Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Essay Prompt Book

We're pretty excited about our new book "11 ESSAY TYPES AND 50 PHOTO PROMPTS."

It's the first real book to come from the Teacher's Brunch office, but more than that, the book is a great tool for teachers and students alike.

The book defines the eleven most-common forms of essays and provides an example for each type. Those samples are all based on the same picture, proving that any time of essay can be inspired by any picture prompt.

The book also contains an additional 50 images that students can use to inspire their writing.

There's nothing scarier than a blank page and a blinking cursor at the top of it. Hopefully our book helps your students fill those pages.

(By the way--any class with a writing component could use this book. There's no rule insisting the essays be written in English, Foreign Language teachers!)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Teacher's Discovery Earth Day Clean-Up

Mother Nature decided for us yesterday that the good folks of Teacher's Discovery (the mothership to our Teacher's Brunch office) were going to postpone our annual Earth Day clean up until today, and she rewarded our patience with a beautiful mid-April Michigan day.

So at 11 am EST, we shut down the phones, turned off the computers, set aside the Shakespeare and replaced pens with shovels, keyboards with work gloves, and hit the great outdoors.

Here Rick tidies up at the front of our English, Social Studies, Science building. Teacher's Brunch is housed in the same building.

Ron, shown here cleaning up the back of the same building, works in receiving. He's also a crack shot, and just today brought in a turkey beard from a bird he took last week. Some homemade turkey chili would be nice. . . .

There's nothing around here that Kristin can't do. When she's not ripping weeds, she handles a lot of responsibilities for our English and Social Studies catalogs.

Gordon, Ginger, and Nick pull out the table down the road at the Foreign Language building, a three minute walk from Eng/SS/Sci. If the tables are out, that means Spring is in full effect.

When the fear of frost is completely gone, and sometimes in Michigan that feels like that doesn't happen until about July, this flower bed will be glorious in color. Last year it received recognition from the city of Auburn Hills.

Foreign Language catalog guru Steve attacked the flower beds the way he attacks an advertising spread.

Here's Skip, sauntering away from the garbage can after a Herculean effort to dispose of a monstrous chunk of concrete that he tore from the ground with his bare hands after helping an old lady cross the freeway in rush hour traffic. His picture is bigger than everyone else's because, well, he's the owner and signs our checks.

After the hard work of giving Mother Earth a face lift, Tom (shown here in the foreground) treated us to some of the finest sloppy joe's we've ever had. Tom is the friendly voice on the phone when you call about Teacher's Brunch or Teacher's Discovery Interactive products. If he seems to know about life as a teacher, it's because he's a retired teacher himself. The two ladies in the back arranging potato chips just so are Nina and Stephanie, two of the Project Managers on the TB team.

We hope everyone else had a good Earth Day, too. We'll finish this post with a shot of Mike, tech support ninja. His message is a good one.

Got a favorite Shakespeare quote? Share it here!

We here at TB HQ in sunny (finally!) Auburn Hills, MI are elbows-deep in Shakespeare, and not just because Jason's 20-page paper for his class at Wayne State University is due next week, but because we're working on a poster set featuring favorite and surprising quotes from the Bard's tragedies, histories, and comedies.

So if you've got one that you love--or your students love--share it here, and we'll try to get it on the poster.

Because if a little Bardolatry is a good thing, then a lot of it is crazy good!

5/29/09 Update:

Just a little taste of what these will include, here's some, we think, interesting web pages that your students may some day stumble upon:

The Most Lamentable Life and Tragical Death of Bob

The Second Part of Good King George (2 George)

The Charming Twins of Dorchester

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Space: The Silly Frontier

We here at TB HQ in soggy Auburn Hills, MI love when pop culture and entertainment collide with the real world.

So we've been following the story of NASA's call to name a section of the International Space Station based on popular votes, and comedian Stephen Colbert's push to get his viewers to vote to name it after himself.

Well, he won the vote, but NASA is going in a slightly different direction.

Colbert had done a similar thing with the voting to name a Hungarian Bridge.

The lesson for students here? Voting matters (or maybe not, given that NASA sorta picked the name it liked best, anyway).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Michigan Sports Post On An Education Blog?!

That's right. A sports post.

We here at TB HQ in cold and soggy Auburn Hills, MI are very proud of the "MI" that always accompanies "Auburn Hills," and though Southeast Michigan--in particular Detroit--has been taking its lumps lately, I defy you to find a better sports area in all of the United States.

Our state has all four major professional sports--and often has minor ones, too; we've got two major universities that each usually excel in at least one sport, often more; we recently played host to a Superbowl, a Final Four, the Stanley Cup playoffs, a World Series, and WNBA Championships. For amateurs, we are surrounded by water, and our state is criss-crossed by trails.

We have nearly new venues for our football and baseball teams, a great place for the basketball teams, and a classic arena for our hockey team.

Sure, other states have better individual teams (unless you're talking hockey, or women's basketball), but where else is the total package better?

So, you think your state is a better sports state? Feel free to defend your piddly little home in the comments.

So why sports on this education blog? Because we agree with Robin Williams's character from "Dead Poets Society," that sports are just an excuse to make other people push you to excel. And because, like it or not, sports are important to many of our students, just like games like D&D (see yesterday's post) are important to others.

So if it's important to your students, and it's important to you, it's important to us. Including sports.

So we here at TB HQ say "Go, Red Wings," "Go, Pistons," "C'mon, Tigers," "Well Done, Spartans," "Maybe that will help the offensive line, Lions," and "Godspeed, Bird."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons Co-Creator Dies

Some of us around the TB HQ in chilly-morninged but nice-afternooned Auburn Hills, MI are mourning the passing of Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Dave Arneson. He now joins his fellow co-creator, Gary Gygax, in an afterlife we hope is full of merry adventuring and the occasional bugbear.

Dungeons and Dragons attracted a lot of attention--mostly negative--in the 70s and 80s, but has since quietly provided many teenagers, and more than a few adults, a welcome respite from the ordinary and everyday. D&D came first in many ways, and its influence is still being felt. How many of your students play Magic? Or Pokemon? Or Warhammer? How many saw or read "The Hobbit" and already had a pretty good idea of what an elf was like?

In schools across America, teachers lament the video-gaming of our young people. Before Atari, D&D supplied kids with their daily recommended allowance of other person fun. And it was all done using books and math!

In truth, D&D has a several applications in today's schools. Why not challenge your students to "quest," in writing, for a famous historical or mythological artifact? Sort of like Indiana Jones in essay form. The more "quests" your students successfully complete, i.e. the more solidly written papers they submit, the more powerful their character becomes. What happens after that is up to you!

Here's the story about Mr. Arenson's passing. Dip your sword out of respect.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hey! We're TV Stars! Thanks, Southgate Community Schools!

Kristin, across the hall from the TB HQ in her SS/ENG Book Team cave, saw a commercial for Southgate Community Schools on the tele-tube last night, and her keen eyes spied one of our posters being proudly displayed on their classroom wall.

It looks like they're doing some really great stuff in their district.

The whole commercial can be found on their website.

And if you want to buy that same poster, you can find it here.