Friday, September 13, 2013

Fearless Writing

Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.

Writing always seems to be a weak area for elementary students.  As educators, we tend to teach as we learned--formulaic, methodical, and structured.  Unfortunately, for the arts, (and I DO include writing as an art form albeit a seemingly dying one), structure and cookie-cutter doesn't quite cut it.  In teaching writing, we must allow students to be expressive, celebrate their ideas and unique outlook on their world.  That would be just fine if they haven't already been jaded by the relentless drafting and revision processes that we must teach in order to truly and adequately teach the "writing process."  I think we do more harm than good by not just giving them a chance to write creatively without fear of judgement or failing.  

Motivation is key.  Why SHOULD kids WANT to write anymore?  They text, tweet, Facebook, blog, etc. all day.  Social media is the new chat rooms which were the new forums which were the new face-to-face social clubs.  SO how are we supposed to convince our kids that they can and should write creatively...for school...for their teacher...without fear?

I found an app that remarkably did exactly what I wanted it to do.  (Yes, there is an app for that too!!) It is called ColAR Mix and it is FREE!  (There is an in-app upgrade if you choose for $2.99).  This app comes with coloring pages that can be turned into 3D Augmented Reality animated images!!!  

I did not tell the students about the app at first.  I wanted to see what they would produce for me based on their pictures.  I instructed them to write about what the think is happening in the picture.  Who is it?  What do they want?  What's stopping them from getting what they want?  Where are they?  How do they change or do the circumstances change so that either they get what they want or stop wanting what they want?

The kids colored their pictures, proudly sharing their masterpieces with each other and me.  Then they began writing.  No prompt.  No expectations.  Total freedom.

The stories that emerged were worthy of a celebration!  I couldn't believe the imagination and creativity of the stories that were written!  We decided to celebrate their drafts and revisions with an author's chair the third week of school!  We invited the parents, administration, and other classes to come hear and see our work.  Little did they know what was in store for them with the app!  

Here are screenshots of the app accompanying some of the incredible stories that were written.  Thank you to all of the staff and parents that came out to support my kids!  We are so grateful for the opportunity to share our genius with you!

Drago the Gold Stealer
By:  Ryan J.
3rd Grade 2013-2014

Once there was a dragon named Drago.  He wanted to take the gold from the king and queen.  He attacked the castle for many years, but he just couldn’t fit through the door because he was so big.  So he tried going through the side.  He broke in! 

He couldn’t find the room with the gold.  The castle was like a maze.  He broke through the top and found the room with the gold.  He saw the king and queen then roared and flew away.

He came back the next day.  The king ordered the knights to seize Drago.  Drago dodged every arrow and cannonball.  The king told the knights to throw a net.  They got him!  But Drago broke through the rope net.  Unfortunately, he fell into the castle.  All of the bricks crushed Drago’s tail.  Drago’s tail was broken!  Drago moaned and moaned. 

The king did the right thing and put a cast on Drago’s tail.  Drago gave all of the gold back to the king.  They became friends from that day on and they lived happily ever after.
The Dragon and the Boy

By: Ashton F.

3rd Grade 2013-2014

One time there was a dragon.  He was the meanest thing ever alive.  The only thing he cared about was diamonds.  Nobody even dared to go near the dragon, not even the village idiot, unless that person wanted to die.  There was only one person that was brave enough and all he had was a stone in his hand.  Inside the stone was a diamond though.  He thought to himself, “Do I try to defeat the dragon or do I give in?”  He decided to give the stone with the diamond to the dragon.  This surprised the dragon and he promised to never attack the kingdom again.  They all lived happily ever after.

Dragon Bait

By:  Caleb H.

3rd Grade 2013-2014

Once there was a kingdom that was always on the lookout for dragons, especially a dragon named Drago.  He was the fiercest dragon of all.  His claws were seven feet long and had huge _____.  He also had a huge spiky tail, large teeth, and humungous wings.

One day, Drago stopped at the kingdom to get a sip of water and then the King Ranch saw Drago and sent a whole bunch of guards with bows to kill Drago so they could eat him.  Drago saw the guards with the bows so he flew away.

The next day he planned to attack the kingdom.  In the morning Drago went to the kingdom and started from top to bottom killing the guards who were after him.  One of the guards new a secret passage that led right to Drago’s foot, so he went through the passage, got his bow and aimed the arrow at Drago’s foot.  But Drago moved fast enough that the guard missed his shot.

Drago looked in the hole and then took his out of the hole and stuck his tale in the hole and started throwing spikes.  All the guards shot arrows at Drago but his scales were too strong.

Finally, Drago picked up the castle of the king and started destroying it.  The king and all the guards gave up and retreated into the forest.  Drago lived in the kingdom and was never bothered again.


