Tuesday, November 17, 2009



Verbs create visions for your readers.

As Mark Twain said, "Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream."

The verbs we work with include ACTION words; action allows your readers to imagine your ideas.

You could TELL your reader, “We went to the store.”

But to engage your reader to keep them reading, SHOW them:

“After waiting all week for Saturday, finally the whole family packed into our Voyager for a day at the Northtown Mall in Spokane.

We decided to meet each hour at the Pickle Barrel Restuarant, then wesplit and spread out, each to our own favorite places.

Jay and I zapped into Barnes and Noble to find the newest Twilight book and buy a Starbuck’s mocha.

However, in the mystery aisle, in front of the Harry Potter books, a strange man dressed in a black cape whisked by us.”

In other words, “We went to the store” bores your reader. Strong verbs and details instill life into your words and ideas. SHOW, don’t tell.

Sheri Edwards
Reflect curiosity and wonder...
Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness..

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Writing Process Evaluation

Writing Process Evaluation

Back to Writing 5-8

Are you writing each day to complete your requirements?

Name: Date: 5 6 7 8


Standard 1
Meets Standard
Exceeds Standard
Did you plan your prewriting for your audience and purpose? (1.1.1) (2.1.1) (2.2.1)

Are you planning your ideas by organizing your prewriting ideas (number your list, cluster, web, organizer, free-write) (1.1.1)

Did you draft from more than one source/entry using your organized prewriting for your audience and purpose? (1.2.1)(2.1.1) (2.2.1) (3.2.1)

Did you revises your writing, including changing words, sentences, paragraphs, and ideas with your ARMS revision strategies so your writing is clear, concise, organized? (Add, Remove, Move, Substitute) (1.3.1) (3.1.1) (3.1.2) (3.2.2)

Did you write in paragraphs with topic/support sentences that are different lengths and have different beginnings? (1.3.1) (3.2.3)

In your final draft did you edit for errors? (1.4) (3.3)

Did you publish in a form that meets your audience and purpose, includes images or charts to explain your ideas, and looks professional? (1.5.1)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wordle Writing Fluency

"Writing is hard fun." ~ Donald Murray

Writing is not easy.

Imagine all the neurons navigating and flying through your mind as you push that pencil across the paper to inscribe your images and ideas. The image of your mind must translate to words flowing to your fingertips of the sketch in your mind to become scribbles of notes or power in prose or poetry.

To help build fluency so ideas can flow fast, develop a routine of Power Writing, based on the work of Peter Elbow. Ten minutes of time daily will enable you to move ideas from mental thoughts to written work. Here's how:

Power Writing

Create a list of at list six words that will serve as topic ideas. You may write on any topic, however.

The basic process is:
  1. Think.
  2. Write.
  3. Count.
  4. Repeat two more times.

Think about the ideas the words suggest or your own topic for twenty seconds.

Write for two minutes (you may want to start with one minute and build to three minutes; we've even written for three five minute sessions). If you get stuck, just write the last word you wrote over and over until an idea pops into your head. Your receive credit for the number of different words you write. Your fluency should improve over time.

After two minutes (or whatever time allotted), stop and count their words, writing the number at the top of the page. Some people keep track of these and take averages.

Repeat --Think. Write. Count-- two more times.

Share writing with partners.
Circle your favorite.
Edit one section.
Keep a form of each set of three with an average for each set of three.
Ask for show of hands for number of words written (80, 70, 60, etc.).

From where can you easily obtain word lists to use?

My students love the Wordles I create for our Power Writing (samples here). I google topics on which we are learning. My google searches have included:

kids moose
kids cougar
kids fairy tales

I copy and paste kid texts into Wordle to create a cloud of words on that topic. Often, I simply take a screen shot of the Wordle , but always link to their site as source.

Here is a sample Wordle of Ralph Waldo Emerson's poem Song of Nature from Poets.org.

A Wordle on Rumpelstiltskin:

Any of your vocabulary or spelling lists would also work. Here are some lists resources


Spelling City Word Lists

Power Point Directions, Lists, Samples:

Other content area teachers have commented, "I don't know what you're doing in writing class, but the kids can sure start writing ideas now." So, start Power Writing in your class to help your students move from ideas to words.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poetry Self-Portraits


Create an artistic impression of youself through art, essay and poetry. Follow these directions for your draft. Then create a "W8 2009 Code" Page to type up your list and begin your drafts and revisions.

