Edna Pierce

Finish My Sentence - Writing Starter

Finish My Sentence is a writing “game” children like to play. I used this in the classroom, but it would work well in a home setting as well.

Each child writes the beginning part of a sentence on a sheet of notebook paper. This includes the subject and good adjectives. Then they fold down the top of the paper to cover what they wrote. They use two paper clips to keep this in place. Then they give their paper to another student. * The second student writes the rest of the sentence. This is an interesting verb and modifiers. Then we share the sentences. Some of them make sense, but most are silly…the students like these best, of course. I comment on good descriptive words, great use of spelling or vocabulary words, etc…

We do several of these and then I often let them have some writing time. I say “let” because they enjoy this…well, many of them did not at the beginning of the year because they feared writing, thinking they could not write. However, they have all overcome this. They WRITE!!!

During this writing time, they select ANY of the sentences that were shared. They write a short story working in the sentence. If there is time, I let them draw picture(s) to go with their stories. Then, of course, we must have time to read the stories aloud.

Sometimes, I read the stories. Then they try to guess who wrote the story. It is interesting how well they got in recognizing each others writing. Of course, there are clues. Margaret is an excellent writer and seems able to take any topic and make it a story. Her sentences will be well written and her penmanship makes them easy for me to read. Then there is Anne. Anne loves horses and will almost always work them into her stories. If it is about armies or dinosaurs it is probably Nat. …then it is Josh. As the year progressed the children tried to “fool” others by writing about something they thought would disguise their identity. One of the funniest was when Ricky (Mr. Athlete) wrote about ballet…no one guessed.

* NOTE: We keep changing the way we exchange papers so children get a different student’s words each time. In a home setting there may be fewer people to participate, but even just exchanging pages between Mom or Dad and one student can work well. If there is only one student he can even do this as a solitary project. Have him write five or more sentence beginnings each day for a week. The second week take five of the folded papers each day and write sentence endings. When all have been completed, the fun begins. Each day select a few of the completed sentences to read and choose one to write on.…

Tips for Students on Writing a High School Graduation Speech

So you have to write a graduation speech? Congratulations! Now take a deep breath, and keep these 10 things in mind when you’re sitting down to write that speech. (Try not to procrastinate!)

1.Humor – If you’re good at humor, use humor. If you aren’t, then you might want to avoid it. Be yourself in your speech. It will show if you try to force words out of your mouth that you wouldn’t normally say.

2.Anecdote – Lots of the people in your class, especially if you’re in a small one, will know everyone else. Maybe there are stories from freshman year that everyone knows. You can share those, as long as they aren’t embarrassing. If they show how much you’ve all grown, that’s even better.

3.Hope – You’ve got your lives spread out ahead of you. You are on the path less traveled! Deliver a message of hope in your speech in some way. This is the best time in your life to have hope.

4.How you got there – It’s perfectly appropriate to discuss the past and how it’s shaped how you and your classmates ended up sitting on that stage in front of your families. This can be part of the anecdotal part, but doesn’t have to be.

5.Example – Include at least one story about your class. Something that involved lots of people, something that will be a fond memory for a long time. Even if the people watching don’t understand it, your classmates will, and that’s who this whole graduation event is really for.

6.Clarity – While writing, make sure that the words you use are simple, eloquent, and that they’re not difficult to pronounce. Practice reading the speech in front of other people both in person and over the phone. Ask them to point out when something doesn’t sound quite right. Even if it’s grammatically correct, if the people listening don’t understand you then your work choices need to change.

7.Write for your audience – So, who’s your audience? Well, your classmates, everyone in that audience, your whole school (you’ll probably be asked to give the speech at an assembly too), and your teachers and school administrators. Keep in mind that this speech is for all of them.

8.You’re representing your whole class – Do not make this speech only about your specific situation. You’re representing every student who’s on that stage with you. Remember that when deciding what to write about in your speech.

9.Quotes – Find a single quote that sums up what you want to say. Any more than that, and it will get confusing. Use it both at the beginning, then at the end, to close the speech and bring it full circle. If it’s a quote that many of your classmates know as well, it’s even better.

10.Thanks – Don’t forget to thank the people who have gotten you to where you are. They put a lot more effort into it than you might ever realize, and deserve to know that you appreciate them. Teachers, parents, siblings, coaches, administrators, they’ve all worked these last 4 years to make sure that you had what you needed to succeed.

Congratulations on your achievement!…

Do You Buy Ebooks on Ebay? You May Pay for Free or Illegal Books!

