Tag Archives: Facebook

Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

Kristen Lamb, author of Are You There Blog?  It’s Me, Writer., writes non-fiction in a folksy, easy to understand style.  Read like good fiction, the pages of this how-to book practically turned themselves.  Writers and bloggers can immediately apply her tips to improve their blog, Facebook and Twitter platforms.

In spite of the fact Are You There Blog?  It’s me, Writer. was easy to read I found myself highlighting, taking tons of notes, and rereading to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  I had to discipline myself to keep on track.  My thoughts were screaming, “Wow, I need to go to Facebook RIGHT NOW, and remove my birthday, but I did a little self-talk “Take notes, Marsha.  Copy down the tips you want to remember.”  Because LEARNING SOMETHING is the goal of reading a non-fiction book, it IS a different skill than reading fiction.

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts always lurk in my brain whenever I read now.  Across the United States, by the time they start high school, students will spend 70 percent of their school day reading non-fiction materials.  I would recommend this book for students from 6th grade up.  Common Core Standards also put a greater emphasis on writing than ever before.  Teaching students to blog, and having them interact with each other as well as others, means less editing for the teacher, more interest and commitment from the students.  For language arts teachers this book will address reading and writing standards at the same time.

Even young students can respond to a teacher’s blog about a topic.  This doesn’t mean that the teacher has to “write” every “topic” on their blog.  They can copy paragraphs or quotes directly from a book they cite.  By high school many students will have a Facebook account.  Lamb’s book teaches them to use it safely and wisely.  They also learn to use Facebook as a marketing tool to market themselves.  We often overlook, or feel too pressured to teach, the importance of the “soft” skills in education, of how to get along with people, how to motivate them, and get them to like us.  Those skills are an integral part of DOING social media.  Kristen Lamb integrates those skills as she explicitly teaches basics of blogging and using social media.

“Giving is when you take your time to read their blog, to repost their story and to congratulate their writing goal on Twitter. Giving is when you write a nice review of someone else’s book unsolicited and expecting nothing in return.”

Lamb, Kristen (2011-05-07). Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer (Kindle Locations 572-573). Who Dares Wins Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Students will learn that “people love feeling good” and that “a positive attitude is a key ingredient for a hit blog that connects with others in a meaningful way.” (Ibid Location 1519)

These soft skills that students learn will be useful to them no matter what profession or trade they choose to enter during or after high school.

Kristen’s book is available on Kindle, which means that note taking will be easy for students (and teachers who are beginning bloggers).  When a quote is copied from the book on the computer the biographical information is automatically noted.  WHEW!  That was EASY!

Mike Lebsock, 8th grade history teacher, President San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social STudies (SJVCSS), John Adams in Colonial Williamsburg

Mike Lebsock, an eighth grade teacher in Fresno, posts a blog entry then has his students write one response to his post, and one response to another student’s response.  How easy that would be using this book.  The teacher doesn’t have to write his or her own content.  He or she simply copies right from the book into the blog.  The biographical information is automatically there as well.

Are You There Blog? is easy to read, but that doesn’t mean that there is NO academic vocabulary.  The academic vocabulary is primarily content-based and can be grasped within the context of the book.  However, for students using Kindle or other e-readers, they can open a window with the definition of an unfamiliar word by just passing the cursor over a word and stopping.

When I started this review, I struggled with recommending it for Common Core because it was such an enjoyable book to read.  After analyzing how the book can actually meet many elements of Common Core I have changed my mind.  Non-fiction books can be enjoyable, and enjoyable books can be academic.  Read and enjoy Kristen Lamb’s book, Are You There Blog?  It’s Me, Writer. with your students – – or just for yourself.

Today’s Featured Blog 

My blogging friend Rommel, has taught me so much.  He was one of my first visitors before I knew squat, he had nominated me for an award.  I didn’t even understand what an award was.  He kept coming back when I was working full time+, and hardly had a second to visit any blogs, there was Rommel commenting on my blog.   Then recently he featured me on his site.  Who knew?  What a kind thing to do.  So it is with great honor and pride that I introduce my first Featured Blogger, Rommel.  The post that I chose, although he writes great travel stories, posts amazing pictures from all over the world, I fell in love with Once in A Blue Moon, a poem.  This is how it starts.

Another special post.

Here goes…

You know what…. I need to pause… An image first.

Can’t you just picture a vibrant young man venturing out on unfamiliar waters, writing a poem?

The Hilarity of Real Spam

Both Sex Gratis and Tattoo Age need to work a little on their persuasive writing skills. as well as their language usage.  Maybe that is why the Common Core standards are pushing teachers to teach persuasive/argument writing grades K-12.  These folks are so pathetic they are fodder for the funnies.

