Kids Book Review: My Weird School Daze


About 6 weeks ago I had posted to my facebook page asking friends had anyone heard of or read any books in this series “My weird school daze.”

Not many of my friends (teachers or parents) had read the series but some had heard of it. I have a 5 year old boy who is way beyond picture books and not able to fully read chapter books on his own, but chapter books hold his attention when read to him and he usually will recognize many of the words.

The series caught my interest because the narrator of the book is a young boy of color with a diverse variety of friends in the second grade when the series starts.

I don’t know what 2nd grade or 3rd grade humor is because my child is not there yet and that’s not the grade I teach but the humor in the book is pretty funny but “mature” in my opinion for a 5 year old.  The main character whose name is Arlo but goes by AJ complains a lot about school makes fun of his classmates in particular the girls Andrea and Emily and makes jokes that I think are 3rd grade like jokes but that I find a little bit above my 5 year old’s head.  For example in one of the books a pregnant teacher faints at graduation and another teacher goes to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and the boys all shriek “Eewwwwww! Mr so-and-so is kissing Mrs so-and-so.” My son was confused about what mouth to mouth resuscitation meant and why the boys thought one teacher was kissing another teacher. Meanwhile my husband and I are laughing hysterically!

We are on book 3 of the first 10 books of the series which we bought at my son’s Book Fair. The humor that he understands he finds very funny. I find myself having to do a lot of explaining to him and sometimes it is quite challenging explaining 3rd grade jokes to a 5 year old.

So far the series is enjoyable and we get to discuss a lot of things such as: school really isn’t that bad, girls are as good as boys, you should respect your teachers, etc to counter the behavior & thoughts of the characters in the book. My son looks forward to reading it so we will continue to read it I just have to be prepared to do some explaining and countering.

My nephew who is in 3rd grade is also reading the series for himself so probably the book is most appropriate for 2nd and 3rd graders and not so much for kindergarten or first graders who are transitioning to chapter books. Maybe the Mercy Watson series remains one of the most appropriate for kindergarten and first graders.  My son found the Tree house series which lots of people love, scary!

My humble mother of a precocious 5 y.o. who loves book opinion.


A Reflection on Teaching Religion and Diversity…online

worldI have been teaching about religion and cultural competency online since 2010.  I began doing so because (a) I had a newborn and wanted to spend less time on campus and (b) the university was asking us to create more online courses. I have tweaked the courses a lot over the years and gathered ideas from colleagues across the country.  It is a challenge and takes some fine balancing to teach such topics online. It is definitely time consuming! 😊😄Some say it is a bad idea to teach uncomfortable/controversial topics online. I think it can and should be done. I think so mainly because online offers more students opportunity to take a variety of classes that they may not otherwise be able to take because of their time and life commitments.  Secondarily, I have found that my online students are more open with their discussion than me student in my face-to-face courses (their is some literature out there about the perception of being somewhat anonymous online).

I am currently teaching an online course about religion and society. 🏯⛪🔯🔱It is a Sociology course so the readings are based on the theoretical frameworks of the traditional through post-modern Sociological theorists.  Because of where we live, I find approx 90% of the students to be former Catholics who do not currently practice a religion AND have a disdain for organized religion (LOTS of research out there on this, especially as it relates to 20 and 30 year olds). The students have been most interested in how religions address the LGBT community & people of color, and the role of women or lack thereof within some religions.

When I teach the cultural competency course (in Social Work) students are required to pick a culture that is different than their own and explore that culture’s food, socio-cultural, religious and other traditions and customs.  🎎🙇👭👬👳👲Culture is broadly defined but mostly in the course we study and discuss various social identities. In the end students tend to focus on national origin or religion, therefore most students choose either Judaism or Islam for their ongoing project/paper.  Given the state in which we live students also tend to choose Cambodian, Vietnamese, Cape Verdean, or Brazilian cultures also and thus often end up at a Catholic Church or Buddhist Temple.

This semester in the Religion and Society course, no student has chosen Islam. I asked if anyone had interest in exploring Islam for their research paper and that I had often sent students to a specific Islamic Center in our state and that the center is welcoming, etc., etc. A few brave students emailed me to say that they were interested but scared to visit a Mosque or Islamic Center.  We discussed back and forth about their fears and the pros and cons of this research topic.  In the end, no student chose Islam. I was disappointed, but each year I am learning new things about teaching topics that some students find uncomfortable, challenging, and/or are afraid of.


Facilitating Learning

  1. Even though our college and universities push us to teach online so that more students have access and can take courses, some courses really are best taught face-to-face.
  2. If I chose to teach anything related to diverse identities online then I have to require students to engage in more discussions than usual. There is typically a question/topic per week and students respond to me and to two other students. I then compose a lecture-like post based on all of their responses so and ask them to respond to that post.  So that’s at least 3-4 opportunities to discuss a topic and engage in some teaching & learning.
  3. Again, if I chose to teach anything related to diverse identities online I should think about requiring at least two (at the beginning and at the end) face-to-face meetings so that we can all see each other, have an open discussion, more forward, and end together.  This seems to defeat the purpose of teaching online, which is why hybrid is usually a good option.
  4. I like students to think about the possible wide range of topics and choose for themselves, but… it is an undergraduate course and even though it goes against my pedagogical style I could pre-select topics and say “Pick from these topics only” thus pushing students out of their comfort zone. This might be helpful to some students and patronizing to others.

