Monday, November 18, 2013

Writer's Workshop

Students in Linda's Writer's Workshop have been analyzing writing by several excellent authors and applying what they learn to their own stories.  

In week one, we read the first two pages of Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare, by Patricia Polacco.  In this compelling opening, the main character uses metaphors to help describe her brother,
" He was the black hole in my universe.  The embarrassment of my life.  The frog in my punch bowl. The spider in my cereal. The wart on my cookie. The slug in my jello. The snake in my soup...."

Students discussed how this was a much more effective way to hook in the reader than just to say, "My brother was awful."  

In week two we looked at a few pages from chapter 11 of Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo.  In this chapter, the author describes a dog's fear of thunderstorms.  We discovered that the author doesn't just tell the reader that the dog is scared.  She shows us how he reacts and uses interesting words like "pathological fear" and "sproi-i-ing" as well as dialogue like " Winn Dixie came shooting back out of my room went running right past me and I screamed, 'Daddy, watch out!'"

Students have all finished a writing plan and started on their own story.  We have three more weeks to work on writing, editing and revising our writing.  Our goal is to have a final draft before Christmas.  Some students may need to work on their writing at home in order to meet that goal. 

This week we are going to spend some time looking at the way author Tomie dePaola uses dialogue in his book, Big Anthony.  We should discover that writing dialogue into your story adds the illusion of reality.   It also makes reading easier by breaking up large blocks of writing and adding white space to the page.  Writing dialogue is also a great way for a writer to reveal details about characters, share secrets and develop relationships between characters among other things.   (from Eight Good Reasons To Use Dialogue by Jenna Kernan)

Remember to ask your child about their writing.  Encourage them to get their ideas down on paper without worrying too much about mechanics to start with.  That keeps the student's creativity flowing.  They can go back and edit to fix spelling, capitalization and punctuation.  Happy Writing!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Little Elves Have Been Busy :-)

Shoeboxes packed for Operation Christmas Child
Christmas cards to send to soldiers

Little Dresses for Africa

Cinnamon & applesauce ornaments to give away in December

Monday, November 4, 2013

Operation Outreach

At 10:00 on Thursday November 7, Tina and I will begin a new Enrichment Class called Operation Outreach.  Our goal is to get the kids excited about serving others and put into action ideas that they come up with themselves. 

We will spend the first week making some ornaments to share in our community.  We will also be making Christmas cards to send to men and women who are serving our country in the military overseas.  

During week two, students will be packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  OCC sends shoebox gifts to children all over the world for Christmas.  Since 1993, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have received gifts through this program.  This is something we have been doing since 2008.  Our home school assistance program has provided somewhere around 40 shoebox gifts over the past years.  That translates to 40 children who may have received their first Christmas gift because of the love of Atlantic homeschoolers.  

Week three we are going to put the students to work brainstorming ideas to reach out to our community.  People take more ownership in something that they plan and are invested in.  We want the kids to take some ownership and do something for our community.  We have no idea where this will lead, but we are excited to see what the kids come up with.  We will spend the first two Thursdays in December (weeks 4 & 5 of the class) carrying out whatever plan the students come up with.

There are so many good reasons for being involved in this type of project.  This morning I was reading some research done at the University of Michigan, and the benefits range from psychological to social to cognitive.  Most of all though, I think this type of projects molds our hearts.  We all come to this world with a great big ME problem.  We are by nature self-centered, greedy and prideful.  Doing this type of project gets my eyes off of me and onto something bigger.  It helps me to see that I live in community with others.  When I am helping others, I am also helping myself.

With this in mind, and the upcoming holiday season, I have started a couple of new boards on Pinterest. One has service ideas and the other has holiday ideas.  Feel free to use these resources in your family to bring more meaning to this time of year.

And finally, let me just invite you to bring your kids to Operation Outreach.  We start this Thursday at 10:00.  All I ask is that you let Tina or I know you are coming so that we have enough supplies for everyone!