Mr. Patterson's Blog

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Presentation Order

Hey Gang,

Time’s up. I want a hard copy of all assignment handed-in next Tuesday. I can’t wait to start reading them. The last thing you gotta do is present your big bit of writing business. Here’s the order of presentation, as selected by the ransom seating-plan generator in my Markbook ™ program.

That’s the order. The plan is that if you’re one of the five next people on the list, you should be ready to go for the following class.


Writer’s Craft Summative

Here’s a link to the summative:

Writer’s Craft Summative 2018 Final

Also, I cut and pasted here for easy access:

Writer’s Craft Summative Assignment

Major Writing Piece

Teacher: Mr. Patterson
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 
Ernest Hemingway


Welcome to what will be – for most of you – your last 5 months as a high school student. While this is most certainly a bittersweet time full of reflection, speculation, apprehension and joy, I see it as my final opportunity to cram a bunch of work down your collective throats that you don’t want to do in the vague hope that a modicum of what I teach you before you leave takes hold somewhere in the recesses of your brains and will be of some use to you in the years to come.

With that in mind, I present you with the Writer’s Craft Summative. The focus of this summative is to follow your particular interests (wherever they may lead) and produce a substantive writing piece. Near the end of the year, you will hand in your writing piece and present a seminar on both your process and the final product. While this may seem rather ambitious (it is), a touch vague (it also is) and overwhelming (it isn’t), I have high hopes that you will enjoy yourself, produce work to be proud of and learn a thing or two or three or four.

This summative will be worth 30% of your final grade.

PART 1: The Major Piece


“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”

                                                                                                                                         – Stephen Wright


Why do it?


One of my many hopes for this course is that by the end of it you get to experience what it really feels like to be a writer. While you’ve already touched on that feeling through your character pieces, shorts stories, prompts and other in-class writing activities, you’ll never really know the true writer’s experience until you have to produce something a) of significant length that b) you really care about. You don’t simply become a writer by putting words to paper…well, technically I guess you do but you’ll never be a real writer until you experience all the frustration, confusion, self-loathing, doubt, pain, pride, more self-loathing and sheer exhaustion that comes with it.


Sound like fun? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Well, too bad. You have to do it anyway so suck it up, Sunshine.





What should I do?


This is going to be the first difficult part of this assignment: making a choice. Below you’ll see a few exciting options of writing challenges to undertake. Examine the list closely and see which ones catch your eye:


  • A screenplay
  • A novel
  • A television script for either a pre-existing show or a pilot for a show of your own design.
  • A play (one-act or longer)
  • A musical
  • A biography
  • A technical manual
  • A collection of shorter works such as:
    • Poems
    • Short Stories
    • Comedy sketches
    • Editorials
    • Journalism pieces
    • Reviews
    • Original Songs
    • Parody articles


You may not see anything on this list that interests you. If this is the case, you’re more than welcome to come up with your own idea. I’m willing to listen to whatever project you’d like to pitch.


Are all choices created equal?


One selection technique common to many students is to pick the option that seems like the least amount of work. I would NOT recommend going this way. Every year some student says they’ll do poetry because they think they can write any old gibberish and then pass it off as ‘thinking outside the box’. Trust me when I tell you there will be safeguards to a) prevent this and b) make sure everyone is doing roughly the same amount of work. Obviously, there’s no way of doing this perfectly, but I always strive towards equality as much as possible. As a teacher, I have an overdeveloped sense of fairness.


To give me a clear understanding of your choice, the work you’re planning to put in and the final product you have in mind, you’ll be writing a SUMMATIVE PROPOSAL that explains what you plan to write over the next 4 months.



The Proposal


Once you’ve picked what you’re planning to write, you need to make a preliminary case for me, explaining what makes this a major writing piece. Here’s what I’d like to know:


  • What are you writing? Provide some specific ideas you have kicking around.
  • Why drew you to this idea?
  • Do you plan to write the entire thing (a full play) or a portion of it (the first 40 pages of a novel)?
  • What prewriting/research will you need to do?
  • What experience and/or knowledge do you have in this form of writing?
  • What difficulties do you predict you will experience? Are you looking forward to any of this?



  • Length: Approximately 300 words
  • Format: Typed (No Comic Sans)
  • Due Date: February 1st


Once I get your proposal sheets, we’ll have a one-on-one meeting to discuss what you’ve written. I might suggest a few changes if I feel your proposal is not ambitious enough, unfocussed or I think you’re biting off more than you can chew. Don’t worry, more often these meetings end with a ‘good idea’ and ‘good luck’.