Idea Lists

Create lists of at least ten items to finish each of the following:

I like:

I am:

Of the eagle traits, I am __________ because__________ (See bottom of page; choose at least two)

Animals I am like are (at least three):

________ because ______

________ because ______

________ because ______

Ten years into the future, I will:

Image (Square)/Symbol

Read over all your lists. Try to think of images that represent you, your traits, your likes, the animals you associate with, etc. Use those images to create a square symbol that represents you as a whole person. Use large pictures and color.



Write a descriptive poem that expresses each of your traits represented in you symbols. Explain each image with examples and each major color as a symbol of one of your traits.


Start out with the question: Who am I?

Then describe yourself using your images as examples.

The beginning to the example symbol might be:

Who am I?

I am a cat wrapped in a circle sitting in the sun napping for the afternoon. I show the pleasant and friendly things in life.

I am spicy pepperoni, sizzling in your mouth bursting with flavor like an enthusiastic cheerleader cheering for our team.

I am the blue sky providing sunlight and power, just as I provide kindness and help to my family. I help them like a wolf pack protects and provides for each other.

I am clicking keys, tapping my creative thoughts on the screen as I transform ideas into prose or poetry about the laughter of several grandkids chattering over their imaginary and evolving games in the shade of the sycamore in the backyard.

I am floating in the shade on the boat on a hot afternoon reading or ambling with Pooka on the grassy path near the calm lake listening to the sounds of seasonal birds just before gently swinging on the bench swing with grandkids by my side, relaxing after a fun day of togetherness.


Write an engaging explanation of your symbol using as many of the list ideas as you can. Each list could be a paragraph, ending with your future goals.


Copy and paste your lists from your "W8 2009 Code" page into the site at:


to create a Wordle about you. Take a screen shot of it (ask how). We'll add it to your site with proper citation. If you write your name five times in the list, your name will show up largest.

Sample Lists and Wordle:

I like:

  • floating in the shade on the boat on a hot afternoon reading
  • ambling with Pooka on the grassy path near the calm lake listening to the sounds of seasonal birds
  • listening to the laughter of several grandkids chattering over their imaginary and evolving games in the shade of the sycamore in the backyard
  • hearing the click of keys tapping my creative thoughts on the screen as I transform ideas into prose or poetry
  • gently swinging on the bench swing with grandkids by my side, relaxing after a fun day of togetherness
  • transforming images of friends and family into a visual story through digital iMovies
  • observing the "aha!" of students whose minds marvelously pop with a sudden understanding of a concept
  • listening to the soft purr of my cat trusting his world to me
  • melting flavor of dark chocolate slowly dissolving into a silky sliver in my mouth
  • engaging dialogue on substantial topics with always sensitive and insightful Scott

I am

  • diligent
  • creative
  • focused
  • serious
  • productive
  • pleasant
  • geeky
  • inventive
  • stubborn
  • thoughtful

EAGLE Traits

I show the EAGLE trait of effort when I write carefully and personally tuned lessons for my students.

I display acceptance when I acknowledge the differing needs and personalities of students.

I live enthusiasm when I stand in front of dull eyes and turn them into sparkles with words and ideas.

I exhibit generosity in spirit when I offer alternative assignments for students.

I demonstrate loyalty by teaching at Nespelem School for twenty-four years.

I model self-respect when I get my work done.

Animals I am like include

  • cougars for their independent striving for survival
  • wolf to help my family like a pack protects and provides for each other
  • cat who likes nothing better than a nap in the sunshine

In the future ten years from now, I will
  • be volunteering to help in schools with computer projects
  • be helping grandkids with projects
  • hiking with Scott behind city hall
  • sharing conversations with family and friends
  • be writing a book about thinking



EAGLE Traits

Sunday, April 5, 2009

!3 Ways to a Non Writer

13 Unlucky Ways to Create a Non-Writer Today

Why would we want to create nonwriters? We don't! But with the schools at the edge of both a funding crisis and a technological revolution, these deserve careful consideration.

First, read the inspiration for this blog at Choice Literacy by S. Rebecca Leigh .

Ponder the path we're on and start a dialogue on our practice in our schools, in our PLNs, and in our tweets. What would you add?