“I think this is a powerfull site with much interesting blogposts about this stuff. And i just wanna say thnx for this. I’ll subscribe to your website to see if you post more stuff like these!”

I guess this person assumes is that I would WANT him/her to subscribe to MY website!!!  On what grounds would I want him or her to be part of my world?  Certainly their gravitar name and photo doesn’t do much to sell them.  Then there is the ignorance of simple rules of grammar.  I am not the best grammar teacher, but starting from the beginning powerful is misspelled.  I didn’t catch it, but by WP did on the routine proofreading checker.  I misspell words on purpose sometimes to make a point or make up a word, but this is not the case here.  Next “much interesting” should be many interesting.  I love the old red pen, don’t you?  Next, could he/she be use a more specific word than “stuff” What “stuff” is he/she reading on my blogpost that is so powerful and interesting?  I didn’t see anything too sexy or tattooish about my vase stories.  Rules of capitalization and spelling in a formal email such as this one should be followed if he/she wants to be believable to a stranger like me.  Finally, Is “stuff” singular or plural?  He/she is referring to one post, but using a referent “these” to refer to the plural “stuff” that was found in the post?  It is confusing if not incorrect.  

“Hi there you have a good weblog over here! Thanks for posting this interesting information for us! If you keep up the good work I’ll visit your website again. Thanks!”

You know, I like praise as much as the next person, but is this a threat?  If – then statements are great for science, but for enticing someone to do good work?  Not to helpful unless you are the parent.  IF you get your homework done, THEN you can visit your friends.  Kids love this – and RUSH to get their homework done!  My husband might TRY an IF – THEN statement like that, and substitute homework for housework.  On the other hand, IF he did try that, THEN I probably would have the dirtiest house in the world – and I don’t (BTW).  On an aside I think people who dislike each other and live together have lazy contests – who can do the least around the home? Maybe they used too many IF – THEN statements in their conversations with each other.

“everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. it contains truly information. your website is very useful. thanks for sharing. looking forward to more!”

Who writes this stuff? OK Spam Geeks, EVERY sentence starts with a capital letter, unless you are a published writer with a huge following, and even then…  So lets assume that this is computer generated, and the programmer doesn’t understand the First grade rule of capitalization.  I get computer generated messages from WP, LinkedIN, Facebook.  THEY know how to generate a simple sentence that is correct and motivational.  I actually do endorse people when the generator asks me to – if I know them and like them.  So take a lesson from the experts and put a capital at the beginning of every sentence.

“hey, great job friend, cheers.”

I can live with these spams.  OK, there’s no capital, but it’s simple and sort of “Good morning” kind of innocuous statement.  I know, as a teacher, that “great job” is no longer acceptable.  I used to say that so much that my students would imitate me – voice included!  My spam friend, be specific in your praise.  What is great about my work?  Nonetheless, a simple, “great job friend, cheers”, well it’s happy and positive – no threats.  I can live with this one.  However, with enough of real people out there reading with faces instead of computer generated pattern gravitar, I’ll still delete this one permanently.  No sale.

What is you favorite spam, or do you look at them?  One of them might be me, so please look.  Have you found me there?  Are you still finding me in the Spam with sex gratis and tattoo age?  Are you finding more interesting Spam than I have?  Please share!

P.S.  My website was immediately shut down when I published this article this morning.    I had copied and pasted a gravitar of one of the spammers because it was so nonsensical.  Just a warning.  DON’T DO THAT!!!

PSS.  Thank you WordPress for reading my plea and restoring my blog.

Practicing Photoshop

Steve Woods from Tulare County Office of Education runs a tight Photoshop ship, and he navigated us through some difficult waters.  I practiced quite a bit today, with mixed success.  Steve says I’m persistent, and that is a prominent character quality of mine.  He didn’t say I was artistic, brilliant, creative…just persistent.  I’ll take it as a +Here is the before picture of a lavender quilt that Carmen made for me.This is after I adjusted the color.  I used Adobe Elements 10, went to Enhance, Adjust Color, Remove Color Cast.  You merely clicked the eye dropper that automatically appeared on a white, black or gray spot, and BINGO, there it was.  By the way TOEMAILERS, I left my toes in the picture just for you.My texting wasn’t quite as successful. Not that it looks bad.  I just couldn’t rasterize it or whatever that is.  Which means I couldn’t play with the shape of the words.  Not only that, Elements does not have the cool fonts that Photoshop the full program does.  I did “simplify” the text, but I couldn’t do all the cool things we did in class with the text after it was a jpeg.

