The Bing “Our School Needs…” Contest: How-to-Submit 101

To help teachers, students and parents entering the “Our School Needs…” Contest we did a quick tutorial on what makes a great submission.

Vodpod videos no longer available.



SMART Board: Write about the best teacher in the world and win a whiteboard

A lifetime ago, in 1974 when I first started teaching, nothing happened without chalk and a blackboard.  You can just imagine the excitement when colored chalk started hitting the shelves.

Then, in the 1980s, we celebrated the introduction of the overhead projector. We learned to live with rainbow-colored hands as the price we paid for having to recycle transparency sheets.

Less than ten years ago, an ELMO appeared in my classroom. No, not the Sesame Street character. An electronic visual presenter that let me show anything, anytime, anywhere just by popping it under the lamp.

And just when I thought I’d reached teacher heaven, along came the SMART board to push me right past the pearly gates.

People choose the SMART Board interactive whiteboard because it helps energize presentations and motivate learners. In 1991, it was the world’s first interactive whiteboard. Today, it is the world’s leading interactive whiteboard. Combining the simplicity of a whiteboard with the power of a computer, the SMART Board interactive whiteboard engages students and audiences around the world.

The touch-sensitive display connects to your computer and digital projector to show your computer image. You can then control computer applications directly from the display, write notes in digital ink and save your work to share later.

Best of all, the full-featured SMART Board interactive whiteboard is incredibly easy to use. If you can use a computer, you can use a SMART Board interactive whiteboard.

It revolutionized the way I teach writing, and the kids are totally engaged when I use it. And now, this  truly smart SMART group is making it possible for teachers who don’t have a board to win one.

SMART Technologies is proud to announce the launch of “SMART Love of Learning.”
It acknowledges and celebrates all of the teachers who have impacted individuals around the world, and it all comes down to one simple question: “Who do you think is the best teacher in the world?”

Follow the link below to the Facebook group to enter to WIN a SMART Board interactive whiteboard for your child’s school or a school of your choice! (simply click on the “WIN” tab to
• The Parent’s Toolkit gives tips to those parents who want to raise money so they can get a SMART Board interactive whiteboard for their school.

• Enter the contest and share in the discussion!
Love of Learning Facebook Group

When the dream’s big enough, the facts don’t matter: THE BEN CARSON STORY

Oscar® Winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and Kimberly Elise
Star in TNT’s Inspirational


GIFTED HANDS, Based on Pediatric Neurosurgeon’s Moving Memoir,
To Premiere Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)

A frustrated young boy with problems in school overcomes the obstacles in his life to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon in the new TNT Original movie GIFTED HANDS: THE BEN CARSON STORY.  This uplifting and inspirational JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® stars Oscar® winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire) and two-time NAACP Image Award winner Kimberly Elise (The Great Debaters, The Manchurian Candidate).

It is based on the true story of Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, whose lifelong journey led him to become director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a best-selling author and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  The movie premieres Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT), exclusively on TNT.

In GIFTED HANDS, Gooding plays Carson as an adult, while Elise plays Carson’s mother, Sonya, who inspired her son to study and work hard so he could rise above their inner-city roots.  Also starring in the movie are Aunjanue Ellis (The Practice), as Carson’s wife, Candy; Jaishon Fisher (Lakeview Terrace), who plays Carson as a young boy; and Gus Hoffman (Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins), who portrays Carson as a teenager.

GIFTED HANDS was adapted by award-winning writer John Pielmeier (Agnes of God) from the memoir penned by Carson and Cecil Murphey.  The film is directed by Thomas Carter (Coach Carter).  It comes to TNT from Sony Pictures Television, Thomasfilm and The Hatchery LLC.  Dan Angel (TNT’s Door to Door), Margaret Loesch (Benji: Off the Leash), Bruce Stein (The Haunting Hour: Don’t Think About It), Erin Keating and Carter serve as executive producers on the project.

