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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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.



Monday, September 12, 2016

Mondays: Shift: Seeing Things in a New Perspective


My mom had an old book of puzzles. I loved it. My favorite puzzles were simple sketches that suggested something. What do you think the above image is?

Is it a bear climbing a tree? A giraffe walking by your window? A snake slithering across your beach towel?

With each question, your eyes shift to see the pattern in a new way. This is important for writers.

My mom could see beyond the obvious, and helped me look at the bigger picture. As a young mother rushed in front of us in the grocery line, mom would say, “She needs to get her back home for baby’s nap.” That might not have been true, but mom always took a step back to see a bigger idea and a step into the shoes of others.

We need to step around to see. Turn things around, and get a different view. Try to think from another’s perspective. Believe in your own!

So on Mondays, try something different. Sit in a different place on the bus or in your classroom or at lunch. Start a conversation with someone new. Really listen to what they say and understand their point of view.

Consider the main character of your favorite movie or book. Put them into another movie or book. Write a scene of the two main characters talking. What would they discuss? plan? do?

Be the characters, not yourself. Adopt their persona, with all their problems and personality traits. Really. What would the really discuss?

Here's a poem where the author took on the persona of Spiderman, except they added a new detail: Spiderman has a speech problem.




How did the author explain Spiderman?
How did the speech change how you feel about Spiderman?
What's the same, but what's different?
Do you hear his voice? his personality? a little tinge of sadness?

Choose your own superhero. Think about what he says and does. Write your poem. Did you add something that others might not know about his personality? What persona did you take?

These ideas shift your mind into another person or character, and then ask you to insert another difference to change the persona even more. Get into the character's personality so you can write as if you are that persona, like an actor would, with that voice.

Another way to shift perspectives is to take the view of another part of the scene. Say you're eating Cheerios.  What if you were the Cheerios in the box, poured out, milk added, and then that spoon? Be the Cheerios.

Or be your shoe!

Here's a reading by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater called "Waiting Room Fish"

You can imagine the fish looking back at you while you wait in the doctor's office: "We peek between the plastic plants." You hear the timid and patient voice of fish tank fish.

Go ahead -- be something different, a shift in perspective and write a story or poem. Let their voice shine through.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Poetry Friday: Each drawer is different

Poetry: What is it?

An interesting piece about poetry from Ron Padgett provides a beginning for us.



It's fourteen lines that look the same, but you can't say it the same 14 times. Try it.

As the poet explains, there are many, many kinds of poems: tiny, long, nature, funny, serious, patterns, etc. But the thing is, once a poem is written, it is never read the same. Each of us puts our own emphasis on the parts and the meaning. They are gifts given from within one person, presented outside of himself, so you the reader can take it within you.

When I first saw this poem, I imagined someone looking for something, but not finding it any place he looked. Now that I heard the author, and heard his inside feelings of the poem, I see it as an experiment in feeling the words and how each time they are said, the words become something else, depending on its reading.

It's rather like mood too. You could read that poem when you're tired, and it would sound different.

You could read it when you're angry, and imagine how it would sound!

You could read it when you're bored, and how long would it take to read it?

So poetry is feeling, it's sound, it's emotion, and it's imagery -- and a gift each of us will read differently.

Five things to do [not on one day-- but do try them all].

1) Think of a phrase, something plain or something special, something boring or something joyful, or some other emotion. Write it fourteen times. Read it to someone. Ask them to read it to you. How were your readings the same or different? What does that show you about poetry?

Leaves of fall, fall.
Sheri Edwards 
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.
Leaves of fall, fall in colors.

2) Go to poets.org and choose "Forms." Choose a few to read. Which did you choose? What surprised you about each? Which would you read again? Which could you write?


3) Go to poets.org and choose "Themes." Choose a theme and choose few poems to read. Which did you choose? What surprised you about each? Which inspired you to write a poem on that theme?

4) Choose a form or a theme of a poem. Write your own. Share it below so we can read your gift. You may want to create and share an audio recording of your poem, so we know how you would read it. We may read it our way, but we'll always thank you for your gift.

5) What surprised you about reading poetry? What surprised you about writing poetry? How would you explain poetry to someone else, now that we've heard from Ron Padgett and other poets you've read?


