Monday, October 31, 2011

"The plan to lengthen the school day will help create more time for that playtime break in between classes."

The above quote from a recent Channel 7 news report about lengthening the school day for Chicago Public School's next year sums it all up.  So much for the importance of more "classroom" time for the children. I guess Reading, Math, Science and the arts aren't all that important after all (at least not 90 minutes worth of importance). Not to mention that for many schools they no longer have a place for "safe play" - not only because many schools don't have a playground, but because it's not safe to be outside.  The article also talks of "indoor" recess too and having a recess space.  I guess that would be the classroom, which when filled with 25-30 students (maybe more) is not a "safe" play area either.  My favorite part was that some schools hire "recess coaches".  Yes, you read that right.  Too bad they don't hire lunch coaches, bathroom coaches, locker coaches, etc. Oh that's right they already do; they're called teachers.

There is so much wasted time already in a school day. If more time to play is what students need, then I say let's keep the hours the same, use the minutes we have for actual teaching, and then at dismissal the children can run and jump and play on their own time.

I am not saying that children don't need a little break from their studies once in awhile, but CPS and the mayor should tell it like it is.  Let the taxpayers of Chicago know what their whole plan is, because in the end it's the taxpayers who will be paying for the schools to be open longer.

Click link for the full article from ABC7 News

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Win a Nook ~ Kindle ~ iPod Shuffle + get LOTS of FREE eGifts on November 1st!

Author Amanda Stephan...New Book Launch

Win a Nook ~ Kindle ~ iPod Shuffle + get LOTS of FREE eGifts on November 1st!
Lonely Hearts ~ a sweet Christian romance
by Amanda Stephan

WHEN: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
TIME: 24 hours
RECEIVE: Free e-gifts with purchase on launch day ONLY

~ About the Book~

One lonely mother. Two matchmaking kids. Three eligible bachelors, and some very yummy apple pie!

When widow Becky Callis moves to a new town, she thought it would be easier to start over in a place where she's not reminded of her dead husband. Her kids on the other hand, take it as a chance to help their mother start over romantically. The only problem is, there seems to be quite a few eligible bachelors they can choose from! They soon realize it's easier to find someone to like their mother than it is to figure out which man is best for her.

Even though this handsome cowboy is younger than Becky, Scott makes his interest plain and starts courting her almost immediately to the delight of both kids.

Jack and Becky have been friends since childhood. When they're reunited years after their lives have taken very different paths, this lonely preacher begins to wonder if God has brought her back into his life for a reason. 

Pearce Morgan is a single parent raising his young daughter after his wife deserts them soon after Emily's birth. Divorced and disillusioned, an unlikely friendship arises between him and Becky when his shy daughter decides she loves Becky and her kids.
True love is harder than it looks!

Lonely Hearts, a story of second chances, choices, and yummy apple pie will be released in October through TreasureLine Publishing. Exclusive Apple Pie recipe included!

Who is author Amanda Stephan?

Amanda Stephan is just a normal, everyday country girl. She resides near Columbia, TN with her husband and children, three cats, one dog, and multiple roosters that love to roost under their bedroom windows. She loves to laugh and have a good time, and loves to read a good book. 
     Out of love for her family and love for God, she finds writing to be an opportunity to share God's love for others in a fun and entertaining way. Her first novel, The Price of Trust, was published in May of 2010, her second novel, Lonely Hearts, is due for release at the end of October, 2011, and her Slade series was just picked up by TreasureLine Publishing.
      If you were to ask her to share one thing about herself that most people don't know, she'd have so many to choose from that she'd probably hesitate for a moment. Not quite a recluse, she's rather camera shy, doesn't like to be in the spotlight, and absolutely LOVES to have her feet tickled. But she would say her most interesting accomplishment is that she laughs like Scooby Doo.

