Sunday, May 18, 2008

Biography Writing Workshop Winners

Here are the winning stories from my recent Biography Writing Workshop for a local third grade class. Each of the children interviewed someone important in their lives. All of the stories were interesting and best of all, the writers also learned something new about the people they interviewed. For more details about theworkshop, please read my previous post in this blog.

Jordan's Story
Chris B was born February 28 1969 at Grissom Air Force Base. He lived in a small town, city, and a farm at different times. He also had 3 siblings. He always teased his brother and sisters because he was the oldest. He always had to do chores. He did not have allowance. He was helpful with stuff to be a good person. He was also spectacular at sports. He had a small house and rooms. His pets were like friends. He had cats, dogs and ferrets. His favorite meal was meatloaf and his favorite snack was brownies. He had lots of friend. He also did the best in everything he did.

He liked math but did not like English. His 3rd teacher was Mrs. Level. She was patient and short. He did just as well as anybody else. His favorite subject in school was math. School was boring for him. He had to walk and ride the bus. He forgot how many kids were in his class. He had pizza, and applesauce, and chocolate milk almost everyday. He wanted to be a football player. He did homework and sports and practiced saxophone after school.

His best friends are Brian, Eddie, Jill, and Brent. He liked playing TPed houses and other games. The popular songs he listened to are Tullick, Mist, and Duron and he heard them from the radio. When he was 10 years old that was when he watched his first television. He didn’t watch a movie until he was 14. He took lessons for baseball, basketball, volleyball, football, and saxophone. His favorite birthday was when he turned 21. He never dressed up Halloween. He had about 150 kinds of food. He did football on Sunday.

His hobbies were riding and going to conserts (sic) and always had fun as much as he could. He wanted to learn how to fly a helicopter. He wants to travel to Hawaii. He would like to bring his kids to Winconsin (sic) Dells and Disney and then go to white sox games. He traveled with his children because they are so spontaias (sic).

Darrion's Story
Theresa T was born on September 18, 1987. She was raised in Chicago ill (sic). She had one sister her name was Quinine. Her chores were to wash dishes and sweep the floor. She got $20 for allowance. She used it for junk food. Her house was like a delightful princess castle. It had pink glittery square rooms. She got a pet fish and didn’t have to clean that much. Then she got a parrot that could talk. Her favorite foods were French fries and pizza.

School: Theresa hated English even though she spoke it. She didn’t like to stay in school to 2:30. Her teachers name was Mrs. Smith. Theresa said her teacher was very nice. The most important thing she had to learn was cursive. Her favorite subject was gym class. Theresa’s school days were long but she survived. She got home by the school bus. She had 24 students in her class. For lunch she ate and talked. When she got older she wanted to be an Anchererpeuneur (sic). She went home and played with her family. Theresa’s best friend name was Devin. She played football hide and seek for fun.

Entertainment: She saw her first television when she was 10 year’s old. Her favorite artist was 50 cent she heard it by radio. Her favorite movie was Honey I shrunk the kids. She celebrated her birthday with all her friends and a clown.

Celebration: But last but least on Halloween she went trick or treating. And she was dressed as batswomen. Some of the weddings she went to were O.K., a lot were fun, and sometimes boring. On Sundays in summer time she went to church then she went home and ate. Her hobbies were listing to music because it calmed her down. She learned Spanish by her teacher.

Travel: Theresa said she would like to travel to Florida. She planned to do everything for the summer. She wants to travel with her cousin because she wants to do everything. This is everything I didn’t know about my cousin Theresa T.

Kelvon's Story
Family Life: Gerildine is my grandmother and she born in Mississippi in 1953 in a small town. She had 6 brothers and sisters. Ruth, Carrie, Sherry, Angle, Mike and Fred. She didn’t tease them. She always had to clean her room. She doesn’t get allowance. She lived in a wooden house with fireplaces in all the rooms. She doesn’t have any pets or animals. Her favorite meals were peanut butter crackers with cheese. She remembers best about growing up was playing in the snow. Her proudest moment was when she graduated from school.

School: Gerildine likes reading and dislikes Math. Her third grade teacher was Mr. Buttler. He likes to pattle (sic paddle) you when bad. The most important thing she learned in third grade was Reading, Science, and Recess. Her school days were very good. Gerildine got to school by using a school bus. She had 30 kids in her class. She ate and played for lunch. On Career Day she like to be a nurse. After school she went home.

