Click on Room 17!!! It is our new home!!!
You may have noticed that our class has not been blogging lately using this blog. Then again… maybe you haven’t. Either way, after discovering blogmeister (a free classroom blogging tool), I have decided to start shifting most of our classroom blogging experiences to our Language Arts blog, the Room 17 Publishing Company. This new blog (I feel like I have too many blogs… here a blog, there a blog, everywhere a blog blog) allows for more widget type applications and Flash.
Room 17 has lots to offer:
I invite you to check out Room 17. Stop by and say hey!
Oh and just in case you didn’t notice the links above, you can click HERE to visit our new site.
Alright guys, you will find my rough draft of Strangers and Saints below. A couple of things to consider:
1. What should I change? Does the plot make sense?
2. I purpously did something that I noticed a lot of you guys doing in our mystery stories. Do you recognize it?
3. What do you think of my conclusion? Denoument?
THWACK! The sound of a knife puncturing the tin can echoed throughout the ship’s mahogany walls. “Not another can of horrible food, “Tim thought to himself as he opened another stinky can of hash and handed it to his best friend William. “Hand it here Timmy that mush isn’t going to get any fresher than it is now, “William said, taking a handful of what Tim could only assume was potatoes.
Tim and William had been on the Mayflower now for roughly a month and a half. The two had started off the journey with high spirits; hoping to find religious freedom in the New World. Although they were both there for the same main reason, Tim was looking forward to having his family join him after he was settled. William, on the other hand, was a different story. Back home in England, William’s family was killed due to their religious practices. The Mayflower was a chance for William to escape his rough past and start anew in the New World.
The journey on the Mayflower had started out well. Tim joined his group of Pilgrims aboard the ship on August 22, 1620. The first few weeks were enjoyable for Tim. He spent most of his days enjoying the scenery of the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. Quite often he would stroll around the ship’s top deck and marvel at the ship’s intricate mahogany banisters. Although the ship was dingy, Tim could appreciate the fine craftsmanship that had formed the ship’s railings. Aside from the top deck, Tim also found a particularly special place; the look out tower. Despite the fact that Pilgrims were not allowed in the tower, Tim took a special liking to it and even though Pilgrims were not allowed! In fact, he even carved his name in the tower’s wall! Unfortunately for him, that is where things started to turn sour!
On the third week of the voyage, Tim was summoned to the Captain’s chambers. The captain asked him if he had carved his initials into the look out tower’s wall. Tim admitted to the crime immediately. After considering the punishment for a brief moment, the Captain noticed that Tim’s size would be perfect for helping around the ship. Tim’s tall frame (at 6’2”) was put to good use. The captain assigned Tim to “rigging duty”.
This job was unique in that Tim was the only Pilgrim assigned to a job that the strangers (or sailors) would most often complete. Unfortunately this job made other Pilgrims look down on Tim. As a result, Tim started to recognize that there was a group of Pilgrims who thought they were better than him. He called these folks the “Pilgrim Elite.” One person in particular, Joe Smith, was exceptionally hard on Tim. You see, Smith walked around the ship like he was better than everyone else, particularly a Pilgrim tuned Pirate like Tim. Smith was a tall, skinny man, who wore an expensive, satin dress shirt, stainless, brown cotton pants, and walked around on his tip toes.
Needless to say, after a few weeks of working around the ship, Tim’s positive outlook on things started to change. Working from sun up to sun down was taking its tool on Tim physically and mentally. First off, he looked like a wreck. What used to be fairly decent clothes had now turned into dingy white pants, a stained white dress shirt, and a small hat. Furthermore, Tim had started to grow irritable. Who could blame him though? Aside from working all hours of the day, people were starting to get sick around him. In fact, one person died! Fear started to spread on the ship. The Saint Elite began to blame everyone else for the sickness and the divide between the two groups grew.
