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, August 9, 2012

Riddle Poetry

Our last day of our Juniors workshop was spent catching up on old assignments.  Once students were all caught up, they could enter "The Poetry Room," where we were having fun discussing rhyme scheme by writing "Riddle Poems."  This is a fun poem to write as it introduces children to the concept of rhyme scheme, patterns, and meter.  The AABB rhyme scheme should include lines with great clues to solve the riddle.  See if you can solve these!!

This is a pet you'll want to pat,
With lots of fur it will look very fat.
It meows for dinner every night,
But feed it quickly or it will fight!

What is it?

Answer: A cat!
by Emily, 4th grade

This big animal can be brown or black.
It will neigh, but it won't quack.
On its back you can race,
It wears shoes, but not a shoelace!

What is it?

Answer: A horse!
by Emily, 4th grade

This season is really fun
You get to play in the sun.
The weather is warm and you can stay
Outside every single day.

What is this?
Answer: Summer!
by Marston, 2nd grade

This little fellow likes to jump.
This green animal has some lumps.
These creatures jump on lily pads
When they lose their tails, it is sad.

What is this?

Answer: a frog!
by Shefali, 4th grade

This funny feline wears a hat
His jokes are never flat.
He is very funny,
But doesn't have any money.

Who is he?

Answer: The cat in the hat!
by Raya, 4th grade

This takes place in a vat of water,
But you wouldn't see an otter.
It's hard to do some strokes.
If you don't know how, you could choke.

What is this?

Answer: Swimming!
by Luka, 4th grade

Greek Myths

The Seniors' last assignment was to write a Greek myth-like story explaining how something came to be the way it is today.  The students first wrote a story map:

Setting (where/when)
Characters (major/minor)

We focused on character development and a story that truly showed how something came to be the way it is today.  We brainstormed on everything in nature, from animals to natural disasters.  I wish I could publish them all here, as they were so very creative.  Here are just two for your enjoyment:

Did you ever want to know how animals became the way they are today?  Did you know that a bear used to be a meek and mild animal?  Read on to learn more!

The Rattler by Sophia (6th grade)
  A long time ago in ancient Greece, Annametrious, the animal goddess, started her new creation. She said she wanted to make something nice to befriend all animals. But she needed to hurry, as it was already mid summer. Annametrious was supposed to start making the creature in early summer. She stretched the creature long, then added four legs. She gave him a “sssss” sound. Then she quickly placed a smile on it, not knowing it was a grin a mischief.
   Annametrious sat the creature down on Earth. Snake has awakened. Annametrious said to befriend other animals then went back into a deep sleep. Snake walked off into a forest, looking for a place to rest, but instead he found Coyote. He was much bigger and stronger than he, so he tried to prove that he could be his friend. Snake went deeper into the forest while Coyote spied on him.
   The first animal he spotted was Spider, an easy victim. Four small legs couldn’t get him anywhere fast. Snake went up into a tree with Spider’s web in it. Spider started climbing up the tree while Snake knotted up his web and threw it down on him.  Coyote started laughing. His bellow awakened Annametrious. She saw Spider and Snake and what had happened. She went down to Earth and said,
   “Snake, I’m very ashamed of you. I am giving you two more chances. If you are not nice two more times you will suffer the consequences.” And with that she flew off into a deep slumber.
     Snake ran off looking for another friend. A few minutes later he stumbled upon Bobcat. He wanted to impress him, so he found Bear. Bear was a small helpless creature. Snake dug a hole several feet away from his trick. Bear was scampering along the forest path, when suddenly Snake jumped out of the tree and scared Bear. Bear backed up and fell into the hole. He  shrieked so loudly that Annametrious woke up again and saw what Snake did. 

