Category Archives: middle grades

Amazon Giveaway Contest for Bumbling Bea

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Amazon Giveaway Contest for Bumbling Bea

Want to win a FREE copy of Bumbling Bea? You know what to do. 

Feel free to share–

https://www.amazon.com/gp/f.html?C=RNOTE2AA1ZDP&K=A1DW9XF3DSAWYI&R=K2XT297SKMHA&T=C&U=https%3A%2F%2Fgiveaway.amazon.com%2Fp%2F07667fe1e1af6964%3Fref_%3Dpe_1771210_134854370&A=GCQTVLPLIPKNMNPRMPFEA1SGVKAA&H=KSQEA72V3CWT6D6RBQPUOIDCL5IA&ref_=pe_1771210_134854370

Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award Contest–Bumbling Bea a Finalist

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Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award Contest–Bumbling Bea a Finalist

Big news:  Today I found out Bumbling Bea is a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award contest! What an honor.

The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award contest is competitive.  Billy Bob Buttons (pen name) sponsors the contest.  Only 100 books are selected each year in five categories.  A group of readers (both adults and children) read the books which are appropriate for their age.  Kids read books for children, adults read books written for adults. The books are scored on quality of writing, grammar, spelling, cover art, book description, etc.  A group of finalists are selected and announced.

I like this contest because not only are the books read by appropriate aged readers, but we receive reviews from them as well.  I can use the reviews to market Bumbling Bea or keep them for my private use.

This finalist announcement is all the more rich for me, because the kids read the original version of Bumbling Bea.  Since then, I made several updates to the story including  new cover art and design.

Please allow me to be a bit proud of myself, folks.   Basically, I wrote Bumbling Bea all on my own.  Several family members edited the story and a Language Arts teacher proof read it for me, but everything else was my doing.

You see, I now realize the sky is the limit for me.  This is an avocation which has no ceiling.

I topped out in teaching and directing several years ago.  Although I continued to be challenged by both, the challenge was easy for me to overcome.  At my age, it isn’t worth it to apply for employment in colleges or professional theaters.

But writing?  It’s all new to me.

Lastly, I want to thank my Indie Writers Cooperative group.  I would never have known about this contest if it wasn’t for them.  I learn through this Facebook group every single day.

Bumbling Bea (2.0) is published! 

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Click here –https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487369364&sr=8-1&keywords=BUmbling+Bea

How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful –Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching-Middle School

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How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful –Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching-Middle School

This is a three part series.  This is part two of it.

Click here for part one and part three:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/08/how-to-make-your-elementary-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-drama-part-one/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/12/how-to-make-your-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-part-three/

presser-kidsTwo of these kids are in middle school and two are in high school.  Can you tell the difference?

Novice drama teachers ask me what is my secret to success in the classroom. How do I make my drama classes so successful? Heck, I don’t know really.  I’m intense, have high expectations of all my students, energetic and enthusiastic about the subject matter.

Secondary level students, especially middle grade kids are a whole different bird than elementary.  It isn’t only their maturity level that sets them apart.  Obviously, their physical stature comes into play.

Every body part is changing rapidly.  In ninth grade, our daughter went through a different size of jeans every three months–one time this size, the next time a smaller size, the third time back up a size and needing a longer length. Around and around we’d go.

And boys?  It’s a little easier to spot their changing than the girls.  I’ve known many a young man who was a scrawny seventh grader grow to become a muscled ninth grader.  Prior to the maturing, the poor boy appears frantic that he won’t grow.   Then, whoosh! He turns the bend, grows four inches and carries a look of relief while developing his personal swagger.  I don’t blame him.  I would, too!

It’s the emotional quotient which divides them from the younger students. Think about when you were in seventh grade.  Oh gosh.

I was all over the place-confused, weepy, , silly, snotty and arrogant.  Remember my mother was quite ill by the time I was ten years old and I hid any negative feelings I felt because I didn’t want to exacerbate her health issues with the stress of raising me.

So what do we do in theatre classes?  We plop these smelly, sweaty emotional bursts of energy on a stage and ask them to show their feelings.  Yikes!  As if identifying their own emotions wasn’t difficult enough, we expect them to demonstrate someone else’s.

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Here are a few pieces of advice when teaching middle grade students:

  1. Give every one an opportunity for success every day.  Generally, this can be achieved through a warm up exercise that has no apparent “winner”.

  2. Help those students who are the loner type.  Assign them to a group of students who are welcoming and kind.

  3. Do you know the “smile and nod” technique?  It is difficult for someone to say no to you, when you are smiling and nodding. Middle school students can be very disagreeable. Try to smile and nod with your request.

