Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ups and Downs

When it comes to the spring writing challenge I do with my students, I try to find prizes that are economical but enjoyable. (Even though, as I take pains to remind them frequently, writing is its own reward.) Of course candy is always popular, but sometimes I think a more tangible reward is, well, more rewarding.

When I was in sixth grade, yoyos were all the rage. Back then you had to have at least a Duncan classic, but it was better to carry a Duncan Butterfly. With its distinctive hourglass shape and dual coloring-- red on one side and yellow on the other, the Butterfly was the yoyo for serious yoyoers, and I had a Butterfly. As a result of those days, I can still yoyo quite well; I can even do around the world and walk the dog, with the alacrity, if not quite the same proficiency, as my 11-year-old self. I keep a yoyo in my desk drawer, and any time I bring it out, my current sixth graders are amazed, because yoyoing really isn't that easy.

Imagine my dismay, then, when the writer who won the yoyo for the March challenge was very disappointed in his prize. What else could I do, but borrow it from him and give a quick demonstration and lesson? Pretty soon his yoyo was rolling off his fingertips and spinning up and down with consistency if not fluidity.

My intervention paid off immediately.

"Can I win a yoyo, too?" asked several students.

"You might if you write all month," I told them.

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