     She came back to Earth and said,

   “I am very disappointed in you Snake. I’m giving you one more chance. If you do something unacceptable one more time you will be punished!”  
   She helped Bear out of the hole then went into a doze. Bear scurried off, and Snake walked away, not looking for mischief.
   Instead of not finding mischief, he found the opposite: Lion. He didn’t want to get in trouble with Lion or Annametrious, but Lion was so scary he couldn’t say no when Lion asked him to play a trick on Crow.         
   Snake planned his attack, then leaped in front of crow and put sap around Crow’s beak. Crow couldn’t open it! Lion roared in laughter, but this time Annametrious saw what was going on before Lion’s roar. She came down to Earth,
   “Snake, I will have to punish you. You have brought great shame to you and your ancestors. From now on all snakes will slither on the ground, not being able to climb, run, walk, and jump. Snakes will also have a rattler, so prey will know you are coming. And now, all crows will have the ability to fly. All bears will be as big as lions, and all spiders will have eight legs to run quickly.” 
With a satisfied nod she left to her slumber.

 Enjoy this myth about a creation gone horribly wrong!

How Cats Were Created
by Nils (5th grade)

    In winter, a long, long time ago, a problem emerged in North America.  Linke was a god that lived in the sky, directly above North America.  He was a demigod.  He didn’t know how powerful he really was.  His dad didn’t let him use his powers.  “It isn’t safe for a demigod to do a full god’s job,” he would say.
    “But DAD!” Linke argued.  “I’ll just create a bug!”  Linke’s dad never gave in.  One day, Linke was so mad at his did that he would create a creature no matter what.
    Linke waited until all of the gods were asleep.  Then, he snuck into the dad’s lab.  “What shall I make?” he wondered out loud.  He thought at little bit, and finally decided.  “I’ll make a mini horse!”  he claimed.  “It will have paws, not hooves.  It will have a short nose, not a long one.  It shall have whiskers like a lion, and fur like a bunny.  This.... “cat” will have a tail like a squirrel.  The cat will be small like a hamster.  It will be forgiving! Helpful! Nice! Considerate!
    As Linke madly molded and inserted characteristics in his new creation--the cat--the thing rumbled.  It burst out of its coating and ran out the door.  Something was weird as it burst out the door.  It shed all its fur and grew to the size of an elephant!  It broke the clouds!  The cat jumped down to earth, crushing a house!  The “cat” was the opposite of what Linke wanted.  It was a “tac”.
    The tac ran through the village, ears as pointy as ever.  A poor farmer took a bow and arrow and shot the tac.  The tac turned around and roared at the poor villager.  The tac chased him through the town.  The tac easily caught the villager and ate him. 
    A small baby kangaroo, a witness, jumped from cloud to could, up to the gods.  He needed to tell the gods what was happening.
    “Who goes there?” said the guard coyote. 
    The kangaroo spoke fast.  “It is me the baby kangaroo.  I’m here to see Linke’s dad!”
    “Hmm,” puzzled the coyote.
    “Well.....” the guards were being too slow for the kangaroo.  The baby kangaroo snuck away.  He ran to Linke’s dad’s cloud bed.  The kangaroo jumped on top of him.
    “RRRRRRRRRRRR!”  Linke’s dad was not in a good mood.
    “Someone,” said the nervous kangaroo, “unleashed a monster! It’s terrorizing the town!” 
    “LINKE!” yelled Linke’s dad.  He ran to Linke’s cloud.  Linke’s dad picked up the cloud that Linke slept on.  He picked it up and under that Linke hid.
    “What have you done!?” he screamed.  “I’ll tell you what you did!  You let out a monster, expected me to save the world, and hid under your cloud. I’m gonna go save the world now!”
    Linke’s dad ran out of the room. He dashed to a thin batch of clouds. He smashed it, and it broke. He reached down to earth and picked up the tac. The tac had limbs in it’s mouth. Linke’s dad threw the limbs down earth. Linke’s dad raced to the lab with the tac in his hand. He passed by Linke’s cloud on the way. Linke’s dad dashed in and grabbed Linke by his  hair. He carried the two to the lab.
    When Linke, his dad, and the tac were in the lab, Linke’s dad ordered Linke to sit down. Linke’s dad threw the tac on a table.
    “What were you thinking! I told you not to use your powers for a reason! Now your creation    has killed many wonderful people!” screamed Linke’s dad. He realized that Linke was scared, and that he should cool down. Linke’s dad sighed. “What did you want your animal to be like?” he asked reluctantly. Linke told him, and his dad silently recreated the cat. Linke’s dad finally put the last ingredient in. Life.
    “As your punishment,” said Linke’s dad,“The ‘cat’ is not helpful or considerate. It is sometimes nice and sometimes forgiving. He is sometimes annoying and mischievous.”
    “Okay,” he said trying to look sad while petting the new cat.
    “And,” Linke’s dad added ,“You will lose all of your powers.”
    Linked loved the cat. He found that the cat made a perfect house pet. As long as Linke had a cat, he didn’t care that he lost his powers. Now we still love cats and keep them as pets.
    That is how the best house pet--a cat--came to be.

