"We're going to the tournament to have fun.
The way you have fun is you win!"
Memphis Futbol Club Soccer Coach
Every year our city celebrates Memphis in May where we honor a country and teach students about a foreign land. This year the country of honor is Panama. I attended a teacher's conference and presented my students with interesting facts about Panama so that they could enter the Memphis in May writer's contest. Not to brag, but I typically have a winner of this contest each year. This year, I was blessed with two winners!
Second Prize went to Lauren for her story about painting the golden altar in Panama black to keeppirate Captain Henry Morgan from stealing it from the church. Her story was rich with historic detail and smoothly written; however, other than giving her the background information, I can't take credit for her writing ability. She entered my class a few months ago, so I have not had a lot of time to develop her writing.
Santiago, my first place winner, came to my class close to the beginning of the year and was not the writer he is now, so I'll take credit for his success. His early writing was cluttered with boring "be" verbs that he has learned to replace with his rich vocabulary. This is a kid who reads constantly, and as a result, his vocabulary is better than that of most adults. He has also learned to use multiple senses in his writing and strong descriptive nouns. I am kicking myself for not saving his early work because it would be a great artifact for my professional development evaluation.
Here is the first paragraph from his winning entry. It's hard to believe that this was written by a fifth grader.
Crawling close to the ground, I stalked my prey. I got as close as I could. Then I lunged and with a quick snap of my jaws, the bird was dead. It tasted as sweet as the juice that came from a monkey's meat. I padded my way back to my home, a rocky overhang curtained with leaves; my prize hanging from my mouth. As I sprinted my way back home, my spotted coat blended in the shadows caused by the leafy canopy. The sweet fragrance of the star-shaped flowers wafted around me. The meaty taste of prey filled my hunger. I was home.
We enter contests for fun, but it is most fun to win!