Entertainment: Gerildine’s best friends were Della and Earnistine. She liked to have Recess for fun and baseball and basketball for games. She saw her first television when 7 years old. Her favorite movies were Western movies. She used to take basketball lessons.

Celebration: Gerildine celebrated her birth by having a party. Her 7th birthday was best because she could go to 1st grade. Gerildine finds Easter eggs. She dressed up in a princess dress. Wediings were joyful. Family members came. They had snacks and meals. On Sundays she goes to Church and plays outside.

Future Plan: Gerildine’s favorite hobbies are Reading because she can learn words. She liked to learn Science when it is time. She doesn’t like to travel. In the summer she likes to go to the Mississippi beach. Her favorite companion was my Uncle Ricky. He always makes her laugh.

Children's Writing Workshop

Biography Writing Workshop
May 2008

I just completed a Biography Writing Workshop for one of the local third grade classes in Kankakee, Illinois, and it was a ball. The class had 24 students who participated over the course of three weeks. Some of them might have been a bit reluctant at the beginning of the workshop, but they soon caught on to the concept of writing a biography.

The top three authors received awards for reading their stories. They each got a writing journal to encourage further creativity. Two students received honorable mentions for their stories, for which they got writing pens.

The structure of the Biography Writing Workshop included the basic writing process, parts of a story, fiction versus non-fiction, directions on conducting an interview, sample questions to ask and guidance on developing their own stories.

We started out by discussing the five steps of the basic writing process: Brainstorming, Rough Draft, Revision, Editing and Publishing. We covered the parts of a story, with a beginning, a middle and an ending. In addition, the differences between fiction and non-fiction were explained, with emphasis on writing a biography of a live person.

The kids got really enthused when we discussed how to make their stories interesting. In particular, they were to use “juicy” (i.e., descriptive) words. Instead of saying someone was “nice,” they learned to say they were beautiful, generous or enormous. An incentive of Juicy Fruit Gum encouraged even more participation that was fun, too.

Each student received a handout that included all of the above, plus five lists of questions to use when conducting interviews. Their interview subjects could be anyone at least twenty years old and preferably someone important to them. Most of the students interviewed a parent, grandparent or sibling, and several interviewed an adult at the school.

The presentation of the stories was on Friday, May 16, 2008, which was also the International Day of Story Sharing. Each of the participating children read their stories to an audience of their own class and another 3rd grade class. At the conclusion, all the kids got a gold-embossed certificate of participation.

In response to questions, all the kids seemed to enjoy the workshop and would like to do one again in the future. My pleasure would be in conducting one for them.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Baked "Fried" Chicken

This is an easy way to get a crispy coat on chicken without frying. A Teflon-coated pan works well to prevent sticking. It is also good cold or warmed up.

Baked "Fried" Chicken
3 lbs Chicken pieces
1/4 C Margarine
½ C Flour
1 t Salt
¼ t Pepper
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Melt Margarine in oven on cookie sheet with ½” raised sides.
• Combine Flour, Salt & Pepper in shallow bowl.
• Roll Chicken pieces in Flour mixture.
• Lay Chicken pieces in melted Margarine skin side up, then turn over.
• Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then turn over and bake 30 more.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Favorite Pies

Fresh Strawberry Pie
1 C Water
3 T Cornstarch
1 C Sugar
4 T Strawberry Gelatin
2-3 drops Food Coloring
Cool Whip, if desired
1 Pint Strawberries
1 baked Pie Shell
• Cook first 5 ingredients until thickened, then cool.
• Wash & hull berries and fold into cooled Glaze.
• Pour into cooled Pie Crust. Serve with Cool Whip, if desired.

Lemon Meringue Pie
3 T Cornstarch
1 C Sugar
¼ C fresh Lemon Juice
2 t Lemon Rind, grated
3 Eggs, separated
1 ½ C Boiling Water
1 baked Pie Shell
¼ t Cream of Tartar
6 T Sugar
½ t Vanilla
• Mix Cornstarch, Sugar, Lemon Juice and Lemon Rind in saucepan & add Yolks
• Gradually add Boiling Water (to prevent eggs from curdling).
• Heat to boiling. Boil gently 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
• Pour into baked Pie Shell.

• Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
• Beat Egg Whites & Cream of Tartar until stiff but not dry.
• Gradually beat in 6 T Sugar until stiff & glossy. Beat in Vanilla.
• Spread meringue on pie. Be careful to seal filling to edges of crust to prevent shrinkage.
• Bake 4-5 minutes at 425 degrees. NOTE: Burns easily – watch closely.