Please write a short note and a link to your responses in the comments below.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Poetry Friday Host: The Poem Farm


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Just a word about verbs


Verbs

No technical jargon here, just a word about verbs:  active

If you read yesterday's post, prompt, and example, you noticed that one of my writing strategies emphasizes "Strong Verbs," listing many of the verbs from the story.

Strong verbs: dropped, plopped, invited, wrapped, grabbed, gathered, giggled, opened, unwrapped, melted, slumped
What do you notice about those verbs?

The verbs represent action --- doing something.

When writing, use action verbs. Write as if you exist in the moment or a past moment.

Eliminate the dead verbs: is, are, was, were, am, be, gone, look, took, __ing

Rewrite the sentences with action verbs.

Examine the bold words so far in this post: I purposefully chose my sentence structure to include better, and stronger verbs. I did not say, "Write as if you are in the moment..."  I eliminated "are" and added "exist."

In yesterday's post, I wrote,
"Finally it was time for opening presents."  

"was," a dead verb.  This spot begs for dialogue. [I did not write, "This would be a good place for dialogue" -- "would be," represents a dead verb.] I suggest this revision:

"Girls," Melanie's mom called. "Gather in the foyer so Mel can open her presents."
 Put your reader into your story with the action inferred by dialogue -- your reader lives it with you.

Another dead verb use:

It seemed every time we moved from activity to activity...
The solution?  Drop "It seemed."

Every time we moved from activity to activity...

Another dead verb example:

I looked at a long narrow table against one wall. It was filled with chocolate chip cookies, strawberries dipped in chocolate, bowls of M&Ms and peanuts, and on the end, above a lace doily, rice crispy bars.
Transform it to:

I glanced at a long narrow table against one wall, topped with chocolate chip cookies, strawberries dipped in chocolate, bowls of M&Ms and peanuts, and on the end, above a lace doily, rice crispy bars.

Although not an easy task at first,  when you focus and practice the elimination of dead verbs, your writing grows more real and interesting. With practice, your word choice improves and your ability to write with action more easily develops.

One last example. Of the beach picture at the top of the page, how would you write a description?

On the shore was a sand castle.  [dead verb]

or

A sand castle and a blue pail called to me.    [personification]

or

A sand castle waited for further excavation.

or

A child's sand castle waited for the next wave.

Consider the verbs in your writing today. Revise for action! Your readers will love you for it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Something for You: Birthday


Today: free write and revise to elaborate with details and dialogue.

Prompt: Describe one incident at one of your birthday parties. Adapting prompt OK :)





Free write: Not My Party


I was eight or nine years old, and gladly accepted the invitation to a neighbor's birthday party. She lived in one of those mansion-like old hopes two blocks up from my home, a small cottage really, tucked in between two other houses. It was probably the first house on a farm, whose owners built a better house next door.

So entering the foyer with my present for --- hmm, can't remember her name. Of course there were games and cake and ice cream. And rice crispy bars. How I loved that sweet crunch, sticky bite by bite. The mother encouraged me, "Go ahead. Eat as many as you like. It's a party."

And I did. It seemed every time we moved from activity to activity -- singing, playing a game, lunch -- I would grab another rice crispy bar. There were oodles of them. Every kid loved them.

Finally it was time for opening presents. We each received our own little bag of goodies to open: super balls, puzzles, whistle, and salt water taffy. As I sat in the circle to watch __ unwrap her presents, I opened the taffy and plopped it in my mouth. But that was it. I turned green I'm sure, and stood up and ran to the bathroom. That was the end of the birthday party. And I have never eaten another rice crispy bar.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
First Think:

Re-reading the ideas, I see I need to remember my friend's name and add some details about the party. I didn't finish the thought in the second paragraph. I need more dialogue and also describe why I thought I turned green. So here's the first revision:


"Mom!" I called as I dropped my books on the end table after a day of school. "Mom!"

"Yes? I'm in the kitchen." Mom replied.

I ran into the kitchen waving a bright pink invitation. "I've been invited to Melanie's birthday party tomorrow. She really likes those new colored headbands. Can we get her a couple of those?"

Mom nodded yes as she read the invitation. "We can get those at Woolworths after dinner."