Praise for Lonely Hearts

Amanda Stephan hits a homerun with her latest novel Lonely Hearts.  Becky Callis lost her husband nine years ago and is now a single parent raising, Jen and Jeff, her two children.  Becky is a good-hearted woman who puts her children first, which I find a very admirable trait especially in the times we live in today.  But as Becky soon finds out, doing what's right is not always the easy road to follow.  She and her children move to a new town into a house that is on the verge of falling apart.  Becky home-schools her children and does small jobs to make ends meet.   When she is offered a full-time job, she is hesitant, but believes it's  what's best for her children.  Along the way she meets a few young gentlemen who could be perspective callers.  Her children definitely have ideas on who should be "the one" for their mother.  Amanda Stephan weaves a story with interesting plot twists, with romance, and with delicious apple pie!
Lisa Tortorello - author of My Hero, My Ding
Lonely Hearts … tugged at my heart and made me laugh and cry ~ Ursula Gorman, Author of Old Acquaintances

Author Amanda Stephan does it again! She has a wonderful way of weaving faith in the Lord, everyday life, heartache and romance into terrific stories ~ Kelly Hagen, author of Jake & Jesus

Beautifully written story about second chances at love and life. The characters were genuine and seemed real to life. I was captivated at page one of the book, and read it in only one day! I will recommend this book to my friends and family ~ Anastasia @
I LOVED this story. From beginning to end it kept me totally enthralled and wondering how it would all work out. Loaded with zippy dialog and great characters made for a fun and very satisfying tale.  I felt happy, sad, excited, angry, and frustrated. You know a story is good when it has that effect. The theme running though our story is 'things may not always be as they appear'. It's a great reminder that man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart. If you enjoy an easy-to-read, fun and entertaining story with a great message I highly recommend Lonely Hearts.
~ Sherry Kuhn ~ Avid reader and Reviewer

This book will capture your heart and like Becky’s kids, your heart will flip-flop as you embrace one bachelor then the other for Becky. Who will win Becky’s heart and how will the others handle her decision? This book is full of hope, anticipation, optimism, faith, and possibilities. If you have lost a love, this book will restore your faith that the possibility of true love has not withered as a flower in the hot summer sun. Amanda will capture your heart from the first page with this delightful story. 
~ Theresa Franklin, author of Journey to Fulfillment

 Just when I thought I had the story figured out, Ms. Stephan would throw in an unexpected twist, tossing a monkey wrench into her characters’ lives--and a rather large monkey wrench near the end of the story. If you like romance, a touch of sweet humor, and characters who face life head-on, this is the perfect book to curl up with! ~ Karin Kaufman, author of The Witch Tree

You can usually find Amanda lurking in several online places at once like her 
Facebook fan page 

her Facebook author page

her website or 
or her personal blog

Sunday, October 23, 2011

For Your Kids, Grandkids, and all those that are still KIDS AT HEART!

In the midst of all the bad news we hear on a daily basis, I have an opportunity to bring some light-hearted fun to you via the internet!  My husband and I have been collecting moose since 1993 and they have all inspired me to write my next book which is in production now.  The Moose at the Manger will  be released in the Spring of 2012 ,and all of our moose are so excited about it they started their own blog!  Check them out at 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who Doesn't Want a Chance to Win? Click Link for details!


A big shout out to Kelly Hagen, author of JAKE AND JESUS, for having me as a guest on her blog this week! You can read the interview at . Be sure to leave a comment and an email address on Kelly's page and you'll be entered to win a free autographed copy of my book, My Hero, My Ding! The lucky winner will be picked October 23rd!

While at Kelly's site, be sure to check out her book too. She has a special giveaway going on through the month of October!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Typical Day...this Video Says it All!

A Typical Day For a Teacher...this video sums it up!

It's all for the children, so we're told.  We need more minutes added to our school day, so we're told.  I have a great idea!  Let us use the minutes we have now for actual instructional purposes and see what happens with our students.

Yesterday was a great example, and unfortunately not an isolated one, of how many school days are wasted.  Each morning we start off with a breakfast for the students that takes place in the classrooms once the school day has actually began.  This breakfast used to be a "before school option", but the law was changed last year making it mandatory to do this during what is supposed to be instructional time. 