The film opens with Carson’s childhood in Detroit.  The young Bennie struggles in school after his father abandons the family and his mother, who suffers from bouts of depression, is forced to be the family’s sole provider, despite the fact that she can’t read and has only a third-grade education.

Seeing that her son is having problems in school, Sonya soon realizes it is because he has troubles seeing.  With a new pair of glasses and encouragement to spend time at a library, Bennie dives into the world of books.  The joy Bennie gets from reading and the undying love and support he receives from his mother pave the way for him to overcome his impoverished background and graduate from high school, college and medical school.  To fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor, he also must face down racial prejudice and other obstacles that threaten to derail him.

Along the way, Carson gets married and starts a family.  But his home life becomes strained when his work starts to consume his every waking hour, especially as he faces the challenge of becoming the first doctor ever to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the back of the head.  In the end, however, Carson’s family comes to understand that his work is vital in helping other families, including a young couple whose twins’ lives are saved thanks to Carson’s remarkable skills, knowledge and courage.

Today, Carson stands at the top of his field as one of the most respected pediatric neurosurgeons in the world.  He is living proof that, with perseverance, a devotion to knowledge and the loving support of family and friends, one can overcome any obstacles.  Like his mother did for him, Carson now pours everything he has into helping young people overcome their medical limitations and fulfill their own dreams.

The book GIFTED HANDS was originally brought to TNT by The Hatchery LLC, which has held the option on the property since 2003 and subsequently partnered with Sony Pictures Television to produce the film adaptation.  The Hatchery develops and produces family entertainment for all media.  Its slate of projects in the works includes R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, a trilogy of movies based on the best-selling author’s hit book of the same title; a multiple television-movie adaptation of the V.C. Andrews series of novels Flowers in the Attic, Ruby and The Runaways; the world’s largest and longest-running paperback original franchise; a movie and television series based on one of the top 100 best-selling book series The Great Brain; and a theatrical remake of Leslie Bricasse’s beloved musical Scrooge, based on the Dickens’s classic.  In December 2004, American Greetings Corp. (NYSE: AM), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of social expression products, acquired a significant ownership stake in The Hatchery.

GIFTED HANDS is the 10th TNT Original to be produced under the JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® movie banner.  Past presentations include the critically acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning Door to Door, starring Emmy® winner William H. Macy; Miss Lettie and Me, starring Mary Tyler Moore and Burt Reynolds; Wilder Days, starring Peter Falk and Tim Daly; The Winning Season, with Matthew Modine and Kristin Davis; the Emmy-nominated The Wool Cap, which re-teamed Door to Door’s Macy and writer/director Steven Schachter; 14 Hours, with JoBeth Williams, Rick Schroder and Kris Kristofferson; The Engagement Ring, a romantic comedy/drama starring Patricia Heaton; The Ron Clark Story, starring Emmy nominee Matthew Perry; and A Perfect Day, a holiday tale starring Rob Lowe.

Johnson & Johnson has long supported the creation of quality programming, and through the JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® movie series, the company’s advertising affiliate has collaborated with TNT to bring inspirational stories to the American viewing public.  Notable successes include the four-time Emmy-nominated JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® movie The Wool Cap and the six-time Emmy-winning JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® movie Door to Door.

Benjamin Solomon Carson Sr., M.D.
Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery and Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center

Benjamin S. Carson Sr., M.D., had a childhood dream of becoming a physician.  But he grew up in a single-parent home, with dire poverty, poor grades, a horrible temper and low self-esteem.  While that appeared to preclude the realization of his dream, his mother, with only a third-grade education, challenged both of her sons to strive for excellence.  Carson persevered and today is a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and he has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for nearly a quarter of a century.  He became the inaugural recipient of a professorship dedicated in his name in May 2008.  He is now the Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D. and Dr. Evelyn Spiro, R.N. Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery.