  4. Give plenty of time for homework assignments.  Students this age have a difficult time making priorities. Ample reminders and extra time that you have built in to the assignment (they don’t need to know this) should help.

  5. Be sincere with them.

  6. Be very organized and prepared for class.

  7. Be trustworthy.  They don’t like to be tricked and can tell when they are being manipulated.

  8. Play fairly.  If you say, “Everyone will have a speaking part in our play” you better come through on that promise.  They will hold you to it.

  9. Provide many hands-on learning experiences.  They need to get up and move around at this age.

  10. Establish class expectations right from day one which includes boundaries as middle school kids will test your limits.

  11. Teach respect through positive criticism.

  12. At the same time, be careful not to over praise them.  Over praising doesn’t help anyone to grow.  Research has found the opposite. Always have high expectations. They will raise to them if you first believe in them doing so.

  13. Use side coaching when directing or instructing.  Like a sport coach, the students will more readily accept your corrections of them if you phrase your correction in threes–a compliment, then the correction and end with another compliment.

  14. If you have a reluctant learner, note the smallest positive attribute you see.  By merely noting it, over time the student should open up to you and trust you.

  15. Fear and humiliation play huge roles at this age.  My advice: make a fool of yourself and laugh at yourself A LOT.  Teach your students how to do the same with themselves.

  16. Kids of this age are very sensitive about their clothing and hair.  Never comment first on either.  Let the student first mention it to you then you can say something.

  17.  At the beginning of each class allow a few minutes for sharing.  Some students always have something exciting they want to share with the class. It could be something as simple as a girl went shopping at the mall with her bestie. That means everything to her. Other students who don’t share might divulge something if you can ask the right questions of them.  Rather than, “How was your weekend?” try “Tell me about something exciting or unusual that occurred over your weekend?” Many students never have an adult listen to them.  You can be their listener.

  18. Be on your game. Students of this age are melodramatic, hyper focus on themselves and can change on you in a moment’s notice.

  19. You have a very lasting effect and influence on middle grade students.  Not only are they learning from you, they are observing you in the classroom and around the school.  They love with their whole heart, so take good care of it for them.

  20. In any situation whenever possible,  temper your true feelings and always think of the middle grade student first.

If you haven’t noticed all ready, I didn’t discuss the actual teaching of the classroom on this post.  Generally, everything I suggested with the elementary students will work with middle grade students.  But the biggest challenge will be their emotional growth at this moment in their lives.  If you can master how to ” ride the tidal wave” with them, you will most surely succeed.

bethany

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

I’d love to talk with you.

 

Bumbling Bea: The First Chapter

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BB chapter 16

There has been a lot of traffic on the blog lately and I can’t help but wonder if folks are wondering about my book, Bumbling Bea. So, here is chapter one:

Chapter One

It was Peter’s fault.

“P!” I yelled to get his attention, “do I look like old Macdonald on the farm to you?”

I was splattered all over with the gross stuff. I swear it was already curdling and the entire cafeteria of students could see it. I smelled putrid–like yucky old, blackened, moldy cheese long forgotten in the back of the refrigerator. It made me wretch a little but I still managed to get in his face.

“Why don’t you drink juice or water? Now I smell like I’ve been working in a cheese factory. You’re such a dweeb, P.”

When I was mad at Peter, I called him “P.” He’d been P. ever since we were in kindergarten when he stuck a couple of peas up his nose and had to go to the hospital to get them out. And like those peas, the name stuck. And he was clumsy, BUT only with me. He defended himself like he always did which irritated me.

“Jeez, sorry Beatrice. I didn’t mean to nearly flip over your backpack and spill two miniscule drops of lactose on your precious jacket. It was blocking the aisle between the tables like always. You are so mean these days.” Peter huffed, stomping away from the lunch room.

It wasn’t me speaking to Peter. It was Bumbling Bea. I’ve discovered I have an alter ego who I call Bumbling Bea. Strange and mean thoughts come flying out of my mouth. They didn’t even sound like something I’d think or say! Bumbling Bea hadn’t been around for long, but when she did rear her scary head, it was at the worst times.

One of the most memorable of times Bumbling Bea showed up was when we gave our choir director a tennis racket as a going away present. He was getting married and leaving our school. He was obsessed with tennis and was a pretty decent player. I thought it was neat, even though he had knobby knees and skinny, hairy, Minnie Mouse legs which looked kinda’ weird in his way too short tennis shorts.

I thought of the present when I saw him hitting tennis balls on the tennis court after school one day. He was mumbling something and from seeing his temper in class, I figured it was about his students.

