Eighth Grade Movie

A Movie You Want to See This Weekend

Eighth Grade Movie

There is a movie you want to see this weekend about an eighth grade girl. It is aptly titled, Eighth Grade.

I’m thrilled!

Eighth grade is probably one of the toughest times in a person’s life, don’t you agree?

I’m guessing most of you reading my blog have survived eighth grade, too.

That’s why I wrote my middle grade book Bumbling Bea.

If you’d like more information about Bumbling Bea, check it out here: Bumbling Bea

Here’s a trailer from the film:

In my book, Bumbling Bea the main character, Beatrice is a lot like Elsie.   Both are the epitome of an eighth grade girl and I’m glad someone has finally shone a light on this awkward age.

Why is this such a difficult time in a young person’s life?

Think about it–everything is changing.



Hormones (or as a friend of mine says, “their whores are a moanin'”)

Image result for teen bullying

They aren’t little kids protected by their elementary teachers anymore.  They are only a few months away from high school which for them feels like adulthood is looming right around the corner.

And it is looming around the corner…

Society thrusts them into young adult hood too fast or we hold them back too much trying to shield them from the world.

Man, what a balancing act for all of us.

I’m excited to see how someone else addresses what it is like for eighth grade girls.

I wrote Bumbling Bea because I think eighth grade girls are forgotten.  If you haven’t read my book, here is a quick synopsis just to whet your appetite.

Beatrice thinks she has no acting talent but that doesn’t stop her from auditioning for the annual middle school play. Easy! Except Michiko, a new girl from Japan, shows up and ruins everything! So begins Beatrice’s diabolical plan to scare away Michiko. But Michiko has goals of her own with no plans to leave soon. Then there’s that “other” girl who is such a blabber mouth.  What’s a girl to do?  Plenty.

Bumbling Bea

This isn’t your ordinary middle school experience either.  My story is full of conflict from Beatrice and Michiko, to Beatrice’s parents impending divorce and Michiko’s problems with her demanding mother, to a first cruch, poison ivy, flag dinners, paper airplanes and crazy antics during the play performance.

I’m hoping to see “Eighth Grade” this weekend, but until then I’ll think about my experiences in eighth grade.

I know my life wasn’t as fraught with drama as Beatrice’s.

Times were different from now of course.

We didn’t have cell phones are sexting, but we did have note writing and lots of telephone talking. I remember cheerleading (the closest thing I could get to performing), piano practicing, pimples, my hair on sponge curlers, makeup and panty hose.  I had a boy friend for an entire year and I felt so special because of it. (There was LOTS of making out which I’m sure my mother was aghast by but never said anything.)

I was a Girl Scout, too so I was trying to walk the very slim line of being a good girl AND trying to be part of the crowd.  Even now I can feel the angst of that.

So remember, if you have time this weekend a movie to see is “Eighth Grade”.  Give yourself a little treat or take a childhood friend with you.  I’d love to hear from you after you see it.

Until then.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net


The Reasons You Want to be the String

The Reasons You Want to Be the String

Here are the reasons why you want to be the string.

Let’s talk about well meaning parents who take their parenting job way too far and drive themselves and their kids crazy.


Yes, folks,  we call these parents “helicopter parents.”

Here is a story for you:

My perfect granddaughter (only joking….sort of) is nearly two years old.  She is beginning to venture out on her own within the invisible perameters of her parents’ watchful eyes and ears. At this point, you might label my daughter and her husband as helicopter parents, but you are incorrect!  They are protectful and engaged.

My daughter, her mother, tells me my granddaughter is willfull (nah), headstrong (I haven’t seen it) and likes to be in charge (this could be a valid descriptor as she is a Leo and we Leos love being the boss.)

Can’t all two year olds be described that way?

Here is where my daughter is healthy–she lets my granddaughter experience the outcome of her choices–just a little bit.

For instance, if Mom warns you not to walk on the hot wood boardwalk around the swimming pool because it could hurt your feet and you do so anyway, you learn pretty quickly that hey, that wood is hot and maybe I shouldn’t walk on it.

It is when the guarding goes on for too many years and/or smothering the child becomes the norm that we have trouble.  

