Friday, January 12, 2018

Exploring Material Culture

So much of what we consider research and writing is based on written texts, literature, and written literature. When someone consiuders the visual aspect of research, they refer often to statues, paintings, and those sort of permanent visual images (or pictures of them) in conjunction to text-based research.

But there is a HUGE world of other forms of research that can enrich anyone's writing and research.

Ethnogtraphy is vital to get the oral aspect, listen to the stories and witness the practices. Go there; speak to the people, do the activities. This includes the art forms of stroytelling, music, and dance.

Material culture is a study of EVERYTHING ELSE!

It touches all the other senses! Being able to include this in researching a religion or culture expands our knowledge and understanding. If you are writing fictional work, including these details will greatly enrich what you are writing, bring it more to life, and engage your readers... captivate them even!

Material culture includes not just sight and sound, but also includes: smell, taste, and especially touch. Another aspect is that almost visceral emotional sense of having been touched internally, in your soul/spirit, making you feel moved in some way (changed by the experience).

Let's consider SIX categories (because as Westerners, we value labeling things and catergorizing them).

  • temples
  • shrines
  • walls
  • floors
Ritual Objects
  • items used on altars and in shrines
  • statuary and venerated objects
  • ritual tools
  • relics
  • statues
  • paintings
  • mosaics
  • frescos
  • wooden carvings
  • furniture
  • sculptures
  • objects in stone or metal
Books & Manuscripts
This is not at all even considering the content of the text.
  • covers
  • paper
  • binding
  • ink
  • writing tools
  • writing styles
  • interior illustrations
  • wrapping
Cosmetic Realm
  • textiles / fabric
  • tapestries
  • embroidery
  • jewelry
  • body art (painting, henna, tattoos, piercing, body modifications)
  • window art & stained glass
  • ornamentation of statues
  • trinkets & decor 
  • make-up
  • perfumes
  • musical instruments
  • instrument storage
Food & Beverages
  • cooking tools
  • ingredients
  • eating tools
  • place setting styles
  • food
  • alcohol
  • tea
  • coffee
  • other beverages
  • beverage preparation
  • drinking vessels
  • storage containers

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NaNoWroMo starts November 1st

I am participating again this year in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is a one-month (30-day) writing challenge to write a 50K word novel in 30 days. That is about 1700 words per day. I hope to finish my second novel in a series I am writing. At the same time, I have a grad paper to write for my course. Together, they should come out to about 50K.

I am also the ML (Municipal Liaison) or rather co-ML for Montreal. That means I am here to help Montreal writers get together and enjoy their NaNoWriMo experience. I will be hosting a write-in every Sunday from 10am to 1pm at Concordia Vanier Library, third floor, room 301-22. I hope folks come out. These will be happening in October too in order to help folks prepare for NaNoWriMo.

Sundays in November
Concordia Vanier Library (7141 Sherbrooke St. W., H4B 1R6)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Young Writers Program

I am ready and very excited to start a new year for the Young Writers Program. This is a program for students grades 4-6, but also for high school.

This is a great opportunity for students to improve reading comprehension, spelling, and grammar. Students learn all this as they learn how to write a short story (novel) and see it through the editing and publishing processes. They gain confidence as writers and reader, but also gain social confidence as leaders of their stories. They interview editors and artists, engage media and venues, and develop poise and public speaking as they host their own book launch for the anthology they will publish at the end of the school year. 

Contact me for more details or press your school to have me offer the program where your child already studies.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Words and Art

Writing is just art put into word form. I happen to love both genres and try to incorporate a bit of both in every project or class that I do.

Try taking a single word or theme (Frustration, Passion, Loss, Beauty, etc.) and paint, draw, sculpt something that embodies that word. What colors, textures, patterns, images would you incorporate? Would you use a heavy or light hand? Can you write a sentence that captures and moves the reader to feel/see/know that theme without using the word in the sentence? Can you describe the theme in a paragraph? Maybe find a poem or a scene from a book and create that in picture form.

Here is a poem I really like:

How about going the other way?

Find a painting, drawing, sculpture that is interesting. What is it that is interesting? What does it evoke from you? What does it make you think of or how does it make you feel? Write a page describing the image. Narrow down and write just a paragraph. Can you capture the essential feeling in a singe sentence? If you had to choose a single word as the theme of the image, what would that word be?

Here is a picture I happen to really like:

Wards and art go hand-in-hand. In fact, words are literally just another form of art. If you like calligraphy, words can BECOME art. Here is a calligraphic example and a graffiti example:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Summer Schedule 2017

We are coming into summer. Are you ready? It is important to have your child evaluated early so you know what to work on before their last report cards. It is important to know their strengths and what they are struggling with or what they need to improve on over the summer.

