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Unique Perspective

Last night I was inducted into the education honor society. It was a beautiful ceremony, complete with inspirational speeches, prayers and candles. I felt very much part of the college community, despite my ripe old age. There, I said it. I’m not a young’n anymore. However, this does not stop me from pursuing my dreams.

When people ask me whether they should go back to college as an “older” adult, I ask them if they were planning to retire in 3 to 4 years (or however long it would take to graduate). When they say no, then I point out that they would be turning that age anyway – why not with a degree too? I am extremely blessed because this is my second degree. My second career. And why not? We are multifaceted people. Many people have to change careers as they get older, for one reason or another. In my case, I took an opportunity and ran with it.

As an older adult in college, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, we belong there just as much as everyone else, including high school graduates. I know that some may hesitate to speak up in class, for fear of coming across as the “older student who can’t stay quiet”. However, our perspective is unique and adds color to group discussions. Don’t hold back. Be yourself. We have years (maybe even decades) of experience that others can learn from. It’s okay to appear eager and attentive. We want to be there – why not show it?

Secondly, our challenges are different than younger students. We usually have jobs and families to juggle along with our studies. My advice is to find a certain time of day when no one interrupts you. My homework/study time is usually in the early morning. Yes, I get up too early and would rather be in bed. However, the early morning works for me because my mind is fresh and the house is quiet. I admit I also burn the midnight oil sometimes. I would be a liar if I said I had this completely figured out, but I do burn the candle at both ends for much of the semester. I’m still finding my balance here. One thing that helps is to plan ahead and use windows of opportunity. For example, when I knew I had a research paper to write and it would be due at the same time as essays from another class, I began to write the essays early so it would give me more time later. Of course, it helps that I love to write.

Thirdly, we can learn new things or refresh old – even geometry and algebra! I had to take a couple of college-of-education entry exams, which included math, reading and writing. After scheduling the exams, I began to study, especially for the math portions. It had been SO many years since I’d figured out these kinds of math problems and it was frustrating at first. I enlisted the help of my teenagers and used every resource I could, including library books and online exams/study guides. I filled out notebook after notebook of problems. I studied at every chance, including road trips and waiting at the dentist/doctor’s office. I took this quite seriously, as if I was taking a math course. Finally, I took the exams – a month apart – and I PASSED! Phew! My hard work paid off. I learned that you really are never too old to relearn math. Or anything.

Lastly, don’t worry about being the “oldest” in the classroom. So what? Get over it. There are always older people going back to college, even if they are not in your class. I met someone the other day who is getting a second masters and she’s at least two decades older than me! It’s actually great for our brains because we are putting off Alzheimer’s since we are challenging our brain cells. After studying for those math exams, I could practically feel my new brain cells growing!!  

If you get the opportunity, like me, to go back to school – DO IT!! It’s not easy, but it’s well worth it. Now, I’m considering taking on a leadership role in the honor society. It could be fun…

~~ Maggie

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in education, Health, Teaching, Writing

 

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Book Review: Beneath the Slashings

Beneath the Slashings captivated my attention from beginning to end! It is Michelle Isenhoff’s third book in the Divided Decade Trilogy, but each book stands alone.  Not only is Isenhoff an expert storyteller, but she also teaches the reader a thing or two about history and — get this — she does it painlessly.

History was not my favorite subject in grade school, but I never read a book like this one back then.  Beneath the Slashings brings history to life!  The characters are convincing in their dialogue and have true-to-life problems and issues.  It is easy to picture the lumberjacks as they squabble or tease each other.   Also, Grace Nickerson is a compelling main character because she is easily relatable and filled with an appealing  sense of wonder.

It takes place in Michigan during post Civil War times, when soldiers are returning home.  It is an era of reconstruction, but 12- year old Grace Nickerson wants no part of it.  She wants to stay on the family farm and resume normalcy, thank you very much.  She lost so much already and craves the stability she’d get from the farm she’d known her whole life.  Her father, however, returns from the war with the firm decision to take her, and her twin brother Sam, far away to a lumber camp.  This dampens their relationship and sets off the journey from her familiar home in Saginaw County to the unknown forest in Manistee.

When Grace arrives at the Bear Creek Lumber Camp, she is fearful as she meets colorful characters with strange names like Fiddlesticks and Ivan.  Despite her anger at her father for taking her there in the first place, she starts to adjust to the completely different lifestyle.  However, she discovers that mayhem and even attempted murder are afoot.  Grace is determined to find out who is behind the wrongdoings, but she must first overcome her fears.

