Monday, June 20, 2016

Writing Excellence with EXCELLENT ED

Excellent Ed, by Stacy McAnulty, tells the story of the Ellis family, where all of the children are excellent—at all kinds of things!  Poor Ed, the family dog, feels a bit left out.  Ed wants to be excellent too.

In the classroom, Excellent Ed makes a great writing prompt.  Here are a few ideas for using the book in your classroom.

1.    Ask students to make a list of their own excellent qualities—and remind them to think outside of the box. Some students may be excellent at math, or gymnastics, or soccer.  But they can think of more unusual excellent traits as well.  Perhaps one student is excellent at putting off cleaning her room or making realistic fake vomit sounds whenever she sees chopped liver.  Perhaps another student is excellent at tying his shoes in knots so tight that his dad can’t get them out. 

2.    Ask students to make a list of another person’s excellent qualities.  This could be a parent, friend, or teacher, for example.

3.    Just like Ed the family dog, every kid (and adult) sometimes feels…less than excellent.  Ask your students to make a list of excellent qualities they WISH they had.  Do they wish they could jump higher than the Empire State Building? Turn Brussels sprouts into chocolate? See through walls?  Or, maybe students wish they could make sad a friend feel better, shoot a goal at the next hockey game, or learn how to ride a bike.  You could even encourage students to make two wish lists—one of realistic qualities, and one of crazy, over-the-top, not-gonna-happen-but-fun-to-think-about qualities.

4.    Make an “Excellent Sheet” for each student in the room, with the student’s name at the top.  Ask students to write on each other’s Excellent Sheets, writing at least one excellent quality of the student on his or her sheet.  When students get to take home their Excellent Sheets, they will have a concrete reminder of their own excellent qualities, as seen through the eyes of their peers.

Excellent Ed is a wonderful book for reminding students how excellent they all are, in their own unique ways!

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