When I put it in Facebook, the image was too big for the words to show anyway.  To create text over the picture was easy enough.  You just press the T, click where you want your words to appear, and start typing.  I had a false start, and ended with two layers of writing, and didn’t know how to delete, so I closed the picture without saving, and that worked.  The menu bar up at the top worked just the same as it does in the extended version of Photoshop which we are learning.

Another little learning experience in today’s practice, the pictures that I did save as jpegs weren’t allowed on WordPress.  I chose the same picture that had been duplicated, like every other picture I have uploaded, but the message from on high told me that the file type is “not allowed”.  By learning experience I mean frustration, but not to the point of screaming or pulling out my eyebrows.Just so you know, this picture started out like this.  And yes, is was a great retirement party at Café 225 on Main Street in Visalia, CA.  It’s a great place to eat, and a wonderful place for a surprise party.  I wasn’t the only one having fun at my expense – I was totally surprised by the event.  The happiest looking person in the picture besides me is my former new boss, Charlene.

Just Finish It

Such the Like motivated her with her blog post about what books she is reading.  I, too, love to read, at least I think I do.  If it’s not fiction I love to start reading.

That’s why I read so little fiction.  I can’t stop reading fiction until the end of the book – even if I keep my scratchy eyes open until 2:00 a.m.  Unfortunately, there is so much else on my list to read, so I feel guilty reading heart-stopping, bone-chilling fiction.  I did take time to read all of Cristian’s book, Remember,  because it was short, and I wanted to see what kind of writer he is since he is writing about how to write.

I like reading on Kindle because it keeps track of what you are reading, and how much of you read.  Kindle would tell me if I read 100% of Cristain’s book because all the dots should be blackened to the end, but since I read it on my iPhone while I was waiting for an appointment, the dots won’t be filled in until I sync my Kindle.

When it comes right down to it, I’ve been ignoring one of my favorite hobbies, reading books, and substituting it for reading on the internet.  It almost seems like I’m not reading when I read the internet because I’m just scratching the surface.  I read for information.  My friend has an ailment, I look it up.  I read a post on Facebook about a movie I’ve don’t know, so I stop and look it up.   I have friends who are way over my experiential head, and I can’t stand that, so I check things they write about out – on the internet.  I’m at a lecture, and the speaker says he has a web page – I visit it.  He makes a comment about the newest thing that the Igeneration is using.  I google it.  It’s five years old, and out of production.  Good thing he’s entertaining!


My step-son wants me to buy a Zero.  We check it out together.  I can’t even read the specs without his expert help.  I don’t think I’m ready to own a Zero, but I’m intrigued.


My husband wants to put up an awning.  We check out the newest things on HGTV’s blog.

But I can’t finish my books.  Here they are, and I like them all.

Now that I’ve confessed to you I promise that I will finish one of them today.

Happiness and Success

“The ability to concentrate single-mindedly on your most important task, to do it well and finish it completely is the key to great success, achievement, respect, status, and happiness in life. ”  Tracy, Brian  Eat That Frog  p.xii-xiii

That advice sounds pretty simple really if you aren’t plagued with  ADHD or even ADD.   In spite of my butterfly nature, I am sometimes able to concentrate and get things done sometimes even completely.  Today was one of those successfully happy days.

I was so proud of myself because over the week-end I completed making a 3 minute video that I had started last summer.  I had done a hap hazard job of just cutting 15 minutes out of a 35 minute interview, and I had even created a title page.  Somehow I lost my music file, and at some point I had just turned my project into a video.  As I was cleaning out my external drive this week-end I came across my old video.

After viewing it I tried  to load it onto You Tube to share it.  You Tube told me it would take 2975 minutes to load.  It finally got down to 2723, and I gave up.  ( Ok, maybe I exaggerated a little, but this picture is tonight, and I swear it was  over 2,000 minutes last night!)  My friend, and teacher Linda Horsting, had recommended that I turn the video into a series of shorter videos, so I decided to try that.

I opened up Pinnacle Studio, and I realized I had forgotten most of my lessons from last summer, but I had all week-end with nothing in particular to do.  I started radically cutting my interview.  The voice was perfect.  I added a picture.  I made some title slides, and put in music at the beginning and the end.  I was done.  I tried to load it onto You Tube, and the folks there said it would take me 325 minutes – almost a minute for every second of the video!  I got it down to 274 minutes fluctuating up to 282 minutes and back down again for about 10 minutes of real-time, and I gave up.  Nonetheless I now had 2 videos saved on my computer that it had only taken me about 7-15 hours over a period of 9 months to complete each.

