...sharing thoughtful, mentor text-inspired lessons your students will love!
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At right, you see the student-winning digital photograph from our 2009 contest. It was taken by middle school student Trae Jones.
If you use this photo in class as a writing prompt, and then have a student like what they're writing so much that they take their writing through the writing process, we want to see their published stories posted here!
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Do you ever get that feeling, where you feel like you’re trapped? Where there is nothingness, and no one is there to help you? You try to get out, but the door to go back to home, where your family is waiting for you to come home, is locked. The hard part is, you can never get home to your warm, comforting family, where the fireplace is on, and your mom brings you a plate of cookies, just out of the oven. The chocolate chip cookies, your favorite; the chips are hot and gooey. I don’t know about you, but that sounds good. It sickens you just thinking about it. No matter what, whether you’re out of that locked closet of nothingness, it will never go away.
Suffering with schizophrenia every second of your life is tough. Sometimes, you just get thrown out into this world. The world has a road and there’s a fence. Every time you’re thrown into this world, you run down the road. You’re stuck; the more you run, the more frustrated you get. On the other side of the fence, is green, healthy grass, and the sky is a beautiful blue. On the road, it is the opposite; it is dark and rough. The ground is all graveled and huge black clouds spread in the sky. Every time you travel that road, you think the road will lead you to the green grass, to the blue sky, to the cozy family with chocolate chips. You try to get back to the plate of cookies; you dash. You try to do anything that will get you there, out of the darkness. You try to climb the fence, it’s too high. Voices tell you that you cannot leave. You thrash your arms, wailing, crying to get out, even though you know you can’t.
Pathway to Heaven
This poem was written by Liz. R, a 4th grade ESL (English as a Second Language) student
The sky is blue just like water that is blue.
The road has lots of rocks just like a bumpy cart.
The grass is green so you can plant some beans.
I have a smiley face on my face right now,
there’s also a smiley face in the clouds if you look very closely.
There’s also a long road that will hold long secrets that you have.
There are also fences that go like the hills.
It’s also very peaceful, and when I mean peaceful, it’s another way to say
There’s a million miles to get back home where your things are.
The hills are covered with grass that you can go up and down and look up in
the sky and twirl around and have a great time.
You can also plant things.
There are three bright colors coming at you and are facing you.
You will remember when people say they were there a long time ago.
It’s a really sunny day and it’s also hot.
You can play any time you want and you can walk all around.
Also, I forgot to tell you that if you are there, you will never find your way back.
The Mysterious Town in the Forest
Max, a 5th grade writer
There once was a boy who lived in Maquoketa, Iowa, named Blake. Blake was looking for something to do when he saw a gravel road. Blake decided to go back to the house and get all of the supplies he needed which were his cell phone, food, drinks and his laptop, just in case he got bored. When Blake walked down the gravel road he saw a deep dark forest.
When he walked in the forest he swore he saw a man in a tiger suit. He decided to keep walking when he saw a town made out of palm trees but there were no palm trees in the forest anywhere. He tried saying “ Hi” to someone, but he didn’t understand him. Then Blake was asking someone if they knew English. He said, Not very much. But I know who does. Who? Our leader. Ok. Can you take me there? Sure. Here we are at our leader’s house. Hello, who is this newcomer? Blake? I’m here to find out who you guys are. We are the bird tribe, we wear feathers in our uniform. We’ve been fighting the tigers in this forest for centuries. The tigers have striped uniforms. Ok. We need you to fight in our war. Here is your musket and your extra ammo.
Try to hide in the trees so they can’t find you. Oh no, there is the siren! Ok men, I want you to flank them from behind and let’s bring this tribe to justice. Muskets, you guys lead the way. Blake took charge and said,” Snipers, you guys take the trees”. They’re coming… hide. Ready, aim, FIRE AT WILL! Nice shots, let’s move in. “Snipers you guys clear the buildings. Muskets you follow me to their leader. There he is get him. Yes, we won. Wait it was a fake! Look! He’s trying to escape. Blake shoots him in the leg. Boom!!! Nice shot. Later, at the Bird’s tribe their leader wanted Blake to stay, but he had school tomorrow. Back at the house Blake told his Mom everything, but of course, she didn’t believe him.
The Beast at the End of the Road!
Colin a 5th grade writer
There was a road that was in Wisconsin. People that drove on it would never come back. You could hear screams of people and some monster noises. Nobody could ever describe what it looks like, but I will try.
It was one good morning. Wake up Timmy, his mom said. Timmy yawned and told his mom he was comingWe are having eggs and bacon, said his mom. Open the windows it is really warm out. I will” said Timmy. They’re open mom. That smells good. We are going to check those traps at that road at 7:00 pm. Timmy drops his fork from his mouth. What are you crazy? What about the…don’t say the monster, it is not real, said his mom. Fine, I will go on my own. Fine I will go, said Timmy. Right now it is 12:00 am so we will go in seven hours. Three hours have gone by. Only a few more hours until we go Timmy. Four hours went by. It was time to go. I felt so scared, like when my father died in the war when I was three years old.