13 Unlucky Ways:

1. Tell children that writers write at desks first, not on a computer, not on a cellphone, and most certainly not while talking to someone else.

2. Correct all misspellings, including txt; U R 2 wrtie wel and purfekt the phurst time.

3. Squash the txtg. Writing is for learning how to organize thoughts and add more detail. Texting is a waste of thought and time.

4. Absolutely, positively no collaboration with another author, especially online. Children have to find their own voice and figure out how to write well without help. If they work together, how do you know who did the writing?

5. Don't encourage writing with photos. They serve a purpose, obviously. If you allow students to write with photos, how will they learn to write a thesis?

6. Only publish online absolutely perfectly spelled work. We don't want people to think the kids aren't learning what's important.

7. Be sure to separate reading and writing; think of the confusion of mixing the two areas. What would anyone learn by reading a blog and commenting on it?

8. Always write first on paper; writing on paper helps you organize. The computer is for revision and final drafts only.

9. Under no circumstances combine media and language. Use the English classroom for written language only; there's no time or reason to include digital media.

10. English class is for writing. Computer class is for computing.

11. Keep writing in the English class; how can children learn to write if they don't complete exercises every day on paper?

12. All research for writing reports must be done from legitimate sources from the library. Take notes on notecards; you won't always have a computer with you.

13. Follow the English text; never follow the style of other authors, and certainly, don't share your own writing. Just keep the kids guessing.

Note: This idea was suggested by fellow tweeter and motivator kellyhines based on an entry at Choice Literacy by S. Rebecca Leigh.


Ponder the path we're on and start a dialogue on our practice in our schools, in our PLNs, and in our tweets.

What would you add?


Friday, March 27, 2009

A Poem in Your Pocket

Help spread the power of poetry -- share ideas on twitter for how to share poems on 4/30 for "A Poem in Your Pocket Day" on April 30th. Label tweets #ppocket

Here's the first idea:

Create your own visual poem on Bubblr; blog or email it to friend for "A Poem in Your Pocket Day" on April 30th:

The Poem:

Barren earth
Blossoms in bubbles
Of delicate dew
For butterfly blessings
Mother Earth to you.

The visual:

Or link here: A Poem for Your Pocket by Sheri Edwards


Go to Bubblr at http://www.pimpampum.net/bubblr/

Use the "tag" box to type a topic on which you want to write a poem.

I chose these (separately as needed): soil, spring, dewdrop

For your search, many photos will appear for you to drag to the current slide.

As I chose my photos, I added the cloud and text.

Then I published with a title and name from which the code can be created to embed or link or email. Enjoy.

National Poetry Month
Poem in Your Pocket

Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...
Reflect curiosity and wonder...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

5 Photo Essay Tips from Digital Photography School

    • What do you know? 
    • What do you want to know?
    • How will  this help you?
    • What will you do next?
    • How will you document your journey?

    tags: essay, Photography, photoessay, point of view, theme, voice

    • And for the last one hundred years photography and storytelling went hand in hand.
    • developed by skillful photographers who understand the emotions and concepts behind ever-great story.
    • The form of such a story is called the photo essay.
    • A photo essay is very simply a collection of images that are placed in a specific order to tell the progression of events, emotions, and concepts.
    • the photo essay takes the same story telling techniques as a normal essay, translated into visual images.
      • Think in terms of: Grabber Beginning; Thesis; Main idea focus; Evidence; Conclusion; End with Action/Thought Just like you learned about written essays -- now you express your ideas through photos with captions. - post by sheri42
    • Every human being is drawn to stories.
    • photo essay is a brilliant way to bring your images to life and touch your family, friends, and coworkers.
    • 1. Find a topic
    • make your topic something in which you find interest.
    • 2. Do your research
    • spend time
    • talk with
    • investigate
    • check out the theme,
    • help you in planning out the type of shots you set up for your story.
    • 3. Find the “real story”
    • determine the angle you want to take your story
      • What is the angle? Who's voice will you share? What is the most important theme? - post by sheri42
    • Though each story idea is the same, the main factors of each story create an incredibly unique story.
    • 4. Every dynamic story is built on a set of core values and emotions that touch the heart of its audience. Anger. Joy. Fear. Hurt. Excitement. The best way you can connect your photo essay with its audience is to draw out the emotions within the story and utilize them in your shots. This does not mean that you manipulate your audience’s emotions. You merely use emotion as a connecting point.
      • What emotions did you find in your research and theme? How will the audience understand? How will your words and pictures explain your topic, emotions, and voice? - post by sheri42
    • 5.Plan your shots: Whether you decide to sit down and extensively visualize each shot of the story, or simply walk through the venue in your mind, you will want to think about the type of shots that will work best to tell your story. I recommend beginners first start out by creating a “shot list” for the story. Each shot will work like a sentence in a one-paragraph story. Typically, you can start with 10 shots. Each shot must emphasize a different concept or emotion that can be woven together with the other images for the final draft of the story.
      • Use a story board. Plan your shots and your text. Arrange them for powerful impact, just as if you are writing an essay -- what will explain or persuade? What order is best? What words will pack the punch that persuades or provides the facts for people to act or understand? - post by sheri42
    • Remember that story telling takes practice.
    • All you need is a bit of photographic technique, some creativity, and a lot of heart. And once you begin taking pictures in stories, your images will never be the same.
      • You are on your way to a journey of visual understanding and sharing that will help you understand the world as well as share the world. Learn and enjoy. - post by sheri42

