By DAVID COOKE
Blytheville Schools PR Dir.
Considering the efforts students do on a daily basis every day for most of the school year, at times a little creativity is necessary. At least that’s what Deborah Patterson believes, and allowing her students to engage more in their “Bingo” writing challenges has helped them to become better writers and tap into their creative sides. The “Bingo” writing challenges are the product of Corbett Harrison, a 29-year educator from the University of Nevada/Reno. It began as a summer program, and its purpose was to encourage students to become lifelong learners in reading, writing and math, and at the same time prevent the “summer slide”. For the last several years the “Bingo” challenge has been used year-round, and it is intended to provide fun and engaging ways to build independent learning skills. Students each month receive their writer’s notebook challenges, which gives 24 suggestions regarding subjects to write about. When the student creates any five-in-a-row Bingos and then shows his/her work to Patterson, special recognition is earned. Cynthia McCustion, literacy instructional facilitator at Blytheville Elementary School, is very happy that Patterson is using this activity, and stated that one never knows when a student will come up with an idea that has such a positive effect on the school. “These students are learning that words have the ability to change their way of thinking and empower them, and that is something I am very proud of for them,” she said. The following are some of the writing challenges that were distributed to the students in September: 1) Create a tribute to your favorite food, and use words and pictures; 2) personify an abstract noun; 3)choose a day of the week and turn it into a “person”; 4) write about a true or fictional embarrassing moment. Provide an illustration; 5) make a list of good advice for a (real or imaginary) younger brother or sister; 6) create an advertisement to sell one of your favorite articles of clothing, and 7) describe a room in your home from a unique point of view, such as an insect’s. Patterson said that students choose which “Bingo” writing challenges interest them the most, and added that some challenges can then be expanded into full-scale narrative pieces. “Writing is all about ideas,” she stated. “Students who are regularly exposed to new and different writing prompts often enjoy where these prompts take them.” Ella Miller, one of the fifth-graders at the elementary school, said that “the ideas in the writing challenges help me become more creative.” Fellow student Madison Mosley added, “These writing challenges are fun because they inspire me to show my true colors as a writer.” These are just a couple of examples of the creative writing the students are doing through the program. Other students who have also provided some of the more creative writing include Yashani Dotson, Rodney Rogers, Crishona Hogan and Kaylee Kimble. “The students have definitely developed their writer’s craft and their word choice has become more precise to dictate mood, characters’ feelings, setting and bring life to their stories,” added McCustion. “It is exciting to see students have such a love of writing!”