Carson’s career highlights include the first separation of craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the back of the head in 1987, the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa and the first successful placement of an intrauterine shunt for a hydrocephalic twin.  Although he has been involved in many newsworthy operations, Carson feels that every case deserves maximum attention.  He is interested in all aspects of pediatric neurosurgery and has a special interest in trigeminal neuralgia (severe facial pain) in adults.

Carson holds more than 50 honorary doctorate degrees.  He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, the Horatio Alger Society of Distinguished Americans and many other prestigious organizations.  He sits on the board of directors of numerous organizations, including Kellogg Co., Costco Wholesale Corp. and the Academy of Achievement.  He is also an Emeritus Fellow of the Yale Corp., the governing body of Yale University.  He was appointed in 2004 by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Council on Bioethics.  He is a highly regarded motivational speaker who has addressed various audiences, from school systems and civic groups to corporations and the President’s National Prayer Breakfast.

In 2001, Carson was named by CNN and Time as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists.  That same year, he was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89 Living Legends on the occasion of its 200th anniversary.  He is also the recipient of the 2006 Spingarn Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the NAACP.  In February 2008, Carson was presented with the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal by President Bush at the White House.  In June 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the land.  He has literally received hundreds of other awards during his distinguished career.

Carson is president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments.  The fund is currently operating in 27 states and the District of Columbia, having awarded more than $3.4 million to more than 3,400 scholars.  He also co-founded Angels of the OR, which provides grants to assist families with non-covered medical care expenses involving both adult and pediatric neurosurgery.  Both programs are in national expansion mode.

Carson’s first three books – Gifted Hands, THINK BIG and The Big Picture – provide inspiration and insight for leading a successful life.  His fourth book, Take The Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose and Live With Acceptable Risk, was released in early 2008.  Carson has been married for more than 30 years to his wife, Candy, and is the father of three sons.  His mother, Sonya Carson, who made all this possible, is alive and well.

MAMA PhD…no womb at the university?


This book is a must-have for any woman who intends to pursue motherhood and academics. In truth, it should be required reading IN the universities for everyone–male and female–in education.

My first child, my son, is now 31, with two daughters of his own, and I still remember arriving at school in the mornings looking like a raccoon, mascara puddling on my eyelids, the wet sorrow of peeling myself away from him.

This book is one I’m ordering copies of for my own daughters, not because they’re mommy/academics, but because the stories of the struggles are honest and funny. They’re written by women who know that sometimes the solution is equally problematic, but who recognize that balance is a goal…not a given.

Mama, Ph.D. is a literary anthology of deeply-felt personal narratives by women both in and out of thMama, PhD covere academy, writing about their experiences attempting to reconcile bodies with brains. This anthology voices stories of academic women choosing to have, not have, or delay children. The essays in this anthology will speak to and offer support for any woman attempting to combine work and family, and will make recommendations on how to make the academy a more family-friendly workplace.

Robert Drago, author of Striking a Balance: Work, Family, Life (Dollars & Sense, 2007) says, “Through the voices of those who have weathered the storm, Mama PhD fills a crucial gap in our understanding of why gender equity has been so difficult to achieve in academe. More importantly, it provides invaluable lessons for young scholars — both men and women — striving to navigate family and academic careers.”

Catherine Newman, author of Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family (Penguin, 2005) says, “All those sleepless nights and dirty diapers and baby food in your hair — where’s the discursive construction of motherhood when you need it? It’s here, in these smart, funny, poignant essays that struggle to balance mind and body, to balance body and soul.”

And Mary Ann Mason, author of Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Families and Careers (Oxford University Press, 2007) says, “This is a charming, heartfelt book that expresses the difficulties and the joys of combining a life in academia with motherhood. Each story is different, but the experiences and challenges are widely shared.”

