Monday, January 16, 2017

Teaching Moments 6: Getting Informed

    Recently, I watched a NOVA special about schools. I list a few of the things mentioned in the special titled: NOVA’s School of the Future: How can the Science of Learning help us rethink the future of education for all children?

It aired on PBS a while back, but it can be found on DVD.

·         One of the premises: they were using scientific studies ranging from behaviorists to neurologists to engineers, scientists try to find what motivates and helps students learn
·         they observed schools in Palo Alto from both sides of the freeway (East Silicon Valley area and West area)
·         they’ve come up with various innovative schools geared to technology and hands-on approaches as well as adding character building lessons to aid students’ learning (I found this section very interesting)
·         to best meet student needs, they found that individualizing lessons and teaching the whole child is better as well as working on emotional relationships with them, such as making them feel that they matter
·         parental support and involvement is important starting from preschool on (the key word here is ‘preschool’)
·         there are things that get in the way of learning such as the divide between rich/well-to-do vs. poor (a really huge gap)
          If you found those points resonating with you, it’s a good DVD/episode to watch for information on what schools are experimenting with. So far, no one size fits all. We have to find what motivates and interests the child as well as what they are capable of.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Art 12: La Desnudez (The Nude)

Charcoal is my favorite medium for drawing.
This piece was done during my art class days (when I had more time to actually draw). But it's a good reminder that it's possible to achieve a piece with fairly good shading. 
I say fair because I’m an amateur artist. Not a professional who sells their work and practices every day. Kudos to all the artists out there!
For La Desnudez, I like the focus on the hip area leading to the thighs. It’s a hard movement to place on paper. Adding the background also helps enhance this portion of the body

Monday, January 2, 2017

Quote 23

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
-The Dalai Lama

A quote like this always reminds me of the less fortunate, children, the elderly, and our animals. I hope we all find the strength to help a little (or a lot). The following is a short list of some organizations that help animals. Let’s start the New Year positively!

Alley Cat Rescue: Alliance for Cat Protection
find their Wish List on

Network for Animals USA, Inc.
Twitter: @network4animals

Alley Cat Allies: the cat’s leading advocate

North Shore Animal League America: Rescue, Nurture, Adopt, Educate

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

LCA (Last Chance for Animals)

Doris Day Animal League

Visit them and see how you can help. Maybe by signing petitions or writing letters or donating food, clothing, money or volunteering. If you’re not sure, check them out at Charity Navigator. Most of these websites provide information on how to keep pets healthy, too. Recommended to visit for cruelty-free products.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are ready for New Year’s!
This year I started tweeting and following some interesting individuals with a lot of information to share in regards to writing, teaching, and poetry. Feel free to follow me @m_a_Arana (or here on this blog) to learn about these individuals.

In the meantime, here are some suggestions of past posts to read or you could peruse the site for other posts:

Writing Endeavors: Revise ‘til you Bleed!

Pet News 6: Dog Triggers

Death as Metaphor 15: Dreams that Play Death and Violence

Monday, December 19, 2016

Teaching Moments 6: Thoughts on Autism

Children with Autism need routine and consistency in their environment and from what is expected of them. Here are some general tips from a good friend who teaches children with Autism:

·         be calm (really really important)
·         make smooth transitions (give 5-minute warning)
·         reinforce good behavior (sometimes use what they like)
·         give precise rules (what do you want the child to do? and provide a ‘first x, then y)
·         provide break areas (a safe place to calm down)
·         if an inclusion class, have a buddy system (with a responsible student to help)
·         see what triggers the behavior
·         parents and teachers need to read IEPs where goals and objectives are listed

Check out more tips at

Monday, December 12, 2016

Books I’m Reading 28

Publish your Book: Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author by Patricia Fry. This book deals with the importance of promoting your book to how to get your manuscript ready for publication. A lot of great tips.

The Beauty by Jane Hirshfield is a collection of poetry. As you read, you feel as the poetry is whispered by the wind. Bery interesting formats, too.

Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and Monsters by Donna Jo Napoli. The art and the myths provide a glimpse into the lives of these deities.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a memoir written in prose. The poetry lends itself to an easy read, but the way Ms. Woodson conveys those memories touch the soul of what it means to be human in an ever changing world.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Quote 22

“Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities connected with the social instincts which in us would be called moral.”
-Charles Darwin

When I ran into this quote, I started thinking about how animals give positive feelings. They’re all about the moment and the next activity. They don’t hold grudges or bad mouth you for forgetting their snack. They love and love and love.
I’ve seen it with my pets. If they find me hurt, they lean into me and lick my hand to sympathize. If I forget to open the gate or take out their blanket, they nudge me to remind me and then they get a belly rub. They don’t ask for much. 
Notice that I used the word ‘forget’ a couple of times. That’s because I’m a writer. And what do writers do but sit and write and read. I’m grateful for their understanding. 
That’s why this Holiday season, I want to make sure I return the myriad gestures that would make them happy.
So, don’t forget your pets. Return the love and be as patient as they are. =)