If you teach about the broad topic(s) of diversity:

  1. Do you teach online, hybrid, or face-to-face?
  2. Do you allow students to select their own topics or do you have a pre-selected list?
  3. What other suggestions would you give me as I move forward in teaching this solely online?

Respectful, constructive comments and discussions are welcome, please.  Thank you.

Youniquely me: My new adventure

Shannon in Younique Makeup2This make-up thing is part of my self-care journey. It’s been fun and I’m learning new things about myself and others. Here’s my first Younique blog post.

What I’ve gained and learned:

  1. Looking good on the outside is as important as looking good on the inside.I’m on sabbatical and walk/jogging at least 3 days a week. I’m eating less. I’m drinking more water. Even if all I’m doing is sitting and writing or dropping the boy off at school, I get dressed and put on some make-up. I’m cute inside and out and I feel GOOD!
  2. Putting on make-up helps you be mindful and present in the here-and-now.  I have to take my time to apply my full face (most days I do just mascara and lipstick) but even still, I take my time and think about how I want to look.
  3. Cheap make-up is bad. This needs no explanation. I’m a grown Shannon in Younique Makeup3woman, with a job and I don’t need to use or buy cheap make-up. Plus Younique doesn’t make my face break out (I have allergies and eczema)
  4. Choose what you buy and from whom you buy carefully. My new side-gig/venture/business is a company that supports sexually abused women and helps women learn how to run a business. Many of the products are gluten-free. There is NO animal resting
  5. A little goes a long way.  This make-up is highly pigmented so the stuff I’ve bought will last me a looooong time.
  6. Related to #5, a light hand is best! No need to apply a lot.
  7. I’m having fun getting dolled up several days a week and helping others engage in self-care and look cuter also!
  8. Let me help you get dolled up for the holidays and buy stocking stuffers, secret Santa, teacher & co-worker gifts.

A rambling opinion: Why Student Protest Matters

multicultural-kids-holding-blank-banner-sign-23449953The short answer to the question “Why does student protest matter?” is that because those young people are our future.  I was one of them in the 80s. Now I’m a social work educator with a platform for social justice. I blog, I write Op-Ed pieces, I teach social justice and cultural competence.  I was hunger striking and camping out on the admin lawn on campus.  I had an opportunity to voice my concerns.  I was heard and acknowledged.  That propelled me to continue to be an active, critical, concerned citizen.

We should not judge, criticize, chastise, condemn, or discourage those students.  Yes, someone (they and/or family members) are paying for them to be in class, learning, studying, doing homework, earning grades and degrees. AND A LOT of learning on college and university campuses occurs outside of the classroom.  We should value the life lessons and experiences that enhance a young person’s life.  Being aware of, concerned about, actively in changing a social ill is an important lesson.  There is a lot of learning that occurs from organizing and participating in a protest. You may end up on a bus to your state’s capital to speak before the legislature.  You may end up in a conference room with the Chancellor and Board of Trustees to state your concerns.  You’ll most definitely end up speaking to the media.  Your name and picture will end up in your college’s archives as someone who worked to make a change for the better.

Those young people at Missouri, Ithaca, Smith, Yale, and all the other campuses engaging in social protest deserve their time and space to do so.  They have legitimate concerns to which we should listen.  They will eventually go back to class and to the routine of taking notes, writing papers, etc. But for now, today they need to say their truth.  That truth is the truth of our nation.  We have a dismal record of positive race relations.  These students, like the students from the 1906s are waiting to be heard. Maybe we can learn from our students.

Whether it’s at your high school or college, the voices of students matter! Their protest matters because history repeats itself and we are slow to change.  Their protest matters because we need to wake up, listen, take positive action, and make true social change.  Their protest matters because they speak truth.  Their protest matters because they are our future. I stand, sit, lay with our students wanting to be heard!

I couldn’t sell a Girl Scout cookie to save my life but I recently raised $3K!

Honoring Granny 2014Growing up I could not sell a girl scout cookie, nor a magazine subscription nor a candy bar (remember those BIG candy bars for $10?) to save my life! My mom was a hustler all her life. She made sure all my cookies, magazines, raffle tickets, and candy bars were sold. Always. My mom was a business woman to the max! She tried very hard to teach me how to manage money, especially how to save and invest. Some of those lessons stuck well and others….well…you know…

I’ve been hustlin’ to honor my mom and grandmother.

I am proud to say that along with my sister and friends we have raised $3,648.00! Three of us are Grand Champion fundraisers! Whoo-hoo. (maybe more because we’ve each recently collected donations).

