Thursday, June 28, 2007

Update on the Sureshot

A few things have happened with the Sureshot lately. The first and most important is that I contacted my publisher Tate and once again raised the issue of there being errors in the book. I had already gone through and noted all of them so that they could be fixed, but I continued to get copies with errors. They are all very nice at Tate however, and appeared to have addressed the issue once and for all. The second thing is that it continues to get reviewed well by people who read it. I think that I have finally accepted that it is fairly well written, and if not that, at least it is entertaining. There is one issue that has come up with a couple of readers, and that is the issue of names. Some people were a bit overwhelmed by some of the names that I made up for the book. Some asked me to tone the names down for the second. I considered it, and reviewed some of the more common fantasy books, and found that in all of them there are difficult names. It seems that names come with the territory. And why not? After all, I have made up a whole world, with different languages and cultures. Why then would there not be foreign sounding names? I think that it is more authentic. In fact I have gone to great pains in name creating in order to make it authentic, and I am not going to abandon that for a more reader friendly naming system. Is everyone supposed to have an American name? That would be silly. No, they will have names based on what I developed to be individual cultures and language types. Sorry, I won't budge on this one. In other areas I am interested in advice, but for now I have made a decision on names.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I have started writing consistently again. If fact I have been writing since last week, I just have been so busy doing it that I did not get around to blogging about it. I was quite relieved actually because I really looked forward to finishing the Sureshot 2, and wanted to do so before I began teaching in August, but the first week of vacation did not go so well. I almost ruined any chance I had of writing by buying a couple of video games for my Playstation, but it seems that my video game addiction was broken by months of intense studying without the joy of Playstation. I played for a couple of days, but went right back to writing, and have written nearly every day for the past week. I am almost finished with the first draft, which is the most challenging part for me. Reviewing and rewriting is not as difficult for me once I get the story from beginning to end. The end is great by the way. I nearly wrote it out as I was outlining. I know writers and actors always say that the sequel is better than the first (which is usually a lie), but this one really is going to be better. I can't wait to finish it, and I hope others can't wait to read it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Writer's Block

Ok so I was really excited about writing again, so I sat down at my computer the other day to get started and I didn't know what to write. It seems that after so many months of a story sitting on the shelf that I forgot what I was going to write. I have an idea, but I don't know for sure. So I decided to go back and read what I wrote already. This has helped, but I am still not sure. I didn't write any notes on it the last time I wrote, but I have note for what to write afterwards. Maybe I should just skip over the chapter I am on and write the ones after it. I don't know. I hope I figure it out soon. Besides that I am very happy that it is summer. I really felt like it was vacation yesterday because I finished writing my final assignment. I have an exit interview on Friday, but I am not worried about that. Wait, I think I just figured out what to write...gotta go.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Educational Philosophy

As part of a class I had to write my educational philosophy. This is one of the last things that I had to write for a class. I am still not done, but I am anxious to be so that I can finish the Sureshot 2. I am on chapter 13, and cannot wait any longer to finish it. Anyways this is part of the essay that I wrote about my educational philosophy.

Learning is a very human activity, as is teaching. Parker Palmer wrote that we “teach who we are.” One could say that we also learn in a way that reflects who we are. This makes developing a standard methodology or philosophy to cover all teachers and all students challenging. Many people now deride the standard lecture model of instruction, yet at some level it can be effective for both teacher and learner. Project methods of instruction are effective for many students, but perhaps not all of them. For every student who excels under one school of thought, there is probably another who could do better if instructed in another fashion. In light of this my own educational philosophy is exactly that; my own. I cannot claim that the things I value in education are any better than what someone else might value, I can only say that they reflect me. I suspect that this is the just thing to do. As Socrates learned and Shakespeare echoed, the most important thing in life is “to thine own self be true.” With that in mind, I believe that learning is social, individual, and continuous.

Learning is social
Learning is, in my observation, best when done socially. I do not mean to say that people cannot learn alone, but rather that it can be enhanced through social contact. I am reminded of how many of the most astounding scientific discoveries were accomplished not by a single man working alone, but by a group of people working together to solve problems. One example that stands out is the Manhattan project. While Einstein may have provided the spark that led to nuclear capabilities, it was a whole team of physicists, engineers and others all working together to develop the atomic bomb. Often times writers will collaborate with other authors, and have editors to read and make suggestions before a book is published. I envision Socrates sitting around in Athens and the cohort that followed him around always challenging each other. Proverbs says “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I embrace that teaching with both arms. I know in my own life that I have always found learning most efficient and meaningful when there are other people to assist you.

I expect that learning is social because everyone brings with them individual experiences and perspectives. This allows a person to see something from a point of view that is different than their own. Most things look different depending on the angle you view them. For instance a house looks different from one side or another, or from above. We can only see one angle most of the time, so it is better to confer with people who have seen things from different angles. This is the advantage of social learning, and why I believe that learning is best when done socially.

