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Recent Blog Posts

Aug 03

Open to Advice Part II

Take what you did in Open To Advice Part I a step further. Have an editing conversation with your parents, and continue to practice being open and accepting. 

1. Give your piece to a parent or a guardian. Again, have a conversation with them. Really listen to what they have to say, even if you have never asked them for help before.


2. Be conscious of the conversations you just had and revise. Be open to change and help.



Once you have revised your piece with your feedback in mind, go back to either your friend or parents or guardians and have another conversation with them about feedback. Is there more you can improve upon? Keep an open mind -- and talk.

[Creative Commons Lisence: Randy Heinitz, non-commercial,

Aug 03

Physical Issues Part II

Expanding on Physical Issues Part I, use your photos to come up with solutions to the problems you saw. 

With activism, kindness, and volunteerism in mind, create one or two solutions/actions you and your class could take to help fix each of these problems. Ask your class to brainstorm solutions with you. Add your solutions to your slideshow. 

Talk to your class. Should you present your slideshow to an appropriate party? You could use this opportunity to make some real change in your community. 

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, Katlyn Schmigel, 2013]
Aug 03

Polish Methods Part II

Now that you have done your editing in Polish Methods Part I, let your friends help you. Use your friends to help you edit, and analyze your editing method.

First, give your second, clean piece you printed off in Part I to a friend. Ask them to mark it up with a pen.


Second, look at your three copies. Which method caught the most typos and mistakes? In the future, is there a method you would use above the other methods, or two methods you would use in conjunction?

[Creative Commons Lisence: Magnus Hagdorn, non-commercial,

Aug 03

Who - Part II

Now that you have your information and your basic paragraph from Who Part I, practice writing to an audience. Push yourself to adjust your writing to a certain audience and learn how to analyze your target readers.

1. Rewrite your paragraph from Part I as if you were going to read it to a group of kids under the age of 7. Think about language, appropriate information, attention spans, etc.


2. Rewrite your paragraph as if you were going to read it to a group of knowledgeable adults over the age of 70 that know a lot about your town. What will you change? What information will you include?


3. Rewrite your paragraph again, but this time, try to write it so that a broad audience that doesn't live in, or know anything about, your hometown would understand it. Again, think about what needs to change to create understanding, but to also appeal to and teach all ages.

Comment on the works of your peers. Tell them how well they did adjusting their voice.


Read your paragraphs to each group. Get feedback about how well you communicated your message to each particular audience.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Nate Ertle]


Impressions Part II

After commenting on the works of your peers in Impressions Part I, it's time to think about what you read. By the end of this project, you will have two letters that will be sent to members of your community to thank them, and hopefully create change. 

  • Analyze what you saw in the letters of your peers after you commented in Part I. Was there a common love that people share for your community? Was there something everyone thought should change?
  • Come together as a class and create a list of these similar themes.
  • Now, write two more letters: a thank you letter to a person or organization doing great things in town, and a letter to the appropriate parties about the one thing you all agree should change.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Michele Trombley]


Op-ed Part II

You've written your fun Op-ed in Part I, now, take it a step further and write an op-ed worthy of a newspaper. Become active in your community by making an educated opinion about what is happening in your town politics. 

First, do some research about what was voted on and what happened at your last town meeting. Your parents, teachers, and community leaders may be able to send you in the right direction to find this information. Find a decision that was made that you don't like.

Second, write an op-ed persuading your town to listen to your opinion about why you think this vote was the wrong choice. Use facts and your own persuasive voice. Keep your piece to 500 words or less. 

[Creative Commons Liscense: Theresa Thompson, non-commercial, https://www.flickr.com/photos/theresasthompson/] 


Debate Part II

The question discussed in Debate Part I is a question you may not be able to answer on your own. Your class is the community that will have to ask themselves the same question when the time comes. Get them involved, and expand your debating skills by learning how to express your opinions and come to conclusions with a community. 

First, poll your classmates. Do more want to stay, or do more want to go?

Second, have a respectful discussion/debate with your class about the topic. What are the reasons to stay? What are the reasons to move on? 

Third, reflect on all the opinions you have gathered. Really think about whether or not you have an answer. 

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, Karma Lama Sherpa]


Soapbox Part II

This is an idea, an extension, of what you could do after discussing community issues in Soapbox Part I. Be prepared to write a speech that will be presented to a member of your community in order to spark change. 

