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An Original Wacky We-Search Report housed at WritingFix
this writing across the curriculum assignment inspires summarizing, not plagiarizing

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The Wacky "Check out my Vacation" Story

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This Activity's Title:

The Wacky
"Check out my Vacation" Story

telling the story of a "vacation" through cancelled checks

This wacky activity was created by Northern Nevada teacher Kathy McCormick.

This original summarizing activity was inspired by Barry Lane's awesome book, 51 Wacky We-Search Reports. Barry's fifty-one writing formats in his book teach students how to summarize (not plagiarize) facts from readings or from class notes. The book also encourages humor in the classroom, and using it will help you build a community among your student writers. If you don't own this book, but like the assignment on this page, we strongly recommend you purchase a copy.

Overview of this Wacky Writing Activity:

Teachers, are you tired of the same old “summer vacation” stories you receive each time you return from a vacation or break? This is your chance to shake things up by creating a “check out my vacation” summary that shows where students have gone while away from home. Check it out! You are going to love this lesson.

Once students have the idea of how to tell a vacation story through cancelled checks, have them put on their creative brains and tell a more abstract item's story through cancelled checks. What would an amoeba's "check out my vacation" story be? What would Mount Rushmore's "check out my vacation" story be?

The Set-up:

People write checks all the time. If spread out and looked at closely, they can tell a complete story of what people do, where people go and even what people like. If you don't believe that checks can tell a story, study the famous example by Wurther Crue in 1932, Ordeal by Cheque.

In this lesson, students will create imaginary checks in order to create a storyline of what they did during a favorite vacation. First, show this "check out my vacation" example from this activity's creator, Kathy McCormick. As a class, talk about where the checks say that Mrs. McCormick went – how she got there – what her family did – what things they purchased before and during their trip.

Next, have the students think about a personal vacation by listing all the things they remembered doing on the “luggage” graphic organizer; this may take some thought and some modeling and scaffolding. Have them list everything sequentially if they can; otherwise, they can number each detail in the order it happened.

Finally, write the checks to form the story, using our blank check forms. Have students share their "check out my vacation" stories with partners, letting their partners verbally interpret the checks into the writer's actual story.

The Punch:

Once students have tried their hands at summarizing a personal story in the form of a series of checks, encourage them to tell "check out my vacation" stories for more abstract items that you are studying. Obviously, students will have to be creative with whom they are writing "checks" to, if taking on any of the following topics

How about:

  • The Lewis and Clark "Check out our Vacation" story?
  • Columbus' "Check out my Vacation" story?
  • A virus' "Check out my Vacation" story?
  • The rain drop's "Check out my Water Cycle Vacation" story?


A Funny Tip:

Decorate the checks to represent yourself or where you went. Use stickers or draw a faint scene.


A Teacher-Made Sample:
(Click here to open a print-ready version of the story below)

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