We host evaluation exams and and specialize in English Language Arts: improving grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing in English. Our best program is the Young Writers Program which applies all our tutoring knowledge but with the focus of teaching children and teens to write a story from the planning phase to the editing phase (skills they can use in any field of study). The end result is publication in an anthology, learning the publishing process and marketing themselves as they host their own book launch! Life skills that stay with them forever.

Let us know what interest you. or what your needs are.

Exam practice and evaluation:
$100 (by appointment)

English Summer Program:
$50/ half-day (3-hrs 9am-12pm or 1-4pm)
4 days per week (Monday thru Thursday)
2 week sessions:
- July 3-13
- July 17-27
- July 31 - August 10
- August 14-24

Young Writers Program $200/m September through May
* December is free for open writing practice
* June is free presentation practice and book launch

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Teaching Through the Genres

If you missed our Facebook post, we have posted it here to help inspire you.

Looking for new ways to encourage reading and writing? Try tapping into a fun theme. Star Wars. Harry Potter. Marvel Super Heroes. Look for events around town that are part of your child's/teen's favorite genre.

Example: Maplestone Academy is a Harry Potter themed event that happens once a month for a year where your child could immerse themselves in the world of Harry Potter for that one day each month. There they will be challenged to problem-solve, learn bits of creative science, practice their reading and writing and comprehension... all within the setting of something totally fun!

Example: Montreal ComicCon is a huge science fiction/comic.fantasy convention that happens in July. Get your child/teen involved but reading about their favorite characters, learning how to cosplay, meeting actors, artists and writers in person! What a great way to inspire young learners!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Good Teachers

It often comes up with my adult students who are studying to be counsellors, healers, spiritual leaders, or teachers.

What makes a GOOD teacher?

Know your stuff
This seems to always be first on the list. The teacher must know the material they are teaching, must be able to understand it and apply it. They must have experience in it. They should be able to answer questions in it. Granted, they may not have all the answers, but knowing their stuff means that they will know where to look for the answers they cannot provide.

Be prepared
Teachers should come prepared with their materials for the class. They should have their assigned readings done in advance (not assign things they have never read). If they are supposed to provide supplies to students, then they should definitely have those supplies prepared in advance. As a safety measure, they should also have a few extras of the expected supplies in case students come without.

Be organized
Teachers who are disorganized and scattered have a hard time organizing their thoughts and a difficult time passing that knowledge on to their students. Organization gains one respect and makes things simply easier to do.

Communicate in a timely fashion
Students (and parents) need feedback in a reasonable amount of time. This usually means in a few days to a max of 2 weeks. On average, people expect some kind of feedback within a week, or at least a note with an exact time they can expect feedback. Feedback that comes late might interfere with future plans for the student and damage the student's ability to move forward with confidence (or at all). It shows you respect the students (and parents) and that you are bot responsible and accountable.

Be on time
If a teacher is late they will not be able to be organized. They will not appear prepared. The stress and rush may cause some disarray in the class and put off many students. It will make both teaching and learning difficult for all. It disrespects everyone who was on time.

Be compassionate
Know that life sometimes happens and you have to be a little bit forgiving when a mishap does occur. Be ready to explain yourself and communicate clearly and openly. Be compassionate with students. Life happens to them too. They may be having a very hard time learning, or lack the tools they need for the class. Sometimes they are struggling with a learning disability. Sometimes their home life is full of strive and stress, not conducive to preparing for class at him or doing homework. Sometimes they are just too poor for basic things: food, a shower, clean clothes, school supplies. Come prepared to listen, to understand, to help. Help can be just knowing resources they can turn to. Help might mean having extra supplies on hand and extra copies of things to loan, or make arrangements with the library to have these items reserved to ensure the students have access. And sometimes, it means having some extra bottles for water, some fruit, or other healthy snacks available. Food is fuel for the brain, and the brain needs fuel to have the energy learn. Sometimes this compassion means you understand that a student simply learns in a different way and you try to accommodate that different style so they can still learn and keep up with the class. If the home is not conducive for doing homework or assignments, maybe make sure you have office time where students can come to either just talk or make use of a quiet space to work in.

Be flexible
A teacher who is rigid in their styles may lose students. Be flexible. Be ready to adapt if the students are not "getting it" via the first way you present it. Sometimes learning happens better with visuals, sometimes with hand-on show and tell, sometimes with writing and listening, sometimes with reading in advance and discussing after. Be flexible to the needs of the students so you can bet reach them and help them learn. Much of flexibility goes back to being compassionate. Life happens, not just to you, but to your students. Flexibility is part of being compassionate.

In all things, stay grounded and calm... and just be kind (in word and deed).