Label: Writing Wednesday

April 4, 2012

Good morning, and welcome to Writing Wednesday, where every week there is a new opportunity to publish your creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to read an excerpt from Seymour Simon’s new book BUTTERFLIES, and explain in your own words what he is saying and how he uses details to express his idea more powerfully.

 


From BUTTERFLIES, by Seymour Simon:

     Throughout human history butterflies and moths have been the subject of stories, myths, poetry, art, drama and dance in many cultures. The Hopi Native Americans perform a ceremonial dance in homage to the butterfly. An Irish saying goes: "May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun and find your shoulder to light on, to bring you luck, happiness and riches today, tomorrow, and beyond." For many of us, butterflies are symbols of the wild loveliness and wonder of nature.

 


Your assignment: Write a paragraph or two explaining the main idea that Seymour is trying to express on this page. Use your own words to express his theme. And, give examples of telling details that he uses to support his theme.

When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing!

 


Note to Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday exercise is designed to use in support of CCSS Reading Anchor Standard #2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Animals, Butterflies, Earth Day 2012   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 28, 2012

Welcome to WRITING WEDNESDAY! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to contrast two different kinds of science news stories - a firsthand account, and a secondhand account.

 

The Facts: This week’s big science news story is about James Cameron, the film director who directed both "Titanic" and "Avatar." On Monday, Cameron used a specially designed submarine to dive alone to the deepest place on Earth. The place is known as the Challenger Deep, off the coast of the Pacific island of Guam, and it is almost impossible to imagine how deep it really is. The Challenger Deep is 120 times deeper than the Grand Canyon and more than a mile deeper than the tallest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest, is tall.

Only two other people have ever made this dive. In 1960, Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Capt. Don Walsh descended to the bottom in a bathyscape (a deep-sea diving craft) called the Trieste.

Read these descriptions of the two events. The first one is a firsthand account - which means that the story is being told by the person who was actually there. The second is a secondhand account - a story that is retold by someone who was not there, but has heard it from someone else.

Firsthand Account (James Cameron writing on Twitter): "Just arrived at the ocean’s deepest point. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can’t wait to share what I’m seeing with you." 

Secondhand Account (U.S. Navy website):  "Only two people have ever been to the deepest part of the world ocean, and Dr. Don Walsh is one of them. In 1960 Walsh, along with Swiss inventor Jacques Piccard, piloted the U.S. Navy’s bathyscaph Trieste to a spot at the bottom of the Marianas Trench known as the Challenger Deep. Inside Trieste’s seven-foot diameter cabin and with more than 16,000 pounds per square inch pressure outside, Walsh relied on the knowledge and skills of the ocean engineers and marine technicians who built the craft and supported its operation."

Your Assignment: Tell us about the differences between the firsthand account and the secondhand account. Contrast and compare the two stories by telling us about the main focus of each. How is the information you got from each of them alike? How is it different?

When you are ready, click "comments" below and write about the differences and similarities between these two accounts.

Happy writing! 

Photo: Mark Thiessen / National Geographic


Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday is designed to use in support of CCSS Anchor Standard RI.6: Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event of topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(19) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, science news, Writing Wednesday, Oceans, CompareContrast   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 14, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Last week we are asked you to read the "goat story" below and then tell us whether you thought it was true or false, and why. 

The answer is that this nonfiction story was only partly true. Some readers caught some of the errors, some caught most of the errors, no one got them all. Read below to see the corrected story.

 

The Goat Story: The word "goat" is thought to have come from an old Slavic English word meaning "to jump." You can see how the animal got its name when you look at this photograph of a baby goat playing in the snow.

Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species ("domesticated" means "wild" and unable to the animal has been tamed and is suited to live near and work with human beings). For centuries, people all over the world have kept goats for their milk, meat, hair and skins. Female goats are referred to as does or nannies, male goats as bucks or billies, and the babies are called kidsfawns.

Goats are naturally curious animals who will chew on just about anything to find out if it is good to eat - including tin cans and cardboard boxes! They are browsing animals, and while they will not actually eat an inedible material like a can, they will taste just about anything so that they can decide whether it is good to eat. Their razor sharp teeth allow them to demolish metal as if they were sharks.

Writing for Fun: If you feel like writing, make up a fiction story of no more than three paragraphs to tell us why the kid in this picture is jumping in the snow.

When you are finished, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing. Have fun!


 

 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(22) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 7, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to read our "goat story" and decide whether you think it is true or false, and why.

 

The Goat Story: The word "goat" is thought to have come from an old Slavic word meaning "to jump." You can see how the animal got its name when you look at this photograph of a baby goat playing in the snow.

Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species ("domesticated" means "wild" and unable to live near human beings). For centuries, people all over the world have kept goats for their milk, meat, hair and skins. Female goats are referred to as does or nannies, male goats as bucks or billies, and the babies are called fawns.

Goats are naturally curious animals who will chew on just about anything to find out if it is good to eat - including tin cans and cardboard boxes! Their razor sharp teeth allow them to demolish metal as if they were sharks.

Your assignment: Read the information in these three paragraphs and tell us whether you think it is true or false (not true). And tell us your reasons for deciding.

When you are finished, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.


          Note to Teachers and Library Media Specialists: 

I have created a Guide called “Writing Exciting Nonfiction,” which you can download by clicking on this link. It outlines different techniques that I use in my writing, and includes many examples from my books. I have posted it so that you can use it with your students. Please let me know if it is helpful, and share any other feedback about how we can make this blog a productive tool for you to use in exploring and encouraging nonfiction writing with your students.

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(9) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 29, 2012

We had some excellent writing submitted for last week’s WRITING WEDNESDAY story about the barn owl. Our writers appealed to the reader’s different senses (sound and sight), and used strong action verbs to describe the owl’s hunt for prey. The first author is a regular Wednesday contributor.
       

As the owl swoops around, blending into the sky, the owl is going fast without going wooossshhhh.  On the hunt for mice.                                                                                                                                                                                                       - Will in Ohio

Two students from Singapore also joined in on Writing Wednesday. For our North American readers who may not have studied Southeast Asia yet, Singapore is an island nation just to the north of Indonesia, and it is made up of 63 islands! Here is what they wrote:

The owl lifted off the branch with a powerful stroke of his spectacular wings. He let a hoot slip out and ring in the air. He listened to the silent night to hear the scurrying feet of his dinner. There it was, a nice plump mouse. He broke into a dive and opened his claws wide, as wide as they would go.  He felt the warm body of the mouse and forced his claws closed over the warm body. Then prepared himself for a feast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Pollyanna

 

The Barn Owl glided through the air, flapping its wings in a perfect rhythm. Eyes narrowed down at the little mouse hurrying to get home. Swooping down the owl listened to the little feet of his dinner scurrying away. He folded his wings up tight, opened his sharp claws and dove in for the kill. After closing his sharp claws on the mouse the owl immediately lifted himself higher and higher into the sky and went back to his nest and put dinner on the table for the rest of the family. smile

                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Erin

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, birds   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 29, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday and Happy Leap Day! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to use your writing to help your friends understand Leap Year.

The Facts:

     A leap year is a year when an extra day is added at the end of the month of February. This happens approximately every four years.

 

     We have a leap year because a standard year is not actually exactly 365 days long - it’s 365.2422 days long. That is the number of days that it takes our planet Earth to make a full rotation around the sun. A long time ago - 46 B.C. exactly - the Roman emperor Julius Caesar realized that we had a problem. If we kept counting the year as only 365 days, that leftover .2422 days would start to add up. Gradually, over hundreds of years, our calendar would slip, until we’d be having a summery month like July happen in winter.


     So, Julius Ceasar brought in a group of scientists who figured out that if we added a day every four years, we would keep our seasons on track. This became known as the Julian calendar, which pretty much the whole world still uses today.

Your assignment: Write a paragraph explaining Leap Year to your fellow Earthlings!

How to make your writing powerful: Read and re-read the three paragraphs above. What are the most important details to include if you are explaining Leap Year to someone? Which words do you think are important to include?

When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing. Happy Leap Day!


        

Use your Extra Leap Day to learn about the Solar System with Seymour Science! 30% off planetary eBooks until March 2nd for all Earthlings! 

 

 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(20) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Solar System, Earth   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 22, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to describe this barn owl in flight.

  Background: Most owls have broad wings which have quite a large surface in comparison to the rest of their bodies. These large wings make it easy for an owl to glide for a long time without a lot of flapping, and they also allow the owl to fly quite slowly - so that it can hunt for prey on the ground below.

 

When a normal bird flies, the air rushing over its wings makes a lot of noise, kind of a "whooshing" sound.   But owls have feathers called "flutings" on the leading edge of their wings. These feathers are almost like a comb, and they comb through the air as it rushes over the wings, breaking it up and muffling the sound. Because of these special wing feathers, a huge owl can glide almost silently through the forest, watching and listening as it searches for prey.

Your Assignment: Look at this photograph of a barn owl in flight and write a paragraph that describes the bird’s silent search for its prey.

 

Tips to Make Your Writing Powerful:

  • Set the scene by appealing to your reader’s senses and imagination. You could write about what it feels like to soar through the air, what the world looks like from up there, or describe the "sound" of the silence.
  •  Include descriptive details about the owl, or about its prey on the ground below.
  • Use strong verbs to capture the action of the scene. For example, instead of saying the owl is "flying," you could use an action verb and say it is "darting" or "swooping."