Leaning is individual
Another important aspect of learning in my mind is that it is individual. I do not mean that it is done alone, thereby contradicting my previous statement, but rather that it reflects a persons previous experiences and learning. This is because, as I asserted in the previous argument, that everyone brings with them different experiences and perspectives into the classroom. This breaks down into a few different characteristics.

First of all we all, as I stated before, bring different experiences to the classroom. These differences are developed through race, religion, culture, environment, family, and a number of other factors that shape who we are. We cannot put these things aside easily, but instead carry them with us wherever we go. Even within the same country, state, and even city, there is a variety of experiences that cause people to assimilate information differently. Secondly, everyone learns at different rates and in different manners. One person may learn very well by simply reading something and discussing it for further understanding, while another person may need to hear something explained, while a third may need to experience it in a more hands on way. These differences are often referred to as learning modalities, and while most people can learn through all of them, there is normally one or two that are stronger in us.

Individualized learning in the classroom looks like this: the teacher gives a reading assignment to the class. They are supposed to read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. They read a few chapters at a time and discuss them in class while sometimes doing something hands on with relation to what they read. All of the students read the text and interact with it in an individual way. One student may relate to the suffering of the Joad family, while another may relate to the young woman Roseofsharon because she is young and pregnant. Still another may favor the social injustice of the Great Depression. All of these students react differently to the same text. I submit that there is no right way to respond to the text as long as students understand the plot and can sense the point that Steinbeck is making.

When the students discuss they can share their myriad of opinions about the book. This discussion will help those students who learn better through audio input. When they do assignments or projects related to the book they will all have individualized products, and this portion of the learning process will help the students who learn better through physical activity. All of the students learn something from the book, and may all learn similar things, but the book will not affect them all in the same way. Also, the students cement their understanding through different experiences whether they are physical, audio, or visual. As a final point I would like to underline that this individualized learning is taking place in a social setting, which was my first point. It is through sharing our learning and understanding that we truly can maximize our learning.

Learning is continuous
A final principle of learning is that it is continuous. We are learning all of the time, and always find new things to learn about. While it may sound very abstract, I believe that knowledge is infinite. No one person can know everything there is to know in the world. We may know a lot, and sometimes people like to suggest that we know more now than ever before, but even that is not necessarily true. Sure we know how to send emails, and drive a car, and microwave popcorn which are things people 500 years ago did not know, but then I don’t know how to churn butter, bake bread, clean a fish, or build a house. I suspect there are people who do, just not me. The point is that there is a lot of information that we do not know.

One of my goals as a teacher is to create students who will be lifelong learners. We all learn things passively, like who the Oakland Raiders drafted, or who is running for president in 08, but I want to create active learners, who will pursue things they are curious about. I want my students to go out and study something until they understand it. To ask questions until they get answers, and to seek knowledge until the find it. If we stop learning actively we will have no more to share with other people than we have right now. We will have no more understanding of the world around us than we have today. While for a few people who understand a great deal this might be acceptable, for the majority of us, there is still quite a few things that would do us well to understand. For that matter then, we need to continue learning for our entire lives, and not simply passive learning, but actively acquiring knowledge and understanding.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


This is an interesting poem because I wrote it as a high school student ten years ago. It is strange to read my poems from then. They are not masterful by any stretch of the imagination, but there is an interesting theme in them. I don't know why I had contempt for senators then, but it came through in this poem.

A child so beautiful and young,
Her life long journey had just begun.
A man with debts he cannot pay,
No longer can he keep the jealous rage at bay.
The lamb, sacrificed at his bloody hands.

Knocked down over and over by the world,
Brain fried like eggs and blood curdled.
Strolled into a low cost burger grill,
As if he did it every day, no hesitation to kill.
Laying down people like a stack of split logs.

A failed marriage and a terrible father,
Spending money, like a horse eating fodder.
Caught in a sticky web of deceit and lies,
He turns to the influential help of his ties.
Your only lying to your pathetic self.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Clouds cover the sun so bright
Shutting out the rays of its might
Bringing rain for the world below
When the time is right it might even snow
And below turmoil reigns supreme
Battling the evils of the storm so mean
Too little avail people continue in struggle
No ground does not carry a puddle
In this time so hopeless and dreary
Tomorrow the sun will wake up and shine.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Falling Stars

I gaze longingly above,
Towards the vast stars; I love,
To hold, the hand of such is bliss;
In losing that feeling, I would miss
My soul, falls lifelessly,
As driftwood, floating aimlessly.

Just once would I like,
For a star to take flight,
And fall from the majestic sky,
And behold it to mine eye.
Fall to my world bright star,
I can see you, not so far.

Writing Again

Finally the school year is almost over and today is the day that I begin writing what I want to write for once. I have a lot of blogging to catch up on too. I must have read another dozen books or so this spring so I will try to get around to reviewing them on this site. I also have written a few things that I will try to blog. Besides that I am interested in any advice for the Sureshot 2. I have a title for it already but for now I am calling it Sureshot 2. Anyways, I hope you all enjoy what I have to offer. Here is another poem for you all until I get something more substantial going.