Readers can’t help but learn about history as they read this entertaining book.  Isenhoff is a children’s novelist who writes with students in mind.  Further, she provides teachers with a Classroom Resources Series to help them get “maximum mileage” of her books.

My favorite thing about the book is that the characters’ voices resonated with me for days after I finished reading it!  It was as if they were real people that I visited….back in time!

Rating for Beneath the Slashings, by Michelle Isenhoff:

Maggie’s View ~ Two Thumbs Up MUST READ!

For more information, go to:

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To purchase, go to:  KindleNookPaperbackSmashwords

“I write for kids.  In my books, you can expect adventure and substance, but I’ll always respect the innocence of our children.” Children’s Novelist, Michelle Isenhoff

 

 

 

Other books by Michelle Isenhoff:

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in kids, Teaching, Writing

 

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Call out to Writer Friends!

Reading and writing are my passions and occasionally, I have the honor of previewing a book before it is published.  When the manuscript is passed onto my hands (or laptop screen), I treat it gently because it is akin to a newborn.  It is the product of hard labor and sleepless nights and the author entrusts me to give an honest opinion about their “baby”.  I usually edit, to the best of my ability, and leave the good, the bad and the ugly in little notes along the side of the page.    However, this time, I was asked to be part of a Book Tour and publish my review online.

This is new for me as a blogger since I’m usually writing about traveling or teaching or life in general.  However,  I enjoyed writing the review and think it would be a nice addition to my blog.

My book review of Beneath the Slashings, by Michelle Isenhoff is part of her Blog Book Tour and will be published on August 14th.

Who knows — perhaps I’ll join the book review bandwagon! If that’s something you’re interested in, post here and let me know!

~~ Maggie

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2012 in Writing

 

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Travel Tip – staying connected for cheap

My adventures in Japan included walking about town in Asakusa where locals ride bikes everywhere.

Vending machines were abundant.

You could even buy BEER from vending machines. Hmmm…

Needless to say, I saw a lot of different customs.  To combat the culture shock, I was happy to stay in touch with family and friends back home.

I played Draw Something … on the bullet train en route to Hiroshima, Japan.

I introduced my host Japanese family in Toyota City, Japan…to my family back home in Michigan.  They even got a tour of my home (thanks to my daughter) and watched a YouTube video of my son’s garage band gig. How cool is that?

I kept up my blog posts, including pictures, during early jet lagged mornings and airport layovers…in Japan and later Seattle, Washington.  Writing as I went helped keep things fresh.

I exchanged texts with my teenagers in the U.S…while I was in Tokyo, Toyota City, Hiroshima and Kyoto.  I loved seeing what they were up to and they knew they could text me any time. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Shih Tzu Antics


Guess who’s turning NINE?  Our littlest family member, Max!  His spunky yet calm personality keeps us smiling every day and I can’t imagine life without this little piece of heaven.

Max was the calmest of his brothers and sisters.  While they were running amok chewing ears and tails, he Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in dog, Dogs, Family, kids, Teaching

 

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Zoom Zoom! 2 week countdown

So much to do before my trip and these next two weeks will zoom by like the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train)!

Some of my tasks are more complete than others.

 
 

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Losing weight

“How did you lose so much weight?”

Let’s face it — there is no “miracle drug” or “quick fix” to losing weight.  If there were, obesity would not be so prevalent.  Of course, this doesn’t stop people from wanting instant results.  Why do they keep trying fad diets or take drastic measures? Well, sometimes they do lose weight.  For. A. Short. Time.  Then the weight comes back as soon as they are “off” the diet and it’s an endless cycle.

“How did you lose so much weight?”

If you lose the weight only by eating healthier and exercising, you can still gain it all back.  Why? You could revert to your old habits, if you don’t deal with the issues of why you gained the weight in the first place.

How did I lose so much weight? Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Top 15 tips for writing articles in a print newspaper

Top 15 tips for writing articles in a print newspaper.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Writing

 

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Top 15 tips for writing articles in a print newspaper

It all stems from a lunchroom conversation. A music teacher friend of mine, Lawrene, told me about a cool event: a Pulitzer prize-winning composer was coming to a local elementary school to sit down and help students compose their own music. The more I asked, the more excited I became. This story just begged to be written. And published. I jotted down notes and, unknowingly, conducted my first interview as a freelance writer for a print newspaper.

