Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

Proud to Sweat the Small Stuff

 If you know me well, you know how I fret over the little things. It irritates me when wet towels are left on the floor, when dishes are in the sink and my counters are cluttered.

 It irritates me when my newspaper students don’t even the text off at the end of each story or leave half-empty soda cans next to brand new Macs in the newsroom.

 It irritates me when periods are outside of quotation marks, when story leads don’t have a hook and when text is bold or italics within an article.

I sound neurotic already, but in my mind, the little things really do matter, no matter how much I get irritated. Continue reading


January 31, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Parenting, Reflecting, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pinewood Derby: A Teaching Moment

I’m not a crafty mom. I’m not even a very creative mom. I don’t follow directions well and I always put things together at the last minute. So when I first heard about the Pinewood Derby project for my son’s cub scout pack a few years ago, I panicked. How in the world was I going to help my son build a car, much less figure out how to come up with a concept for his car? 

What I quickly learned was that this project would be a teaching moment for all of us. Continue reading

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Teaching | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Redesigning Our Lives

For the past few months, my newspaper students have been planning a re-design of their website. They poured over possible layouts, templates, video components and social media plugins. Our online editor Jenn has worked tirelessly to make sure that the best laid plans became a reality.

 Jenn worked hard. The staff worked hard. And, in the end, the site was launched this week. The hard work and hours of planning resulted in a major change in how their news site functions.

 After witnessing their efforts firsthand, I began to wonder about other “things” we could re-design. Our staff manual. Our policies and procedures. Our copy editing processes.

 Our lives. Continue reading

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Hear Voices

I love to read, but I have the shortest attention span. If a story does not hook me from the beginning, my mind starts to wander and I start thinking about my next meal, the laundry that is piling up and my never-ending to-do list.

A hook is crucial and for me, a good hook involves an interesting human subject in a good piece of writing (What is Good Writing?). I want to relate right away to a person’s life story, sense of tragedy or triumph and descriptive nature. Without a heartfelt, nail-biting hook, forget it. I’ll head off to do laundry. Continue reading

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stretchy Pants Make You Fat

When I was younger, I was fortunate enough to live next door to a very wise and patient lady. Each day after school I would make my way over to Joan and Jim’s house and soak up the advice she gave me on a regular basis.

Joan never preached to me and never intentionally pushed advice on me, but her words stuck with me throughout my entire adolescence. She was very wise and one of the most influential women I’ve ever come into contact with. Continue reading

January 18, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Reflecting | , , , , | 5 Comments

What is Good Writing?

Every semester, it never fails, that a student asks me what constitutes good writing. I welcome this question although it is difficult to answer. The truth is that good writing is subjective and what I may deem as a good piece, someone else may not.

However, I’m going to attempt to answer this question with a list of possibilities – a realm of traits that have led me to rave about and cherish a piece of writing. Continue reading

January 15, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Contests: Guessing Game or Gut Reaction?

I’ve been playing a guessing game all day. It involves guessing what other people think, what they value and what they like. It’s called the contest game and it’s a game I hate to play every year.

The game is part of my job as a college media adviser. At the beginning of each year, my students and I pour over a year’s worth of newspapers and select entries in 27 categories for the Missouri College Media Association’s annual contest. Continue reading

January 11, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Miss Independent

 I love music for its obvious reasons – it helps to trigger memories, it livens up a really dull party and it seems to alter our moods and make us feel something real. Most of all, I love the lyrics. There is nothing more powerful than words that speak directly to your heart accompanied by a melody that soothes the soul.

 Sometimes, though, the lyrics are too real, so real that the words sung make us uncomfortable and distressed, terrorizing the soul with the truth. These brutally honest words make us see who we really are despite who we really want to be. Continue reading

January 9, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Reflecting | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Journo Nerd

I’ve always known that I had a nerd in me. I tried to hide it for years, but it finally came full circle when I admitted to my obsession with office supplies.

 Colored pens, cardstock paper, mini notebooks, cute little binder clips, file folders – all of it excites me. Every few months, I attempt to re-organize my files and my office. I pretend that it is necessary to get myself organized, but honestly, it is just an excuse to buy more office supplies and gadgets. Continue reading

January 6, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Howdy Neighbor

After spending two weeks listening to my children fight with each other about anything and everything possible, we resorted back to a plan we adopted last summer. They became neighbors, not siblings.

 As odd and unconventional as the plan sounds, it has worked for us in the past and evolved out of desperation. My son and daughter are at ages (9 and 11) where they both want independence, they don’t want to be bothered with a younger brother or older sister, and they don’t seem to mesh as well as they did when they were younger. Continue reading

January 3, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Parenting, Reflecting | , , , , , | Leave a comment