The next day I walked up the two blocks to Melanie's house carrying the headbands I'd wrapped in her favorite color, bright pink. Her house stood out from the others: it was a deep blue and three stories high with a castle-like tower on the side, just off the wrap around front porch.

My house was tiny, an old farm house over a hundred years old tucked in between larger homes on either side, set apart on each side by rows of lilac bushes.

I carefully stepped up each of the four front porch steps, and knocked on the door.

I could hear giggling inside as Melanie opened one side of the double oak door.

In the foyer, the marble floor sparkled and a table held the presents. I handed mine to Melanie. "You'll love it!" I told her.

She took at and smiled, "Thanks."

She led me to a room she called the parlor. It held two large blue sofas and several comfy chairs, all with end tables. All the girls sat in a circle playing "telephone." Melanie and I joined in the circle. Sandy said, "I heard 'Has the big dog eaten a key?"

Every at the beginning of the circle started laughing. Karen, who had started the game said, "No! I said 'Happy Birthday Melanie!'" Every girl giggled.

Melanie's mom explained the next game, and said, "Get a snack any time you want."

I looked at a long narrow table against one wall. It was filled with chocolate chip cookies, strawberries dipped in chocolate, bowls of M&Ms and peanuts, and on the end, above a lace doily, rice crispy bars. Two plates full of them. Golden and shiny. How I loved that sweet crunch of each sticky bite.

Melanie's mom encouraged us, "Go ahead. Eat as many as you like. It's a party."

And we did. And I did. It seemed every time we moved from activity to activity -- singing, playing a game, lunch -- I would grab another rice crispy bar. There were oodles of them. Every kid loved them.

Finally it was time for opening presents. We gathered in a circle in the foyer, which was a room larger than my bedroom. I grabbed probably my fifth rice crispy bar on the way in. Under a mirror, on a table by the stairs, were our own little bag of goodies to open. I plopped down next to Karen and Melanie's mom handed us our treat. I thanked her as I took my treat while popping the last bite of my rice crispy bar.

We both giggled as we settled into the circle. I opened the pink bag and and peaked in: super balls, puzzles, whistle, and salt water taffy. I pulled out and unwrapped a piece of pink taffy, plopping it into my mouth. I sunk my teeth into that super sweet and chewy candy.  It's sweetness melted in my mouth but the flavor was like pure sugar. I felt my stomach turn. I felt warmer and shivered. I turned green I'm sure. I slumped over and held my stomach. I stood up slowly, and continued to hold in the butterflies in my tummy.

Karen said, "Are you OK?"

Melanie's mom noticed and said, "Sheri, the bathroom is just up the stairs. I ran into the bathroom, and that was the end of the birthday party.

When I came down the stairs, my mom was waiting in the foyer with the giggling circle of girls.

"Thanks for calling me, Myrna," she said to Melanie's mom. She held out her hand to take mine and walked me home.

And I have never eaten another rice crispy bar. Ever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How did I do in my revision?

Did I add dialogue?

Did I invite you to walk to the party with me and see and do the things I did?

Did I show the details of the food?

Did I add how and why I 'turned green'?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Writing Strategies:

Dialogue:  talking to mom, talking to Melanie, playing the game

Description:  of her fancy house - "it was a deep blue and three stories high with a castle-like tower on the side, just off the wrap around front porch."

Description: of the food - sights and taste - chocolate chip cookies, strawberries dipped in chocolate, bowls of M&Ms and peanuts, and on the end, above a lace doily, rice crispy bars. Two plates full of them. Golden and shiny. How I loved that sweet crunch of each sticky bite.

Details:  getting sick - ". I sunk my teeth into that super sweet and chewy candy.  It's sweetness melted in my mouth but the flavor was like pure sugar. I felt my stomach turn. I felt warmer and shivered. I turned green I'm sure. I slumped over and held my stomach. I stood up slowly, and continued to hold in the butterflies in my tummy."