One of my special interests, as you can tell from checking the list of my articles, is finding free and legal books, movies, and audio online. Recently, I’ve discovered how, if you have a Nook or Kindle or even a computer, you can access free magazine and newspaper subscriptions (here) and thousands–in fact, millions–of free ebooks (here).

I do know the meaning of the word buy, although obtaining books for your computer, Nook, or Kindle by purchasing from Ebay is not appealing, because you most likely will be paying for books that you can get free elsewhere, or you may even be buying pirated books.

Ebay and Craigslist

In my articles about Craigslist (most recently here) I stress that Craiglist is a great online resource, but when you use it, you must be careful, because there is not much policing of the advertisements.

The same is true of EBay. I have bought and sold things on EBay for many years, but I know that you have to be careful there. So, this article is meant not to be a negative review of Ebay, the popular online auction site, but rather to be a warning to people who use it.

Paying for free ebooks for your computer, Nook, or Kindle

As I am writing this, there are 177 items on Ebay returned for a search for “Kindle books,” although at least one of those is a paper (“dead tree”) book with the word kindle in its title.

Many of them offer a CD or DVD full of classic texts, books now in the public domain because copyright has expired (currently in the United States, before 1923). Great, but if you check the authors and titles, you will see that you can download these texts for free, as apparently these Ebay sellers have; once again, check the three main sites for downloading free books (here).

There is nothing illegal about this. The books are in the public domain, so anyone who wants to sell or buy them is free to do so.

Paying for illegal ebooks for your computer, Nook, or Kindle

My experience has been that many offerings of digital material – ebooks, CDs, and DVDs – on Ebay are pirated, that is, illegal. I bought a CD of a Bob Dylan album once, and I got a home-made CD… in a plastic sandwich bag!

Other than the public domain books for the Kindle, many of the books on Ebay are illegal. You will find offerings of books by extremely popular, best-selling authors. I found one item that consists of six books for the Kindle by probably one of the most popular writers around, whose works sell millions of copies and are the basis for equally popular films. The six books are priced less than one of the books if bought legally through Amazon’s Kindle store.

Not only are these books violating copyright law, but they also violate Ebay’s own rules. According to one listing, “Upon checkout, we will email you a link for downloading your purchase.” (Those are not the exact words, but they are close enough.) Yet, Ebay specifically prohibits this kind of purchase. Anything sold on Ebay must be a physical item, such as a CD with the files on them.

To buy or not to buy ebooks on Ebay?

It might be worthwhile for you to purchase one of the huge selections of public domain books, because that would save the time to find and download them. Just remember, that you can get these for free. If you are so inclined, you could even sell them …

Learning to Write for Children

Every night you read your child a bedtime story. Sometimes you read the same book night after night. Have you ever read one of those children’s books and thought to yourself, “I can write something better than this?” Well, maybe you can! But before you start typing your future bestseller, you might want to consider taking a writing class. They’re easy to find, and it will help you learn how to write for children–which is harder than it looks! Don’t worry. Many local colleges and adult education courses offer children’s writing classes to adults. Once there, you will learn proper techniques for writing stories and poetry, and you’ll have a better chance of being published. After all, millions of people try to write for children, but very few take the proper steps to learn how to write a marketable story or book.

If you are interested in a distance education writing class, you might consider the Institute of Children’s Literature. Although somewhat expensive, this correspondence course has been around since 1969. Located in West Redding, CT, many of its graduating students have gone on to have their work published. The Institute offers convenient payment plans to students who are accepted into the program. Yes, you have to “audition” first. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t let everyone into their writing school.

Are you interested in pursuing an advanced degree without straying too far from home? Consider pursuing a writing degree at a school such as Spalding University, located in Louisville, KY. Spalding offers a brief-residency program leading to an MFA in Creative Writing. Students have the option of concentrating in Children’s Writing. The program consists of four semesters and five residencies. Students do not have to relocate to Louisville, they merely have to travel to Louisville for the residencies that consist of 10 days each. During each residency, students attend workshops, conferences, lectures, readings, and panel discussions. You’ll have to shell out quite a bit of money for this program, but you’ll end up with a master’s degree, equipping you to write and teach at the college level. If Spalding University doesn’t float your boat, there are plenty of other universities that offer brief-residency MFA programs. Go to google and search for other schools that may be more to your liking.

Gotham Writer’s Workshop teachers 6,000 students annually in its online and New York City classes. The workshop was founded in 1993 by two writers, Jeff Fligelman and David Grae. Online classes began in 1997. These internet courses are “interactive, craft-oriented classes and resources for writers.” Half of the students enrolled at Gotham attend online classes. The school offers a course for children’s writers, as well as classes in other genres. At the time this article was written, tuition for first-time online students in the Children’s Writing Workshops was $395 plus a $25 registration fee. The workshops last 10 weeks. Check out the school by visiting www.writingclasses.com

The well-known author and teacher Anastasia Suen offers a series of writing workshops for children’s writers at her web site http://www.asuen.com. Courses include workshops on writing children’s pictures books, children’s easy readers and chapter books. At the time this article was written, intensive workshops cost about $300 and last one month. The classes are conducted entirely by email.

