Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Win a Skype Author Visit with this Back-to-School Writing Activity

Whether your school year started weeks ago or only yesterday (as in the Chicago Public School system), we thought this would be a good time to kick off a series of posts featuring back-to-school getting-to-know-you writing activities especially for teachers, librarians, and homeschooling parents. And, as an added incentive to try our Writing Workouts with your students, we're offering a special giveaway contest exclusively for teachers, librarians, and homeschooling groups.  (If you're not qualified to enter yourself, please tell all the teachers, librarians, and homeschoolers you know about this great opportunity!)

The prize? Your choice of:
A) a 30-minute Skype author visit from one of the TeachingAuthors  OR
B) a prize package containing six autographed TeachingAuthor books.

Not sure you want to host a Skype author visit for your book club or classroom? Then read teacher and author Kate Messner's blog post,  Virtual Author Visits: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, & the Awesome or check out Skype an Author Network.
What do you have to do to win? Below, you'll find a Writing Workout on using six-word memoirs as a getting-to-know-you activity. To enter our contest, you need to try the Workout with your students some time in the next few weeks. Then come back and post a comment to this blog entry by 11 pm (CST) Monday, Oct. 4, 2010.  We've extended the deadline 24 hours! You now have until 11 pm (CST) Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010. Be sure to also read through to the end of this post for complete entry rules and instructions on how to qualify for a second, bonus entry. (If you've never posted a comment to a blog before and need some help, you can email me via my website.) 

About the activity: I first wrote about using six-word memoirs in the classroom a year ago. It's an activity students enjoy that can be adapted for all ages. I tried it over the summer with my writing camp students, and they had so much fun, they didn't want to stop--they wrote one memoir after another!  I hope you'll give the following lesson a try and then enter our contest. And if you're not a teacher or librarian, why not write some six-word memoirs for yourself? You can visit the Six-Word Memoirs website for inspiration. The site even provides a box where you can type in your memoir and the computer automatically counts your words!

Writing Workout
Getting to Know Me Back-to-School Activity:
Writing Six-Word Memoirs 

Objective: To engage students in thinking about their lives and to show them how to write concisely. Secondary objective: as a beginning-of-the-school-year activity, sharing these memoirs can serve as a way for students to get to know one another, and for the teacher to get to know the students. This is also a fun activity for a librarian to do with a student book club.

Lesson: Begin by talking about the word "memoir," and how it has the same root as the word "memory." Then share examples of six-word memoirs. Note: I'd planned to post examples written by my summer camp students, but now I can't find them. Argghh! So here's my six-word memoir for today:

Although organized, I still lose things.

Anyway, here's a link to some six-word memoirs written by eight- and nine-year-olds, and another to a blog post listing some by fourth-graders. One third-grade class even created their own six-word storybook. You can see it here. And if you're working with older students, be sure to read this post about a teacher who had her ninth-graders not only write six-word memoirs but also publish them with visual pieces on their own blog. 

Lesson Instructions: Have students make lists of facts about themselves. For example: Where do they live? How many siblings do they have? What are their favorite things to do, favorite foods, etc.? Depending on the students' ages, you may want to let them work on this with a partner.

Then have the students choose six words to summarize some aspect of who they are or what they like. Encourage them to use mainly nouns and verbs.

When the students have finished their memoirs, they can read them aloud to the class. Or if they have worked with partners, one partner may introduce the other to the class via the six-word memoir. You may also have the students post the memoirs on a bulletin board or create a class book like the third-grade project mentioned above.

Now, for the contest details:
The winner will receive his or her choice of:
A) a 30-minute SKYPE author visit from one of three TeachingAuthors:
April Halprin Wayland, Esther Hershenhorn, OR JoAnn Early Macken
B) a prize package containing the following TeachingAuthor books:
  • Girl Coming in for a Landing by April Halprin Wayland
  • S is for Story: A Writer's Alphabet by Esther Hershenhorn
  • Mind Games by Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford
  • Waiting out the Storm by JoAnn Early Macken
  • A Tree for Emmy by Mary Ann Rodman
  • I Fooled You: Ten Stories of Tricks, Jokes, and Switcheroos, edited by Johanna Hurwitz and featuring a story by Carmela Martino (with a printout of the corresponding Teacher's Guide)
 Contest Entry Requirements:
  1. After you've completed the Writing Workout with your students, you must post a comment below telling us how the lesson went. (Clarification added 9/12/10: Your comment needn't be long, just a few words saying whether the activity was a success or not.) If it was a success, we encourage you to include one or more of your students' six-word memoirs in your comment.
  2. You can receive a bonus entry by helping to spread the word about this giveaway via a blog post, Tweet, or Facebook link. As proof, you must post a second comment containing a link to your blog post, Twitter address, or Facebook wall. [You can post this comment before you actually try the Writing Workout, but the entry won't be valid unless you also tell us about your experience with the exercise.]
  3. You must include contact information in your comment. If you are not a blogger, or your email address is not accessible from your online profile, you must provide a valid email address in your comment. Entries without contact information will be disqualified. Note: the TeachingAuthors  cannot prevent spammers from accessing email addresses posted within comments, so feel free to disguise your address by spelling out portions, such as the [at] and [dot]. (We will NOT add your email address to any mailing lists.)
  4.  You must post your comment by 11 pm (CST) Monday, Oct. 4, 2010. We've extended the deadline 24 hours! You now have until 11 pm (CST) Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010! The winner will be chosen at random from valid entries and announced on Wednesday, Oct. 6.
  5. You must have a mailing address in the United States.
  6. If you win, you automatically grant us permission to identify you as a winner on our TeachingAuthors website. 
I think that's it, but if I've left something out, feel free to post your questions in the comments.
Good luck, and happy writing!