“Alright… pass the hash here; I guess I have to eat at some point, even if it is this stuff, “Tim said to William. Tim began shoveling the hash into his mouth as if he hadn’t eaten in a week. In reality, without a hot meal due to the fear of fire spreading on the ship, Tim probably hadn’t had a real meal in a month! Tim and William quickly finished the can of hash and laid down for the night.
That night Tim started to feel ill. At first, Tim thought it was the hash; he had a bad stomach ache that soon started to turn into a large sweat. “Great,” Tim thought to himself, “I’ve caught something.”
The next morning, Tim woke up and was not feeling much better. “You don’t look good. What’s wrong?” William said looking at Tim, obviously concerned. Tim replied, “I don’t know, last night after we ate I started feeling horrible. I have an upset stomach, headache, and I can’t stop sweating.” At that very moment, Smith approached the two and said arrogantly, “My my… what do you know? The pirate has fallen ill. We need to do something about this. The last thing I want is for YOU to get ME sick. I need to make it to the New World. I have important matters to attend to. I will be speaking with the captain about this,” and he walked away.
Tim tried his best to proceed with the day, but he couldn’t get much work done felling the way he did. He managed to get though mid-day, but had to quite. He quietly stumbled off to his sleeping quarters, laid down, and fell right asleep.
Roughly two hours later Tim was awakened suddenly. “Get up, Captain’s orders!” a short, grungy man exclaimed. “What… what’s happening?” Tim asked. The man replied, “Captain needs to quarantine you. Says the Elite and Smith have been complaining about your kind getting sick. They don’t want you to spread whatever it is you’ve got.”
The man grabbed Tim and hulled him away to a small cellar on the bottom level of the ship. Tim was crammed in between barrels of rum and farm animals; a fine place to recover! Luckily, William caught wind of the event and rushed to Tim’s side.
“It’s that Smith, his father has funded a large portion of the trip. The captain has to do what he says, or else he won’t get paid,” William explained to Tim. William continued, “We can’t do much now though. However, I overheard one of the Strangers saying that he thought we may be close to land. Let’s try to wait this out.”
The next day land was sighted. Everyone was so excited that they forgot about Tim and William. William helped Tim escape from his cell and they both ran off into the woods of the New World and were never heard from again.
One student in our class owns a shirt that says, “No homework until my videogames are done!”. At first I thought it was a pretty funny shirt, but then it made me think, “What if videogames were homework?”Recently, I observed a youngster using the “Pict-o-chat” function on a Nintendo DS. In essence, the child can simply join a chat session with any DS users in the room and have a conversation! After taking a look at the Pict-o-chat screen, I noticed that (kids… cover your ears) the students were not only communicating, but writing!
I can’t tell you how often students don’t want to write, but to see them openly communicating via the DS was awesome! Granted, at the time, spelling was not an issue and the students were not working to problem solve, but I think there may be an educational value to the Pict-o-chat feature of the Nintendo DS. While I don’t have any current plans to use the DS, I am planning on investigating it as a possible tool to use in the classroom for group work and problem solving. Any thoughts?
“It’s not time for pumpkin smashing yet,” I said as I turned the corner last night around 11:00 and saw two pumpkins smashed in the road. The lights on my blue Pontiac car revealed the carnage of two of my neighbor’s pumpkins smack dab in the middle of my street. I knew the pumpkins belonged to my neighbors. I could clearly see the spot in their front step where the jack-o-lanterns lived earlier that day. Their cement front porch looked bare without their only Halloween decorations.
My street is a quiet street. Our neighborhood is filled with single story homes that house nice families; some with kids, some without. Either way, someone in our neighborhood decided to take it upon themselves to demolish my neighbor’s pumpkins and I was going to bring the perpetrator to justice.
“Who do you think it is?” I asked my wife. She pondered my question for a second, twirling her tree-trunk brown hair and replied, “You know who it might be? It might be old man Withers across the street. He came over to the house the other day complaining about the Johnson’s inflatable Halloween decorations. He said that he hates Halloween and that it is an unnecessary holiday. Maybe he took it upon him self to get rid of the neighbor’s pumpkins.”
