Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Less Fish in the Sea

Please join the rest of us here at Teacher's Brunch HQ in Paczki-gorged Auburn Hills, MI in wishing Alicia congratulations for getting engaged over the weekend.

The groom-to-be popped the question on the occasion of the couple's one-year anniversary, then revealed a pre-arranged party featuring family and friends.

Alicia started at Teacher's Discovery doing some-such-thing with videos for the Tech Team (the details are now lost to the abyss of memory), and has since moved into the Merchandise Manager position for Social Science. She's also developed piles of products, and appears (she would say) way too often in our catalogs.

No date has been set quite yet as they work out the logistics for assembling the largest group of Italians put together since the call for extras went out during shooting for "The Godfather."

Congratulations, Alicia! He's a lucky guy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oh, Canada!

We've got Canada on the brain lately here at Teacher's Brunch HQ in overcast Auburn Hills, MI.

Some of us absolutely love the Olympics, and wish we were in Vancouver. (As a side note, how's a chubby fellow supposed to try to earn a medal when even the curlers are in perfect shape? I mean, curlers? Why, on earth, would they need cardio? I guess my only shot at gold is archery, after all.)

We're also thinking Canada because Teacher's Discovery just launched Teacher's Discovery: Canada, featuring an entire line of classroom supplies for the Canadian teacher with a French class.

That means Canadian-English spellings, and a real push to make products that are Canadian, not just American stuff with a different dollar.

So, welcome to the family, Canada.

And sorry about women's moguls. There's always hockey! (Unless Sidney Crosby is too hurt, of course.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spanish Textbook Gets Rave Review!

Greetings from Teachers Brunch HQ in winter wonderland Auburn Hills, MI, site of today's first-ever (that we know of, anyway) Ketchup Festival. Later today, all of us will be trudging down to the Foreign Language building and partaking of a potluck featuring items made with or made for that most delightful of condiments, ketchup.

Before we party with the high fructose corn syrup and tomato paste, though, we want to offer big congratulations to Lauren in the Spanish Department. The book she edited, Capitan Espanol's Exploratory Spanish, just got a great review in Language Magazine.

The review mentions how the book "will definitely keep kids' attention beyond perfunctory glances" and how "once opened, (the books) are practically histerico."

There's plenty more good stuff in the review which appears in the February 2010 issue.

Now, where's the Canadian Ketchup Cake that Pat promised us?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Awesome Parody Video

Now, we don't want to give too many free props to the competition, but this video from Sooma Publishing is so good, so entertaining, so spot-on, we just have to share it.

So here it is:

Ben Franklin rules.

Remembering a Principal

This blog entry will be a bit different, because though the TB Blog voice is usually representative of the gestalt of Teacher's Discovery, this entry is decidedly personal.

Today the Teacher's Brunch blog pauses to thank Mr. Carkenord, long-time L'Anse Creuse Public Schools principal, who passed away this week after struggling with cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

My principal at Tenniswood Elementary School, Mr. Carkenord was maybe the friendliest guy on the planet, often not too much taller than the students he looked after. He was the kind of guy who remembered students' names long after the students moved on.

When I saw him at school events as I progressed through middle school, then high school, he always said hello, and remembered my younger sister's name, too.

He was invited to my high school graduation party, and when he appeared, I felt honored. I remember my parents calling him "Joe," and I said "That's not Joe. That's my principal."

Mr. Carkenord was at the beginning of a career in education that has led me from tutoring, to teaching, to creating tools and typing this blog for teachers across the world.

Two years ago, when my kids attended preschool at Joseph M. Carkenord Elementary School, I got to tell them about the kind, dedicated man whose name is on the side of the building, and he touched another generation of learners.

We should all be so lucky to leave such a legacy.

Thanks, Mr. Carkenord.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Welcome New and Returning Readers

Hello from Teacher's Brunch HQ in no-snow-yet-but-it's-on-the-way Auburn Hills, MI.

We can see from our reports from Google Analytics that our little blog here is experiencing a spike in readership recently.

