Performance: A Child’s Right

I believe that children have the right to

Self-expression

Acceptance

Equality

Fairness

A stimulating curriculum

And mentors who believe

In their wonder.

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About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Children Honoring Dr. King

This Martin Luther King Day I am thinking back to making an anti-bullying video last year. When I first heard about the contest, I thought it’d be a great way to teach my kids about how to deal with bullying. So I wrote a script, had some auditions, and started filming the munchkins in imaginary bullying situations. I was lucky to have such good actors this year who were open to retakes, but still it was pretty tough to try and fit filming into our already busy schedule. Most of it occurred during recesses.

And the due date was fast approaching.

One of the greatest challenges was finding a quiet place at school to film the scenes.  We don’t have any special equipment like muff-covered microphones or special lights. Just an IPad. We’d be in the middle of one with the kids rocking their acting and the bell would ring or a ball would roll our way with a second-grader right behind.

So with a groan I’d delete that take and try again.

On the last day before all entries were due, I tried taking the kids to behind the school, thinking that would be quiet and protected from the blustery winds of Santa Maria. And it worked, sort-of. But then there was another announcement while filming.

With recess over, what choice did I have? We were out of time so I had to use the scene.

And was surprised as heck with how good the video came out.

But would we win?

Weeks passed. No news. The kids kept asking me if I’d heard anything and I had to shake my head no. Then one morning there was an email in my inbox.

“Dear Laurie,

We are delighted to inform you that you are a Winner in the Take A Stand Against Bullying Video Contest sponsored by Oxy Skin Care. The Scholastic and Oxy teams were so impressed with the caliber of work; your students should be very proud!” I read the other morning as my fifth-grade students were getting out their homework.

“Yahoo! We won! We won!” I crowed jumping up and down in front of my astonished class.

“What, Ms. Woodward?”

“The video we made won the national contest!”

There was silence for a moment then a roar of cheers, applause and desk pounding so deafening  I was sure the principal would come in any second and tell us to quiet down. Kids leapt into the air, high-fiving each-other while I did a victory Salsa dance across the room.

I love being a teacher.

 

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The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

2019 Year in Review

New Year’s Blessings to all of you! May 2020 be all that you dream it will be!

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Art Can Bring Peace: 10 Ways

I believe children have the power to create profound change in our world. If there is ever to be true peace, it must transcend the generations. But first they must dream of the changes they want creatively. Here are ten ideas to begin the change.

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1. Make Peace Cards.

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2. Make an anti-bully poster.

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3. Draw cartoons dealing with a bully.

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4. Paint a peace sign on a paper plate.

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5. Create a Love the Earth card.

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6. Make a dream board.

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7. Photograph someone doing a kind act.

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8. Create a dance high-fiving and smiling with your buds.

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9. Film a video of yourself singing a peace song.

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10. Paint a self-portrait.

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Any more ideas? Share  and we’ll turn 10 to 10,000!

Tips for a Peaceful School Year

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.”

Copy of card back

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.

Laurie Woodward is the author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. She co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

The Darker Side of Teaching: Part 1

As yet another summer vacation begins I think back over all the years I have taught. And time and again I return to the boy I tried so hard to save.

It was my first year teaching in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of Santa Maria and I was shocked. Our students were a mix of the destitute and working class. Some families were migrant field-workers following the harvest and moving every three months,  others were homeless living in cars and run-down hotels on Broadway,  and many were laborers working long hours doing construction or gardening for little pay.

Most were very poor, so far below the poverty line that they lacked the basic necessities you and I take for granted. Cleanliness. Clothing. Adequate space. Enough to eat. I remember watching  a third-grader running a race over the spotty grass of our playground, wondering why she kept one hand on the waist of her oversize pants. That’s when I noticed that every time they fell down, they revealed that she had no undies on. Another of my students lived in a home that was so dirty she contracted hepatitis A and ended up in the hospital with jaundice.  Daily,  I saw hungry children greedily eat every morsel the school cafeteria provided because some would get no more meals that day.

Children without backpacks, binders, or even crayons. After Christmas that year I asked the kids to journal about their gifts. One of my students wrote, “I got a pencil.” I went out and bought her a bicycle and toys the next day. When I took my own children to the immigrant family’s converted-garage apartment to deliver the gifts, they had trouble believing that eight people could fit, much less live in such a tiny space.

Challenging lives.

But worst of all were the gangs. Fathers who bragged  about beating their wives to the floor. Mothers who dealt drugs out of the kitchen. Cousins who used chains, blades, and even guns against the rival gang a few blocks away.

All leaving traumatized children who could barely function, much less learn, in school.  Like Gabriel. *

 

*Name changed to protect his privacy.*

Laurie Woodward is the author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. She co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California.

See Through Their Eyes

They say you can never truly feel empathy for another until you walk a mile in their shoes. Now, as adults we can imagine the pain, suffering, and challenges of others because we have walked life’s path. But with their limited experiences, this can be challenging for a child. So,  how do we help our young ones  with bullying, assertiveness, and empathy?

This is what I wondered when I tried to design a lesson. I knew I couldn’t have my students take off their shoes and share them. Their feet are all different and that wouldn’t get the message across. But then I thought about how donning a mask frees up even the shyest of people. What if children made masks of either a bully or a victim and then role-played a scene where they resolved a conflict?

Following is the  lesson I designed. Give it a try with your kids and let me know how it worked.

