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An Index of Sorts

On this page you will find a collection of items that can be used in the classroom – film clips, song lyrics, writing prompts, samples of my classmates’ writing and my book precis as well as those of several of my classmates. While they are not grouped together on the page, each item has been categorized and you’ll see a list of those categories to the left of this post. If you click on one of those categories it will bring up just the posts that fall under that category.

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Silent Film – Show vs. Tell

Silent films could be used in class as prompts for discussion on how to show not tell the reader what is happening. Without using dialogue how to silent films show what is happening? How are details important? These could also be used as a writing prompt when discussing screenwriting, in a similar manner. Prompt: describe the entire scene in detail – what is each actor doing, without providing dialogue as an explanation.

Favorite Things – The Sound of Music

This could be used as a mentor text along with the format for the “Where I’m From” poem to have the students create poems to introduce themselves to the class.

“My Favorite Things”

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Introduction Prompts

The “Where I’m From” poem template would be a great way to get students thinking outside the box early in the semester and to introduce themselves to their classmates. Students could have the option of following the template, or coming up with something on their own that would fulfill the introduction part of the prompt.

Introduction Writing Prompts

Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw

Using Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” as a prompt, have the students write out some of the things that are on their “Bucket Lists” and then focus on one or two of those things and either elaborate further or develop a narrative/short story about them. Or, if a student has already experienced an item off their bucket list they could write a creative non-fiction piece about that experience.

“Live Like You Were Dying”

He said
“I was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days
Looking at the x-rays
Talkin’ ’bout the options
And talkin’ ’bout sweet time”
I asked him
“When it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How’s it hit you
When you get that kind of news?
Man, what’d you do?”

He said
“I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”

He said
“I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden going fishin’
Wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
I finally read the Good Book, and I
Took a good, long, hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again
And then

I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named fu man chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity
To think about
What you’d do with it
What could you do with it
What did I do with it?
What would I do with it?

Skydiving
I went Rocky mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named fu man chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I watched an eagle as it was flying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
To live like you were dying
To live like you were dying”

Amy Poehler – Harvard Class Day Speaker

This video could be used in a couple different ways. It could be used as a prompt for humor writing or speech writing – or to discuss both of them at the same time. The video is a little on the long side (15 minutes) so it would probably be best to break it up into one or two shorter segments to show the class instead of using the entire video (though you could link the video through twitter if your class is using that medium or through an online learning site such as D2L).

Frail Words Collapse by Nick Rose

Here are three different versions of the same poem

 

“Frail Words Collapse” (FINAL)

2.50 and its double times 6.

Hours unending.

Blue and green connect, collide, crash.

Insignificant moments

Undoing worlds.

Gone in an instant.

Don’t say a word.

 

“Frail Words Collapse” (sentence form)

Rolling through 2.50 and its double 6 times in the unending hours when blue and green connect, collide, crash, when insignificant moments undo worlds. Saying nothing on cold, concrete treks before everything is gone in an instant. The beginning.

 

“Frail Words Collapse” (original)

Details the same.

Words inadequate.

2.50 and its double times 6.

Hours unending.

Blue and green

Connect, collide, crash.

Insignificant moments

Undoing worlds.

Don’t say a word.

Gone in an instant.

The beginning.

Darth Vader Commercial

Using this Darth Vader commercial as an example, discuss what techniques the advertisers used to reach potential customers. How does this ad appeal to ethos, pathos and logos? Is it effective? Discuss how similar techniques can be applied for persuasive writing.

Anxious August by Linda Carty

Anxious Augustus

There is a woodpecker named Anxious Augustus who lives in my head,

He pounds all day and all night, He pounds loudest when I get into bed,

He pounds in my eyes, He pounds in my nose,

He pounds in my shoulders, my knees, and my toes,

I can’t stop the noise, I put up a fight,

I cover my head with pillows, I turn out all the lights,

Anxious Augustus keeps on pounding, pounding, pounding, all through the day,

Anxious Augustus keeps on pounding, pounding, pounding. Fly away, I say.

Fly away, Anxious Augustus, I’ve had enough of you.

Fly away, Anxious Augustus, how can I be rid of you?

I shake my fists and stomp the floor,

but all that raging only encourages him more,

and all that raging encourages him more.

I sit in a chair,

I pick up my book,

I turn the pages,

I take a look,

At other places,

and other times,

At far-away stories,

and far-away rhymes,

And soon the rustle of feathers I hear,

The din is quieted within my ear,

I am so relieved, I am so happy to say: Anxious Augustus has flown far away,

Anxious August has flown far away.

The Saga Begins – Weird Al Yankovic

Lyrics for songs such as “The Saga Begins” could be used to to teach the idea of parody; this could be a fun exercise for any writer, and  writers who are not yet comfortable with sharing their own writing may find it easier to re-write something familiar. This could also lead into a discussion of copyright and fair use.

“The Saga Begins”

A long long time ago
In a galaxy far away
Naboo was under an attack

And I thought me and Qui Gon Jin
Could talk the federation into maybe cutting them a little Slack
But their response, it didn’t thrill us
They locked the doors and tried to kill us
We escaped from that gas
And met Jar Jar in Bosnas
We took a bongo from the scene
And went to Theed to see the Queen
We all wound up on Tatooine
That’s where we found this boy

Oh my, my this here Annakin guy
Maybe Vader someday later
Now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mummy goodbye
Saying “Soon, I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi.”

Did you know this junkyard slave
Isn’t even old enough to shave?
But he can use the force they say
Ah, do you see him hitting on the Queen?
Though he’s just nine
And she’s fourteen
Yeah, he’s probably going to marry her some day

Well I know he built C3PO
And I’ve heard how fast his pod can go
And we were broke, it’s true
So we made a wager or two

He was a pre-pubescent flying ace
And the minute Jabba started off that race
Well, I knew who would win first place
Oh yes, it was our boy

We started singing:

My, my this here Annakin guy
Maybe Vader someday later
Now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mummy goodbye
Saying “Soon, I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi.”

Now we finally got to Coruscant
The Jedi council we knew would want
To see how good the boy could be
So we took him there and we told the tale
How his midichloreans readings were off the scale
And he might fulfill that prophesy

Oh the council was impressed of course
‘Could he bring balance to the force?
They interviewed the kid
Oh training they forbid

Because Yoda sensed in him much fear
And Quigon said “Now listen here
Just stick it in your pointy ear
I still will teach this boy

He was singing:

My, my this here Annakin guy
Maybe Vader someday later
Now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mummy goodbye
Saying “Soon, I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi.”

We caught a ride back to Naboo
‘Cause Queen Amadala wanted to
I frankly would have liked to stay
We all fought in that epic war
And it wasn’t long at all before
Little hotshot flew his plane
And saved the day

And in the end some gunguns died
Some ships blew up
And some pilots fried
A lot of folks were croakin’
The battle droids were broken
And the Jedi I admire most
Met up with Darth Maul
And now he’s toast
I’m still here and he’s a ghost
I guess I’ll train this boy

And I was singin’:

My, my this here Annakin guy
Maybe Vader someday later
Now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mummy goodbye
Saying “Soon, I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi.”

We were singing:

My, my this here Annakin guy
Maybe Vader someday later
Now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mummy goodbye
Saying “Soon, I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi.”

Original Don McLean song: