Tom the turkey – in the days leading up to Thanksgiving – faced an uncertain fate.
Fourth graders at Brookwood Elementary decided for themselves what it was. Would Tom end up being stuffed and watered, free in the wild or elsewhere? It was their class’s Friday blogging contest and the topic was to write about a turkey face, uh, plate.
The students took the blog assignment in the direction they wanted. Their stories, published on Kidblogincluded feathery prose, morbid missteps, and triumphant tales of survival.
“Tom the turkey is a wholesome, kind, intelligent turkey who lives on Brookwood Farms’ 50 acres,” fourth grader Conner Terry began on his blog. “Brookwood Farms is a nice place with all kinds of ranch animals, from pigs to turkeys. But one day, Tom learns that it will be the main dish for Thanksgiving dinner.
Every Friday, teacher Todd Jongekrijg gives students a topic for the weekly blogging contest. They blogged about habits, experiences, books, math, and their favorite states. They wondered if the recess should be longer and if they would take a trip to space.
“That’s all we’re studying at the time. I always pick something that we really got into,” Jongekrijg said.
A friendly competition
Jongekrijg awards a winner for best blog and best comment each Friday. The best blog gets 100 points and the best comment 50 points, which students can use to win prizes.
Stryder Dennison won for his blog Tom the Turkey, written from a bird’s eye view. Nyaruon Puot won the award for best commentary.
“So my name is Tom and I’m a turkey,” Stryder wrote. “I have two friends who never tell the truth. They say I’m going to get slaughtered. But I can’t trust them and they say I’ll be in the shops and sold for people to eat me .
Students use “responsible speaking” when posting comments, which goes beyond mere opinions and digs deeper into the content. Students often ask for more details or correct others’ punctuation. “It gets pretty cool because they end up helping each other out,” Jongekrijg said.
Jongekrijg often reads blogs posted on the Classroom Projector, talking about writing elements like character traits, setting, plot, and theme.
Alondra Evens’ blog was rich in descriptive texts.
“AHH! This is what Tom the handsome red and brown looked like with a hint of orange turkey and he glowed so brightly in the winter you could see him from miles away,” she wrote.
In Nyaruon’s story, Tom ends up “living in the forest forever” and learns an important lesson: “The theme of the story is that if a friend tries to cook, you don’t hang around with him.”
Ivory McCauley says she’s learned to put a lot of work into her blogs.
“Everyone in the class is going to see it, so put your effort into it,” she said. “I take it as motivation and it will help me do better.”