Sun Children Drawing Image Drawing Paint C

From a Parents Magazine article”What is Helicopter Parenting”,

“The term “helicopter parent” was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969  book Parents & Teenagers by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a  dictionary entry in 2011. Similar terms include “lawnmower parenting,”cosseting parent,” or “bulldoze parenting.”

Helicopter parenting refers to “a style of parents who are over focused on their children,” says Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment  of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit and author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To                       Guide.

“They typically take too much responsibility for their children’s experiences  and, specifically, their successes or failures,” Dr. Daitch says. Ann Dunnewold, Ph. D., a licensed psychologist and author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, calls it “overparenting.” “It means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way   that is in excess of responsible parenting,” Dr. Dunnewold explains.”

Girl, Mother, Daughter, Mum, People

It is tough to stand back and watch your child struggle. We all struggle from time to time. That’s life.

How, then, do you remain an involved parent without jumping over the parental cliff?

As a mother of two grown daughters,drama teacher  and youth theatre director for thirty-eight years I have a few suggestions.

If you think you are a parent careening over the cliff, I suggest you:

  1.  Breathe, honestly take a few deep breaths and count between them
  2. Avoid knee jerk reactions to situations. Give time a chance to rectify the problem.
  3. Keep a sense of humor
  4. Remember this is a season in your child’s life–nothing ever lasts forever
  5. Find a friend or relative who can listen to you vent your concerns (make sure they know you are venting, too)
  6. Understand the situation your child’s teacher, director, coach or youth program leader is in and try see it from their perspective
  7. Get a hobby, a pet or discover a new interest of yours–you are still a good parent if you have your own life
  8. This one is a biggie! Think about your own childhood and do your best not to fix everything you thought went wrong then by doing it better this time around with your child.

It hurts to see your child hurting, I understand that. Honestly, it will hurt MORE in the long run if you step in and save your kid every time something doesn’t go the way you think it should.

Teach your child the value of rigor, challenge and strife.  There are some values to them, you know.  Whenever I am going through something difficult, I like to analyze the situation.

I say aloud, “Okay, this is not the first time in the world someone has goofed up on a job interview.  What can I learn from it?”

If I step back from the issue, mistake or challenge and analyze it, it makes the event less important and takes away whatever emotion or perceived value I have placed on it. 

If you don’t stop being overbearing, you will raise a neurotic child who becomes a dysfuntional adult who runs from challenges every time they are faced with them, be it a job interview, an audition, a auto accident, peer pressure, a romantic relationship break up or argument.

You want to raise a child who becomes an adult who is a healthy, contributing member of society. 

If you think about your own life, I bet you remember what the tough, awkward and uncomfortable moments taught you more than the good ones.  These challenges make you stronger and more able to withstand the next time something doesn’t work out for you.

I know a very talented, beautiful, promising young woman who auditioned for every production and was always the one who lost the lead role to someone else.  This occurred for years.

She didn’t give up.  Later, she went on to compete in the Miss America contest, won at the state level and was fourth runner up in the national contest.

That’s not too shabby.

I am aquainted with her parents.  They owned several apartment buildings and local shoe stores.  She learned a lot from them about how to be professional and business like.  Now she owns a thriving business. Life continued to happen to her of course, but she took it in stride.  She is exemplary single mother raising her daughter.

Parents should be less helicopters and more the string of a spinning top.  Okay, that’s kinda sappy but you understand my point. (I can hear you saying, “Deb said I should be the string, be the string….)

Image result for wooden top with string

You send your child out into the world and hope she doesn’t spin out of control and hit the wall too many times. You are there to pick her up or when her just needs some “fluffing up” as we call it at our house. (Yes, I actually fluff our daughters’ shoulders as if they were a flattened pillow.)

You want a life of supporting your child, and only “fluffing” them.  You don’t want  a life of constant regret or worry everytime something doesn’t work out for them.

Put away the helicopters and enjoy your kids.  It’s tough to do some days but in the long run, you’ll be glad that you did.

Have you ever had a moment of helicoptering?  I have.  I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

P.S.  Recently, I received an email from one of the queens of  helicopter parents who wanted to set the record straight about her son and an incident which occurred THREE YEARS AGO!! Get this:  she was writing me about something she was told third hand.  Third hand, people.  Oy!  The stories I could tell you…..

