Forest Secrets: A Magical Mystery Novel

Thanks for the kind words. I had a blast writing it!

Ramblings from a Redhead

I received a great book for free in exchange form my review.  The book is “Forest Secrets: A Magical Mystery Novel” but Laurie Woodward.


     This book was a fantastic read. The book is marked for Young Adults. For me (an adult), it was short and easy to read but it wasn’t boring. There are fantastic lessons in the book as well such as making new friends and helping the environment. I feel like this book could be for both girls and boys, but I do think that girls would like it more. I don’t want to go too far into what the book is about, but it also talks a little bit about the struggles of losing a parent, both from the parent leaving and from the parent passing away. This aspect of the book would be beneficial to children dealing with situations such as those. The book…

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We Learn by Doing

When children are actively engaged in learning, amazing things happen.

Language for Peace Forum

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. (Aristotle)

Learning by doing is not a new concept. Artisans such as stonemasons, bakers, playwrights, songwriters, blacksmiths and tailors have mentored their apprentices in specialized crafts and in a workshop context for centuries. The items they created had practical applications but also focused on beauty and design. An artisan understood the craft – the art, the science, the usefulness. Excellent teachers are just like this. They are artisans- artful, knowledgeable, and skilled. They respond to the apprentices (students) in a way that encourages, teaches, and develops self confidence. Last, but not least, they themselves are learners.

So what is the connection of this to language, peace building and peace education? A workshop philosophy in education honours the fundamental characteristics of what a workshop entails: learning by doing, honouring diversity, engaging in purposeful…

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Character Counts

IMG_0269Does your school honor students monthly? Do you host assemblies to recognize exemplary behavior but then  wonder if you are truly encouraging character development or just checking off a box? Like many schools, ours has a monthly assembly for one student who stands out as an example for others. And, like many teachers, I have always thought of the process as a series of checking off boxes. I’d look for that child who behaved well, check, did their homework, check,  and demonstrated exemplary effort. Check, check, check.

But then I wondered, what character traits do students admire? So I decided to ask them, “Who do you think the student of the month should be?” Almost every child recommended a good athlete or his/her best friend giving way us too many nominees. Okay, that didn’t work so back to the drawing board. I was pretty frustrated and ready to just go back to the way I’d always done it. But then I was talking with another teacher who suggested the class write an essay giving reasons why their candidate was the best. The kids liked the idea so we gave it a try.

Reading these papers really opened my eyes. Kids saw things in each other that astounded and me. Things I never did. At the same time, the way they revered friendship and loyalty made me proud to be their teacher.

If you’d like to get some unique insight into how your kids value character while teaching about persuasive writing, here’s my lesson.  Let me know how it goes!


Objective: The learner will practice persuasive essay writing by creating a paragraph about why one of his/her classmates should be nominated as student of the month.

Materials: Paper, pencils, white board or electronic whiteboard. Sample of persuasive essay format.


  1. Go over the parts of a paragraph:
    1. Topic Sentence: Tells what the entire paragraph is about.
    2. Supporting Details: Sentences that support/prove the topic.
    3. Conclusion: a creative sentence at the end that sums  up all ideas.
  2. Tell the students that they are going to write a special kind of paragraph, called Persuasive. Write: Persuasive on board and ask students what they think it means. Take responses, then explain that these type of essay seek to influence opinions.
  3. Ask students to give examples of who they think is a hero. List responses on the board. Ask for reasons why. List them.
  4.  The teacher models proving that an individual was a hero by stating something like, “Martin Luther King is my hero for numerous reasons, First, he stood up for civil rights, Second, he used peaceful methods to change our country..”
  5. Using the teacher’s statement as a model, have a few volunteers share why a certain individual is their favorite hero.
  6. Tell the students that they are going to write their own persuasive paragraph to nominate a student of the month. If desired the following sentence frame could be used:

            _________should be Student of the Month for a variety of reasons. First he/she is________. In addition _________does ___________Furthermore, he/she often_______._____ is a good citizen when he/she____________. Vote for _____. She/He is___!

  1. Students write essay, remembering to indent, capitalize and put in end punctuation.

Forest Secrets by Laurie Woodward – Book Review

So appreciative of the kind review!

Mom'o'Zaglings Aspirations

forest secrets book (3)

Today I am a reviewing a book called Forest Secrets by Laurie Woodward.

The book is 150 pages and written for young adults.  The heroine is 11 years old, and I feel the best age for reading the book would be 8-13 years of age.

At the root of it, this book is about friendships.  Daisy is new to the area and meets a mystical creature in the forest named Calliandra.  Calliandra, a tree that can take a form resembling a human,  is searching for her parents. Daisy is searching for adventure and new friends.  In the process of discovering what has happened to Calliandra’s parents, they meet Albert, who quickly joins with them in their search.  The search leads them to discover the underhanded operations of some unscrupulous men whose only goal is to make money.  The friendship between the three keeps them going, even when they get into…

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