August 2, 2016 will forever live in the memory of the students who attended the inaugural session of the Farragut writing summer camp, directed by Lower School language arts teacher Cate Taylor.
For on that memorable Tuesday, campers entered Mrs. Taylor’s room in the morning to find a delectable and decorative assortment of doughnuts scattered neatly on two plates on a table.
Yet, while enticing as it may sound and as even more enticing as it had been for those campers, the doughnuts — vanilla frosted with red sprinkles, chocolate frosted, glazed, just to name a few — were not immediately available for consumption. Rather, they presented the campers with an opportunity.
“It was a chance for them to use their imagination to write from an audience perspective,” said Taylor, who coincidentally possesses a degree in psychology.
More specifically, the assignment focused on persuasive writing. In this case, persuading people on topics like why they should eat a particular doughnut (or not), how doughnuts are one of America’s favorite treats, or something humorous about the doughnuts origin.
They also had to use figurative language to describe the doughnut, often while incorporating metaphors and similes.
Mrs. Taylor said having kids think like this is a major reason she decided to start the camp at Farragut this year.
“I had been asked to teach at the Poynter Institute Writer’s Camp a few years ago and it was an incredible experience,” said Taylor, who has taught at Farragut since 2010. “Unfortunately, though, they stopped doing it due to the lack of funding from Pinellas County. I thought there was a need for it and we had a great response this year.”
Taylor capped the enrollment at 12 students, grades 4-8, and the number was quickly realized shortly after it posted on Farragut’s website. A majority of the students came from schools throughout Pinellas County.
Besides the persuasive writing experience, other interesting activities included writing short stories and passages by using “The Important Book” by Margaret Wise Brown as a guide and crafting a whodunit thriller by using a “crime scene” creatively devised by Taylor and her daughter. At the end of the week, parents were invited to enjoy the last day by listening to the wide array of stories while eating punch and cookies, but surprisingly not doughnuts.
“It was an incredibly fun week,” said Taylor, who envisions the camp growing into two one-week sessions next summer.
“The kids who attended the camp were enthused about writing. They embraced the idea of being creative. They loved the way one can use expressive language to improve their storytelling. It was a fun experience. I’m excited about seeing how much the camp can develop.”
Here is a list of the some of the activities the camp included:
- Best part of me: picture a part of body they like best. Then student writes about why they like it best ex: legs; so I can run fast in soccer…
- Comic strip writing using comic strip paper
- Story bags: write a story based on 5 random items in a bag
- Doughnut writing: persuade, inform, or entertain
- Letter to parent thanking them for something
- Write your story on a beach ball: followed mentor text pattern
- Crime scene: describe what happened