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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Training students to show where they are in their stories.

Where am I?

If students develop the skills necessary to write a focused story, there will be adequate space to include settings that involve the reader's imagination. In other words, instead of just telling the settings, they can show them, painting vivid pictures in the minds of their readers by using the senses, shape, size, color, etc. While a beginning writer will tell the setting at the beginning, your intermediate and more advanced writers have the maturity to allow their setting to evolve, if you will, throughout the entire event. Here are a few examples that show the setting of the story instead of just telling it. Read these to your students to see if they can draw conclusions from the details to figure out what might be the location of each from the clues given.

1. I raced across the burning hot sand to the waiting cold water ahead. My feet were singed and I was completely out of breath as I set my towel, umbrella, and lunch basket down. A seagull was diving at my head, apparently hoping for some scraps of food, but I had none to offer. I glanced to my right and noticed a lone fisherman casting his rod and reel in the distance. He must have been doing well because his ice chest was overflowing with fish! To my left I heard the soft laughter of a little girl and her mom as they playfully built a sand castle together. I couldn't wait much longer to splash into the water! Where am I?

2. As I stepped into the room, a mountain of books appeared around me on all sides. About thirty or forty children were milling around the room, but not one of them uttered a word. A soft spoken woman sat behind a desk near the door with the sound of a computer beeping as she scanned books under them one after another. Several teachers came in with their arms full of books, binders, and other materials. I walked to a corner of the room and pulled a book off the shelf. Where am I?

3. The room was cold, dark, and quiet. A single beam of light shone from the back of the room all the way to the front, where a humongous white screen came alive with people and places. The aroma of popcorn filled the air and the sweet, icy Dr. Pepper felt great as it slid down my parched, scratchy throat. The place was almost packed with other occupants of the soft, comfortable, cushioned seats. I took my wife’s hand and settled in for a nice relaxing time with her. She just looked at me and smiled. Where am I?

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