Travel Writing Class Forum

Class Description
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Class Description

Travel Writing

Explore many places, topics and genres to develop strong writing skills. Students’ interests influence the topics as we do authentic research and use the full range of the writing process to reflect audience, purpose and personality.                 






Week 1

Where and how will we grow?

We prepared ourselves for our journey with a little escape room fun that centered on Growth Mindset that provided the opportunity for asking ourselves if we have a growth or fixed mindset (based on Carol Dweck's work).  Handy research can be found more here and here.  More importantly the task challenged us and promoted collaboration as we read quotes from famous failures and matched up ideas that fall into fixed and growth mindset categories.


We stopped on the last task of the series (code breaking), partly because we had other things to accomplish and because when we meet with difficulty and we find ourselves stuck, a break is an excellent way to clear our heads and re-energize.  Though we'll wrap up the Growth Mindset tasks in our next class, we will want to keep the lessons in mind throughout our learning journey.


After a breath of fresh air and an exercise in memory (which revealed interesting details about learning styles), we went on a fact-finding, idea-generating mission.  Given we learn best when we're most interested, this step is critical to fleshing out topics.  


However, our first writing assignment is about growth.  Travel can bring growth.  The assignment is open-ended, so here's some questions to consider: When, where, how?  When have I experienced a moment of growth in my life?  Where is a place where I best grow? Where in my life do I need to grow?  If possible, focus on one time and place that relates to growing -- plants nor physical inches are required.


In addition to thinking about growth, we are reading and re-reading the article "A Walk in the Park." Matson recounts a trip taken that was and was not a walk in the park.  Note the irony of the title, then vocabulary definitions, the way the trip is described, and questions you have.  Be prepared to share your thoughts and margin notes on what you've read.  I look forward to hearing all you have to share!


Also bring in your opinions of places, books, and more next week!  We'll need them.  


Finally, I'm working out a calendar.  If you are a parent of a student in this class and would like a copy (though calendar of assignments are always a bit wiggly), please feel free to email me. 



Week 2

What is the power of words?

We started with an icebreaker "Would you rather?"  It is a silly game of distinct choices -- would you rather eat worms or walk on them barefoot on your way out the door every morning?  But it highlights the multitude of decisions we make every day.  Plus it set the scene for Tuesday's class.  


But first we dove into “A Walk in the Park."  I had asked students to annotate the article.  If this is a new concept, check out the video here for tips on annotation.  We posted a 1st reaction on a post-it, a word that summed it up, an idea that stood out.  Then we posted 1-2 quotes that grabbed us.  I was delighted to see the minds moving and the eyes on the text.   We talked about the play on words from "a walk in the park" as something easy, to Boyd Matson's experience that was anything but easy.  His was a literal walk in the park, one that included knee high mud, rain, gorilla feces, and a trek through tough terrain.  His sense of irony, and his ability to describe the place, often without using adjectives but rather ideas that popped into his mind, demonstrated a skill with words that we will want to emulate.


What are the powers of words?  The question led us to read YELP postings and an article on the way YELP has helped businesses and shut them down.  We read three positive reviews and three negative reviews of a hotel in Palo Alto.  The reviews went from ranting with no specific aim to helpful with details that supported the review.  We identified helpful review characteristics to help us write our own helpful reviews.


To do on your own:

Write: a “helpful” post or review for a book, a local eatery, your home, a family member-- something familiar.  

Q: Does it need to be positive? A: No  

Q: How long does it need to be?  A: Up to you.  Count the number of words on the most helpful review and aim for the same amount.

Q: What can it be about?

A: Anything you have an opinion about and specific reasons to recommend or not.  

Read: “Descriptive Essay Travel” Essay examples


Think: How is a YELP different from a news article ("Walk")? What is similar?


Week 3

How do authors create a place for readers?


Today's Icebreaker: What are 3 Rules to Live by?

Share: “helpful” yelp-like post from homework

What do others say about places?

Review reading: “Walk” and other--

What are your 3 favorite places?

Read aloud Places Excerpts

Writing about Place: 

Describe one place three different ways  w/ lots of examples. You can change the order of the three different ways, if you wish.

First, focus on a paragraph on the people who are there: What do they say?  What are they wearing?  What expressions do you see on their faces? 

Then in a different paragraph focus on the action of the place: what do the people do in this place?  What do you see happening? 

Finally, focus on sensory description:  what is the smell associated with this place? What could you touch and what would it feel like?  what sounds are in this place?  What noises (or not) do you think of when you think of this place?  


Independent work:  

Finish the Writing about place.  What might others see? What would you notice at a different time of day?   Type and share it with me. 

Create a google presentation of your neighborhood, city, community.  Use images and text.  Here you'll find a how to and a link to two videos.  Share it with me!  

