Archive for December, 2011

Parent Blogger Brunch Preview: Amy Mascott

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Over the next week, we’ll be sharing interviews with bloggers to be featured at our Parent Blogger Brunch on December 9, co-hosted by Jessica McFadden of A Parent In Silver Spring. Meet members of the new media and sign up for the brunch now!

Amy Mascott is the creator of teachmama.com, where her focus is to share the tools and resources parents need to be the best teachers for their children. She’s not a full-fledged homeschooling mom; rather, she capitalizes on learning opportunities in the every day and uses games and play to get her own children prepared for school and excited about the world around them. Amy is paving the way for a more modern ‘lifestyle of learning’, empowering all parents to take a stronger role in supporting their children’s education.

In February 2010, Amy created We Teach as a forum for parents and teachers to connect, share ideas, and grow into better educators—no matter the classroom. We Teach has grown quickly into one of the most successful and highly-trafficked educational forums on the web.

A Reading Specialist, freelance writer, former high school English teacher, and mom to a 7, 6, and 4-year-old, Amy’s work has been featured on dozens of online and print publications, and she has handed over many teaching tools to parents during speaking engagements. She is a contributor for Scholastic’s Parents Online, PBS Parents, readwritethink.org, and Mom’s Homeroom, and she has been a literacy contributor for Washington Times Communities and columnist for Rockville Patch. Amy is currently an editor and contributor for The DC Moms.

Offline, Amy sits on her children’s Preschool Ministry Board, she created and facilitates the Family Mentoring program at her local elementary school, and she runs the school’s Kindergarten Orientation. On Twitter, she’s @teachmama, tweeting about education, literacy, books, dog-walking and everything in between.

What has inspired your new material on your blog, and how do you keep generating new material?
The material on my blog is inspired by my children, what I do with my children, and what they’re going through at the time. Since the focus of teachmama.com is ‘learning in the every day’, I really try to keep the content centered around the things we do at home to keep learning fun, relevant, and real.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have met through your blog?
The most interesting people I’ve met through my blog–through the blogging world–have to be The DC Moms. The women in that group have become some of my most dear and cherished friends, hands down. But blogging has also allowed me to meet other really cool people like Maxine Clark, CEO and Chief Bear of Build-A-Bear, Paula Dean, Mickey & Minnie, Miss Frizzle, SuperWhy!, and more.

What is the best thing a blogger can give to his or her readers?
The best thing a blogger can give to his or her readers is some sort of take-away. Everyone is so busy that I feel readers want something and deserve something–for the time they spend reading our blogs. That take-away can be a tiny piece of advice, news on a sweet deal, some sort of activity to do with their kids, or a good laugh; it can even be a riveting, thought-provoking piece that gives them a new perspective on something. It can be anything, but if bloggers want readers to return, they have to make it worth their while.

Which post of yours is your favorite and why?
I have a lot of favorite posts because most bring back memories of time spent with my kiddos, but I’d have to say that I have two favorites: one on pretend play and one on books as gifts. The pretend play post [http://teachmama.com/2011/01/remembering-the-importance-of-pretend-play.html] was just a really fun time with my children–we set up our basement as a restaurant–the Red Checks Restaurant–and really played restaurant for a good, long while. We started by creating menus, then organizing the play kitchen, then taking turns being the cook, server, and patrons. It was fun. And the second post I love is one about finding the gifts in every book [http://teachmama.com/2011/03/the-gift-of-reading-finding-the-gift-in-any-book.html]. It just forced me to take a minute to really look at why I love certain books and what they ‘give’ to readers. It was a chance to share some of my favorite titles and explain why I think they’re awesome.

What is your favorite blog to follow? Are / were you inspired by someone else’s blog?
I used to be really great at keeping up with blogs and reading blogs, but now I can barely read the newspaper at breakfast–so my blog-reading has suffered. But I do subscribe to some of my best friends’ blogs–A Parent in Silver Spring, Tech Savvy Mama, Toddler Planet, No Time for Flashcards, Pink and Green Mama, Frugal Family Fun Blog–and I love them each for different reasons. I was inspired by Allie’s No Time for Flashcards and MaryLea’s Pink and Green Mama–they are both incredible teachers and close friends of mine.

If you could say one thing to a perspective new blogger, what would your advice be?
My advice to a perspective blogger would be to stay focused on something that you know a lot about and that interests you, and to write because you love to write, or because you love to craft, you love to ride horses, plan kids activities, cook, or whatever. And blog for you–not because you want to make money or be famous or something; blogging is a labor of love, and the best bloggers I know put their heart and soul into nearly every post–and that’s what brings readers back.

Visit Amy’s blog, teachmama.com, and follow her on Twitter at @teachmama! You can also meet her at the Parent Blogger Brunch on December 9 – sign up now.

Parent Blogger Brunch Preview: Leticia Barr

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Over the next week, we’ll be sharing interviews with bloggers to be featured at our Parent Blogger Brunch on December 9, co-hosted by Jessica McFadden of A Parent In Silver Spring. Meet members of the new media and sign up for the brunch now!

Leticia Barr is a DC Metro area dwelling mom of two elementary aged children with a background in classroom technology integration and school administration who uses everything she learned from teaching children,teachers, and principals as a professional blogger, social media strategist, and freelance writer.

Leticia founded TechSavvyMama.com, a site that assists parents in finding the best technology products, websites, and resources for children of all ages, from personal experience of bringing a computer into her home for her daughter.  She uses her experience selecting software and online resources for one of the top 15 largest school systems in the country, knowledge about issues concerning screen time and children, and ability to evaluate educational sites to assess new products and services.  Leticia also loves sharing honest feedback with her large community of faithful readers.