  • Once everyone has given their speech, listen to all of the soapbox speeches again. As a class, pick one of these issues and speeches and expand on what was said. Write a five minute speech about the issue.
  • As a class, pick a student to give this new speech to an appropriate party involved with the issue. Words have the power to make a difference in your community. Make a difference as a class community. 

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Beverly Gartland] 

Aug 02


Flex your photography skills, and analyze your communities and where their common meeting ground is. Use your photos to understand the behaviors of communities. 

1. Create a list of all of the communities you belong to. Really dig deep. 

2. Look at each of these communities and think: where do each of these communities converge? Where is the physical heart/common meeting place of each of these communities? (See also the Heart challenge.)

3. Take one photo of each heart of each of your communities. Don't stage the photos, but try to catch a moment when people are interacting with this place. 

Create a slideshow of each place. Ask yourself this question: why do these communities meet where they do? Try to write your answer; have your written answer end your slideshow. 

Comment on the slideshows of your peers. 

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Carla Gentner]

Aug 02

Correct This

Edit this story for grammar mistakes as a polish practice. You will find at least one mistake from each rule listed in the resource posts "Basic Grammar: Words" and "Basic Grammar: Punctuation."  (Teachers: Answer key is a resource that can be found here: https://mycommunity.ywpvt.org/node/301 )

The Murder of David Duke


     “Who was the culprit? Who murdered the man?” the officer asked.

“She did, the woman in the car,” the detective said, throwing a small look over his shoulder to the cruiser.

The woman in question was sitting, calmly, causally in the back of the cruiser — as if she was waiting for it to take off so she could do some light grocery shopping before the weekend.  The blood staining her hair was steadily dripping onto the carpet of the car.

“Who were her intentions directed at?” the officer asked, keeping his voice low, and his eyes off the woman.

“Him. David Duke,” the detective said, nudging the black bag by their feet with the toe of his loafers. “I can uncover him, if you’d like.”

“God no.” The officer shuddered. “Show me the weapon.”

The detective reached over the body bag. He rustled around for a moment only to pull up the bag containing the man’s severed ring finger.

“Oh god, please, lie that down on the examination table. Show me the weapon!”

“There’s three: a knife, a rock, and a hammer,” the detective said, his arm still shoved behind the body bag.

“Then show me already! You and me will have to stay late if you don't hurry,” the officer said. He glanced at the woman. She had started to casually braid the tips of her hair; the officer blinked. He couldn’t help but wonder whether or not she was a red head, or whether all of the blood had started to dye her hair.

The detective finally hauled clear bags in front of the two men.

“Are these all hers’?” the officer asked, leaning down to get a better look at the crimson tools.

“We think they belong to him. His girlfriend said she saw things missing from the garage.”

The officer grunted. “Is that what’s effected her? She’s mad that he’s got a new girlfriend?”

The detective looked at his notes. “According to the girlfriend, a photo the couple with a cross over it was hanged outside of their bedroom window.”

The officer chanced one more look at the woman in the cruiser. She had moved on from her hair to her nails. She was painting them — completely — red.

“So we definitely have enough evidence to bring her to court?”

    The detective nudged the body bag that contained David Duke once more. “Because of this? I’d say so.”

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Olivia Ville Marie]


Pick an issue that matters to you, research it and advocate for it. Get your class involved.

"There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil things and those who see evil things and don't try to stop it."
- Janis from "Mean Girls"

Consider the above statement. Now consider how you could go from inaction to action on an issue that matters to you. The idea behind this project is to not be a bystander, but to take action, take a stand for what you believe in.

The project:

  • Either as an individual or with a partner, pick an issue that you are passionate about. It can be anything: animal abuse, water conservation, human rights, bullying, any injustice you have seen or experienced, etc.
  • Research the issue and take notes; look for examples of the issue playing out in the media; look for examples of action being taken on the issue.
  • On your blog, write about why you picked this issue, what you learned -- and make a list of several ways people can help (Example: Donate to the ASPCA or contact your local congressman to encourage them to support a bill.) 
  • Add audio of you (and your partner) talking about why this issue matters and how people can help.
  • Add a photo slideshow. These can be photos you have taken or downloads of photos that reflect the issue (make sure to provide appropriate credit.)
  • Finally, check out what your classmates are doing -- and make a comment on their blogs!
This resource was adapted from a lesson by teacher Caroline Legan, Orleans, VT.

Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, John Ireland, 2014


Your Mood

Experiment with different voices to create a range of moods in your writing. 