We'd like to welcome all new and returning readers, and invite everyone to leave a note, say hello, give some feedback, compliment, or complain.

As always, we welcome suggestions, and we thank you for letting us be part of you and your students' lives.

Now, where's those snow shovels?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Subjectivities and Popular Music

Somebody around here is doing coursework in the Composition and Rhetoric PhD program at Wayne State University, working towards a dissertation project focusing on how subjectivities and identities are formed through the act of writing in the classroom.

On his way to the gym, because getting PhD's involves way too much late night Taco Bell, the radio played two songs.

What two songs?

"Fifteen" by Grammy award-winning artist Taylor Swift, and "According To You" by Michael Jackson guitarist mono-named Orianthi.

What is interesting about these two songs, juxtaposed as they were, is how both of them consider the formation of identity of young women in the face of external pressures. Consider the following lyrics:

According to you
I'm boring
I'm moody
and you cant take me any place
According to you
I suck at telling jokes cause I always give it away
I'm the girl with the worst attention span
you're the boy who puts up with that

("According to You." performed by Orianthi. written by Steve Diamond and Andrew Frampton)

'Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
When you're fifteen and your first kiss
Makes your head spin 'round
But in your life you'll do things greater than
Dating the boy on the football team
But I didn't know it at fifteen

("Fifteen." written and performed by Taylor Swift)

We think it's interesting that two songs with such similar sensibilities are on the charts at the same time, popular enough to play back-to-back on a Top 40 radio station.

There might be an application for your classroom. How do other people influence who we are? Does popular culture contain enough messages of self-empowerment? Are there any other songs with similar messages?

In case you're unfamiliar with the songs, we've embedded them below.

Somebody around here has homework to do!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Day the Music Died

Today marks the anniversary of the plane crash that killed musicians Richie Valens, Buddy Holly, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, commemorated by Don McLean's song "American Pie."

The lyrics of "American Pie" are a great example of an elegy, a poetic form your students might connect with.

Of course, another great example of songs written for a dead celebrity is Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" (both versions).

More recently, P. Diddy sampled The Police for his tribute to Notorious B.I.G.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Curse you, Phil!

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, predicting six more weeks of winter.

Maybe we'd get better luck with Punxsutawney Bill?

Seems they have records of the groundhog's shadow-seeking. It might be an interesting research project to compare temperatures in the years where Phil sees his shadow to the years when he doesn't.

Maybe the groundhog is the Willard Scott of the animal kingdom? (Though, we suppose, Willard Scott is technically the Willard Scott of the animal kingdom . . . .)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Science Gone Horribly Wrong!

We can certainly understand how the cold and the snow make you think weird things, but even we have limits.

The man mentioned in this article, left unnamed for his own good, apparently has no such limits.

We'll give you a second to read it.

In no particular order are our favorite snippets from the article:

The victim "had a reputation of doing crazy things at parties."

The victim had "been drinking prior to the accident."

The victim is a "62-year-old township man."

So what have we learned?

Someone's grandpa has some mad crazy Chemistry skills and not a whole lot of common sense. Oh, and he has a friend willing to "light a wick."

Happy Black History Month

Friday, January 29, 2010

Full Moon Fever

What a week it's been.

We here at Teacher's Brunch HQ in frosty Auburn Hills, MI paused to reflect a bit today.

We awoke to single-digit temperatures this morning, a thin layer of ice clinging to the glass front door.

The roads are that awful salt-caked gray color, dead looking clumps of snow mixed with highway detritus along the shoulder.

Many of our projects are in that painful part of the production process, where the challenges we face to push them over the edge into completion seem so insurmountable no amount of alliteration helps.

Even the blog seems bummed out this week.

So almost on cue, Yahoo! News posted this link.

Tonight, the moon with be full and bright, coming closer to the Earth than any other full moon for the rest of the year.

A light in the winter darkness.

Have a good weekend, and if you go out walking tonight, give the Wolf Moon a howl for us.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More In Memoriam: J. D. Salinger Dies at 91

News sources are now reporting that author J. D. Salinger has died at his home.

