I'm sure, but it's Margaret Mitchell. Gone With the Wind is a monument piece of writing. There are those who criticize the book for glorifying slavery, and the Confederacy, and say that it has done a certain amount of harm in our society. When a piece of fiction can have that kind of power over people's attitudes, that's some really powerful writing! She writes complex characters. They are flawed and human; there are people who love Scarlett O'Hara, and people who can't stand her. THAT is great writing. We are not lead by the nose and beaten over the head and told "you're supposed to like this character" and "you are supposed to hate this character." Instead, we readers get to draw our own conclusions.

Explain your revision process.

Iterations. I learned from a college professor when I was an undergrad, first you get it down on paper, and then you rearrange everything. And again. And again. Once I've gotten everything sanded down so that it's "ripe" enough for anyone else to see, then I get an army of proofreaders to take a look at it. I get 6-8 people to look at it, and even the eighth time through, there are still things that get caught. Maybe the historical things have been found, like the fact that the word "sex" only referred to one's gender until after 1929. But there will still be a missing set of quotation marks.

What book has influenced you the most? Why?

I'm sure it's no surprise that the answer is Gone With the Wind...

I appreciate her sharing her thoughts and process with me.


Regina’s life is one long tiptoe through a minefield; one wrong step and her entire life is going to blow up and destroy her. Attempting to hold it all together, she appeases the husband, dresses the part, and never, never says what she is really thinking. That would get in the way of getting things done. And, if there’s one thing Regina did really well, it was getting things done.

Enter Thomas Baldwin. Young and handsome and completely off limits, Regina is smitten at first sight. Then, to her great astonishment, he slowly becomes her best friend. He’s the one person in her life who never lets her down. Torn between her fascination with him and her desire not to ruin a marvelous friendship, she tries to enjoy each moment with him as it comes.

If only that were enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Was it really less than a year since she had witnessed the conflagration at the railroad yard?
Once again, she faced smoking ruins that had once been a thriving industry. This time, it wasn't human made. Or at least, it wasn't deliberate.

The mill ruins were, perhaps, more intimidating. The Washburn “A” had been a seven-and-a-half story building, and the explosion had been so large it shattered glass windows in the neighboring city of St. Paul. It left a crater in the middle of the mill district, destroying about one third of all the businesses in the area. The circle of destruction was ringed with the charred skeletons of mills that existed on the edge of the blast zone.

She was amazed that there were only eighteen other people killed in the explosion. Considering the scope of the wreckage, it seemed to her it could have been so much worse. As hard as it was to be married to one of the victims, Regina felt a certain gratitude that there were so few new widows. The bereaved would all be able to fit on a single trolley car.

Her eyes scanned for places where Henry might have been found. She had no idea where he was, or even who had rescued him. There were fallen walls everywhere – and nothing looked like a place where a man could be pinned down, and survive, even briefly.
Between the wreckage of the Washburn “A” mill, and the old wreckage from the collapse of the tunnel, Regina mused on her walk back to the hotel that this part of the world was very dangerous – or unlucky.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jeanette Watts only lived in Pittsburgh for four years, but in her heart, she will always be a Pittsburgher. She missed the city so much after her move to Ohio, she had to write a love story about it.

She has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing. When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.



Jeanette Watts will be awarding a Victorian cameo necklace to a randomly drawn winner.


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