Work Periods and Check-Ins


“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” 

-Douglas Adams
Between the proposal and handing in your work, we’ll have 3 periods in a computer lab to beaver away while Mr. Patterson does one on one check-ins. I’ll be looking for things like evidence of research and how much you’ve progressed since the last check-in. Come prepared with all your work. These check-ins will be evaluated.







  • Important dates:
    • Period C
      • Feb 5th – Meeting 1
      • March 7th – Meeting 2 *Evidence of research and initial work
      • April 9th – Meeting 3 *Progress of work
      • May 8th and 10h *Work in final revision stage
      • May 14th Copy of Major Work handed in

PART 2: The Seminar


“There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.” 

– Mark Twain

Once you’ve completed your piece, you’ll be ready for the seminar presentation. In approximately 10 to 15 minutes you need to tell us the following:

  • Basic information about your writing piece, including sharing a small portion of it
  • Why you chose to do this as your piece
  • An understanding of your creative process
  • An explanation of the challenges/pleasures involved
  • What you’ve learned about writing, this genre or yourself after going through this process
  • An honest self-evaluation of your piece. What are you happiest about? What did you feel you never got right?


You are welcome to do anything you like to make your seminar more interesting. This can include:

  • Video Clips
    •           Photos
    •           Power Point or Prezi
    •           Handouts
    •           Special ways of presenting your material (ex. Actors performing dialogue)
    •           Anything else you can think of

    Please note you will be marked on how well your presentation engages the class, not for technical wizardry (RUBRIC TO FOLLOW). It is possible to do very well simply by giving an oral account of all the points above. However, for many who are less comfortable in front of a crowd, using any of the above ideas might be helpful in taking some of the pressure off.



  • Length: Approximately 10 to 15 Minutes
  • Use of Media not mandatory
  • Evaluation: You will be evaluated on the clarity and detail of your information, the practiced nature of your presentation and the natural integration of media. Make sure you (at the very least) cover the topics listed above
  • Presentations begin : May 16th


Proposal   …………………………………..   /10


Major Work   ………………………………   /70


Seminar   …………………………………..      /30


Check-ins and Deadlines ………………     /10


TOTAL …………………………………….       /120


Final Thoughts


That’s it. Not overly complicated but very ambitious. I would not give this to you if I didn’t think you had it in you. I’m really looking forward to reading these.



  1. Rubrics for both Major Work and Seminar
  2. Exemplar for Seminar
  3. Other choice specific supportive material



‘My friend asked me if I wanted a frozen banana. I said ‘No, but I want a regular banana

 later, so… yeah.’

-Mitch Hedberg

Poetry Prompt 4: Slam Poetry

Hi Gang,

Last class we watch a lot of slam poems in an effort to prepare you for today’s prompts. You job today is to crank out a slam poem.

This difficulty here is that slam is a form of free form poetry so I don’t have my usual set of easy to follow guidelines. However, this does not mean I can come up with a few helpful tips to guide you on your way.

Here’s a few bits of advice I picked up from books and websites:

Use all the senses

Use your five senses to create a first draft. Write down what you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell when you think about your topic. Details are key when it comes to painting a vivid picture through slam poetry, so always ask yourself: “could I be more specific?” For instance, instead of writing “I drank a glass of water,” write “I sipped on an ice-cold glass of water with a pinch of lemon that was so tart, it made me cringe.” Craft your words into short stanzas that lend themselves to a natural rhythm and feel free to use rhyme if you feel like it.

Have fun with language

Chose you words wisely. Your first thought is not always your best ones. After your first draft, see what words you used that are puns or have double meanings. Don’t be afraid of the thesaurus. It’s your friend. Here’s one now..

To rhyme or not to rhyme

  1. If your whole slam poem rhymes, then the lines that do not rhyme will stand out. 
  2. If your poem is not written with rhymes, then selecting a section to rhyme will highlight that section.
  3. Cat, bat and hat all rhyme. But please (please, please, please!) get more creative than that. Think outside of a typical rhyme because when you are delivering the piece, you have the authority and authorship to make each word sound the way you want it to – this is the power of slam poetry. ‘Battle’ can rhyme with ‘sabbatical’ and ’emphatical’, and it can also rhyme with ‘I had to’ – if you say it right! Also, try to rhyme deeper. Rhyme 3 syllables or more. Heck make two full sentences rhyme like this from my poem IntroI was the, Writer, director and star, Of a nightmare… The fighter, protector and scar, Of a blank stare
  4. Finally, remember that rhyming is certainly not a requirement. Onomatopoeia means that words or sentences are phonetically the same. Using this in your poem can really give it flow without having to use rhyme schemes.