Whether you are writing a story/ narrative, report, or essay you must think about the mood you are in, which often determines your voice. If you are bored, your writing will be flat and your reader won't care. If you are excited, you reader is more apt to be excited, too. But there is something more to voice -- mood or, in another way, the tone or personality of the text. Below are some descriptive words to identify different of types of voice you may choose to show in your writing:

Happiness          Guilt                Gratitude           Surprise
Excitement        Pride                Panic                Shame
Fear               Compassion         Embarrassment     Curiosity
Confusion          Arrogance          Empathy             Disappointment
Anger              Relief              Sympathy            Shock
Boredom           Satisfaction       Hope                 Exhaustion
Jealousy           Love                Anxiety              Confidence
Envy               Regret              Concern              Disapproval
Joy                Sadness            Loneliness            Remorse

For this challenge:
1. Choose one of the descriptors above and write a quick story using a voice that shows that mood/ personality. Take 7 minutes. 
2. Choose two different descriptors from above and rewrite your anecdote using a new voice that shows each new mood/ personality. IMPORTANT: Do your rewrite below the initial response so your classmates can see both versions.

Remember to:
- Title your entry with the mood/ descriptive word you chose from the list above and put the two discriptors above the second  version.

And don't forget to read several classmates' posts and give them some specific feedback on what you noticed about their posts.

This resource was adapted from a lesson by teacher Caroline Legan, Orleans, VT.
Copyrighted photo by Maciej Dakowicz  Girl in Islamic school in Srinagar, Kashmir, India, 2010. Used by permission.


Home -- Setting Tone

Sometimes the setting of your community story can establish the tone of the piece.

This challenge has two parts. First a quick write. And then RESPOND again with something more relevant to your community story efforts. The point is this: setting can often set the tone for a story, particularly if you use sensory detail, that is how a place sounds, or looks, or feels or smells.

  1. Look at the pictures above. Choose one that grabs you (or amuses you). Look at the details and imagine what it's like to live there. Imagine. Now, in 7 minutes and writing as quickly as you can, write about living in this house or coming upon this. How weird it is. How inconvenient it is. How cool it is. But try to use the house to set the tone. If you want to make the house spooky, go for it; if you want to make-believe you are a high flyer and have a mansion, fashion your story around that aspect. But set the tone. Go wild. Make up a story.
    1. Comment on several classmates' posts and see how they handled it. 
  2. The second part of this is to write about your own home. Click the RESPOND button on this challenge a second time and describe the setting of your home. Set the tone with specific detail; your home figures into your sense of community, help us, the readers, understand what your home is like. Incorporate photos into your post.
    1. Comment on several classmates' posts and see how they handled it. 

Credits: The original photographer and copyright of the photos in this slideshow are extremely difficult to determine since many have been appropriated and put on pinterest.com and twitter.com; using google image search yields, in most cases, more than 20 million results; blocking pinterest and other sites still did not yield the origin in most cases. Since these photos are being used on a limited basis for educational purposes, YWP would ask that none be made public and that they remain in use only in these private classrooms. That said, a few origins were discovered: luxury house with a pool: http://www.highcorkett.com/30-pelican-point-new-luxury-listing/. House with tree roots: cover art of Bon Jovi album, This House Not for Sale, a black and white image by photographer Jerry UelsmannUpside down house Via curious-places. Wreck of a house, clip art from https://scoopposts.info


Oscar creeped towards the creepy house. It was clear that Stackpole and McGee had been there, and that it had been abandoned only recently. The 'roots' were huge for a tree, and had been undoubtedly been chopped decades ago. It could of very well been built from the wood of it's bases former occupant. Oscar shuffeled into the abandoned fort, and what was inside discusted him.  Wooden chairs wit some legs missing and a stone table laid crumpled in a corner. The whole shack reeked of rotten eggs, and the creaky floorboards and walls felt as if they had been greased an hour ago. Oscar manuevered the rickety wooden staircase, for some of the stairs were missing. When he finally got upstairs, the view was no better. The windows were shattered beyond repair, and the shutters were riddled with holes, and a couple of them were hanging on one hinge, or fallen off altogether! Geez! Was there a raid here or something? Oscar thought. Little holes and broken windows? Good grief!  There was a bucket in the corner of the room filled with- eew! thats what the smell was! that's disgusting! Oscar fled the house afterwards, for the smell of human waste was unbearable.

I like ...

