Bob Boone

Student Writing


For its 20th birthday, YCA published UNDER CONSTRUCTION, a collection of writings. You can get a copy this by calling YCA or by sending an e-mail to this web site. Here are a few samples:

Here is a poem by Xavier Ramey, a graduate of YCA and now a director of YMEN (Young Men's Educational Network). This begins a "Teacher Writing" section of the web site.

Here are some recent excerpts from Hubbard High School juniors.

The prompt was, "Waiting Room"

Check out Say What magazine online.

Check out Polyphony - a student-run national literary magazine for high school writers and editors!

Students at Walter Payton High School are finishing up a semester-long "Story Writing" seminar. Here are some more highlights.
All of these are responses to prompts from "MOE'S CAFE.

As you probably know, MOE'S CAFE has many exercises devoted to creating a setting. The very first exercise asks young writers to describe a truly disgusting restaurant.

On a recent Thursday morning students from Payton High School in Chicago, began their writing seminar by describing this restaurant. First they answered questions about the setting. Then they developed their answers into a letter to a friend and finally they shared their favorite sentences. Here are some of them:

After a long, dreadful day at school, my trip home was my only real outlet to escape the rigors of the educational system.

I am a gentleman of impulse.

I walk in sweating buckets of sticky water when I feel a gust of hot, disgusting air.

I wrinkled my nose in distaste at the sharp tang of sweat and stale meat that permeated the room, clinging to my skin and nestling itself into the creases of my clothes.

It smelled terrible, like body odor mixed with burnt hair.

My eyes were already on the verge of tears.

It started to have the stench of a bathroom, than that of a landfill, until it finally became the horrible body odor smell of someone who hasn't showered for months.

The hostess was a big-boned lady of six feet, well, I shouldn't say lady, because 'it' had so much hair on its face, that I couldn't tell if it was a woman or a man made Chew-Bocca.

Finally, a waitress walks up, and this chick is just grime. She looks like she can be my grandma's grandma. And on top of that, she's covered in band-aids, has lakes of pit stains under her arms, and the worst breath I've ever smelled in my life. It's like two rats crawled into her mouth, then died.

While the charming waitress smacked her gum in my face, I ordered what in a normal restaurant would be considered breakfast.

….old Moe slinked his wizened visage resembling a nervous ferret, as he darted his eyes back and forth, surreptitiously, a smirk contorting his pockmarked features.

He was a mountain of a human being with jowls that flapped like tarps in the wind.

I ordered a plate of pancakes and thought they couldn't be THAT bad. But, of course, I was horribly, horribly, horribly wrong.

Check out the results of the NCTE's Norman Mailer contest.

This summer students at East Village Youth Program in Chicago took part in a group creative writing project. Their task was to create a TV series that takes place in a run-down apartment building.

In the first class they described the filthy restaurant on the ground floor. In the next class they selected a character and described that person's room. In the following weeks they shaped their character. Here are a few of these people.

      Artistic acrobat
      Bored brain surgeon
      Devious dentist
      Egomaniacal electrician
      Kinetic kindergarten teacher
      Manly mortician
      Nerdy nurse
      Sloppy Spy

In upcoming weeks they will write episodes involving several of the characters. We will keep you posted.

Web sites with student writing examples, rubrics, models:
Lee's Summit
Writing Fun
National Scholastic Press Association

Forever Relative
Marvin Gaye -His music and Influence
La Llorona
I Prayed for You
Evening (After Rainer Maria Rilke)

Go'head Girl Witcha Bad Self!
all my life's a circle
Blind Beauty

In a few weeks we should have some student-written historical fiction. In the mean time, enjoy these poems from YCA graduates.
Care Bears vs. Sesame Street
First Time
I Remember
Poor Man's Memory

These two stories started with prompts from MOE'S CAFE. Following the stories are a few helpful (we hope) comments.
Luck at the Beach/A Stranger's Request
The Final Shot/Electricity

Here are some EVYP student writing samples from the job/trait paper: Angry Attorney and Idealistic Interior.

Here are some excerpts from The Spiral Eye, a publication from Young Chicago Authors. Click here to read them.

Check out the student writing samples at this website, which organizes papers by grade and paper type (personal narrative, research, poetry etc.).

Here are some selections from "...illustrations of nature's magnitude within hands reach..." This is a poetic forms book edited by YCA teachers Tara Betts and Jenn Morea. "The poems in this collection communicate across time and place, and have in them the dynamics of discovery."

A ghazal is a short, lyric poem written in couplets using a single rhyme. The ghazal is an important lyric form in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu poetry, often providing the basis for popular love songs. Here is Rebecca Liu's.

A haibun is a combination of brief prose and haiku often autobiographical or written in the form of a travelogue. Haibun's first became prominent in seventeenth-century Japan. Here is James Dillingham's.

A pantoum is a dreamy verse form composed of quatrains in which the second and fourth lines are repeated as the first and third lines of the following quatrain. The pantoum originated in France, based on a form from Malaya. Here are Barbara Pacheco's and Jannine Ochoa's.

A sonnet is a fourteen-line lyric poem. Sonnets originated in thirteenth-century Italy. The relative brevity and rigidity of the sonnet form challenges the poet's concentration of thought, exactness of expression, and skill in working with a rigid rhyme scheme. Here is Emily Cotterman's.

Here is a short story by Jennifer Gerena, a student in my fall Walter Payton High seminar program. I know the student would appreciate your comments. Click here to read it.

This month I ran a creative writing workshop at the East Village Youth Program in Chicago. I used one of my old favorite prompts: "The Final Shot." In this the students describe supercharged moment in a high school basketball game

Prompt: You find yourself inside a gym packed with noisy fans watching a high school basketball play-off game. Three seconds are left and the Heyworth Hornet star Jamie Scheets has an open shot from the corner. If he makes it, the home team wins. If he misses, the visiting Pekin Dragons win and eliminate the Hornets from the state tournament. You are sitting in the middle of a section of screaming Hornet fans with a great view of the action.

Here are a few samples.

  • Imelda Escalera
  • Faith Harper
  • Valeria Hurtado
  • Yucel Sandoval

    * The Payton High School students continue to work on their stories. In one class they concentrated on character. In another they concentrated on place. They've also played around with the point of view. Next month you can read the final drafts

    Click here for previous student writing.

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