Tom the Turkey — in the days before Thanksgiving– faced an uncertain fate.
Brookwood Elementary fourth graders decided for themselves what that was. Would Tom end up stuffed and basted, free in the wild or somewhere else entirely? It was their class’ Friday blog competition and the topic was to write about a turkey facing, er, the dinner plate.
Students took the blog assignment in any direction they wanted. Their narratives, posted on Kidblog, included feathery prose, morbid missteps and triumphant tales of survival.
“Tom the Turkey is a healthy, nice and smart turkey that lives on the 50 acres of Brookwood farms,” began fourth grader Conner Terry in his blog. “Brookwood farms is a nice place with all sorts of ranch animals, from pigs to turkeys. But one day Tom hears that he is going to be the main course of the Thanksgiving dinner.”
Each Friday teacher Todd Jongekrijg gives students a topic for the weekly blog competition. They’ve blogged about habits, experiences, books, math and their favorite states. They’ve considered if recess should be longer and if they would take a trip to space.
“It’s whatever we are studying at the time. I always choose something we really got into,” Jongekrijg said.
A Friendly Competition
Jongekrijg awards a winner for best blog and best comment each Friday. Best blog wins 100 points and best comment wins 50 points, which students can use toward prizes.
Stryder Dennison won for his Tom the Turkey blog, written from the bird’s perspective. Nyaruon Puot won for best comment.
“So my name is Tom and I am a turkey,” Stryder wrote. “I have two friends that never tell tell the truth. They say I’ll get slaughtered. But I cannot trust them and they say I will be in the stores and get sold so people will eat me.”
Students use “accountable talk” when posting comments, which goes beyond simple opinions and deeper into the content. Students often ask for more details or correct each other’s punctuation. “It gets kind of cool because they end up helping each other out,” Jongekrijg said.
Jongekrijg often reads through the published blogs on the class projector, talking about writing elements like character traits, setting, plot and theme.
Alondra Evens’ blog was rich with descriptive writing.
“AHH! That’s what Tom the beautiful red and brown and also a hint of orange turkey looked like and he shined so bright in the winter you could see him from miles away,” she wrote.
In Nyaruon’s story, Tom ends up “living in the forest forever” and learns an important lesson: “The theme of the story is if a friend tries to cook you don’t hang out with them.”
Ivory McCauley said she’s learned to put lots of work into her blogs.
“Everyone in the class is going to see it so put your effort into it,” she said. “I take it as motivation and it will help me do better.”