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Check out my post on the Ugly Santa, a family memory:  The Ugly Santa 

or a poem of mine about parenthood A Favorite Poem of Mine

Study Guides

Study Guides are Here to Stay: Use Them

Study Guides are Here to Stay so Use Them

Here is my new product at Teacherspayteachers.com


I decided I need a study guide for my middle grade book, Bumbling Bea.  If I want teachers to use the book in their classroom a study guide would be useful.

In this product, I’ve included the first chapter of Bumbling Bea and questions. Here is the link:


Students will retain more of the story if they can discuss it with their classmates and their own reflection.

Here’s why study guides are useful:

From the Language Arts Journal of Michigan,

” Study guides, which enable students to draw upon their existing
knowledge to assist them in formulating meaning from the text, are constructive, dynamic (affective and cognitive), and interactive tools. Study guides are designed to increase student involvement, highlight key information, and provide students with a preview of expectations (Anderson & Pearson, 1984; Blake &
Young, 1995; Ciborowski, 1995; Davey, 1986; Peters & Wixson, 1984). Study guides, as the name implies, help students maneuver their way through text, and, in the meantime, allow students an easier time comprehending content and performing activities that are related to the information being taught. Used correctly, study guides can be coupled with the text to provide a framework of support for conceptual understanding greatly needed by the students (Vacca & Vacca, 2003).”

Study guides are here to stay, use them.

I love pedagagy, I really do.

I have included interlocking and non-interlocking questions in the study guide.  Both are useful to a teacher and of course the reader.

boys reading

The plan is to compose a study guide for the entire book which will be available for teachers and readers by October 2018.

What’s next for Beatrice?

I hadn’t planned to write other stories about Beatrice. She got the answers she needed and resolved her issues with her parents although it isn’t stated in the book. I like for my readers to have an opportunity to think.

Beatrice’s aha moment occurred when she met Michiko.

I may try my hand at writing more of her story. I haven’t made any decisions yet.

I do have a short story planned for Peter one of her best friends, but as of this writing other writing pursuits have been on my mind.

Which do you think would be most interesting?  My readers get to have an opinion. In fact, readers’ opinions are vital to an author.

Another story I have rolling around in my mind from time to time is one about four friends who grow up together.  I’m considering a Christian romance series for this story idea, because I think it lends itself to one.  That’s todays idea….

I have friends waiting with bated breath for another book from me.  I can see it in their eyes when I begin to talk about my writing and that’s flattering. However, I bet most authors would share with you that writing is arduous and somewhat illusive.

I require uninterrupted thought process which for most folks is difficult to attain.  Also, it takes discipline and courage.

Woman, Thinking, Sitting, Desk, Writing, Write, Table

Although since our move, my writing space is on the main floor of our house just down the hall from the kitchen and our bedroom, it is very easy to slide by it ignoring its beckoning me.

Isn’t there something else I could do instead?

Self doubt creeps in  easily.  It took me twenty-five years to get up the courage to write Bumbling Bea and although I haven’t embarassed myself too much through writing and publishing it, I still have anxiety-ridden moments of worry over writing another book.

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TeacherpayTeacher Products

Presently, I am creating teaching products for Teacherspayteachers.com because they are fairly simple to do (haha) and have a quick turn around for me.  I laugh, because they are challenging in their own right and completely different from writing a book! Usually, I can complete them in under a week and I know where I am going with them.

I have twelve products created so far with many more to come.  (I need to put up fifty. Oh gosh…) Here are links to some of them:

Announcing: My Teacherspayteachers Product Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale

What are Super Hero Postcard Stories

The Drama Exercise to Jazz Up Your Class and Impress Your Parents

When I’m not making products, I can be found here blogging about them or other subjects I focus on.

Perhaps you are needing some teaching advice:

Tips for Teaching Elementary

Tips for Teaching Middle School

Tips for Teaching High School

Teachers: How to Jump Start Your School Year

Yup, study guides are here to stay, use them.  They will help you and your students in many ways. 

I’m here to help you, teachers.  I’m also here to listen to my readers.  Please feel free to email me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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Two most inspiring people I've seen this year

The Two Most Inspiring People I’ve Seen This Year

I’m always inspired by talent, especially young talent.  These are the two most inspiring people I’ve seen this year, so far.