Universalclassonline.com features children’s writing classes offered by Margaret Shauers. Her current courses include Children’s Fiction: In-depth Plotting, Write Short Stories for Children, and Write Tidbits for Tots Through Teens. Course tuition ranges from $30 to $85. Her prices are reasonable, and the course is self-paced.

Writers who dream of penning the next Young Adult bestseller …

How to Get Your College Textbooks for Free

Most of us know or heard about how much college textbooks cost. Three textbooks can cost a student around $500 – $600. That’s a lot of money, especially for college students who have to pay for other things like rent. Good thing there is a way to get your college textbooks for free. This article will tell you how.

from your friends and classmates

In order to get college textbooks for free you have to have good friends. Borrowing books from friends who already had the class you’re taking is a good idea. Normally in college, friends and classmates are drawn to help one another out. Sharing is a big thing in college because there are lots of people who need help and will help you if they also know you will help them. So, please consider asking your friends and classmates for help.

Requesting books from other libraries in your state

Another way to get college textbooks for free is to borrow from your state’s libraries. Find out your state’s library database system. Michigan state library database system is www.mel.org. On this site, you can search for the textbook that you need. This system will find the books for you and show you what libraries in your state have them. After finding your books, you can request the books from this site with your library account from your college and have them delivered to your college’s library. Also, check on your school’s library web-page, they will normally have this information for you under “borrowing”. Interlibrary loan is also another way to borrow books.

The only downside to this is that you have to renew the books; there’s also a limit on how many times you can renew the book. This can result in you not having a book by semester end because there is a due date on brining the book back. Also, sometimes there may not be any books that you need at any libraries in your state. However, this is still a very good option in getting your college textbooks for free.

Use Your Colleges’ Library Reserve System

Another way to get your college textbooks for free is to use the reserve system at your college’s libraries. Sometimes Professors put copies of textbooks that students need on reserve in the library. You can check these books out for a limited time. You will have to use those books in the library for the whole time you’re allowed to check it out. You cannot leave the library with reserve books because other students need them. What you can do is make copies of the pages you need and make sure you go very early in the morning when you want to check them out.

So, borrowing textbooks from your friends and classmates, using your state’s library database system, and using your college’s library reserve system can help you avoid paying for your college textbooks. Good luck !


Gun Control and Military History

Recently I asked myself: Should we arm our military with kitchen knives?

The advantages of doing so are obvious. The U.S. Department of Defense currently spends a good chunk of the federal budget (about $600-$700 billion a year) funding the U.S. Armed forces and equipping roughly a million and a half active duty military personnel with (among other things) machine guns, tanks, laser-guided missiles and aircraft carriers. If we give each of these service members a good kitchen knife valued at $100, we can arm them all for a mere $150 million (that’s roughly equal to the cost of one F-22 Raptor).

Now, some people might worry that our armed forces — wielding only kitchen knives instead of machine guns, tanks, laser-guided missiles and aircraft carriers — would be less effective. That’s certainly a fair objection.

But some critics of gun control apparently think it’s a wrongheaded objection. How many times have you heard someone say after the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and Texas A&M, that gun control laws are pointless, because evil, violent people are always going to find a way to harm others?

Not all gun rights advocates make this argument, but many of them do. They say that outlawing guns is ridiculous, akin to blaming an inanimate object for the harm committed by people. But, if that were the case, then why wouldn’t we outfit our military with kitchen knives? After all, people who are truly dedicated to defending their country will find a way to do so, whether it’s with an Apache helicopter or a Ginsu steak knife. Let’s not be so silly as to credit or blame inanimate objects for the performance of our armed forces: Their success or failure is determined by their character, not their supplies.

But, of course, that’s ridiculous. No member of the armed service, no matter how resourceful or patriotic, would trade in our military technology for a kitchen knife, because they know how much easier that technology makes it for them to do their job. That’s why gunpowder was developed and refined and produced so abundantly over the years, because it gave its user an advantage. Guns make it easier to kill people. Easier than with knives. To suggest otherwise is to contradict centuries of military history.

But that’s what’s going on when (again, some, not all) gun control critics offer up the “evil people are going to find a way to cause harm, with or without a gun” argument. Yes, they might. But they’ll have a harder time of it.

