An Open Letter to…

Featured

We’re finishing out the 2017-2018 school year by writing open letters to fictional characters.  Some of us are writing in order to pay tribute, and others of us are writing to (constructively?) criticize.

Regardless of our take on the subject, we all agreed that a strong open letter has several characteristics:

  • a clear controlling idea is presented in the introductory paragraph
  • supporting points are made in the body of the letter, and those points are then elaborated with relevant details AND commentary
  • the controlling idea is echoed in the conclusion, perhaps accompanied by an appeal to action
  • the letter writer’s VOICE is engaging and authentic
  • the letter has an appeal to a wider audience

Many students enhanced their letters with GIFS and other images.  We learned in our digital citizenship lessons that Fair Use laws can protect the use of copyrighted images as long as those images are used in conjunction with critique of a product.

As you enjoy the following open letters, feel free to share your own opinions in the comments!

Esha’s open letter to Severus Snape

Joseph’s open letter to Leo Valdez

Sanaya’s open letter to Indiana Jones

Daniel L’s open letter to C-3PO

Kate’s open letter to Bella Swan

Kayley’s open letter to Wonder Woman

Austin’s open letter to Shrek

 

 

Image credit:  Wikimedia Commons CC0
J’accuse” is an influential open letter written by Émile Zola in 1898 over the Dreyfus Affair.

New School Year, New Bloggers!

Featured

Our 2017-2018 West Ridge Wildcats have been blogging for a few weeks now, and we’re off to a great start!

The topics we choose to write about each week can vary widely, but there’s always a common skill we’re focusing on.  Recently, that skill has been paragraphing.  No one wants to read a long block of text (especially when reading online).

We’ve been noticing the various ways in which paragraphing can be effective:

  • paragraphing helps our readers follow our thinking
  • paragraphing can add emphasis to a moment, helping our readers see, hear, and feel what we want them to see, hear, and feel
  • paragraphing can enhance mood and add voice to a piece of writing

Check out these blog posts on a variety of topics, and notice how we’re organizing our thoughts into paragraphs 🙂

We invite you to leave us some comments.  We’d love to hear from you!

  • Luca reviews the “old’ Blade Runner in preparation for the release of Blade Runner 2049
  • Abbie shares her experiences at summer camp
  • Troy has some thoughts about the game Overwatch
  • Miranda writes about her pet lizards
  • Ian is writing a fiction story featuring a real-life gangster
  • Scott has some thoughts about DNA and individuality
  • Mary explains her disappointment with Texas weather
  • Ethan describes his love of soccer
  • Austin educates us about the history of Nintendo
  • Joelle argues that dance is a sport
  • Morgan introduces us to a dragon named Luna

For more of our work, see all 140 names on the sidebar to the left!

Image created via Canva.com

Voice in Writing

Featured

Pixabay CC0

Pixabay CC0

What is voice in writing?  Read the following posts and think about what these writers are doing to capture your attention and connect with you as a reader.

“Fifty Minutes of Freedom” by TJ
“Advice for Future Seventh Graders” by Kendall
“My Trip to Mexico” by Reece
“The Starter That Nobody Wants (Is Better Than the One You Choose)” by Sloane
“Basketball Season Is Over” by Harper
“The True Meaning of Tired” by Alex
“Technology…” by Alec
“Star Trek vs. Star Wars:  Which Is Better?” by Tae-Kyung

What are some of the ways a writer can show personality through words?

Art and Writing Contest

Featured

Pixabay CC0

Pixabay CC0

Wow.  As we’ve been sharing our writing via our notebooks, group work, and blogs, it’s become apparent that we have many students who are passionate about writing!  There are some young authors among us, and it’s wonderful to see.

Scholastic has a program that showcases the work of young writers and recognizes their talent.  Check out the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards:  a competition designed to honor the creativity of “young artists and writers, filmmakers and photographers, poets and sculptors, video game artists and science fiction writers.”  There are 26 categories in the contest.

Are you interested in participating this year?  The contest specifics that pertain to our part of the country are found here for writing and here for art. Choose a category, read the guidelines, download the forms, and start polishing your work, because the deadline for submission will be here very soon:  December 16, 2015.  Category winners receive scholarship awards and the opportunity to have their work exhibited and published!

One such winner is former West Ridge Middle School student Arthi Kozhumam. Arthi has won Gold Key, Silver Key, and Honorable Mention awards for her poetry.  Congratulations, Arthi!  We’re proud of you!

 

Why Do We Have to Write Today?