You need to know about both of them.

Number One

Image result for Brandon Victor Dixon website

Do know Brandon Victor Dixon?

You don’t?  (That’s okay, I didn’t either.)

He’s the immensely talented gentleman who portrayed Judas in the recent television adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Here he is ;

You are welcome. 

Recently, Brandon was interviewed on Sirrus radio’s Broadway Musical station.  I was lucky enough to hear the interview.

What a professional!

Brandon is a Presidential Scholar Semi-finalist and scholarship winner at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford, Brandon is a graduate of Columbia University and a recipient of the University’s I.A.L Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts which is an honor he shares with Tony Kushner (Angels in America), Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change, and Katori Hall (Mountaintop).

Since his professional debut, originating the role of Adult Simba in The Lion King National Tour (Cheetah), Brandon has displayed his diverse abilities in a number of roles. Notably, he was nominated for a Tony Award for his role as Harpo in Broadway’s The Color Purple, a Grammy for his portrayal of  Berry Gordy in Motown The Musical, and he was nominated for Oliviers, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and AUDELCO awards for his outstanding portrayal of Haywood Patterson in Kander and Ebb’s The Scottsboro Boys.

I know talent folks. Honestly I can nearly smell it upon meeting someone. 

This fellow is tremendously talented and what’s more he’s a good person.

He’s involved in the #Weare campaign, raising funds for the YoungNew Yorker program.

From Brandon’s website :

“All sales from our first release, #WeAre, benefit youngnewyorkers.org, an organization that aims to help rehabilitate juvenile first time offenders in their teens who are sentenced to their ARTS program instead of JAIL.

The #WeAre campaign is a global call to action for all communities to support the recognition of our collective power and repsonsibility. This is the first project on my new platform designed to empower Art, Artists, and their Advocacy through musical collaboration.

As Brandon explained it (I’m paraphrasing here) instead of sending our young people straight to prison for their first offense, perhaps there are better methods of helping them.  To Brandon, and to me, the arts are the way to reach our youth and help them grow into the adults they are meant to be and become contributing members of society.   

I love programs such as these.  They make sense to me.  Everyone needs a second chance, especially a young person.  Instead of filling up yet another prison why not find another way to work with troubled youth?

For more information about Brandon, check out his website at http://brandonvictordixon.com/home

Number Two

Image result for who is mobley the singer

Here’s another young man you may not know, but I think you are going to soon.

His name is Mobley.

Last Friday evening, we went to see a show in Kansas City by our friend, Kelley Wade Hunt and Mobley played first.

Oh my gosh! Wait until you hear him:


Or this one:


You have to picture this show.  Our friend, Kelley, is a veteran rhythm and blues singer.  Not surprisingly, many of the attendees are our age too.

However, first Mobley comes on the stage.  His music is not what you’d think some of us “elderstatesmen” would enjoy.  But within a few minutes he had us singing along with him, clapping and having fun!  (You understand Mobley couldn’t be much more than thirty years old?) It was awesome.

Furthermore, Mobley is a one man band.  He plays several instruments, writes music, sings and even created the video in the background.  Very impressive.

Afterwards, we stopped so say hi and compliment him on his music.  My husband is a retired instrumental music teacher who taught music theory for many years.  It was wonderful to watch Mobley and my husband converse about music just like two old friends.

From the Austin Monthly, “Band to Watch” interview:

“Mobley, whose real name is Anthony Watkins II, credits recent news events, particularly the Eric Garner grand jury decision, as the inspiration for deeper, more introspective songwriting. “About halfway through working on the record, the decision came back, and that was just devastating on multiple levels,” he says. “But it brought lots of things into a different focus, and it gave the work a moral center, and everything made sense after that.” That moral center is cleverly encased in layers of bright, thudding electronic flourishes and R&B-style vocals, as evidenced in the single “Swoon.”

His live show has a similar upbeat energy to it. He uses his film degree from the University of North Carolina and day job as a web designer to great effect, incorporating visuals, lighting and videos, in addition to toggling between playing the guitar, keyboard and an Akai drum machine. Being too cool for school onstage isn’t interesting to him. “I find it most compelling when performers seem like they believe what they’re doing and care about me believing what they’re doing,” he says.

