Sunday, August 16, 2015

#WUWA: PhD and Writing

I've survived another quarter of graduate school! 

All has been quite on my blog for a couple of weeks. Not a sound. I hope my readers haven't give up on me. This past quarter of PhD work about killed me. I don't know if you can die from studying so much but I'm pretty certain I was almost there. LOL. The last few months have been chaotic for me with school, writing, etc. I'm so glad I'm on a two week break. I needed it. 

So if you haven't heard or don't already know, I've been working on my PhD in Education at Walden University. I just finished my first year. I loved it! I can't believe I'll be attending my second residency this quarter. Where has the time gone by?

Just because I'm in graduate school doesn't mean that I'm not writing. In fact, I'm working on the sequel to Calico (Children of the Shawnee: 1). I'm excited about this book. The sequel is titled Lies and Deceit. It's not a book you want to read if you haven't read Calico. The story picks up a few months after the ending of the book. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#ExpressYourself: Writing, Music and More

It's hump day! Happy Wednesday! I've been busy these past few weeks working on my manuscript for Camp NaNoWriMo. My goal this month was to write 100,000 words. I'm up to 80,000. Lord, help me. I have 20,000 words to write in two days. AAAAAHHHH. 

So since I've been busy writing I've missed a few days of posting. I have two Express Yourself entries for today. Gotta make up for the one I missed last week. LOL. 

July 20 - 24

Name 2 favorite places/spots you like to hang out at.

Oh this one is easy! I like to go camping with my friends and family. Any park will do. The more secluded the better. I love to just sit in the forest and let my imagination fly. 

My second favorite place is the Indy Reads Bookstore. This independent bookstore in Indianapolis is the hangout for all my NaNoWriMo buddies in Indianapolis. We have monthly meetings where we encourage each other to keep on writing. Here's a pic of us at our last gathering at Indy Reads. 

July 27 - 31 

Share a few songs from you WIP playlist. 

Hmm, I normally don't write with music but there are some moments in my writing time that I will chose to listen to a song. It usually happens when I'm having a hard time with a certain scene. 

My current manuscript is a bit more paranormal than the first book of the Children of the Shawnee series. I wasn't planning on it but all of a sudden I ended up having a time traveler in the book. An adult version of Black Buffalo travels from 2015 to 1774 where he is only a few years old. No my math isn't off. He's an immortal shaman. I decided he was going to be singer after listening to this song. The lead singer with the curly hair looks like my character. 

I had problems writing a scene the other day between Calico and Chief Big Deer. It was a pretty dramatic scene where he delivers words of wisdom to her. I just couldn't piece this scene together. So I went to YouTube and looked for some Shawnee music. I found this wonderfully talented men, listened to their music and wrote the scene. It turned out to be very dramatic. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

LTW: Motivating the #Elementary #Gifted Student

Motivating the Elementary Gifted Student

            The gifted population in America often struggles academically, socially, and mentally while in the public school system. These struggles are often seen in gifted students as early as the second grade. One of the reasons gifted students struggle is motivation. Shunk, Meece and Pintrick (2014) define motivation as “the process whereby goal directed activities are instigated and sustained” (pg.5). Long (2013, September) found gifted students need to be intellectually stimulated or they will become bored in class (pg. 1). Most educators struggle to keep their gifted students engaged within their classroom.  Theroux (2014) found not all motivational theories will work well with every gifted student (pg. 1). Educators need to implement different motivational strategies frequently (Theroux, 2014, pg.1).
Classical Conditioning
            Classical conditioning is the process in which a stimulus is presented to the student in order to elicit a response (Shunk, Meece, and Pintrick, 2014, pg. 22). A response will not occur if the learner does not see a link between their response and the stimulus that was given.  Gifted students will not respond if they have “checked out” of the learning environment.  A gifted student will “check out” of a learning environment when their minds are somewhere else (Long, 2013, September). This usually occurs when the student is unmotivated.  Unmotivated gifted students will operate within classical conditioning whenever they are seeking attention. Theroux (2014) found gifted students who are bored would frequently seek attention through positive, negative or passive attention seeking behaviors depending upon their preferred attention seeking style (pg. 1. See figure 1).

