Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Pandemic Year in Review

A whole year has pretty much passed. I know it has been rather rocky for most people; but in my household, we have been managing well... BUSY... but well. I want to let you know to hang in there! Also... get vaccinated. Let me say that again...

Hang in there!

Get Vaccinated!

I know there has been lots of reticence from some people about these vaccines, they they have been "rushed". However, they have not been rush as "popular social media" might lead you to believe. The research and testing has been going on since the first SARS virus made us significantly concerned and has thus been going on for decades now. The only things that were needed for this covid vaccine was to tweak it to the unique codes for the vaccine to be effective. The research is there; the medical reports are available; the research has been peer reviewed. It is solid.

Not getting vaccinated against covid is like not getting vaccinated against polio or measles, like refusing to wear a seatbelt or refusing to get an x-ray for a fracture. Please... PLEASE... be safe.

Where I live, we are very lucky. We are no longer in a major lockdown. Our schools are open; majority of the population are vaccinated; and we can do most things as we would have normally. The only restrictions still in place here are: wearing masks, social distancing, and hand sanitization. The vaccine has now become available for children (my 6-yr-old is vaccinated). This will mean she will be safe to attend things like birthday parties and other activities involving groups of children not just from her school bubble or from her family.

For parents of children, keep a routine! If they are in a classroom or doing their lessons online, keep a regular routine that includes being active (do something playful and active outside regularly). If you can (if where you are permits), enroll your child in an active extra curricular activity. My daughter does gymnastics and karate. Make sure that homework is given time and space (the same time and the same space) every day. That builds a mental routine that is more successful. Try to have your children help with chores to learn responsibility and family involvement. READ! Read to them, with them, or have them read to you every day. This makes a HUGE difference in their academic success. And lastly, be sure to have some play! Play plays a large role in both mental and physical development.

On a writing front, I have been very busy teaching English Language Arts to corporate executives and preparing for the recent NaNoWriMo. In 2020, the world was in lockdown for the pandemic and the organizers mandated that all Municipal Liaisons and participants "write from home" for the events. It was a huge challenge to shift to online forms of write-ins and activities. We did it! In fact, we did it very well, and we included great goodie bags that help people cope through the sense of isolation. Because NaNoWriMo is international and many countries are not in stable enough positions to be opened up, NaNoWriMo again mandated the "write from home" policy for 2021. Again, we managed with flying colors (for Montreal). Discord and ZOOM and FaceBook have been great ways to keep everyone connected and informed. I even had help this year! The wonderful Holly has joined in and will become a future co-ML next here.

Further on my writing front.......

I have no new finished works. Not exactly. I have finalized the teaching booklets for the level 1 courses I teach privately and finished 3 of 6 of the level 2 teaching manuals. I finished my GRP (Guided Research Paper - smaller version of the thesis) and have graduated with my Masters Degree in Cultures & Religions. So, while I may not have any publishable works done, I have certainly done a great deal of writing. I plan to jump back into some of my completes fanfictions and have printed copies available at the July 2021 Montreal ComicCon along with some crafted fun things. Here is a picture of said crafted fun thing.

Kodama (tree spirits) from Japanese folklore and best recognized from the Anime of Princess Monoke.

So I will be busy busy busy all spring.

I hope you all remain well, safe, and healthy. And... Have an absolutely wonderful HOLIDAYS whatever and however you celebrate.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Montreal Lockdown till January 11, 2021

I am hoping you are hanging in there still. 2020 has been a wild and stressful ride for students and teachers and parents. Many parents have turned to homeschooling their children. Many are juggling the challenges of online learning with the repeated school closures. It is not easy. I know!

One of our major stressors is watching children falling behind in their academics and worrying that they are losing out and will never be able to catch up. Children are very resilient, resourceful, learning sponges! Don't fret too much. Schools these days have been pushing children almost beyond their capacity. Have you noticed that when you were a child and learning basic division in grade 4 then fractions in grade 5? Remember when algebra was introduced in grade 7 or 8? Remember when calculus was the advanced math you normally got in CEGEP? Now children are doing multiplication and division and even fractions by grades 2 and 3, algebra in grades 5 and 6, calculus is considered normal math in grade 9! Children are pushed into reading and writing. The ones that struggle to keep up are labels troubled, delayed, problematic, slow, stupid.... when really they are just normal kids at a normal pace while the others manage to run the rat race at lightspeed. Can you imagine the emotional and psychological damage?

I have watched it over and over. My message to parents is the same. Do not fret; strengthen your child's basics and foundations. Do not berate them for not keeping up. Instead, celebrate their successes. This is how you build confidence and show support. This will give your child the ability to grow and learn. Challenge them, then step back and review and reinforce.

You are NOT alone!

Teachers are there to be consulted, to help advise, to teach, and to support the learning. There are many online resources you can draw upon. And many people open to doing tutoring.

So, if you are in Montreal, then you are locked down with your child at home till January 11th... worrying that it might be a longer lockdown. Kids are home... but parents still have to work.

