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!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Different Perspective: Fairy Tales!

Our last assignment was to write a fairy tale as a 1st person narrator, representing the "other side" not necessarily represented in the original version!  We had a great time brainstorming main characters, and then the students got quickly and quietly to work story mapping their tale.  When their map got approved, they were set to write the fairy tale, their way.  They had to make sure to maintain a voice that their character would use, including fragments, slang, and sentence length and style to create a believable voice. We also had to decide if the reader would like our character at the end of the tale!

Here is Deven's (entering 6th grade).  I've never quite thought of the Three Little Pigs this way!  Deven wanted the wolf to appear like the kind of character who has just been misunderstood all this time, and who regrets his innocent mistakes.  Did he convince you?  Enjoy this entertaining read!

    Snorty, Goggy, Brainy, and the BIG BAD WOLF

          “Open the door and let me in!” cried the wolf.
          “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!” said the little pig.
“Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!” roared the wolf.  And he did.  He blew the little straw house into pieces!
UGHH! I can’t bear to recite the story. All these years you naughty children have been brainwashed with the phrase “The Big Bad Wolf” and have been believing every single word of the untruthful story. Well anyway, now that I am telling the story, I’m going to set things straight! Let’s get started.
One beautiful Thanksgiving morning, I leisurely sat up in my bed, stretched, and looked out the window. “What a wonderful day to take a stroll in the woods.” I thought. But first I needed to fill my tummy.
While drinking my coffee, I was thumbing through the newspaper when my eye caught attention to three ads on the bottom first page. Each asked for a house sitter. One house for the morning, one for the afternoon and one for the evening. “Who would want to housesit someone’s home?” I thought. On the bottom of each ad it said FOOD SERVED. After calling each home, I was out in a flash.
Approaching the first home, I saw it was a small one story place. A note tacked to the door said:
“Taking bath in hot tub. I will be leaving soon. Please keep the home clean. Help yourself to food.”                         - Snorty
          “Snorty?” I thought, “What kind of name is that?” I open the door and “Whoa!” I shouted. The house looked like a dump! Chairs were turned over, clothes were all over the floor, and there wasn’t even one square inch for standing! Cautiously, I walked around and reorganized the whole home. Phew! It looked much better afterwards. There was just one room that I didn’t check the state of: the bathroom.
            The first thing I saw was pork soup. Yup. And it looked so…. MOUTHWATERING! I mean, like, soup cooking in the bathroom! You could eat in the shower! Not wasting a second, I quickly drank the soup, which tasted very much like soap water, gobbled down the pork, and smacked my lips. “Delicious!” I thought to myself. I thought I heard a pig shriek, but maybe I got too overwhelmed with the pork.
            After washing up the bathroom, I went off to find “Snorty” He didn’t seem to be home, so I took his wallet and headed off to the second house. What? All he had was  ten dollars and a coupon for chin shaving.
            The second home was a little bigger, a two-story home, but no note was attached to the door. I guessed I had to do the same thing and walked in. One step in and I felt totally relieved. Okay, it wasn’t spik and span, but much neater. My guess was that the man was very obese. All the sofas and couches were rumpled and it looked like a cow had just jumped on it like it was a trampoline. Seriously. Anyway, I started to smoothen out the furniture and vacuum the floor (lots of cookie crumbs) when my eye caught something round and pink on the table. “Is that a pig?” I questioned myself as I continued to work. After a few seconds, I couldn’t resist not eating it. Dashing toward the table, I gobbled the pig whole and washed it down with apple juice. “This owner sure does set out good food for me!” I thought to myself. “What a delicious Thanksgiving lunch!” I said, my tummy satisfied. “Wonder what I’ll get for dinner?” I wondered as I headed toward the final house, not knowing what awaited me.
            When I saw this guy’s home, I’m sorry, MANSION, I was in total awe. Seriously! The home had a HUGE front yard with a fountain in the center, and three sports cars in the driveway. I had better be a careful house sitter or I’d be punished badly. As soon as I walked down the steps, the vast door automatically opened. “Impressive!” I said as I walked in. Suddenly, a robot walked up to me and handed me a list of chores. Not wasting any time, I got started. Vacuuming all three floors, cleaning the shutters, smoothening the furniture, and mopping the kitchen floor. “Done?” someone asked behind me.
            “Ahhh! Who’s there?” I shouted as I whipped around. A muscular man in overalls was facing me with a grin on his face.
            “I think you deserve some relaxation Mr. Wolf,” he stated, “Let’s go to the sauna,” I was in total LUCK! Sitting in a sauna in somebody’s MANSION!
            “Sure!” I said following him to his…….kitchen? I thought it was a kitchen.
     “Get in!” he said with a grin all over his face. I slowly stepped inside and the man closed and locked the door. At least I thought it was a door. “Now for my sweet revenge!” the man shouted, starting to turn a dial outside the sauna.
“Wha… Wha.. What sweet revenge?” I asked the man in a scared voice.
            “Why, for killing my brothers!” he shouted, red in the face.
          “You’re a pig?” I questioned him, confused.
          “Of course!” he said taking off his overalls. “I’m in disguise!” He started to turn the dial more and more until he couldn’t anymore. Realizing I was in an oven, I started to panic. I thought I would faint from heat….
My eyes fluttered open, and I found myself in a dark hollow…..tummy. Remembering the last seconds of my life, I started to feel regretful for my bad actions and deeds. I should have been more careful with my life and controlled my reaction to pork. “Oohhhh! Yummy pork!” I said taking a big chunk out of the tummy. “EWWWW. Raw pork!” I squirmed.                                                                        
OKAAAY. I’ve got A LOT to work on.
Here is Melissa's (entering 6th grade).  I love her humor and how she makes us see Grumpy in a whole new light.   I also love her use of strong verbs as well as her fabulous vocabulary.  Enjoy!