Come on, get in the car, Timmy! As we were driving up the road I was really scared. Mom, what’s that on the road? It… it…it was the beast. It had blood dripping from its mouth and it looked like a human like dog. It had no fur and it was standing on its hind legs. Right when Timmy’s mom tried to turn the car it grabbed the car and threw it upside down. As the beast circled the car Timmy crawled out of the car and saw a trap. Timmy had blood gushing down his leg. As the beast came around Timmy snapped the trap on its leg. It roared like a dog mixed with a lion roar. Then it limped off into the distance. As Timmy helped his mom out of the car he used his mom’s phone and called the police. Nobody has ever seen that beast ever since. NOW THE BEAST HAS RETURNED.
By Marie, grade 4
On the road,
I am not sure which way to go,
And I can't find my way home,
I have lost my family,
And I am all alone.
What Lies Ahead
By Bryn, grade 4
Strolling along on a dirt road,
Feel the gentle wind blow through your hair,
What lies ahead beyond the hilltop,
It's up to you.
The Road to The Future
By Julia, 8th Grade
There I was. My suitcase in hand and I was ready to leave. I looked out at the long road with a fence along the side.
I’m Elizabeth Parker and I live in Kansas. My town contains a population of 106 people. I like Kansas, but after so many tornados and the old fashioned ways, I needed to get out of there. Nobody in my family has ever been more then 20 miles away from our house. My house has been passed down through 4 generations. The oldest in the family gets the house, and I am the oldest, but the problem is I don’t want to live here.
Every time I look out my window all I see is an endless road. I want to know where that road ends. I had turned 18 the week before, and it was time to get out of Kansas.
Ever since I was little I used to tell my grandmother “When I am older I want to move to California! I want to see the world!“ “You will, trust me child. I will find you a way,” she said with a soothing voice. When I used to tell my parents that, they reacted differently. “Elizabeth, you belong on the farm, you belong here,” my dad would say. My mom would always add in, “Elizabeth, I’d miss you too much!”
But 12 years have gone by and there I stood with my suitcase. Giving up hope, I sat on my bed looking at the clothes I packed for nothing.
“Elizabeth, it’s your grandmother. Let me in,” my grandmother said. I let her in and she sat next to me. I put my suitcase under my bed. She picked up my suitcase and sat it on the bed.
“When you were a little girl I told you that I shall help you with your dream,” she said.
“My dream to move to California?” I asked.
“Back when I was 18, I wanted to leave too. Sadly, a girl was not supposed to leave by herself. That was unheard of. So, I stayed here, but I want you to live your dream. Elizabeth, I understand how you feel, so I shall give you the opportunity to go to California.” She handed me an envelope and inside it I found money.
“Oh my! Thank you so much!” I hugged her tightly.
“Wait, what about my parents? Where will I live? Who will take the house?” I interrogated.
“I arranged for you to live with Aunt Grace, until you can afford to get an apartment. She will love to welcome you in to her home. Billy, your brother, will take the house, because he is the second oldest. Grace might arrange some college classes you can take. No problem Liz, just remember to visit,” she said smiling.
I walked five miles to the train station. The train would take me to Kansas City’s airport, which was 3 hours away. My father and mother were okay, because they knew this is what I wanted to do. I hugged goodbye to my siblings, my farm, my parents and lastly, my grandmother.
“Elizabeth, Grace will be waiting for you at the airport. She will have red hair and blue eyes.” My grandmother and I hugged.
I waved goodbye and walked down the gravel road. A huge blue sky was right in front of me.
The road that I always wanted to see the end of was right in front of me. Walking down that road I thought of all the memories I have had at my house. I laughed and ran to the station with my suitcases. I reached the end of the road and looked down the road with tears in my eyes. Standing there in amazement, I saw a huge train station ahead of me. I sat on the train for a couple hours thinking of my family. The train took me to the airport and I found my flight.
I sat next to the window and waited for it to take off. Looking down from the airplane I saw farms going on forever. On the airplane I sat there and thought about the past few days. We landed five hours later in Hollywood, California. A lady stood near the doors in the corner. The lady had bright blue eyes and red hair.
“Are you Grace?” I asked.
“Why yes I am! Are you Elizabeth?” she asked happily.
“Yeah!” I said.
“Nice to meet you Elizabeth!” Grace said. “We’re going to have so much fun!”
We walked out of the airport. All I could see were people, cars and buildings everywhere!
“WOW!” I said with amazement.
“Nothing like Kansas?” she said smiling.
“No way, it’s so much different! But, it’s just like I imagined!” I said with excitement. I called my grandmother as soon as I got home.
“So, are you going to forget about me now that you are in California?” my grandmother jokingly asked.
“I love it here, but there is definitely…no place like home.”