Monday, July 24, 2006

The Fruit Bowl Project

I forgot to mention finishing an interesting read on Friday at lunch, The Fruit Bowl Project by Sarah Durkee. This book has a great premise, one that will appeal to teachers and students alike, and a unique presentation. The first part of the book introduces readers to the teacher, class, and to a lesser extent, Nick Thomas. We are privvy to the writing process undertaken and in the books second half, are presented with the finished product.

West Side Middle school's eighth grade teacher, Ms. Vallis, invites a famous rock star (he is married to her cousin) to speak to her classroom writers workshop. A songwriter as well as star, he explains to the class, “My theory is that for a writer, every song, or every story, that they sit down to write is just like a bowl of fruit that a painter sets out to paint.” The class brainstorms a "boring" idea and each student is assigned to tell it from a different point of view, genre, or style. When finished all will be compiled into a book to share.

I enjoyed the first half of this book a great deal more than the second half. Actually, I felt a bit cheated learning only a small part of each student writing before being presented with their finished work. The projects shared were very inventive, but I would have enjoyed reading more about the characters and a significantly less number of assignments. With that said, I can see how this would be a great starting point for a class assignment and would not be surprised if it motivates teachers to try something similar.

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