Grumpy and the Six Dwarves

I'm Grumpy, the most disagreeable dwarf around.  Many a dwarf have asked how I could live being so grouchy all the time, but I have learned over the years that grumpiness leads to being alone. And that is exactly what I want.

At first I considered living by myself, but believe me, solitary hermit dwarves do not survive very well on their own.

So, I was stuck with six other jolly, sneezing, sleepy dwarfs. Well, at least THAT's better that being stalked by dwarf-eating predators. In our safe, protected environment, life was pretty boring. The interesting things were yet to come...

Dopey seems to be the only dwarf who truly understands me. He's mute. As a result, we invented sign language- yes, it was us- and we signal each other.

"Strange smell in woods," he motioned while we were eating dinner.

"Strong perfume," I muttered under my breath.

"What about strong perfume?" asked Doc, the head of our gang, and truth to be told, a pretty bossy leader.  "Whatever. Go investigate yourself."  When we stayed frozen in our places, he demanded, "Go!!!"

See what I mean?  He really abuses his power.

So we trudged off into the forest, and after a couple of hours we heard something strange. Humming? Whistling, or chanting? No- Chanting.

The perfume scent then smelled more pungent than sweet, and was almost overwhelming as a strange, witch-like woman began her eerie chant:

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all???" The mirror then replied that some girl named Snow White was the fairest. Then apparently mistaking ME for Snow White, the Queen then lunged forward and grabbed me by the neck!

"Ouch!" I cried. "That hurt!" Dopey watched reproachfully as I was dragged toward an open clearing.

“Aha! I caught you! You evil, evil, prettier-than-me person. I’ll have to kill you –.“  She glanced down at me – for the first time -, clearly taken aback. “Wait, you’re not Snow White at all!” she screamed furiously. “In fact, you’re very ugly. Super ugly! So super ugly that you’ll just have to get out of my sight!”

I gladly obeyed, and scampered off back to Dopey. But he wasn’t there – he must have ditched me. Perhaps he wasn’t so understanding after all. And then I was lost, because I depended on him for navigating. It didn’t help matters when the queen called out, “Your ugliness is making me more ugly! into the woods.

We dwarves have excellent senses, so I decided to use that to help me. Using my sharp eyesight, I determined that there was smoke about half a mile away. It was worth a shot.