This is a simple -- and fun -- free write. Make a list or a long sentence that begins "I like ... "

Please write your responses in completion to the starter phrase: "I like ..."  Do it in 7 minutes; you can list, write a series of sentences or write a long, seemingly endless sentence.

Think about what you like: to do, to eat, to watch, to play, to ... whatever.  The object is to get as many ideas and/or words down as possible. 

COMMENT:  When you are finished, read someone else's and offer a comment AND a question. Authors: please write your response to the question as a reply to the comment.


From CoryF:  I like fishing because it is fun. I usually like to catch sunfish, bass and catfish. I like sunnies because they are the easiest fish to catch; all you need is a worm. I like bass because I get to use little gummy bait things, though sometimes I use minnows. I like to catch catfish the most because you can use the a whole fish. Sometimes I like to be careful and put the fish back in the water to catch another day. I caught a fish once that we had to kill because it swallowed the whole bait; after we cut it open we used the bait again but we didn’t catch anything because it wouldn’t sink; when I tossed it out, a beaver got it. I like fishing because we laugh a lot and it’s a think I can do with my Dad and my friends.

In this variant, students imagined they were a character in a book and then imagined what they'd like. This one was written by a boy reading Old Yeller who imagined he was living in East Texas after the Civil War: 
I like that there are no "posted land" signs.
I like that you can dip your cup in the river water and drink it.
I like that it's so quiet you can hear yourself think.
I like that there's no fences.

Photo: Creative Commons FlickrL R.W. Sinclair


I am the one

Finish this sentence, "I am the one who .... "  Take seven minutes. Only. Write as fast as you can.

This is a free write designed to show your writing style and reveal a little something about yourself. Take a moment to think about how you would start off and then get going. Go as fast as you can, don't worry about how it sounds or what you are saying, just go. In a word, don't edit yourself. At least not yet. Feel free to have lots of sentences that begin "I am the one who..." or have one long, run-on sentence that seemingly goes forever, or soemthing in between. Think about what you love to do, what you are good at doing, about your sense of humor, your creativity, about what you do to help others. Slide in a quick story if you can, but just keep on going. Below are a couple of exemplars from a middle school class.

When you are finished, save and read some of your classmates' posts and give them some comments with some specific things you noticed about their works.

Courtesy of MylesD of Richmond Middle School: I am the one who sizzles with power, bringing entire landscapes down in my eternal anger. I am the one who sits quietly in class, occasionaly glancing at the clock. I am the one who controls the sea, writhing in agony beneath the smooth scaled depths. I am the one who draws a picture on my single sheet of lined paper. I am the one who throws lightning at mountains that scrape the top of the ground. I am the one who likes to gaze at the stars. I am the one who makes vines grow with my feet, and makes petals shrivel with my touch. And I am the one who walks the thin line between fantasy and reality, treading careful toe over careful toe in a neverending battle with insanity. 

Courtesy of MollyC from Richmond Middle School: I am the one who is ambidextrous and will annoy the heck out of you. I am the one that does my best work when I'm walking barefoot outside. I am the one who will talk your ear off and then not speak for the next day. I am the one that can speak one line of about ten weird languages. I am the one that stretched three times over the summer and can now do a full split. I am the one who got bit in the eye by a cat when I was five, but still loves them to death. I am the one that started a flash mob. I am the one who pet-sit a parrot that saved a man from going to work on September 11, 2001. I am the one that's from a super Jewish family from New Jersey and a super country hippie family from California. I am the one that wanders off on family trips and always gets lost. I am the one that was born with bright blonde hair that's now faded to brown. I am the one that is obsessed with trash TV. I am the one that started my own duct tape wallet company in sixth grade and sold to my friends and teachers. I am the one whose mom is a cancer survivor. I am the one that wrote songs for an all-girls singing group in third grade. I am the one that's shy and awkward until you get to know me. I am the one that wrote a letter to Barack Obama in third grade and got a signed letter back. I am the one that won a contest for my lemon squares in fifth grade. I'm weird. I know it. But I'm just me.

(Photo credit: Dmitri Kessel, Life magazine)

If you would like to expand on this, here is an idea.
  • Story Formation: Take one of the things that you've posted in the initial response and write a story about how or why you are that way. A curve: Write it in the third person point of view, as if writing a story about someone else.
  • My Community Story: Take one of the things that you've posted in the initial response and show how this relates to how you connect with your community. Write the story behind your statement that "I am the one who ..."