The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 66

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Then, once the students have the basic recipe idea mastered, you can then begin to introduce some competitive writing activities inspired by the cooking shows.

CHOPPED

For this competition, divide the group into four writing teams. Introduce the main ingredient, Philip C. Stead’s Ideas Are All Around. This book is seriously like opening your fridge or pantry to try to throw something together. There are lots of ideas for cooking up a good story. Encourage students to take any of the ideas to serve as the foundation for their own team writing. The way the competition works is that all students begin with the same writing seed and they begin writing a beginning to their story. After a couple of minutes, the teacher stops them and randomly adds a secret “ingredient” they must somehow incorporate into the beginning of their story. After time is called, all groups stand and share their beginnings. One group is “chopped” from the competition (but must keep writing). The remaining three groups keep progressing into the middle section of their story. Once again, after a few minutes of writing, the teacher makes them incorporate another random secret “ingredient” they must incorporate into the middle of the story. Like before, after time is called, they stand, share, and one group is “chopped.” This continues as two groups competitively write an ending with another random secret “ingredient” thrown in to add to the story. The competition is between the last two groups who must read their entire story. One group is “chopped” and the other group is deemed “chopped champions.” If you want to add in an “upset,” or twist, one of the eliminated teams could make a come back against the chopped champions to encourage all students to continue throughout the writing competition.

WRITING THROW DOWN

The teacher introduces two main dishes to help students see the basic writing pattern. The first is Gabby Wonder Girl by Joyce Grant. The second is Who, What, Where by Olivier Tallec. Both of these offer the same basic structure: Who? Where? What is the problem? and How is it resolved? The teacher can use resource cards (who-characters, what-problems, where-settings) copied on three different colors of paper, cut apart, and placed in a chef hat or pizza box. Students can draw out one of each color to begin with a common character, a setting, and a problem. Students write using the three cards to create the best story. For the throw down, two teams face off in a writing competition using the same story structure with cards drawn by the teacher. After a certain time, both teams stand and share their stories, and a judge declares one team the winner of the best story in the challenge.

CUT-THROAT CLASSROOM

Chimpanzees for Tea! by Jo Empson is introduced as the main course. This book begins with a mother giving a child a shopping list. He verbally repeats each grocery item as he takes a walk. However, before he gets to the grocery store, the list blows away. He must keep repeating the list over and over to help remember the items. Yet, with each new friend he meets, he gets mixed up and replaces the item with sometime that rhymes with it. For example, carrots become parrots, rice becomes mice, and a pear becomes a bear! Once students have the basic style and purpose of entertainment, the competition can begin. Again, students will write in four teams. A representative from each team must come to a table at the front of the room that is covered with random items. They select three and take them back to their writing team. At the teacher’s signal, the students must

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