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Journal Prompts

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  1. Journal Prompts

  2. JOURNAL RULES • Write three quarters of a page (or a half page if you have big paper) • Practice organizing your thoughts into paragraphs • Practice using appropriate language conventions—pay attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation. • Don’t write anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with the whole class reading! • Write the number and the topic. That’s all you need to copy.

  3. #1 THIS YEAR • THE RULE: • IT’S = IT IS • It’s bed time! • ITS = Possessive • The dog wagged its tail • THE PROMPT: Will this year be different? How so? Use it’s or its.

  4. #2 ARGUMENT • THE RULE: Notice the punctuation and capitalization in the following dialogue. • “Hello,” said Gary. • “How are you?” asked Susan. • Gary replied, “Very good.” • THE PROMPT: Write about the last argument you got in or the last argument you heard. Include appropriately punctuated dialogue.

  5. #3 ALIEN LANDING • THE RULE: Some quotes in dialogue continue after the identification of speaker. Notice how these are punctuated. • “My name,” said the stranger, “is Gary.” • “It’s lunchtime!” shouted Susan. “Let’s eat!” • THE PROMPT: Write about an alien landing in front of your home. Practice using more complex dialogue and punctuation.

  6. #4 BEST METHOD • THE RULE: Strong paragraphs sometimes follow a pattern of “Definition,” “Example,” and “Advantage” Syphoning is a method of getting water out of something using a hose…For example, if you need to get water out of a fish tank, you might pump a hose up and down in it until water comes out…This is less messy than scooping water. • THE PROMPT: Write a paragraph about the best method of doing something. Practice the “Definition,” “Example,” and “Advantage” formula.

  7. #5 I BELIEVE • THE RULE: The best paragraphs have the most important information in the first sentence (topic sentence). I believe that people need to have fewer children. It is obvious that Overpopulation is a potential threat to the United States, and it has already brought about a lot damage in countries like India. The earth’s population is growing at a faster and faster rate and the earth is already struggling to sustain everyone. • THE PROMPT: Write about an issue that you believe in. Practice using at least two paragraphs with topic sentences.

  8. #6 DISAGREE • THE RULE: • Subjects are words that DO something. • Grandma bakes cookies. (She’s baking!) • The gift from Gary was amazing! (It’s being amazing!) • We napped and they worked. (Some sentences have two subjects!) • THE PROMPT: Is there something that you disagree with your friends and/or family about? A rule? A political issue? Explain. CIRCLE EVERY SUBJECT!

  9. #7 GET TOGETHER • THE RULE: Predicate verbs are words that the subjects are doing. They are the main verb in the sentence. • Grandma enjoys baking cookies. • Gary is a sea captain who sails the ocean. • THE PROMPT: What does your family like to do when they get together? OR what do your friends do when they get together? CIRCLE THE PREDICATE VERBS

  10. #8 OCEAN EXPLORER • THE RULE: • Compound sentences have two subjects and two verbs. Note the comma. • Gary plays defense, and Skippy tackles. • Mom looked in the kitchen, but I was hiding. • The park is closed, so we are going home. • THE PROMPT: Imagine you are a Fifteenth-Century ocean explorer. Write a story about your experience that uses at least four compound sentences.

  11. #9 ZOO • THE RULE: • Some statements begin with the word “because,” “if” or “when.” These sentences need commas between the first subject-verb pair and the second • Because we are tired, we will sleep. • When Gary arrived, he found Skippy. • If she sneezes, we will be caught! • These are called “complex sentences” • THE PROMPT: Write a story about a trip to the zoo. Practice using complex sentences that begin with if, because and when.

  12. #10 TEN YEARS • THE RULE: • Sentences with “if,” “because,” or “when” in the middle don’t need commas. • We enter when the door opens. • I am smart because I do my homework. • You can borrow my book if you are careful • These are called “complex sentences.” • THE PROMPT: Where will you be in ten years? Practice using complex sentences with “if,” “because” or “when” in the middle.

  13. #11 QUIRKY PEOPLE • THE RULE • Use commas when you list adjectives. Just like you would when you list nouns. • The grizzly, sweaty, fierce man chops trees. • Notice some adjectives are part of the noun itself. Don’t use commas before these. • The sweet, kind, friendly old lady bakes pie. • THE PROMPT • Describe someone quirky—a person with an unusual personality or unique behavior. Consider describing more than one person. Practice listing adjectives when you can.