After about five minutes of walking, I was there. I knocked on the door. It swung open, almost hitting me in the face.

“Hi, I’m Grumpy,” I said gruffly.

“I’m Snow White,” she said.

“Well, you should probably get out of here. The evil queen is trying to kill you so she can be the fairest in the land. You can come to our place. All you’ll have to do is the housework.” Our place was really messy.

Together, we somehow found our way back home. Everything looked normal, but I saw something strange behind the bushes. I didn’t have time to think about it though.

“All right, dwarves. Time to go wood chopping!” Normally this was the time when I would slink back into the house and skip the activity, but this time I thought, “What if Snow White asks me to help with the cleaning?” Even worse than shouting ‘Heave, ho, heave ho,’ with a bunch of dwarves.” So, I went.

When we came back – gasp – Snow White was on the floor, unconscious! And with angry shock, I realized that THE QUEEN was the one behind the bushes! She must have poisoned Snow White. And sure enough, there was a half-eaten apple on the ground.

After plenty of shaking and squeezing and even an attempt at CPR, Snow White finally blinked, twitched, and woke up.

“We’ve got to get back at that queen!” Doc said.

“Yeah,” said Sneezy, another dwarf. “ACHOO! If Snow White had died, who would do the housekeeping?”

Snow White didn’t look terribly pleased to be thought of in that way. Dwarves can be so shallow.

Doc came up with a plan: to dig a huge hole and force the evil queen to run into it. “That way it will be like an underground prison,” he said.

For a good five hours we dug, perspired, and persevered. We plopped a small folding bed, a table and chair, and an oil lamp into the gloomy pit for a final touch. Showtime.

We followed the queen’s high-heeled footsteps to her house, and crept quietly up to her doorway. We knocked.

“Hello?” the queen said in a high, shrill voice. “Oh it’s you, ugly dwarves??”  She screamed as we sprinted towards her in pursuit. The evil queen dashed off and we followed, forming a circle around her with a tiny opening, forcing her to run towards the pit.

Then she screamed again – not for the last time – when she fell down, down, down…

“I hope you remembered to bring your makeup!” I shouted. Happy endings are always the best.

Around the World Stories

"Around the World" stories have three purposes:
1. Learn to think and write quickly
2. Write a story with a complete beginning, middle, and end
3. Work as a team!

My students strategized on who should be in charge of the beginning, middle, and end as we passed our papers around the room with three to five minutes to write for each turn.

How did we get our story topics?  All students were asked to write three separate ideas on a piece of paper:
A main character
A setting (where and when)
A plot/story line/problem

Without knowing what they were going to do with these, the students wrote ideas that they thought would make a great story.  How surprised they were when I took their ideas, shuffled them in piles, and assigned them each their own crazy story to begin!

No one's story turned out the way they thought it would!

My favorite is the one posted here:

Main character: Joe
Setting: Halloween Party at a Middle School
Plot/story line/problem: Broke his wing

The children erupted in laughter as I read that last part.  Deven (entering 6th grade) started it:

     "Mom!  Do I have to wear a Chicken Little costume for the Halloween party?!  It's going to be so embarrassing!"  Joe could not stand his weird costume that he was going to wear to school.  His mom made it herself, so it would hurt her to take it off or complain about it too much.

Ryan (entering 5th grade): While he was at the party, he was running around and he saw his friend wearing a Batman costume.  Then he started feeling a little weird.  Five minutes later, he had glasses and wings!  He looked almost like Chicken Little in a Chicken Little costume.

Dara (entering 5th grade): When Joe was at the party, he saw soooo many more Chicken Little costumes.  Even the popular boys wore them!  Except they were advertising for the chicken meat at the party.

Charley (entering 5th grade): Joe needed to use the restroom, so he got up and walked toward the men's room.  Then, as he walked through the door, "RIIPPP!" The wing broke!

Kaitlin (entering 6th grade): "Oh no!  What do I do, what do I do?  Now I'm a chicken with one wing!"  Everyone laughed at him now.

Amy (entering 6th grade): Then he thought, "I have a fairy costume at home!  I can wear that!"  Joe rushed home, put on the fairy princess costume, and rushed back to the Halloween party.

