One-Page Comic Contest: Prepping for a Visit with Lincoln Peirce

We are still in shock that next week we will be visited by Lincoln Peirce, the author of the bestselling Big Nate series. Lincoln is touring the country to promote his newest illustrated novel, Max and the Midknights. I can’t wait for students to be introduced to this new book. It has a little bit of everything: surprises, humor, medieval fights, mystery, magic, zombies, and more.

When an author/illustrator visits, I love to fill our windows and/or hallways with student work inspired by the author/illustrator. Sometimes there’s just not enough prep time, but luckily for Lincoln we knew a couple of months in advance.

When I read the Advance Reading Copy of Max and the Midknights, I saw that it opens with a one-page comic to setup the story. I thought this would be a great concept to invite students to try out. Instead of hosting class after class in the library, I made this a choice contest. In the contest, I invited students in any grade level to create a one-page comic on any topic. That’s pretty much the rules. They could create the comic on their own paper or use a pre-printed page of comic boxes that I provided in the library.

I introduced the contest on our morning broadcast and also made a video that teachers could share.

Students had a little less than 2 weeks to enter the contest and it didn’t take long to see that this was a high-interest topic. By the deadline date, we had over 100 entries in our contest from almost every grade level. It was impossible to pick winners by myself, so I had the help of Allie Melancon, SST, and my high school intern, Andrea Aramburo. I also had a few students, teachers, and my wife read a some comics too.

In the end, we picked 12 students to receive an autographed copy of Max and the Midknights. Thanks to a local organization called Books for Keeps, I had some other items I could hand out as prizes for about 50 honorable mention students.

These students received their choice of several doodling books, coloring books, magnetic storytelling kits, and comics.

Every student who entered a comic also has his/her work displayed on the windows of the library. As soon as the display went up, students, teachers, and families were stopping in the hall to read comics. We can’t wait for Lincoln Peirce to see them next week too.

I loved having this choice contest. It’s something I would like to try again with other author visits. It gives students one more way to interact with their library, one more way to make their voice heard, and one more way to be creative regardless of grade level, language, or background. I met some students in a new way through their art or writing. I saw some hidden talents that I didn’t realize were there.

We never know what opportunity is going to be the spark that students need in order to connect.

More Barrow Media Center Persuasive Writing Contest Winners

Today, we want to recognize Natalie for winning the 1st grade persuasive writing contest.  Also, because we had 82 entries in our 1st persuasive writing contest, there were many outstanding essays that didn’t win 1st place.  Today, these students were recognized on BTV and had a chance to record their essays using the iPads.  Not all students chose to record their essays, but we invite you to listen to the ones that did.  Congratulations again to all of our winners and honorable mentions!

Natalie-1st grade winner:

Honorable Mentions:

Two students wrote pieces about why picture books are not important.  Here they are:

Barrow Media Center Persuasive Writing Contest Winners

We are excited to announce that 82 students entered our first Barrow Media Center Persuasive Writing Contest.  Students wrote essays about whether or not picture books are important for today’s kids.  Almost every essay was in support of picture books and students’ creativity really stood out in the essays.  After much deliberation, the winners have been chosen, one from each grade level.  Here are six of the winning essays.  We’ll post more “honorable mention” essays in the coming days.


PreK: Sam

Kindergarten: Andrew

1st Grade: Natalie

2nd Grade: Isabella

3rd Grade: Kniyah

4th Grade: Sarah

5th Grade: Clare




Persuasive Writing Contest Kickoff

This week we’ve been kicking off our first persuasive writing contest in the media center.  Students are writing persuasive essays about whether or not picture books are important for today’s kids.  You can learn more about the contest in this video.

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We’ve talked about the contest on our morning BTV show, but we’re also holding lessons on persuasive writing in the media center.  A first grade class came and imagined what the library would be like without picture books.  They made a brainstorm list about what might be good or bad about this.  That list was a spark to begin thinking about their writing.  We also read Keiko Kasza’s Ready for Anything and pointed out persuasive techniques used in the story.

Today, a 5th grade class came and viewed a slideshow of persuasive strategies. Then, they split at tables and read the NY Times article about picture books and essays on the Picture Book Month website using the iPad.  They organized their research into a 2-column chart, for picture books and against picture books.  Many of them said they would continue this research at home.  The teacher plans to schedule a writing workshop time with the media center for students who are interested in the contest.  These students will have time to do more research, write, and conference with me about their writing.

A kindergarten teacher has also scheduled time for a small group to meet with me to work on their writing for the contest.

The persuasive writing is flowing at Barrow.  We’re so honored to be able to support this writing standard that grades 1-5 are working on this quarter.

Media Center Persuasive Writing Contest 2012

The Barrow Media Center is sponsoring our very first persuasive writing contest.   The contest starts now through February 10th.  All entries are due by 3PM on February 10th.  Students in any grade at Barrow may enter.  This contest supports the Georgia Performance Writing Standards that grades 1-5 are working on during 3rd quarter and it is an extension of our Picture Book Month celebration from November.  Students are asked about the following topic:  Picture books….important for today’s kids or not?  Essays must be 500 words or less and preferably typed.  Students can use any resources as inspiration, but we recommend the picture book month website and the New York Times article, Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Today’s Kids.    Consider using persuasive writing techniques such as big names, playing into emotions, building trust, using facts and numbers, and backing up your stance with reputable research.  We will award certificates to the top essays in Prek-1st, 2nd-3rd, and 4th-5th.  The top essays will also be recorded for our blog and morning broadcast.  The media center will also hold writing workshops for whole classes and small groups on persuasive writing and conference with students on their writing prior to entering the contest.  We can’t wait to see what students come up with.


Mysteries of Harris Burdick Contest

Over the past month, students from all grade levels at our school have been participating in a writing contest sponsored by Avid Bookshop, a new independent bookshop in Athens.  We had over 50 students enter the contest, and I’ve heard that Avid received hundreds of entries from local schools.  Today, the finalists were announced.  They will be honored this Sunday November 13th at Avid from 1-3:00PM.  Some of the students will read from their stories and the top winner will be announced.  The top winner’s story will be submitted to a national contest sponsored by Chris Van Allsburg in celebration of his new compilation, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.  

Congratulations to our Barrow finalists:

Amelia Ray and Hanna Lee

We hope to see lots of supporters at Avid on Sunday.

Avid Bookshop

493 Prince Avenue

Athens, GA