  14. #12 SOMEWHERE RELAXING • THE RULE: • Prepositions are words that show position. • Above, about, below, beyond, between by, in, on etc. • THE PROMPT: Describe somewhere that you can go to relax. It might be your bedroom, somewhere outdoors, a favorite restaurant or your friend’s house. Describe it in detail and circle the prepositions.

  15. #13 JUNGLE EXPLORER • THE RULE: • Prepositional phrases are strings of words that begin with prepositions. • When a prepositional phrase longer than three words begins a sentence, it takes a comma. • In the cabinet above the sink, we found the keys. • On top of the refrigerator, Gary put the money. • THE PROMPT: You are a famous jungle explorer. Describe your journey and use at least three prepositional phrases.

  16. #14 ANOTHER STATE • THE RULE: • There = Demonstrative pronoun • Put it there. He lives there. There she is. • They’re = Contraction (they are) • They’re ready. They’re here! • Their = Plural possessive pronoun • It’s their house. This is their car. • THE PROMPT: You get to spend a summer in another state. Where would it be and why? Somewhere new? Somewhere familiar? Practice using there, their and they’re.

  17. #15 FORMAL LETTER • THE RULE: • Remember that a formal letter begins with a salutation and a colon. • Dear Sir or Madam: • To Whom It May Concern: • THE PROMPT: Write a formal letter to the school board about a school rule that you feel should be changed. (No homework? Later start time?)

  18. #16 IN THE KITCHEN • THE RULE: Use hyphens when you create compound adjectives or use prefixes (re, un, pre, mid, de) • The extra-soggy cookies were gross. • We de-sprinkled one cupcake for Gary. • THE PROMPT: Write a story about cooking something in the kitchen. Use at least two words that require hyphens.

  19. #17 FORMER TEACHERS • THE RULE: Similes are words that compare things using like or as • Ms. Gilmore was as ferocious as a shark. • Ms. Felix was like a crazy grandma. • THE PROMPT: Describe some of your elementary school teachers using similes.

  20. #18 FAMILY • THE RULE: • Metaphors are words that show comparison without using like or as • The instructor, an old ogre, walked up to the front of the class. • My sister is a puppy, always happy and full of energy. • THE PROMPT: Describe people in your family using three metaphors. Or describe one person using one extended metaphor.

  21. #19 GIFT • THE RULE: The best sentences place the strongest word last. • BAD: I got a snowmobile for my birthday. • GOOD: For my birthday, I got a snowmobile. • THE PROMPT: Write about a gift you gave or received, OR write about a special day when you received a lot of gifts. Remember to place the most interesting words last.

  22. #20 TWIN • THE RULE: • Remember that words that end in S use apostrophes just like any other word. • James’s shirt • The grass’s color • THE PROMPT: You have a long lost twin named Francis. He/She is visiting for one day. Where would you take Francis? Practice using at least one possessive apostrophe .

  23. JOURNAL RULES • Write three quarters of a page (or a half page if you have big paper) • Practice organizing your thoughts into paragraphs • Practice using appropriate language conventions—pay attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation. • Don’t write anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with the whole class reading! • Write the number and the topic. That’s all you need to copy.

  24. #21 SAN DIEGO • THE RULE: • Remember that plural nouns take the apostrophe after the last S. • All the cats’ milk… • All the monkeys’ bananas… • The Lopezes’ house… • The rule doesn’t apply to plural nouns that don’t end in S. • The children’s show… • The deer’s food… • THE PROMPT: Do you enjoy living in San Diego? How would you characterize the city to someone unfamiliar with it? Practice using plural possessives when you can (cats’, monkeys’ children’s).

  25. #22 ENTITLED • THE RULE: • Remember that singular nouns take an s • Bad: The dog run • Good: The dog runs • Remember that words like “everyone,” “everybody,” “someone” and “no one” are singular. They need singular verbs. • BAD: Everyone who owns dogs and cats love animals. • GOOD: Everyone who owns dogs and cats loves animals. • THE PROMPT: If you are entitled to something, that means you deserve it without question—like a fair trial. What else do you see as something everyone is entitled to? A home? A car? Love? Explain why you include or don’t include others. Use “Everyone who…” sentences.

