Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Handwriting and Reading - They're Both Important to Education

On my soapbox here today, as you can tell by my post title. Since our education system is in current jeopardy for a variety of reasons, both political and curricula based, I have to voice my writer's opinion on these two important subjects in schools.

In 2010, the Common Core State Standards established a new "rule" that handwriting would now only be required teaching in kindergarten and first grade. After that, students would switch to keyboards. This edict has become practice, in spite of solid evidence that writing by hand improves letter recognition, which is the strongest help to reading success.

Eminent psychologists have learned that, when 5-year-olds were shown letters that they had written by hand, brain regions that involve mastering of reading skills were used. These same regions were not used after the students typed or traced the letters. In addition, it has been proven that college students who take handwritten notes are better able to answer conceptual questions about a subject as opposed to those who type their notes.

Schools today seem obsessed with "a computer for every student". Not only does this require massive amounts of money for education boards to acquire, but there are many negative results to learning when a child does not put pen to paper, or actually read from a textbook in their hands. In addition, they have difficulty calculating arithmetic by hand.

I have read many articles on this subject, all of which point to the current habits by educators, parents and students. They all conclude that technology is helpful, but shouldn't be exclusive to other forms of learning. One of the best op-ed pieces I read focused on certain heads of technology, such as Steve Jobs and others in Silicon Valley executive positions, who stated that they limit their own children to screens and keyboards, going so far as to send their kids to computer-free schools.

I am not suggesting that we eliminate technology entirely, It does have limited positive usage. My concern is that, in the 21st century, we are way too focused on staring at a screen, or doing all our communication by keypad. We're not only ignoring the effects for our children's futures, but we all are losing civility with our fellow man in everyday life. And I don't feel that's an exaggeration.

 

Monday, January 30, 2017

New Writing Challenge

Five months ago, I posted my last blog. Since that time, I have been non-stop busy, completing "Remembering the Magic", co-written with my husband, RJ (cover displayed here). It is the sequel to our first book together, about our careers at Walt Disney World in the early decades. It was released the first week of January, and we are thrilled with the positive responses and reviews we're receiving. We are promoting it on social media, and lining up book signings and speaking engagements.

In addition, I have been co-director, with my talented son, on two theatrical productions. The first was an abbreviated version of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", which was performed in September. The second play, "The Elephant Man", is halfway through a successful run. Both required many, many hours but we've been rewarded with two talented casts that make all that time definitely worth expending.

Naturally, the "real world" has intervened several times; the Holiday season, of course, but there were also some family issues that required my attention, including my husband's brief stint in the hospital (he's fine now).

If this all appears to be excuses for going so long without blogging, then let it be. I thought you deserved to know why I have been off the grid for so long.

I will be resuming more regular postings, at least one a month, and you can also go to the combined website RJ and I have (rjogren.com) to see images and posts of what keeps us creatively busy.

Our newest challenge, referred to in this blog title, is one without a name yet. We are quite excited that we have the green light to do a series of books about the history of Walt Disney World, from a unique perspective. That's all the detail I can give you right now, but we will begin research in about two weeks for the first volume.

Keep checking back as we get underway. This venture will be ongoing for quite some time, and promises to give me lots of blog subjects, in addition to many others I've had on my mind for awhile now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Special Way To Honor My Mother Today

If she were still on this earth, we would be celebrating her 98th birthday today. It has been 21 years since she left us, but it is as vivid as yesterday. She was the most important woman in my life, for so many reasons.

She was my mother.

In a post I did back on her birthday in 2010 (which you can go back and view, titled A Most Special Remembrance), I cited many of the ways she made my life special. I reread that post today, and everything I talked about then is still just as important to me today.

In addition to all those memories I wrote about in that post, I did fail to include a very important lesson she taught me. She always made me believe that I could do anything I really wanted to do, if I put in the talent and effort to make it happen. I know lots of moms say that to their kids, but she not only said it, she lived it.

When she passed away, I gave the eulogy at her memorial service. I ended it by saying, "I hope I always make you proud." I often talk aloud to my mother, and I've repeated that phrase to her on numerous occasions.

I am certain she would be proud of my published writings. I'm just sorry she didn't live to see my name in print. But there is a way I honor her memory, and give her credit for all she did to encourage my work, from the time I was young. I make sure my publisher knows that my name on the cover of any work that is mine alone always includes my maiden name, hence "Suzanne Rowe Ogren" (I also co-author with my husband sometimes, and I'm credited on those books with just "Suzanne Ogren").

Naturally, my dad is part of that legacy, too, when I use my maiden name. I know he would get a kick out of that. But he would be the first to say that my mother is the one responsible for me never giving up my dream, to pen the things I envisioned in my head, and see them published.