Salinger, seen above on one of our mini-posters, was notoriously out-of-the-spotlight. The fame, and infamy, of his only novel reportedly haunted him.

We hope that Salinger and Mark Twain arguing over who would win in a fight: Holden or Huck?

Two Luminaries, Rest In Peace

The flags at Teacher's Brunch HQ in snow swept Auburn Hills, MI fly at half staff today for two people who passed away within the last 24 hours.

Howard Zinn suffered a fatal heart attack yesterday at the age of 87.

An activist, historian, and author, Zinn is probably best-known for his book A People's History of the United States. Depending when and where you attended university, it's a good bet his book was on a reading list somewhere along your educational path.

We also mourn the loss today of Zelda Rubinstein, who died yesterday after a string of illnesses.

Rubinstein is best-known for her role in the "Poltergeist" movies. In addition to roles in other films, including a stint as a Munchkin, Rubinstein was, as EW.com puts it, and AIDS activist before being an AIDS activist was fashionable.

Below is a clip of Rubinstein making her first appearance as psychic avenger Tangina Barrons.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Putting Characters to Work--Classroom Activity Idea

Hello from Teacher's Brunch HQ in frosty Auburn Hills, MI.

A few of use around here have been working on a Shakespeare project, and while we're not ready to share the whole thing yet, something came up yesterday we thought you might like.

For "Macbeth," we decided it would be fun to work-up a fake resume for the tragic would-be King. It got us to thinking that making resumes for all the characters, or any character for that matter, is a neat way to have students consider the people that inhabit the literature they're reading a little more deeply.

So "Objective" ends up being less about a job, maybe, and more about that character's motivation.

Other common resume headings could be added or changed as specifically needed.

Of course, a little lesson about resume writing is never a bad thing, either.

Below is our simple ditty for Macbeth. Let us know if you give it a try.

(seems like it's a Scottish kind of week)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Preparing for Black History Month?

The Teacher's Discovery English and Social Studies divisions are interested in making your planning for Black History Month a little easier.

This DVD, "Martin Luther King: I Have a Dream," is a great piece for reviewing one of the most important speeches in American History. King's speech is also a great example of a truly remarkable rhetorician at work.

You'll find a sample of the video, and a free quiz to accompany it, at the link above.

Speaking of Martin Luther King, Jr., this great Talking Poster would be a fine addition to your classroom decor. Press the button on the poster for an audio clip of his famous speech.

And speaking of classroom decor (we are apparently all about the segues today), this poster set will let the words of African American poets resonate with your students every time the pass by. Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and others speak across generations, right into your students' hearts.

If you're interested in covering the Harlem Renaissance from all the angles, our set of three Harlem Renaissance PowerPoint presentations lead your students through the literary, musical, and artistic movements withing the Harlem Renaissance. The images and sounds in these presentations make them something really special.

If these pieces aren't quite what you're looking for, head over to the Teacher's Discovery website and give it a search.

As always, feel free to give us a call or drop us an email at teachersbrunch @ teachersdiscovery. com.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pass the Haggis! It's Robert Burns Day!

January 25th is Scottish poet Robert Burns' birthday.

Poetry lovers around the world can mark the occasion by carving up another of Scotland's gifts to the world, the haggis.

If that picture doesn't make your mouth water, maybe this will: the last (translated) stanza of Burns' poem "Address to a Haggis":

You Pow'rs, that make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland wants no watery ware
That slops in bowls:
But, if You wish her grateful prayer,
Give her a Haggis!

Perhaps to honor Burns, teachers around the world should have students write their own "Address to a [ ]" poems, featuring students' favorite cafeteria foods.

We'd love to hear any "Address to Chicken Strips" or "Address to Mexican Pizza" ditties that roll across your desk.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Potpourri of Poe

We have two bits of Poe news to pass-on today.

The first is some good news, passed-on to us by Sandy in the Teacher's Discovery English division.

