Reading Response/Writing Prompt for Characterization

Characterization Reading Response Writing PromptSome of my most viewed posts are the ones I create for use in the classroom. Thank you, teachers! However reading response exercises are not only useful in teaching reading, but for helping fiction writers develop their stories. Today’s focus: Characterization.

Characterization Reading Response

What is the main character (or one of the supporting characters) in today’s reading grateful for?

This question helps to build students inferential reading skills, as it is not particularly likely their selection will have dealt with the topic of gratitude. Students will need to look for clues in the text that help them understand what the character likes, what the character longs for, what the character values, in order to infer what this character is grateful for.

Characterization Writing Prompt

What is the main character, or a supporting character in your story or novel grateful for?

Strong characters are created, not when we sit down and list their traits, values, and preferences, but when these things are demonstrated through your character’s actions, words, thoughts, and feelings–especially sensory feelings. This is the season for Thanksgiving, so leverage that holiday feeling by imagining what your main character or other characters are grateful for.

Your Turn

Can you share what you are reading? How about providing the author and title of the work, and one of the things a main character is grateful for.

Writing? Whose character did you develop today? What is he/she grateful for?

I love to hear from you. Happy reading and writing, and thanks for joining me here at Literate Lives!

 

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Alack and Alas…A Change of Schedule

New Blog Schedule: Literate Lives

Alack and Alas…

It has been fun blogging twice per week through my recovery from mono and over the summer, however, like summer itself, this too must come to an end.

While I love blogging, sharing my life, my reading, my love of writing, and my encouragement for parents and educators, I will be returning to the class room as an educator and will therefore have less free time for blogging.

A Temporary New Schedule

Next week I will begin blogging once per week, and next week’s post will come out on Tuesday.

However…

I will only continue the Tuesday schedule if I do not hear from you.

Your Turn

On what day of the week would you prefer to see Literate Lives bounce into your inbox? Please voice your opinion using the comment box below. Based on your preferences, I will determine and begin blogging on your chosen day for posting.

Enchanted Conversations Publishes My Poem, “Dishwater Dreaming”

This, and all of the fabulous art in the Donkeyskin issue was created by Amanda Bergloff, contributing editor and art director at Enchanted Conversations: A Fairy Tale Magazine

In June, I sold my first poem, “Dishwater Dreaming”, to Enchanted Conversations  A Fairy Tale Magazine, and it came out this month.

Enchanted Conversations:  A Fairy Tale Magazine

I am so excited about the opportunities at Enchanted Conversations, a web-based magazine that publishes six times per year, each issue focusing on a particular tale and inviting both prose and poetic submissions. The issue my poem was accepted for was one exploring the story Donkeyskin.

Why Enchanted Conversations?

  • I still love to read folktales and fairy tales.
  • I love the opportunity to explore, play with, and retell folktales and fairy tales.
  • Enchanted Conversations is a really fun outlet for crafting poetry (I rediscovered my love for writing poetry a few years ago and have fallen more and more in love with the practice as time goes by).

Interested in Submitting to Enchanted Conversations?

The story focus for the next issue of Enchanted Conversations is “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The deadline is the end of this month. Click here to view the submission guidelines.

Classroom Applications

Wouldn’t taking Kate Wolford and Enchanted Conversations‘ be a fun way to process a whole class reading unit? Students could submit stories, poems, and art to create a class magazine or webzine that could be shared with parents and community. I love letting students process learning through the use of imagination.

Your Turn

Do you know of any other magazines or webzines that focus on folktales and fairy tales? Do you have any favorite tales that you would like to play with? What is it? Go ahead and the give the exercise a try (and please, please post your results). Just use the comment space below. I love to hear from you.

Play Your Words Writing Prompt: A Bag of Bugs–Alliterative Writing Prompt

David Kirk’s Sunny Patch for Melissa and Doug Bag of Bugs

For today’s writing prompt, it’s time to get a little silly.

