Grandmasters and Grapes

Ah, to be remembered for grandmasters and grapes,
for Narnia and philosopher-scientists,
for St. Exupery and our avian companions on Earth,
for spreading chess fever to help us find our voice –
Thank you for this reminder
of the true curriculum I am meant to bestow as your guide –
yes, a teacher in disguise!
Still striving to take unstained out of this world…my panache!

Grandmasters and Grapes
A generous ode written about me (VWG) by a 4th-grade student 

 

 

 

The Story Continues!

Now that the outline is done, Book Two of my “Chess Gods” fantasy chapter book series is being written. My MC and the others insist that they move forward NOW, as I continue to query for “Chess Gods: Cassie Checks In!” (Book One).

Do you find that your characters sometimes try to be “the boss of you”? 😆 In this case, I appreciate their nudging!

2019 Resolution: To (Try to) Catch an Agent

Rosey with Pages 2018

My book! MY book. My BOOK!

My manuscript is winding up. I am sooo excited that I made such enormous progress in 2018. It’s alive!

That was one of last year’s resolutions that I actually made happen (and I lost some weight, too!). As a full-time elementary school teacher who also tutors (chess and piano) several hours a week, it is not easy to tackle another huge task during the course of a BUSY (2018 was PARTICULARLY hectic!) school year. I get tired, you know?

But there is only so much that can be done from summer to summer (not enough!), and I was NOT going to let another year go by with next to no progress.

Thank you to all those who supported me in so many ways, both practically and emotionally, chapter after chapter, revision after revision.

Thanks to SCBWI Midsouth for their wonderful conferences, resources, and friendships made.

Thank you to my occasional insomnia that allowed me an extra few hours a week.

Thanks to my cat Rosey (pictured) for hanging out with me in my office at all hours.

Hey, I know I didn’t get one accolade yet or win any awards. But I’m already thankful anyway! No matter what happens, I’m grateful for even getting to this point.

My resolution for 2019 is, after the manuscript is decidedly polished, to seek agent representation, and I already have my list of candidates and am drafting my first few query letters for the months ahead.

Yes, yes, yes. I’m well aware there are new challenges ahead, surely numerous disappointments included. I know. But those are signs of life.

I’ll be okay no matter what happens (I tell myself 😉 ).

And then, there’s always HOPE. I BELIEVE!

Here’s to 2019!

I’ll share much more about MY BOOK 😉 then.

 

 

Book Review: Writers Read Better!

December 23, 2018

I had the privilege of working with Colleen Cruz in New York City for ten years. During this time, she served as a staff developer for Teachers College/Columbia University, supporting the teaching of writing and reading in the school where I taught. I moved out of state and continued to implement what I had learned in my new teaching position, and my students’ scores went up two grade levels after the first year! I credit the focus on writing that Ms. Cruz helped me develop in my practice. This book is a treasure and is put together with the greatest of care. There is a script for each lesson for your guidance and inspiration. There is also a link in the book to extremely helpful videos that demonstrate the method in action. The writing lessons are matched with reading lessons that would naturally follow. Part of the key is that the students LOVE learning this way. If you have to choose one book to jumpstart or strengthen your teaching of literacy, this is the one. Thank you, Colleen!

Chess Magic in School, Part 2: Meet the Parents!

UhOh
It was time for the first set of parent-teacher conferences since chess had taken over my classroom. I was concerned that families might not understand that chess is not “just a game”, and I was prepared to prove important strides were being made in every subject, thanks to having the theme of chess in place for our enrichment.

Along with all my student data, I had my “chess helps students learn” statistics stacked in a folder by my side and did not attempt to hide the many chess posters, chess sets, and demo boards spread around the classroom.

Enter Mr. Z., a very serious looking parent who at first did not have a lot to say. I embarked on my elevator speech about his son, with appropriate compliments and observations on his scores in math and literacy. I went on to discuss ways to prepare for the state exams ahead and offered helpful tips for home activities.

I thought we were done, but Mr. Z. remained seated. He looked down and pressed his lips together as though there was still unfinished business.

And then it happened. He looked up and stared me right in the eye.

“My son tells me you play chess almost every day in this room.”

I unsuccessfully tried to repress my big sigh.

Then as practiced, I reached for my folder and began.

“Yes, this is true. Studies have shown…”

Mr. Z. interrupted, “Can you teach me this game?”

I stopped talking.

He continued, “I would like to play it with my son.”

It was at this point I realized the man was not about to criticize me.

I was (and am) still learning.

This conference of inspiration sparked my additional practice of holding parent workshops on chess, where not only were they taught the game with the help of their own children, but I could share my fervor in detail for the wonders it works in an academic setting. Never have I experienced anything but mutual enthusiasm in return. That evening I realized chess is also a pathway to improved relationships within and between families, a connector across all playing fields, and an ever-flowing source for this humble teacher’s continuing education.

Snippets of Parent Feedback After First Family Workshop

parent chess feedback snippet picture.jpg

Phew