Older children and teens will have regular online or at home schoolwork to do. Middling children and some younger children will have check-ins with their teachers. The children who will have this the hardest (as well as their parents) are the ones who are not autonomous, the younger children aged 3-9, who cannot spend hours in online classes or be left to do schoolwork on their own.

What do you do?

Look at your own personal schedule first. When are you most busy working and cannot oversee your child's studies? When are their check-ins with their teachers? Now create a learning/play schedule. Remember that play is where so much learning happens! Really and truly. Set your child to practicing letters, drawing/coloring, reading, building things, or watching educational/learning shows. Do this for during the times you need to be more committed to your work. Check on your child periodically. dedicate your lunchtime or your break time to time WITH your child so they don't feel neglected. Then in the next patch of time that you need to focus on work, set up free play or fun shows or something exploratory/creative (and accept that there will be some mess, let go of the need to be clean and clean up after. Trust me... it will help everyone's sanity to have a happy and occupied child).

Create a routine that is fairly close to what they would have if they were in school. Create a routine that works for YOU and for THEM. And then... STICK TO IT!

Here is what mine looks like for my 5 year old daughter who is in Kindergarten.

8am - morning routine (wash, brush teeth, dress, make beds, brush hair) and breakfast
9am - practice name writing and number writing, watch Number Blocks on Netflix
10:30am - ZOOM check-in with her teacher for one hour
11:30am - clean up, make room for afternoon activities
12pm - lunch
1pm - practice writing letters then FREE PLAY/EXPLORATION
3pm - walk/play outside
4pm - quiet reading or watching shows while cleanup happens and supper is cooked
5pm - supper
6pm - family time with daddy
7pm - parents take turns reading to her and holding discussion topics in bed

Mondays and Wednesdays, we change things up and have a subject activity day: math/money, history, art, geography, music, dance, science, life skills (cleaning, cooking, sorting clothing, fixing things, etc.). Having a routine helps it all run smoothly. We also keep it fun. Kids learn much more if they are having fun doing so.

Why does this routine work for us? My husband works from home and thus my daughter needs to be quiet while he is in online meetings. I teach corporate executives online 5 times a week. I thus have some more time to oversee our daughter, although hubby will oversee lunch for 3 days as that is when I am teaching.

We make a large schedule our daughter can look at and follow easily, so she knows what to expect out of the day and when she is with which parent, when which parent is working, what is expected of her, when she can play and have fun and when she needs to work, too.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Teaching in Pandemic Times

 Are you getting ready for school? 

Are you dreading it? 
Scared for your children and opting for Homeschooling?
I can help.
I teach English Language Arts to help improve vocabulary, grammar, writing, and reading comprehension. I do this through novel/story writing whereby students learn the writing and researching process along with language arts as they create their own story. This gives them an exciting project of their choice and inspires self-confidence. I can help with students in the grades 5+ (cycle 3 and high school). 
I also teach ART mostly for smaller children K-G4 (cycles 1 & 2).
I can do both of these via distance (ZOOM). For the arts, I can prepare projects, but parents need to be involved helping their children to create.... unless you want to come learn outside at a park. I am very open to doing outdoor teaching with safe distancing.
Send me a message.

Friday, January 10, 2020

2020 Writing Projects

Every year, I like to list the projects I hope to do. More specifically, I like to list the writing projects. Some are very critical with deadlines, some are simply projects of interest.
  • Graduate Research Paper on Tea (aka my mini thesis) due ASAP
  • Update all CMS Level 1 workbooks & their translations
  • Create Level 2 and 3 workbooks
  • Leaflets/Booklets on various small subjects
  • edit current published works
  • add to all fanfics
 Among the Leaflets/Booklets:
  • Energy Work
  • Paganism 101
  • Exploring Elements
  • 8 Paths of Magic
  • Altars & Shrines
  • Ethics of Magic
  • Intro to Meditation
  • each Chakra
  • Deities by culture (goddesses AND gods)
 There are so many other projects that have aspects of writing to them that I also do: like websites, layout for an academic journal (Concordia University's graduate journal: Journal of Religions & Cultures), newsletters, ritual preparations, English lessons, prep for other courses and workshops, advertising for Scriven (Montreal Pen & Tea Show), and managing agendas and minutes for the board meetings at my daughter's preschool.

This year is the Year of the White Metal Rat, according to the Chinese calendar. It is supposed to be a year of great new projects, success, and prosperity. May it be so.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

October Inktober & NaNo Prep Month

What a mouthful for a title!

October is the month of letter writing. It is called Inktober for this, but is also for the inspired artists with their inked art.


October is the month before NaNoWroMo. It is NaNo Prep Month! That means preparing for the major November writing challenge of writing a novel of 50K words in the 30 days of November.

Montreallers can find our region on the NaNoWriMo website, but also find us at our Facebook Group.

NaNo Prep events can be found on the Facebook Group. Watch there for them, and for the notice about the Launch Party.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Kicking things off with the Children!

