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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Today's writing prompt from Teachers Write:

Getting to know our main characters!

Think of this as an interview, of sorts, where you ask your character questions to better get to know him or he. This applies to all ages, whether you’re writing a picture book, middle grade, or YA. Remember to treat this like a free writing exercise and have FUN. Things to ask yourself:
• What do you look like? (Remember to answer how your character would answer)
• Describe your bedroom. Do you have your own room? Share?
• What is your family like?
• Do you have any pets? Describe them.
• What is your favorite thing about yourself? Least favorite?
• What is your biggest pet peeve?
• What are you afraid of?
• What do you want, but can’t have?
• Who is your best friend?
• Who is your worst enemy?
• What do you want people to know about you, but are afraid to share?
I have been told I should write a children's book on my dog Toga, who traveled around Europe with us when we lived there.  We have pictures of him in famous landmarks, and he did things and saw places that some people never get to see.  So, I am thinking of writing a non-fiction book about the places Toga saw, from Toga's point of view.
What do I look like?  I am a Boston Terrier dog, black and white.  I use my enduring black eyes to get what I want.  My bedroom is my whole house.  I sleep in my dog bed that's downstairs, my dog bed that's upstairs, Maggie's bed, Tim and Stacey's bed, and all the couches and the window seat.  As long as I am on a blanket or something soft.  And, I love to sleep under the blankets!  My family is the best.  I love my mom, Stacey the best.  She, I know, loves me the best.  Tim is alright, and I love him too.  The kids, I guess, are alright.  Sometimes they are nice to  me and I like them, but then sometimes they like to tease me on purpose, and I growl at them.  My pets are my "birdies," which are my stuffed animal toys that I like to suck on and bring from room to room with me.  My first stuffed animal that I ever had was a white bird, and Stacey called all my stuffed animals from then on my birdies, since I knew what she was talking about.  My favorite thing about myself is that I am smart.  I love where I live, and where I have been with my family.  I feel safe with them, wherever I go.  I have lots of adventures with my family, so that is my favorite thing.  My least favorite thing about myself is that I am always hungry.  I am allergic to lots of food, and I hate that.  My biggest pet peeve is when Riley bothers me and is rude to me and teases me.  My other pet peeve is barking dogs.  I just don't understand them, especially this dog, Ruby, that always barks at me.  I am afraid to be by myself.  I hate when Stacey and Tim go to work.  I always want to be with them.  I want people food, but Stacey and Tim can't get it to me, because of my food allergies.  My best friend is Stacey, duh!  I love her so much and I go room to room with her when she is home, because I can't stop looking at her, and I don't want her to leave me.  My worst enemy is Ruby, that dog down the street.  I want people to know, but afraid to say...well, I don't have to tell you.  I'm smart, so nice try.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Today's writing prompt from "Teachers Write," a writing community of teachers, is to write about your favorite place, and start your writing with the word Sometimes-  Here it goes:

Sometimes, standing in the European square of Dresden, Germany, one feels so insignificant and small when looking up at the old historical baroque buildings.  Glancing down the narrow, quaint cobblestone streets, I am fascinated with the women in their high heels and marvel that women here look so chic and fashionable.  A tram whizzes by, church bells at the Frauenkirche sound magical and so European, as lunchtime vendors are serving bratwurst while the bakeries entice people into their shops with smells of fresh bread.  I find a place to sit in the square, and look at the church bells as they continue to ring.  A horse-drawn carriage is trotting through the square, while bike taxis are waiting for tourists to notice their business.  It is noon, and the city is beginning to wake up, with business people on lunch breaks and tourists.  It is Spring, and the sun is shining brightly.  I look up at the sky, at the skyline, and again, at the old buildings.  I take a mental picture of it all.  I close my eyes;  maybe to quiz myself and to see if I will remember it all.  With eyes closed, the bells are still chiming,  people are talking, and walking with shoe heels, and horses are stamping by.  I open my eyes, and I find that I did remember everything I see.  It's very important that I remember everything about this city.  I lived here for one year, and in just a couple weeks, my life as an expat will be over, and I'll be moving back to Upstate New York.  This is my favorite place in the whole world.  Sitting here, in  the Frauenkirche Square, watching the energy of the city, my city,  and marveling at the old architecture, that I have never seen in the States.  I am at my happiest, right now, in this moment.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Writing About Toga

My last day with my kindergarten kids was last Friday, but today and tomorrow, teachers need to go to school for staff development.  Our school district is getting a new reading program, which is aligned to Common Core.  This morning, with temperatures in the 90's, no air conditioning, and a somewhat disorganized morning of presenting from our presenter, it was a relief to be in an air-conditioning restaurant for lunch.  After lunch, the task of cleaning and organizing our classrooms seemed impossible, since we were back in our sweaty classrooms.  Nobody wanted to move or work.

I was in good shape.  My two children came to my classroom after school on Friday and helped me to organize and clean.  As I was scanning my classroom for last minute pick-ups and cleaning jobs, I saw the anchor chart I wrote in front of my class about revising with peers, taped to my wall.  I wrote a two sentence story about my dog, Toga.  Then, the kids asked me question after question about my writing, about my dog and they begged for more details.  I revised my writing, added lots of supporting details with their suggestions.

My dog Toga passed away in mid-May, and taking down my anchor chart about him was so difficult to do.  Toga has always been my fun topic to write about in my Writer's Workshop mini-lessons.  My last 13 classes have known him, have laughed at my stories about him, and he has became my classroom mascot.  When he was a  puppy, I used to bring my shoes that he chewed up to school and wrote about how mad I was at him.  I wrote about how he climbed on our dining room table when he was left home alone, and ate a dozen cupcakes, even the cupcake liners!  My students have learned to put spaces between their words, stretching their words out, use using juicer words, and add supporting details to their writing;  all with my modeling, and usually it was a writing piece about Toga.

Taking down my chart paper and realizing that I would no longer be writing about Toga in the present tense was very emotional for me.  It was like grieving him all over today.  I miss my little buddy.