If knowing your own opinion and your own feelings about issues is the place to start writing to change the world--the second step is finding out more. Lots of times, we think that the big issues are far away from us--like the war--or far in the past, like the discrimination against people of color and the civil rights movement. A writer who wants to change the world NOTICES what is happening--by paying attention. The local newspaper, the local radio stations and television stations, and internet news sites for children are all good places to learn about what is going on--and so is talking with your family, your teachers,  and your friends.  We discover that while the war might be far away in physical distance, its impact is felt right here in the mountains. We wish that racial discrimination was in our past, but we discover that it's not. These are just two issues of concern--what else might you find?

This week, pay attention and notice. Choose an issue that concerns you and write a reflection on your blog. A reflection is simply a statement about how you feel and what you think about the issue and WHY.  You might choose an issue we've discussed in class, or you might choose an issue that you read about in the local paper or heard about on the news. The reflection should be at least one paragraph.


   Suspects in cross burning near Fletcher still free


Afghanistan takes its toll on WNC families

Racial Slurs yelled at Local Residents

To go along with the post about opinions, facts, and feelings--here is a project that a local group, TEDxNextGenerationAsheville is doing--gathering ideas from young people around the area. Let's be part of the project and send in our ideas--all it takes is an idea or opinion, a piece of paper, a magic marker, and a camera--which I'll supply.

Ideas Worth Spreading link

Writing to change the world. What does that mean and where do you start?

One way to start is with your opinion. Here's what the dictionary says about opinion: A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof.

That's a pretty fancy way of saying that an opinion is something you believe--you might be able to point to facts that helped you come to the opinion or you might not. The important thing is that you believe that something is true or that something should be a certain way. Sometimes, you have an opinion and then you learn more about the topic and your opinion changes. Sometimes, you have an opinion and then someone presents information that persuades you to change your mind.

Another way to start writing to change the world is to start with a feeling. All good writers NOTICE what is going on in his or her own life, his or her own community, the country, the world! Sometimes, we notice or experience things that make us feel sad or that trouble us, might even make us feel afraid or angry. We may not yet have an opinion, we just have the feeling.

Which leads us to facts. The dictionary says that fact are: Knowledge or information based on real occurrences. Something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed.

You probably have gathered facts before--maybe you've looked for facts about a country or a tradition and pasted them onto a poster. Some facts just can't be argued with--we live in Asheville, North Carolina, for example. You go to school at Isaac Dickson Elementary School.

But not all facts are seen in the same way by every person. Think about Kek. In his country, a cow is special, to be treated with the greatest respect. A cow is a cow. That's a fact. But because he has a particular world view, he has an opinion of cows that might be different from the average citizen in the United States. In fact, he might point to all the same qualities of the cow that you would--and value them more highly.

It's all very interesting--and we'll be talking more about opinion, feelings, facts and how to write to change the world using all of them.

Here's is a video of a boy who lives right here in Asheville who has a very strong opinion about food. He researched his topic and then presented his opinion, his feelings, and his facts to an audience.  



     Now that you have spoken with a partner about the piece you would like to "re-envision," written down some answers to questions that popped up, cut apart your draft, organized it on a larger piece of paper and glued it down--it's time to check the TRANSITIONS!
     Transitions are merely words or groups of words that move a story, a letter, an essay, a research paper from one part to the next. I think of them as the merge ramps for when cars get on a highway. 
     Good transitions go beyond just saying- And or Then. Below is a list of transition words- that can be used to move from one idea to the next, one paragraph to the next--

Look at the piece you are re-envisioning with a partner. Ask them to circle the places where he or she feels like there needs to be better transition.

Add transition words and sentences (right on the draft) that will help your reader to merge smoothly throughout your writing!

Transition Words


Words that can be used to show location:










to the right



in back of





in front of

on top of













Words that can be used to show time:















as soon as



next week


when suddenly







Word that can be used to compare two things:




in the same way






Words that can be used to contrast two things:




on the other hand




even though


Words that can be used to emphasize a point:




for this reason

to repeat

in fact

to emphasize



Words that can be used to conclude or summarize:


as a result

to sum up

in conclusion



all in all



Words that can be used to add information:



for instance

for example





as well


along with




in addition



Words that can be used to clarify:

that is

for instance

in other words


A couple of weeks, we talked about world view and you worked on a first draft of your poem. Instead of posting it to your blog--wait and work it on with Ms. Keena during your poetry time. She'll be working with you on other poetic concepts and won't be get to this particular poem right away--but when she does, you'll have a chance to really dive in and make a poem that is rich with creativity! You'll also get a chance to interview your parents about your heritage--which will be so interesting.

Thanks to Ms. Keena!



