I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz Logsted

I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz Logsted

I Love You, Michael Collinsf by Lauren Baratz Logsted

Readers ages 8-12

I didn’t want to like this book.  Other readers’ reflections had created a bit of bias, and I was prepared to be equally (if not more so) critical.

Lucky for me, I opened the cover and let myself slip into the 1969 world of 10 year old Mamie.  Before Snapchat,  Google or the 24 news cycle. When the humble analog letter was the way we connected, and shared our thoughts and feelings.  

Mamie’s story unfolds in parallel with the historic Apollo 11 launch, the flight to the moon, the first walk, and splash down; connected through her letters to astronaut Michael Collins.

As the mission timeline moves along, we learn that Mamie’s parents are not happy. And when Mamie’s mother walks out and her family begins to disintegrate, she relates to the loneliness and responsibility that Collins must feel in his role as the lone caretaker of his ship.

Since we all know the Apollo 11 story, I’ll not fill this review with spoilers about Mamie’s. What I can say is that I loved Mamie’s voice, heart and bravery and I long for a friend as steadfast as Buster, her neighbor and confidant. And even though Michael Collins is a far-away hero to us and to Mamie, he has a powerful, familiar presence in the story.

Lots of fun references to products and styles bring 1969 to life alongside plenty of narrative allowing us to relive one of the greatest adventures of all time as a 10 year old might have experienced it then.

This book has a lot of awards and endorsements and I’ll add my enthusiastic recommendation as well.

Fast Flight Friday – July 26, 2019

Fast Flight Friday – July 26, 2019

More than once since summer began I’ve been imagining the sounds of crashing waves, endless blue water, and how great it would be to grab a book and head for the beach.

Surf and sand isn’t in the cards for me, but I did find a way to swim with the dolphins, track a shark and explore endlessly fascinating ocean life.

Ocearch.org is the site for an organization that collects data that informs scientific efforts to preserve and protect our vulnerable oceans.

For those of us who aren’t scientists, it is a landlubber’s passport to swim the world’s oceans by following a favorite shark or dolphin. There are also turtles, whales, alligators and sea lions. Each of the tracked animals has a name, photo and some identifying characteristics like their size and weight and over time, they have become an important part of my day.

I’ll admit to getting up in the morning and after a little caffeine, checking in on Miss Costa, a white shark and Melanie, a green sea turtle.

There are also all sorts of blog posts about ocean life (especially sharks) and I’ve learned so much by just browsing.  I hope you’ll take a quick trip to beach and check it out.

 

Be Fearlessly You,

 

Julie

Week 3 Strategy: The Brag Sheet

Week 3 Strategy: The Brag Sheet

Quite a lot of effort goes into studying for the ACT, making your college lists and writing a knockout essay. Even though you might be a bit worn out, resist the temptation to take a laid back approach to securing your letters of recommendation. Many admissions counselors have said that a powerful letter is often the factor that leads to the “yes” pile.

You probably won’t be asking teachers until the semester is underway and application due dates are coming closer. But, you can take some steps now to give your recommenders exactly what they need to write an enthusiastic and personal vote of support that makes you stand out in the crowd.

I tell my students to pull together a request packet that includes a cover sheet of general details, a resume, and a brag sheet. Sounds a little egotistical but when framed correctly, it won’t read that way. And trust me – with all of the requests teachers, coaches and mentors get to write letters, they will appreciate the thoughtful details to personalize their reflections.

Drafting the brag sheet now will ensure you have plenty of time to present your recommenders with everything they need to write a letter that gets you in! Here are a few prompts to get you started on a brilliant brag.

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What adjectives (2-4) describe you? Give specific examples or a story of a time when you exemplified these qualities.

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What are your favorite subjects, or what classes influenced you during your high school years?

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Describe and explain your pride in one accomplishment while in high school. This can be a project, a paper, sticking with it and mastering a difficult concept, learning how to work collaboratively, or anything else you’re proud of.

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Describe a significant challenge or obstacle you’ve had to overcome. How did you do it? What did you learn from the experience?

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What extracurricular activity has been most important to you? Why?

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Have you decided on your college major or future career? If so, what is it? If you haven’t decided, what are you looking forward to exploring in college?

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Over your four years in high school, what have you learned about yourself? How have you changed?

Slide your completed responses in that binder we’ve been talking about; ready for a quick touch up in a month or two.

Now go to it and be proud

of all you have become!

Week 2 Strategy: Essay Pre-Writing

Week 2 Strategy: Essay Pre-Writing

A killer essay is a make or break part of your college app, and sets you up to be noticed when competing for scholarships. A good one takes some time to craft. “Written the night before” probably won’t cut it, but you can get off to a strong start with these pre-writing activities.

 

Fast & Furious

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Print out the essay prompts from the Common Application. Yes, they’re the same as the questions used last year.

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Pick one. I like the idea of placing them all face down in front of you (kind of like the old-school Memory game) and picking one up at random.

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Set a timer for 10 minutes and jot down anything that comes to mind.

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Repeat for a second prompt. You can spread this out over several days or do all of the prompts in one sitting but the idea is to get some ideas flowing and get some ideas about what your approach could be to each question.

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Save your answers for each (remember that binder I suggested?) and add ideas as they come to you. The goal is to get your creative thinking going and have some material to begin writing with.

P.S. This can be fun with friends. Pass out the prompts, hit the timer and when the buzzer sounds, share and discuss your ideas.

Sometimes, you gotta say what’s on your mind 

Instead of starting with pen and paper, try talking your way to the best ideas.

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Open up your voice memo app.

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Read the prompt(s) out loud.

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Record your answer to the question as you would in an interview.

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Transcribe what you adi onto paper and you’ve got some great material to work with.

As with the process above, you can easily do this one with friends who can help make it into a more interactive interview.

What makes it work?

You are not the first (or the last) to write a college essay. One way to get a feeling for the kind of piece you’re trying to craft is to read essays of others.

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Try searching for “college essays that worked” and you’ll have a treasure trove of inspiration.

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What is the tone, voice, and length of each? Did the writer find a unique angle or device that made the essay work?

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Highlight and save the pieces that speak to you to re-read when you start writing.

Happy Writing!

Fast Flight Friday – July 12, 2019

Fast Flight Friday – July 12, 2019

It is HOT and I’m working hard to avoid the sweltering heat and humidity. Still, I don’t want to feel trapped inside while summer passes me by.  Here are a few “compromise” picks to check out.

 

Homemade Popsicles

40 recipes for tastes ranging from kid-friendly to adult Friday Afternoon Club.

 

Out after dark

There’s something about looking up to the stars that is completely captivating. Your cell phone can make your viewing so much more fun as you unlock the secrets of the night sky with a great app. It’s like having an astronomer on call.

 

Saturday afternoon with an old friend

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my ‘tween summers; stuck in that awkward spot between childhood and full-on adolescence.  As with most of my life, books were the ticket to other places and adventuring friends who helped me feel okay where I was. I think when Saturday afternoon rolls around, I’ll escape the heat curled up in one of my favorite reading nooks and venture out with a best old buddy two. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Lord of the Flies….

Check out the reading nooks at the link above for inspiration.

  

Be Fearlessly You,

 

Julie

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