Read the Connotation Handout.  We will do this in class next week!  

Bring in images and stuff to put outside and inside your mini-suitcase.


If you read this message, leave a comment for me.  Tell me the title of the book you've been reading and a sentence about the book.


Week 4

How do we feel?

Loving words is the best part of being a writer.   House vs. Home? Hobby vs. Obsession? Lackadaisical vs. Relaxed.  For readers (and writers) we must know how words can have impact.  We tackled connotation vs. denotation in the first part of our session together.  Words can be delicate or strong, hinting at trouble or pounding at the door.   We chose negative, neutral and positive words of the same denotation.  Then we talked about how an author's choices impacts the message through connotation creating a tone for the reader.  Tone can manipulate a reader, even in text that we expect to be neutral or unbiased, like a newspaper.  Finally, we applied our choices to different situations to create differing tone/mood to a similar paragraph  for the reader.  Tone can manipulate a reader, even in text that we expect to be neutral or unbiased, like a newspaper, so we must be aware of the implied biases words (and our own minds) carry in order to avoid manipulation (or achieve it!) . After diligently grappling with word connotations, students chose neighborhood scenes/images to write on for independent work.  


Then we continued work on our presentations of our neighborhoods/communities.  (Note: for students who are not yet google drive semi-experts, you may create your presentation on a poster.) Read on about the presentations below:


CONTINUE work on Neighborhood Presentation.  Use 18 + font (large enough to read from the 5 feet away), lots of images, and a variety of perspectives about your community.  More ideas on neighborhoods can be found here.  For those who want to glimpse at a very basic presentation (hint: More experienced students must write more, and no one needs to repeat "In my neighborhood" on every slide) look here.  What do you like about your neighborhood? What is unusual about it?  How might an outsider describe it?  When is the best time of day in your community? Who has the best garden?  Who has the best halloween decorations? What are some of the problems? What could persuade me to move into your community?

We will be adding elements in class/independently, so leave room for what you will learn.  Final presentation will be on  10/29/19


READ the article: 5 Tips


WRITE a solid paragraph on each of the images of neighborhoods -- connotative and sensory words. Imagine yourself in the scene or friends telling you about their neighborhood. Tips on writing about images: 

  • Take a good look. 
  • Take a few minutes to absorb the details in the photo. 
  • Make a list of details
  • Use your imagination. What's the flavor of the photo? What sounds do you hear? What's the tone of the photo?
  • Start writing.  
Week 5

What is community? Why is community important?

We started class with a Free Write: write about an event that has happened in your neighborhood, community, city. Free writing-- writing without worry for errors, focusing on the topic, getting down as many details as possible -- is a good way to develop fluency.   

We took turns reading aloud people’s definition of community and made a list  -- a place where you find friends, where you feel belonging, where people do good things, where people have things in common, where you go to enjoy yourself. Then we brainstormed for places we feel community-- not just our neighborhoods. 

We also read a sample essay about a neighbor that was not so nice.  After we talked about neighbors and people we know, we wrote about a person in one of our communities, an ordinary person, a quirky person, a stranger or a friendly person. 

Afterwards, we talked about different purposes for writing: inform, persuade, tell a story, explore and inquire, evaluate and judge, analyze, reflect, and debate and more. We read sample paragraphs for five different purposes.  Next week, we'll continue with writing for different purposes.  

We wrapped up by creating and decorating our suitcases!


Independent work:        

Write 15 min. daily on the Travel Writing Prompts.

Work on pulling together your neighborhood/ community presentation


Week 6

Check back soon!

Notes will be added within 48-hours after class. If not, please send an email to Admin@HomeroomEducation.com to request this Forum be updated. 

Week 7

Check back soon!

Notes will be added within 48-hours after class. If not, please send an email to Admin@HomeroomEducation.com to request this Forum be updated. 

Week 8

Check back soon!

Notes will be added within 48-hours after class. If not, please send an email to Admin@HomeroomEducation.com to request this Forum be updated. 

Week 9

Check back soon!

Notes will be added within 48-hours after class. If not, please send an email to Admin@HomeroomEducation.com to request this Forum be updated. 

Week 10

Check back soon!

Notes will be added within 48-hours after class. If not, please send an email to Admin@HomeroomEducation.com to request this Forum be updated. 

Week 11

Heading Goes Here

You can edit text on your website by double clicking on a text box on your website. Alternatively, when you select a text box a settings menu will appear. your website by double clicking on a text box on your website. Alternatively, when you select a text box.

Week 12

Check back soon!

Notes will be added within 48-hours after class. If not, please send an email to Admin@HomeroomEducation.com to request this Forum be updated.