Six Word Slice of Life: Play Quidditch Plays

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: If you have been hanging out with me for many March SOLs behind us, you know that this time of year, our sixth grade shifts into Quidditch Season. Yes, we play our version of Quidditch — this is the 19th year of it. This version of the game was first developed by students, and then we have adapted it over the years. I try to incorporate different writing activities into our class as part of these activities (which culminate in a day-long Quidditch Tournament between the four sixth grade classrooms). One of the expository writing pieces I have them do is to design a Quidditch play and then write an explanation of how to play the play. This connects to our work with informational text, of using images as a text, and Quidditch itself.

Six Word Slice of Life Quidditch Plays

Want a closer look at some of the plays?

Quidditch Play Collage 2018

Want to learn how we play our version of Quidditch? (It’s very different from the college-level game)

Peace (on and off the court),
Kevin

 

Six Word Slice of Life: Story Branches

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: We began our unit this week on Interactive Fiction, stories where there are “branches” or choices to be made, and every decision sends you on another path. A few kids have read these stories, and some immediately connect to the narrative arcs of video games, but for others, this is a whole new way of thinking of reading, and then writing, a story. So, I begin with read-aloud, and as a class, we make choices on the flow of a story — this one is called The Green Slime. On the board, I map out the choices we make, showing in visual fashion the various “branches” of the story. Four classes, one book, four very different maps.

Six Word Slice of Life Branches

Peace (branches for support),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Questions (on the bus line)

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: It’s an unscheduled early dismissal day because of the impending snow. The students are all waiting in line, ready to depart to the bus loop, with the understanding of knowing we went just long enough not to have to make up the day in June. Winter has already taken its toll, and our school district is threading the needle on this Nor’easter storm and its strange timing. A question works its way down the line: What’s the first thing you will do when you get home today? Food, play, sleep, read are common answers. Me, too.

Six Word Slice of Life Waiting

Peace (waiting it out),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Eavesdropping

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: One of the important skills for Slice of Life writing, I have found, is the ability to respectfully eavesdrop on the conversations of others.

I was in the small local library last night, picking up some books, when the librarian behind counter — an elderly librarian with a grumpy exterior but an active mind, who often engages me in discussions about the books I have chosen, particularly graphic novels — began a conversation with the man in front of me about the book he had pulled from the shelves. It was about Geology and stories, and she went into a story of her own about studying at Yale and taking a Geology course that interested her, and who was this author, and then proceeded to flip through the book, reading the biography and noting that she teaches at nearby Mount Holyoke College.

Meanwhile, the line is getting longer behind me, and the man at the check-out is feeling a little antsy. I just smiled at him, giving him the look that there was no rush, that discussions about books in a library is perfectly in tune with the experience. Meanwhile, I leaned forward to listen in, and wondered, too, about the book, and I tried to steal a glance at the cover as she finally checked him out and sent him on his way.

“Patrons find the most interesting books,” she said to me, as I handed her my card and we started our own dance about my choices for reading.

Thus, my six words:

Six Word Slice of Life Eavesdropping

Peace (storm a’coming),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Keyboard Symphony

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: We’re winding down an essay project on inventions. The other day, as every student in my entire class was working hard at moving from rough draft to final draft on the laptops, I noticed the sound of fingers on keys, clicking. When it’s just you, alone, you may notice the sound of your own starts and stops. When it’s a classroom of 20 sixth graders, the rhythm of writing takes hold in interesting ways, as a sort of collective writing symphony.

Six Word SOL Symphony

Peace (make writing into music),
Kevin

Book Review: The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard)

I’m not sure if it was the story, the writing, or just the time in our lives where my youngest son (now 13) started to fade from our read-aloud time (which makes me sad), but reading the third book of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series (The Ship of the Dead) by Rick Riordan took … forever.

Actually, after finally admitting that we would not be finishing it as read-aloud (despite starting it way back in October!), I dove in this weekend and read with gusto the second half of the book, and found it more enjoyable. Still, the plethora of Norse Mythology names — heroes, gods, places, objects — is mind-boggling and difficult to keep track of.

Once I got into the heart of the adventure — of Magnus Chase and his friends stopping Loki from starting Ragnarok, or the beginning of the end of the world by challenging the trickster God to a poetry duel of sorts — I was fine, although everything Riordan writes now feels like faint echoes of Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief.  And the overuse of sarcasm in Magnus’ view of the world gets a little weary to me, as a reader.

I don’t see as many of my sixth grade readers devouring this series like some of the other Riordan adventures, although there are still a few diehard readers who will take up whatever he writes with a passion.

On a side note: I do appreciate how Riordan tackles the gender fluidity of one of the characters, whom Magnus has attraction to even as the character toggles (magically) from male to female, and I admire Riordan’s attempt to open the eyes of his readers to the larger world. I do wonder what some librarians, teachers and parents might think in some of our more conservative places, but maybe we won’t tell them … shhh. Let the kids read.

Peace (in the face of the end),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Reading Days

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: It was a typical March day here in New England. Drizzling rain. Some sleet. A cold that seeped into the bones, staved off by tea and coffee. A perfect day to get some deep reading done. Which I did. Lots of it (Finished Magnus Chase: Ship of the Dead, and Vinyl Me, Please, and started Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8.) It was great.

Six Word SOL Reading

Peace (in stories),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: The Neighborhood

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: Last night was our annual gathering of the Neighborhood to celebrate with a Winter Blues Party, full of food and raffles and laughter. A new subdivision off the main neighborhood in recent years has really expanded the number of neighbors, and babies!

Six Word SOL Neighbors

Peace (in the hood),
Kevin

#NetNarr Post-Hangout: Sending Gifs

via GIPHY

I could not attend the online Google hangout the other day for Networked Narratives, which featured guests Amy Burvall and Michael Branson Smith on the art of the animated gif, and the possibility for expression with the social media photo formatting. My friend, Wendy, suggested on Twitter that we make gifs from the hangout video, and well, that sounded like a fine idea.

I did all of this within Giphy itself, which has stickers (which I keep forgetting about) and a drawing tool (ditto).

Here is the original video:

And then I went a little nutty. First, I found a neat shot of the Alan, Amy and Michael, and added … a few special guests to the hangout.

via GIPHY

Then, I grabbed video of a gif art project and made it further into art with some gif doodling.

via GIPHY

Peace (animated within reason),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Make Music

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: I had yesterday off, due to the snow in the higher elevations of our school district. The rest of my family did not. That meant I had time and space to write and record some music here at home.

Six Word SOL Make Music

Peace (sounds like),
Kevin