Some people object that making guns illegal only keeps guns out of the hands of the law-abiding and that the result will be that only criminals will have guns, giving them an advantage over their defenseless victims. But, is there really no point making anything illegal, including drugs or murder, because criminals don’t obey the law? RPGs and howitzers are illegal, and I don’t hear any news stories about criminals obtaining (let alone using) them. Making something illegal doesn’t eliminate it, but it does often make it harder to obtain, right?

Others object that the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to own guns. However, although the 2nd Amendment recognizes “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” it has frequently been interpreted in a way that prohibits people from owning things that are clearly armaments — for instance, RPGs, howitzers, and such — I assume because these arms are so dangerous that letting them circulate among the general public would do more harm than good.

Having a gun increases your ability …

Some Suggestions on How to Make Your Garden Stand Out from the Rest

Since spring is very quickly approaching you is probably already thinking about what you can do with your garden this year that would make it a little different from last year. Maybe this your you can rearrange your garden, by adding a few statues or some other type of garden decoration that will really make it stand out.

When it comes to garden statues or garden fountains there really is a large variety for you to choose from. Try looking at one of your local home and garden stores. They usually start putting out the new ones at the end of winter right before spring begins. You may even be able to find several small statues if you don’t really want anything that is too big or too expensive. Before you buy one however make sure that you have room for it in your garden. You should take the time to measure the space that you want to use before you go shopping for your statue. This way you will not have to worry about whether or not it is going to fit or not. Another suggestion on how to make your garden stand out is to put a little path in the middle of the garden. Of course this would depend on how big your garden actually is.

If you have a small garden then you may just want to use some decorative flower pots around the edge of your garden. If however you have a nice size garden installing a path in the middle or around the outside of the garden really makes for a nice touch. It really is very inexpensive and easy to do. You just have to decide what you want to use for your path. For a few ideas and suggestion on how to create a good garden path you can visit www.hgtv.com. They have a huge list of suggestions when it comes to adding a path to your garden, as well as some other ideas and suggestion on how to make your garden really stand out.

One final suggestion is to maybe plant some flowers or vegetables (depending on the type of garden that you have) that are a little different from what everyone else has. There really is no better way to make your garden stand out than to have a rare flower or vegetable growing in the middle of it. If you start planning during the winter time, then by the time spring arrives you will have your ideas all set and be ready to get your garden fixed up. Remember working on a garden will take time and patience, but if you really enjoy gardening then it would be well worth the effort.…

UCLA Cheerleaders Pictures Set Web on Fire

March Madness has much more to offer than just basketball. And nothing makes that more abundantly clear than the hardworking UCLA basketball cheerleaders. You can see the UCLA basketball cheerleaders pictures here.

Some would argue that a college basketball team’s cheerleaders play a role in how well the team performs. “You might think they have no effect on the game itself, but I call it the Michael Strahan Indexor the distraction factor, if you will, affecting both opponents and more importantly the officials. Why else do you think the Bruins have received all the calls recently?” wrote CriticalFanatic on the FanIQ website in March of 2008.

That’s an interesting theory, and it may or may not be true. But one thing is undeniable: The UCLA cheerleaders are much more than just eye candy. Indeed, they work very hard. In addition to being required to maintain a 2.5 grade point average, they must devote hours to practicing and personal training. What’s more, they are required to perform at all home games and most away games. They also devote a considerable amount of time representing the university at various public appearances. That amounts to huge time commitment outside the classroom.

Despite this respectable devotion to the craft of cheerleading exhibited by the UCLA cheerleaders, there are some who argue that that cheerleading is sexist and that it objectifies women – especially in pro sports. “When it comes to professional sports, the differences in the cheer-leading are as obvious as the physical characteristics of the cheerleaders. In college, cheer-leading is more of a sport. Most of the young women are more naturally and athletically built, and the routines and outfits aren’t as blatantly sexual as in the NFL. The professional cheerleaders’ purpose is to entertain the men, hence no male cheerleaders,” writes Me….Again.

Me…Again offers some compelling thoughts, but are they realistic? Do the UCLA cheerleaders and all female college cheerleaders, for that matter, exist as much for their beauty and ability to titillate as they do for their athleticism and school spirit? It would be hard to argue otherwise. The UCLA cheerleaders are indeed much more than eye candy, but the fact that they are eye candy is a critical element in their success.

Indeed, March Madness has much more to offer than just basketball.


Why UCLA Will Win It All: Hottest Cheeleaders, CriticalFanatic, FanIQ, March 18, 2008

Why there are male cheeleaders in college football, but not in the NFL, Me…Again, Helium…