• Last Year's Stuff

    Below is Jaime Swank's
    "Writing About Writing"

    I didn’t really enjoy writing until fourth grade. Then came Mr. Murphy. He taught me oodles of craft, tons of craft, oodles and tons and heaps of craft. I am writing this piece to tell you about the wonders of writing. I hope you appreciate it.

    Paragraphs help the break up different thoughts so the reader understands it better. The average paragraph has about 5 sentences (you can have more though). It has a topic sentence, about 3 detail sentences, and a concluding sentence that restates the topic sentence in a better way. Here is an example of the perfect paragraph:

    (Topic sentence) My favorite thing to do is play my flute. (3 detail sentences)I love to play songs on it. I’m much better than I was at the beginning of the year. I can grab the keys much faster and make a better tune when I play. (Concluding sentence) Playing the flute is my passion.

    There are many different kinds of craft for sentences. A super-sized simile is a simile (you know, like or as) with three (or more) descriptive words. Here is one: It was as noisy as the highway at rush hour: loud, blaring, and ear-splitting. Another is _____, _____, _____ing it. An example: I was love, love, loving feeing the warm, soft blanket against my skin.  Just one more is varying your sentence length. Here is an example: She was doing it again. Again. It’s when you make sentences a different length so the writing doesn’t get boring.

    Beginnings, middles and ends are important. This introduces a new craft: kissing the beginning. It’s when you take the beginning and make the ending remind you of the beginning - therefore tying the writing together in one big bow.

    So, like I said, I never really liked writing until fourth grade. But now I do (and hopefully) always will!


    Jaime Swank

    Friday, May 5th, 2006

    10:03 AM
    Below is Mitchell Soufleris' most recent writing (excerpted).  Notice the sophisticated craft he uses - from varied sentence length to supersized simile to fresh SAT words to striking senses!  Impressive stuff!


    Once there was a boy named Mike, he talked like a boy, acted and looked like a boy, but everybody who ever met him agreed he had a sagacious imagination. Every day he saw mermaids and elves playing with fairy’s in meadows miles and miles wide. Every day the wind called his name: The soft wind, the clear soft wind, the comforting clear soft wind called to Mike. The wind. That’s right-nothing but the wind.

              One day when he was playing hide-and-go-seek with his gnome and troll friends. He heard a noise. He thought it came from Ice Cave. He had never been in Ice Cave and he had heard that nobody has ever came out. But, nothing could stop his imagination. He just had to go in.

              As soon as he walked in, he tasted his fear. It was dark. Pitch dark. He couldn’t see any thing. All of a sudden, he felt scared. He turned back to run out, and he couldn’t. He couldn’t see anything. So he ran and ran and ran. He ran for about a minute then bumped into a wall. Now he was the exact opposite of plucky. So he squeezed up into a ball on the ground.( He didn’t know what else to do)! He knew his parents would worry. Even though they were extremely lackadaisical. He started talking to himself. “Come on, get a hold of yourself-“. All of a sudden a piercing screech filled the room: loud, booming, and deafening. A large figure emerged from a large pit on the east of side of the cave. It had white fur and was roughly 10 feet tall......
    Dara Zellt did an amazing job with a recent writing.  She modeled her piece after Sharon Creech's novel Heartbeat. Check it out below!


    Everyone has a story

    A beginning,

    A legend,

    The tale of me - Melissa Ronald

    is simple, but different.

    It starts with a girl and ends with…

    well it doesn’t end and that’s the greatest part!!! 


    In the year 1994 when I was born, lived a great big city,

    New York.

    There was always talking,

    Wind blowing through the trees,

    And me,

    walking through mostly snow or rain.


    I would see dogs that looked like hungry bears: bulky, big and ready to come right at you.


    In 1990 my parents got divorced,

    I never got to see my dad again.

    Everything was going great until my mom had to move to Florida for her job.

    I thought that was fine to move,

    but then she told me I couldn’t

    come with.

    So now I am here

    in New York,

     without my parents.

    The only thing I have left is my grandma and a lovely gold necklace from my mom.


    I lived in a cabin,

    a small cabin,

    a small, old, brick cabin.

    It had one floor and about four rooms:

    my bedroom, my grandma’s bedroom a kitchen that was also a living room and a bathroom.


