Lightning Thief Musical: Songs From The Show

The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical | CarolinaTix

Last night, I had the pleasure to interview Rob Rokiki for the National Writing Project’s Write Time show. Rob wrote the music and lyrics to The Lightning Thief musical, and he shared insights into his writing process and creative thinking when balancing music, writing and story. When the NWP interview gets released, I’ll share it here but I also found the album of music he wrote from that show that had been released as an album.

I teach The Lightning Thief as a novel with my sixth graders, so this was a wonderful experience to talk to Rob. They were excited to hear about my opportunity to connect with the writer of the songs of the musical.

Peace (and song),

A Closer Look At 20 Years Of Invented Words

Words of 2024

I shared out the other day that my sixth graders were donating new words to an ongoing Crazy Collaborative Dictionary Project. The project – which began in 2005 and continues to this day — contains more than 1250 words, with new ones added each year by students. It is part of a unit on the Origin of Words.

The 20-year mark must mean something, right?

So I started to think about how to share some of the work out in a more visual way. Thus, a few charts.

First, the new home for the dictionary is here at a Google Site. It’s had many homes over the years, starting on paper, and then in Wikis, then blogs, and now Sites. We also have a folder of audio files, of students reading their words and definitions.

Dictionary TimelineI was curious about which letters had the most words so I did the counting. “S” by a longshot! “V”? Not so much. But every letter has at least some words.

Crazy Collaborative Dictionary Project 2005-2024 - 1Then, I got curious about the longest word ever submitted, and the shortest. Some years, some students try really hard to make the longest word imaginable, and then have fun trying to pronounce it for our audio files.

Overall, the project has provided a curiosity for my students and families, but also, a showcase for how language changes, and how words are created to fill a niche in strange ways (and how much this is happening more so in the age of social media, where the viral nature of things impact our language).

Peace (and Words),

Invented Words: 2024

Words 2024
My sixth graders are just completing the final activities in a unit on Word Origins, and they are have all invented new words with definitions — including one word they will donate to the Crazy Collaborative Dictionary Project (now in its 20th year and more than 1200 words strong!). The word art contains their newly invented words. I love how weird and creative they get with it.

Hover over the words here to read them, or take a listen to the audio files, or see the entire list of words and definitions this year, soon to be added to the larger project.

Peace (and language),

PS — The Crazy Dictionary is hosted here for now but I will be moving it yet again.

Using Padlet’s New AI Art Feature

Golden Lines with AI Art

Padlet, which I use a lot with my students for sharing across classes, recently added an AI Art tool — with a tool name that I don’t really like (“I Can’t Draw”). As you might expect, my sixth graders are quite fascinated by it but I want them to use it to complement their writing and sharing, and not just turn them loose on it.

So, as part of a larger short story unit, I introduced the idea of Golden Lines — a sentence or two or phrasing from their stories that have some importance to the narrative, and then suggested they use the AI Art tool to make art based on their Golden Lines.

They are coming out pretty interesting, I’d say, and a little later in the year, we’ll do some explorations to deconstruct how the tool works and more. For now, it’s another tool for making complimentary art for their writing.

Peace (inked out),

Digital AI Oracle:The Prophecy Machine

Digital Oracle Prophecy Machine

I am teaching The Lightning Thief with my sixth graders and we are at a chapter where Percy Jackson gets his prophecy from the Oracle. I had this idea of finding an online site that could spit out age-appropriate prophecies for my students as an activity. I found nothing and then thought, why not make my own?

I knew the Flippity site had a spinner tool and I knew I wanted at least 50 prophecies so each student in each class could get two different prophecies. But … writing 50 prophecies, myself, in one night? Yikes. Not gonna happen.

Wait … I thought … what about ChatGPT?

Why not make it do the work for me?


It worked.

I had ChatGPT create 70 different prophecies, age appropriate for sixth graders, popped the phrases into the spinner, and yesterday, it was a huge hit with the students.

I described the spinner as our Digital Oracle, after a lesson on Apollo and the Oracle of Delphi, and the ChatGPT mix of prophecies were fun and interesting, with some having obscure Greek references for my students to wonder about. The mix of fantasy, mythology and positive thinking made for an enlightened time.

Thanks, AI.

Peace (spinning it),

Write Out: Thank You Notes to Park Ranger

Thank You Notes for Ranger Scott

Ranger Scott Gausen of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site visited our classroom for Write Out last week, and along with his engaging personality and vast knowledge of the National Parks System, he has a pretty cool beard. For the Thank You notes, my students drew him with his beard. We’re mailing a package of these to him this week.

Peace (and fun),

Write Out: Gathering Sensory Details for Haiku

Student Haiku

We’re in the second week of Write Out and using time in class to be inspired for writing. Yesterday, after watching a Park Ranger Video about writing Haiku poetry, we headed outside and gather some sensory details, and then my students wrote some Haiku poems.

They are doing final versions on note-cards, which we intend to mail off to Ranger Chris at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Peace (Short but Sweet),

Write Out: Leaf Maps

Leaf Maps

A fun Write Out activity that my students worked on the other day was to gather a leaf while writing outside, and then they created a Leaf Map — using the veins of the leaf and their imagination, they created a map of a place, with the leaf as inspiration for the artwork. Later, we will revisit the maps, and write stories based on the places of the Leaf Maps.

The Leaf Map idea came from a Park Ranger Prompt from the Capitol Reef National Park.

Peace (In All Places),

Writing Out(side) for Write Out

Write Out Collage 2023

My students packed up their notebooks and pencils, and found a leaf, and then sat and wrote a story and made a leaf map, all for Write Out. It was a beautiful New England day.

Peace (On The Grass),