Persuasive eassys: A new Olympic Sport!

I love the Olympics!  Many "warm-up" early morning moments were spent chatting about the big events of the night before.  The students were enthusiastic about the World's Greatest Competition, and this inspired our next assignment.

Writing a persuasive essay can be difficult and perceived as boring, but we made it fun.  Our job was to write a job to the Olympic Board of Commissioners, attempting to persuade them to adapt an incredible new sport in the next Olympic games: one that WE created based on a combination of two sports.  The students brainstormed brilliantly and had a lot of fun making this new sport seam real and plausible!

My Juniors class focused on three paragraphs: an Intro, a Body explaining in detail what the sport was all about, and a nice conclusion.

Emily (4th grade) had a very creative idea.....

     To The Olympic Board of Commissioners:

     I really enjoy watching the Olympics every four years on T.V.  I am writing to you in hopes that you will consider adding a new event in the 2016 Summer Olympics.  It is called the "Swim Vault."  It is an awesome combination that will include subjective and objective scoring.

     Let me explain how I see this new sport.  You pole vault over a bar, and flip and turn in the air into a swimming pool.  Instead of a soft mat, you go into a long swimming pool.  After landing, you swi all four strokes one time, and you're done!  The vaulting and diving will be judged with subjective points, like a normal diving competition.  The entire event will be timed by a maximum of twelve minutes.  If you don't go over the pole the first time, you get two more tries.  If you miss all of them, you get disqualified.  If you miss the pole and try again, the time you try again will be counted, too.

     I really do hope you will consider "Swim Vault" to become one of the best sports in the 2016 games.


The Senior group was challenged a bit more.  Our outlines looked like this:
Paragraph One: Compliment, be positive, make it a great introduction
Paragraph Two: Briefly introduce the sport
Paragraph Three/Four: Describe the sport in great detail, including
-how to get points
-how many on a team
Paragraph Four/Five: Describe the benefits of adding this sport, including
-money to be made!
-allowing more athletes to participate
-inspiring kids
-more jobs
Conclusion paragraph: Include a power sentence that will seal the deal!

Deven (7th grade) wrote a brilliant piece.  This crazy sport just might work, he is so persuasive!


Dear Olympic Board of Commissioners,

     Let me deeply congratulate all of you for organizing one of the greatest sporting events in the world.  The Olympics provide great opportunities for athletes and a wide variety of sports for those seeking a chance to take their sport to a new level.

     I am writing to you in reference to adding a new phenomenal and breath-taking event to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.  In my opinion, combining the sports of water polo and tennis would be an excellent blend.  I have decided to call it, “TennisPolo.”  We all know that these two sports have been highly enjoyed and anticipated by fans all over the world.  A combination of two of the most popular sports of the Olympics could prove to be an excellent idea and attract a lot of attention.