I do this for my grandmother, my mom, and myself. I am at risk for also having Dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. I want to be able to see, enjoy and recognize my son’s children. My grandmother got 20+ years with me. My mom only got to spend 4 years with her grandson. I want my son to have me and all my faculties for as long as possible. Help us fund research to prevent a disease I know can be prevented! #EndAlz #Walktoendalz

I may not be able to sell a girl scout cookie or a magazine subscription, but I can raise some money to honor my mom and grandma!

Sunflowers for Rae sunflowers

How to Help Your Kids Say Goodbye

We’re preparing to change schools. We’ve been talking about the change now for a few months. We’re all sad and excited.


It’s hard to say goodbye at any age, whether you’re a toddler getting dropped off at day care, or a teenager bidding teachers and friends goodbye at the end of the school year.
But learning how to navigate transitions is a crucial part of growing up, says Susan Linn, founding director of Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

“What children need is a foundation to be able to deal with change,” she says.
How can parents build that foundation?

By letting kids know that, although no one can stop transitions, everyone has a chance to discover “what you can do to contribute to the experience, to acknowledge, and mark, and take ownership,” says Linn.

And saying goodbye is one powerful way that kids can honor a transition, and make it their own.

So how can parents can start conversations with kids…

View original post 282 more words

The Inequitable Intersection of Gender, Nationality, and Socio-Economic Status in Sports

soccerballThe parade is over. The media has moved on to analyzing Serena’s body. The discussion about equity in women’s professional sports was hot and heavy but seems to be waning after the U.S. women’s soccer team won the 2015 FIFA World Cup in Canada. The issue of women’s sports being less valued and less viewed than men’s sports is not a new issue. The 1972 Education Amendments to Title IX have been credited with raising awareness about the issue of equity for women in athletics. According to the last NCAA Gender equity report (2008), more women are participating in athletic programs, but at the college level the amount spent on women’s athletics is still less than, about half (including coaches’ salaries) what is spent on men’s programs. The Title IX legislation is necessary, it is great, and is helping. Title IX however only applies to colleges and universities in the United States. What about the non-collegiate international picture?

I am passionate about issues related to the advocacy, equity, justice, and inclusion of women. As a woman of color I am greatly concerned with the growth and development of women’s teams in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. At the moment based on the number of FIFA affiliated teams and qualifying teams for World Cup, North America and Europe dominate FIFA. Soccer is the third most frequently offered college sports program for women in the U.S. (basketball is first and volleyball is second). According to the Confederation of African Football, Africa has 54 associations/teams affiliated with FIFA. 17 of those nations had women’s teams participate in the 2015 World Cup qualifier tournament. Only the Ghanaian, Nigerian, and Cameroonian women’s teams qualified for the FIFA World Cup and only Cameroon advanced past the first round. In 2014, five African men’s teams qualified to go to the World Cup in Brazil (Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria). Only one African nation has ever hosted a World Cup (South African in 2010) and no African nation has ever won a World Cup tournament.

The Cameroonian women played with great heart! They were the first African women’s team to make it to a FIFA Round of 16 (in 1986 Morocco was the first African men’s team to reach the Round of 16). It is an awesome achievement. Most of the U.S., Canadian, and European women play for U.S. teams, Canadian teams or for the bigger European teams. Of the twenty-three women on the Cameroonian roster only one of them plays in the United States (Ajara Nchout for the Western New York Flash). Four players, including Ngono who scored the first Cameroonian goal in the tournament play in France. The other eight women play in Slovakia, Romania, Russia, Finland, Belarus, and Sweden. From the countries for which the Cameroonian women play only their home country, the U.S., France, and Sweden qualified for the 2015 World Cup. Six Cameroonian women play for teams whose national team did not qualify for the World Cup, four of those teams have never qualified for the World Cup (Slovakia, Russia, Finland, and Belarus). The lack of opportunities for the Cameroonian women to develop their soccer skills and showcase their talents is representative not only of the lack of equity for women in Africa but also of the lack of equity for many women’s and men’s teams in countries without enough resources and socio-political clout to develop further.

FIFA’s website has a tab that links to their development programs described as “…focusing on four main areas of football development – competitions, management, education and promotion. This includes the Live Your Goals campaign launched in 2011 to inspire more young girls and women to get involved in football.”  On paper the development programs’ mission and goals are exactly what needs to be said about the promotion of women athletes.  The same can be said for the FIFA global development programs which provide support for men’s teams also to “improve the state of the sport worldwide”.  However, when the parent organization and some nation affiliates are struggling with corruption, when some of the participating nations’ men’s teams are under-developed, and when the hype of women’s sports victories lasts a week at best how can the Cameroonian women’s soccer team or any other women athletes stand a chance of gaining equity?  What will it take for women and other under-represented populations to gain international athletic opportunities and recognition so that the playing fields can be equal? Who will address the inequitable intersection of gender, nationality, and socio-economic status in international athletics?