Egyptian Gods

“Social Studies is boring,” your sixth grader says. “Just stupid facts and dates.”

“Really?” you ask with a playful twinkle in your eye while clicking on the following YouTube video. “I guess you’ve never heard any myths from ancient Egypt.”

Video about the Egyptian gods

Exchanges like the above are one of the reasons I wrote, Artania: The Pharaohs’ Cry. When I taught 6th grade I found very few tie-in novels that brought both the history and mythology of ancient Egypt alive. Yet, their myths were so cool. Battles, revenge, love, sacrifice. All fodder for a roller-coaster ride into an imagined past.

Now your child can learn about the gods and history of Egypt without ever saying boring. Instead they’ll ride on skateboards with Bastet and Horus, journey through the pyramids with Osiris, and grin at Anubis shaking his tail. What are you waiting for? Magic is about to begin.

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Dark Crusade: A Divorce Poem

Long ago there was a little girl

Who had two fathers.

One was present

The other absent.

 

As she grew

She wished they could trade places.

And one day they did

But they received identical index fingers

In the exchange.

Two imputable Musketeer swords

Pointed and crossed,

Secret signals

Bidding charges at the mother:

We denounce her as Vilifier.

Our recompense will be her blood.

 

And so it was

That in their recriminatory cries

An ignoble cause was born.

And they thrust their blades silently

In glorious abandonment.

 

 

But in all their dark crusades

In lands both far and near

Seeking reprisal for deeds

Both true

And imagined

They never knew that

The mother stood strong

In her adult armor

While the child

Lay bleeding

In a heap on the floor.

 

My Short Story Got Published!

Here’s the beginning:

I always sit alone. Night after night while friendly conversation buzzes all around, I scribble away at my pad. Like the severed lobe of a lobotomized brain my quietness keeps me apart from the surrounding barroom.

Not that they don’t try. Their electrical impulses probe with questions and icebreakers, smiles and shoulder taps. But all I return is a blank stare, as is our way, while many muse over why I don’t respond.

Wheezing Joe wipes foam from his facial hair and breathes into his beer. “Is she deaf?”

“Doesn’t speak English.” Zev replies, wiping down the oak counter with a stained towel.

“No. She is a conceited reporter spying on us.”  Gina never takes her eyes off the door as she stirs her gin blossom. Looking right past her female companion, her mind focuses on one thought; prospective mates. I had yet to comprehend it, but for some reason, I threaten that quest.

I cock my head to one side, calculating the odds that I am creating too much interest amongst the patrons. Seventy-six percent. Much too high.  I must not rouse suspicion. Planning to lower my autonomic response filter, I slip into the bathroom stall and lock the rusty door securely before reaching back to the base of my skull to adjust the invisible touch screen.

Immediately there is an increase in emotion. I jerk upright as a variety of new sensations wash over me.

I pull my long hair back tightly and tie it at the nape of my neck before exiting. My intestines are churning as I step up to the bar. I can barely croak out the words, “One pomegranate martini, please.”

With shaking hands, I grasp the glass stem, trying to find comfort in the dry ice mist rising from the martini. Gina turns away with a half smile when I spill some of the sanguine-colored liquid onto the floor. Her female companion guffaws while Joe takes a gulp of beer to hide his chuckling.

Careful not to spill again, I cross the room to sit back down and gaze into the wine-colored fog. The pomegranate martini reminds me of home, a volcano-covered planet so far from the sun, that the sky never brightens beyond a pinkish hue.  I lower my nose and cool steam moistens my skin like Lyra’s atmosphere at perihelion.

I glance out of the corner of my eye. Lowering the filter has worked. The flies are relaxed. Even Gina’s brain waves have ceased their jagged patterns. I have been accepted as just another quirky bar regular. And in so doing, they give me a name. They dub me the Human Chair, she who sits but never responds. Funny they would call me human. And flattering in a strange sort of way. They never call me this to my face, but I’ve heard them whisper, “She’s the Human Chair,” to every newcomer who asks about the woman scribbling away in the dark corner

Many barflies think they can break through my severed wall of gray matter. A few send drinks. Some try smooth lines to strike up conversations.  I never understood the one that goes, “What is a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” It seems to imply that The Blue Ace is a disreputable establishment.

A few even tell carnal anecdotes to provoke a response. Wheezing Joe loves to tell about the sexual misadventures of blonde-haired women. I am glad that I have chosen dark hair when I hear how lighter shades affect human I.Q.