Leticia relies on personal experience from blogging and her background in education to branch out to consulting, professional blogging, and freelance writing.  She provides social media consulting to companies looking to create blog ambassador programs and campaigns and has worked with PBS Teachers, Location Labs, The Mother Company, Marble Jar, BipperKids, BitDefender, and Comcast. Leticia is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared on Parenting.com, PBS Media Infusion, The Washington Post On Parenting, and Real Simple’s Simply Stated.

What has inspired your new material on your blog, and how do you keep generating new material?
Blogging about technology always provides new fodder thanks to new advances not only in devices, but also the need to ensure that we stay current in terms of privacy settings on websites, diligent about keeping passwords secure and antivirus protection up to date, and knowledgeable about the multitude of apps that are being developed every day.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have met through your blog?
Blogging and communicating with people through social media have allowed me to meet individuals from all over the country who I have formed real lasting friendships with that I may have never met otherwise. I’m fortunate that my work in social media also allows me to champion causes that are important to me. I serve on the Blogger Advisory Council for the American Cancer Society and will be going to Haiti in January to visit artists who create products for the Heart of Haiti line and hear about how their work provides sustainable income as they rebuild their lives and communities following the earthquake.

What is the best thing a blogger can give to his or her readers?
There are many things that bloggers can give to their readers. First and foremost, a true honest voice is essential whether you are providing an ah-ha moment in your reader’s day or a safe place to land and the knowledge that others share your story.

Which post of yours is your favorite and why?
I think my favorite post is the one that I wrote out of frustration when I found that my youngest was being bullied in preschool. I was horrified to know that a couple boys in his class, who were known to be bullies, had started targeting my son. Because we’ve created open lines of communication in our house, I was pleased that he told his sister who came to us. Nevertheless, I channeled my energy into writing a post that serves as a resource to other families who are experiencing the same thing by providing helpful links to great information.

What is your favorite blog to follow?  Are / were you inspired by someone else’s blog?
I don’t have a favorite blog! There are so many that I follow to keep up with the happenings in my friends lives, read to stay current on the latest tech news or current events, or ones that I use to fuel my inspiration of my love of cooking and gardening.

My inspiration to start blogging was Jessica. We’ve known each other since our now 8 year olds were 6 months old having met at a Moms Club meetup. When she started A Parent in Silver Spring, I wrote to congratulate her and offered to help. She took me up on my offer saying she’d love my expertise on education and technology. As a guest writer, I wrote about those things but also favorite local restaurants because I love food! She always encouraged me to start my own site and as content as I was contributing to her own site, I started Tech Savvy Mama a month later.

If you could say one thing to a perspective new blogger, what would your advice be?
Don’t try to be everyone else. Just be true to yourself. Write about what you love. Your passion will be apparent to your readers and fuel new content as often as you want to write.

Visit Sandie’s blog,TechSavvyMama.com, like her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter at @techsavvymama! You can also meet her at the Parent Blogger Brunch on December 9 – sign up now.

Parent Blogger Brunch Preview: Monica Sakala

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Over the next week, we’ll be sharing interviews with bloggers to be featured at our Parent Blogger Brunch on December 9, co-hosted by Jessica McFadden of A Parent In Silver Spring. Meet members of the new media and sign up for the brunch now!

Monica Gallagher Sakala lives in Montgomery County with her husband and 2 young daughters. After almost 15 years of public affairs work in DC, she decided to stop working full-time and instead focuses on blogging at Wired Momma, where she offers readers a snarky daily jolt of parenthood from the nation’s capital. Monica also contributes to Huffington Post DC, Washingtonian Magazine, TheDCMoms.com and freelances for PR clients. On Wired Momma, she covers DC-related parenting news, interviews local women who are experts in their field, reviews fabulous local events and rarely can resist a political scandal or mocking the latest celebrity baby name.

What has inspired your new material on your blog, and how do you keep generating new material?
My kids are always my first inspiration; the hilarious things they say, the challenges they pose and the creative way they view the world. Beyond that, issues facing parents today and news events inspire my topics.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have met through your blog?
I try to write about local women around the beltway who are experts in their field. I really believe in supporting small business, especially ones started by moms because typically parenthood has inspired their new business. So interviewing this diverse group of female entrepreneurs has so far exposed me to some really interesting and amazing women.

What is the best thing a blogger can give to his or her readers?
I suppose the answer is – a reason for the reader to want to come back and read again. I write honestly about parenting – life isn’t always sunshine and roses with kids and I’m never going to pretend like it is, at least in my house – and I think people appreciate that about my site.

Which post of yours is your favorite and why?
Probably a post I wrote for Washingtonian about my obsession with strollers, I had a lot of fun writing about the personalities of each of my strollers and confessing my addiction to finding the perfect stroller and the expense of it along the way.

What is your favorite blog to follow? Are / were you inspired by someone else’s blog?
I contribute to TheDCMoms.com and am so proud to be a part of so many talented writers in our area – their individual blogs and areas of expertise never cease to amaze me.

If you could say one thing to a perspective new blogger, what would your advice be?
Write honestly and my general rule of thumb: if I’ve been thinking about something for 3 days, it’s a blog topic.

Visit Monica’s blog, Wired Momma, follow her on Twitter at @Wired_Momma or like her Facebook page! You can also meet her at the Parent Blogger Brunch on December 9 – sign up now.