Lorie’s List – 8/26/2016

Lorie’s List is back! My list usually appears on Fridays and is a fun and/or helpful list of things to do, websites to visit, or overall useless information that I find interesting. To keep
with the theme of this week, today’s Lorie’s List is all about education. I’ve got something for just about everyone!

  • ABCYa.com – This site comes recommended by my 6th grader. She said it was
    Image from ABCYa.com homepage

    ABCYa.com comes highly recommended!

    a really fun site and educational. There are lots of games for Pre-K through 5th grade. And, if you find the games too easy, you can move up a grade level. “R” says it’s something that teachers should check out too!

  • Study Island is a website that my daughters’ schools have used that covers a wide range of topics for each grade level. The site is geared for schools and the teachers set up questions, tests and games for the students to use to help increase comprehension and retention of information. It’s a great tool! If your school doesn’t use it, talk to your child(ren)’s teacher and ask them to check it out.
  • Khan Academy is an awesome site for the whole family. If you aren’t familiar withKhan Academy logoKhan Academy, Wikipedia describes it as: “Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization created in 2006 by educator Salman “Sal” Khan with the aim of providing a “free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere”. You can find lessons on everything from basic math to accounting and science. They have classes for adults too! These aren’t just lame thrown together lessons, these are usually tied to colleges and universities so you’re basically getting a college level course for free. Both of my daughters have gotten homework and reference help there as well as lessons recommended by teachers. And yes, IT IS ALL FREE! So go check out that Organic Chemistry class you’ve always wanted to take.

 

What educational sites do you or your family love? Share below in comments!

Tell Me A Story Tuesday – Back to School 2016 Edition!

It’s that time again in our neck of the woods – Back To School! Now, I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m not a huge fan of school starting. For us the world gets even more crazy once the school doors open, and when you add that to the fact that my oldest is a high school senior this year…well this fall becomes even more meaningful. I thought I would celebrate with Tell Me A Story Tuesday!mobli_img_2013-08-28_04.59.35

For my new followers Tell Me A Story Tuesday is pretty much what it says on the tin. Sometimes I’ll tell you a story, but I always ask you to tell ME a story. There are some ground rules to be mindful of, but other than that, go for it.

I’ll get the ball rolling with a very short story…

Our daughters were born six years apart. That’s not the way it was planned (we wanted them about four years apart) , but that’s the way it happened. Despite the age difference they are very close, annoyingly so sometimes. My oldest was so excited to be a big sister and help take care of her that we never had any real issues with sibling rivalry, sure there were some bumps, but no one tried to sell anyone or hide them or anything. Their closeness has come in handy on days like the first day of school.

My youngest was very excited to start school. She’s very smart and learns quickly, so she was happy to be doing something other than workbooks and library dates with Dad. There were no real tears her first day of school, lots of excited chatter but no tears (not on her end at least). We lived closed enough to the school to walk, so we skipped the whole way there (well some of us skipped, some of us drug our feet because WE were not ready for this) and didn’t really hesitate at the door.

Kindergarten students were allowed to have their parents walk them to class the first day. But that’s not what we did. Big Sister had promised to get Little Sister safely delivered to class, and to check the place out and make sure she felt it was safe. So we stopped in the lobby and watched our girls walk hand-in-hand down the hall to a new adventure.

So now it’s your turn. Use the comments section below to tell me a story. It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be good. Just tell me something that happened to you at the beginning of the school year. Don’t forget to follow the rules. Class is back in session – I can’t wait to hear about it!

Respect One Another

I’ve stepped away on purpose the last few weeks. There is so much heartbreaking news out there, and I didn’t feel I had anything to offer the conversation. But, ignoring it somehow seemed wrong. Today I intended to post something fun as a get our minds off all of sadness. But I can’t do it. hands-683950_960_720

Instead I’ll say the one thing that keeps running through my mind. Can’t we just respect one another.

