This is my bittersweet time of year. The 6th graders are deep into their novel rough drafts and I am bursting with pride at their accomplishments – yet I see this as the sad beginning of the end! Soon they will be signing books (by the hundreds?) out in front of the school and bragging about how they’re going to be 7th graders! Next thing I know . . . they’ll be gone. From room 305, that is. For now, I want everyone to see some of the ideas that they’ve come up with in their stories. Here are some excerpts:

Here is a fine example of setting the scene in an exposition. The author has chosen a story that will appeal to kids her age.

The year was 2003, and the 4th graders were having their annual camp. “Ring! Ring!” Everybody was to be in class by now . Ms. Andy went to the front of the class and said,” I have exciting news for you guys. Next week we’re going to camp in the forest!” The students jumped out of their seats and did the happy dance. There were two girls that just got out of control, and their names were Amanda and Heather. They were best friends. Amanda always wore glasses because she had an eye problem, and Heather always wore a headband to school.

This next excerpt is from a story about a teenager who is investigating some peculiar disappearances in a Japanese town. I found some terrific descriptions here – an area we’ve been working on all year.

. . . From that day on we had been going everywhere together, and finding proof, but deep inside we had a fear. Fear of getting killed, fear of our plan failing, and fear of our loved ones disappearing. Well, one day our fear came true. We were walking in the park when three of those monsters ambushed us. There was nowhere for us to run – we were just standing there paralyzed as the enemy advanced toward us. And then Ryutaro started to shimmer, “What’s happening to me!” he screamed as he turned into a monster too. But unlike the other, his color wasn’t black, but blue. His hands were tentacles instead of scythes, his feet had sharp claws and were webbed, and his face was that of a wolf.

“Fitting in” is a HUGE issue for middle-schoolers. The next piece was taken from a story that deals with that very subject. This was very well written.

She saw a lot of girls hanging out at the mall. Cloe thought to act the same, but first of all she needed to buy the things she needed in order to fit in the group. She bought things like perfume, clothes, nail polish, to mention just a few. When she got home, she quickly put them on, and then went downstairs to see what her mom thought of it all.

“How do I look mom?”

“Wow! You look different.”

“Is that a compliment?”

“I guess so…”

So Cloe went out with her new look and everybody seemed to like it. She went to a coffee shop and all the girls came running toward her.

“Wow! You look amazing!” one of the girls told Cloe.

“Well thank you!”

“This is our group’s phone number. If you ever think of joining us, you can call , but you don’t have to decide now.”

“I don’t need to call you because I will answer you now, and I will surely join your group!” shouted Cloe excitedly.

MILITARY ACTION ! This is the kind of heart-pounding description that causes 6th grade boys to become completely oblivious as they read page after page inside their desks as important math concepts are being taught.

. . . A couple of seconds later, there were a series of explosions coming from the area where the smoke grenade had ended up. Phew! A strange whirring noise could be heard, and we turned around – only to discover that there was an immense tank about 15 yards away! Slowly, its turret turned towards our us and fired. Kah-BLAM !!! Dust was sent flying everywhere, blinding us all. Moments later, there was another explosion which sent Kent flying against a wall. Brown got up to rescue Kent, but there were soldiers headed towards them. Allen and I took out our sidearms and started to fire at this new enemy threat. Later, Brown arrived with Kent. We all turned and ran away from the soldiers. But like in a bad war movie, Kent tripped over a large log, and as Brown, Allen, and I started to help him, we could hear the crunching of the soldier’s boots close by.

By the time we got Kent up, we knew that we were surrounded. One of the soldiers barked at us to put our hands on top of our heads and drop our weapons. Before any of us complied, I managed to sneak an instant smoke grenade into my palm. While we raised our hands,  I lobbed the grenade towards the soldiers and POOF!! The grenade exploded sending up a gigantic plume of black smoke which temporarily blinded all of the Guragas soldiers. Fortunately, we had heat vision goggles, so we could see the other soldiers very clearly. We drew our melee knives and started to slash and cut our way through the mass of soldiers. Those who were left thought that we were still there so they started to shoot rapidly at each other. There was horrible screaming in pain and agony going on, but the other soldiers thought that it was us who were in agony; instead it was their team mates. How ironic.

From a story about two schoolgirls whose minds are switched comes this predicament. While passing notes in class in an effort to let each other know how they are “supposed to act” in their new conditions, the teacher becomes suspicious . . .

While the teacher was talking, Christina freaked out because she was afraid she would be found out; Stella is inside her body. Stella was abnormally quiet so Ms. Cale remarked, “Wow~! It’s your first time to not cry in front of me!”

“Of course. I’m not afraid of you at all,” Stella replied. Christina was giving a sign not to act like that , but Stella just couldn’t stay still because Ms. Cale was saying inappropriate words. Suddenly Stella stood up and shouted at her. The teacher freaked out and teacher thought that she was dreaming because Stella never acted like that. Christina rudely walked out of the room and Christina was crying, so everyone was staring at them and thought they were weird.

A young girl is plagued by recurring nightmares which began after the mysterious disappearance of her father. Later, she is transported to a strange world through a magical trap door. The particular draft that this has been clipped from appears to be on track to becoming a very thick novel, filled with vivid detail and captivating conflicts.

Dawn looked around. Everything seemed to be covered in dust except the little hut. The warm wind blew across her face, but she still felt tired, hot, and clammy. What happened to the trees? She thought bitterly. She was standing in the middle of a dirt road, and everything appeared to be treacherous to her.

The hut, thought Dawn. Is the hut a good place to ask for help or somewhere she should keep away from? She slumped to the ground and put her head in her hands and cried. She wished for anything that could take her away from this horrid unfamiliar place. Then she heard a crackling voice, sharp as thunder saying, “Chosen One, arise!”

Dawn gave a yelp and looked up. She couldn’t see anything clearly, for the strong rays of the sun were beating down on the atmosphere, but she could identify an old woman-like feature.

A hiking trip for 6 teenagers turns bizarre in this developing story which is rich with vivid descriptions.

“This way guys,” said William. He had hiked in the forest of Terra before, so he knew a magnificent place to set up tents. As the teenagers followed him, they gazed out at the beautiful scenery. They glanced at the squirrels and chipmunks in types of trees that they had never seen before. They passed a couple of rocky creeks and probably a hundred tall strong trees. William led the group to the banks of a river where they spotted some extraordinarily beautiful fish. This seemed a marvelous place to set up the tents, yet a weird feeling came over Alicia.

Alicia started thinking about why she had been so late that morning. She wondered why the van had gotten stuck on the way to the forest of Terra. She pondered why her dog would not let go of her leg earlier. She wondered why a weird feeling had fallen over her. “There must be a reason to this,” she thought . . .

The forest suddenly plunged into darkness and the feelings of each teenager turned from excitement to fright. Alicia was the most frightened of all.

“What’s going on!?” Alice screamed raucously. After she said that, a moon appeared out of the sky, a red one.

“Alice, I don’t know, but this has to be a horrible omen!”