Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Elaboration: Verbs and Details

Elaboration: VERBS and DETAILS




Once again, we focus on improving the story through elaboration.

How did I get from this:
1
I wrecked last night. I saw a hole in bike path ahead of me. held on to my handlebars.   I tried to turn away. I kept looking at the hole. It was big. I hit the brakes. I hit the hole. I wrecked. My wheel hit the hole and stuck there. But I didn’t stop.  I flew over the handlebars.

To this:
2
Last night, I rode my bike down the river bike path. I raced along the straight section by the ash tree. Up ahead, a hole the size of a bear broke the asphalt in the bike path. I gripped my handlebars to skirt the edge where the tree roots flattened. I just kept focusing, staring at the hole. At the last minute, I squeezed the brakes. I skidded towards the pit. Thump! My front wheel hit the hole and stuck there, a dead stop. But I didn’t stop.  My body flew over the handlebars like I toss my sister's stuffed elephant behind the couch. I imagine it splats on the carpet; I know I landed splat on my back. Ouch.

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Which one brings you into the story?  Why?

I think the verbs help: here's the difference -- strong verbs [or verb forms] in bold - so the old lady screams!:

1
I wrecked last night. I saw a hole in bike path ahead of me. held on to my handlebars.   I tried to turn away. I kept looking at the hole. It was big. I hit the brakes. I hit the hole. I wrecked. My wheel hit the hole and stuck there. But I didn’t stop.  I flew over the handlebars.

2
Last night, I rode my bike down the river bike path. I raced along the straight section by the ash tree. Up ahead, a hole the size of a bear broke the asphalt in the bike path. I gripped my handlebars to skirt the edge where the tree roots flattened. I just kept focusing, staring at the hole. At the last minute, I squeezed the brakes. I skidded towards the pit. Thump! My front wheel hit the hole and stuck there, a dead stop. But I didn’t stop.  My body flew over the handlebars like I toss my sister's stuffed elephant behind the couch. I imagine it splats on the carpet; I know I landed splat on my back. Ouch.

Yes, there's a lot more detail too in the second one to elaborate with who, what, where, how, why, etc. -- I'll underline the additional details or specific words [usually nouns] here:

1
wrecked last night. I saw a hole in bike path ahead of me. held on to my handlebars.   I tried to turn away. I kept looking at the hole. It was big. I hit the brakes. I hit the hole. I wrecked. My wheel hit the hole and stuck there. But I didn’t stop.  I flew over the handlebars.

2
Last night, I rode my bike down the river bike path.raced along the straight section by the ash tree. Up ahead, a hole the size of a bear broke the asphalt in the bike path. I gripped my handlebars to skirt the edge where the tree roots flattened. I just kept focusingstaring at the hole. At the last minute, I squeezed the brakes. I skidded towards the pit. Thump! My front wheel hit the hole and stuck there, a dead stop. But I didn’t stop.  My body flew over the handlebars like I toss my sister's stuffed elephant behind the couch. I imagine it splats on the carpet; I know I landed splat on my back. Ouch.

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Here's a video to show these revisions of strong verbs and details happened:




Remember! Every word is important -- your word choice in verbs and details makes your writing come alive for your reader.



Share one of your best revisions in the comments below -- a strong verb and a detail.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Slice of Life A Bunny

Today is Slice of Life. A Tuesday, as always.



So last night we're watching the BBC show on Netflix, The Last Kingdom. We're completely enthralled in the story, and we will grab the novel and search the history behind the story for the historical truths. That's just what we do.

The cats continue their night time ritual: in and out the back door with the screen left partially open. My choice is to put them out and keep the screen door closed. There is a reason why. And tonight that reason became clear.

While we listen to the show, engaged in the conversation of the priest with King Alfred,  a shadow dashes under a table and then under the desk followed by Abby, the tabby. 

"What was that?" I asked and leaned forward, following Abby's gaze under the desk and over the staircase.

Scott paused the video, jumped up and looked after Abby, who was staring down at the stairs.

I hopped up and stood at the top of the stairs. 

A shadow moved slightly.

The laundry room light cast a light into the stairwell.

I could see a small creature, about the size of a kitten, moving slowly, stepping in place in a circle.

"Oh god. I hope it's not a rat," I shivered and my stomach twinged. Not that I've seen a rat around, but I'd heard stories of people up the hill releasing their pet rats into the neighborhood. I shivered again.

