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  • Writer's pictureJill Chard

Collabs With My Middle Schoolers

One of the amazing things about teaching is the creative give-and-take between my students and I. I spend a lot of creative energy coming up with fun projects for my students and my students generate mountains of creative ideas that then inspire me further.


I always like to do a scary theme for October and this year is no different, except this year we are creating collaborative stories. I'm using Padlet (https://padlet.com/) to create a space for all the contributions. We are starting with the first point on the story arc, the exposition. I teach it to them, provide them with a starter example, then ask them to create their own character and to add their own entry. After each student has contributed, we will move on to the next point.


I'm very excited to see where this thing goes! I have four classes so I have created four expositions. I've included them below for fun, for inspiration and to take you readers along for what could be a really fun adventure.


Harvester 9

Captain Genk - October, 2125: Day 83 of harvest. This is Captain Genk on Harvester 9, or "The Tin Can" as we affectionately call her. She is the last ship hovering above the planet Odin, caught in a gravitational tug of war between the wolves Geri and Freki, Odin's mineral-rich moons. All the others are gone. Harvester 8's hull was full two days ago and she left not long after. We won't fill ours for another 13 days. Borr, at the center of this system, throws its hellish glow over Odin and the wolves, and holds us in thrall. The red giant star could go supernova at any time. The minerals we harvest from the wolves are too important, too necessary and essential for survival, so we are told, that we can't leave until our belly is full. The physicists back home keep telling us we have time but my churning gut is telling me to get as far away from here as possible.


Wild Woods Summer Camp

Counsellor Cookie - Day 1 of Wild Woods wilderness camp. Yay! Can you hear the sarcasm in my words? Ugh. I was supposed to be surfing all summer but my Mom kicked me out and told me to go get a job, except she was much meaner and used words I can't repeat if I'm going to keep this diary PG. So, here I am.

The brats began arriving shortly after 10 this morning. They're all wide-eyed and pimple-faced and I swear to God, one of them had braces so new I was almost blinded by the glare. After mommies and daddies kissed their iddle bitty babies goodbye, I ran them through some drills to see what kind of shape they were in: a few promising ones but, on the whole--how do I say this politely--they sucked. They'd better get a good sleep tonight because tomorrow we head out to Lost Mountain for 10 days of hardcore backwoods adventure. Sigh. Hopefully I can keep them alive for that long.


The Lost City of Chacheku

Professor Wallace - It was a long, arduous journey but the team and I have finally made it to camp. We've already set up our tents, both our base of operations and our sleeping quarters. Some have organized the food supplies, others the equipment, while some volunteered to dig the latrine.

I'm fairly happy with the team I have assembled. There are a few quirky characters and some with tempers but, on the whole, they are ready and willing to work hard.

Tomorrow will be the true test. Tomorrow, we head into the jungle to explore the lost city of Chacheku, a city steeped in myth and mystery, rumored to contain riches unimaginable, yet untouched after the civilization who built it collapsed. Our research goals are clear: we are here to study the lost civilization. But man is a greedy animal and I fear there are some among us who have more than just archaeology in mind. I will have to keep my eyes and ears open.


The Depths

First Officer Mary Weathers - The sea was calm today for the arrival of the new crew members, or so I am told. I wouldn't know. I haven't seen the surface in four weeks; haven't seen sunshine, smelled fresh air or been able to hug my children for four bleeding weeks. I've been stuck in the glass-domed ocean research station, aptly named Bubbles, far below the waves and even further from any shore. Oh well, I just have to train the newbies--two more weeks--then I'm back on the surface for my month-long break.

This tour of duty hasn't been nearly as exciting as the first few. We haven't had any equipment malfunction, no cracks in the domes, no aggressive tiger sharks playing "destroy the sub" with our robots and, best of all, no food poisoning.

Still, there have been a few squabbles I've had to deal with but I've chalked that up to the crew being stir-crazy and a little claustrophobic. Ha! They should have been here when sea water was gushing in through that broken pipe on tour 1. We had to lock down a whole section until the robots could get out to repair it. After that, we had to transfer all the water back out before we could back to the other side of the station where all our food and supplies were. Talk about stressful! Captain Lovell lost his mind over it. That's how I came to be in charge now.

Anyway, this tour's been nice and quiet. Two more weeks, a newly trained crew and then I'm outta here, at least for a while.

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