Nadiyah’s Island of Cats

Posted October 20, 2017 & filed under Fiction, Notebook, Student Writing.

If I had my very own island, it would be near Hawaii. What makes my island special is the fact that it has all the cats in the world. My mom, sister, grandparents, aunt and baby cousin live there. (No boys allowed, except for my grandfather.)

My island has crystal blue water and white beaches. Coconut trees, pineapple trees, palm trees, and banana trees cover the island. Cat toys and cats cover the island. The island is 1,000 miles long and 1,000 miles wide (so we and the cats have enough space.) We each have our own two-story house. There is a 100 miles long and 100 miles wide island connecting to our island. It has plants growing. All the types of fruits and vegetables in the world grow on them. A large cellar under the ground stores all the food. There is also a pool if we get hot.

Gardeners collect ripe fruits and vegetables every day. Then, chefs cook a meal with the bountiful harvest. They set the table in the dining hall and serve us our meal. We also have a garden filled with all the flowers in the world and a smaller garden filled with herbs and spices. We have a tiny spa just in case we strain our backs or our nails get damaged, especially for our gardeners. There are vets if the cats get sick. We have our very own hospital if we get hurt, too. My island is awesome.

by Nadiyah, 4th grade

(photo from pixabay.com)

Fiction Writing Contest for Young Texans

Posted May 6, 2017 & filed under Contest, Fiction, News.

The Annual Fresh Ink Writing Contest is now accepting submissions. Texas students in middle and high school may apply.

Here’s some information from their site:

Winners receive a cash prize: $250 for first place, $100 for second, and $50 for third. In addition, winners are awarded a plaque, have their stories published on the TBF website, and are invited to participate on a panel during the Texas Book Festival weekend. Entries must be 2,000 words or less, 12 point type, double-spaced, and related to the 2017 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest theme: “Funny Running Into You Here.”

Read the complete guidelines before applying. The submissions are due June 1st, 2017.

Writing Contest for Young Writers

Posted December 12, 2016 & filed under Contest, Fiction, Student Writing.

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2017 Foster-Harris Prizes for Young Writers

The University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, in recognition of the Professional Writing Program’s 65th anniversary in the college, invites submissions for the 2017 Foster-Harris Prizes for Young Writers. Two $500 awards will be given, one for a short story of up to 1000 words by a high school student and another for a short story of up to 2000 words by an undergraduate student. There is no entry fee.

The University of Oklahoma’s Professional Writing Program offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees focused on creative writing for publication, including fantasy, horror, mystery, suspense, romance, and other popular fiction genres, as well as screenwriting and commercial nonfiction. The program focuses on building a writing career by learning the business of publishing while studying creative writing under award-winning, best-selling professors with long and successful publication histories. For more information, click here.

Entrants will retain all rights to their entries. Entries must include a header with the student’s name, school, and email address. They should use a 12-point font and be formatted with one-inch margins and page numbers.

To submit, email the story as a Microsoft Word attachment to Harris.PrizeATouDOTedu.

Students currently enrolled in a U.S. high school, grades 9-12, should use this header:
Harris Prize for High School Students

Students currently enrolled as an undergraduate in a U.S. college or university should use this header: Harris Prize for Undergraduate Students

Entries must be received by March 1, 2017 at noon. Winners will be announced in May 2017.

Mary Anna Evans, Assistant Professor
Professional Writing
Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications
University of Oklahoma
For further information on Harris Prize, email Harris.Prize@ou.edu
For information on the Professional Writing program, email maevans@ou.edu

Writing Contest for Students in OK, NM, and TX

Posted November 28, 2016 & filed under Contest, Fiction, Poem, Student Writing.

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Call for submissions from teen writers in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico!

Who: Voices, a regional arts and literary journal published annually by students and faculty at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.

What: Imaginative, original works of fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, art, and drama from high school, undergraduate, and graduate students in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico!

When: Submit by December 2, 2016

Why: If accepted, students work will be published in a university journal

The Details

Fiction: Short Stories or Flash Fiction of up to 3000 words

Creative Nonfiction: Essays or Flash Nonfiction of up to 3000 words

Poetry: Up to 4 to 5 poems (50-line maximum for each poem)

Drama: One act plays of up to 2000 words

Art: Entries must be submitted as a .jpeg. Initial submissions may be at 72 dpi, but if accepted, the artist agrees to supply a 300 dpi version of the submission.

 

REGIONAL STUDENTS- send email submissions to:voicesATmwsuDOTedu
Please include your genre in the subject line of the email.

MIDWESTERN STATE STUDENTS- please visit the Submissions page at mwsu.info/voices and fill out the online submission form.

For more information, click here.

Untitled

Posted July 5, 2016 & filed under Fiction, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

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The mast shakes.

The sail is taut and motionless.

As the wind howls, people yell.

I’m hit in the face with icy sea water. People go down and get back up.

I look over the edge of the ship and see something tap.

I look up and hope to god I’m not the only one that sees it:

a giant blue eye looking down in wonder.

By Max, 8th Grade

Sign Up for Houston Public Library’s Summer Reading Program!