    The next day was a Monday- a school day.

    At 7:30am I got driven to school.

     I went to Pillow Mount Middle School.  I didn’t have many friends,


    I had

    no friends.


    Even though I had really no friends I still got compliments like,

    “You are  pulchritudinous” and also “ you are sublime”.  That wasn’t from any students

     that was from my grandma or teachers.


    After school I also played tennis.

    no one wanted to play with me,

    they thought it wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

    So I would sit there

    All alone

    until I got picked up by my grandma    


    When I got home

    I sat down in my room,

    Did my homework

    And just looked out the window.

    I felt sad until


     By Dara Zeltt


    What parents can do to support our classroom writing!!!


    The following (passages in quotes) are excerpted from

    Best Practice: Today’s Standards for Teaching & Learning in America’s Schools


    • Reading stories aloud…(it) immerses children in the language of good writers…increasing motivation for both reading and writing.” 
    • “Writing done at school or at home should be celebrated, just as families celebrate children’s first words, clever remarks, stories, and other achievements.” 
    • “Parents should respond…to the content of what the child writes…”
    The kids recrafted sentences borrowed from Jimmy Liao's beautiful
    picturebook The Sound of Colors: A Journey of the Imagination.
    Sami Procz recrafted this simile:
    The train scoops me up and, like a memory, carries me along.
    The train scoops me up and, like a memory, carries
    me along: a journey, traveling, on distant tracks.



    Home Preposition Poem


    Into the kitchen, have a dinner

    Inside a thing called millsberry.com

    Down to the TV,


     Between my covers and

    Into the bed


    Inside my ears hearing the practice of gun shots,

    Inside the room where my sister gets hurt by my 3 year old brother and among the stairs there is my


    Going to work.


    Among the house is me, my dad, my mom, my sister

    and the boy with the biggest character:

    my brother.


    By the table

     in the kitchen,

    I hear a cry of the macro-tasty syrupy pancakes.


    In my room

    I come,

    Passed the door,

    Onto my bed that was saying, “Sit on me.  Sit on me.”

    Oh wait,

    That wasn’t the bed - it was the chair,

    Right upon my bed.


    Passed my house and

    Over my neighborhood, there is a soccer field and

    Near my house is a hill going

    Up to my driveway.


    After a couple years of living in this house

    we came upon

    a baby boy



     Also when I started living here,

    I met



    and other people too.

    “Draw a circle, not a heart, around the one you
    Love because a heart can break but a circle goes

    On forever.”


    In our house

     there is a calling,

    it is saying that quote.

    I think it’s a lot like my family

    Because my family

    Will hopefully




    by Gabi Rosenfeld

    (February 2006)





    A.I. TO A.I.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           &nbs, p;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

    Andre comes from behind

    Allen throws it behind the backboard

    He takes it

    Ducks underneath the backboard

    Passed the backboard

    The ball goes through the net

    He nailed it

    He’s running down the sideline

    He’s running toward the locker rooms

    Mitchell Soufleris 2-24-06


    Author’s Note

    This piece is a follow-up on the same poem. Except in this poem, I added prepositions. We watched a clip of a dunk from this year's NBA dunk contest. The two main contestants were Andre Iguodala and Nate Robinson. We watched two of their main dunks. First, was Andre’s. Allen Iverson helped him by throwing it off the back off the backboard. Andre came from the crowd, took the ball, ducked, and threw it home cleanly through the net. We had to listen for sounds like: Ohhhhhhhh, a perfect 50 and that’s heavy etc. Then we wrote a first draft in our writer’s notebooks. Then we typed it. Then we turned it into a preposition poem. I had a lot of fun because I had never learned prepositions before!


    ..or click here:





    The Classroom at the End of the Hall

    The hall was silent. Nobody was there. There it was, the classroom at the end of the hall. It was haunted. This was the oldest classroom in the school; it was tearing apart.There were spider webs hanging everywhere. It was pale white. And the worst part of that classroom - the teacher. She was a witch! She had a broad nose, sharp eyes, a big mouth and she was…extremely fat. Nobody in the school wanted her as a teacher. The only thing is… I got her. I, Henry Hooks, got that teacher. I forgot to mention the teacher’s name, Mrs. Stew. She could be the meanest teacher anyone would and could ever have. And there my best friend got the nicest teacher, Mrs. Blossom. Summer break was almost over...

    by Nagisha Devala



    The piece above, by Nagisha, demonstrates her strong control of written language!  She purposefully crafted her sentence lengths with variety in mind.  The fifth sentence even incorporates a semicolon; showing her knowledge of more sophisticated punctuation!  Notice her ellipses.  Nagisha Devala - future professional novelist!












