Welcome to our Authors and Artists blog! This is a web site for my "Budding Authors and Artists" (grades 1-3) and "Awesome Authors and Artists" (grades 3-6) to have a chance to showcase their work. Please feel free to leave any comments for these outstanding authors or their teacher!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gearing Up for Back to School

These past two weeks, I have had the pleasure of working with a wonderful, hard-working group of students in a shortened Writers' Workshop course. I am proud to share some of their work with you!

We focused on some important academic aspects of writing this summer. We wrote creative stories, but first created story maps so as to keep on track and remain focused on a goal during our writing. I also did a lesson on how to outline, and then how to follow the outline to write a detailed, organized report. We also learned how to write an outstanding book report, with an introduction, body, and conclusion.

These students worked hard and tomorrow we will celebrate with some writing games and a Read Aloud party with parents invited. What a fun celebration of school in the middle of summer!

Book Reports

Book reports can unfortunately be perceived as dull assignments to many students. We tried to make it fun this summer, and I presented the students with a guide to making book reports sound great. Here it is, for anybody's use this upcoming school year!

(Recommended age guideline for this report format is 3rd grade and up.)

Step 1: Write an introduction paragraph. This should tell what book you read, who the author is, if the book is part of a series, and even how many pages it is. You should also include one or two adjectives describing your book in this paragraph!
Step 2: Choose one, two, or all three of the topic choices below. This will make up the BODY of your report.
*Choice #1: Write a paragraph on the main characters. Tell their names, and what they did in the book. Were they good or bad characters? Would you like them as friends? If they were animals, were they personified? Think about these questions to help you.
*Choice #2: Give a one to two paragraph SUMMARY of your book. Remember, summaries tell what happened in YOUR OWN WORDS. Be sure to include the most important information.
*Choice #3: Summarize your favorite part of the book. Use lots of detail, so the person reading your report will know exactly what happened, and why it was your favorite part!
Step 3: Write a conclusion to your book report. Be creative! Tell why you liked or disliked this book. Would you recommend this book to a friend? Would you like to read other books by the same author? Would you have changed the book in any way if YOU were the author? Think about these questions to help you write a great conclusion.
I am still waiting for a student's final copy to post on this site, but in the meantime, I will provide my own sample!
Old Mother West Wind: Old Stories for the Young at Heart!
I read the fantastic book Old Mother West Wind. Thornton W. Burgess wrote this book in 1911, so it is almost 100 years old! Even though it was written long ago, it is still perfect for today's children. Anyone who likes animals, humor, and adventure will really enjoy this book. Thornton W. Burgess loved nature, and wrote many stories based on the characters found in Old Mother West Wind.

Old Mother West Wind is a chapter book, with each chapter focusing on different animal characters and the adventures they go on. Some chapters tell stories simply to entertain, but most stories have a moral of the story and a lesson to be learned. A few chapters tell how certain animals came to be the way they are today. The animals are all personified and some act like children, while others act like adults.

          There are too many characters to list, so I will share some of my favorites. All of the animals are personified and wear clothes, live in houses, talk, and have their own unique personalities. Johnny Chuck is a woodchuck who is very good-natured. He is always in a good mood and even when funny or embarrassing things happen to him, he remains cheerful. Grandfather Frog is old and wise. He has lived longer than any of the other animals and has many great stories to tell. Spotty the Turtle doesn't make any big appearances until the end of the book when he outsmarts everyone in a race. I like how he uses his brains, not necessarily his athleticism, to win! Reddy Fox is an interesting character to me, but I wouldn't want him to be my friend. He is the bully of the book, but he makes the stories more interesting by being in them!

          As I mentioned, I really liked the last chapter of the book called "Spotty the Turtle Wins a Race." In it, Spotty gets teased by the faster animals and gets challenged to race against them. Spotty agrees, and ends up outsmarting them all and winning the race, even though he is by far the slowest. Honestly, Spotty does cheat in the race, but the reader ends up liking him so much that it seems okay for him to do so! At the end of the book, everyone is so surprised and happy that Spotty won, and the reader is too!

          I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to students in grades two through six. Anyone who likes personified animals in literature will enjoy this book. I plan on reading all the other books by Thornton W. Burgess!