Caroline and Elrena decided to assemble this collection because it’s the book we needed when we entered graduate school and the academic job market. We wanted to know that blending family life with life in the ivory tower might be possible; we needed to know that other women were attempting this balancing act. Those women were invisible to us then, but as we began to seek out their stories, we discovered so many women living out this very challenge. We want their stories to be told, so that other women who face these difficult choices will know that they are not alone. We hope this book will encourage and inspire these women, as they try to decide if, when, and how to balance motherhood and academic work.


Our stories will be told more fully in the book, but for now, here’s a brief look at our backgrounds. Caroline, an editor and columnist for Literary Mama, got married six weeks after earning her Ph.D, and got pregnant, two years later, the same week as finally landing a good teaching job. She thought she might attempt to balance teaching and motherhood, but over the course of her pregnancy and brief maternity leave realized that she needed to leave academia. Elrena (a contributor to Literary Mama and other publications) found out she was expecting during her second semester of Ph.D. studies, but her plans to sail blithely through her pregnancy while continuing her studies were radically altered by serious pregnancy complications. After trying to balance recovery, new motherhood, and graduate student life for a semester, she realized she needed to take a year off and rethink her commitment to the academy. Caroline and Elrena, having both left the confines of the ivory tower, are now working on this book.


Part I: The Conversation
This section contains essays representing the variety of choices women have to make as they enter academia, and the struggles and losses encountered as a result of each choice. Selected essays will include topics such as:
~ choosing to have children and an academic career, in a range of fashions
~ choosing not to have children in favor of an academic career
~ choosing to delay having children in favor of an academic career

Part II: That Mommy Thing
In this section, women write about pursuing both academic careers and motherhood. Essays will feature women who have experienced:
~ children before and during graduate school or the dissertation process
~ children during job searches or new appointments
~ children and the tenure track process

Part III: Recovering Academic
This section features essays from women who are redefining themselves and their careers after a period within the ivory tower. Essays will talk about women who have:
~ left the academy after landing a tenure-track job
~ left the academy after achieving tenure
~ moved from teaching positions to administrative work or independent scholarship

Part IV: Momifesto
Having delved into the realms of motherhood in, out, and on the periphery of the academy, this section offers hope for the possibility of a different future, as contributors envision:
~ changes toward family-friendly university settings
~ changes in the economic structure of the academy to benefit mothers
~ changes in the tenure structure that would benefit mothers

StatCounter - Free Web Tracker and Counter


Affirmations for the Academic Mother

by Cynthia Kuhn, Josie Mills, Christy Rowe, and Erin Webster Garrett

As graduate students in a rigorous PhD program, we often marveled at the professors raising young children amid the intense demands of academia. Such conversations took place in private, however, as anything outside of publishing and landing a job was considered frivolous for serious doctoral candidates. We all had babies within the first few years of joining faculties (at a state college, a community college, a private university, and a state university, respectively) and found that sharing our unsettling Dr. Mom experiences in phone conversations, e-mails, or the occasional meeting helped us to process the multifaceted challenges faced by the academic mother. 1 The medieval structures and traditionally juvenile attitudes toward women in the higher education system have not been completely dislodged; they just appear in more covert but equally insidious ways. Motherhood is constructed as All Body—our own and/or our baby’s—while scholarly work is rendered All Mind. This is an impossible theoretical dialectic to negotiate, and establishing realistic expectations is crucial for anyone considering (or reflecting upon) maternity in light of myriad obstacles erected by academic culture. We hope the following list might be useful in that regard.

Ten Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us

1. You are strong enough to handle any disturbing assumption regarding maternity before, during, and after your pregnancy—know that it reveals more about the system than it does about you.