A "new" watercolor showing Edgar (we can call him that because we're buddies) far brighter than the usual image we get of the famous writer is going on auction.

It's reassuring to know that Edgar didn't spend all his time pining after his lost Lenore.

In more ominous news, the Poe Toaster, who for so long has left roses and booze at Poe's gravesite to honor the writer's birthday, was MIA this year. Speculation abounds as to what may have happened.

We here at Teacher's Brunch HQ hope the Toaster is alive and well, and if his or her mission is officially over, express our thanks for giving us something to talk about every January 19th.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Political Cartoons Confront Haiti

The interesting thing about these recent political cartoons is the similar subtext.

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Catalog Season

Hello again, from Teacher's Brunch HQ in freezing fog-stricken Auburn Hills, MI.

(As Mike, our tech guy said, if smoke and foggy makes smoggy, do freezing and foggy equal froggy?)

Teachers across the country will soon find in their mailboxes our Spring Teacher's Discovery catalogs.

We've seen them, and they look great--full of ideas and awesome stuff to make teachers' days a little easier.

If you don't think you're going to get a catalog from us, and want to make sure you get one, head over to this link for English, Social Studies, and Science teachers, and over here for our Foreign Language friends.

When it does arrive in your mailbox, let us know what you think.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Miep Gies, Anne Frank Helper, Passes-Away

The world learned this week that the 100-year-old Miep Gies died Monday after falling late last year.

Far from a household name here in the states, Gies is remembered for hiding Anne Frank and others in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.

The story of the Secret Annex reminds us that heroes can come in all shapes and sizes, and often the bravest do their good works far away from the spotlight.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Toothpick Bridge Winner Announced

Super duper congratulations to Mrs. Wycoff’s fifth grade science class from A.L. Price Elementary School in Beaumont, Texas! They were selected as the winners of the First Teacher's Discovery Toothpick Bridge Building Contest.

The students' entry was chosen from more than 500 entries by high school, middle school, and elementary students.

For their efforts, Mrs. Wycoff's class can now select $500 worth of science supplies from Teacher's Discovery.

The contest was advertised in our catalog--$15 got the teacher and students an unlimited supply of toothpicks and glue. Run out mid-contest? We sent out more, free of charge.

Nick, our Science Division guru, says that because of the impressive interest in the contest, he's running it again in our Spring catalog, due to hit teacher's mailboxes everywhere in the next month or so.

If you would like to request a catalog, just to be sure you can be in the running for the next contest, drop us a line here.

Now, we're not sure if we're authorized to say anything until the catalog hits the street, but since we're the only ones with the blog password, we'll say this:

The next contest's prize is fully $1,000 in supplies.

That's a lot of toothpicks.

Good luck to future entrants, and congrats again to Mrs. Wycoff and her kids.

New Nixon Photos

Here's a neat tidbit about the National Archives releasing some documents from the Nixon presidency.

In particular, the photographs from Oliver Atkins should be interesting.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Because the snow is making us silly. . . .

We would buy it.


Best Things to Use as a Sled

The snow has arrived and is stacked outside the window of Teacher's Brunch, HQ in Auburn Hills, MI. The wind-blown Mt. Trashmore is rising majestically behind the McDonald's across the street.

It got us thinking about sledding.

But of course, since we're always looking at new ways of doing things, we got to wondering. . . .

What are the best things to use for sledding that aren't sleds?

We vote for scoop shovels.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Spell Well. . . but you already knew that

So here's a convoluted way to toot our own horns. . . .

Ron Siliman's Blog (a very interesting spot on the net about all things poetic and more, even when you disagree with Mr. Siliman) posted a link to this comic blog, The Oatmeal.

If you look carefully, you'll see that the posters we featured in this post pretty much have your students covered.

It's dangerous to be so cutting edge, but we don't mind buying the Band-Aids.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, or for those of you who, like someone around here, have spent the last two days climbing and sliding down a windblown sled hill, Chappy New Year.

Good luck with those resolutions.