Monday, March 13, 2017

Author Josh Berk Visits MS

Thank you, Mr. Josh Berk, for sharing writing expertise.

Students talked about murder mystery detective icon, Sherlock Holmes.

Students generated ideas about traits of an interesting detective.

Josh Berk, author of teen novels, visited Owen J. Roberts Middle School on Friday, March 10. Mr. Berk addressed the entire 7th and 8th grades, and also engaged small groups of students in a detective story writing workshop.
He broke down important elements in writing in the mystery genre. He reminded students that the first way to get good at writing in a certain genre is to READ extensively in that genre. He talked about plot, characters, setting, and using descriptive phrases. Students practiced writing character descriptions from photos he displayed. Students practice similes. The students ultimately brainstormed and worked together to sketch out the beginning of a mystery novel. Below is the early etching of a group-authored teen murder mystery hatched out by an eager collection of seventh graders in a relatively short amount of time:

I was sitting in the hard chair Mr. Fiers makes everyone suffer in when they’re in big trouble. My aching butt, however, was the least of my concerns. I hadn’t slept in 72 hours. I felt like I was losing my mind. I couldn’t even tell what was real anymore and everything felt terrifying to me. I was afraid of long words, moths, the dark, music, fuzzy animals, and even time itself.

The second hand ticking on the wall clock sounded like a booming bass drum. I really wanted to get out of here. Mr. Fiers came into the room. Just me and him. Just me, him, and his fuzzy black beard which looked like a rat hugging his chin.

“Is there something you want to tell me, maggot?” he said. There was. There were a lot of things I wanted to tell him. But I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut.

“No sir,” I said.

“It’s Mr. NoSir to you, maggot,” he said. He was definitely getting angry. And who could blame him? I knew as well as he did that all the paper clips and shoelaces were disappearing from school. And, if the rumors were correct, that included Mr. Fiers’ personal prized paper clip. That could ruin anyone’s day…

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