The notions that only an unorganized person would get knocked up and that pregnancy makes women irrational and impossible to deal with are fostered by the higher education system, which is often hostile to feminism and is decidedly antiparent (there is no day care on my campus, for example, and hysterical laughter at the very thought). The default assumption seems to be that faculty members have wives at home who take care of distractions like reproduction. On my campus, suggestions for family-friendly practices such as paid parental leave, designated private nursing areas, day care, and health-care coverage for infertility issues are dismissed out of hand as unnecessary. Which brings me to the whopper: birth or miscarriage is to be scheduled at the convenience of the school, preferably on holidays. You may not want to tell your department chair you are expecting until after the second or third ultrasound, as going back and revealing a miscarriage can be both nerve-wracking and violating. I learned this the hard way.2

People may assume all you want to talk about (or are capable of talking about) is your child. In meeting after meeting, the dean would ask other colleagues about their writing projects while she just asked me, “How’s the baby?” I felt like she assumed that I was no longer in the same professional realm; I was (only) a mother.

To some onlookers, I waited too long to have children and now am reaping the appropriate punishment for that selfishness (three miscarriages so far). The most vocal detractor has been a sister-in-law who so much as said that maybe this was God’s way of saying I shouldn’t have another child because I can’t handle what I have. When I was pregnant at thirty-three and had gained more than the ideal amount of weight, a doctor told me that my body would have a harder time snapping back and that this is what I got for putting my career before my fertility. Thus, according to the larger culture, I am of “advanced maternal age,” too old to be trying to have more babies.3 Meanwhile, in my department, I am considered a young professor—and motherhood is viewed as a code word for “occupational interference.”


When I told my chair that I was pregnant, the response was, “You do know how that happens, don’t you?” While I was reeling from that, he said, “Oh, I thought you were going to tell me that you’d gotten a job at Cornell”—so I felt troublesome in having become pregnant and also less acceptable for only having become pregnant, rather than landing a prestigious job.


2. You are maternally beautiful, even if you feel more like a spectacle than at any other time in your life.

Your expectant body will be inscribed by colleagues, students, friends, and family. Those notations may seem disparaging or embarrassing even when they probably aren’t.

It was difficult not to feel self-conscious standing in front of classes with my belly bursting out of whatever ridiculous ensemble I’d created in an earnest effort to look polished (“Do you think they’d notice I’m enormous if I add this scarf?”). Simply acquiring a professional maternity wardrobe can be hard on a junior faculty or adjunct salary; you might try eBay, where postpartum women often sell gently used work clothes in lots, and baby-oriented consignment stores.

You may be shocked at how pregnancy can pull everyone’s attention to your body. My pregnant waddle and growing belly prompted unsolicited commentaries: some good-natured, some funny, but all rather unnerving. (And imagine the awkwardness of interviewing for a new faculty position while eight and a half months pregnant—talk about an elephant in the room!)


COLLEAGUE 1: “You are getting so big!”
COLLEAGUE 2: “It’s good, though, that you only have one chin. I never understood why pregnant women gain weight in their faces—the baby is in their stomach, for goodness’ sake!”



how to ROCK YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL and not be arrested for vandalism!

Enter to win a chance to win a concert with Radio Disney star Jordan Pruitt at your child's school.

If you’re a parent of a student in any grade from kindergarten through eighth, this is your opportunity to rally the PTA and win prizes for the school, the top one being a concert PLUS the box tops.

Look over the list at the end of this post, I’m sure some of the products there may already be in your house.

The Kimberly-Clark Rock Your School Sweepstakes is easy to enter! All you have to do is register and then you can enter daily, through September 15, 2008, for your chance to win. There are two ways you can enter: By mail or on the Internet at The information you provide when you register will be used to contact you if you are a winner. Remember, you can enter once a day, every day.

You can enter the Kimberly-Clark Rock Your School Sweepstakes once a day, every day, through September 15, 2008. The winners will be chosen on or around September 22nd and notified shortly thereafter.

The Prizes
One lucky winner will receive the grand prize of a concert with Radio Disney Star Jordan Pruitt at their child’s school, plus 100,000 Bonus Box Tops!

That’s not the only thing we’re giving away though. 100 winners will receive 1,000 Bonus Box Tops (that’s a value of $100!) for their child’s school, 200 winners will receive an autographed Jordan Pruitt CD and 1,000 winners will receive a non-autographed Jordan Pruitt CD. Good luck!

