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!
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:
We enjoyed watching this video as part of yesterday’s lesson on essay revision. There are some great reminders here! And we loved the message that each of us has experiences that are uniquely ours. We need to share our stories, using language that helps our readers understand what those experiences were like for us.
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!
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.
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!