I kept my eyes on the creature, and my shoulders relaxed. I could see its long ears.

"It's a bunny!" I exclaimed to Scott.

"Oh geez." He sighed. 

He passed me and trudged downstairs.  I could hear him stomping around, shaking all the boxes of holiday wrapping and tubs of winter clothes stored in the laundry room. I heard the bedroom door open and close. But no bunny.

He ran up the stairs, calling, "Where are those cats -- either one." 

He grabbed the first one that walked in through the screen door and walked Abby downstairs. "Ok. Where's the rabbit?"

Abby ran back upstairs and out the screen door, and Scott tried more banging.

I stepped downstairs.

Scott stood, holding a broom. "The poor thing is probably scared to death, and could be hiding anywhere here."

I looked around and nodded.

"I don't think it could get into the bedroom, under the door. It was as big as a kitten," I added.

Scott replied, "They are all fur; they can squish any where."

"Perhaps we could leave a trail of cat food or something up the steps?" I suggested.

"The thing is afraid of our monsters. We're going to have to lock the cats up and leave the back door open.  Just not large enough for the deer to join us too."

Together we walked back up, resigned to hoping time and the quiet of the night would allow the poor, frightened bunny enough courage to hop up the stairs and out the door.

Our cats? One sits curled in a wrought iron chair, and the other stretches out on the cool concrete, both cleaning themselves on the back porch, having already forgotten their last hunt.

Later the next day...

I have placed lettuce in the laundry room, little leaves left leading up the stairs. There's been no sound, and the cats have not indicated the presence of another creature in the house. They're napping, of course.

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Here's my process:

Which slice? That was easy, since we this adventure occurred Monday night.

I just learned from Kevin Hodgson that TitanPad records your revisions for playback.  So, here's my process of writing the first draft, which I revised slightly and edited for the Slice above:



I hope you see that I attempt to write in active voice and use dialogue to bring the reader into the scene. I'm not a great writer, but I am trying to show, not just tell.

What's your process and slide for the week?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday: Ideas and Connections and Web Site Accuracy



Mondays are a great day to get new ideas from the news.

A great place to look is Tween Tribune. Students do not sign up; teachers do. You do not need to sign up to read the articles. This site, sponsored by the Smithsonian, aggregates news for kids-- and creates them with questions and at different reading levels.


See the menu at top for grade levels, and in the right sidebar see topics and Lexile Reading Levels.

Notice there is a search bar, although it is better just to choose a topic of interest to you.

How is Tween Tribune helpful if your teacher does not have an account?

Choose a topic and discover for yourself the interesting news events of today. Read an article, and ask yourself questions:
  • What are the facts in the article?
  • What is the main message the article wants me to understand?
  • Why am I interested in this topic?
  • What in this topic connects to me and my world?
  • What did I know before?
  • What do I know now?
Freewrite about the ideas -- do not summarize, copy, or paraphrase the article: just write about the topic. Put a link to the article in your freewrite so you can return to cite your source and verify facts if you need to.

Another wonderful place to gather ideas is Wonderopolis 


You may ask a question -- or choose from those already asked:

Ask yourself the same questions about the article as listed before and freewrite, including the link to the article read.


Writers know stuff; they write about what they know and see.  And this is one way to add to your knowledge for three reasons:
  • You'll know how to find information
  • You'll know when what others say are fact or fiction
  • Your writing will be believable.
But do ask yourself:
How does this connect to my writing this week?
  • Would it fit with a report or article I want to write - -or an assignment?
  • Would the facts, revised into my story, enhance the events and characters in my story?
  • Do I need to revise my story to be more real?
  • Could I write a story of fiction in which the characters and the plot illustrate these facts?
  • Could I create a project that adds value to the information from my interpretation [Animoto, slides, podcast, poem, story, Did You Know, etc.]?
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What if you want to search "Google" for a topic?  Learn how to search first:




Then -- be Web Smart.  Many of the millions of pages on the Internet are false, fake, and filled with misinformation. YOU must know HOW to validate and verify the accuracy of the website.  How?  From Google Educators Daniel Russell, Tasha Bergson-Michelson, and Trent Maverick are these tips:



And


Follow the lesson on their slides to practice identifying factual or fake [or misinformation that looks like facts].

