Tag Archives: student writing

Essays, flowers, stickers

Tuesday is the day I try to devote my visit to Columbia to the older kids, but today I did go by the first grade wing and dropped off flowers in each room. After being told by the school psychologist that most of the students in the school are suffering from PTSD, I did some research. Coloring helps. So do flowers. I hand out stacks of coloring pages each week at lunch time. So today I decided to put live flowers in each first grade classroom.

My next stop was the 6th grade classroom where I am helping the students write essays about friends. I had collected, read, and commented on their first draft. It was time to hand them back and start the rewrite process. The essays are really good and I can hardly wait to see the finished products.

I rushed from that 6th grade room to get to lunch with 3rd graders. We ate teriyaki beef:

After lunch I handed out about 50 coloring pages, a box of crayons, numerous pencils, and some erasers. Those who ate their veggies got stickers. Lots of them did and made sure I was aware of it.

On my way out, I found three students loitering in a hallway. Took me awhile to sort them out to where they belonged. I walked one little guy to his class only to hear from his teacher that he had been sent to the office for bad behavior. The teacher had two conduct referrals written for a girl and a boy already in the office. I walked the girl to the office, connected with the other miscreant, and turned in the referrals to the vice principal.

After all that, the father of the previous escorted boy had shown up so I took him to the classroom to speak with his son and waited while he did so. As we returned to the office, I thanked the father for taking the time to come to school. I don’t know what he thought of me being there in my chaplain uniform. The police patch on my shirt often startles people.

Then I was ready to head home. Tomorrow I will be back to do my usual work with first graders. I will need to make more copies of the coloring pages. I used up my supply today.


The power of storytelling in our life

I’ve been thinking long and hard on why I blog, why I write stories, and today I was actually interviewed, via Skype, by a student in the Netherlands who is writing a thesis on this idea. Renee Meijer, who like me, writes on Cowbird, is writing about the storytelling aspect of Cowbird and why and how we tell our stories. It was a fascinating conversation, and she certainly stirred my thinking even more so.

She told me about live storytelling events that I had never heard about before. I thought such an event would be interesting to see. Sort of like a poetry reading, but different in that the storyteller must tell a true-life tale. We chatted about what story means and what I enjoy about Cowbird. And that brings me to why I write. The stories on Cowbird give me a glimpse into other people’s lives and how they make order of their world. Same for reading other’s blogs. It’s undoubtedly the voyeur in me. I also like to share my own life through stories knowing that there are readers who are getting to know more about me.

I told Renee about my experience with my students to whom I would tell stories. They would remember the story but not some pertinent fact about marketing or economics. That’s when I realized the power of stories. We definitely affect the lives of others through our stories. That’s why Jesus told stories to get his message across.

So, dear Reader, thank you for reading my stories here. And, if you have a blog,  thank you for sharing a part of your life with me.  Your stories are powerful. Don’t stop telling them.


Continuing intellectual property lessons

The lessons have gone fairly well with the sophomores. On Tuesday we read a case study that told of a young girl who wrote a story and won a contest only to have a classmate accuse her of cheating by copying a story written by a famous writer. Although the young girl hated to admit she had cheated, she did admit that she had copied the plot line as the writer was one of her favorite authors and she had read all of her works. But, her argument was that she used a different time than the original story. My students sided with the girl and said it was alright.

Then on Wednesday we studied ways to file for copyrights for a variety of intellectual properties, including a written story. The students discovered that a writer could file for a copyright and show how they had derived their story from another story and still get a copyright. The lightbulb came on; this is what the girl in the case study should have done, they said.

Today I showed them how to write letters to ask for permission to use a written story or another intellectual property. They wrote letters as if they were the young girl and asked the author for permission to use her plot line in a story for a contest. This was an on-demand writing just as they will be asked to do on the California High School Exit Exam (CaHSEE). Some students had no problem and got the letter done quickly. Others fussed and fumed and were confused because there was nothing they could just look at and copy.

Tomorrow we will consider an article that just came in on the ASCD newsletter, “Microsoft Surveys Teen Attitudes Toward Illegal Downloading.” I will probably have them do another quickwrite to give them more practice in doing this. They seem to need more practice with that part of the upcoming test. I want to see good scores.