Saturday, June 18, 2016

Story Prompts that Work by Carly Berg

Genre: Writing
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is a book of 52 writing prompts that can be used in a variety of ways. Some of them can be used for any age, while some are for the more mature audience.  I am going to talk about a couple of my favorites and how I, as a teacher, will use them with my students.

Prompt #3 – Unreliable Narrator  will work well in my classroom. We talk about unreliable narrators when we read a story about a dog who has been sold and really does not understand the true reason why he has been purchased. The situation of an unreliable narrator can make for a very humorous story as the students find out. I feel that I can help them better understand this by having them write a story with an unreliable narrator.

Prompt #6 – Choose a Story #1, #36, and #49  Is a great idea.  You have a first line, then choose a line from Setting, Main Character, and Situation.  The ones listed here may be a bit much for my middle school students but this is a wonderful idea and a wonderful way for me to come up with some writing prompts for them.

Prompt #18 – Twisted Fairy Tale #1 and #46  is something I do with the last unit I teach each year. We talk about fairy tales, fables, myths, legends and other traditional stories. They are required to take the story and tell it from another point of view, change the setting and time period. So they may take the story for Red Riding Hood and tell it from the Wolf’s perspective. It could be set in New York City in present time.

Prompt #19 – Objects  is one I will twist a little. Instead of going around the house and grabbing six objects that will become a list of words in a story. I would take objects and put them in a bag and have students pick from the bag to get their list of words.  This would be especially fun if we are studying a specific genre, for example ‘mysteries’ and they have to write a mystery story using those objects in their story.

Prompt #24 – A Picture is one I use every year. I find a variety of pictures and put them on my board and students may choose one or more to write about.

There are a lot of fun writing prompts here that can be done straight from the book, or you can put your own twist on them. One thing I really liked was that the author wrote example stories so you could get a better idea of what she was talking about. I can foresee this as creating hours and hours of fun writing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Three Oliver and Jumpy Stories by Werner Stejskal

Genre: Children's Picture Books
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my reviews. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Oliver and Jumpy Stories 40-42

Story 40: Elephant Heaven
In this story Oliver, Jumpy and Joey visit ghost castle. They find a group of elephants in a desert waiting for them to lead them to fertile ground. Oliver is up for the challenge. They encounter a grass fire and an avalanche. Will they find the land of plenty?

Story 41: Waking the Princess
In this story Oliver sets out on his own to break a curse. Years before a Princess was put to sleep until a cat Prince could wake her with a kiss. However, the cat prince would have to overcome three challenges. The challenges included a genie out of a bottle, a giant and a spider. Will he be able to wake the Princess?

Story 42: Space Ball
Jumpy and Joey were watching a star in the sky when suddenly it began to move. It became a fireball and landed in their lake. The next morning a spacecraft emerged from the lake. A creature came out. What do you think the creature wants?

Oliver and Jumpy Stories 43-45

Story 43: Flying Carpet
In this story a stork from Africa delivers a letter to Oliver. He is needed to rescue another princess. He and his friends travel to Africa where they are given a magic carpet to help them rescue the princess. They manage to do this, but the guards chase them. Can they evade the guards and take the Princess to her destination?

Story 44: Birthday Party
Oliver returned home from one of his adventures to a surprise birthday party. His friends had cake and presents for him. He felt their love.  What kind of presents do you think he got?

Story 45: Magic Berries
In this story the three friends visit Ghost Castle again and end up in a land where there were very large berries. Before anyone could stop him, Joey ate a handful. He began to shrink. He found another colored berry and ate it. It caused him to grow fat. He found a third berry and ate it and it caused him to grow tall again, but remain fat. They were told they had to find a wood fairy to help them. Will Joey be able to do what is needed to get back to his regular size?

Oliver and Jumpy Stories 46-48

Story 46: Saving Fairyland
Fairyland was under attack. Their food was being destroyed. The Fairy Queen asked Oliver and his friends to help save her land. With their magic wands they went to help.  Will they be able to save fairy land?

Story 47: Cat King
Oliver and his friends visit the Ghost Castle again for another adventure. They find themselves in a room with several statues. One of them looks just like him.  The statues come to life and declare him their returned king. They take him to meet his bride. They get married and begin to eat. There is one major problem. When Oliver eats anything with mice or birds in ti he begins to turn white. The other cats think he is an impostor.  What will happen to Oliver and his friends.?

Story 48: The Bee Gnomes
Oliver is not the neatest cat. Sometimes his home can be quite messy. One day he woke up and found his house had been tidied up.  This happened several mornings. He pretended to go to sleep one night and found out who was cleaning up his house.  The bee gnomes had a favor to ask of him. Would he be able to help them?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Why "Teachers Write" Is So Important To Me

Every year since it began, I've joined Kate Messner for Teachers Write.  I do this for several reasons. First, I have the opportunity to write for me. Second, I have the opportunity to be led and guided my many of my favorite authors. Each of them have so many different styles and things to teach us. Most importantly for me, is that I learn so much to take back to the classroom to teach and encourage my own students on their writing journey. I have always hoped I was getting through.

Yesterday, ended my school year for me. I am having double knee surgery on Monday. This meant turning my classroom over to a sub for the last three and a half weeks of school. I've been trying to prepare my students, and myself, for the last month. I cry every year when they leave my classroom for the last time. Friday was an emotional roller coaster as I had former students coming and going as well as my sixth graders all day. But I have one student who is very quiet and has always had a beautiful writing style. She above all my students touched my heart in a way no other student every has. Below is her gift to me.  This is why I will always participate and encourage other to join Teachers Write.

A Poem for Mrs. Stiles
One day I walked
into a room
labeled Language Arts
where I could learn
how to put pencil to paper
and unleash the magic.
The magic that waits
beneath the white,
so my messy scrawl
could burn through
the snow-colored shield.
The little candle
in my pencil
could melt through the paper.
And the worlds I’ve gone to
through thin black crevices
in the pages of books
are extraordinary.
And I loved Language Arts
through the first school.
Elementary school.
And it was almost as great
as the library
where I could travel through
little black lines
in otherwise blank walls,
into worlds of magic.
For those years
my candle burned
in the same little room

in the same little school.
A new, bigger school
where I could see the sky
through patches of blue
in the hallway.
In middle school 
where I headed
to Language Arts
my heart in my throat
because my teacher would be
an author,
who had wildfires in her pencil,
and knew how to
burn through the paper
and create portals
to other worlds,
where anything was possible.
And I only had my candle.
She welcomed us
I liked her
in moments.
I was glad
she was the one chose
to show us how to burn through
with flaming pencils.
Mrs. Stiles
I look forward all day
to Language Arts
where anything
is possible.
And we can write

About spinning torrents of wind
and flames unquenchable.
Neat, orderly writing
Or wild, imagined tall tales.
with rhyming sequences
and corresponding syllables.
Or free
like an eagle
flying into the flaming sunset.
You helped my candle
grow into a flame
dancing on a torch.
You’ve been a great teacher,
Thank you for showing me
how to put pencil to paper
and unleash the magic.
The magic that waits
beneath the white.
Now my messy scrawl
can burn through
the snow-colored shield.
Thank you.
I’ll see you next year.
and good luck.

Madison B.