I’m not saying we should put aside all of our differences, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. I’m not even saying we should like one another. It would be nice, but let’s be honest…that’s never going to happen in my lifetime. Some of the differences are a really important to who we are and deserve to be focused on and discussed. It’s the differences that will help us as a society learn and, one day, move forward.

But today is not that day.

Asking people to love one another is impossible until people learn to respect one another. So that’s what my message is today. You don’t have to love thy neighbor. Hell, you don’t even have to like them. But try a little respect. They are a human being. They have hopes and dreams. They love someone, and someone loves them. They are someone’s child. They may be someone’s sibling or parent. They have friends. There are things that make them laugh and things that make them cry. They will bleed. They will die.

They are a living, breathing human being. The color of their skin, the person that they love, the higher power they believe in – or don’t believe in, their sex and sexual identity is all secondary to the fact that they are a living, breathing human being. Just like you. Just like me, and the person down the street. Just like every person of color. Just like every cop. Just like every gay man and woman. We are all living, breathing human beings.

Maybe I’m just stupid or naive, but shouldn’t that be the most important part? If you can’t find a way to respect someone for any other reason, can’t you at least respect the fact that they are a human being? They are here trying to live the best they can, and when they’re gone someone will cry for them.

I know that even asking us to be nice to one another at this point is probably a lost cause. So, can we start with respect? For one day, don’t just automatically go on the attack or on the defensive. Respect the people around you. You don’t have to get carried away, just…I don’t know…say excuse me when you walk in front of someone. Hold a door open. Say thank you and your welcome. Acknowledge that the people around you, even the people who say you hate, are PEOPLE. Human beings. Living, breathing, feeling beings just like you.

For one day try to respect them. And then tomorrow, try doing it for another day. And the day after that…and the day after that…and the day after that…And maybe one day we’ll find that we really do respect the people we’re different from. May that day we can move on and find a way get along.rainbow-436171_960_720

4 Ideas to Make Storytelling Easier

I’ve gotten some questions recently about storytelling, and I thought I wold share some of the discussion with everyone. First, let me clarify what I mean about storytelling.

Old Typewriter

Tips for telling your story

To me, storytelling can be anytime you’re telling people something. That could be in the traditional sense like a novel or autobiography, or in a marketing sense like a marketing or social media campaign. Instructional design, script writing and video production as well as content development can all fall under storytelling – you’re trying to share information or persuade someone by telling someone something. I look at all these things as storytelling because it puts you more in the mind of getting your information out in a creative and/or interesting way that is more likely to hold interest and make an impact.

With that out of the way,  let’s look at 4 ideas (and a bonus tip) that will hopefully make storytelling easier for you.

  1. Who cares? I know, everyone should care about what you have to say. Unfortunately, that’s not actually true. So ask yourself, who am I telling this story to? Who is going to care from the first word, and who do I want to make care? Spend a few minutes thinking about the audience the piece is for and what you want them to take away from the story your telling.
    Old photo from New Your Times Newsroom of reporters working, on phone and reading

    These guys might care….

    I know that’s the first step in any kind of writing, but too often I see people trying to tell a story, market something or teach something taking a shotgun approach – spreading the information as thin as you can to try to reach as many people as possible. The majority of the time that only makes the story boring and too diluted to have the impact you want.

  2. Watch your language. It’s no secret that when people write for business they write more formally, it’s what we’ve all been taught. But, that’s not always the best option. You need to look at the audience and the story you’re telling. If you’re talking about profit and loss margins something more formal is probably the best choice. If you’re talking about a client’s theme park or telling people about the time you were having such a run of bad luck that your left shoe fell down a sewer grate and you never saw it again, you probably want to be a little more informal.

