Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An Extra Credit Story Assignment from Alexander Stadler

Last Friday, the 7th grade attended an exciting author talk and mini-workshop (not to mention Pizza lunch!) with local Philadelphia author and illustrator, Alexander Stadler.  Alex shared a little about himself and his experiences as a writer and illustrator, and then led each group in creating characters, settings, and the beginnings of stories rich in detail and excitement.

This week as an extra credit assignment, you are invited to finish the stories we began with Alex on Friday.  In order for you to receive full credit, write your story in a Microsoft word document first, re-read for any errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and then copy and paste your story in a comment below. 

5th Period Lunch prompt:
Bobbie is a goat and life guard on the Jersey shore who somehow manages to do his job well (even though he is terrified of the water.)  He and his friend Genifer the hamster, are on their way to Philadelphia when Chuckie the Gorilla tries to stop them in an angry rampage!  What will happen to Bobbie and Genifer?  What is Chuckie's problem, anyway?  Will our heroes prevail in the end?  Finish the story below.

6th Period Lunch prompt:
Johnny is an odd fellow who enjoys eating vegetables and lives in a dumpster (by choice) with his sister Lolita (Lita for short).  One day, Johnny, Lita, and Pito their dog find a winning lottery ticket.  In order to claim their prize (one million dollars!), Johnny, Lita and Pito must make it downtown to present their ticket by 12:30.  They hop on the bus at 11:45 and start chatting happily about all of the amazing things that they will do with their new fortune.  It's only a 35 minute bus ride away, but the trio is suddenly, and cruelly, stopped by a crazed, flying donkey.  What will happen to Johnny, Lita, and Pito?  Will they make it downtown in time to claim their winnings?  Finish the story below.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just you, your character, and a suitcase...

Sometimes when I'm reading a good book I like to imagine what it would be like if I could step inside the world that the characters inhabit and hang out for a while.  Growing up I always fantasized about having my own secret garden just like Mary in the novel of the same name, and I would daydream about what it would be like if I suddenly found myself strolling down the yellow brick road with Dorothy and Toto in the land of Oz (FYI: The Wizard of Oz was originally a book!).

For this week's blog prompt, I'd like you to choose one main character from any of the novels you have read so far this school year. Pretend that you have been invited to spend a week with your character and get out your suitcase. What will you pack? What will you need to bring with you and why?

In reading your response, I should be able to tell how well you understand your character, and the setting (the where and the when) of your book.  Your response should include a clever intro, details and more details, and the reasons behind your choices.  If you are packing chewing gum and a pair of skis, for example, you need to explain why you will need these items in relation to their purpose in the book.

Your commentary should be at least four paragraphs, but it can be more.

Superstar blog commentaries have been written and proofread in a word document before submitting.  They have been checked for spelling and grammatical errors, and have strong sentences.

Happy packing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Should Stores Sell Violent Video Games to Minors?

The Supreme Court is currently debating this question and trying to determine “what the drafters of the Bill of Rights would have made of an extremely violent game like Postal 2.”

In “Justices Debate Video Game Ban,” Adam Liptak writes in The Times:

 In a lively and sometimes testy Supreme Court argument on Tuesday over a law banning the sale of violent video games to minors, the justices struggled to define how the First Amendment should apply to a new medium.
… The law would impose $1,000 fines on stores that sell violent video games to people under 18. It defined violent games as those “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being” in a way that is “patently offensive,” appeals to minors’ “deviant or morbid interests” and lacks “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”
“What’s a deviant violent video game?” asked Justice Antonin Scalia, who was the law’s most vocal opponent on Tuesday. “As opposed to what? A normal violent video game?”
“Some of the Grimm’s fairy tales are quite grim,” he added. “Are you going to ban them, too?”
Justice Stephen G. Breyer took the other side. He said common sense should allow the government to help parents protect children from games that include depictions of “gratuitous, painful, excruciating, torturing violence upon small children and women.”
What do you think about this? How violent, “deviant,” “offensive,” or “morbid” should a game have to be to make it unsuitable for people under 18? How would you draw the line? And how do you think violent video games affect young people in general? Why?

P.S. New videos at the top of the screen!  Check them out.  They are great discussion points!

(This week's blog post is courtesy of The New York Times Learning Network.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

As You Wish


This week, to kick off our yearlong partnership with the Rosenbach Museum & Library, researching, reading, and writing fairy tales of our own, we will watch the film The Princess Bride (1987) based on the novel of the same name by William Goldman.  

The Princess Bride has something for everyone: sword fights, murder, a six-fingered man, the fire swamp, the cliffs of insanity, the pit of despair, and of course, true love.  For this week's blog commentary, I'd like you to respond to the following questions about the movie.  Remember to spell check and proofread your comments before posting!

What are your reactions to the movie?  Did you enjoy it?  Why/why not?

Who was your favorite character?

What was your favorite scene?

What connections can you make between our discussion about common elements of fairy tales and the film?

Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.

Happy blogging!