Yesterday  was also school picture day and the whole process of passing out name cards, having picture money in envelopes, etc. was very unorganized and dumped on the classroom teachers as well.  Finally, for a school day that began at 8:45, instruction began about 35 minutes later.  Just when I thought the picture organizing fiasco was over there were 3 more interruptions during our READING BLOCK...some block this was.  We couldn't carry on a coherent thought if we wanted to.   I was able to squeeze in a history lesson and rush through a math lesson in order to "keep on schedule".   When I had two minutes left to finish up I saw a man standing at my door out of the corner of my eye.  I know him to be an Area Network guy who is one of many this year that like to come in and "observe" with check-lists of what is going on in the classroom, as well as, what items are posted on our walls.   I looked quickly at my students and told them it looks like we are going to be interrupted again but to please just focus on me since we have two minutes to finish up the lesson.  Now,  the transom above my door was open and maybe the man heard me because after the brief pause at my door, he moved on without coming inside.

Now that it was finally time to change classes for the morning  I was feeling optimistic.  I got the incoming  class all settled in BUT lo and behold we weren't  seven minutes into the lesson when I got a call from the office to bring my own students down to take their pictures.  The kids lined up  again, returned to their homerooms, and off we went to the auditorium.  The picture process itself took about twenty-five minutes and I was happy I'd have my class for the remaining time before lunch.  We returned to the third floor, and I opened the door letting my students in first.  I followed my students in with the intention of closing my door behind me only to find yet another "visitor" at my door. 
This was a woman who also was from the Area Network Team.  I told her we just got back from taking pictures and she said she was not here to observe anything in particular.  I told her to come in and have a ball!  She proceeded to sit in the back of my classroom and open up a computer netbook.  She was typing  and typing and typing, which I thought was interesting since she wasn't here to "observe anything in particular".  At one point I walked behind her to get a paper for a student, and as I glanced at her screen she was typing the dialogue that had just taken place between a student and I.  She ended up staying until my whole lesson was over.   At least the students were able to settle down and actually concentrate for a few minutes even with this last interruption.

Then it was....Bathroom time, recess time, lunch time.... and we're back for a fast afternoon.  My students had computers  right after lunch and the final period of the day was used for a combination class of  Vocabulary and Novel Reading.  By 2:20 I think we were all ready to go home. I know I was.

I was recently asked what can be done to support me as a teacher....I said simply....LET ME TEACH!
Easier said than done I guess. Tomorrow the Board of Education is coming to our school for one of its yearly audits.  So, it'll be more interruptions, more intrusions, more chaos, and oh yeah...not much learning.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pension Alert...Please take a moment to read this!

I just received this email from the Chicago Teacher's Union, but the proposed legislation would also affect the Chicago Police, Chicago Firefighters, Chicago Municipal, Chicago Laborers, and the Chicago Park District.

Dear Lisa:
There are two bills in Springfield that would, if passed, alter your pension severely. Your pension is your security in the future. Let’s fight these bills together!
What you need to know:
These two bills will alter your pension. CTU opposes all entirely. The bill introduced most recently, HB3827, would take away your democratic right to vote for a trustee to represent your interests on the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. Instead, Mayor Emanuel would have the power to appoint four members to a new, combined pension board and union members would together elect only three trustees, giving the Mayor majority control.

“Pension Reform” would create three pension tiers. This would weaken the pension by allowing some to opt out of it. Those choosing a self-managed plan will see their retirement affected by fluctuations in the market

What you need to do:

Call and visit your State Representative and State Senator and tell them to vote NO on SB512 and HB 3827.
Find their contact information with this link.

In solidarity,
Stacy Davis Gates
CTU Political Director

Click the bill number for more details HB 3827  and SB 512

My PhotoSecond City Cop also had a good article about this today.  Click Here


Friday, October 7, 2011

UPDATED...New Blog...Come, check it out!

It is NOT in place of this blog (  This is a NEW blog for fun and excitement for moose lovers all over the world and my new book!  Check it out

Announcement: Coming in 2012!

Chris Mas Moose

Hi! My name is Chris Mas Moose, but everyone (and every moose) that knows me calls me Chris! I was born in December of 1993. I live with my adopted human parents and have been a domesticated moose all of my life. A dear friend of my "parents" gave me to them on Christmas in 1993. Who would have thought that a simple moose like myself would start such a moose frenzy. I might be the main moose, but I'm far from the only moose. For years, my Poppy and Moo (that's what I call them) have traveled near and far and collected all types of moose in need of a home. Friends and family have joined in and found moose to send their way and help make our house a happy and comfy home!