Writing itself is not new to me. I’d written in the high school newspaper decades ago and of course I’d written a lot in my previous career as a legal assistant. I loved to edit my family and friends’ college papers and dabbled in some freelance writing for online magazines, like Associated Content . Most recently, I’d written my first middle grade novel and felt the itch to get published.

After much research and drafting, I optimistically submitted the article to the local newspapers. At first, I didn’t hear anything. I imagined the newspaper offices were swamped and understaffed, due to previous budget cuts. I felt confident in my writing and knew it was print-worthy. I followed up with phone calls and two newspapers picked up the story.

Woohoo!

Since then, I’ve published 25 articles, mostly in the Canton Observer Newspapers and I’ve learned a lot in the process. Here are 15 tips for writing in a print newspaper:

  1. A good story begs to be written and published. In other words, content is top priority;
  2. Of course, good writing is a must. Check your grammar and word choice until it’s perfect. Reading it aloud several times helps to know when to stop editing it;
  3. Talking about the idea with a friend or relative helps develop the story and draw out what makes it interesting for readers;
  4. It’s easy to write about something that’s exciting or that I care about. Even if the story is not one that I’m initially connected to, once I start interviewing, the excitement builds;
  5. Friends, family and co-workers are great sources for stories. Keep ears perked for ideas and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Before long, they will approach you with ideas;
  6. Make connections in the community that may serve as contacts for stories;
  7. Unlike many online newspapers, space in print is limited and brevity is key. Start out writing without a word number limit and then tighten it as needed. Sometimes, the editor already has an idea how much space they want to use and they’ll give you the word limit;
  8. Write articles without your opinions, unless it’s an editorial — “Just the facts, and nothing but the facts”. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t quote someone’s opinion, as long as it’s not a slanted story;
  9. Be sure to proofread. Especially check the correct spelling for names. This makes it a lot easier for the editor and that’s who you want to please;
  10. Interviewing key people is important to the story. Not only does it provide information in an exciting way, but they are passionate about the topic and can give eloquent and interesting quotes;
  11. Invest in a voice recorder for interviews. Not only does it help get the exact quote, but hearing the tone in the person’s voice helps narrow down what’s most important to him/her;
  12. Be sure to back up your facts and research thoroughly. Do your homework;
  13. Write the most important information first. In other words, use the upside pyramid formula with the least important information at the end;
  14. Once you have a working relationship with the editor, get your story ideas approved before writing them. This saves you time and gives you a better chance of getting paid;
  15. Take pride in your writing. Seeing my writing published in print was more satisfying than online; It also turns out to pay better (at least for me).

I love freelance writing! Not only do I love the thrill of seeing my writing in print and I like the extra money, but I’ve gotten to know a lot of interesting people right here in my community.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in Family, news, Writing

 

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Konnichi wa

I can’t believe it! I was selected to go to Japan this summer as part of an international educators to Japan program!!! This includes a home stay, sight seeing and school visits. During the school visits, I will observe their classroom as well as teach a lesson to the Japanese students. I’m a little nervous but keep reminding myself that I already teach ELL kids and it should be similar. Right? 🙂 I feel so honored to be part of this program and will post my thoughts on my blog as the days get closer and of course, during the two-week trip.

How did this happen? First, I attended a Japanese School Open House — pretty amazing stuff — and learned about the IEJ program. Then, I was recommended by my school principal and submitted an essay about why I should be selected.  I’m pretty blessed because they received applications from all over the world and they picked me! Woohoo!

We will be about 30 participants in the 2011 program — from Michigan, California, Georgia, Texas, Oregon, Canada, UK and Belgium. I can’t wait to meet everyone.

So — how do I prepare for this (other than updating my passport)? Well — I decided I want to learn as much as I can about the Japanese culture, the country and the language prior to the visit. So far, I’ve learned a little Japanese etiquette (from AT&T On Demand) and I’ve checked out a number of library books and programs.  Of course, I’m not going to be fluent by summer, but something is better than nothing, right?

Just today, I received a tentative schedule and it looks like I’ll start out in Tokyo,  go to Hiroshima and then end up in Kyoto.  I plan to meet up with my brother-in-law who lives near Kyoto. It’s wonderful that I have family in Japan who I’ll get to visit.  So excited!!

So….today’s word of the day is Konnichi wa — hello.  Simple, but it’s a start.

If you’ve traveled to Japan, post your advice here!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 5, 2011 in Family, kids, Teaching, travel, Writing

 

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