 

When you are finished with your paragraph, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.

Happy writing!

 

 

Photo: Major Gilbert

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(7) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, birds   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 15, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday you can publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

Ready? Let’s go!

Background:

 

We have been experiencing full-blown LIN-SANITY around here, since Seymour Simon is a NY Knicks fan. For those of you that don’t follow basketball, 12 days ago a 23-year-old player named Jeremy Lin came off the Knicks bench to lead the team to six straight wins. Lin has more points in his first five starts (136) than either Michael Jordan or Shaquille O’Neal did when they started playing.

One of the reason everyone is so surprised was that after Jeremy Lin’s great senior year on the Harvard University basketball team, he was not selected in the NBA draft. He was finally picked up by the Golden State Warriors, but spent most of his first season sitting on the bench.

Last year was spent in the NBA’s version of the minor leagues, playing on an NBA Development League team. Although he was not a big star there, he earned a reputation for being "tough around the basket." The New York Knicks decided to give him a try, and he began this season once again sitting on the bench. Jeremy Lin has been sleeping on his brother’s couch, not sure he should sign up for an apartment in NY in case he was going to be cut.

Then, twelve days ago, due to a series of injuries and other problems, the Knicks needed to put him into the game. The rest is Lin-sanity history! Lin’s old teammates at Harvard, by the way, say they are not surprised. The thing they remember most about Jeremy Lin is his extraordinary commitment to hard work.

Your Assignment:

Write one or two paragraphs about the importance of not giving up. You may describe Jeremy Lin’s success, or you might just write about an experience you have had, where deciding not to give up led to a big payoff.

Two simple rules:

1.   Give us the best you’ve got in 5 minutes. That’s right - five minutes of creative writing. Think of it as a word extravaganza to warm up your brain for the rest of the day!

2.   Tell us your first name, the name of your school, and how old you are.

Give it your best shot! When you are finished, enter your writing by clicking on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this blog post.



Posted by: Liz Nealon

(7) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 8, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to use your writing to convince people to support an important cause.

 

The Problem: 2012 is one of Alaska’s snowiest winters ever. 92 inches of snow have already fallen in Anchorage, Alaska - that’s 18 inches more than they usually get in a whole year! And there are still ten weeks of winter left.

The snow is so deep that moose - the largest deer on Earth - are using plowed highways and railroad tracks to get around. This is dangerous, and they are being hit by trains and cars in record numbers. Although the moose is not officially endangered, the population is much smaller because of hunting and other human activities.

The Alaska Moose Agency wants the governor to declare a "Moose Emergency," so that they can get permission to clear trees and cut paths to give the moose safe pathways to walk on.

Your Assignment: Imagine that you are part of the Alaska Moose Agency, and you are making posters to hang up all around town, asking for a Moose Emergency. The poster can’t have too many words on it, or it will be too hard to read. So, you must argue your case, and make people care about saving the moose…..in 50 words or less.

Tips to Make Your Writing Powerful:

o   Set the scene by appealing to your reader’s senses and imagination.

o   Include descriptive details to help to convince the reader that your cause is important.

o   Use strong verbs to get your reader to take action.

 

Give it your best shot. When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.

 

Photo: Donna Dewhurst

 

 


          Note to Teachers and Library Media Specialists: 

I have created a Guide called “Writing Exciting Nonfiction,” which you can download by clicking on this link. It outlines different techniques that I use in my writing, and includes many examples from my books. I have posted it so that you can use it with your students. Please let me know if it is helpful, and share any other feedback about how we can make this blog a productive tool for you to use in exploring and encouraging nonfiction writing with your students.

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(70) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, science news, Writing Wednesday, Animals, Bell Ringers   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 31, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday you can publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

Writing Wednesday has two simple rules:

1.   Give us the best you’ve got in 5 minutes. That’s right - five minutes of creative writing. Think of it as a word extravaganza to warm up your brain for the rest of the day!

2.   Tell us your first name, the name of your school, and how old you are.

Ready? Let’s go!

 

The poet Mary Oliver wrote this in one of her poems:

 

It is the nature of stone

to be satisfied.

It is the nature of water

to want to be somewhere else.*

 

 

What do you think she is saying about the difference between stone and water? How would you describe the ways that stone and water are different? What do you like or dislike about each of them?

Click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.

Happy Writing Wednesday!

 

 

*Excerpted from THE LEAF AND THE CLOUD, by Mary Oliver. Da Capo Press, 2001.

Photo: Russel Wills

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Poetry   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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