See what I mean?   

Like Brandon, Mobley is a terrific fellow, too.

As I have said before, I don’t always blog about drama education, or my book, sometimes I blog about unusual experiences in my life.  Meeting Mobley was one of them.  I suspect you will all see a lot of him very soon.

Watch for Brandon Victor Dixon, too.

I bet you can tell now why these are the two most inspiring people I’ve seen this year, so far.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com

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Effective Teaching Methods

Why You Should Use These Effective Teaching Methods, Part Two

Let’s talk about why you should use these effective teaching methods. This is a two part series, so check out part one, will you?



Plaid, Coaster, Bast, Colorful, Color

I have a second teaching method which works wonders with any aged kid–I guarantee it!


You may wonder what arts integration is specifically.  Simply put, arts integration is a method used to teach the core subjects infusing them with the arts–music, art, dance and theatre.

From http://www.tealarts.org/arts-integration.html

“Arts integration is an approach to learning in which standards based objectives from the visual and performing arts (the visual arts, music, dance, theatre and media arts) and one or more other subject areas are aligned, met, and assessed.

Image result for students participating in arts integration

It is important to know that arts integration does not supplant single subject art classes like band, dance, drama or drawing, but instead is used to design robust lessons that engage students in the processes used in the arts, such as creative thinking and active learning.

Done with diligence and purpose, arts integration helps students flourish, deepen their learning, and make meaningful connections between the disciplines. Studies have shown that art experiences result increased academic achievement, self-confidence, motivation, and improved social-emotional connections and behavior.”

Don’t ya love it?

Remember in elementary school when you got to draw a picture about some scene in the book you were reading?  Or write a poem about a moment in history? Yeah, it’s like that.

When I was in my forties, a vocal music teacher friend of mine and I  wanted to pursue a masters in education but not in curriculum and instruction (a masters many educators receive.)  She did some research and ran onto the Lesley College which offered a Masters in Education focused on Creative Arts Learning (aka arts integration.)

This was an off site campus location and the professors came to us once a month for eighteen months while we studied the various elements of the arts and how to integrate them into the classroom.

Image result for art and math

My friend and I were ecstatic about the program! At the first class, we noticed there were several teachers lacking confidence and timid about their creativity. Well, that changed for the better by the end.  They fared as well or better than we did from the learning. Isn’t that great?

As I mentioned in part one I am now teaching college level students.  Since I was getting my feet wet with the material this first year, I hesitated to use arts integration to teach these college kids.  That was a mistake.

This fall, if I end up teaching for the college I will use arts integration right from the beginning.

It’s novel, it’s obviously creating, it’s very engaging and it’s fun.

Here are a few ideas for arts integreation in core subjects.

Students can:

  1.  Write a script depicting a particular time in history and act it out.
  2. Create a monologue of a famous person and perform it during an open house.
  3. Pen a poem about a country they are studying
  4. Draw and illustrate a picture demonstrating how the body works.
  5. Mold something from clay of a certain culture
  6. Create a rap about the U.S.’s fifty states and capitols
  7. Use movement to demonstrate the various types of clouds, how a typhoon is different from a tornado or the tetonic shifts in the ocean.
  8. Make a dance to accompany a piece of music from a time period which was studied.
  9. If you have musicians, ask them to play a piece of music to compliment the learning.  If the students are studying western expansions, a student could play a country western piece for example.
  10. When studying shapes, cut different ones for collages using basic geometry.  This helps teach and reinforce undrstanding of shapes.  Then as a group, incorporate them into a collage on a classroom wall.

As you can tell, the ideas are numerous.

Utilizing the arts in your classroom gives you energy, too.  Because every project will be creative, your intellect will be challenged.  This is essential for the teacher who plans to teach for many years.

Think about it–would it be more exciting to see what your students create and learn about a concept or merely you regurgitating material……for twenty-five years?

So, there you have it!  Try arts integration in your class or email me if you need help, I’m always willing to suggest ideas to interested teachers.  Rememeber, we are all in this together.