After trying the lessons, check out the lessons and try the activities [see bold green ] here

If you think you're ready for a challenge, try the project challenges in bold magenta here.

Your turn:
Share your topic writing [freewrite, stories, poems, etc] that shows your researched ideas at work.

Put a link to your post with your challenge solutions in the comments below.

Teach others: Create your own "search and validate" slide or document or blog post and include the link in a comment below.


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Thanks for learning together.






Friday, September 16, 2016

4 Blog Conversations

What are we learning this week?



Monday: Observation / Point of View
Tuesday: Slice of Life in Conversation
Wednesday: Conversation of Objects
Thursday: Conversation: Poem in Two Voices
Friday: Conversation: Blog Comments and Conversations

Important in our little community is our presence online and in our blogs. I've written about Blog Conversations on another blog. I'd like to invite you into this form of writing to connect with others.  Some ideas:

Good bloggers spend time reading and commenting on others’ blogs. We look for posts of interest to us and leave a comment expressing our ideas and appreciation for the topic information. Commenting is a form of conversation with the author of the blog.
As bloggers, we can do more to extend the conversation. We can add value to others’ ideas by extending the conversation into our own blogs.
When we read others’ blog posts. We enjoy, learn, or disagree with them. In our minds, we have a response. That’s what we want to capture, that spark of connection when we read the posts.
Read to find that spark, that connection — the place in the blog post you think, “Ah.” or “What?” or “Yeah.”
At that point, that’s your cue to add to the conversation. It’s your gift back from the value given in the post. Copy that part of the idea.
Then, with the best digital citizenship in mind, we write a post on our own blog about that idea, and your gift back: do you agree? disagree? learn something? have a different or new idea?
Go for it: Share their idea and your response — being overly positive as we always do so the author feels accepted and not disrespected.
Link back to the original blog.
Then comment on the blog with a link to your response post.
You’ve just started a blog conversation!

If you want to simply comment, here's a review of good blog comment guidelines:

Comment Guidelines

Important points:
Read the post and all comments first.
Use the author's name.
When responding to other posts, consider using the following openers as a guide 

  • *  I noticed.....
  • *  I liked.....
  • *  I wonder.....
  • *  What if.....
  • *  How might.....

Think about what questions to ask.
Think how to be positive and helpful, even when disagreeing [see guidelines for tips].
Write well -- edit.

The Start your comment:
Use the author's name.
Compliment the author's ideas.
Offer your ideas about the topic.
Ask a question about the topic.
EDIT.
Thank the author.

Add your name / own blog URL.

Where do you find kid blogs?  Look here, a hashtag for kid bloggers:
#comments4kids

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The important thing about blogging is the connections:
  • In order for what we are saying to make any sense, it needs to be a response to something.
  • Find places where you can add value rather than pursue a particular goal or objective
  • In almost all fields, connecting with others IS the work.
  • Connecting is all about adding value and flow (input, output, feedback, plasticity)
Go ahead.  Try a blog post conversation or a comment conversation.
Write a post about what you learned -- about your blogging and learning, and about a topic.  Share your URL  to your reflection below.

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Photo: Sheri Edwards
Pretzel Art: Tony Stansac

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dot Day



What does your dot look like this year?

Make your mark, Make it matter.

Listen to Vashti's Story: The Dot
by Peter Reynolds




How will you better the world?

I made my dot on my computer in Sketchbook using paint brush tools and two of my favorite colors. I included my motto to spread the word of hope for kindness in the world. Go boldly [have confidence] & Scatter seeds of kindness. This is something we can do every day.

What will your dot say?  What will you do every day?

Share a link to your dot below in the comments.

Conversation 3

What are we learning this week?

Monday: Observation / Point of View
Tuesday: Slice of Life in Conversation
Wednesday: Conversation of Objects
Thursday: Conversation: Poem in Two Voices

You may have read the poetry book, "Joyful Noise: A Poem for Two Voices," by Paul Fleischman.




Listen to Mrs Mathieson's students read their Poems for Two Voices:



 Poetry, they explain, is a global language of expression, emotion, opinion, and, in two voices, perspectives. You'll hear sports, love & hate, Mother & Daughter, and many more.  Listen to how they spoke separate at times and at other times together, to show compare, contrast, and the strength of each voice and perspective.

It seems like a conversation; it could be. It could be a separate idea thinking to itself, but read together.

