Veterans Day Writing Contest

What do you think of when you hear the words flag, soldier, America, war, freedom? Think about your response to our Quick Write prompts in Friday’s Writer’s Notebook entry as you consider entering the contest outlined below.

Our WRMS Student Council is sponsoring a writing contest for Veterans Day. Students are invited to submit an original poem or essay of about a page in length on the topic of what Veterans Day means to you. If your poem or essay is selected, you will be asked to read it during the assembly on November 11.

Submissions are due by the end of the school day on Wednesday, November 6th. Turn in entries to Ms. Friedman in Room 117. No late entries will be accepted unless you have an excused absence on Wednesday. Winners will be notified on Friday and will need to practice and prepare for their reading on Monday during the assembly.


Photo Credit: ladybugbkt via Compfight cc



A Call to Adventure


Today in class, we watched scenes from Star Wars, The Fellowship of the Ring, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In those clips, Luke, Frodo, and Harry each receives a call to adventure: a summons to leave  the world he has known and to embark on a journey.  We talked about Jonas from The Giver and his call to adventure.

Students watched and then came up with a longer list of people who have received such a call, highlighted here:

  • The Avengers are called to adventure by Nick Fury
  • Ender Wiggin is called to adventure when he is accepted to Battle School
  • Katniss is called to adventure when her sister’s name is drawn in the reaping
  • Amy Pond is called to adventure when she discovers the crack in her bedroom wall
  • One Direction is  called to adventure by Simon Cowell
  • Superman is called to adventure by his father
  • Peter Parker is called to his life as Spider Man when his uncle is killed
  • Eragon is called to adventure when he finds a dragon egg
  • Percy Jackson is called to adventure when he discovers he is a demigod
  • Tris is called to save the factions from the Uprising
  • Tony Stark is called to adventure when his father dies, leaving him a legacy to fulfill
  • Stuart Little is called to adventure when the husband drops the wife’s wedding ring down the drain
  • Brian Robison is called to survive in the forest after the plane crash

Here in Dan Priest’s video are more scenes from more stories that develop around a character called to adventure. Can you think of your own list of examples from fiction? How about from reality? People called to their life’s accomplishment by circumstance or inner voice?  In what way have YOU been called to adventure?

Free Topic Posts


By now people were pouring out of the gates while the rain picked up into a downpour, turning dirt into mud, puddles into ponds and everyone else into an irritated, soggy mob.

                               —Grant A, in his post about having to leave ACL

For the past couple of weeks, students have been writing about topics of their choosing, and the results have been wonderful to read.  Some students incorporate imagery into short pieces of fiction or personal narrative.  Others write expository pieces (though we haven’t introduced that term yet) about topics that interest them. 

One aspect of writing we’ll be focusing on more and more is the importance of paragraphing:  how it helps the reader follow and understand a piece of writing, and how choices in paragraphing can enhance the mood the writer wants to achieve.

Here is a sampling of this week’s student work:

Amulya and her love of a favorite pair of shoes

Hansika and the anxiety of waiting

Rachel and the experience of adopting her puppy (check out the link to the Humane Society)

Dylan and his scary Halloween night

Emma Bernice and the thrill of a rainstorm

Joseph and the challenge of the P. Scary

Shampurna and the nerves before a piano recital

Ariana and the quiet joy of a moonlit walk on the beach

Hannah and her confrontation with a zombie

Neha and her love of jellybeans (don’t miss the hyperlink to a Pinterest page of incredibly designed desserts!)



Read Any Good Leads Lately?



When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.  My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress.  She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother.  Of course, she did. This was the day of the reaping.

                                                            –Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games


The writer of an article, essay, story or book begins with a lead to draw the reader in–to make the reader want to read more.  Suzanne Collins opened her book with a lead that gave us information about the setting:  it was the day of the reaping, apparently a day that poor families had cause to dread.

In the comment section of this post, share an interesting lead to an article, essay, story or book you’ve read recently.  Be sure to include the author’s name and the title of the work.  See the first few comments for examples.  Try not to repeat a lead that has already been given.

Before posting, make sure you are logged in and that your profile is set to display your name with your three digit number.  I need to be able to tell who is in what class period so I can give you credit for your posts and comments this nine weeks!  Your name display setting is found under DASHBOARD–USERS–PROFILE–DISPLAY NAME PUBLICLY AS…


Image Credit:  The Hunger Games, Scholastic Press, 2008

Howdy from Texas!


Check out the introduction message and slide show that students in Mrs. Schoch’s and Mrs. Kriese’s Pre-AP classes made for their iEARN project partners in Russia, Romania, Belarus, Pakistan, Indonesia, Colorado, and Tennessee. The kids did a fantastic job!