July 29, 2010
I was able to get a copy of Katherine's (entering 4th grade) book report, and I just love how she organized it. She chose to do two out of the three body options, which is a great goal for her age group. With a little assistance, she made some strong revisions and came up with the following excellent report:

Night of the New Magicians, by Katherine (entering 4th grade)

          I read an adventure book called Night of the New Magicians by Mary Pope Osborne. If you like adventures, you might like this book. This book is part of the Magic Tree House series, A Merlin Mission. Mary Pope Osborne loves adventures! This magic book with lead you to Jack and Annie's magical land.

          The main characters are Jack and Annie. They love going on adventures. When Jack and Annie go on adventures, they go in a Magic Tree House. When a mission begins with Jack and Annie, the tree house spins faster and faster, and then it's still. They are good at solving things. I wouldn't want to be friends with them because sometimes I'm shy meeting new friends.

          My favorite part of the book was when Jack and Annie were running from one place to another in the Paris World's Fair. They were trying to find all the magicians. Each time they ran to a new place, a messenger always came before them. After they went to the last place, they went to the Eiffel Tower and found all the magicians. It was good that Jack and Annie found all the magicians: Magicians of Invisible, Sound, Iron, and Fire.

          I liked this book. It wasn't the best book, but I still liked it. I think kids who like adventures should fly into this book and have adventures with Jack and Annie.

Here is Jeffrey's (entering 3rd grade).  He did a fabulous job.  I wish I could type this blog in his own cursive-- it is absolutely beautiful!

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic, by Jeffrey (entering 3rd grade)

          I read the great book Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic.  Betty MacDonald wrote this book in 1949.  This book is currently 61 years old.  Even though it is 61 years old, it's still a fun book to read.  Anyone that likes Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle will love this book.

          Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic is a chapter book, with each chapter focusing on a bad habit of a certain child.  Some chapters don't have cures, but most do.  All the cures are silly and aren't real.

          I really liked the last chapter of the book called "The Waddle I Doers."  In it all the children are invited to go to Big Rock with Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.  It was raining, so they went to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's house instead.  Since Mr. Piggle-Wiggle had hidden money in secret drawers in the house, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle ran out of money, they had to find the gold.  When they looked, the basement was flooded.  So they drained it, and then they found a note from Mr. Piggle-Wiggle that told where the treasure was.  After opening the right chambers, they used the gold to buy dinner.

          I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone.  It was fun and interesting.  This is my third one and I can't wait to read the fourth!

Research Papers

I was surprised to hear from my summer students that they had never been taught how to outline. I am wondering if it's a lost art, no longer being taught in Language Arts classrooms. It is such a wonderful organizational tool in my opinion. I was happy to pass this lesson on to my students, and they did a wonderful job with it. Their assignment was to bring notes in on any subject they found interesting. At first we organized their notes into categories (animal behaviors, diets, life span, etc) and then formed an outline with points and sub points. We made sure to include topic sentences with many well-written supporting points. This led to some very organized and informative reports, and I am proud to share these here!

Here is Rebecca's (entering 5th grade in the fall). She came to class with an incredible amount of information, and she did a great job organizing it into an outline, and then spicing up her sentences when it came to writing her report.

Dolphins, by Rebecca (entering 5th grade)

Many people think dolphins are fish, but they're not. Dolphins are actually mammals; they breathe air just like humans. Dolphins are very unique animals.

When baby dolphins are born, they are born tail first, unlike every other mammal. After the baby is born, their mother will stay with it for about two to three years. Then, the calf is on its own.

There are many types of dolphins, and therefore many sizes. The killer whale is actually the largest member of the dolphin family. The boto is the largest fresh water dolphin. It is found in the Amazon River. The bottlenose dolphin is the most commonly seen. They live in the ocean. The pink dolphin is found in the Amazon River and is endangered.

Dolphins can consume thirty pounds of fish a day. What's interesting is that dolphins swallow fish whole, even though they have 100 teeth in their mouth. Dolphins use those 100 teeth to catch their prey: fish! They have two stomachs: one for digesting food, and one for storing food. Dolphins have very interesting ways of eating!

