Sunday, September 7, 2014

Schoolwide Writing Contest: The Best Part of Me

Last year, we hosted our first school-wide writing contest. The prompt was something my principal found that could be accommodated to suit writers of all levels: The Best Part of Me. 
This prompt is general, yet personal. Students can share as much of their souls as they choose, so it made a beautiful end-of-year writing piece, but I could see it serving well at the beginning of the year, too, to help you "get to know" your kids, and to help them see each other as real people. And because you would model, model, model, they would get to know you, too!
I recommend reading at least two books to help activate language and ideas. A couple of the books I pulled out and put into a basket for our teachers were:
And this one, although I haven't read it, looks like it would serve really well!

As you read and activate language and ideas, chart them out! These are a couple sample charts.
This is a sample I provided my teachers with: During a class conversation, chart out the different body parts and the reason that part is the best part of you! 

One of my teachers built this chart with her kids to help them think of options. 

And if you're ever stuck for inspiration, PIN! These are some of the great pins that helped our teachers think about helping students write in response to this prompt:

Each teacher selected one piece to represent their class. I am not sure how they did this. I only had to choose between five or six for each grade level and it was excrutiating. How they chose between twenty or so kids is pretty impressive.

I mean, I know they used a rubric. I just think it's hard.

From there, we chose a grade level winner. This posed another challenge. I am working on it, but I am not yet a fluent Spanish speaker or reader, as many (over half) of our students are. Kids in grades K-4 wrote their pieces in Spanish if they were in a bilingual classroom setting. I had to call in for (bilingual) reinforcements to help me judge the pieces to make sure everybody had a fair shot!

Each grade level winner received a "First Place Winner" certificate and each class winner received a "Distinguished Writer Award". 

This piece, albeit short and simple, was especially moving. The student who wrote this piece is not used to winning much of anything, really, and his smile stretched from ear to ear when he went up to receive his certificate. 

Here's an adorable display that one of our teachers created out of their students' work!

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