     Basically, TennisPolo incorporates most of the rules of water polo with a few exceptions.  Athletes will play in a deep pool with a goal on each side.  With seven players on each team, including the goalie, athletes must attempt to hit a tennis ball into their goal.  Obviously, they will wear a swimsuit, a cap, and ear protectors, the same equipment as any normal water polo player.  However, athletes will need goggles to have the ability to swim underwater. 

     Now, here is the part where tennis is brought in.  First of all, players will not use their hands, but rather tennis raquets.  Plus, there will be a net in the middle of the pool, just like a tennis court.  When athletes attempt to serve, there is a chance that the ball will be intercepted by the net, therefore giving the other team a point.  Players are also permitted to swim under the net, allowing them to have a better chance at making a goal.  Lastly, this is not a co-ed sport, but there can be both men’s and women’s teams.

     Commissioners, think of the benefits!  Think of the opportunities!  Think of all the money!  It’s a dream come true.  Ignoring this sport would be a grave mistake, and I’m here to tell you why.  TennisPolo will bring great opportunities to all water polo and tennis players around the world.  And, of course, a new sport can lead to great job opportunities.  Imagine the President thanking you for reducing the unemployment rate!  As we all know, excellent players such as Michael Phelps or roger Federer inspire young lads around the world to participate in the Olympics.  A new sport will do just that.  Plus, don’t you agree that a fabulous sport such as TennisPolo will require new equipment, which helps companies sponsor themselves.  And this leads to….

     MONEY!  As TennisPolo is an extremely unique and breath-taking sport, people around the world will flock to the host city in hopes of watching a brand new sport!  Declining TennisPolo is like not accepting a sack of money being given to you.  The profits and revenues can lead to new and greater sports!  The host city will love you for adding a new sport.  Why?  Well, Olympic tourists are bound to stay at hotels, eat at restaurants, and visit exciting spots within the city.  Think carefully… there are a lot of benefits!

     Trust me, TennisPolo will end up to be one of the greatest sports in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.  TennisPolo can add to the variety of excellent sports already included in the greatest sporting event of the world.



If You Could Be An Animal.....

.... What would YOU be?

That was the question my Juniors class was asked.  We brainstormed as a class on:
- where we would live
- what we would eat
- what our daily activities would be
- who our friends would be
- who our predators/enemies would be
- who would take care of us
- what we would look like

The students came up with great ideas!  Here are just two great examples of kids imagining what life would be like as an animal.

Dolphins and Friends
By Shefali (4th grade)
(Notice how much scientific knowledge Shefali incorporates into this essay.  She also breaks her paragraphs up nicely into specific characteristics, so her essay is easy to follow!)

     If I were an animal, I would be a dolphin because dolphin friends are always there for each other.  For example, when a dolphin can't swim, two other dolphins bring the dolphin up and down so it can breathe until it can swim again.  Dolphins are very smart!

     But, I would also have predators.  One of the big predators for dolphins are sharks.  I would send two big and strong male dolphins to fight those huge, mean, and nasty sharks.  The sharks wouldn't get anything to eat in our pod!

     I'd have to eat, too.  I would use something called echo-location.  I would send a sound and it would bounce off a fish and come back to me.  If it would come back quickly, then I would go in that direction and eat a tasty treat!

Raya (4th grade) organized her thoughts beautifully before she started writing.  With the Juniors group, I presented "pre-outlining" ideas that will help them organize their thoughts and get them ready for the concept of formal outlining they will be ready for as they get older.

     If I were an animal, I would be a lizard.  I would live in the rainforest.  While staying away from snakes and certain birds, I would climb trees.  I would climb down to eat weeds when my predators had gone away.  Because I would be a mild animal, I wouldn't kill any animals.

     I would be one of a kind when it comes to my appearance.  If my predators saw me, they might be scared and run away.  I would look scary and big.  I would have spikes on top of my head along with scales.  Because I could camouflage with the surroundings, I would look brownish-green.  I would like to be a lizard, but I'm glad I'm a person.

Both girls used the lessons they learned in varying sentence starters/patterns.  Well done!!

Outlining and Essays

My Seniors class received an important lesson in outlining.  I am amazed at how this important organizational skill is just not taught in schools anymore.  To me, it is the foundation of strong essays and even creative stories.  If you can't effectively plan it ahead of time, how can you write it?

My Seniors were assigned to write an outline for a 5 paragraph essay.  The topic?  "My Favorite ________."  Anything was possible!

Favorite vacation spots, favorite sports, and even favorite You Tube videos were some of the topics chosen that day.  Here is Sammy's (6th grade) essay on Football.  His outline included:
An introduction
Object of the game
Equipment needed to play
Where football is played
Success of the sport nationally
A conclusion

Sammy clearly follows his thought process in a clear and concise manner, all stemming from a well-written outline.


     Foorball is an amazing sport that is played on a 100 yard long field.  The object of the game is to march down the field and score.  Football is one of the most popular sports in America.  It is played at schools everywhere and even has its own pro league.

     The object of the game is to make your way down the 100 yard field.  The offense can either run the ball or pass it while the defense tries to tackle them.

     Some equipment is needed to play football.  First, you need a football.  Then, you need a helmet and shoulder pads.  Because you need to protect your ribs, you need to wear rib pads.  When you're playing football, you also need cleats.

     (Did you notice his "Because" and "When" sentence starters there??)

     Football is played in many places.  Some people play at the park and in their backyards.  Many junior highs and high schools have football teams.  College football is very popular in the U.S.  One sport that is even more popular than college football is the pro football league, the NFL.

     The NFL is so huge that their championship game, the Super Bowl, has the highest TV ratings every year.  The teams that get into the Super Bowl have to first qualify for the playoffs, then win every game in the playoffs.  The winner of the Super Bowl is the NFL Champion for that year.

      As you can see, football is a fabulous sport.  You should give it a try.  Just don't get hurt.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Adventure Stories

After great paragraph writing, the students were ready to move on to a special genre: Adventure Story Writing!  Both classes had different assignments.

The Juniors class spring boarded off of their Backwards Animal paragraphs, and wrote "A Day in the Life with" their animal.  These proved to be very entertaining!  I saw all kinds of adventures, from a trip to Disneyland to a sneaky attempt to keep their discovered animal as a secret pet.  Some stories were scary, some sweet, and all very adventurous!

Here is Luka's (4th grade):

The Weirdest Day of My Life

     It was 11:59 PM.  My alarm clock went off and instead of saying the time, it read "Beware."

     At 12:00 AM, a portal sucked me up and took me to this place.  I saw a sign saying, "Welcome to Survival Land."  Then I saw this thing.  I came up to it and asked its name.  "Effarig!" it said.  Then it tried to kill me!  I ran and ran and ran.  You don't want to know what happened next.

     It turned me into a lot of fur and stuck it on to himself.  (Teacher interjection here: Luka's Effarig is a bald creature because its mother bites the fur off of it as a baby!)  It transported me to the bottom of the deep, dark, blue ocean!

     Nobody saw me for years because it transported me to an under water mansion!  Then the portal sucked me up and took me back to my house.

      I say that this is the weirdest day of my life!

The Seniors class had a different assignment.  They were assigned the traditional "What I Did on my Summer Vacation" story... with a twist of adventure.  At some point in their story map, they were to change their true story into something completely adventurous, crazy, or strange that happened.  From this map, they would write a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

George (5th grade) wrote a story with an ending that made me laugh.  Can you just picture his family not even realizing his adventure occurred?!

Jet Skiing

We got to Crete  on a small 25 person plane and went to a 5 star hotel. On the last day, I went jet skiing on a very bumpy ocean. It was super fun!! Let me tell you what happened.

I hopped on the jet ski. I got out of the harbor and floated into the center of the bay. I zoomed around the bay at 70 km per hour. I explored a cavern and went back out.