Posted May 27, 2015 & filed under Contest, Event, Fiction, Notebook, Poem.

Summer is here, and it’s time to read and reap the rewards! Sign up your child for Houston Public Library’s Summer Reading Program and spend the summer with great books! For more information, see the notice below from our friends at Houston Public Library:

anchor_event_srp15Register! Read! Reap the Rewards!

How to earn books & badges this summer:

REGISTER: Early registration begins May 1, 2015 and continues through August 1, 2015 at any Houston Public Library location during operating hours or remotely from a computer.

READ or listen to books, enter book titles or reading time online and in your Badge Log booklet (be sure to ask your librarian for one). Go to your local Houston Public Library to pick up your prizes at the various book reading levels.

ATTEND hands on workshops, enjoy performances and take part in activities to earn your STEAM MACHINE sticker badges (collect them in your Badge Log booklet)! Participate in at least 5 library programs* and read a minimum of 5 books, to receive a prize pack: Houston Zoo and Houston Rockets ticket vouchers and a Raising Cane’s gift card!**

REWARDS include:

A Houston Dash game ticket and a certificate 5 books or 5 hours
A Houston Dynamo game ticket and one free book for reading 10 books or 10 hours
Chipotle meal coupon, additional free book and a coupon for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for reading 20 books or 20 hours
Children’s Museum of Houston admission voucher and entry into a Grand Prize drawing to win a new Xbox One console for reading 30 books or more or 30+ hour​

Former WITS Writer Publishes 5th Novel

Posted March 24, 2015 & filed under Event, Fiction, WITS People.

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Need some literary plans this Friday night?  Join us for a fun, witty evening at Brazos Book Store to celebrate the publication of former WITS writer Katherine Center’s novel Happiness for Beginners.
Date:Mar 27th, 2015
Time: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free
Location: Brazos Book Store, 2421 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX 77005

New Novel by WITS Writer Released

Posted March 17, 2015 & filed under Fiction, News, WITS People.

Author-pic-767x1024Whisper HollowNews to celebrate! Chris Cander’s novel Whisper Hollow is released today! It’s a multi-generational story that focuses on the lives of three women living in a coal-mining town in West Virginia.

 

Kirkus Reviews says, “Cander divinely delves into multiple points of view, crafting a collage of vibrant, layered characters while charting six decades of poignant, precise moments. A distinctive novel that sublimely measures the distressed though determined heartbeat of a small mountain community.”
Order your copy today and check out the touring schedule here. Congrats, Chris!

 

 

Former WITS Writers Read at Blaffer Art Museum Innovation Series

Posted February 10, 2015 & filed under Event, Fiction, News, Poem, WITS People.

Don’t miss former WITS writers Lacy, Nancy, Jameelah, and David at the upcoming Blaffer Art Museum Innovation Series event on Feb. 17, 4 p.m.
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Here is information about this special series from the Blaffer website:

In both the arts and the sciences, if we do our jobs well, it never leads to a final answer — always to more questions.” — Janet Biggs

The Blaffer Art Museum Innovation Series is the most ambitious lineup of public programs the museum has ever organized around a single exhibition. Janet Biggs: Echo of the Unknown features works inspired by the artist’s memories of the effects of Alzheimer’s on family members. Combining video, sound and objects, this multidimensional exhibition draws on heroic stories of public figures coping with the disease and research conducted with neurologists and geoscientists to raise fundamental questions about how we become—and lose our sense of—who we are.

Designed to amplify the exhibition’s role as a catalyst for cross-disciplinary learning, the series’ lectures, presentations, gallery talks and interactive programs will highlight collaborations across the UH community and beyond.

Please attend “Memory & Identity: Five Writers Talk about the Difficult & Dynamic Relationship Between the Two” with Peter Turchi, author of A Muse & A MazeLacy M. Johnson, author of The Other SideNancy Pearson, author of Two Minutes of LightJameelah Lang, Ph.D candidate, UH Creative Writing Program; & David Stuart MacLean, author of The Answer to the Riddle is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia.

It’s National Novel Writing Month 2014

Posted November 20, 2014 & filed under Contest, Event, Fiction.

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It’s NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — and this year nearly 400,000 people will try their hand at writing a 50,000 word story. The project has had striking success in recent years:

Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.See a full list of our published authors.

There’s also a special kids version of the program that is modified for young authors.

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Don’t Give Up

Posted September 17, 2014 & filed under Fiction, Student Writing.

Yesterday I went skateboarding with my family at the skate park near my house. Seattle’s boyfriend Duvall also came along. When we arrived there, it took about twenty minutes just to get our skateboards out and our wrist guards on. I love my skateboard. It is so cool. It has a skull and fire on the underside. I walked into the park. In front of me was basically a giant hole filled with cement skateboarding ramps. I tried to go down the biggest ramp. BAM. I fell. My butt was probably bruised, and I felt like quitting.

“Get up, you should try something smaller,” my dad said to me.

I walked over to the smallest ramp and went down. The first few times I fell, but my dad helped me by catching me when I fell. After a while I started to get the hang of it.