You see, my wife is smarter than me; no doubt about it. Milly has been my wife for two and a half years and can always figure out a good mystery. Luckily I had her on my side! Nonetheless, it was time to investigate. I took it upon myself to bring my neighbor’s pumpkin smashers to justice. After thanking Milly again for a good lead, I walked across the street to 73 Brownstone Lane and knocked on the faded brown door that belonged to Archibald J. Withers. You see, Archibald was a cranky old man. He didn’t have a family to enjoy holidays with, so he felt that others shouldn’t enjoy them either. After knocking more times that a Girl Scout selling cookies, the old man answered the door.
Mr. Wither’s said, “Oh, it’s you. What do you want?” I stood in front of him for a second, looking at the old, pudgy man before me.
“Why is he so negative?” I thought to myself. Maybe it’s because his yellowish-gray toupee is on too tight? Maybe it’s because his green and orange plaid pants where up to high? Chances are though, he is just plain grumpy.
“Mr. Withers,” I said, “would you have any idea as to what happened to the Johnson girl’s pumpkins?” He frowned and replied, “No, but I am glad to see them in a million pieces in the road. Those girls are trashing this neighborhood, with their decorations. This neighborhood used to be nice before everyone started with their pumpkins and inflatable decorations. Why? Do you think I had something to do with it?”
I replied, “Well, not exactly, I just know that Halloween isn’t your favorite holiday. Where were you last night?”
“Why I was bowling until 10:30 and then I came home and went to bed. Would you stop with these silly questions and leave me alone! I have to head to my daughter’s house. She is going to give me a haircut.” The next thing I knew, I was standing on Mr. Wither’s porch with his door slammed in my face. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why would he need a haircut? He has a toupee!”
After returning home, I had to collect my thoughts on the case so far. Obviously, Mr. Withers has a reason to smash the pumpkins, but would the old man go that far as to destroy someone’s property? I had to run all of this by Milly.
After conferring with Milly, she mentioned that it might be a good idea to go and talk to the Johnson’s in order to see if they saw anything suspicious last night. Sometimes I think that she should be conducting this investigations. After all, she is the one with all of the good ideas.
The Johnson’s live next door and they are a great family. The two girls always say hi and are quick to pick up their toys that they leave out in the yard; perfect neighbors! The house was similar to mine; one story, smaller front yard, one car garage, and a neutral color. The red front door seemed as inviting as a grandma with cookies. The girl’s mom Kendra answered the door.
“Hey Ethan, what can I do for ya?” she said chipperly.
“Well Kendra I noticed that your girl’s pumpkins were smashed and was wondering if you noticed anything strange last night?”
“Oh thanks for you consideration. I didn’t see anything strange. However, I wasn’t around last night because I was bowling. After bowling got done around 10:00 I picked the girls up from their grandma’s and we came home. You can ask the girls if you want. Maybe they saw something at night.”
Hmm… bowling got done at 10 for Kendra, but 10:30 for Withers. This seems strange. I wonder where Withers was from 10 to 10:30?
Kendra called the girls from their room and they came runing out.
The first daughter, Sara was in first grade. She had sandy blond hair, rosy cheeks, and a bright smile. Sara said, “Hey Mr. Flower. How are ya?”
“Fine thanks. How about you?” I replied.
“Well I am kind of sad about my pumpkin, but mom said we can get new ones.” Sara said hopefully.
The other daughter Kim cam running out of her room shortly thereafter. Kim was in third grade. She is a great athlete. Everything is a competition for her. Kim is tall for her age and has brownish-red hair.
“Hey Mr. Flower, what’s up?” Kim said.
I replied, “Oh, I was just talking to your sister about the pumpkins that were smashed. I was sorry to see them destroyed. Did you see anything weird last night?”
“Oh, no not really. I mean my pumpkin wasn’t that great. Sara’s pumpkin was way better than mine, my mom even said so. I don’t even want another one. Carving pumpkins is stupid.”