If you’d like more advice on teaching, check out these posts:



Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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Announcing: My Teacherspayteachers Product Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale

Summer is here which means, at least this summer, I am busy creating products for my Teacherspayteachers.com store. You can find my products at: Teacherspayteachersstore

I am now selling my lesson plans and units on Teacherspayteachers.com.  This has been a goal of mine for several years. I kept procrastinating because I figured no one would be interested in my products in drama education.

Nay nay, I say….(I heard a comic say that once and it cracked me up!)

So far, I have available eight products to purchase for grades second through ninth. This last one, Sedna, an Innuit Tale is probably one of the most involved.

I adapted multicultural stories when I taught in a middle school for twelve years. There was simply very little material for class plays and that is what I needed. Desperation is the mother of invention.

Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale is a fifteen minute play suitable for upper elementary and middle school students. A drama class, reading group, Social Studies will find this very useful.

My husband, a retired instrumental music teacher with lots of composing experience, created a song remniscent of the Inuit culture’s music.This will be a terrific co-teaching experience, too! I can see a drama teacher and vocal music teacher working in tandem on the piece. Such a great opportunity for learning. You know?

Included in the product is:

  • warm up
  • procedure or rehearsal schedule
  • six page script
  • stage properties list
  • sound effects list
  • original song reminiscent of the Innuit culture
  • recording of the melody with the accompaniament
  • source list with suggestions for masks and dances,
  •  properties list

The Sedna story is very dramatic and exciting.

Sedna is the Inuit goddess of the sea. According to most versions of the legend Sedna was once a beautiful mortal woman who became the ruler of Adlivun (the Inuit underworld at the bottom of the sea) after her father threw her out of his kayak into the ocean. Sedna’s fingers, which her father had to cut off to keep her from clinging to the side of the boat, are often said to have turned into the first sea mammals.

The other details of Sedna’s story are told differently in different Inuit/Eskimo communities– sometimes she provoked her father’s rage by attacking him or violating cultural taboos, while other times her father was selfishly trying to save his own life by sacrificing Sedna.

Of course, my version of Sedna isn’t quite so gruesome, but creation myths can be very dramatic and Sedna follows suit with other mythological fables.

If you are interested in purchasing Sedna, check her out at:  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/SEDNA-AN-INNUIT-TALE-A-FIFTEEN-MINUTE-PLAY-3828901?aref=42bwyx2n

If you are interested in other products of mine, click here to see a few:



Do you need a story dramatized but don’t have the time to do it yourself?  No problem.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com and we’ll talk!  I’d love to help you.

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hybrid college class

Thirteen Days to Creating a Successful Hybrid College Class, Day Five

The flipped classroom:  Kindness through Christmas cookies.

christmas cookies

Let’s talk about kindness in the college classroom. What?  It needs to be discussed?  I don’t know if it does, but I am going to do so anyway.

If you’ve been following the blog this week, you have taken my journey right along with me as I navigate the “flipped classroom” waters.

Today, something interesting occurred.  The students talked to me!

Could it be the decorated sugar cookies I brought to class did the trick?  I wanted to reward all of us for a job well done this week.  None of us are used to having a 8:10 class five days consecutively.


The kids took one look at the cookies and grabbed them.  My international students don’t even get to travel home for the holidays.  They seemed especially grateful.

All I know is something changed. We’ve  become accustomed to one another. Yeay!

christmas cookies

I think it’s fair to say taking the time to extend kindness is important.  It’s easy in an intensive situation such as this to lose sight of the human quotient.  We are working at such a hectic pace– reading, grading, writing, discussing through forums and viewing video clips we forget we are first human beings.

Humans need one on one time with each other.

The cookies reminded all of us that is was the holiday season and we needed to have fun even though we are madly working at this fundamentals-of -speech thing.

Giving your students a little gift works wonders, too.

I purchased highlighters and handed them out at the end of class for the students to use on their next assignment rubric (persuasive speech).  Although I hadn’t planned for the kids to keep them, they seemed to want them.  Suddenly, I had a gift.

Sugar cookies and highlighters.  Who knew?

christmas cookies

Keep a look out for my next post.  It won’t be for several days, because I am blogging in real time about the experience, but I’ll be back with stories about what occurs while we aren’t in class these next twelve days. Maybe I’ll have more stories of kindness in the classroom.  Who knows?

