I have poets in my classroom who far outshine me!
I saw this film last week. Really powerful…
Documentary filmmaker James Redford released the trailer for Paper Tigers, a documentary that follows four teens who attend Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA. Lincoln was the first high school…
by Laura J. Davies
It was 7:30 pm, otherwise known as the witching hour in my household. My 10-year-old son, Mac, was sitting at the computer desk and staring at a blank Word document, his arms crossed defiantly, his eyebrows furrowed.
“I can’t do it!” He stomped his foot and pounded the desk with his fist.
“I don’t get it!” He scowled at his baby sister, who was toddling around the corner with her little grocery cart filled with plastic fruits and veggies.
“This is too hard!” He shuffled the papers in front of him, and in a dramatic show of pre-teen angst, flung the whole stack onto the floor.
Hmmm, I thought. Perhaps it’s time for some parental intervention.
My first instinct was to gather the papers, put them back on the desk, and let Mac know in no uncertain terms that the blame for not starting…
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This week in my Introduction to Language Study course my professor introduced us to the idea of linguistic creativity (also called linguistic productivity). The term refers to the ability of humans to create an infinite number of sentences within the framework of the grammar and words they know. An infinite number. Let that sink in.
Dr. Shields asked us, “What is the only thing that keeps you from uttering an infinite number of sentences?”
The answer? Death.
But as a Christian my heart is thrilled. I will live forever. And I will never run out of new sentences to utter in Heaven!
Humans truly are designed for eternity.
Here’s a great idea for the first day of class: Write a memoir in six words. I had to do this for a college class last week. There’s a legend that says Hemingway gave us the prototype for a six-word essay:
For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
Whether or not the story is true, it’s a fun “get to know each other” exercise. Here’s the one I wrote last week:
Jesus-filled heart. English-filled head.
We all had to explain our memoirs. Mine is my goal for this sabbatical I’m taking.
Apparently it’s quite a movement. Feel free to leave your six-word memoir in the comments. 🙂
One way to get your kids (or yourself) writing is with a photo prompt. Here’s an example using a picture of a childhood memory of mine–chocolate coating crackers as a Christmas treat:
1. Write about a favorite Christmas tradition in your childhood. Use as many of the 5 senses as you can in your description.
2. Describe one of your grandparents. What traits or qualities have you inherited from that grandparent?
“I don’t know what to write…” Surely every junior high English teacher has heard the whine, often just after having delivered a detailed prompt of some sort or other. I have struggled hard in my 12 years of teaching to know how to prime the pump for my students–how to start the words flowing from the well of their souls. One of my goals on my current sabbatical is to collect some interesting “primers.”
- Take a walk outside with the writer’s notebooks. Have the students observe and write using one of their five senses at a time.
- Find two random stranger’s Facebook pages and write a fictitious story in which the two of them meet.
- Use old black and white photos as prompts.
- Give students a sketch of an empty head and these instructions: “Write words and phrases outside the head that tell what other people see when they look at you. Write words and phrases inside the head about things other people don’t know about you.”
- Have students write entries for a contest called The Worst Piece of Writing in the World. Discuss the marks of a bad composition.
- Write about a scar.
- Give every student a shell or a coin from a collection and have them write about it.
More to be added throughout the next year!