So think of two things: people, objects, cause/effect, problem/solution, issues. Compare and contrast the two things you choose. What would they say, to each other or by themselves? Be active and precise in your word choice, as you write what each would say. Then juxtapose your two poems into one poem for two voices.

For example. Yesterday the sun and the coneflower exchanged words in a conversation.

How might I compare and compose two voices based on those two ideas:

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Coneflower and The Sun

Ah.
Oh
I love the streaming
I love

flinging out my energy
rays warming my petals

Yellow and bright


bright and piercing
Like I am the sun

shining forever
shining forever

reaching out onward

as the circle of planets
but I grow cold


In the cold
in my place
of my space
as earth’s tilt and turns
as earth’s tilt and turns
lose the warmth
lose the warmth
of Sun’s rays.
of my rays.

I shine on
My shine dims

My petals fall

My leaves brown


I shine on
My seeds fall

I live on
I live on
In spring sprouts


And on
A cycle of life.
A cycle of life.


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Your turn!  What objects carried on a conversation for you yesterday? Use those or another two objects to create your own poem for two voices.

Share the link in the comments below.
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Note: I created the poem in Google Docs in a table for each line. 
I changed the table properties by setting the table border at zero (0). 
I then copied/paste the title and table into my blog. 

Photo: Sheri Edwards 


A resource on Poems for Two Voices: 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Conversation 2


What are we doing this week?

Monday: Observation / Point of View
Tuesday: Slice of Life in Conversation
Wednesday: Conversation 2

How about a conversation between non-human objects? Imagine what your sock would say to your big toe and your shoe? Or the basketball to your hand and the court floor? Or your dull pencil to the sharpener?

Here's an example:

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I stood strong, second in line, my petals spread out to enjoy the warmth of the September sun.

"Sun," I asked, "You are sleeping earlier today."

"Yes," replied the sun. "I can't quite reach you any more when your Earth follows its path around me at its equinox."

A fluff of cumulous cloud passed across the face of the beaming sun. A shadow brought a shiver of coolness to all the coneflowers.

As the sun's rays slipped out its warming beams once again as the cloud moved on, sun added, "Excuse the interruption, and I apologize in advance of the continued shortening of my waking hours."

"But sun," I said, "If you take longer naps, my blossom will droop as my leaves dry up without your nourishing rays. I will grow old."

"Ah," sun replied. "That is part of our relationship; you will then drop your deep brown seeds into the earth and be renewed in the spring when I will meet your kin."

The evening breeze ruffled my petals.

Sun reached out, "You are preparing now for that part of our cycle. You have breathed life into the air as oxygen and gave your nectar to the bees and added beauty to the earth. You have made the world better; it is as we all should be and do."

"I have helped the world. I need to finish my journey." As one petal dropped, the sun dipped below the horizon.

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Did you follow the conversation that included science and the cycle of seasons and day to night?

You could be serious with science or history, or you could humorous. Just think of something you know about, and start writing the conversation between the objects. Jump right in the middle to get started, or set it up as I did with a picture. Can you tell which flower was speaking?

Remember to use action words and write in the moment, as if you are one of the characters now. You'll take that object's point of view, like the flower losing the warmth from the summer hours of sunshine.

Your turn!  Please share your responses with a link in the comments below.

Photo: (c) 2016 Sheri Edwards



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Slice of Life Conversation

Tuesday. Slice of Life.

Today, try a conversation. First, set it up. Then share the dialogue.

For example:

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Beep Bop.

"What's that noise, Allison?" Grandma asked as she walked around the playroom, listening.

Beep. Bop. 

"I think there's a toy here that is stuck on." Grandma picked up a teddy bear and looked underneath it.

Beep. Bop. 

"Can you hear it?" Grandma asked Allison, a four-year-old busily building a fort with blankets over the table and chairs, aligned just so.

Beep. Bop. 

Grandma looked under the table. "Do you hear it, Allison?"

Allison looked up and listened. She said, "It's probably your cell phone Gramma."

And it was. 

"I'm so old," Grandma said as she took the flip phone from her purse to answer.

Beep. Bop. 


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Think of a conversation between two people that has some story within it: a twist in words, a joke, a mistaken identity.

Every real story is fuel for your narrative writing, or even for a report on this one of the ease of which children today know technology, while some elders have a difficult time with it.