with Bruce Van Patter 2009-2010 School Visits

My visit to Fieldstone!

The assembly topic
Just so you know what what is going on in these drawings, in the assembly, I had two teams of kids dream up kinds of people and hobbies they could have. Then I randomly mixed them up. Whatever combination we got, we debated that as a persuasive topic. Here are the combinations:

The combination: Should wizards be allowed to be artists?

The verdict: There were good arguments on both sides. I think my favorite for "pro" was that wizards could put potions into the paint and create interesting effects on the viewers.

The one that sold the audience, though was the "con" that said that wizards might be able to create monsters that would come to life! So that's the one I drew -- and I had a fun time drawing it!

I'm hoping my art has an interesting effect on my kid viewers -- I hope it makes them want to do more persuasive writing!

The workshop topics

Our topic: nerdy lawyers seeking an ancient book.

Our assignment: newspaper editorial.

We first spun a globe to determine where in the world our newspaper would be. A girl pointed to the Solomon Islands. Then we imagined that there was a nerdy lawyer who was trying to go into an ancient temple library to find a law that would allow him to marry the princess.

We brainstormed reasons for and against. Both sides were convincing. Pro said it would help bring in tourists to have an American prince, and it would help the cultures understand each other.

Con won with this reason not to let him search the ancient books: it would unleash the spirit of the ancient ruler, King Nakalaka!

Our topic: a biologist leading a tour

Our assignment: book review

We first had to imagine the plot of a book using that combination. So we dreamed up a tale about a girl biologist who had discovered a new kind of monkey that lived in high pine forests. She starts to lead tours to see the monkeys.

But she's really employed by a company that wants to dissect a monkey to see if they can get new medical treatments from them. Only a band of old ladies stand in the girl's way!

After thinking of pros and cons for the book, we decided we liked the story, especially the critical scene where the old ladies confront the girl at a waterfall where she's trying to save the monkey she kidnapped.

I decided to add the subtitle: A Fieldstone Adventure!

Our topic: a doctor being a secret agent

Our assignment: an ad

What would a doctor secret agent try to sell? We imagined a product called a MINDOSCOPE. It's like a stethoscope only it can read minds. First we acted as the ad team to come up with markets for the product and reasons to buy it. We thought moms would want to know if their kids were really sick or just faking it.

But then we turned the tables. We became the Consumer Product Kids who made sure the public knew about unsafe products. We decided that all that reading of brain waves could give kids amnesia!

Another great debate!

Our topic: a superhero caving

Our assignment: a movie review

I love this combination, and I love the title given to the movie by one of the students. Hilarious! And a great play on words.

We imagined a story where a superhero had to square off against a caveman in a deep cavern. The climactic battle is, of course, with stalagtites.

The cons won the argument because there weren't any female characters in the film. So I added one!

Our topic: a pirate teaching

Our assignment: a book review

The Persuasobox sure had a liking for reviews on this visit! Here we dreamed up a narrative that involved a pirate who is teaching kids geography, but in fact, he's hoping some of his students will figure out how to read his mysterious treasure map.

When three of them set off to find the map, he tries to climb aboard, only to be snagged by a wisecracking octopus!

In the end, we voted "pro" the book, since we loved the idea of a comedian octopus! With all those tentacles, he must be "armed" with jokes!

Our topic: an evil scientist running a store

Our assignment: an travel brochure

The "tourist attraction" we dreamed up is really fun: a Henchman Shop. We thought this evil scientist on the right would invent a store where one could get a henchman designed for one's exact needs.

It was great fun brainstorming pros and cons. We had a quite a list for each. In the end, we voted PRO because the idea was too funny. So I pictured a boy who gets himself a henchman to keep him from having to do things he doesn't want to do.

I don't know if you can read the henchman's words, but when the mom tells the boy to go to bed, the thug says, "Buddy says NO!"

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What I hope you Fieldstone kids got out of our two days together was the idea that writing persuasively can be fun. Building a convincing argument is enjoyable. Debating a subject back and forth opens up new ways of thinking. And expressing your ideas and have them understood by others is so satisfying, it's worth all the trouble.

And right there, I wrote a persuasive argument! What's missing? The action step. What should that be? That's obvious -- write one yourself! Gather your facts and speak your mind!

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