A dolphin's body is very amazing. They have very little sense of smell. However, they make up for it with excellent eye sight both above and below water. Their skin is very delicate, just like humans'. They are highly intelligent. Their brain is larger in relation to apes.

Dolphins have amazing water behavior. They can dive as deep as 1,000 feet. They can also swim up to 25 miles per hour, faster than the best human swimmers! Dolphins can hold their breath for thirty minutes, whereas all other mammals have to breathe approximately every twenty seconds. They can jump twenty feet high out of the water. What a sight to see!

Dolphins are awesome animals. If I could have any wild pet, it would be a dolphin. Then, I could teach it tricks and maybe make some money by putting on shows for people!

Nathan (entering 6th grade) researched rabbits, specifically house rabbits. We decided to take his report in a slightly different direction: his job was to sell us all on why we should have a rabbit as a pet. I love how he added in some fun adjectives and almost personified his subject. It is informative and entertaining!

House Rabbits, by Nathan (entering 6th grade)

If you are looking for a compassionate, furry companion, house rabbits are the perfect match for you. Rabbits are perfect pets because they live a long time and will be at your side for years. They are very calm and soothing, but they can be scared by loud noises and mishandling. That's why unsupervised children under age seven should not have rabbits as pets. Rabbits are very social. They are willing to be a pillow for anyone and anything. Bunnies will also groom other pets. These reasons are why rabbits are good pets.

Rabbits live a very luxurious lifestyle. Rabbits need large enclosures and don't have to pay for rent or their house. Letting rabbits roam the house is a very good idea because rabbits need a lot of hopping space. The rabbits' diet is timothy hay, pellets, and alfalfa hay. Rabbits shed fur like snakes shed their skin. When the rabbits shed their fur, your house will have clumps of fur everywhere. So watch where you step, because eventually one of those clumps of fur might be a home to some baby rabbits.

Do you know what also makes bunnies awesome pets? They live eight to twelve years, so they can grow up with you.

In conclusion, rabbits are really nice pets. Even if you don't want them, just give them to your friends. Don't release them because they won't live very long. They are domestic, and aren't trained to live in the wild.

Summer Adventure Stories

We've all been assigned the traditional "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" writing assignments. So on my first meeting with my workshop students this summer, I gave this assignment a fun twist. The students were to turn a true story about something they did over the summer into an adventure story. They got to pick at what point the truth turned to fantasy, and they also got to choose if, at the end, all returned to normal, or if things remained fictional. The students did a fabulous job! Amy (entering 5th grade) wrote one of my favorites, as I am a huge Disneyland fan myself!:

My Outer Space Adventure, by Amy (entering 5th grade)

My sister Naomi and I had a lot of summer adventures. In June, my mom, Naomi, and I went to Tokyo, Japan.

The day after we arrived, we went to Disneyland Tokyo. We were having so much fun until we came across the roller coasted called "Space Mountain." Naomi really wanted to go on the coaster, but the line was super long. So, we got a fast pass. Naomi and I were really excited! Maybe we shouldn't have been so excited....

On the ride, I was screaming my head off! The ride was so much fun.

I looked around. Suddenly, the stars looked different, the tracks were gone, and all around us there were planets that astronauts haven't discovered yet!

All of a sudden, aliens started to surround us! They were pretty ugly. They did not seem happy that we crash landed on their planet. Emperor Sir Hsutamali Kczingzing Pipe told his guards, Z, Y,X, and W to put us in his prison.

That's when Naomi pulled out her magical, magnificent, and super GREEN DUCT TAPE! She stripped it out with a loud SSSTTTRRRIIPP! and as fast as lightning, Naomi taped the aliens in a gigantic clump! Then she took Emperor Sir Hsutamali Kczingczing Pipe's crown and put it on her head. The clump of aliens was so heavy that it rolled off their planet into the endless doom of darkness.

After all that excitement, my sister and I got into the first car of the roller coaster, and I flew the coaster back to Earth. Suddenly, we were back in Space Mountain, meeting confused faces from the other passengers. We were yelling and screaming our story to everyone! But most people didn't understand us because we were speaking English, and they were Japanese. My mom just said we had wonderful imaginations, but we kept insisting it all was true!

We went back to the hotel and another adventure awaited us the next day. But that's another story.....