  26. #23 HOT & COLD • THE RULE: • Modifying phrases are descriptors that come after nouns • The men with torches and pitchforks demanded to see the monster. • Gary, flailing his arms madly, ran the whole way home. • THE PROMPT: Do you think of yourself as more of a passionate, emotional person, or as more of a calm, rational person? Explain why and use modifying phrases when you can.

  27. #24 NATURE vs. NURTURE • THE RULE: • Affect = Verb (“It affected me.” “Smoke affects my lungs.”) • Effect = Noun (“special effects” “a negative side effect”) • THE PROMPT: How do you think our personalities are developed? More by our parents and environment (nurture)? Or are we born with a personality (nature)? Explain what you believe and why. Use affect and effect!

  28. #25 NEW DISEASE • THE RULE: Dashses are often used to emphasize something in a sentence. • We soon learned of a negative side effect—constant sneezing. • Some students learn about the importance of school work the hard way—they get an F. Notice that dashes (—) are longer than hyphens (-) • THE PROMPT: Write a story about Skippy learning from the doctor that he has a rare, new disease (use your imagination). Write about his conversation with the doctor. include dashes.

  29. #26 BEST INVENTION • THE RULE: • A colon is often used to rename something (a dash or comma can do this, too). • We bought a new dog: a snarling Rottweiler. • Gary enjoys only one sport: soccer. • THE PROMPT: What do you think is the best invention of the “new millennium.” Remember this includes things like the iPods, Facebook, YouTube, Smart Phones, Hybrid Cars, ebooks etc.

  30. #27 SONG • THE RULE: Remember that things like songs, poems, article titles or short stories appear in quotation marks. • “The Telltale Heart” is a great story. • I enjoy “Love Story,” by Taylor Swift. • THE PROMPT: Write about a song (or poem, or short story etc.) that you enjoy. Why does this song appeal to you? What do you enjoy listening to in general? Remember appropriate punctuation.

  31. #28 MOVIES • THE RULE: Remember that things like newspapers, movie titles and book titles appear underlined or italicized—not in quotation marks. • The Union Tribune • Star Wars • Oliver Twist • THE PROMPT: Write about your favorite movie. What type of films do you generally enjoy? Remember to underline or use italics.

  32. #29 SOMETHING INTERESTING • THE RULE: • When you talk about a fact you learned somewhere, it’s best to say “according to.” • According to The History Channel, Albert Einstein immigrated to America from Germany. • THE PROMPT: Write about something interesting you recently learned (from school or elsewhere). Remember to say “according to…”

  33. #30 SCHOOL YEAR • THE RULE: • There are two ways to use “However.” Notice the punctuation with each. • Speeding, however fun it may seem, is dangerous. • I enjoy speeding; however, I know it’s dangerous. • THE PROMPT: How would you change the school year? Longer summer? Longer school day? Four day week? Practice using “However.”

  34. #31 TWO WAYS • THE RULE: • Transitions are an important part of well-structured essays. They link paragraphs together. • “On the other hand…” • “Furthermore…” • “Nevertheless…” • THE PROMPT: Write about an issue that you feel two ways about. It could be a political issue or a personal life decision. Practice using transitions at the beginning of each paragraph.

  35. #32 FAVORITE ASSIGNMENT • THE RULE: • Semicolons act like periods. They separate complete sentences that are closely related. • Gary looked at his watch; it was noon. • I enjoy chocolate; it’s my favorite. • THE PROMPT: What was your favorite assignment in school ever? It could be in English or another subject. Why did you enjoy it? Use a semicolon.

  36. #33 GOOD PARENTING • THE RULE: • Parallelism means listing things in a unique way with similar structure. Example: Skippy enjoys the finer things in life: a can of caviar with dinner, a glass of wine with breakfast, a Cuban cigar with dessert. Example: Each worker has a job: for the baker, making treats, for the architect, building skyscrapers. Example: Barry had a gift for each cousin: for Gary, a stuffed bear, for Edwin, a yo-yo, for Gertrude, a box of matches. • THE PROMPT: What do you think qualifies as “good parenting”? You might use your own parents as an example, or you might describe things you would do differently when you are a parent. List some characteristics using balanced sentences (parallelism).

