Friday, May 16, 2008

Short Story Rubric

You will create your own rubric today that I will use when grading your short stories.

A rubric is a tool used by teachers to evaluate student work. Usually the teacher will pick out what is important for student work to include and place it on the rubric. For your final short story, however, you will develop your own grading rubric that I will then use to evaluate your work. You will get to decide what I should focus on.

1. Revisit your blog entry where you listed 7-10 characteristics of a well-told story.
2. Review the Characteristics of Well-told Story sheet I passed out to you.
3. Develop your rubric.
4. Although you can decide what I will focus on, you need to follow some guidelines.
A. You must include at least FOUR different categories of areas I will look at. Pick out categories that you think are the most important things a short story needs. You may want me to focus on your word choice, your characterization, your theme, etc. EXPLAIN EACH CATEGORY IN ONE SENTENCE. How do you define excellence in that category? What are great word choices versus mediocre choices?
B. Your rubric must total 50 points, and you must allocate those points to each area. You may decide that 20 points will be awarded in the word choice category and 10 in the conventions category. It is up to you.

I reserve the right to ask you to change your rubric if it is not fitting to the assignment. I will also add points for conventions and a title so you need not include these in your rubric.

When you are finished, visit two other blogs and give your opinions on their rubrics.

I have included a sample rubric on Edline for you to see as an example. your rubric, however does not need to be as detailed as mine (but it could be!).

If you want me to use my rubric when grading your story you have that option. Instead of creating your own rubric write freely on your blog for the entire class. You can write about whatever is on your mind today. If you'd like to write a short story or a poem, that is fine, too. You must be writing the entire time.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

In Character

National Public Radio is producing a series titled "In Character" in which some of the most famous fictional characters are discussed and analyzed. These are characters that people have selected to be of particular importance to the fabric of American literature, film, television, and drama.

1. Go to the following NPR link:

2. Once there, select two characters about whom you will read. Read the articles and

3. for each character write a brief paragraph explaining what impact this fictional character has had on our culture. Why is this character so fascinating? Important? Misunderstood? Understood?

4. Once you have done that, think about characters you have met in books, seen in movies or plays, or watched on TV. Pick one that is of particular interest to you. Write an entry in which you explain why this character is important to our culture in your opinion. What qualities does this character possess that makes him/her/it so intriguing? Why is this character important to our society (not just a small group of fans)?

5. When you are finished visit the blogs of your group members, read, and comment on their choices.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Characteristics of a well-told story

We all have heard and read stories. It is one of the first things many parents do with their kids.

Part 1: Why in childhood?
Why are stories so important to childhood? Why do people read stories to kids? What do the kids get out of this experience? What kinds of things do kids learn from the actual stories and from the experience?

Part 2: Why later in life?
Why do older people (high school and beyond) read stories? What do these readers get out of this experience? What kinds of things do older reader learn from the actual stories?

Part 3: Why in our nation?
Why are stories so important to our nation? The New York Times Best Seller lists are one of the most powerful media tools in the world. People flock to buy the books listed there. How do stories fit into the fabric of our national identity? How do stories people write create a forum for the discussion of concerns and issues in our nation? What do stories allow people (the writer and the reader) to do?

Part 4: Your stories
What were some stories you remember from your childhood? Why do you think these ones stand out? Think of actual books as well as stories you were told orally by people. Whom do you connect to these stories?

Part 5: Characteristics of a well-told story
Develop a list of 7-10 characteristics that stories should have. Be specific. Do not just say that "stories should have good characters." What makes a character good? Think about what the author should do and how the reader should feel when reading.

Part 6: Visit the blogs of your group members and leave a comment on two people's sites.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How Unpoetic

Well, sort of unpoetic. In poetry the topics can range from birth to death and from love to hate.
Today your job is to pick a topic of your choice and write about it for 4o minutes.
Do you love sports? Then write about sports.
Do you want to write about a more abstract topic? Write about hate or love, courage or cowardess.
Perhaps you can think of nothing but your life after high school. What will it be like? How will you do things differently when you are in charge of your life fully?
Are you into politics? Write.
Be sure to use the the full 40 minutes. When you are finished, visit two of your group member's sites and leave two comments about their topic of choice.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Poetry Critique

Today in class you will select one poem that you find compelling and/or beautiful.

At the bottom of this post you will find links to a few sites where you will be able to find a collection of poems to browse through.

Once you have found a poem, copy it and paste it to your blog. Please cite the website where you have copied it from. Include the author, too.

Once pasted, do the following:

1. Read it at least three more times. At least one of these readings should be done aloud. When reading aloud you will hear how deliberately the words are put together that you may miss when reading silently. It's okay if you feel goofy doing this....DO IT!!
2. Explain briefly why you selected this poem. What about it do you find interesting?
3. Comment on its title. How does the title fit the work? This may be very obvious for some pieces. For others, however, you will have to work to make connections.
4. Comment on the author's use of poetic devices. Identify two devices such as metaphor, alliteration, personification, imagery, and consonance, and point out where the author uses them. Then comment on how they influence the poem. Do they create an emphasis on a certain word or words? Do they focus the reader's attention on an image? Do they create a feeling within the poem?
5. Explain the tone of the piece. What is the tone? How did the writer succeed in creating this tone? Think about the words he/she used to create images. Consider the actual sound of the words as well.
6. Visit the sites of at least two other people in your group. Read their poems and leave a comment about their selection.

Sites for poems: (This site focuses on Emily Dickenson)

If you know the author you are interested in, then is a good site to visit. Otherwise skip this one.

If you want to use a song for this assignment that is fine.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Writing Territories

Today in the lab:
1. Link your blog url to Mrs. B's computer.

2. Spend about ten minutes describing yourself as a writer. Answer the following questions:
What kinds of writing do you like to read? (Poetry, short stories, novels, etc.)
What kinds of writing do you like to write? (Poetry, short stories, scripts, etc.)
How often do you write when it is not a school assignment?
What topics most intrigue you? Explain why.

3. Pick one topic from your list of writing territories, and write about it for 25 minutes. It can be in any form you prefer- a poem (or series of poems), a short story, a narrative, a play, etc.

4. When you finis, leave visit the sites of at least two members in your blog groups. Read thier entries, and leave a brief comment about something they wrote. Perhaps you agree with something they said or perhaps you find thier topic engaging.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


In watching the film, we see Chris pursue his goals and dreams in a lot of unusual ways. No matter what he has to do to get the attention of the people who could help him achieve these things, however, he keeps his mind on the final outcome- being successful in order to provide a better life for his son.

Answer the following questions in three to four sentences each (at least). If you'd like to combine all your answers into one longer blog that is fine too. When you are finished, leave a comment on each of your group member's blogs. Your comment may be something you agree or disagree with, a connection you make to his/her ideas, or a question you have.

1. How would you would define happiness if you were asked to try to explain it to someone who had no idea what the word meant ? (You cannot use the word happy or any form of it in your explanation.)
2. How do you define happiness in your own life specifically? What is your greatest source of happiness? What may be happiness for you may not be happiness for someone else. BE SPECIFIC. Don't just say hanging out with friends. Explain why your friends (or whatever you write about) brings you happiness. Maybe you are happiest when you are out running, playing video games, eating at a certain restaurant, or celebrating a certain holiday.
3.What people in your life have the greatest influence on your happiness? How do they influence your relative happiness?
4. Whose happiness do you impact in your life? Your actions affect a lot more people than just yourself, so to whom in your life, do your actions have the potential to bring great joy or great disappointment?
5. What is your greatest need in life? How is this tied into your happiness?