The flipped classroom will do the work for me. I’ll merely step in and out several times to check my email for homework assignments, and replies to the next forum discussion.

Until then, please enjoy your holiday as well.  Merry Christmas and have a happy new year!

contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com  or DeborahBaldwin.net

hybrid college class

Thirteen Days to Creating a Successful Hybrid College Class, Day Three

Day Three

Let’s talk about forum discussions in a college hybrid speech communications class.

Today, the Christmas cookies hit the fan so to speak…..


Picture this:

It is a cold, grey December day. There’s chill in the air, the kind that nearly freezes you to the bone.

Typical mid western weather in December.

Oh joy.

It’s early–only 8:10 a.m.  In comes my little flock who look half asleep. The students aren’t chatting with each other and certainly not with me.  I ask how everyone’s evening went and no one answers.

No feedback to me that’s for sure.

(Pause)  I have a theory about this–if I don’t speak to the teacher it is as if the class isn’t occurring.  I can stay “checked out.”

Mwwaahhaaaa….they don’t know me, though.


I go through the day’s list of activities and I must say, it is a long one.

The first thing I mention is forums.  One of the high school kids looks bewildered, but the girl beside him restates it for him.  (I have no idea why she thinks she must restate what I say when I am standing right there and can do it for him myself, but hey she is 17 and doesn’t everyone know EVERYTHING when they are 17?)

Sorry, I digress…

I’ve never had the opportunity to use a forum with a class.  I was hesitant at first, only because I didn’t understand how the students post and reply.

I now understanding why forums are crucial to a flipped class.

Checked forums off my list! Forums give you the feedback a teacher is seeking.


When I was a student, we spoke to our professors out of respect.  My parents made it clear to me to respect my elders and even as an adult, I am aware of any adults who are older than I who should be treated with the utmost respect for their wisdom and age.

I wasn’t raised with a cell phone in my hand.

Telephone calls were kept to a minimum and calling long distance was an extravagance.  My father was a doctor so we could afford those state-to-state telephone calls, but regardless I wrote letters.

We learned how to write a letter when we were in elementary school.

Is letter writing even taught any more?

No texting, either.

As we all know, the technological world has changed tremendously over the last fifty years.

In all defense of these students, the art of conversation isn’t something they are used to practicing.  (We’ll practice conversing the last day of the semester. )

I can all ready see how a forum is a fantastic method of communication.  For those of you unfamiliar with them, it is truly brilliant.  The teacher poses an article, video clip and/or questions he wants the students to ponder.  The student is required to make one post regarding the teacher’s post and replies to other students’ replies as well.

Ladies and gentlemen–we have conversation!!!

Forums are essential to a flipped class.



Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net


hybrid college class

Thirteen Days to Creating a Successful Hybrid College Class, Day Two

Day Two









Flipping a class isn’t easy.

Today, I spent about two and a half hours organizing everything for tomorrow–power point for chapters’ answers, college level speech example and outline of the speech, creating another power point with examples of notecards to coincide today’s speech and tweak a forum post.  I graded the pre test and their homework from last night and entered all of this in the gradebook.

If you think that’s a lot of time for a one hour class, you don’t know teaching.  It’s time consuming.

I’ve used video clips to explain certain concepts.  I knew it was a great tool.










Enter Youtube.

I jumped on Youtube and spent only thirty minutes searching for clips of teachers teaching the next two chapters’ information–delivery and language. Just thirty minutes! In the grand scheme of things, that is a pittance compared to all the other time I spend.

I  planned for the students to read two chapters from the textbook for Thursday (some thirty pages). I decided it would be better for them if they viewed video clips to attain some of the same information.

In addition, they must write half of the first draft of their informative speech due to me on Thursday, too. I will peruse all the speeches and give individual feedback to them.

Viewing the clips will save them time even though they’ll still have to answer the chapter questions.

Flipped learning–It’s all about independent learning, saving time, differentiated instruction and individual guidance from the teacher.

Today, I learned about using video clips and the true value of them for a teacher–saving time!

P.S.  Since the writing of this post, I have become great friends with the Youtube site.  It is invaluable to me.  Plus, these high tech. students are accustomed to visual learning.  I’ve shown clips to all my classes and they do a marvelous job of enriching my teaching.  I’m sticking with them.