    Pic #1
                     140  11  111
    Below are some pics! 
    We wrote letters to Michael Lewis of the Philadelphia Eagles in the beginning of the year - and he wrote back!  More on that later!
    Giants Fans at CR Ed Week!

    by Sami Procz
    (February 2006)
    Unfinished and Unedited

    “It’s not who you are inside, it’s what you do that defines you”


    That quote means the world to me. What I was told is that this quote means that if you are good on the inside and you do something bad (as in a verb/action) then people will mistake you as a bad person. I think that this is the best quote I’ve heard so far in my life because I can relate with it a little bit. Here is a story that relates to this quote:

         Once I was at an amusement park and I was about three or four years old. I asked my dad I could have a lollypop and he said that I should ask my mom and my mom said that she doesn’t want me to eat any sweets before I get on the rides. I was so mad!!!!!(Remember I was only 3-4 yrs. old)  Then I stole the candy and my mom caught me eating it while we were in line for the Ferris wheel. From that day on I never ever stole anything again. Never again. And now I am ten and my mom and I are best friends. I can definitely draw a perfect circle around my mom because she is the reason why I am here. And same with my dad he helped a lot to create me so I can also draw a perfect circle around my dad. And also draw a perfect circle around my brother my brother even though he does fight with me a lot he’s my bro. And no one can top him...

    Jackie Robinson
    by Maggie Hegarty

    Jackie Robinson is a hero, he is probably, the most important black hero in the United States.  This is why I think he is…Martin Luther king Jr. was inspired by Jackie Robinson!

    Let me tell you the story.  At first Jackie always got into fights and things like that. 

    One day there was this cool thing that happened to him.  He could play pro Baseball!  Only if he would not get into fights.  That would be a lot to ask for from Jackie Robinson because in the past he got into a lot of fights.  (Like I said before)

    Jackie would be walking on thin ice for the rest of his career. 

    When Jackie started Baseball there were horrible things happening.  People started sending him letters threatening to kill him, it made him fell inferior, but he ignored them for the rest of his career. I want to be strong like him!

    That is why Jackie Robinson is a hero!

    Maggie Hegarty

    February 8, 2006

    On his tombstone it says “A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives."
    Get ready to read one of the best pieces of writing you'll ever read....
    Conor Timoney's narrative about A Civil War general who displayed bravery!!!

      A Brave Hero of Mine


    Gettysburg is one of America’s saddest battles, but did you know that through all that smoke and fire some of the United States most gallant heroes still stood?

    One of my favorite brave soldiers was Joshua L. Chamberlain, but this brave Yankee was no ordinary soldier. He was a father, a school teacher and in the fall of 1862 he became a soldier. First he started out as a lieutenant colonel then to colonel, which meant full command of the regiment.  But his gallantry at Gettysburg would make him feel more like Abe Lincoln than a colonel.

    The fighting at Gettysburg started on July the 1st 1863, but that day’s fighting lasted long into the night and Chamberlain and the 20th Main were still on the trampled road to the town. But on July 2nd Chamberlain and his 300 exhausted soldiers arrived in Gettysburg and were marched by General Vincent to what is now the well known ”Little Round Top” which is right on the slopes of Big Round Top. At the top of the hill Chamberlain and his men piled rocks high, prepared wooden barricades and did whatever they could do to prepare for the oncoming battle. Far in the distance the men could see smoke rising from the death pit of Devil’s Den and Chamberlain knew a fight was coming. Fast. Just then gleaming muskets and rebel soldiers started to appear through the trees like rats in a cornfield. Muskets start to fire, men start to shout, and soon Little Round Top became a spitting image of Death. After hours of fighting, Chamberlain realizes that half his men are dead and that if they retreat they will lose and if they stay on the round top they will die.