This morning I proudly took my video to my teacher.  I didn’t want to brag too much so I told her that I wasn’t happy about the picture I had inserted because it just floated along with my panning scene of the courthouse.  She started shaking her head when my overlaid picture of little Band-aid kid appeared.  She watched the whole three minutes.  “The content is great, but we have to make some changes.”

I learned how to click on the little line that goes across the music squiggles to lower the volume.  I had tried that at home, and the little line kept popping back in place.  After googling for help a few times, I gave up.  Linda taught me that you have to hold your mouse on the little line and giggle.  In what book do they tell you that?
My teacher added in transitions.  In fact she rippled in transitions.  I had tried to add a transition at the end, and the timeline just gobbled it up, and it disappeared, so I added another.  It got gobbled up too.  When I played my video the credit title page that I had created had just disappeared along with the transitions.  It turned out that my timeline had a little hole in it, and that just stopped the entire proceedings.  Any historian knows that a timeline should never have holes in it.  There are no black holes in the past timeline.  But that is not the case in a video timeline.  I also found out that you can stretch timelines to find the holes.  We stretched it, and there were my two transitions and the hole in my timeline.  We fixed that, and then attacked the floating picture.I won’t go into all the gorey details, but now I have a limited edition video on You Tube that so far I have only shared with the person I interviewed, my teacher, and one other History Consultant.  If those folks like it, then I’ll be willing to put it out there a bit farther.

This long story relates tangentially to the quote at the beginning.  Brian Tracy wants people to be happy and successful otherwise why would he have written the book?  I want to be happy and successful otherwise why would I have read the book?  I did most everything right.  I concentrated – until it got too hard for me, and I flew off to do something else for a while.  I have now completed something successfully.   There are no flaws that can be fixed that we know about (Ok it was dark, but the You Tube folks offered to fix that for me, and I let them.)  Linda was proud of me, so I achieved a degree of respect, and I felt happy to have just completed something that was very difficult to finish.

The only thing left to ask myself,  “Was this my most important task?”  Now that’s a stumper that I really never can really answer.  It’s like writing this blog.  Is this stuff really important?  I hope so, I sure am happy doing it.  I hope it makes someone happy viewing it or reading about it.  If it does, it was important, and then I am happy and successful, and Brian Tracy  is right.

Joining Stuff

I never used to join things.  I was so shy in school that if I had to give a book report, I’d play sick so I could miss school in hopes that my teacher might run out of time for my report.  Amazingly today I’m the president of a small local professional organization for social studies educators.

San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies started out with maybe 5-6 people when I first found out that I was an automatic member because I had joined California Council for the Social Studies.  A year or so later the small group asked if I wanted to be President.  I was kind of embarrassed about it, but I really did want to be president.  There weren’t going to be any elections because there weren’t any other active members.  I secretly hoped that they wouldn’t rescind their offer.  I’d never been President of anything  before.

I am just ending my second year of being President, and it has been an amazing experience.  The first year, we set some priorities about what we wanted to accomplish. The biggest two things were to have a fantastic banquet to honor teachers, and to start a website and facebook account.  I invited all my friends to join FB.  Then all the board members’s friends.  One person joined who was wearing a colonial costume in his FB profile picture.  I started writing to him, and eventually urged him to run for middle school teacher of the year – which he did.  The next year he qualified as California Teacher of the Year, and he won that, too.  At that banquet the President of National Council for the Social Studies approached him after his speech, and asked him to run for NCCS Teacher of the Year.  I have no doubt that they won’t be able to resist him either.  He is now the President Elect for our local council.

We decided not to limit the teachers that we chose to honor to just members – there wouldn’t have been enough teachers to honor!  I called a professor friend of mine, and asked if I could visit her class of student history teachers.  After making a brief presentation about SJVCSS, I handed them a survey – the old fashioned way.  On it they nominated who they had liked as a high school, middle school, elementary school teacher or professor.  From there we started recruiting these teachers to honor as Teachers of the Year.  So we started drawing in wonderful teachers, then professors, and now administrators and asking them to become members of the Board and committees.  Many did and we developed a strong council.  Some of them didn’t, but remained friends.

What have we learned?  How to write, stick to, and break by-laws, budget and spend the $10.00 per person membership dues,  write  collaboratively, conduct meetings using Robert’s Rules of Order without breaking the gavel, visit cool places together, plan events, and use technology.  I started this website because I want to be able to work with the new website that AIHE is designing for us.  So I learned how to design websites and publish things, and attract an audience.

Is joining an organization a type of professional development?  You Bet! So if you want to add to your own value, join stuff.  Give what you can of yourself, and you will reap benefits you can’t imagine.