Box Tops Logo

Box Tops for Education has helped America’s schools earn over $200 million since 1996! In fact, Kimberly-Clark has donated over $4 million to schools just in the past year through its partnership with Box Tops.

Schools, grades K-8, In addition to having the chance to win Box Tops through our sweepstakes, you also can help earn Box Tops for your school when you look for specially marked packages from the following participating Kimberly-Clark brands:

Kimberly Clark’s helping women to stay poised for life

Quiz time at FICTIONARY.

What do 80% of women suffer from and don’t discuss:
a) shopping envy
b) age denial
c) bubble bath deprivation
d) overactive male egos
e) none of the above.

The answer is none of the above. [Those of you looking for “f) all of the above,” will have to read my website for a discussion of that topic. ]

What do 8 out of 10 of us fear talking about in public? Bladder control. Now, if you’re a man, and want to check out another site right now…like maybe “Denial. Is it just a river in Egypt?”…go right ahead. But I’ll pray for you because if you have an important female in your life, and you’re not sensitive to this subject, for shame. Stay. Get educated. Be the man she needs you to be.

And if you’re a woman reading this thinking, “Well, poor Christa. Girl’s desperate for blog topics.” Um. No. I volunteered for this one. Gladly. Because, sister, and hear me (read me?). If you’ve not been there, done that, you’ll be doing it. I promise.

Why is this subject taboo? Several reasons. From a psychological perspective, I find it interesting that we‘re a nation unafraid to picture a string-bikini clad female holding a can of motor oil, but try an ad for a woman discussing bladder control problems and products. Sex sells. Urine does not.

So, ladies, out of the closet. Let’s face it, one of four women experience some degree of bladder control loss. And one brave woman has already stepped forth, Linda Michaels, who was recognized by Kimberly-Clark with their first-ever Poise brand Passion award for fighting for women’s health. In fact, Kimberly Clark has partnered with the Women’s Health Foundation (WHF) to bring the issues of women’s pelvic health to the public.

Here’s part of Linda’s story:

After giving birth to her son (a healthy 10-pound, eight-ounce baby), Linda experienced constant pelvic discomfort and from then on, never felt quite right. For 28 years, she endured chronic pelvic, back and hip pain, incontinence and painful intercourse.

Brushed aside for decades, Linda finally decided that even if a cure proved impossible, she deserved a definitive explanation of her symptoms’ cause. She researched female urologists and found one who suggested pelvic floor therapy, a treatment Linda had never heard of, and directed her to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC).

Left to right, is Missy Lavender of the Women’s Health Foundation, Linda Michael recipient of the Poise brand Passion Award, Amy Attenberger Poise brand manager.

Thirteen weeks of life-changing therapy alleviated the pain, embarrassment and blame she carried for half her life. Pain-free and active, Linda no longer suffers from incontinence.

Katie Lorenz, a friend from RIC, nominated her for this award “because Linda wouldn’t take no for an answer, sought out the best help possible and is willing to share her story to help educate women — and doctors — on under-researched and under-treated women’s health issues.”

Click here to view Linda’s video testimony of her triumph over pelvic pain: Windows Media (.wmv, 16mb) (

“I’m so vocal about my experience because I learned that the only way to get the answers and treatment I needed was by talking about my situation over and over until I was finally directing my questions to the right person,” explained Linda. “My personal goal is to help women suffering from similar health issues realize that incontinence and pelvic pain are not a right of passage after pregnancy…”

POISE, Kimberly-Clark’s branded product designed to help women with bladder control issues, has an extensive website. There’s an assessment questionnaire you can complete online to determine your bladder health. And the questionnaire isn’t linked to your local community newspaper’s gossip column.