“Well, alright. Either way, I am sorry to hear about your hard work going down the tubes,” I replied. “Rest assured that I will find the person responsible for smashing your pumpkins.”
The Johnson’s all said thanks for helping them and I started out the door to head home. However, before I made it home, Kendra called my name.
“Mr. Flower! Mr. Flower! We need your help!!!”
I sprinted back into the house and saw something that horrified me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Right before me, was a math book with homework that was not completed!
“Can you help Kim with her math?” Kendra inquired.
“Oh, sure… not a problem. Let’s sit down at the table and figure this out,” I said to Kim.
Kim and I got to work on some one digit multiplication problems when I noticed something on her right pant leg and then on her white Nike shoe. Kim’s shoe had a small white seed stuck to the side. Her pant leg was littered with orange sticky goo. Honestly, it looked like the guts to a pumpkin!
“Hey Kim, how long ago did you carve your pumpkins?” I asked.
Kim replied, “Oh, a while ago. I would say about two weeks. Why?”
“Oh no reason, ” I said, “say, aren’t those new shoes?”
“Yeah, I just got them a couple of days ago. Do you like them?”
“Yeah, they are nice, but what did you get on them?” I asked.
“Umm… Umm.. I don’t know. That’s weird,” Kim said.
I finished helping Kim with her homework and then found Kendra because we needed to talk. I proceeded to tell Kendra that I thought that Kim may have smashed the pumpkins due to her feelings about her ugly pumpkin. I also told her that I noticed dried pumpkin guts and seeds on her shoes and pants.
Kendra immediately called Kim back into the room.
“Kim, did you smash you are your sister’s pumpkins?” Kendra said angrily.
“Mom, no I didn’t do it. I promise!” Kim responded.
Kendra called Sara into the room next. I was a little nervous that we weren’t going to find the answer to this mystery at all!
Kendra looked at Sara and said, “Did you and your sister go right to bed last night when we got home from grandma’s?”
Sara said, “Yeah, I brushed my teeth and went to bed. Then Kim went into the bathroom after me. I just headed for bed and fell asleep.”
I thought for a moment, “If Sara went to bed and Kim went into the bathroom, that means that no body saw Kim at night!”
I explained my theory to the Johnsons and Kim began to cry.
“I just can’t stand to to be in second place. I am not good at carving pumpkins. I smashed them, I smashed them, okay! I am sorry mom, I am sorry Sara. I just don’t like not being the best at something.”
I looked at the Johnsons and said, “Well, I guess my work here is done. Kendra, would you like me to help Kim finish her math?”
“No, Mr. Flower, that will not be necessary. I will help Kim finish her math. Thank you for your help.”
I left the Johnson’s house feeling good about helping solve the mystery. However, I did owe an apology to Mr. Withers. I crossed the street towards the old man’s house and knocked on his door.
“What, you again?” Withers said.
“Ah, Mr. Wither’s. Um, listen, “I fumbled for words,”I owe you an apology. You see, it was the Johnson girl who smashed the pumpkins. I apologize for thinking that it was you. ”
Withers replied, “Oh, well, thanks for letting me know. You can leave now.”
“Wait, “I said impatiently,”there is just one more thing. Kendra Johnson said that bowling gets done at 10:00 not 10:30. Where were you?”
Mr. Wither’s laughed and replied, “Oh, Mr. Flower, I bowl in Kalamazoo not here in town!”
I found this cool website that has a few different mystery stories. Click here to visit the site. How did you do? Were you able to solve any of the mysteries? How can reading a mystery make you a better mystery writer?
We are just getting started with our mystery writing unit. As we have discussed, a mystery story has certain parts; clues, red herrings, a problem, and a main character who has to solve a problem. After reading a few mysteries as a class and discussing your favorite mystery books or movies, I would like to see if we have an mystery short story writers out there.
I encourage you to post any short mystery stories that you come up with below. Have fun!