I was riding around fast, but the jet ski suddenly jerked to a stop. Shockingly, tentacles wrapped around me and I plummeted into the ocean! I put on my emergency goggles. I saw Atlantis! I then saw a 2 foot round gold ball. I reached for it but I was still in the grasp of the huge octopus!

Luckily I found a dagger in my  pocket and cut off the tentacle holding me. I swam to the surface.

I found my family on the beach and they were all on lounge chairs. I yelled, "COME ON DIDN'T YOU NOTICE I WAS GONE!!!"

Arushi (6th grade) wrote a beautifully entertaining story.  Her use of descriptive words is absolutely fantastic!  While George wrote his story in the past tense, Arushi chose to use the present.  We talked about the benefits of both styles.  George is telling us a story that already happened; Arushi is taking us through her story as it occurs.

Hiking with Jetpacks

The sunset is always the best part of the Grand Tetons. The sun shines red and soft pink on the mountains. The lake is clear and still, perfect for seeing the gorgeous reflection of the mighty Teton Peaks.
    Because it’s morning, and not evening, I’m getting ready to go hiking with my dog. Sophia is such a cute maltese! She’s so confident in the wilderness that I take her everywhere I hike.
    This time I’m going to Jenny Lake. I plan to go up to Inspiration Point then climb down and have lunch at Jackson Lake Lodge. The lodge overlooks Jackson Lake, and they tell me I can see Trumpeter Swans and White Pelicans at the edge of the water.
    But today I don’t have time to stop and go bird-watching. I head down to the dock and catch the first ferry ride across the shining clear lake.
    Excitedly, my dog barks. I almost feel that I know what she’s saying. It sounds like, “Come on!” I tell myself that understanding animals is ridiculous. No way could that change now.
    “You come on,” I say.
    We go. I let Sophia guide me to the creek. It is actually more of a small river with enormous rapids.
    “Really, Sophia! You’re going to fall in!” I scold. Obediently, Sophia comes to my side and rubs my leg.j
    This time, I lead Sophia. We climb to the top of a big rock. There’s no path, but I see a moose with an unusual rear end. It turns around and I see a jet pack attached to its tail.
    “Follow me. I’ll be your ride.” The moose walks toward me.
    “What in the world?” I exclaim. This is getting strange. Still, the moose has some kind of magnet and I am being pulled in.
    “Get on!” The moose attempts to pat his back with his own antlers, but they get stuck to the jet pack.
    “Um, a little help here?”
    I go to the moose and free him, but as I am already next to the moose, whose name is Jet, I hop on.
    “Where’s Sophia?” I wonder.
    “She’s on Ben the Bison, having the time of her life.”
    I peek over my shoulder and see Sophia prancing around on Ben’s back, who looks half amused and half annoyed. I shake my head, get off, and buckle Sophia in.
    “Don’t fall off!” I warn.
    She does.
    Sophia starts barking at a marmot, then a pronghorn. The big-horn sheep come in a herd and surround us. An elk joins the party.
    I look nervously around me, then at Jet.
    “They’ve come to say goodbye and good-luck to you,” he reassures me, but it doesn’t help. Jet navigates his way through the animals to reach Sophia and put her back on Ben.
    “Really, Sophia!” I scold. “Stop falling off! And who made this awful Bison Seat?”
    One of the sheep sheepily steps forward and mumbles his apologies. Then he hands me the Bison Seat Deluxe.
    Thanking him, I strap it onto Ben and strap Sophia into it.
    “Thanks!” Sophia barks.
    “You’d better stop talking before we eat lunch,” I grumble, not even bothered by Sophia turning “human.”
    “We’re off!” Ben and Jet take off with Sophia and me clinging onto their backs. “Where do you want to go? Have you been to Yellowstone yet?”
    “No, we haven’t. Can you take us to all the sites in Yellowstone?” I yell.
    “Off we go!” Jet and Ben blast off at full speed.
    Chico and Mammoth Hot Springs have the despised odor of sulfur, but they are beautiful. Hovering above the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is amazing. We fly down to the river and wave at all the gaping tourists. And, if strolling on the boardwalk at Norris Basin is heavenly, flying above it is better. Old Faithful aimed pretty well because Ben almost got scalded. Still, we stayed high enough and I think I got the closest aerial shot of the sights with my camera. That must have been a strange sight for all to see.
    Jet and Ben let us parachute down to Jackson Lake Lodge, waving good-bye.
    “We’ll see you next time!” Sophia and I call.
    Who knows when that will be? 