            It was the first time Bumbling Bea arrived. I was class secretary for him (which made me feel super important even though he had a class secretary for every other class, too.) I thought I had power and the other kids listened to me. Bumbling Bea liked that a lot! At lunch one day I was sitting by myself, as usual. I turned to the table with the popular kids sitting behind me. “I think we should buy our music teacher a going away present since he’s getting married and leaving us. How about we give him a tennis racket since he loves the game so much?”

Everyone agreed with me (which was a first) and those who didn’t, gave me a dollar per student donation anyway. If giving money for a teacher’s going away present kept you in or near the popular kids, you gave it. And they did!

I was so excited. I checked out tennis racket prices on the internet, Dave’s Discount and the hardware supply store. Dave’s had the best price. Most everything was less expensive at Dave’s Discount. My Dad told me it was because Dave bought up all the things other businesses couldn’t sell. Dad thought Dave’s had good deals even though sometimes their stuff fell apart after one use. Their price for the tennis racket was awesome and one my class could afford.

Since I found the tennis racket right away, I had a little bit of time left over before Dad picked me up so I looked around at the girls’ clothes. Normally, I didn’t look at your typical girls’ clothes because they were always way too pink and way too fluffy. Not at Dave’s, though! I found a black and white polka dotted bikini swimming suit, matching flip flops and a package of panties—things were so cheap.

“You want me to put them in a Dave’s Discount box, honey?” wondered the clerk lady who smelled like cigarettes and chewing gum.

I heard about the Dave’s Discount boxes before. People used them to store about anything in them after they got them home: extra cat litter, broken toys, a bed for a puppy and so forth. They were sturdy, kind of a brownish tan color with black stripes printed on one side of them and the words “Dave’s Discount” plastered over the stripes.

Being so proud of myself for a. finding the tennis racket and b. buying the bikini, flip flops and panties all by myself, I accepted two boxes instead of one. I mean, they were free, you know? Dad said not to turn away free stuff if anyone at a store ever offered you anything free. I thought Dave’s Discount box was one of those free things he was talking about.

“Mom, we got a deal. The racket only cost thirty-six dollars.” I announced as I arrived home.

“Don’t forget to take off the price tag before you wrap it, Beatrice,” my mom reminded me as she whisked off to teach her art classes.

Mom! Sheesh. Sometimes she thinks I’m a baby…

My brother, Edmund, helped me wrap the box rolling it two or three times in wrapping paper and tying it with gobs of ribbons and a bunch of bows on it. We put the box in another box which went in another box. We thought it was so fun to unwrap when you received one of those sort of presents. Edmund laughed and laughed each time we played the trick on him.

This is so awesome. I said to myself. And when I tell him I chose the present, he will think I’m one of his coolest students for doing this for him.

That was Bumbling Bea talking. You see? Why would it matter whether my teacher thought I was the coolest student he had ever taught during his teaching career? He had thousands of kids he’d taught already and I was a lousy singer.

It was finally time to give the present. On the last day of classes before summer vacation, we usually sang through the year’s music one more time. The whole choir was singing happily, but they kept turning and looking at me. I was singing loud the way I never do because I was so excited about our present. Well, Bumbling Bea was singing exceedingly loud because she thought I was a better singer since I thought up the present.

It was the second time Bumbling Bea appeared.

Finally, the end of the hour came and it was time for the present. I stood lifting my head proudly, “We are sad you are leaving Oak Grove Middle School. We wanted to give you something to remember us when you are off in your new life.” I gave him the big box saying, “So, here is a little something to use to take out your frustrations on your new wife.”

Huh? What was that I said?

I was kinda’ nervous which was unusual for me and it freaked me out. So I tried again. “I meant, here’s a little something to use to take out your frustrations in your new life.”

Oh man. That wasn’t right either.

I tried one more time, “Oh, you know when you have a bad day at your new school and want to strangle your students, you can use this instead.” I cringed.

My teacher stared at me. “I don’t know what you are talking about, Beatrice. I’m never frustrated with my students.” He smiled at the rest of the class and ignored me.

I felt different on the inside of myself. Kinda’ smart aleck-y, but I didn’t know why. Maybe I was way too excited or nervous or awkward? When I am, I do dumb things to cover. It was how I felt that day. I wanted to sound grown up and cool and in charge, but I said three super dumb things to my teacher.

But I did more than say three dumb things.

Way more.

When Edmund and I were wrapping the tennis racket, Edmund’s pet ferret, Bernie, got loose from Edmund’s clutches and darted around my room. We were so busy screaming at Bernie that while trying to catch him, I guess my big fat foot accidentally pushed the box with the tennis racket under my bed. I picked up the other identical box with my new swimming suit, matching flip flops and the package of new panties and wrapped it instead.

Yes, you read it right: it was the box containing my new bikini swimming suit, matching flip flops and the new panties.