Laura said...

Hi Carmela,

I posted your contest on the sidebar of my site. Hope this helps.

Laura Evans
all things poetry

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Laura. We appreciate it!

Lee Wind said...

what a great idea and contest! Love the whole "writing workout" activity. Go, Teaching Authors, Go!

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Lee. You're a great cheerleader. :-)

cbrothman said...

What a great way to start the year off. I teach 2nd graders and during Writers Workshop we are working on small moments in ones life. We had a slow start, very slow but once they got out of their comfort zone it was a beautiful moment. I even had some teachers join in the fun. Thanks for the challenge and we would love to have you visit our classroom via skype. What a moment that would be to write about. Exciting. My librarian sent the link out to the entire school even though I am already on your blog it was great.
2nd grade teacher
Six Word Memior by students
WOW, I love being at Wesley
Panic, my dog is now lost
Look at me, I can do it
Brother he is my best friend
I love my mom and dad

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for the report, and for sharing your student memoirs. I can especially feel the emotion in this one:
>>Panic, my dog is now lost<<
I hope the dog is now found!
Congratulations--you are our first official entry. Other teachers at your school are welcome to enter as well.
Good luck!

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford said...

These six-word memoirs are awesome! Thank you so much for sharing.

Melissa Taylor said...

This is fantastic, I'll keep tweeting and post on Facebook, too!


Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks, Melissa, for spreading the word about our terrific Teaching Authors Back-to-School giveaway to the many readers of your award-winning blog,Imagination Soup!
Esther Hershenhorn
"Onward, kiddos! The world awaits!"

Anonymous said...

My kids had fun with this activity.
"Julie is a deadly skillet, omigosh!

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for entering our giveaway, vfisher. The memoir is too funny. How old is the author?

Anonymous said...

This really went well! The kids used lots of adjectives in their memoirs. It really captured their attention and was meaningful to them!!

Here are a few examples:
I have a marvelous flip phone.

Going to Canada was nine hours.

I love eating brown, yummy chocolate.

My knee can bonk my forehead!

Thanks for considering us!! This was a fun activity.

Heather Meszaros, 3rd Grade Teacher

Beth Downey, Reading Specialist

Eichelberger Elementary
12450 S. Essington
Plainfield, IL 60585

Mrs. H said...

My students had so much fun with this- thanks for sharing with us! I hope we win the Skype visit- that would fantastic!

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for sharing your students' memoirs, Heather and Beth. I especially love this one:
>>My knee can bonk my forehead!<<
Mrs. H, glad your students enjoyed the activity.
Good luck to all!

Anonymous said...

This is my first year teaching and I'm on the look out for great ideas. My third graders loved this one! We took 2 days reading other kids' memoirs and writing our own. Then published them to the wall in our hallway with author photos included. Great idea!

Angela Peirce
Title I

Anonymous said...

What a great activity. My third graders had so much fun! They were working hard and could not wait to share! Some of these memoirs are a really powerful way to express themselves. I will definitely do this again next year! We are working on typing them up to make a published book for open house.

Here are a couple of examples:
Don't want them at all now!
Fell off my chair today, embarrassing!
Invisible at home! No one listens.

Nicole Nowak
Hales Corners Elementary

April Halprin Wayland said...

OMG, Nicole--what an amazing memoir from a third grader...
"Invisible at home! No one listens."
Wow. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

My sixth grade class really enjoyed this activity! Last year I did this at the end of the year, but it worked well to do it at the beginning of the year -- it gave me some insight to the students.
They came up with some clever memoirs like: "Babysitting -- someone get an ice pack!"

The contest is a great idea!
Tanya Norris
Castleberry ISD