Last weekend my husband and I went garage sale-ing, a favorite summertime activity. At one particular home that had a titan’s cornucopia of crafting supplies, I found a bag of wooden, brightly painted, bug pins and I bought it. When I got in the car I said, “I love my bag of bugs!” and my husband started riffing on other alliterative insects in containers. Laughing, he finally suggested I use some of them as a writing prompt. So,  here they are:

Write a poem, paragraph-length description, or short story using one of the alliterative terms below (or you can make up your own.)

a bag of bugs
a sack of snails
a box of beetles

Have fun! Let your inner child out to play. It is important that we not only encourage our kids and ourselves to build writing skills, but we remember that writing can be fun.

And please, oh please, use the comment space below to share your response or riff further on alliterative containers for insects.

Roles–An Expository Play With Your Words Prompt

Writing

Prompt

What is your role, your obligation, your purpose in relation to yourself and to your community?

*CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.10

 

PreWrite

Brainstorm a list for four categories:

  • your role/s in relation to yourself
  • your obligations to your self
  • your purpose for yourself and you life
  • your role/s in relation to your communities (home, school, work, faith…)
  • your obligations to your communities (home, school, work, faith…)
  • your purpose in relation to your communities (home, school, work, faith…)

Once you have a list, circle the ideas you want to write about and number them in the order you want to write them.

Write 

You are now ready to write your response. When you’re done look it over to see if there are any changes (revisions) or corrections (edits) you would like to make.

Share

Feel free to share any of your insights in the comments.

Literate Lives 2017

Litlives PurposeWelcome to Literate Lives 2017!

In the week between Christmas and New Year, I have been doing some much-needed housecleaning here on the blog, and ended up reading a lot of old posts. The process charged me with excitement for this next year together, and instead of making you new promises, I want to touch back to my original intentions here at Literate Lives. So here is a blast to the past: excerpts from (and a few additions to) my very first post, June 6, 2010.

Literate Lives: The Vision

The concept of a blog is interesting. It is a challenge to be both personal and useful-to others. This is my second version (now my third actually) of my first blog post here in “Literate Lives.”

In the first version of this post, I eagerly shared who I am and the things I love, believing if readers and I share some common passions, you might come back to read more. And I do want you to come back for more. I love reading, writing, and teaching, and I want to contribute to the reading, writing, teaching community in a positive way.

However, having completed that first post, I was aghast to discover it was all about me! Me, me, me—as if I were some kind of navel-gazing egomaniac who has nothing to offer save my own glorious vision of myself. (Definitely NOT my intention.)

While a revised “version one” will likely soon appear as a post (because I do feel, if you and I are to become friends and colleagues in pursuit of a literate lifestyle, I must be willing to share who I am). What I want to say here, however, is that I hope “Literate Lives” will be a “place” to which you can come, a quiet corner where you can think about reading and books, writing, and creativity. I hope it will be a “place” where you can share your love for these things with a like-minded community and glean from the blog posts, comments, “Play with Your Words” writing prompts, and reading response exercises treasures to enrich your own literate lifestyle and that of your students or family.

Debby Zigenis-Lowery’s Literate Lives Blog: What’s My Purpose Here?

Litlives Purpose

Last spring, a dear friend and I talked about Literate Lives and just what I was trying to do with this blog. She helped me come up with a list of improvements and clarifications then asthma and allergies knocked me flat before I could implement them.

This summer, as in previous years, I have been working to rejuvenate Literate Lives, and I hope and pray I have come up with reasonable goals and a doable schedule for the blog that I can sustain for you, my readers, during the coming school year.

But back to the title question: What is my purpose here? Why am I investing time and energy in Literate Lives at all? Why do I feel compelled after each of my “fails” at consistent blogging to try to get Literate Lives up and running once more?

The Purpose of Literate Lives

The purpose of this blog is four-fold. It is about friendship, encouragement, celebration and giving.

Friendship First

I want Literate Lives to be the friend you find in your inbox, the “new post” alert that makes you smile. One of my main purposes in creating Literate Lives is to connect with others, but not just anyone! I love to read and write, and I want to connect with others who likewise value these practicesl and care about the development of these practices in the lives of young people.

Encouragement

One of my favorite things to do, despite my introvert tendencies, is to encourage others. As a wife and mother I love encouraging my spouse, children, extended family, and friends. As a teacher, I love helping students discover that they know more than they think they know and can do more than they think they can do. And as a fiction writing critique partner, I love directing my colleagues attention to what is going well in their work.