Nicole (entering 5th grade): When he got there, everyone was laughing at him and they said, "You're a fairy?  HA HA HA HA!"  

So Joe said, "I don't care, what if you were a Fairy Princess, what would you do?"

Melissa (entering 6th grade): "I would laugh at myself!" one boy said.

So Joe laughed.  Giggled, smiled, and shouted.  "I mean, who cares?" he scoffed.  "It's just a weird Halloween costume."

Definitely, he thought, if you don't let small things bother you, no one really cares at all.

I love how Amy completely changed the costume, leaving it up to the ones in charge of the "end" to really think and get creative!   I also really like Melissa's character building lesson at the end.

What a fun teamwork assignment!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Riddle Poems!

Our lesson on poetry included time spent on Rhyme Scheme.  Riddle poems are a fun way for students to warm up to poetry with a simple AABB rhyme scheme, four line poem.  They are creative and entertaining!  Here are some great ones:

Her fur is silky and long
Her purr is like a perfect song
She meows and she is young
She cleans herself with her tongue.

Who is she?
(Answer: My kitten)
By Roya (entering 4th grade)

Everyone hates little green me
I look like a mini tree.
I am a cooked vegetable
Everyone looks past me on the kitchen table.

Who am I?
(Answer: Broccoli)
By Amy (entering 6th grade)

I am a monster big and blue
Cookies run when I stroll through
I devour them one by one
When I eat, I have a lot of fun.

Who am I?
(Answer: Cookie Monster)
By Amy (entering 6th grade)

Poetry Time!

I love teaching poetry.  My goal is always to make my students like poetry more after the lesson than they did before they came in the door.  I teach five poetic tools that make poetry sound great:

1. end line rhyme: rhyme at the end of a line
2. internal line rhyme: rhyme in the middle of a line
3. repetition: the same word or phrases repeated
4. alliteration: words that start with the same sound that appear close together in a line of poetry
5. onomatopoeia: words that sound like their meaning

The students were to write a poem that included at least two of these tools.  I read some beautiful poems, but Kaitlin's (entering 5th grade) absolutely amazed me with its length, use of tools, and depth of thought.  Enjoy!

Quiet Leaves

The leaves are rustling
In the breeze
The sound so quiet
Among the trees.
But wait!
A sound that's barely audible
A sound so tiny, so very small
Like an echo in a waterfall.
A shake, a snap, a whisk of wind
Wakes me from my daydream
It's so peaceful and so still
I fall asleep against my will.

Once again I'm awakened
From my quiety dream
But this time instead of wind, surprise surprise!
A pattering of furry feet makes everything seem
That it wasn't all just a dream.

But now as I sit atop a hill
I start to wonder why
Why this, why that, why everything
Why's it easy as slicing pie
To rhyme what I have been through
Just sitting in the forest on a quiet summer day.
What I've seen, and heard, and even felt
The chirping of a bird, the woodsy green,
The feelings I have felt.

And I begin to ask myself, I say
Did being in that patch of grass, with trees surrounding me,
Did being out there help me learn in any kind of way?
Yes, it did, it helped me yearn for serenity and days of quiet peace.

Now I wonder,
Which is better, calm or loud?
Calm is always right to me,
Especially for poetry-
And listening to leaves.

Here is Dara's (entering 5th grade).  I love her onomatopoeia and rhyme!

Crunch crunch go the leaves
Under my little feet.
Piles and piles and piles of leaves
What a fun little treat.

Red, orange, yellow leaves
Glistening in the morning sun,
Mmmmmm... what is that I smell?
It's mom's fresh baked buns!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Persuasive Writing: Selling Our Own Inventions!

One of my favorite lessons so far was the one on Persuasive Writing.  The students were to create their own invention and really try to sell it to us!  Here is the outline we followed:

Paragraph 1: Talk about a problem that everyone experiences.
Paragraph 2: Introduce your product.
Paragraph 3: Describe your product in detail, including how it works and how it would solve the problem.
(Older students were asked to expand this part-- discussing purchasing options, appearance, price, and any other tricks the invention can do.  I was proud that my younger students pushed themselves to include some  of this information, too!)
Last Paragraph: A great conclusion.  Sum it up!