Riley's (5th grade) story is entertaining and funny.... with an outstanding ending! 

The Bigfoot

by Riley
At first my Coppercreek experience was just fine, at least until the
night of Capture the Flag.  The teams were picked and it was my job to
hide the flag.  I ran in the dark forest until I found the perfect
hiding spot: A dark cave.

To be honest, I was scared.  I was in a giant dark cave in the middle
of a forest.  Scary.  I took a breath and went in.  I was trembling
with fear.  I stuck the flag deep in the ground.  I heard the game
start over the loud speaker.  "Game".  I started to say, but rocks
fell over the entrance and I was stuck.

Something moved.  I was horrified.  It was about 6'4" (my dad's
height).  "Hello?" I asked.  The thing stopped.  No answer.  I backed
away towards the rock wall.  I smashed the rocks away and light came
in.  The moon shined on the hairy creature before me.  BIGFOOT!!!

I ran past the border between sides and right to the other teams flag.
I pulled it out and ran back.  I won!  Everyone cheered.

We walked back to the cabin area.  When my counselor asked about the
flag so I told him about Bigfoot.  Of course he didn't believe me.

The next week was a thrill.  Because I found the flag I became a
legend.  After I said my goodbyes I got in a truck and we drove to the
airport.  The drive was boring until a tall hairy man waved to me.


The end 

Powerful Paragraphs

Following our lesson on detailed sentences, both groups received instruction in effective paragraph writing.  The students were great with the concept of staying on topic.  One area of weakness for most students I meet is what I call "boring starts/patterns."  I teach a 5-step process that encourages varying sentence patterns while staying on topic.  The Junior group did this beautifully with a topic called "Backwards Animals."  We had a great time brainstorming crazy animal names by spelling them forwards and backwards!  Then we imagined what this new creature would....
- look like
- eat
- act like
- live
and more!

Once the brainstorming was over, we wrote 1-2 paragraphs, staying on topic of course!  Here are two wonderful examples, with one scary creature and one sweet animal!

The Yeknom
By Marston, 2nd grade
     The yeknom is a vicious creature.  It has hands on its body to kill animals, then eat them.  Its hands are really sharp.  When it eats, its heart stops due to anger it feels during its meal.  I wouldn't want to have it as a pet!

The Epa
By Shefali, 4th grade
     The epa is a kind and gentle animal, but very interesting.  It lives in the water during the day, but can sometimes come out.  During the night, it comes out of the water and it digs a deep burrow, then covers the hole with sticks.  When it needs something, it opens its trunk to fly.  I don't think there's any animal as cool as the epa!

My Seniors class had a little different assignment.  They played a game in partners that involved drawing numbers representing sentence starters/patterns from a bag.  Some examples were:
- Start with Because.
- Include a "where" or "when" phrase.
- Include two vivid adjectives
- Write a sentence with one strong verb
- Start with an adverb
- Include a quote sentence
And more!
They had to use the pattern/starter that they drew and create a sentence that flowed with the one before it, while staying on topic.  They did a fabulous job with this, and showed great teamwork skills.

Arushi and Sophia (both 6th grade) chose a topic from my list: A favorite vacation spot.  They wrote a beautiful paragraph with this game.  Listen to these descriptive words!  It sounds like it's straight from a travel brochure!