Here at Literate Lives, I want to encourage you, my readers, to read and write, to experiment and play with words, and help others expand their reading and writing skills. I want to give you the permission you may find hard to give yourself to invest time and attention in these pursuits and bring you information that supports the value of these practices.

Celebration

Here at Literate Lives, I want to celebrate the joys and benefits of a reading/writing lifestyle. I want to celebrate authors whose books have enriched my life. I want to celebrate the actions you take to build your own Literate Life, and that of your students or family, and share with you my delights.

Last, I want to Give

So many people have given so graciously to me in my personal, teaching, and writing life, that I burn with a desire to give also.

What do I want to provide for readers of Literate Lives?

  • book recommendations
  • fun and interesting writing exercises
  • home literacy practices
  • ideas for expanding and developing not just the practices of reading and writing, but the roles of thinking and creativity in our lives and those of young people.
  • language arts lessons and tips
  • my experiences pursuing a reading writing lifestyle
  • ways to make reading and writing fun for you and your family
  • writing craft tips

I love reading, writing, and teaching, and I want this to be a place to celebrate these practices and to give something of value back to the reading, writing, teaching world.

What About You?

What do you hope to find here at Literate Lives? How can I be your friend?

*background for image courtesy of Depositphotos_91248272_original_vect

Play With Your Words Writing Prompts: Tool Time Field Trip

Tool Time Family Field TripI have been putting some time into brainstorming and planning for the future content of Literate Lives, and one of the ideas that I thought would be fun is doing a little writing prompt “blast from the past.” Today, to kick off this feature, I thought I’d revisit my first summer writing prompt:

A Tool Time Family Field Trip

So, with a little editing, here goes!

Last weekend I found myself in a hardware store with my husband, and not just any hardware store but one that focuses on tools for customers who know what they were looking for (few items have instructions on their packaging).

We spent some time on the welding aisle. It was amazing! There were so many objects whose purposes were a mystery to me. 

 I saw something called a “Chipping Hammer” that had a spiral metal wire handle with a rod and a hunk of wood located at its end. Pointing upward from the wood were bristles like on a hairbrush, only they were made of metal. Protruding from the end of the “hairbrush” base was what looked like a hatchet blade. It got me thinking. What is this used for? What can I imagine it to be used for? What would some space alien, coming upon it, think it was used for?

There was a welding helmet shaped and painted like a skull with silver teeth and a rectangle where its eyes should be and a cool 24 inch magnetic claw that I know a bunch of third graders could have a lot of fun with. It had a spring powered handle at the top and a bright orange casing that held two little magnets at the bottom and from which emerged a little metal spider-hand when the handle was activated.

The Field Trip         

Suddenly it ocured me. What a great family field trip this would make. You could go to a store that sells things you know nothing about (a farm machinery or a tractor parts warehouse, an auto shop, craft or hobby store). Each person should take a tablet or paper and clipboard and a pen or pencil for taking notes (or use your cell phone to snap a picture). You might even want color pencils or pens for drawing your finds.

 After a reasonable time browsing, each person should select one object. (You might want to choose an aisle to focus on so you won’t have to split up if you have small children.) Each family member should take notes describing their object or make a picture of it, and speculate on its potential uses. If there are instructions, DO NOT READ THEM.

Next, go somewhere you can sit down and write. (Mmm. An ice cream parlor sounds pretty amazing right now, but a picnic table in a park would serve just as well.) Each person must write a catalog description of their object, including a physical description of the item and instructions for how they have determined it is to be used. (Other options might include a short story, script, or comic strip showing their object in use.)

Then, of course, it is time to share your masterpieces. Read aloud and praise one another. Specifically highlight where each person’s writing really shines.

Remember, have fun! And if you want to, share the results of your field trip in the comments  below.

*image: Radekkulupa, Pixabay

 

 

The Support and Nurture of Lovers of Reading and Writing

J Tower LogoToday, as I moved, tortoise-pace, through my day, I felt a deep sense of sweetness in this slowing and reorienting of my life as a result of last week’s visit to the ER. I savor it. I want to hang onto it, and fear I will forget it as my health improves. And so I memorialize it, in hope I will not completely forget.

