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Friday, October 2, 2009

Willowside Middle School

Today I presented a group of characters I am developing to tie in all my 7th Grade Problems of the Week into one serial novel. I already am working on one with my 8th graders and I got to thinking, "Why not develop the backstory to one of my central characters in the 8th grade story with my 7th grade students?"

I found this cool website: and fooled around with the manga style avatars, but then I discovered them all over as "manga portraits". I spent some time exploring with characters "spoke" to me and created this sheet.

I went to a junior high called Willowside, so I suppose I will base this story very loosely on this place, but with modern characters. The faculty will be comical but not portrayed with farse, while the students represent different motivations, I think. Actually, I will be making this up as I go, but will focus on Justin, the new kids in the school, as he is a central character in my 8th grade story at this point.

I used my SmartBoard to present these characters to my students and they went wild with enthusiasm over the potential to build up and describe them. It occurred to me that we can convert this into a collaboration of sorts, so I showed them the flickr site so that they may find their own characters and add them to our Willowside school via their blogs.

It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

Each chapter of the story, by the way, will be driven by some deep mathematical problem. I will post the first one later as a sample.

So: Anyone who is reading this: I would love to hear your comments, suggestions and ideas for how to develop this story further. I am very excited by this and by the enthusiasm of my students.

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