Thank goodness for Youtube.








Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

hybrid college class

Thirteen Days to Creating a Successful Hybrid College Class Day One

Day One

A bit earlier this semester, I was asked to create an intensive hybrid speech class.  It sounded fun to me.  (I know not everyone would enjoy creating curriculum, but there you go…)


Since we are just sitting around here sort of waiting for Christmas festivities with our family (does everyone else feel that way?), I had the time to create it.  So, although I say “gulp”, I am also metaphorically standing here like Wonder Woman.  I. can. do. it.

wonder woman

Honestly, I had no idea what I got myself into, but that isn’t unusual for me.  I’ve taught drama and speech classes for nearly forty years–I mean, how difficult can it be?


I looked around on the web and found several sites and Pinterest pins concerning the subject, so that persuaded me I could put the hybrid together.

However, if I’m going to learn from all of this, I need to analyze what I am doing right and wrong during these thirteen days when I teach one for the first timeflip


First, I had to get the lingo straight.  I was calling it an “a cross between an online and traditional class”.  Duh.  This is completely incorrect!

On line classes occur only on line.  Hybrid classes use textbooks and can have one on one teaching time with students or time in a classroom.  Hybrid’s use various modalities to teach–on line learning from various sources (websites, video clips, on line documents, etc. )Hybrid classes are usually only offered for lower level classes.

That’s the first thing I learned.  

In thirteen days, I must teach an entire textbook’s worth of material.

No problem….(gulpIn theory this should work.  Here’s why:

The students are reading, writing speeches, viewing a lot of information on line, answering forum posts, creating notecards, outlines, bibliographies, etc. and attending class with me for 70 minutes each of the thirteen days.  During the interim for Christmas and New Year’s the students have assignments to do as well.

How intensive is this?  Well, their first speech, an informative one, is due on Friday.  Tomorrow, they are presenting a little self introduction for us.

Two speeches down, two to go.

I thought this would be difficult for the students to complete.   A faculty member asked, “Once they saw all they had to do, did they run out the door?”

The answer is no. It didn’t seem to faze them.


These days, students are used to online assignments and many have taken hybrid classes in the past.   Gone are the days of sitting in a lecture hall, or if not gone maybe there are a few less of them.

I am going to work just as hard as the students.  And, I have to stay ahead of them!

For instance, thus far I have spent about three hours today just getting everything ready for tomorrow.

Today I created hand outs for: writing notecards, informative speech topics, and rubrics for an informative speech and forum discussion.

Prior to the first class, I probably spent about six hours planning the class.  Why so long?  Because I planned the entire intensive so the students would have every assignment and due date at their finger tips.

I figure that’s the least I can do for them.

Truthfully, that’s ok with me.  I am more valuable and employable with everything I learn to do as far as higher education is concerned.  I’m interested in teaching additional classes on line in the future.

It sounds like more and more people are taking to learning in this manner.  I want to be one of the teachers who can provide the instruction for them.


For instance, I’d never had to make power point for a class because in the past, I taught drama classes.  Most of the time my classes were hands-on, not lecture.

So, I can check off “creating a power point” from my list.


However, I am all ready seeing the value of on line learning.  Because of the net the world is truly our oyster.

My favorite example of web gold is Ted Talks.  They are a dream for a speech teacher.  My first semester students, mostly high school kids, hadn’t been introduced to Tedtalks. They enjoyed them a lot and shared with me they had viewed others in. their. free. time.  What?

Ironically, I first learned about Tedtalk on Facebook.  Facebook, who knew?

A wonderful by-product of  Tedtalks is they are tremendously interesting and thought provoking.

I use one on procrastination, ten tips to becoming a better conversationalist and several others.  I’ve also used them for extra credit.

Today, I learned how to put a forum together thanks to my daughter.

She’s studying for her masters in education so she can teach drama.  (Talk about the apple not falling far from the tree….) She filled me in on how her professors use forums as a way to enrich the lessons.  I was interested in hearing what she thought were the positive and drawbacks from forums.  She had no complaints.

We’ll see how this goes.  Who knows what tomorrow holds?