with Bruce Van Patter 2010-2011 School Visits

My visit to High Bridge Elementary!

The assembly stories

The four ingredients: a bear in the Bahamas looking for a friend up against a mean pig

The story: our hero has a bunny friend who goes on vacation in the Bahamas. But when the bear doesn't get a post card, he starts to worry and goes off to find him. It's a good thing he does, because the poor bunny has been grabbed by a pig who wants to use him in his sand sculpture. He wants to win the sand sculpture contest. (I hope you can tell from my drawing why he needed a bunny.)

So our bear builds his own sculpture to frighten off the pig.

Looking at it now, I think it's pretty strange that the pig didn't notice the bear making the shark sculpture. I think I should have made the sand shark on a surfboard, so that a wave could have washed him up close to the pig.

The randomly combined persuasive topic: mermaids and writing stories

The reason the adience voted PRO: Students thought that mermaids, being mythical creatures, would have amazing imaginations. Also, they could write about sea creatures we haven't even discovered yet. And finally, they could set their stories in the lost city of Atlantis, since they would know all about it.

Excellent reasons.

The one "con" reason that made me laugh is the boy who said mermaids would only write about pretty fish. So, despite the fact that he annoyed all the girls in the room, I decided to sneak that into my drawing.

Also, I liked the idea that she would use squid ink to write with!

The Persuasive Workshops!

The randomly combined persuasive topic: Evil Scientist and Collecting Rare Plants

The Persuasobox gave us: a movie review

We had to quickly come up with the plot for this movie, concerning an evil scientist using rare plants to create a potion that could control the minds of people. Helping him is a boy who knows the jungle. At the climax of the movie, the bad guy tries to get the boy to use the potion, but plant people haul off the scientist, saving the boy.

The verdict from 6th grade was that the movie copied too many elements from Avatar. That gave me a chance to mention how this is a real topic for debate: whether the frequent copying of ideas in Hollywood is a good or bad thing.

And for the record, it wasn't my idea to cast Justin Bieber as the kid in the movie. That was given to me by the class. And I know it doesn't look a lot like him, but I did, at least, make a Baby reference.

The randomly combined persuasive topic: Grandma Secret Agent and Cave Exploring

The Persuasobox gave us: an letter to the editor

The first thing we did was find a place in the world for this to happen. I spun a globe and a student put a finger on: TUNISIA! How timely!

After deciding reasons why the granny might go to a Tunisian cave, we imagined reasons why someone local might want or not want a group of grannies exploring caves. There were good reasons on both sides. I explained a few situation that are similar -- like how brown bats are dying because bat researchers unknowingly brought back a European fungus to American caves.

In the end, the class voted that Grannies should not be allowed to search the caves of Tunisia. After all, they are SECRET AGENT grannies. They're probably following some secret plan.

I had to draw one whacking a bat with a purse and poking it with a cane. If a granny could poke a bat with a cane, I would be amazed!

The randomly combined persuasive topic: Pirate and a Garage Sale

The Persuasobox gave us: an essay on a historical figure

No other session made me laugh as much as this one. Even though it was funny, it raised important topics.

We created a fictional pirate named Rusty Stetson. He left the pirate profession to start selling things he found abandoned at shipwrecks. He called them YARG Sales (I LOVE that name!) because he was famous for his short temper. If you tried to haggle, he'd make you walk off the pier where he'd set up his sales.

Here's the problem. Some people started to question if the merchandise Rusty sold was truly "abandoned." Some said that he caused the shipwrecks, or took things from houses that were only temporarily empty. This made me think of how in our college town, every spring people go through the "trash" left behind by college students -- finding all kinds of treasures. But in many towns, such "dumpster diving" is illegal, since it still technically belongs to the person throwing it out. That's a good topic for a persuasive article!

In the end, I drew this poor girl trying to get her teddy bear back. As I drew it, the kids made her more and more pathetic -- adding a tear, having her say she can't read. I'm the one who gave her trouble with her R's just to make her truly tragic. So why did we think that was so funny? You had to have been there.

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I love random connections! Here's a page that will create random What If Questions to help you start stories!

So, whether you write a story or some persuasive article, remember how much fun it is to get your ideas out. The goal is to have your thoughts
understood by someone else. It can be hard work to write, but all that effort is worth it if you can get someone else to understand your ideas.

Keep those great ideas flowing! You High Bridge students have great imaginations!

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