    What do I mean by informal? Using contractions for one. A lot of people seem to have issues using contractions in their writing, and that quickly makes everything more formal. Word choice is important too! Using slang can also be a big help in making what you’re writing more approachable. If your writing a young adult (YA) romance novel and say, “Would you like to go spend time at the local shopping complex?” versus, “Do you want to go hang out at the mall?” your reader is going to feel like they’re reading a text book – and chances are if they’re reading a YA romance novel they probably get enough of text books in their daily lives and won’t give your novel the time of day.

  3. Let your Medium guide you. I’m not talking about Madam Elaine, Psychic to the
    office-620817_1920

    Let your medium Guide you!

    Masses, I’m talking about the medium you’re using to tell the story. Are you telling your story verbally or in writing? Are you doing a slide show presentation or blog post? Consider the length of time or space you have to tell the story. Shorten or expand as necessary.

  4.  Say it out loud! One of the easiest and fastest ways to check on how your story sounds is to read it out loud to yourself. Listen to how it sounds. Does it sound too formal? Not formal enough? Is there a sentence that’s hard to understand when you hear it? Is it something that is easy to understand and hit the notes you’re looking to hit? The answers to questions like these will tell you a lot about the writing style you used for the piece (or your writing style in general) and the how others will hear it – even when they read to themselves most of your audience will be hearing their voice saying the words so in a way they are hearing it out loud.

    Bonus TIP! Reverse it! If you’re worried that your writing style or speaking style is too formal and you want to work on that, start verbally rather than in writing. This especially works well if you’re telling your life stories. Record yourself telling the story verbally before you start to write. Listen to it carefully. What do you notice about how you tell the story? Is your word choice different than when you write? Are your sentences shorter? Do you use a storytelling voice that is warm and approachable? Keep these things in mind when you start to write and see the difference it can make in the final product!

I would love to hear from you! Drop me a note and let me know what you think of the post and what tips or ideas you have to make storytelling easier!

Go with Your Gut

View of Johnstown, PA from the Inclined Plane on the 127th Anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood.

The City of Johnstown on May 31st, 2016 – the 127th Anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood.

Last week I told you that I would be writing a post about the Great Johnstown Flood of 1889. This week, to be honest, I’m just not feeling it. While the flood happened more than 120 years ago, it’s something that is very personal for me. You see, my family has lived in Johnstown and the surrounding area for generations. I know that I had family who were in town for all of the floods and deeply impacted by them. I don’t have first hand accounts of the floods, just memories of my grandparents memories of family talking about the Great Flood. But still, talking about the flood, and the thousands that died, usually makes me pretty melancholy. Since my life the last few weeks have been enough to make the sunniest person blue, I decided it might be best to table the planned post for now. I will get there (and hopefully be able to share with you something I wrote for a local magazine about the people of my hometown), but today I’m going to focus on the future.

To be extremely honest, the future isn’t looking all that sunny either, but it’s got potential. I’m still looking for work and my husband is still very ill. But, and that is a huge but, there are good thing on the horizon. Our oldest daughter finishes her Junior year of high school today and has been making plans abut what she wants to do next. We’ve got at least two colleges to tour and all the excitement of Senior Year to look forward to. No matter how I see things for myself right now, her future looks bright and I know she’ll be amazing.

Our youngest is a ball of energy and extremely intelligent – a combination to behold. One minute she’s discussing the advantages of different Pokemon and the next she’s talking about science and math at levels beyond the average 5th (soon to be 6th) grader. I’m sure that this summer will be filled with experiments and finding ways to keep her mind and body busy on a daily basis.

Fortunately, our town is filled with all kinds of great low or no cost things to do. We can easily spend most, if not all day, at a local library. There are parks to explore and free activities almost every weekend. And of course the local mall is open for strolling and window shopping when the weather gets to hot.

I don’t know for sure what the future holds. What I do know is that sometimes you need to go with your gut. When your gut tells you it’s not the right time to write something deeply personal that brings you down, it’s a good idea to listen. When it tells you that it’s time to focus on the positive in your life and share that with the ones of followers who read your blog, listen to your gut.