By:  Abby S.
3rd Grade 2013-2014

As Isabella skipped in the woods she sang a song that she was going to sing at her concert.  When she returned home she got ready to go to her room when she noticed some brownies on her desk.  She was confused but she took a bite anyway.  When she did she fell on the floor.  Her sister came looking for her.  When she saw Isabella on the floor she smiled.  Finally she would be the big popstar and not her sister.  Isabella started to wake up and ask her evil twin why she had poisoned her.  “Why did you do this to me?  I know you are jealous, but you could have asked me to o a duet with you.”
The evil twin decided to accept the deal and apologized for poisoning her sister.

The Lost Crow
By:  Valerie P.
3rd grade 2013-2014

Once there was a lost crow and she couldn’t find her way home.  She saw a pink yummy worm, but she thought to herself that she shouldn’t eat it but rather ask it for directions.  When she asked for directions the worm got scared and kept on crawling.  Emily the Crow didn’t want the worm to get away so she picked the worm up in her beak.  The worm said, “Please don’t eat me!”  Emily said, “I’m not going to eat you silly! I need your help.”
She put the worm down and he looked up at her.  “My name is Wormy, what’s yours?” the worm asked.
“I’m Emily the Crow,” she said.
“I need to ask you a question.  Where am I?”
“We are in Farmersville.”
“Farmersville!?  But I am trying to get to New York City!” Emily said.
“I thought birds could fly.  Why don’t you just fly there?” asked Wormy.
“I don’t know which direction to fly.”
“I can help you.  I have always wanted to see New York.” Said Wormy.
“Why don’t you come with me?  You can show me how to get there and then you can stay with me once we are there?” said Emily.
“That sounds great!”
So Emily and Wormy flew to New York and Emily made Wormy a little house so he could be safe.


The Soccer Day
By: Emma K.
3rd Grade 2013-2014

I woke up so frightened because it was Tuesday the day of the big soccer game.  Mom made pancakes that looked like soccer balls.  After breakfast I practiced for an hour.  My Dad said it was almost time for the game.   I worried and was nervous the entire ride to the field.  When I got onto the field my friend Lizzy came up to me and said, “It’s okay, Emma.  I know you can do this.  You have been training for this all season!”  That made me feel better.  I said, “You’re right!  Let’s do this!”  The game was tough but in the end we won!  I was glad I didn’t let my nerves get to me.   It was an awesome day!

The Lonely Tiger
By: Camaren G.

3rd Grade 2013-2014

Once there lived a tiger who never ate meat.  His mother had taught him that vegetables were healthier for him than meat.  He remembered trying them and thought that they were yummier than meat.  Now he is all alone because hunters killed his family. He walked alone near the edge of the forest near the sidewalk where people would pass with their pets.  He always wondered what it would be like to have a real person family and be treated like the pets he saw. 

One day the tiger was eating his vegetables in the forest when a hunter came up.  The hunter thought that all tigers were mean.  When the tiger didn’t attack the hunter it surprised him. 

“Hi!” said the tiger.

The hunter was shocked that the tiger could talk.  “Was that you?” he asked. 

“Yes,” said the tiger.
“I am lonely can I go with you?” the tiger asked.

“Okay, but only if you don’t destroy all of my things,” said the hunter.

“Okay, thank you!  I promise I won’t hurt anything.”

The hunter and the tiger walked off together and the tiger was happy.

Paint My House
By Yasmin A.
3rd Grade 2013-2014

There was a house that had been forgotten.  It was off in the woods.  One day a dog went sniffing around the woods and came up to the house.  He immediately ran away home.  They next day he brought his owner back to the house.  The owner said, “Wow! This could be our house!”
So he saved up his money and painted the house a pretty color, fixed the doors and windows, and rearranged the furniture inside.  All he needed was a vase of flowers to finish the job.  Once he put the vase in the house he and his dog lived there very happily.

The Chinese Cat
By: Gavin S.
3rd Grade 2013-2014

One day a long time ago there was a cat lost in the jungle.  He wanted to find his home but he couldn’t.  He was looking around and found a rainbow.  He decided to climb the rainbow and when he did he found his home. 

Homerun Baseball
By Ethan K.
3rd Grade 2013-2014

Once there was a baseball who wanted to be a homerun so bad.  He had heard that it was pretty on the other side of the fence but he had never seen it.  Mysteriously he kept missing the bat every time he was thrown over the plate.  He knew why he was missing the ball.  He was just too fast.  He tried to slow himself down by spinning.  That didn’t work.  He tried pushing himself back but he couldn’t.  He was ready to give up.  Then one day a mysterious gust of wind came while the ball was in the air and it slowed him down just enough to hit the bat.  He felt nervous because he didn’t know if he would actually go over this time.  “I won’t make it.  I won’t make it, “he thought to himself.  Suddenly, he saw the fence pass by him and he thought, “I shouldn’t have ever doubted myself.  This place is beautiful!”

I encourage you to download and explore innovative used for this app in your classroom!  It is incredible!


  1. Please which application are you using in your class? it's awesome! Congratulations! Your students must have fun and learn a lot!

  2. At what point did you introduce the app to the students? and on PC or iPad or ?? These are really cool.

    1. I didn't intro the app until their author's chair was a surprise and highly motivated them to create more :D