Of course, it is all in vain. I ignore them all. The ice cubes melt in untouched glasses. Compliments and witticisms go unacknowledged. No matter how loud or rude they are, my pen never slows.

It cannot.

If it did my superiors would take away this assignment. And I have grown too fond of this human form to shed it just now. These strange sensations that go along with inhabiting a female body. The sweet taste of a pomegranate martini on my tongue. The feel of my pen gripped between these efficient digits. A warm tingling in my loins when that tall male on the subway smiles at me. I often must remind myself that I am an observer not a participant. An anthropologist who is detached from her surroundings.

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This excerpt from my science fiction short story was recently published in Shifting Sands. This  anthology is an eclectic blend of short stories and poetry from the talented members of the Coastal Dunes Branch of the California Writers Club.  For a copy, here’s the link.

Buy the Anthology!

Creating Video Wonder

Watch The Legend of Zelda

A friend’s daughter, A. J. Parsons,  a recent graduate of the Vancouver Film School is off and running in her film making career.

a j parsonsThis year she joined forces with other amazingly talented young people to create this amazing fan fiction piece, The Legend of Zelda -A Missing Link. Along with, Chad Costen, the mastermind/director/creator of the whole project, they are using the film to help raise money for a friend with ALS.  If you’d like to donate to their cause, the link to his GoFundMe page is    https://www.gofundme.com/als-aint-no-game

Kids of all ages will enjoy this magical film.

My friend is one proud Papa. Isn’t it amazing what a few creative people can do?

Love Will Prevail

Our school year began last week. A new crop of shining faces smiling out at me. And while  I am called teacher, I know that what every pair of eyes is seeking. Love and acceptance.

Keep showing them the power of love, and they will see wonder in the world. Let them know their unique gifts and they will see magic in themselves.

Like two boys creating art to save a magical world in Artania.

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Social Justice in the Classroom

Looking for more resources on social justice in language teaching? Check out the Social Justice Warriors webpage and the library of resources they have on advocacy, anti-racist classrooms, multilingualism, and other topics. Leave a comment with your recommended link! Source: Social Justice Warriors.Language Educators.Stop the Deficit.

via Social Justice in Language Education Resources — Language for Peace Forum

Five Tips to Start the School Year Peacefully

Well, it’s getting closer to that time we teachers both dread and look forward to. The beginning of a new school year. Along with the mad rush to get everything ready, I try to also think of how I’ll promote peace this year. Here are a few things I do that you might find helpful.

1. Create a Peace Zone. Here I have a small table for both peace and discipline cards below inspirational posters.

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2. Plan your reward system. What rewards will you use?  Personally I have two reward systems: cooperative and individual. My students sit in cooperative groups and get points for on-task behavior. That group with the most points receives a prize at the end of the day. For individual behaviors, each student has the opportunity to get two tickets weekly: one for completing all homework and another if they did pull their card. They can use these ticket to purchase toys from the treasure box.

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3. Think about your rules and your assertive discipline plan. I find that a few  general rules are easier to manage than a long list of specific ones. Examples include: Treat others, property, and self with respect. Follow directions. Wait to be called upon to speak.

For discipline, my students make their own cards. On one side, they color their name and a positive scene doing something they like. This affirms their uniqueness and what privileges can be lost when rules are broken.On the opposite side are three columns: Date, Problem, Next Time. These are filled in when students get to the “pulled card” level of misbehavior. I believe writing the problem down and then writing what would have been a good choice helps children reflect on their behavior. I do have this caveat: Next time must be stated as a POSITIVE. If the problem is pushing in line, then he/she should write, “Keep hands to self.”

4. Write Discipline into your lesson plans for the first weeks of school. Give yourself plenty of time to train students. This is not the time to rush into the standards but to establish procedures.Believe me, it’ll pay off. Whenever I’ve rushed because I’ve felt under the gun, discipline got a heck of a lot tougher. And you don’t want to start the year like that.

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5. Plan an art project that will make every child  feel successful. Need ideas? Pinterest has tons.

Key Words

Would you like your new book to rank high on Amazon? Have you always dreamed of seeing “number one” next to your novel? If so, use Amazon’s key word function to narrow its category. Choose as specific of a niche as possible. For example, my recently released Artania: The Pharaohs’ Cry  reached number one by being in the category of “Children’s” then “Arts, Music, & Photography” and “Art” and finally narrower still in “Painting.”  Because the category was small that shot my rankings up.

So, what are you waiting for? Play with your categories and watch your ranking soar!

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