Figure 1
Operant Conditioning
            Operant Conditioning is a motivational behavior theory that is like classical conditioning. In both Operant and Classical Conditioning a stimulus is introduced and a response is gleaned from the reaction of the student. Schunk, Meece and Pintrich (2014) found motivated behavior can be increased or decreased depending upon the consequences of the student’s reaction (pg. 25). Unlike Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning stipulates that a student’s reaction to a stimulus can be changed through reinforcements or punishments (Shunk, Meece and Pintrich, 2014, pg. 24). Reinforcement is given to increase the likelihood that the behavior exhibit will appear more frequently (Shunk, Meece and Pintrich, 2014, pg. 24). Punishments are used to decrease the likelihood of the behavior’s occurrence.
             Educators who work with the gifted population can use Operant Conditioning to encourage proper behavioral management. A student who turns in all their homework on time may receive a sticker or stamp on their paper would be an example of positive reinforcement.  Theroux (2014) cautions educators to sparingly use rewards and punishments as a behavior modifier when working with the gifted population (pg. 1). The goal of the educator should be to develop intrinsic motivation within their gifted students. Theroux (2014) argued rewards are only effective in gifted students when they are unmotivated or engaged in an activity that is lower than their abilities (pg. 1).  Rewards should never be increased for increased expectations (Theroux, 2014, pg. 1).  Negative reinforcements occur when a reward is removed. A reward is removed once the desired behavior is effective (Theroux, 2014, pg. 1).
             Bad behavior may be countered by punishment by removing either a positive or negative reinforcer (Schunk, Meece and Pintrich, 2014, pg. 24). For example, a student talks excessively in class. The teacher decides to reward all her students with a sticker except for the student who has been talking. This would be a punishment because the educator has removed a positive reinforcement from that student. See figure 1 for more examples.

Long, C. (2013, September). Are We Failing Gifted Students? neaToday. Retrieved from   

Schunk, D. H., Pintrich, P. R., & Meece, J. L. (2014). Motivation in education: Theory, research,    and applications (4th ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

Theroux, P. (2014). Intrinsic Motivation. Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Retrieved  from

Sunday, July 26, 2015

#WUWA: Surviving Camp NaNoWriMo

This upcoming week is the last week of Camp NaNoWriMo. It's been a great writing month for me. I've had some enlightening moments with my plot and characters. Even though, I had planned my story out the characters have decided that there needed to be a few changes. I'm liking it so far. I think by the end of this week I should hit my goal of 100,000 words. I really don't think Lies and Deceit is going to end at 100,000 words. It's looking like it will be another epic probably the size of Elsa. Elsa turned out to be around 200,000 words. We'll have to see what happens. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

#Supernatural #Texas: Where in the World is Shafter, Texas?

Where in the World is Shafter, Texas?

Life's hard for those who live in the Big Bend Region of West Texas. Even harder for the communities that periodically have sprung up throughout history. Ghost towns such as Terlingua, Shafter and Study Butte (pronounced Stewde Boot not Study Butt) once thrived by now barely survived with a dwindling or almost non-existent population. 

Shafter, Texas is an unincorporated town located in the Chinati Mountains next to Cibolo Creek. The small town lies 18 miles north of Presidio.  In 2010, the Texas Attorney General's Office reported the small town had a population of 11 people. Shafter wasn't always that small. In fact, the 1940 census shows Shafter had around 4,000 residents. 

The ghost town is one of a few mining towns in the Big Bend Region. In 1882, John Spencer discovered silver ore in the hills. He took a sample of the ore to Fort Davis where he presented it to General William R. Shafter. The ninth calvary commander had the ore assessed. After the assessor informed General Shafter that the hills contained large quantities of silver General Shafter informed his military friends, Lt. John L. Bullis and Lt. Louis Wilhelmi, of his discovery. The three soldiers convinced the state of Texas to allow them to purchase tracks of school land around the mountains with the intent to mine the silver themselves. The officers approached John Spencer with their idea of investing into mining silver from the mountains. Spencer agreed to join them. 