    I quote Chamberlain by saying, “I stepped to the colors and the men turned towards me, one word was enough.  BAYONETS!” That word sent every man on Little Round Top charging down the hill in full force, driving the Rebs to misery. Joshua L. Chamberlain is my favorite, brave Civil War hero.   

    A Review About All About Sam


    I thought All About Sam was great because it was a cute story!! The good thing was when Sam’s family moved to the new house.  I always wanted to move to my beach house in Ocean City, Maryland.

    My favorite character is Sam because he has a great personality and he’s funny!  My favorite part is when Sam once put his mom’s earrings, his pretzel and some of his mom’s lipstick and other stuff in the toilet.  He thought that if it rained the stuff that he put in the toilet would fall out of the sky.  I loved All About Sam a lot.  There is a sequel to it - it’s called Attaboy Sam.  I wish I could read it again!! I also wish to read Attaboy Sam!!


    by Lia Chak

    From www.candyaddict.com
    Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

    Fourth Graders Review Kissables
    Writing assignments are no fun when you’re a fourth grader - who wants to write about “What I Did Last Summer” or “How Electricity Was Discovered”? Mr. Murphy, a fourth grade teacher at Holland Elementary in Holland, PA has come up with a writing topic all fourth graders love - CANDY! He had his students each try the new
    Hershey’s Kissablesand write a mini-review on their own. Being fans of this site, he decided to have them submit their reviews here so we could all enjoy them. Each review below is from one of his students. Read on for their reviews of Hershey’s Kissables.




    I think that Kiss-ables will be just like m&m’s but with more chocolate. Also I think they will be in the shape of mini Hershey Kisses. They will certainly taste sublime!!!


    When I tried the “new” kiss-ables I taste a little bit of vanilla. Once you let this dreamy, mouth-watering, chocolaty, nut free piece of candy sink down on to your tongue you’ll know…

    That they are kiss-able, love-able, share-able, sublime-able, eat-able, bliss-able, laugh-able, this-able, in-able, out-able, treat-able, here-able, there-able, friend-able, spin-able, slide-able, day-able, night-able non-waste-able and irresist-able.

    No I don’t think that they will compete with m&m’s. And yes they will become more popular because there aren’t any traces of nut products which will increase the number of people that eat them!  

    by Sami Procz, January 2006            



    Holidays 2005-2006

    By: Gabi 1/2/06

    Part 1


    Memories mountain themselves in my mind: I started to shake… my heart was pounding… pieces of wrapping paper all over… It was Christmas day. This year I got good things for Christmas. My favorite thing was my ipod because it’s so cool! I also got books, iTunes, radio and other things too but I can’t remember.

     But now, I’ll tell you about Christmas morning. I was sleeping over my Nanny’s and Poppy’s house. We left out Santa’s cookies and my mom made stockings out of socks. So then, we went to sleep. My sister and I woke up at 6 o’clock and we went downstairs so exited to see what we got. I got a piggy bank, a disco ball, markers, a fuzzy thing and candy canes.

    Part 2


    Hanukkah was so fun this year. I got what I wanted like a Vcam. A Vcam is a thing that takes pictures and videos of things (I wanted it for camp.) Other thing I got was books, Sims and more. On one day of Hanukkah I went to New York City (To be exact, I went to my cousin’s house.) Another place I went to Dara’s house. We had dessert there and presents too. That was a good Hanukkah.

    Part 3

    New Years Eve

    It happened…It was…2006!! Yes, New Years Eve. I went to Jacki’s house and a lot of fun. The bad part is that her sister is 14 and invited 10 15 year olds and some of them were boys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But, it was still fun.

    But my favorite part about holidays is spending time with my Family.

    Gabi Rosenfeld's Recent Mega m&m's Review:
    (January 19, 2006)

    Mega M&Ms


    Before I eat this candy I think it will taste great. It smells like peanut butter and it looks like a pill! They can spin on a table and I have to eat one now…


    When I first put it in my mouth I thought I was in heaven! Its yummy creamy taste evaporated my taste buds. Now I’m putting in my second one… The second one was more crunchy (not in a bad way) but, it was monstrously good. My head is spinning with my delight of this yummy taste covering my mouth with taste buds of yummy, crunchy goodness. And I’m keeping my last one forever. CHOMP!! 