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Research Required? Use Diigo!

Do you have research to do? A question to answer? Information to share? Here's the tool for highlighting, annotating, and sharing that important information.

Writers need information, background knowledge, and quotes to add depth and detail to their work. Diigo makes that task of organizing, notating, annotating, and sharing that information so much easier.

Diigo is web-browser enabled tool that allows users to highlight, annotate, and share information from the web.

Notice the yellow highlights and the pink highlights with an annotation.

Once you have bookmarked through Diigo your page, you can retrieve the link to the page, all your highlights, and all your annotations:

Here is the Diigo site of group bookmarks with annotations (green box) and comments (orange box) expanded.

These can be extracted and placed in a document (wiki, word process document, etc.) to analyze to draw one's own conclusions for research reports or other research needs.

This is a fantastic and collaborative research tool. The eighth grade students are conducting independent research from which their notes and annotations become resources for their draft conclusions for their thesis focus.

The fifth grade students are learning about Memphis, Tennessee from essays written by their Presbyterian Day School friends and placed on Mapskip. Students will write an itinerary for the choices they would recommend based on their notes and annotations on the work of our friends.

For a more complete How to Diigo, click here and here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Poetry and Pictures with PicLit

Love poetry? Here's your chance for focusing ideas and imprinting images by adding text to pictures.

Here's an example:

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

The text says:



I chose the picture to honor President Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday this year. I chose the words from a list provided for me. I chose those words because Lincoln knew we needed to stay together as a Union -- united together. He remembered the dreams we all have, and worked to keep the dream of America and us alive. Will we?

How to create your own poetry pictures?

1. Go to PicLit
2. Choose a picture.
3. Connect to it with your ideas and experience.
4. Read the words in the list provided. Develop in your mind a message that expresses your ideas.
5. Choose the words that express your connection to the image. Be short and concise -- the picture should dominate, and the words should draw out a theme from the image.
6. Save, email, blog, etc.
7. You can also take a screenshot, but be sure you credit PicLit.

Poetry in Pictures, a fun way to learn to be concise and exact.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How We're Writing

Our wiki is growing. We've written letters to the future president, created voicethreads on our service, and collaborated with each other on our wiki.

In the Letters to the President project, we drafted and revised collaboratively on Google Docs.

After the Inaugural Address, we discussed the President Obama's call to service, and began a journey through personal journals and goal-setting to make a change to act in ways that would help our community. We are documenting our journey in a form created in Google Docs.

That led to recording our service in a voicethread in which we invited others to join us in serving our country.

Schools in Wisconsin and San Diego are joining the call to service. President Obama may be presented with our voices.

Please look through our work on our wiki. The wiki allows us to draft and revise easily, and receive comments with suggestions so we can improve our writing. You will notice that our new friends from Presbyterian Day School have commented on the Grade 5 pages. Their fifth grade and ours are working together, collaborating and sharing writing projects to become powerful writers. We will Skype, voicethread, wiki, and blog together.

So how are we writing? We are writing in 21st Century ways: collaborating online using the tools of technology that help us work smarter and smoother.

How are we doing?

My Learning Network

Always learning...