NEW PANTIES! NEW PANTIES!

But see, I didn’t know it was the wrong box because I wasn’t looking at my teacher when he finally opened the last box. I was busy picking up the left over wrapping paper.

Somebody whispered, “Beatrice, you left the price tag on the box.”

“Embarrassing,” another snickered.

THE PRICE TAG WAS SHOWING. THE STUPID PRICE TAG WAS STILL ON THE PRESENT.

I looked up and before I knew it, Bumbling Bea quipped, “There’s the price tag. It shows you how much we like you and I wanted you to know all us chipped in for it.”

Again with the dumb statements!

My teacher opened the box and there was no tennis racket.

BUT, there they were: the panties. Oh, the swimming suit and flip flops were there too, but all I saw were the PANTIES. It was as if they grew from a regular size to the size of a goal post on a football field. HUGE.

I stammered, “What? How did those get in there?”

My confused teacher said something to me, but the whole class was laughing so loudly I couldn’t hear him. I grabbed back the box and ran out of class and hid in the girls’ bathroom.

People called me “Panties” for days afterward until my mother heard them one too many times and threatened to call their parents.

Later I got the right present to my teacher but by then every kind of damage had already been done and I still forgot to take the price tag off the stupid present. I gave up.

Peter said later in the summer he saw my teacher hitting balls with our present tennis racket out on the court. He was back in town visiting his mother or something. I guess he hit one ball a little too hard, because the tennis racket’s webbing unraveled and when it fell to the ground, the handle fell apart, too.

Yup. Bumbling Bea steps into my skin right at the wrong time. Lately, there are more times she appears than I have until a crazy girl who wore cat ears visited from Japan. She made me see what I was doing by taking on my bumble-bea-ness herself. It’s all a little scary when you think about it.

 

Award winner: Bumbling Bea What’s a girl to do? Plenty.

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To purchase a copy of Bumbling Bea, go to Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356

 

Find my award winning book at Amazon.com

both ebook and paperback

Notable Quote from Bumbling Bea

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Notable Quote from Bumbling Bea

 

BB chapter 5.jpg

Michiko slapped her script and blurted,” Ms. Phillips this script is inaccurate.  This is a mistake. Pocahontas did not wear any clothes when John Smith met her. She was naked.”

The whole cast broke out in fits of laughter. The fifth graders were no longer bored and several turned bright red in the face. Peter’s eyes were about the size of a Frisbee when he choked out, “What?”

Ms.Phillips shushed the cast, “Yes, I know, Michiko.  But I don’t think that would go over very well in a middle school. Sometimes we have to bend the facts of history just a little to make it theatre friendly and acceptable to the public.

I heard Peter mutter, “Oh man. That was close for a second.”

Purchase a copy of my award winning book, Bumbling Bea at https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356

 

Free Kindle download today! Happy Indie Author Day!!

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Hey! In honor of Indie  Author Day, Bumbling Bea is free on Kindle! So share this news with your friends, your family, your dogs and cats, too! https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00LB6F0TI/ref=mp_s_a_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475928779&sr=8-1-fkmr0&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=bumbling+nea

Notable quote from Bumbling Bea

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bb-chapter-4

Popular kids have a special talent that nobody else noticed but me. They are fortune tellers.  They can see the future for all of us.

“So-and-So is on her way to Broadway!” and “Hollywood, here comes So-and-So!” the popular kids say after the school play is over.  Sometimes at football or basketball games or maybe even at a pep rally one of them will yell, “Number fifty-two (or whatever number the star player wore), to the NFL for you!” or I’d hear one of the girls say, “That Tiffany girl (or whatever cutsey name the star cheerleader was named) should be in ‘Pump it Up.” She’s as good a cheerleader as the (insert name of hot teen actress of the week) in that movie.”

Popular kids kept close to talented kids in case some of the talent might

rub off on them.

No one stayed close to me. That’s for sure.

Notable quote from Bumbling Bea

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bb-chapter-0OH.MY.GOSH!

Peter drifted up on the stage near me, scratching his arm so hard welts appeared making faint pink stripes right down to his wrist.  Then I noticed little raised bumps, like drips of honey, creeping toward his neck.  At one point, they stopped and leapt toward the opening of his tee shirt which Peter kept pulling away from his neck at the same time he was striping his arm with his scratching.  He was very busy.  I’m no expert, but  I think that’s an allergic reaction to something…Like an allergic reaction to poison ivy?  But Peter said his grandpa told him he probably wasn’t allergic to it! Probably

Oops.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or BumblingBea.com

Purchase my award winning book, Bumbling Bea at: https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474053300&sr=8-1&keywords=bumbling+bea