The four men decided they would purchase equal amounts of land close to where Spencer had discovered the ore with the agreement they would equally share the profits. The men purchased a total of 2560 acres but lacked the funds to develop their mining venture.  In 1882, the four men leased some of their land to a California mining group. The group then formed a new company - the Presidio Mining Company. 

Two years later, the company installed mining equipment and the small town of Shafter, Texas was born. Shafter was a company town. The company built houses for their workers and families. Company stores provided anything their families would need and a company doctor was always available.

The Presidio Mining Company then approached Shafter, Bullis, Wilhelmi and Spencer with the the prospect of acquiring more land with a stock for land trade. The men were promised 5,000 shares in the company with a bonus of $1,600 cash in hand upon completion of the transaction. Bullis declined the offer stating that he had used his wife's funds for the land and thus had no authority to take such an offer. The company then sued Bullis for not allowing them access to his lands. The Wilhelmi, Spencer and Shafter agreed to the stock for land trader.   A post office was installed in 1885. The town was named Shafter in honor of General William R. Shafter. 

Shafter was a thriving company town that operated from 1885 to the 1940's. It went through periods of opening and closings during the 1920's and 1930's. During the 1940's the mining town grew even larger with the influx of families stationed at the Marfa Army Air Field and the Fort D.A. Russell. When the bases closed in 1945 and 1946 Shafter's population dramatically declined. Shafter was abandoned soon after that. 

All has been quiet in Shafter since the end of WWII. In 2010, the Canadian mining group, Aurcana decided to invest their interest in the Shafter mines. 

They officially reopened the mines in March of 2011. You can see the first explosion in the video below. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

#LTW: Connecting Education in a Meaningful Way to the Gifted Learner's Mind

Welcome back! The past few weeks we have been discussing the brain differences between gifted and nongifted students. If you have been following along with this series then you can see why gifted students become so easily frustrated when taught in a traditional American classroom. One of the best ways educators can help gifted students find success is through Connective Learning.

Connective Learning is the process of an educator helping learners build networks within their brains. Siemens (Laureate, 2012) identified three levels of Connective Learning as 1) biological, learning how to make connections, 2) conception, how ideas are related to each other and 3) external/social, how to make meaningful connections between people and data. Treffinger (2004) found gifted students are fast learners but have difficulty connecting the vast amount of information they process.

Connective Learning would be an important educational model for the gifted educator to utilize
within the classroom. Gifted students possess the ability to process greater amounts of information and enjoy academic challenges. Yet, while the know the information they sometimes do not understand how to use the information they have gleaned in real life situations. Siemens (Laureate, 2012) stated connective learning requires mashing up several ideas in order to create a new idea. The mashing up of ideas allows the gifted learner to creatively utilizes the information they have processed to create understanding and unique solutions to problems.

Sometimes a gifted student will lose focus on academic lessons if they deem the material being presented doesn’t have any real-life applications. Connective Learning allows the gifted learner to take an active part in connecting new and old information into more meaningful associations. Siemens (Laureate, 2012) found the educator’s role in a connective learning environment is to assist learners in building brain-based networks that can create clarity and clear thinking.

Asher, J. (2006) Cortex Matures Faster in Youth with Highest IQ. Retrieved from National Institute of Health website:

Bruning, R. H., Schraw, G. J., & Norby, M. M. (2011). Cognitive psychology and instruction (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

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Geake, J. (2009). The Brain at School: Educational Neuroscience in the Classroom. Retrieved from ttps://

Gross, G. (2013, October 21). Who is the gifted Child [Web log post]? Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012). Anatomy of the brain. Baltimore, MD: Author

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012). Connectivism learning theory. Baltimore MD: Author.

Monru, J. (2013). High-Ability Learning and Brain Processes:How Neuroscience can help us to understand how gifted and talented students learn and the implication for teaching. Paper presented a the Research Conference, Australia

Mrazik, M., & Dombrowski, S. C. (2010). The Neurobiological Foundations of Giftedness. Roeper Review, 32(4), 224-234. doi:10.1080/02783193.2010.508154

Sword, L. (2011). I think in pictures, you teach in words: The gifted visual-spatial learner. Tall Poppies Retrieved from
Treffinger, D (Ed.). (2003). Creativity and Giftedness. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.