The Learning Center link on the site is not limited to bladder health. While you’re there, check out the Life and Health Website & Archives. I headed back to the site after writing this blog to read the article on Bioidentical Hormones.  Somebody forgot to tell me about designer hormones…Speaking of designers, don’t forget to enter the POISE Dream Destination Shopping Trip. London, Paris, New York, or Beverly Hills. There’s also a sweepstakes for free products you can enter.

So, here’s what I’m thinking. I plan to live a long time. I plan to exercise, sneeze, giggle, cough, and laugh. Maybe all at once. And my bladder’s not going to stop me. But, if it tries to, I have Poise…both the product and the noun.




1. Write an essay consisting of five paragraphs.

2. Staple this handout to the back of your paper before submitting it.

3. Your essay is due at the end of class.


1. Does it really have to be five paragraphs? What if I write only four?

2. Where do I staple this handout?

3. Do you really want this stapled to my essay? 

4. Am I supposed to staple this to the back of my essay?

5. I’m out of staples.

6. What if I don’t finish? Can I take this home?


1. If we barrage you with enough questions, we think you’ll eventually back off. We would rather listen to an hour of Frank Sinatra than write even fifty words on a sheet of paper.

2. We know you told us at the beginning of the school year to purchase our own mini-stapler, but we either didn’t purchase one, purchased one and lost it, purchased one and broke it, and/or it ran out of staples five months ago when the kid behind me took it and emptied the staples, one by one, into my hair. I’ve passed any number of places where I could purchase more staples and/or a stapler, but I really didn’t have time to stop because Starbucks was about to open or close, and I needed to be there. Anyway, we don’t understand why you won’t allow us to use your stapler when we know you’re hiding at least two of them in your desk.

3. Is the earth going to stop spinning if I staple the handout to the front instead of the back? Sometimes you seem just a tad bit OCD. We think, perhaps, we might be able to help you overcome that if we don’t always follow directions.

4. We know we could finish before the end of class, but we have homework for Free Enterprise/Civics/Biology/Spanish/French/Geometry that’s due next hour. And, BobbieSue didn’t have time in my other class to finish telling me what happened at Prom because she got all caught up in the fashion disaster that MarthaJo wore and the bell rang.

WHAT THE TEACHER REALLY WANTS TO SAY (and sometimes MAY say some of the below):

1. Directions are entirely at your discretion. Feel free NOT to follow them; however, feel equally free to stand ready for the consequences.

2. Students in a tenth grade honors class should be able to burp five paragraphs in fifty minutes. That’s ten minutes per paragraph. If you think that’s not a long time, think about being poked in the eye with a hot stick for ten minutes.

3. If you write only four paragraphs, that’s one less paragraph I need to read. See #1.

4. Yes, I want the handout stapled to the BACK because I don’t want to read 100+ essays and have to flip the handout out of the way every time. You will need the handout when I return the essay to remind you of the directions. See #1.

5. I told you in August that if you were old enough to sit behind the wheel of a moving vehicle traveling at 50+ miles per hour, you were certainly old enough and responsible enough to purchase, be trusted with, and use a stapler no longer than 2-3 inches.

For the record, I have THREE staplers. I purchased them with MY money. Years ago, I allowed students to use my stapler. Over that period of time, staplers were “lost,” broken, or abused. When it was time to submit papers, the room sounded as if it had been invaded by wildebeests galloping through the Kalahari when 25-30 students would simultaneously flock to my desk. It was uncivilized. And it wasted valuable class time. And it made ME responsible for YOUR paper. And so the entitlement program of free stapling ended. 

6. My directions may seem, possibly could be, OCD-ish. Wait until you fill out your first tax return. Ask the IRS if you can switch around the information. Let me know how that works for you.

7. The lesson isn’t limited to the writing. It’s a lesson on being responsible, practicing wise time management, and following directions.

8. Clearly, socialization is an integral part of the high school experience, one which I certainly would not want you to experience the pain of deprivation. So, to accommodate that need, we have scheduled special times for your bonding with friends. We call it before and after school, passing time between classes, and lunch.