Playing with Imagery


Students in second and third period classes prepared for writing their first drafts of a personal narrative by zooming in on a scene, capturing details for the reader.  Imagery creates the experience through sight, sound, and sensation, evoking a mood so that the reader feels what the writer felt.

Here are some examples of student bloggers playing with language to create powerful images:


The 100 Word Challenge

A few days ago, I was visiting another seventh grade class via Twitter.  Mrs. Middleton, an English teacher in Canada, had tweeted that several of her students had received recognition for their creative writing in the 100 word challenge at I checked it out, and I think we should participate!

Think of it as regular exercise for your descriptive writing muscles.  The challenge is all about imagery:  using vivid details that appeal to the senses of sight, sound, sensation, smell, and taste to create an experience for the reader.

The prompt for this week is “slowly the sky got darker.”  That’s it.  Just a handful of words to spark your imagination, and then you do the rest!  You can read the prompt post and see student submissions hereWill you be adding yours to the list?

The first step is to publish your post to your blog.  Then you can also add your post to the list of 100 Word Challenge submissions.  If you do, your blog will likely get visitors from around the globe, your writing will receive feedback from readers, and perhaps your entry will be chosen as one of the student spotlight posts for the week.  When entering your submission, be sure to link your POST URL, not your blog url.  You are not submitting your whole blog for review.

As you write, watch the word count at the bottom of your post box.  The word count for this post is about 250.  What can you do with 100 words?

Weekly Posts


New posts are up for the week, and I’ve enjoyed reading what students have to say!  A variety of topics are covered in a variety of formats and styles.  Here are just some of the highlights:

  • Grayson expresses the best part of fall season.
  • Human rights is the topic of Sofi’s most recent post.
  • Have an opinion about gaming platforms?  Advice to share about computers?  Brian’s blog is the blog for you!  There’s also a great ongoing fiction story for your reading pleasure.
  • Francesca writes about an interesting incident in Europe.
  • What are you afraid of?  Olympia shares her fear and asks us about ours.
  • Soham has turned a Writer’s Notebook entry into a poem.
  • A swim meet is described by Jane.
  • Ethan, Izadora, and Andrea all shared their thoughts about The Giver.

Great job, bloggers. Visitors, we all welcome your comments!  Student blogs are listed in the blogroll in the sidebar on the right.

Lois Lowry Interviews about The Giver

“This young boy has set out to try to change the world he lives in.” Lois Lowry talks about her admiration for fictional characters like Jonas and her pride in her novel winning the Newberry award for distinguished achievement in literature.

“At the same time,” she says, “there were those who were frightened by my book.” She wonders aloud about people who, every year, want to have it removed from school reading lists.

Here is another interview with Mrs. Lowry in which she explores more questions about The Giver:

Why do you think The Giver has been so controversial in some schools?

Do you feel our study of the novel was worthwhile? Did you enjoy the book? Elaborate your response.

Introducing a New Class Project


We are excited to welcome our Pre-AP students to iEarn (the International Education and Resource Network ) in a collaborative writing project with eight other teachers and their students from around the country and the world!

Over the next fifteen weeks, we will be learning more about each other and ourselves as we plan a writing project together and exchange our composition work with each other. Eventually, all ten of our classes will produce a literary magazine highlighting the best of our writing. The theme and format of that final product has yet to be determined by the students, but that’s part of the fun: deciding together what it is that we will accomplish.

First things first, though. We’ve got to open the lines of communication and get to know more about each other. We teachers have made our first posts to the teachers’ forum, and over the next couple of weeks, students will be creating, taking, and then sharing a survey of who they are as a group of young WRMS Wildcats, Austinites, and Texans. We’ll gather items for “welcome packets” (eight of them!) that we can send to our fellow iEarn classes. As we await welcome packets in exchange, we’ll be proactive in learning more about the home states and countries of the schools we are collaborating with.

We’ll officially get started on the project next week, but in the meantime, meet our iEarn partners:

Ms. Hockert from Hixson, Tennessee, United States
Ms. Gorelova from Sarov, Nizhny, Russia
Ms. Graham from Dolores, Colorado, United States
Ms. Popa from Botosani, Romania
Ms. Shabbir from Karachi, Pakistan
Ms. Suaib from Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia
Ms. Zubair from Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan
Ms. Mitrofanova from Belarus

Students, do some exploring of these places on your own between now and Monday. Perhaps you can use Google Earth to take a quick journey across the country or across the oceans to see where our soon-to-be new friends live!

~Mrs. Kriese
~Mrs. Schoch