“It was really fun!” I said when we left. “I want to do that again!”

by Magnolia, 3rd Grade

 

Mr. Fox and Mr. Squirrel

Posted July 2, 2012 & filed under Fiction, Lesson Plan, mentor text, Notebook.

(based on Aesop’s Fables)

Mr. Fox was very rich. He lived in a mansion and always wore clean tailcoats. One day Mr. Squirrel knocked on Mr. Fox’s door.  When Mr. Fox answered, Mr. Squirrel said, “My, what a fine coat you have on, Mr. Fox.”

“Why, thank you. Would you like to borrow it?” asked Mr. Fox.

“Why, what a generous offer!” said the squirrel. “Are you sure?”

“Oh, most definitely.”

“Then, I accept,” said Mr. Squirrel, and off he went with the beautiful coat.

So, on it went every day.  Mr. Squirrel went to Mr. Fox’s and complimented him on something, and Mr. Fox would let him borrow it.

Then one day, Mr. Fox had nothing left. He went and asked Mr. Squirrel to return his things.

The squirrel refused, and Mr. Fox learned a valuable lesson: beware of flatterers.

By Emma, 5th grade

Fiddle-i-fee Story Basket Lesson

Posted September 6, 2010 & filed under Fiction, Lesson Plan, mentor text, Notebook.

Grade level: Kindergarten – 1st

Genre: various

Objectives: To involve the students in listen to a story read aloud

Primary sources: Cat Goes Fiddle-i-fee by Paul Galdone

Materials: a basket with small stuffed animal characters from the book Cat Goes Fiddle-i-fee

Contributors: Brooke Brown, Linda Draper

This story basket activity ensures the active participation of all students in listening to a book read aloud. Originally used with Cat Goes Fiddle-i-fee, it can easily be adapted to any book by printing and laminating images of the story’s characters. Additionally, the students could make representations of the characters in the book as a pre-reading, art project.

Have the students sit in a circle on the floor with the “story basket” in the center which contains characters and farm animals from the book. The students should each take one animal from the story basket as the book is read aloud, listen for the appropriate time to place their character back in the basket.

Story Surgery

Posted January 23, 2008 & filed under Fiction, Lesson Plan, Notebook.

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Story Surgery by Samantha, Entering Second Grade

Sometimes students resist revision because they are physically unable to envision how they can add or move text around, as we have learned to do on our computers. Story surgery is something students enjoy because it’s almost like an art project. This is an intense, time-consuming activity that often gets very messy. But writing isn’t a tidy process inside one’s head, so why should it be on paper?

Surgery tips: Many students cut straight across their paper, disregarding where a sentence begins or ends. This will ruin their surgery. Model cutting around sentences. I don’t allow students to glue down their revised piece until they’ve reread the whole thing over again. Story surgery works best with third graders and older.

Supplies: scissors, glue, their writing, another larger sheet of paper (not lined), an envelope.
1. Do not let children write on the backs of their papers for the piece you want to conduct the surgery on.

2. Model for the children how story surgery will work, using a sample piece of writing.

3. As you are modeling, have students give you ideas on what needs to be Crossed Out, Added, Rearranged, Exchanged (C.A.R.E.).

4. Actually cut the paper and move the text apart, you may add the new ideas (on the larger sheet of paper) in the new space you’ve created.

5.Reread all of the changes you’d made to your piece.

6. Paste all of the text that you want to keep onto the larger sheet of paper.

7. If you’ve had students write the dialogue and thoughts of characters on Post It Notes, have students incorporate that into their surgery.

8. In an envelope, students save the sentences, phrases, and words they’ve “cut out” of their final piece.

I tell the students, “You never know—the sentence you’ve cut out this time might be the inspiration for your next piece of writing.”wits-blog-pics-007.jpg

posted by Amy Lin, Writers in the Schools

Even Better than Giant Bugs 1!

Posted December 19, 2007 & filed under Classroom Reflections, Fiction, Lesson Plan, Notebook.


Above: a performance of Giant Bugs 2 by Chicago 4th grader Michael Breen

The Striking Viking Story Pirates of New York City celebrate children’s writing by turning their stories and poems into live musical performances with costumes, puppets and professional actors. What a great way to show appreciation for the creative genius of young writers! You don’t have to be a New Yorker to be part of the show, though. Any young writer can submit a story.

I love that these performers are so committed to preserving the spirit of the works through their acting. While some of what they do is quite funny, at the same time they are completely sincere in their interpretations of the children’s work, celebrating its intentional silliness while reveling in its earnestness. The result is utterly charming.

An easy way to bring performance into a writing class is to ask one writer read her or his story aloud while other students act it out. With young writers, dramatizing original stories is not only entertaining; it can also be a wonderful tool for learning writing skills such as pacing, dialogue, and revision. By noticing at which point in the story the actors get confused, a young writer can figure out what spots of the story may need elaboration. This can also become an opportunity to develop class cooperation and communication, as documented in the work of Vivian Gussin Paley and Patsy Cooper, whose books are well worth reading for anyone interested in children and their stories.

There’s an amazing triasense of accomplishment that a young writer feels when seeing her or his work on “stage.” Performance can become a fabulous aspect to add to almost any writing environment!

posted by Tria Wood, Writers in the Schools