What was fun about this was that I taught the students how to write in a casual tone that broke some grammar rules.  I even encouraged fragments (gasp!) to make a point and to sound like the writer really understood the reader's needs.  It was all about conveying the right tone.  It was fun seeing what the students came up with!

Here is Melissa's (entering 6th grade).  I love the creativity she displays.  She and I brainstormed the idea together, but the direction she took it was quite different than how I perceived it at first.  I love this!

(Melissa made Paragraph 1 into three paragraphs-- it works well this way and spreads out the problems.)

The Grow Or Shrinker

     Everybody tells you that your height is completely out of your control.  Say you're 4'3" tall, and you're in fifth grade.  And of course you want to play basketball.  Hopeless.  You'll be stuck on the bench, for something that's not even your fault...

     Being tall isn't so perfect either.  Ducking your head through every doorway can't be fun.  At worst, getting a big bruise on your forehead as a result of not ducking.

     As you can see, height is a huge issue for many people like yourself, struggling to overcome height limitation.  But need it be that way anymore??

     The Grow Or Shrinker is literally as simple as a gum ball machine.  In fact, it IS a gum ball machine-- with a few essential changes.  Use this great device to change your height!

     Simply type your height into the Grow Or Shrinker's user-friendly keypad.  Out pops a gum ball.  After you chew it, then.... POOF!  You are a completely different size!

     Using special technology, the Grow Or Shrinker reads your typed information and calculates the perfect recipe of exotic ingredients, specifically designed to alter your size quickly.  Chew, chew, chew..... Voila!  The new you!  It never wears off, unless you want it to.

     When you're done enjoying your spectacular new height and want to return to your original size, just type in your information like usual.  And sooner than soon, the Grow Or Shrinker will change your life again.  You're back to normal.  Munching on the last morsels of your tasty gum ball, you'll be wondering how you ever survived without this brilliant invention.

     And the best part?  The price!  Only ten dollars for the awesome, life-changing Grow Or Shrinker.  It even comes in different patterns, including but not limited to zebra, bright stripe, and leopard.  Refill gum ball ingredient bags can be purchased for only five dollars each.

     Simple.  Stunning.  And a great deal.  The Grow Or Shrinker is something no one with height issues can live without.  And the Grow Or Shrinker motto?  Any size, any time!

Here is Matthew's (entering 3rd grade).  His description of his product is fantastic!  I think he was hungry when he invented it!!  See if you laugh as hard as I did when you read his conclusion.....

The Food Stealer

     You look across the table and you see your friend eating some delicious cookies.  Your mom packed you a disgusting sandwich.  You really want those cookies, but you can't take them.  What to do?

     Simply get the Food Stealer!  This will be your favorite device that steals all the food you want!

     The Food Stealer is a small metal device that is nearly invisible.  It has a small metal piece inside its metal body.  It has a small button that you press to activate and after that, you speak into it.  It steals food you want it to!

     The Food Stealer comes only in silver.  It costs only ten dollars, and is as big as a baseball.

     Small, nearly invisible, and cheap.  It's the perfect device for any poor, hungry person!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Perfect Paragraph Writing!

Once we mastered writing super sentences, we moved on to perfect paragraphs.  We talked about ways to vary our sentence patterns to make our writing sound more exciting.  We also discussed tactics to stay on topic.  But now... how to pick a topic?

The assignment was to spell a city, state, country, or any vacation destination backwards.  When the students got a good feel for what their imaginary place was like, they were to write a paragraph about this place and what made it unique.  The older students were asked to write more than one paragraph describing different aspects of their place, or, to create a travel brochure on their unique vacation destinations.  Here are some of the most creative ones!

"Otnemarcas," by Joshua (entering 3rd grade)  Joshua got very creative!

     Otnemarcas is a very cold place.  The citizens have a problem with the snow monsters.  They steal all the snow gold!  Otnemarcians chase them to stop them, and they don't always succeed.  So if you like chilly weather and snow monsters, you've got to visit this place!