     Truly, Hawaii is one of the most amazing summer vacation destinations ever!  The weather, which is always beautiful, is easily enjoyed at the beach.  Because the ocean is very refreshing, people can beat the heat by going for a swim.  Touring the volcanoes is an adventurous activity for people to explore every day.  Some elegant resorts have exciting water slides to slide down into a big and deep pool.  "Surf's up!" shouts a surfer, as he catches a ride on a huge wave.  The island is a magical place for special events such as weddings and luaus.  Isn't Hawaii the best place to spend your summer vacation?

After writing with a partner, the students had to try one on their own.  They could either play the game, or choose their favorite sentence patterns from the game in any order they wanted.  Here are two nice contrasting paragraphs about food!

By Sammy, 6th grade

     My favorite food is bacon.  I absolutely love when the bacon is right in the middle of chewy and crispy.  Because bacon isn't very healthy, I don't eat it very often, which makes bacon all the more special.  One of my favorite sounds is the sizzling sound that it makes.  Bacon is a wonderful, tasty food.

A Yucky Food
By Eugene, 5th grade

     Brussel sprouts are the most yucky and gross things in the world!  When my mom cooks some, she gives me a little.  I don't like the taste, so I add something to it.  Truly, brussel sprouts are disgusting enough to make me say, "Yuck!"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Workshop Sentence Writing

I am currently in the middle of a fantastic Summer Writers' Workshop!  I am working with two groups: one grades 5-7, one grades 2-4.  They have come so far in such a short time, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time with them.

Both groups started off with a Strong Sentence Writing exercise.  This lesson is crucial to the foundation of the workshop.  We discuss grammatical concepts and parts of speech, and how they can make our writing more descriptive and interesting.

My "Juniors" group was given the "Base" sentence:
The sun shines.

We then brainstormed two adjectives, one adverb, a where phrase, and a when phrase.  I also taught the students how to start a sentence effectively with "Because."  Many teachers choose not to teach this, as starting with "Because" usually leads to sentence fragments.  We worked hard that day on doing it right, and the students came up with some great ideas!  (The trick is starting with Because as a reason for your verb.  Don't forget to put a comment after your phrase!)

Here are some outstanding sentences:

The bright sun shines warmly because it is hot.
- Chris, 2nd grade
Notice how Chris moved his "because" phrase to the end, because he liked it better there.

Because it is summer, the colorful yellow sun shines greatly in the bright sky while I go swimming.
- Arav, 2nd grade
I like how Arav started with "Because," and his descriptive words paint a great picture in our minds!

The blue huge sun shines so brightly in the summertime that it gives us light twelve hours a day.
- Luka, 4th grade
A blue sun?!  Sure, why not?!  I like how Luka used an adverb to modify another adverb: "so brightly."

Well done everyone!

Both groups participated in a Crazy Class Sentence Writing Game.  Every student wrote their own base sentence, consisting simply of a noun and a verb.  We then passed our papers to our neighbor.  As the papers went around the room, we added the elements I listed above.  By the time the paper came back to its original owner, it was nothing like the original writer had thought it would be!  Some students chose to stick with the ideas the class brought to their sentence, and others chose to go back to their original idea.  It was a great exercise in creativity, grammar, and sentence writing.  Here are a few for your enjoyment:

In the early morning, the big blue dog walks speedily in the cold forest because it's in a hurry to get to the dog show.
- Ricardo, 4th grade
I love how Ricardo started his sentence with a "when" phrase!

The crazy cat talked to the tuna can and asked for tuna hungrily.
- Riley, 5th grade
What a great adverb to end the sentence!

Because it's angry, the small brown mouse squeaks loudly in the high mountains when someone stomps on its tail.
- Emily, 4th grade
No wonder that mouse is angry!  This is a great example of how to start a sentence effectively with "Because."

Because it is wet, the dog barks at the guilty ducks in the large lake.
- Raya, 4th grade
Raya's art was too beautiful not to scan and post!  And, can you figure out why the ducks are "guilty?"  They splashed that dog!  I love this sentence!