Strong verbs: dropped, plopped, invited, wrapped, grabbed, gathered, giggled, opened, unwrapped, melted, slumped

~~~~~~~~~~~

Tag!  You're it!

Prompt: Describe one incident at one of your birthday parties. Adapting prompt OK :)

Today: free write and revise to elaborate with details and dialogue.

Link to your slice of life in the comments below.





Image Source:


License Creative Commons 2.0
 Some rights reserved 
by Anders Ruff Custom


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Slice of Life Writing





What is a slice of life story?  
A slice of life story is a realistic SHORT story, a slice of your life retold as fiction. It’s just a “snippet” that tells a moment in your everyday life.  That moment is like a snapshot. When you look at it, you remember and write what happened just before, then you describe your snapshot experience with as much realism and details as possible— as if it’s happening right now. 

Write so your reader can feel what you feel, see what you see, do what you do, and think what you do. It is not a list of things you did in one day— it is one moment of time that you capture step by step. It does not contain personal information, just a story. Remember to change the names to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Click here for an annotated example of a slice of life story. Notice all the specific details and descriptions and dialogue -- lots of sights and sounds-- taking you moment by moment through the story. Each word, chosen so carefully, engages the imagination of the reader. This is "word choice."

Remember, your moment is one others can learn from — or laugh or cry because the reader has experienced something similar. Our lives in their everyday moments are special, because it is the journey that is important; let’s share that slice of our days. 

Read another example here.  

Why write a slice of life?
  • You will have readers hearing your voice because you have written using sensory details [sights, sounds, smells, tastes, emotions] and action.
  • You will discover new topics, turn the ordinary into extraordinary, and become better with each slice.
  • You can try out new techniques taught in lessons, and share some of your own.
  • You will begin to notice that stories are everywhere.
  • You will also be a member of a writing community.
  • You will learn how to give positive and constructive feedback.
Enjoy discovering your own and others’ new stories.  I look forward to reading them soon.

Get Started

Open your Google Docs. Name it Slice of Life and your first name.  You can draft all your "slices" on this document each week. Make a list of memories, animal stories, little brother or sister stories, fun times, silly times, etc.  Choose one that's school appropriate. 

  1. Quickly write about that slice for a few minutes, just to get the idea down.
  2. Now, jump down a few spaces, and start over -- this time, write it like it's happening now.  Describe the setting and the feelings just before it happened.  Then describe the event with details, sights, sounds, and dialogue. Let us live it too. Put your voice into it.
  3. End with how you felt, and a question for us.
  4. Edit your spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar.
  5. While editing, think of a good title.
  6. Below your post, share the excellent writing you did. For example:
  • I described the setting:  "The wind blew through the cracks in the window sill of the older home, and the furnace creaked, both keeping me awake the whole night."
  • I included descriptions:
  • Sights: "We built a snowman, rolling and pressing the crisp snow into huge balls. We placed rocks for eyes, nose, and mouth, and stood back to look at our creation, pushing our scarves up over our noses"
  • Sounds: "the furnace creaked"
  • I included details [5WH]: "I ran back to the front door, but it was still locked. A tear welled up in my eye, but I brushed it away. I rocked back and forth from foot to foot to keep the cold from holding onto them. I walked in circles around the house for what seemed like hours."
  • I included dialogue:
"Tag -- you're it!"I caught her right away -- I was a fast kid.Sandy pouted, "Not fair!"
     7. Copy and paste your Slice of Life and writing skills into a new blog post. Give it your title.  Write Slice of Life as a label so you can find all your posts for Tuesdays. Download the orange "Slice of Life" image at the top of this post and upload it to your blog. You can add another Creative Commons or Public Domain image to your blog too. 

Note about Images:
Go here for more information on images: How to find Creative Commons images
Remember to cite the source of your image.
Remember to only use Creative Commons or Public Domain images.
Respect the copyright of others-- -- you wouldn't want someone else to steal your images.

8.  Publish. Here's  Example of a Slice of Life with Writing Strategies blogpost.

9. Copy the URL and reply with a comment below -- on this post -- about your post -- include your link so others can go read it.  Then go read and comment on two of your peers' Slice of Life.  If you want a professional and linked URL, click here to learn how to do this.  Go here to see two comments  one just pasting the URL, and the other using this code.


Next Steps

We will continue to write SLICE posts and reflect on our growth as writers as well as connect with other SLICErs. 

On another day, I will post a reflection piece for you to choose your best SLICE and explain why you think so with explanations of the research and writing strategies you used for your SLICE to make it good.

Look for other classrooms writing for Slice of Life too.  

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