"Acitcratna," by Ryan (entering 5th grade)  I really like how Ryan varies his sentence patterns.  We had just discussed how to start a sentence with "Because," and Ryan did so beautifully.  His winter wonderland sounds like a beautifully fun place to visit!

     Acitcratna is an awesome place or people who love the snow.  It snows once a week over the mountainous land.  Because it snows so often, it is a great place to participate in winter sports.  Tourists can visit a theme park called "Snow Land," which includes many snowy attractions.  There is a snowball tournament there that normally lasts for three weeks!  Anyone who loves snow, wintery games, and a very cold climate should try to visit Acitcratna.

"Ippississim," by Charley (entering 6th grade)  First of all, this takes first prize for the most fun name to say and spell!  Secondly, Charley did an amazing job with varying her sentence patterns and using a lot of creativity to tell about her place.  Notice how everything is backwards, with some truth to it!

     From the falling, white snow to its great capital, Noskcaj, Ippississim is one of the most fun places to live.  Ippississim is a cold state in Northen ASU.  Because of all the snow, Ippississimians spend most of their time skiing and snowboarding down the snowcapped mountains.  Besides the large, steep mountains, the unique state is also the home of the great Ippississim River.  The river stretches right down the length of the state.  When all the ice melts, tourists often kayak and canoe down the long river. The sports, cold weather, and attractions lure many tourists from all over the world to visit the wonderful state of Ippississim!

"Ekal Eohat, the Entertainment Land," by Kevin (entering 3rd grade).  We branched off from a snow theme with this one.  Now this is my kind of place!!

     Ekal Eohat is a very warm fun place.  They have amusement parks everywhere because it is always summer.  All of them are open twenty-gour hours a day, seven days a week, and year-round.  The most popular attractions in the parks are the video game centrals.  The only food they sell in the amusement parks are pizza and soda.  Also, all of the amusement parks' admission, food, rides, games, and toys are free!  All travelers should try to visit this amazing land of entertainment!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Super Sentence Writing

The sentence is the backbone to wonderful stories, essays, reports... you name it!   Lesson #1 started with  a boring base sentence, "The sun shines."   We started our lesson with placing adjectives and adverbs in our sentence, which added a lot of necessary description.  After a lesson on adjectival and adverbial clauses and phrases, as well as experimenting with starting sentences with "Because" (Yes, you can, if you follow the rules!), we created fabulous sentences that painted beautiful summer scenes.  For fun, we added an element of art, writing our sentence on a sun with a lovely blue sky background.  Here are just a few fabulous examples!

Crystal (4th grade next year), experimented with a "because" phrase at the beginning but decided she liked it better after the "when" phrase instead.  We did a lot of peer helping this day, giving advice on what we thought sounded best as each student read their ideas.

At noon, because it's really hot, the fiery, beautiful sun shines very nicely on a cute family of mallard ducks in a pond.

Here is Laura's (entering 3rd grade).  I love her beautiful descriptive words, as well as her detailed artwork!  (I especially loved how the entire group helped her glue on her numerous sun rays!!)

On July 11th, the yellow round sun shines on the kittens playing with a red ball in the yard.

Here is Nicole's (entering 5th grade).  During our lesson, we talked about how adverbs can modify other adverbs, and Nicole did so beautifully here.

On July 11th, during the volleyball game, the sun shines very boldly on the glittering sand.

Here is Deven's (entering 6th grade).  He used every tool he possibly could, with a beautiful "Because" beginning and great adverbial and adjectival phrases.

Because the beautiful summer season has arrived, the bright sparkling sun shines brilliantly through my sunroof, brightening my family room.

Summer Session!

I am fortunate enough to have two groups of amazing students this summer.  I knew I was in for a treat when on the third day, my morning group passed out folders to themselves, took out the previous assignment, and started enthusiastically and quietly working without any direction from me.  Their work has been fantastic and wonderful to read.  My second group, a younger group, is surpassing my expectations and doing absolutely outstanding work.  We are working hard, and having fun doing it!  I am excited to get started with Week #2 tomorrow!