This year, with my first novel, Ribbons, published in April, I just knew this was my birthday present to my mother for 2016. And I believe she's reading it today - and smiling! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

"Ribbons" Is Published!

I have shouted this news all over social media, book sites, etc., but cannot believe that I did not post it on here! (See my last blog for the list of the reasons why this might have occurred!)

So, here it is! My novel: "Ribbons"! Talked about in other posts going back quite a long time, but it has finally become a reality, and I couldn't be more proud of this one!

My husband did the cover art as a painting, which hangs in my study now, and I was thrilled that it transferred to the cover so perfectly.

This is a character driven novel; my favorite type to read, so it was natural to write my first novel this way. The settings are a small, college town in Virginia - where we lived for ten years, and several locations in England - our second favorite place to be.

You can read the synopsis, and purchase the book on the publishing website: themeparkpress.com. "Ribbons" is also available on Amazon.com and Kindle.

The story of "Ribbons" is one for both male and female readers, and my hope is that the characters who create the theme of this novel, are ones that will remain with you long after you finish the book.

When you read it, I would love to hear your comments about it. It also helps with sales if you post a review on Amazon and/or goodreads.com. Thanks in advance for your help there!

And a sincere thank you to all who supported my efforts during this long journey to print reality; you know who you are, and I am so grateful.


My Blogs Are Back!

In my life, at least, all things "planned" never seem to happen "as planned"! That is true of what I blogged back in May (how time flies!) about my blog posts and where to find them.

I did post one blog on our website (www.rjogren.com), and do have plans (there's that word again!) to do others on that site, in conjunction with those my husband does. Those would be mostly about our Disney experiences.

The breakdown in getting back to blogging occurred when our lives became immersed in a host of other priorities: promoting our published books - "Together in the Dream" (co-authored with R.J.) and "Ribbons" (my novel which came out in May), working on the sequel to "Together in the Dream", getting our combined website designed and up, doing podcasts and interviews, and keeping current with all our social media sites to get our books sold.

But it's time to make time for this blog; my oldest, and the one where I can pretty much talk about any subject on my mind. R.J. and I have been working for the past couple of weeks to organize our days, and our priorities, so that we don't neglect certain things - like blogging!

I have a list of topics I plan to blog about, either on here or on our website blog, and I hope you keep returning to see what they are. Please know, too, that we appreciate your comments on whatever our subject matter is, so please join in the conversation. And don't give up on us; we're a work in progress with new challenges!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Check Out Our Website - and More!

A couple of months ago, I wrote my last blog about posting Disney stories on the website disneyavenue.com. My husband, RJ, and I both published a couple of stories on there already. At the same time, RJ was re-doing his website to include me and my work.That sparked lots of possibilities for our future creative endeavors.

In doing that, we decided that we wanted to include our Disney experience blogs on our own website. It just makes sense, and makes us totally responsible for the content at the same time. So now, you can just learn all about us in the same place!

At present, RJ is still fine-tuning the site, but you can check it out and discover all the avenues there are to explore about our writing, his art work, and our Disney stories.We are also promoting our speaking engagements on the site.

The address for the site is: rjogren.com. We decided not to change the domain name he's always had to promote his work. I don't need my name in the domain name as long as we let everyone know about my inclusion on the site.

I will continue to write blog posts here, on a variety of subjects, but they will also appear on the website. And, anyone clicking on my blog address will be linked here.

Please let us know, through your comments on our combined website (or right here on my blog) what you like about the new site. Lots of fun stuff to read about, pictures to see, and stories to explore!


Monday, March 21, 2016

New Avenues, New Blogging Opportunity

I've been writing this blog, off and on, for several years now. It has contained (and will continue to do so) posts about the many varied interests, career subjects, and musings of my life in general.

Recently, RJ and I did a podcast about our new book, "Together in the Dream", for a social media site called DisneyAvenue.com. We were impressed with the creator of this site - and our interviewer - for the podcast, Keith Mahne.  We were even more impressed with the professional look of his website. Keith has now asked us to do blogs for Disney Avenue, on Disney subjects of course. The first one, by RJ, has just been published on disneyavenue.com, and I will be doing my first one next week.

Both of our original blog sites are now linked to disneyavenue.com and its blog site. Anyone going on that site, and clicking on our blog link will be automatically directed to our blogs as well.

So! This should bring us more followers, give us an opportunity to expand on our Disney stories, and provide - we hope - more fun discoveries for all the Disneyphiles around the world. We're excited about this: check out RJ's first blog post entitled, Rowboat in the Jungle. And, if there are any specific subjects you'd like to see me write about, please leave a comment here.