Good Communication in the Classroom is Vital

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Good Communication between instructor and students promotes successful learning.

A good RUBRIC informs the student of the instructor’s expectations.

Scholastic provides this very nice example:

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An EXIT TICKET is also very helpful in letting the instructor assess student comprehension. Using this tool immediately after the class is imperative.

This is Scholastic’s example:

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See more here:

Illustrator Spotlight: Cate James

Please check out Cate James’s beautiful work:

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You can buy this book here:

Read all about Cate James on her site.

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(Notice the trickiness of the apostrophe usage with the name James! It is correct to write James’ work or James’s work.)

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words


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Illustrators look at an author’s written words and create complementing visual works.

Authors can reverse the process and look at an artist’s work or a photograph to construct a story.


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See more at:

Today’s Assignment: Select a piece of art or a photograph. You may choose from those shown above or select one from another source. Write a ten page short story about it.

Today’s music: Hozier– Work Song

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You may want to add some magic to your story.

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Emma Stone explains here:

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Recommended movie: Magic in the Moonlight with Emma Stone and Colin Firth:

Remember: Writing is Storytelling!

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As writers, we must remember–first and foremost–that what we are doing is telling a story.

While gossip, hyperbole, lying, (or reality augmentation), and obfuscation
may not be admirable traits in real life . . . they may be useful when writing.

Plots and characters can reflect life, but be bigger than life.

Writers can steal ideas from life. Characters can be an exaggerated version of someone we know!

Today’s Assignment: Use a diagram such as this one to help develop your plot.

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Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 10.35.59 AM  Or you can design your own.

This short video explains how imagery has been a part of storytelling since the beginning of time.

Whether we are writing prose, creating a graphic novel, or writing a screenplay–our words paint mental images for our audience.

Go forth! Create!

Folklore for Inspiration

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Magpies are known for collecting odd bits of this and that.

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References to familiar fairy tales, and folklore in general, add a richness of cultural beliefs to stories.

The Denham Tracts constitute a publication of a series of 54 pamphlets and jottings on folklore collected between 1846 and 1859 by Michael Aislabie Denham, a Yorkshire tradesman. The tracts were later re-edited by James Hardy for the Folklore Society and imprinted in two volumes in 1892 [1] and 1895. It is possible that J.R.R. Tolkien took the word hobbit from the list of fairies in the Denham Tracts. [2]

Michael Aislabie Denhamwho died in 1859, was a collector of folklore, a native of Yorkshire.

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One for Sorrow is a traditional children’s nursery rhyme about magpies (or perhaps crows).  According to an old superstition the number of magpies one sees determines if one will have bad luck or not. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 20096.


One version of the nursery rhyme goes like this:

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.
— from:
    P. Tate, Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition, New York: Random House, 2010.

Other References:

1. James Hardy, ed., The Denham Tracts: A Collection of Folklore by Michael Aislabie Denham. London: Folklore Society (1892).

2. Michael D.C. Drout, ed., J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment, Routledge (2006), p. 121.

3. I. Opie and M. Tatem, eds, A Dictionary of Superstitions (Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 235-6.

4. J. M. Marzluff, A. Angell, P. R. Ehrlich, In the Company of Crows and Ravens (Yale University Press, 2007), p. 127.


Today’s Assignment: Add a bird with mystical attributes to your writing today.

Cause and Effect: Important in Every Plot

Cause and Effect are important in every story, regardless of genre or age group.

Remember this story? If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond.

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Closer examination of this feature may help to strengthen and clarify your plot.

Today’s Assignment: Examine cause and effect(s) in your current writing project.

Complete this worksheet or create one of your own.

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(from the Worksheet LIbrary)

A video presentation of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is here:

Another example of cause and effect can be seen in the recently released dvd movie:

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Watch the trailer here:

Homophones and Heterographs


When proofreading or doing final edits–watch for words that look or sound correct, but aren’t.

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Find more pearls of wisdom from Catriona Tippin here:


* Don’t be frightened!

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See more of Nicola L. Robinson’s wonderful work here:

Today’s Assignment: Proofread and correct the following:

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