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People Who Inspire Us

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People Who Inspire Us: Litquake 2015!

Litquake 2015 kicks off Friday, October 9th with over 800 authors here in our City by the Bay!

San Francisco's annual week-long celebration of all things literary includes events for every age and interest, from classroom visits to poetry readings, book talks and book signings to cookbook tastings. The festival ends Saturday night October 17 with a literary crawl through San Francisco's Mission District.

More information & the full calendar of events

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Five Minute Film Festival: Inspirational Teachers

Thanks to Edutopia for collecting and sharing these videos of inspirational teachers. Each one of these teachers has followed their passion for life and for teaching to do amazing things in the classroom.  Watch these videos to see HipHopEd, Zombie-based learning and other creative approaches to teaching. Make sure you have a kleenex on hand for the last video.

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The Write Stuff

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The Write Stuff

How do we, as parents, create an environment at home that will encourage our kids to write? Not just the kind of writing they are assigned as homework, but creative writing for fun, discovery and self-expression.

Robert Frost once said that he lived life twice: once when he experienced it and a second time when he wrote about it. By writing down our experiences, we are not only finding out more about ourselves, we are making our mark (literally and figuratively.) When kids see their words on the page, a switch gets turned on and they light up – they have taken an idea and made it come to life.

I read somewhere that the urge to write is innate – it’s what drove our ancient ancestors to write on cave walls and tablets and it’s what drives our children to scribble on paper before they can talk. So creating a home environment that supports this natural inclination can be as simple as having lots of paper and pencils around, and creating a physical space where writing can happen.

Pam Allyn, the founder of literacy organizations LitWorld and LitLife, has taught children around the world. From her experience she recently wrote a book about the writing life of children called, “Your Child's Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every Age.”  She’s devised an easy to remember acronym to guide parents in supporting the writer inside their children:

WRITE  Word power, Reading life, Identity (or voice), Time, and Environment.

According to Allyn these five elements go a long way to giving kids the confidence to put pencil to paper.

In our “Take My Word For It!” classes we witness kids’ natural inquisitiveness, and potent imaginations – we put a pencil in their hand and stand back! They already have their ears and eyes open to the world and are soaking in so much -the page is the perfect container for their musings, emotions and flights of fancy.

In addition to plentiful pencils and paper and a writing spot, talk with your kids about what they write, share it with family members, post their pieces on the refrigerator. Point out things you noticed such as a descriptive phrase, an intriguing setting or some interesting dialogue.

Our philosophy is to create opportunities for kids to recognize the power of their imaginations, to learn how to harness their ideas and then to shape them into poetry and stories.  We want them to know we are a witness to their writing life, and that what they have to say matters. Whether or not your child aspires to be an author, creating an environment at home that fosters writing has benefits that will last him a lifetime.

- By Sondra Hall Founder and Director, "Take My Word For It!"

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Kurt Vonnegut's Rules for the Short Story

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Source: http://www.advicetowriters.com/home/2012/7/9/vonneguts-rules-for-the-short-story.html

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The Oracle of Stamboul: a Book Published by Our Very Own Michael David Lukas!

Some of our kids can now officially brag that they have taken a creative writing class with a real published author. Not only that, but a great one!

Congratulations to our instructor Michael David Lukas on the continuous success of your new book, The Oracle of Stamboul, which published in February of this year.

The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David LukasThe Oracle of Stamboul is a historical novel about a preternaturally intelligent little girl who becomes an advisor to the Ottoman sultan and, through her advice to him, changes the course of history. It is the story of an eight year-old orphan who pushed back against the tides of history and changes their direction. Influenced by Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Italo Calvino, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Oracle of Stamboul is an evocative, magical historical novel that will transport readers to another time and place--romantic, exotic, yet remarkably similar to our own.

Michael says that working with kids inspired him throughout his writing. Read his story in Publisher's Weekly

To read an excerpt of the book, see some of the glowing reviews, and learn more about Michael, visit Michael's website.

Michael is still very dedicated to his work with students at "Take My Word For It!" We feel privileged to have such a star on our team!

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Creative Everyday Challenge

"Take My Word For It!" is joining the Creative Everyday Challenge, and encourages you to, too!

Ced2011logo Leah Piken Kolidas started Creative Everyday in 2008 to inspire herself and others to stay creatively fit by expressing themselves often and sharing their art, writing, crafts, and everything inbetween! Leah's call for creativity inspires us, and we hope she will get you excited about staying creatively active everyday, too!

As Leah says, "creative" can mean almost anything, and whether you're writing or building a sandcastle, making something big or something small, being creative is a fun and meaningful way to make something and call it your own. Create at home or create at school, create by yourself or create with your parents...Just keep at it, because the best part of creativity is there are no rules!

You can check out her site and join the challenge at CreativeEveryDay.com, and be sure to look out for links to our own budding young authors' work every Monday on the Creative Everyday blog!

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