I don’t want to hurry anymore. My spirit has been so at peace while unburdened by deadlines. I feel so much more open to and able to embrace the people in my life. And I am convinced the world cannot experience peace if we are all running and grabbing.

One of the cares that has driven me these last few years is a burning desire to be published. I have been writing fantasy novels for a long, long time. While my hopes for publication have not changed, I pray, as I re-embark on my routine pursuits, I can cease to rush after it with such urgency. I want to write and reach readers, but I want to write, revise, and submit my novels in a sustainable manner. Let God’s timing rule. Patience is sweet.

And, I want to return to blogging regularly. When I started Literate Lives, and again when I interviewed for my job, I said, “I love to encourage readers and writers.” But tonight, it feels like so much more. I long to nurture and encourage readers and writers. I want to be an instrument of blessing in your lives. I want to provide ideas and encouragement to help you embrace stillness, reflection, gratitude, and peace; facilitate your engagement in a literate lifestyle as a way to experiencing these things; and support the teaching and spread of literacy as a means toward a life well lived.

I want to love and nurture lovers of reading and writing. I want to support you in developing your own literate lifestyles and fostering literacy in your homes and classrooms.

So tell me, what would you like to see here? How can I support and nurture you?

“List” Journaling Prompts: What Completes You?

friends w starSundays: A Quiet Space for Journaling

I have grown rather fond of journaling on Sunday afternoons. It is quiet in my house. It is a day for rest and relationship, and so I have been having fun with some list-journaling prompts I found on Pinterest.

Last week, I made my list and sent it to a friend, and she sent her list back to me. It was such a delight to see what she wrote, both the similarities and the differences from my own list reminded me of how much I love our friendship.

This Week’s List Prompt:

make a list of the things that complete you

Here is my list:

My husband—It is good to have a partner who both shares my interests and encourages my independent interests, who both nurtures and protects me and challenges me, who I  can laugh with, explore with, and relax with, who loves me and those I love.

My daughter—It is good to have a daughter to nurture and admire, to marvel at and to enjoy, to be in active relationship with who has forgiven me for being just an imperfect human being instead of supermom.

My childhood friend—It is good to have an aman chara, a soul friend, a sister to my soul, someone I can be totally me with, who loves and accepts me as I am, who believes in and encourages me, who enjoys just spending time together, and to love and encourage back.

My granddaughters—It is good to have these wonderful little girls in my life, to love, and serve, and enjoy, and seek to bless, each uniquely her own person, each a precious and delightful soul, who stretch me and keep me young, with whom I can share my pleasures and my love, who though partially rooted in my being will live beyond me and bless our world, each in her own way.

God, my heavenly father, Jesus my brother and savior, and the sweet holy spirit that indwells me—I am so grateful my parents sent me to Sunday school, so grateful for all the people and events put in my path to direct me toward a growing understanding of who my Lord is, so grateful to learn and grow, to rest and wait, to live with hope and love because I, and all He created, am so greatly loved.

Writing and Words–The  joy of stringing them together, crafting an image, a wonder-full, hopeful story. Words to read, words to sing, The Bible to teach and guide me, and our beautiful, bounteous English language to express what fills my heart.

Time to be creative—it is good to get to create. God was so gracious to share this aspect of his character with us. Writing, beading, coloring, card making—even organizing is so soul satisfying.

A stable home—it is good to have a shelter to come home to, a place of rest, where I can close the door on the too, too noisy, busy world, a place to collect my thoughts and some things that give me pleasure (although I admit, this particular  “activity” can get out of hand—which is why I am so grateful for Pinterest—my virtual storage space), a place to feel rooted and at peace.

Last, but not least, my Mom and Dad, stepparents, siblings, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, family—as it is good to know my grandchildren extend into the future, it is good to be connected to a past, to people who love me and believe in me, whom I can love back, people who have nurtured, encouraged, and inspired me, to whom I wish to bring joy.

I did not expect to come away from this exercise with anything more than a list; however sticky-sweet as it may sound, I learned from this list that loving completes me. Loving the people and gifts God has blessed me with makes me who I am.

Your Turn

What complete’s you?

What would be a fun list prompt for journaling?

May your week be peaceful and blessed!