Featured

Notebooks for little girls

In English class, we read “Why Do We Have to Write Today?” by Todd Finley.  Students wrote their own responses to the question, some of which you will see in individual blog posts.  As a group, students came up with these reasons:

  • to ask a favor
  • to request more time
  • to sign a card
  • to obey teachers
  • to tell parents you’ve left
  • to observe lab results
  • to be known
  • to connect with friends
  • to be a teenager
  • to role play
  • to tell stories
  • to explain why
  • to figure things out
  • to feel better
  • to be safe

Why do you write?  Leave us a comment and share your thoughts.

 

Image credit: Andrea R via Compfight

Exploring Your Life for Expository Essay Topics

Featured

Need an idea for your next expository writing assignment?

Let’s think about this together.  We know that expository writing can explain:  it can explain why you think something or how something is done.

You can think about aspects of your own life and explain the how or why of topics you know well:

  • Think about family vacations.
    Explain why _______ is a great place to visit.
    Explain why your family will never again vacation at ______.
    Explain how to make the best of a rainy day stuck in _______.
    Explain why air travel is _______.
    Explain how to survive a long flight (or a long airport delay).
    Explain why family road trips are _______.
    Explain how to irritate your siblings on a family road trip.
    Explain why Disney World never gets old, no matter how many times you’ve been before.
    Explain why _______ is the best ride at _______.
  • Think about your school life.
    Explain why _______ is your favorite subject.
    Explain how to make ________ grades in class.
    Explain why school dances are _______.
    Explain how the school day could be better organized.
    Explain why the school’s technology policy is ________.
    Explain why grades are ________.
    Explain your ideas for improving the appearance of your campus.
    Explain why homework is _________.
  • Think about your social and extracurricular life.
    Explain why being the new kid (or a cheerleader, or a “nerd”) is  ________.
    Explain how to crash a friendship in three easy steps.
    Explain why participation in sports is ________.
    Explain what participation in ___________ has taught you.
    Explain how __(insert social media)__ can ________relationships.
    Explain how your parents’ rules for you should change.
    Explain how you are different now than you were in sixth grade.
    Explain why students need more down time during the week.
  • Think about your hobbies and passions.
    Explain why ________ is a favorite activity.

    Explain how to play a better game of ________.

    Explain why you love ________.

    Explain how your love of _________ enriches your life.
    Explain why the haters are wrong about your passion/fandom/celebrity crush.
    Explain what your most important possession is and why.
  • Think about the people in your life (those whom you know or have read about).
    Explain why you admire _________.
    Explain why ___________ is  an example for others to follow.
    Explain how ___________ achieved success or overcame adversity.
    Explain how ___________ has taught you ___________.
    Explain why you are grateful to __________.
  • Think about what you have learned recently.
    If you like history, explain how a key event happened or why it is significant.

    If you like science, explain why an experiment was successful or how a process happens. Explain how discoveries in __________ will change the future.

    If you like health and PE, explain how __________ affects the body or why people should stop/start ______________.
    If you like math, explain how you solve a type of problem.

    If you like English, explain how a certain character ________ or why a certain character ________.  Explain why you ________ reading or why a favorite book has been important to you.
    If you like your independent studies, explain how ________ is done or why _________ is something you want to learn more about.
  • Think about the wider world around you and life’s bigger questions.
    Explain why it is important to help others.
    Explain how one person can make a difference in the world.
    Explain why it is important to speak up for what is right.
    Explain how technology is making life more _______.
Once you’ve found your topic, remember to organize your thoughts into paragraphs:

***an introduction to establish your controlling idea (don’t give your reasons or make your points yet)

***body paragraph(s) to develop that idea with your reasons, supporting them with specific support/elaboration/commentary

***a conclusion to echo the controlling idea and leave your reader with something more to think about.     

First Lines

Featured

First lines, first sentences, first pages–the beginnings of books are important. An intriguing cover may entice us to open a book, but it is the engaging text that makes us want to keep reading.

Below are some first lines of famous books, along with their cover art.  For more examples and links back to sources, click here

In the comments, add your own example of a great first line!  Include the title and author’s name.

fl7fl12fl6

fl5fl3fl10fl1fl4

fl11fl8fl9

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week One

Featured


As we approach the end of the first week of school, my students and I have much to be proud of.

We’ve done good work together: writing our thoughts, writing our hearts, writing our selves. We’ve shared our ideas with each other, even though it might have felt a little intimidating at first. We’ve taken those first important steps toward building a community, practicing the work of respectful talking and listening. We’re realizing just how powerful a tool the writer’s notebook can be.

Next week, we introduce more powerful tools into our community of readers and writers. With the iPad will come the collaboration features of Google Drive and the discussion opportunities of Edmodo. The week after that will bring the introduction of blogging, and then wow! Watch us go!

What a great beginning.

Wildcats write, indeed!

 

Photo by Mrs. Kriese