I am now pleased to announce that there will be a book released in 2012 about us! It's titled
"THE MOOSE AT THE MANGER" and it was written by our very own adopted Moo! It's a heart-warming story about a moose who is lost and goes on a fantastic journey. I don't want to spoil the surprise by telling you more about the story, but I thought it would be fun to hear from all of my brothers and sisters in the coming months as the printing and production of our new book gets closer to being released.

This month starts the initial editing process. As far as moose are concerned, it's not very exciting. While we LOVE to read and hear good stories, we find it a little difficult to type (having such big hooves and all). So, we will wait patiently for editing to finish. In the meantime, check back often so you can meet the rest of our moose family!




Stosh and the "Year That Was"!

HI! I am Stanley, but my family and friends call me Stosh! As you can see, even though I am from the South Side of Chicago....I am a CUBS FAN...I know, I's very hard to see the emblem on my shirt (that's because it's been over 100 years since they've won the World Series). BUT I heard that in 1984, the Cubs came really close to being winners. I wasn't born yet...but the legend goes like this....

That year the Cubs did make it to the National League Playoffs. It definitely was the year that was. It was the year the Cubs had 96 wins!
It was the first year Cubs were in postseason play since 1945. It was the year the Cubs won the first two playoff games with scores of 13–0, and 4–2. What could stop them now?

Well they were the Cubs after all. The Padres, who were enjoying their first postseason game since the creation of their team came back with a vengeance and won the next three games leaving the Cubs in the dust. Obviously, it was the year that was just not meant to be.

BUT...if you're a DIEHARD Cub Fan you know one thing... you never give up. That's me...a die-hard Cub's fan on the South Side of Chicago just waiting for that BIG win!!!

In other news... I'm very excited about our new book that is coming out...The Moose at the Manger... Muse the Moose was there and it was a beautiful scene. Even better than the Cubs winning a World Series! REALLY!!! Can't wait for you all to read about it once the book comes out next year!

Signing off for now,
Stanley aka "Stosh"

Stop by often for book updates and to see moose that are really on the loose!~

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What's in a Contract?

I just signed a new contract for a second book with Tate Publishing Company for which I am very excited!  Though I have already been dealing with Tate since 2009 when they began the printing and publishing process for my first book, I took the time to read my new contract and ask pertinent questions.  Once I signed that contract I knew it was a binding agreement (as all contracts are supposed to be).  While this may seem like a simple concept to understand, I find it so frustrating that CEO  Brizard of the Chicago Public Schools just does not get it. The teachers have a contract that terminates June 30, 2012.  Until that time, the contract should be upheld, but time and again CEO Brizard and Rahm Emanuel show us what they really think of a binding agreement....not much! 

Shortly before the beginning of the regular school year, Emanuel stated that he will have 30 schools on board with his "longer school day".  Through  promises of stipends and material goods (like IPads), he only has 13 schools who voted in favor of this and by all accounts some of the voting was done in true Chicago fashion.  Many schools have voted NO to the waiver (of the contract), while many others have just said NO they're not voting at all.  It's a non-issue until the next school year.  Since the tactics used thus far have not yielded the expected results, Brizard has now turned to Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, to help "pick" the next 25 schools to extend their day. In essence he's asked the CTU's own president to help waive the teachers' rights under their own contract.

"Rather than continue implementation of the longer school day school-by-school, case-by-case, and vote-by-vote, we would like to work with you and your members to choose the next 25 schools that will start a longer day in January. Together we can help design guidelines on structuring the longer day for schools that would start in January 2012 and be the model for preparing all schools for the longer day in the 2012-2013 academic year. In short, work with your members at schools that are interested in moving to the longer day to help select the next 25 pioneer schools and help create the guidelines that will structure how those additional 90 minutes of instructional time are used." Click Here for Original Source

Karen Lewis, who replied she never received a message on this topic, stated:

"We learned of this letter through media inquiries. The open letter insinuates that CPS is willing to stop its illegal practice of going “school-by-school, case-by-case, and, vote-by-vote” if only the Union will help them find another 25 schools to switch to a longer schedule in January." Click Here for Original Source

Hopefully, Karen Lewis will not falter but continue to uphold the contract through the remainder of the school year even if that means Emanuel can't get his 30 schools and mark this one off his list of campaign promises.

Luckily there are people and businesses out there that still know the meaning of a contract and how to uphold them.