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A Mr. Stick Journal Assignment from WritingFix
Corbett Harrison shares his Journal & Notebook Materials

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This on-line write-up was posted by WritingFix Webmaster Corbett Harrison, who invites you to visit his personal website, where he features dozens and dozens of his favorite lessons and resources from his classroom.

Mr. Stick's
Influence on my Writers Workshop
How Will's Journal Lead to a Finished Portfolio Piece


Background:

Every day, we wrote or summarized in our journals for at least ten minutes. With most journal assignments, I required a Mr. Stick illustration. When I didn't require it, I was always amazed how many of my students put one in anyway.

On Fridays, which was our designated writer's workshop day, my students had to flip through their journals and find one idea that they'd be willing to build into a rough draft for their portfolio. Every three-four weeks, my students had to take one journal entry to a rough draft, from rough draft to second draft, and then from second draft to final draft. In a semester, my students put five papers in their portfolio' in a year, they wrote ten.

On this page, I have included two things:

  1. A journal entry from one of my students with an explanation of the assignment.
  2. A finished portfolio piece from the same student that was inspired by the journal page.

Enjoy, and I hope that Mr. Stick will come to influence not only your journals but also your students' portfolios.

Will's Journal Page:

Sometimes I just invented journal-page prompts on my drive in to work. We were studying the main Greek gods, and I wanted to have the students complete three stations on three gods we had't covered yet. I chose Hera, Hephaestus, and Hermes, and the students read three stories that day, one for each of these three. It hadn't occured to me that all three had names that started with the letter H until I was driving in that day. That seemed like a good theme for the day. I asked kids to create an H-frame on their page--a giant H that left space for them to write/draw in.

I saw three spaces in those H-frames: one above the middle line, one below it, and one inside the H itself. I told the students this:

"You will be summarizing three stories today in your H-frame. I don't care where each story goes in the H--you get to decide. Above the middle line, you will make a cartoon depicting one of the three stories. Below the middle line, just a picture of one of the stories--no words. Inside the H, I want you to summarize the third story, but you can't use the letter H in your summary except in the characater's names."

These are the sorts of crazy ideas I come up with while driving.

One of my sophomores--Will--did a great job, especially with the h-less retelling inside the frame, but it was his cartoon that inspired him to retell (and embellish on) the story of Hera he'd read. During his next writers workshop, he began drafting the story you can read below the journal page. In his final draft, he recreated his picture from his journal page using one of the computer's drawing programs; this wasn't a required part of the writing process, but it showed me how his Mr. Stick depiction had influenced his choice in what to write about.

If you click on the journal page below, you can view it larger so you can print it on an 8.5" x 11" page.

The Writing Inspired by the Journal Page:

Revenge Isn't Only for Mortals
by William H., tenth grade writer

Beautiful, young, and smart, she was the most perfect goddess of this time. This goddess was smart but she never considered what the consequences of her many tricks and pranks might be. One of these consequences was presented when one of her many tricks caught up with her, and I can tell you she wasn't very pleased.

Hera was the name of this multi-talented goddess, and Juno was her Roman name. When she walked into a room, her beauty would equal even the beauty of Mother Nature. She had young, smooth, milky white skin that complimented her golden blonde hair. These beautiful threads hung down to her slender waist and rippled like an ocean in the wind. Sapphire eyes and long lashes brought out the contours in her high cheek bones. The only disadvantage that was included was her wry attitude.

She was planning one of her greatest pranks when an idea struck her like a thunderbolt. She attained a pill to be dissolved in a drink for her brother and husband, Zeus, the god of the sky. Zeus walked into his fluffy cloud dining room to have his usual drink, but this one had a little extra flavor.

Zeus, an enormous man with such titanic weight, would shake the ground every time he was near. His huge chest enhanced his broad shoulders that would intimidate a bull. The muscles seemed to grow on his godly body like weeds. His biceps were as large as pumpkins. He fashioned long, curly white hair with a beard attached. His eyes were as blue as the sky and gray with the storms. This kind of god you stayed away from when he was not in a good mood.

This didn't show any of his personality that we know today. He was the greatest leader of the gods, but when it came to his marriage, he was a failure. He had a taste for the mortal women from earth and very often strayed, producing illegitimate children. This made Hera very angry so maybe Zeus deserved to be played with by her pranks.

Zeus soon fell asleep from his drink that was polluted. Hera gathered some friends and bound Zeus to a table with rawhide thongs pulled from a god's bull. He awoke and tried to free himself, but he didn't have his thunderbolts. He cursed the plotters to Hades' place, but they just laughed.

That night a cousin, Briareus the Titan, heard Zeus and cantered over to see what the problem was. Being a Titan, Briareus had the advantage of having one hundred arms. I don't know how they all fit onto his body, but they did. His stumpy body was topped off with a long narrow face. Briareus considered himself almost hideous to look at and liked to lurk in the shadows. He reached in the window and untied the one hundred knots that held the mighty god to the table. Unbound, Zeus sprang for his thunderbolts and ran straight after Hera. The skies turned black with his anger, and she knew he was coming.

She begged for mercy from her husband and it worked to a certain point. Zeus had some kind of feelings for his wife, so he went easy on her. He came up with the perfect punishment. Zeus went to the heavenly shed and grabbed the golden chains that were strung over a nail. With his mighty strength, he held up his wife with just one arm. The now-free, bulging god, threw the chains over the nearest cloud and carefully bound Hera there. The chains seemed to glitter and Hera's grief-stricken face was seen by all.

She was horrified and began to scream and wail. The moans that came from her mouth could be characterized as the wind growling angrily through the air. To Zeus, this was the perfect punishment, but he didn't think of one important fact. Her constant wails were enough for the sky god to be kept awake at night.

He went to her, and she pleaded to be released from her binding chains. He was ultimately merciful, so he made an agreement with her. Hera promised that she would stop playing pranks on him. In return, he was supposed to stop straying from her. Of course we know that this agreement never held together. With the smiling faces of the fair maidens of earth looking at him, Zeus quickly returned to his devious self. Hera still plays pranks but from what we know, none of them were directed towards the quick-tempered god.

 

(If you'd like a printable copy of this story, please click here.)


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