    Ryan Byrne's Written Preview of Some of His Memoirs
    (January 2006, Unedited)
    Notice Ryan's use of a colon, ellipses, a simile and fresh language.

    Memories are coming in my mind like layers, like the snow covers the tips of the mountains in the Poconos: when the EAGLES were in the Super Bowl…when I went to my first Eagles game it was so much fun…I was about 3 or 4 and my brother was about 2 and we were fighting over a shoe box and fell over and cracked our heads open in the same spot but on different sides…when I was fishing off the dock at our shore house and I caught something but it almost pulled me in but my dad held me so I would not go in and I got him it was …an eel it was really big…        

    Layers author's note  

    In my writing I used a colon. What a colon does is that it tells you when a list is coming. And the ellipse lets you take it to a different subject. It is basically a pause and it is like a dash but a dash is a longer pause.



    Our kids are reading Lois Lowry's novel All About Sam.  Below is Edward Chiang's ongoing literature response to this wonderful novel.

    Edward's Lit Response


    Eating my way through the alphabet

    by Tyler Marino (unedited & not yet finished!)

    Aa- Apple makes me think of me going apple picking, crisp, cool, crunchy.

    Bb- Buffalo wings they remind me of when I tried one and it was hot “I was only 4”.

    Cc-cheese stake they are one of my favorite foods that cheesy goodness ooooooo ya.

    Dd-donuts sweet, astonishing, sugary, on Sundays Mitch and I went to wawa to get donuts before we go to hockey practice.

    Ee-eggs, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeegs I like dippy eggs what kind do you like? Eggs are cool I like eggs do you like eggs eggs eggs


    Ff-fish sublime fish stinky fish small fish big fish. fish fish fish.

    Gg-gravy I like gravy on anything even eggs and peas it is the 2and best sauce in the world if you do not like gravy you’re evil. Evil.

      Hh-honey I take a spoon full everyday of it so sweet and sugary o that’s the life it is.

    Ii-icy icy give me brain freezes bad one and I mean ad ones.

    Jj-jelly or jam I do not care which to pick because they are pretty much the same I say.

    Kk-kiwi kiwi is goooood by the way Mitchell cat’s name is kiwi.

    Ll-lemons sour sour super sour  to sour to SOUR for me! Thank you.


    [Apple makes me think of me going apple picking, crisp, cool, crunchy.

    This craft is about apples for A in my alphabet poem. The craft is called a blam blam bam because the last word is bigger and sounds cool]




    Blue looks like royal blue birds flying in the sky.

    Blue sounds like a sky blue fish jumping out of the water and splashing back in

    Blue smells like fresh navy violets in the grass.

    Blue tastes like a steel blue Popsicle dripping on my hands.

    Blue feels like the sapphire blue cold water in the lake.

    Blue moves like a midnight mouse running around.

    Blue tastes like indigo blueberries in your mouth.

    Blue looks like a piece of the sky in your hands.

      Gabi Rosenfeld 10/28/05



    Jordyn Tannenbaum

    Red and orange,

    Yellow and blue,

    There are so many colors,

    And those are just a few.

    Red is like apples and cherry pie,

    Blue is water and the color of the sky.

    Yellow is the color of the extremely bright sun,

    Orange, there’s oranges for everyone!

    Green is some vegetables that are really gross,

    Brown is the skin of potatoes that I love the most.

    Black is dark and you can’t see a thing,

    Gold is the color of a pretty golden ring.

      Red and orange,

    Yellow and blue,

    There are so many colors,

    And those are just a few!

    Reading like a writer!” 

    This is what writers need to do to get better at writing with style and craft.  Below is an email from Mitchell Soufleris’ mom, Debbie.  They both were “reading like writers”!  You do it too!

    (There is a link below to a template you can use with your students or kids.)

    Hey Murph,

    Mitch came across this poem in his Cricket Magazine and thought it was a good one to share.  I just type faster than he does so I said I would send it along to you.  I fell in love with it more each time we read it.  He picked up the personification of the apple trees.  I like the way the author described the day as "a blue sky day".  Anyway- he asked what careening meant so I figured if he didn't know most of the others wouldn't either.  Another good word. Enjoy-


    PS- the way he gave importance to THE HUMP just by giving it a capital- cool.