Photo by Cynthia Leitich Smith, children and young adult author. Click the photo to visit her site.
     Oh, no! Revision! Anything but revision! If that's how you feel about revision then let me take a moment of your time and see if I can change your mind.
     First of all, I am so glad that I don't have to be perfect. So glad that I can write down a first draft and know that I can come back and make changes. The truth is, every piece of first draft writing is like a lump of clay that a potter puts on a wheel. It then needs to be shaped. Fortunately, a piece of writing can ALWAYS be revised--unlike a piece of pottery that gets fired into a permanent shape. Even PUBLISHED writing can be revised by the author.
      I like to think of revision as re-envisioning my writing. I write a draft and then get with some of my writing buddies and ask them to read it. I want them to help me dig deeper by asking questions. I might have a question to ask them--like, Do you think that last sentence feels right? They might then give me a suggestion. I know that as an author, I can accept the suggestion or not--it's my choice.
      When I go back to do a second draft, I look at the questions and the suggestions and I write about each one. Then, even though I have a computer which can cut and paste, I like to cut apart my drafts and move them around, paste them into a new order. I'm not the only one who does this. Many authors do...including Cynthia Leitich Smith. I've included a photo she took after she cut and pasted to dig deeper into her new novel. Here's a tip: even if you glue things down--you can always cut up that piece of paper!I love being surprised by what my second draft looks like--it's like watching a bean stalk grow toward the sun--and I don't mean just in length but in strength--finally flowering. I'm not yet at the point where my stalk or writing will actually produce--that requires a final polishing and editing--but more about that in the future~

Assignment: This week, choose a piece of writing to re-envision. You've been writing ALOT. Make a choice from:
  • Your photograph paragraph
  • Your "show more than tell" feeling story
  • Your letter to Kek
Here's what you do:  

  1. Consider your draft and its format. Can your photograph paragraph turn into a story with a beginning, middle and end? Does your feeling story have a good beginning middle and end--does it really get across the feeling through events that happened and details? Is your letter to Kek have all the parts of a good letter--introduction, middle, and conclusion?  Do you have a need for some suggestions? What questions do you have? Write them down.
  2. Share your draft with a classmate and ask him or her for some small and big potato questions AND ask them if they have any ideas for suggestions. (Just listen, don't argue! A writer always gets to decide what goes in his or her own writing.)
  3. Write the answers to the questions and try writing to the suggestion. You don't have to write alot--even a sentence will help you explore.
  4.  Look at the comments and questions I have made on your writing and write about some of those. 
  5. Get your supplies together: glue stick, scissors, a large piece of paper and a highlighter.
  6. Highlight the parts of your draft that you really like--what you want to keep--and cut them apart.
  7. Arrange these pieces on the large piece of paper in the way that feels best to you. Glue them down.
  8. Read back through this new draft and see if there are places where you might need another sentence or another suggestion. Don't be surprised if you feel like you do--

A good writer, particularly one who wants to write to change the world, understands his or her own world view. What is a world? What is a view?

Well, a look in the dictionary tells us that  world  is a noun and can mean:
1 : the earth and all the people and things upon it
2 : people in general : HUMANITY
3 : the system of created things : UNIVERSE
4 : the concerns of the earth and human affairs
5 : human society
6 : a class of persons sharing a common interest or activity
7 : a part or section of the earth and the people who live in it
8 : the scene of one's life and action

The word view,in this instance, is a noun and can mean:

1: the act of seeing or examining
3 : all that can be seen from a certain point
4 : range of vision

So, when we say world view, we mean the way that we see the many worlds we live in. There are many influences on how we see our worlds--our heritage, our family, where we live, what experiences we've had, what we like to do, our friends, our teachers, the type of government we have, even the type of home we live in!

Knowing what influences each one of us can help us to make choices about how we write to influence others.


This week, use the World View worksheet and map your worlds and influences. You'll already have had some time to do this and some discussion about this during our Monday class. Then, write a poem--using the guide I've provided--and post it on your blog. It is a first draft.

Over the next 2 weeks, I would like for you to visit the blogs and read everyone's poem.
  • I'd like for you to identify one ABSTRACT word that the author can UNPACK.
  • I'd also like for you to make a quick comment about something you learned about that person that you didn't know or that surprises you. 

Where I'm From By Scott I am from Texas
where deep in the heart lies Austin.
I am from the sunny Saturday afternoons
of Texas Longhorn football games.
I am from sports
and the lessons that I learn from these games
I play with all my ability and enjoy the victories.

I am from my family, friends,
and awesome food.
I am from my grandmother's warm pies
and my parents cooking, from which
I grew to be a large boy.
I am from Texas barbeque
which smells and tastes like none other.
Although I cannot have it right now
I can still remember.

I am from Tennessee
where I live at the Foothills of the Smokies
and enjoy hiking on clear days.
I am from lessons in literature
and the sounds of a saxophone.
I am from the try your hardest
and never give ups.
I'm from my hard work
and the present as I continue on life's journey.