  37. #34 AXIOM • THE RULE: • An axiom is a one sentence statement or expression that expresses a philosophical truth. • “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” Ben Franklin. • “Better safe than sorry” your mom. • THE PROMPT: Can you think of an axiom that someone you know always says? Do you agree with it or disagree? Why do you think they value that axiom so much?

  38. #35 WEATHER • THE RULE • Weather = Sunshine, rain, clouds • Whether = “Whether or not…” • THE PROMPT: What type of weather do you most enjoy? Why?

  39. #36 INSTANT TALENT • THE RULE: • Modifying phrases often need commas. • Dogs, which are colorblind, cannot appreciate a rainbow. • (commas because the modifying phrase isn’t very important to understanding the sentence) • Sometimes we don’t use commas if we are pointing to a specific group or category. • People who are colorblind cannot appreciate a rainbow. • (no commas because we mean a specific group of people) • THE PROMPT: If you could suddenly have a new talent, what would it be (Chinese-speaking, piano-playing, anything!)? Practice using modifying phrases and commas.

  40. #37 TOO MUCH • THE RULE: • An idiom is an expression that is understood to someone in a specific culture, but it might not make sense to someone learning that language. • “It’s raining cats and dogs.” • “I’m really in a pickle.” • THE PROMPT: What do you do too much? Video games? Internet? Homework? Write about it and use an idiom.

  41. # 38: IGLOO LIVING • THE RULE: • Items in lists need commas. • I need books, coffee, candy, and TV. • The comma before “and” (Oxford comma) is optional • THE PROMPT • You are imprisoned for one winter in an igloo with a complete bathroom and necessary food and clothing. What other four items would you bring? Practice listing items.

  42. #39 ROOM • THE RULE: Before you begin a list, you might use a colon. • On my bookshelf I have the following: Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers. • THE PROMPT: What’s in your room? You might describe big items or small items that are interesting or special to you. Practice creating a list with a colon.

  43. #40 FIFTY YEARS • THE RULE: • Remember that numbers generally take hyphens - • Twenty-one • Twenty-first • THE PROMPT: Where will you be in fifty years? Retired? Still working? In a big house? In a retirement home? With your children? Explain, and practice using hyphenated numbers.

  44. JOURNAL RULES • Write three quarters of a page (or a half page if you have big paper) • Practice organizing your thoughts into paragraphs • Practice using appropriate language conventions—pay attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation. • Don’t write anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with the whole class reading! • Write the number and the topic. That’s all you need to copy.

  45. #41 PRINCIPLES • THE RULE • Principal—the person in charge of the school • Principle—a rule or idea that one lives by • THE PROMPT: • What are some of the principles (Honesty? Kindness? Hard work?) that your parents or the adults important in your life have taught you? How do they show that principle is important? Use the word “principle.”

  46. #42 FIFTY DOLLARS • THE RULE: • Smart writers blend long and short sentences in order to create special emphasis on the short sentence. • We looked all over the park for anything that might indicate that Gary was near. We found nothing. • THE PROMPT: • You got fifty dollars for your birthday! What are you going to do with it? How do you handle money in general? Practice mixing long and short sentences.

  47. #43 MORE MONEY • THE RULE: • Being FORMAL means speaking in a very polite and respectful way for an appropriate audience. • THE PROMPT: Write a formal letter to the president. What would you want him to spend more money on? Schools? Parks? Military? Relief for the unemployed? Nothing? Be formal.

  48. #44 SPORTS • THE RULE: • Appositives are phrases that re-name • The dog, an enormous poodle, barked viciously. • The reason for the water, a leaky pipe, soon became apparent. • THE PROMPT: Do you enjoy sports? Why or why not? Practice using appositives.

  49. #45 CHILDHOOD • THE RULE: You can add life to sentences by beginning with something besides the subject • Exhausted and famished, he ate a sandwich and went to bed. (adjectives) • Flailing his arms and stomping wildly, Gary appeared to be on fire. (gerund phrase) • The water rising, we looked for dry land. (absolute phrase) • THE PROMPT: What kind of little kid were you? Have you changed? Practice beginning your sentences in colorful ways.

  50. #46 OVERHEARD • THE RULE: • Indirect discourse is when you paraphrase what someone said, using that. No quotes are needed. • Mom said that we need to clean the bathroom. • Susan asked if she could use your car. • THE PROMPT: Write about a conversation you overheard between other people (strangers sitting beside you? Teachers and students?). Practice using indirect discourse.