Objective: The learner will increase their understanding of what other children feel through making either a bully or victim mask then pretending to be that person while wearing it.

Materials: Pencils, construction paper or paper plates, thin paper or tissue paper, craft glue, craft sticks. crayons, markers, scissors. Chart paper, white board or electronic whiteboard.  If you’d like a premade mask click on the words “Mask template”  following for a link to a reproducible:  mask template

Procedure: 1. List the four kinds of bullies on the board.

Verbal                  Physical                 Social                 Cyber         

Cruel words       Hurting bodies    Excluding          Text

Name calling      Pushing                Gossip           Social Media

Intimidation      Touching              Cliques                Email

2. Ask the children to imagine what the face of the bully looked like when he/she was bullying. Ask the children to imagine what the victim’s face looked like when he/she was being harassed.

3. Tell them that they are going to make a mask either of a bully or a victim. Encourage about half of children to be each.

4. Pass out art supplies.

5. Go over steps for masks:

Step 1: Sketch an outline of the shape you want to make, using the inside edge of the rim of a paper plate as a guide for the bottom of the face. Cut along sketch lines. Step 2: To make hair, cut paper into a rectangle about 2 or 3 inches wide and 2 to 18 inches long. Put this shape through a paper crimper if you want to make the hair even wilder. Fringe the rectangle to within 1/2 inch of the long edge. Cut the fringed rectangle into smaller pieces, and glue pieces around the top of the plate. Glue craft stick to bottom as holder. Let dry.

6. Once the masks are complete have students look through them and pretend to be the bully or the victim.

7. Keep the masks for role play. Or as an extension the children could write scripts and act them out.

Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

Get Laurie’s Books Here

You Are an Artist

Art. What does it make you think of? Is it a canvas splashed with paint or a sculpted bust? Do you think it’s important for our society and should children pursue this ethereal discipline?

Some would say no, arguing that children need reading, writing and math to compete in today’s global economy. And as a teacher, as well as an author I agree. Some of the time. I want every single one of my students to have the skills they need to succeed in an ever-changing economy.

But not by forgetting the people they are inside.

I believe that every man, woman, and child have a wondrous inside of them that is absolutely unique. It is their creative selves. And when we foster it, magic happens. That’s why I wrote The Artania Chronicles.

As a teacher, I’ve seen many changes over the years. And one of the saddest I saw was the increased emphasis on testing with less and less of the arts. It started to feel as if we were denying a beautiful part of children.  As I explored this idea, my mind began to turn art into living beings that carried out their lives in a parallel dimension.

That was the birth of Artania. There the Mona Lisa, the David, and the Thinker go about their lives. But they aren’t independent of us. For every time a human child turns away from his/her true self and denies their artistic gifts, an evil race gains power.

To me, the hunch-backed, yellow-eyed, dream-invading monsters, I call Shadow Swine, represent the destruction of that most beautiful part of humanity. That incomparable part that is our art.

Some of you might be painters whose canvases are splashed with color. Others might pursue dance or music. A few might find the art in their athleticism or acting or creating the perfect meal. Or perhaps you are a writer, like me, and love the places the words take you to.  But the cool think is that no one can act, sing, dance, paint, wordsmith, arrange, or bake exactly like you.

Because you are each an artist in your own way.

 

A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

 

Interviewed to Address Bullying

“I’ve tried to keep my FB posts positive throughout the summer, but I can’t ignore the grim reality of young children committing suicide. Earlier this month, it was a 9-year-old Denver student named Jamel who hung himself after being bullied for being gay.” Radio talk show host, Dave Congalton, writes on his Facebook page.

“9 years old. 9.

Here’s the sad truth from the New York Times: “Jamel’s death comes amid a startling rise in youth suicides, part of a larger public health crisis that has unfolded over a generation: Even as access to mental health care has expanded, the suicide rate in the United States has risen 25 percent since 1999. Middle- schoolers are now just as likely to die from suicide as they are from traffic accidents.”

Middle-schoolers are now just as likely to die from suicide as they are from traffic accidents?????

We’re going to discuss this on the radio today (Wednesday) at 5:05 on 920 AM KVEC with local teachers Laurie Woodward and Mila Vujovich-La Barre, both of whom are heavily involved in their school’s efforts to combat bullying. I certainly don’t have the solution, but it begins with dialogue. Hope you can join us.”

And join him we did, spending two hours brainstorming with Dave and callers about how to prevent and combat this blight on our society.

For the entire interview please click below. And let’s all work together to prevent further tragedies like these from occurring.

 

Radio Interview Part 1

Radio Interview Part 2

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Thank you Dave and Mila. It was truly an honor.

In addition to hosting a popular radio show for the past 26 years, Dave Congalton is a screenwriter, producer,  former director of the Central Coast Writer’s Conference, and award-winning author.  His books include Three Cats, Two Dogs: One Journey Through Multiple Pet Loss, When Your Pet Outlives You: Protecting Animal Companions After You Die, with co-author Charlotte Alexander and The Talk Radio Guest Book with co-author Deborah Bayles. His screenplay, Author’s Anonymous, starring Kaley Cuoco and directed by Ellie Kanner was released as a major film in 2014.

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For more information about Dave see: http://davidcongalton.com/# or http://www.920kvec.com/

 

A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

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.”

Copy of card back

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.

 

A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles. She also cowrote Dean and JoJo: The Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.