Skip to main content

UPDATE-Using Favorite Authors to Inspire Student Writing

In my last blog, I promised an update on the lesson I was going to teach, and I finally had a few minutes, so here it is! It was a hit! I loved it, and they loved it even more. I won't bore you with the details, but I will say that I am SO glad that I had two examples that I already written ahead of time. I won't even share those because my students' examples are even better!

After the assignment, I gave them a few days to work on revising, focusing on figurative language, specific nouns, and powerful verbs. Then they published the work to our blog and read and commented on each others.

Finally, I created a Google Form to provide feedback on the assignment. One suggestion was that I ask them to find a longer passage from their book. Other than that, they loved the opportunity to be creative. Here are a few of the questions and answers:
Did Mrs. Karney explain the assignment clearly? Give suggestions or compliments. 
Yes, the sentence seeds assignment we did before were a very helpful predecessor to this and the instructions were very clear.
How do you feel about the passage YOU created? Did it turn out well? What do you like or dislike about your final passage? 
I do like the passage I created very much, as it turned out very well. However, I do not like that I hardly revised this sentence. Despite my best efforts, I only managed to add a couple of extra little touches to it while I was revising it.
What do you think the purpose of the assignment was? 
I think the purpose of the assignment was so that when we write narratives and we are introducing the readers to a new location or just really want them to feel like they have a clear image, we can revise our descriptions like this.

The field had fountains of threes, sixes, and eights spurting up all over the place. It was one of the few places I could see the difference between my yellows for three and six. The freshly blooming goldenrod was clear yellow, like my three. But the older drying-out blooms were more like yellow mustard, and that was my color for six.

There were flowers on the field. They were colorful.

The beautiful half-acre field was overgrown with wildflowers. On the far edge of the property, a seemly abandoned farmhouse basked in the evening sun. A mare and her colt grazed on the goldenrod, occasionally running to a new patch of wildflowers. A young goat climbed onto a rusty John Deere tractor, which seemed as if it had been around since the Revolutionary War. Inside the barn, a litter of kittens frolicked in the loft and a murder of crows conversed under the dusky sun, which slowly set until a golden moon rose into the watercolor sky. A rickety weather vane twisted on its post, announcing the upcoming storm. The goldenrod swayed in the wind, when suddenly a crack of lightning sent the goats and horses into the barn to wait out the storm.

Original Passage

The Maze Runner; James Dashner

“The first hour passed, and Thomas felt boredom creep in like rats under the door. By hour number two, he wanted to bang his head against the wall. Two hours after that he started to think that having dinner with Gally and the Grievers would beat sitting inside the stupid slammer. He sat and tried to bring back memories, but every effort evaporated into oblivious mist before anything formed.”

Boring Sentence

He was sitting in the corner for a long time. He was so bored.

My Original Passage
Tom crouched in the corner like a gorilla in the zoo. There was no clock around him, but he could tell by the warm air that it was still light out. He could hear the playful calls of his friends coming from outside of the box-shaped room. By the minute, the calls grew louder, becoming more lively every time. Tom wished he knew what was going on, he wanted to be a part of it to, but he sat, for hours on end listened and wondered about what was going on. When the air got cold and room got dark, the calls faded and turned to quiet whispers. Until all Tom could hear was the sound of the snores coming from the west homestead nearly fifty feet away.

Book Passage
“All eyes turned to me. It was as if a huge spaceship hovered over me, pouring a blinding beam of light on my head. So much for being invisible.”   
“One Plus One Equals Blue”                                                        

Boring Passage
People looked at him, he was nervous.

Original Passage

The sky was a light gray, burnt marshmallow clouds covering the early morning sun. Basil, with his heavy backpack on, keychains clashing together as he bounded across the blacktop, smiled because he knew today was his day. He tossed his backpack by the classroom and, as he reached the elementary school field, plopped himself down on the white, frosty grass. In his tiny second grader fist, he held one of his keychains, a rusty coin, which he then proceeded to bury in the mud. His friends would never be able to find this treasure in the pirate game they played every recess. Clang, clang, clang. The warning bell for class to start sounded across the school, booming through the speakers with a drab, somewhat annoying noise Basil had heard a million times before. The kids started running back to their classrooms. As little Basil reached his welcoming, warm classroom, he noticed some of his classmates were looking at something a little strangely, the girls and boys giggled as he bent over to grab his backpack. Then, his teacher came outside. She smiled at him, then took him aside. ¨Basil, you have something on your pants.¨ Basil reached down and found his butt pocket of his new shorts muddy, wet, and cold. Tears started to stream down his red, embarrassed cheeks. He hiccuped as he realized the wet grass had made his pants like this, and then he remembered his coin, and that he forgot where he buried it. Today really wasn't his day after all.

Popular posts from this blog

Ditch those Reading Logs: Try Flipgrid Instead

If you've read my posts or follow me on Twitter, you know how I feel about pointless projects and homework!  This year I made it official and ditched homework.  It's the best decision I've ever made as a teacher.  My students are loving it, I am loving it, and I think most of their parents are loving it! I have completely transformed the way I run my classroom and feel like my students are more engaged and excited than ever. 

Student Example (Click to watch)

Like homework, I never felt quite right about assigning reading logs.  Whenever my own kids had to read a book on their own for school, they were initially excited. First, they were told they had to read twenty minutes each night. Then the dreaded reading logs began.  They had to write  down what pages they read, as well as a summary.  Urgh! I can only imagine lying on the beach with my own book and having to complete a reading log.  No thanks!  And I am not going to lie. I just might have signed one of my son's read…

Have a Dance Party Before Class Starts

This year I decided to play music as students are entering my classroom and before the final bell rings.  I had no idea what a difference it would make!  Why didn't I do this before?  It creates a positive, upbeat mood and seems to energize my students and ME! 

At first I thought they'd complain when I blasted disco tunes by artists like Chic, The Bee Gees, and Vickie Sue Robinson ("Turn the Beat Around").   I thought they'd groan when I played Bon Jovi, Journey, and Whitesnake. I thought they'd roll their eyes when I played clean versions of songs by Tupac and Snoop Dogg.  I really thought they'd lose it when I played Gypsy Kings.  NOPE!  They loved it!  I had NO idea that my kids would react they way they did.  Here are the results:

If I don't have time to put the music on, several kids will ask, "Where's our dance party?" I really like Pandora because I can create my own stations.  If you're looking for a way to create a positive vi…

Creating a Cell Phone Sanctuary

Over the past few years, I have noticed a change in my students.  Not only are they tethered to their phones, but they are more anxious than ever.  In the past two school years, I have had at least three students experience school anxiety so severe that they could not come to school.   Those are just MY students.  This year I have had one student leave our school after her mother spent three weeks trying to drag her to class each morning as her daughter screamed, cried, and sometimes refused to get out of the car.  According to an article titled "Teen Anxiety and Depression: the Kids are not Alright" published in 2016, "In 2015, about 3 million teens ages 12 to 17 had had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. More than 2 million report experiencing depression that impairs their daily function. About 30% of girls and 20% of boys–totaling 6.3 million teens–have had an anxiety disorder, according t…