I am ready to get back to working life again! That means I will be hosting workshops and services for children and teens through Etudiants Savoir Faire.

This means that there will be an Open House and an opportunity to register for the workshops and for the Young Writers Program.

Check it out: https://etudiants-savoirfaire.blogspot.com/


September is the start of NaNoWriMo Prep.


Since today is September 1st and today's prompt is Past/Future, I dedicate this post to this prompt as I am reviving past wondrous writing activities from the past and setting them up for the future. Huzzah!


Friday, July 5, 2019

Q & A from a Teacher in Hungary

So I was contacted by a teacher in Hungary asking me questions about NaNoWriMo and teaching the Young Writers' Program. Apparently it was almost unheard of there, and she wanted to know how I handled it here. Here are her questions and my answers.

1) Is the Young Writers Program (YWP) organized as an extracurricular activity or is it integrated into the classes? (If it is integrated: is it compulsory for students to participate?)

The YWP that I was running was set up as part of English Language tutoring and as an extracurricular program only because I am not a full time elementary/middle/high school teacher. But it is designed to be integrated into the classroom for English Language Arts. I adapted it to fit what I was doing and truncated some of the program to focus on more key elements of the program, so I can add in sections on: reading comprehension, spelling & vocabulary, and writing conventions (sentence structures, grammar, paragraphs, essays, letters, etc.).

2) How popular is the Young Writers Program there? How many students participate usually/did participate when you organized it?

While I was teaching in the tutoring organization, it was decently popular, though grew to be too expensive as an extracurricular program. People wanted to do this program for free with me as the teacher. I cannot work for free.

3) Do students write together? (If yes, how often?) Do they share their stories with each other? What kind activities do you organize for them for this project?

Students (I usually teach middle-school to high school grades 4 through 9) write parallel (so together but not in a group novel as co-authors) and as homework. Yes, they share sentences, paragraphs, scenes, etc. with their classmates for peer review. Later they exchange their novels with other students for peer editing after they have done their first round of self-editing. They spend September through November learning to create characters, describe objects and scenes, about plot, and a great many small parts that they later put together as their novel. Over the December holidays, they take a break and do reading of a novel or collection of stories in the same genre as the one they are writing. Then they spend January (not November) writing.

4) How do you motivate students during November?

No, November is too soon for them to write as many have much to learn first and often confidence to build before even trying to write. I write through November, but their official writing month is January.

5) What was the most challenging to you as a teacher/organizer?

There were a few challenges: Negotiating learning disabilities and inspiring/motivating students who have been told repeatedly that they are stupid or cannot do it; Finding volunteer editors and artists; convincing parents and teachers that YES, these kids struggling with writing can absolutely write a novel and it will change their lives to do so. By the way… it totally DID change their lives to do so. Their grades improved dramatically. The dyslexic students moved from being hardly able to read to reading at their grade level. And there are no words for the confidence that shone in the children’s eyes afterwards that was not there before.

6) What happens after November? (Eg. Do you and the students do anything with the novels?; Do you celebrate the progress?; Do you continue working on the stories/edits?; etc.)

They write in January not November. So after….
February is self-editing and finishing up the story. March is peer editing and cleaning up their work. They also learn about professional editors and artists and the publishing world. They spend a day interviewing possible professional editors and picking one to be the editor of the anthology of all their stories. April, the professional editor works on all their stories and I put it together as a preliminary manuscript for publication. April they verify the edits and see the manuscript, as well as do their own art for their individual stories. They interview artists and pick one to do the cover for the anthology. May it gets completely finalized with biographies they write, an introduction from the editor and myself, and is sent off for publication. They then learn about writing promotional material, finding a location for a book launch, organizing a book launch, public speaking, formal greeting of people as hosts, and doing readings from selections of their stories. By the end of June, the books come back and they host their own book launch. They take home a few copies of a published anthology and the sales of extra books goes towards a children’s literacy charity.

7) What is your personal opinion about the Young Writers Program? (Do you think it aids or hinders students’ development? I’m asking this because many educators in my country believe students need to acquire a good command of the language first /university or PhD-level/ and only then can they start writing.)

My opinion is that if you make it fun, they will want to learn. If you create something with prestige, the prestige they feel will follow them for years and make amazing changes in their lives. I think it aids students, especially coupled with other language arts lessons that compliment what they are doing. Never under-estimate the power of giving a child the power to write what they want to express and celebrating the completion of a large project. This alone teaches a child that their ideas matter, that they can explore their creativity, that they are capable of completing a huge project especially when it is taken in small chunks. They learn not just writing skills, but reading and comprehension, time management, professional conduct, and what it is like to be in a position of power. They learn teamwork as well. They learn to celebrate their accomplishments and face their challenges constructively. They also learn to give back to their community and help others. It is incredibly empowering from end to end… even when you see them frustrated and challenged at the beginning. (they read pep talks from authors and meet some local authors and learn about the challenges and how to get through them)