                Sledding  by Brian Potts

    I remember twisting through the barnyard

    On a blue sky day after midnight snows,

    Careening through the powder on our broken sled

    and finally making it over The Hump.

    My cry of triumph one of terror instead,

    As the orchard's black trunks loomed too soon.

    Bailing out in an explosion of snow,

    I watched with melting flakes trickling down my face

    As the sled kept going,

    Untouched, as if the apple trees

    Were stepping politely out of the way.






    Aa-is for juicy scrumptious apples, crunching in my mouth.

    Bb-is for strikingly spicy Buffalo wings. Burning the tip of my tongue

    Cc-is for yummy-in-my-tummy cake that is melt melt melting on my tongue.

    Dd-is for drumsticks. It reminds me of the juicy meat falling off the bone and into my wide open mouth. AHHHHHHHHHHHH. Relaxing.

    Ee-is for éclairs. The cream filling is actually filling me!

    Ff-is for French fries. The salty outside and the potato inside makes me feel good inside: warm, welcomed, and down-right relaxed.

    Gg-is for gelatin. It jiggles in my stomach. Jiggly! Jiggly! Jiggly!

    Hh-is for greasy hamburgers. Why are they so good?

    Ii-is for freezing ice cream. Almost freezing my teeth off, it still is scrumptious.

    Jj-is for juice that I swish through the space of the tooth was, but I just lost it!

    Kk-is for kiwi. Kiwi is my favorite fruit: yummy, tasty and scrumptious x10! (Kiwi is my cat’s name)

    Ll-lasagna is my favorite noodle platter. It’s my dad’s too. The sauce, and the noodle, and the cheese remind me of ravioli. My second favorite noodle platter.

    Mm-is for marshmallows: yummy, sticky and can’t resist great.

    Nn-is for Nerds candy. They sometimes get stuck in braces.

    Oo- is for Oreo cookies. I love to dunk them in milk. Especially when they’re UH-OH Oreos.

    Pp-is for pickles that are green or yellow. I like the green ones the most. They are as sour as 20 black cherry warheads at once.

    Qq-is for quesadilla. The cheesy goodness fills me up. (The ones with chicken taste better)

    Rr-is for ribs. I love Friendly’s sauce. It is my favorite. It’s the best!

    Ss-is for ice cream sundae’s. They are the best. Especially with a bananas.

    Tt-is for turkey. I love it on Thanksgiving. The compony of friend’s and family make it taste even better.

    Uu-is for upside down cake. I love the pineapple ones the most.

    Vv- is for… Well I don’t really like anything that begins with V. But vegetables are okay.

    Ww-is for watermelon. I have contests with my cousin’s to see who can spit the black seeds farther.

    Xx-is for x-mas cake. It would be funny if you didn’t have it on Christmas.

    Yy-is for yogurt. Peach is the best. The little chunks are soooooooooo good!

    Zz-is for zucchini. It tastes the best with  salt: yummy, tasty, and strikingly sublime.

                                               11/17/05 Mitchell Soufleris



    Reading: An Acrostic Poem by the

    Great Chris Zoubroulis


    R eflecting on your life

    E rupting your head with knowledge

    A mazing, funny, sublime books

    D rifting books that you can’t stop reading

    I slands, states, and continents are in books

    N ever turn back

    G reat for your mind



    By Sami Procz

    (Unedited - Dec. 2005)

    I think that impactful means to change, to be different than other things. Let’s picture a butterfly.  ?

       Say there is a big crowd of yellow butterflies. The blue one above is in the middle of the crowd. It is being different. It is being its self. “One little voice is bigger than a crowd’s.”

        Say everyone in school is bringing in a new… let’s say… book bag and you don’t. You keep your old one from last year. Even though it is probably all torn up, in your mind you will think that you don’t need one. I think it means to be you.

       Here is exactly what it means. Impactful means to make a difference. STAND OUT!!!!

       I make a difference by being a good friend. Helping others is a sublime way to stand out.  I plan on helping my brother more often when he needs the help. My mom, I could help with the laundry. My dad, I could help him with cleaning up after dinners. Or help him plow the drive way. I am a Council Rock Cheerleader and I help my team by basing the stunts, being loud, being the leader of stretching. How can you be IMPACTFUL