Chose a topic close to you

Identify an event, person, or issue that evokes a passion in you. It could be a trip that changed the way you look at life. Maybe you recently fell in love or went through a bad breakup. Or, perhaps you’re determined to do whatever you can to fight animal cruelty. When you’re fired up, emotions and words are more likely to flow out of you.


Poetry Prompt 3: Diminishing Verse

Today we’re going to play with a relatively simple but nonetheless challenging form: Diminishing Verse.

A Diminishing Verse poem is one where each line is one word (or letter) fewer than the last. The length (how many words) and whether or not here is a rhyme scheme is up to the poet.

Here’s a 12 line example.

I never really understood the old adage ‘They grow up so fast” (12)

Now I do. Her future already parts of it are past. (11)

First smile. First steps. First words. Running out of firsts. (10)

How can things be amazing and equally the worst? (9)

If I wish hard enough, she’ll stay two (8)

Yes, that’s a selfish thing to do (7)

But I don’t care. Progress abated (6)

Listen! Growing up is overrated (5)

Freeze now. Age never (4)

Stay young forever (3)

For dad (2)

#sad (1)

Poem 2

You wouldn’t know it to look at me but in my youth

I had a head of hair. Wild. Free. Lustrous. Beautiful. Uncouth.

Watch it blow in the breeze! Curl at the tip.

Look in the mirror. “How’d I get so hip?!?”

The ladies loved it too, so I assume.

Dreaming at night that they could groom

And stroke it. But that’s through.

There’s nothing I can do.

I can’t save it.

So shave it.

It’s called




I’m going to task you with the same chore. Write a poem in diminishing verse of at least 12 lines. If you want a challenge, try rhyming. (You don’t need to use the aa,bb,cc… rhyme scheme). 




Poetry Prompt 2: Limerick

Form 2: Limerick

I thought we’d go from a rather difficult style (sestina) so something significantly simpler: The Limerick.

Basically, the limerick is a five-line poem consisting of a triplet split by a couplet. That is, lines 1, 2, and 5 are a bit longer and rhyme, while the shorter lines of 3 and 4 rhyme. There is not a precise syllable count per line, but the norm is about 8-10 syllables in the longer lines and around 6 syllables in the shorter lines.

The form was popularized by author Edward Lear in this book from 1872.

While the content can technically be about anything, Limericks have a long standing tradition of being odd, to taboo, to off colour to straight up obscene.

Here’s one of my basic examples. They get worse as they go.


Image result for limericks


Image result for limericks


Image result for limericks dirty

Image result for edward lear limerick

Image result for edward lear limerick

The most famous dirty limerick


Your Task

Write 3 limericks. Don’t feel you have to go off colour. Despite the history, there are plenty of fine clean limericks out there….so I’ve been told.



Poetry Prompt 1: Sestina

FORM 1: The Sestina

For our first prompt, I decided to have you write a sestina style poem. Here’s what a sestina is and what one looks like.

A sestina is a poem that’s is six stanzas long, each stanza containing six lines. In addition, you use the same six words to end each line in each stanza. In the following stanza, you end on the same words but you change what line you find them in.

I’m guess that sounds super confusing. Well, it’s not. Here’s an example of a sestina:

STEP 1: Pick you six words

Let’s pick: blood, celebrating, hands, breathe, noise and down

STEP 2: Pick and order of words.

Line 1 – blood

Line 2 – noise

Line 3 – celebrating

Line 4 – down

Line 5 – hands

Line 6 – breathe

STEP 3: Write your first stanza

I can hear your blood
It’s making noise
It is celebrating
The way you took that man down
With the guns in your hands
Now you can finally breathe

STEP 3: Reorder the words for the next stanza. 

Line 1 – breathe

Line 2 – blood

Line 3 – hands

Line 4 – noise

Line 5 – down

Line 6 – celebrating

STEP 4: Write the second stanza

You begin to breathe
When you notice the blood
You cover with your hands
Your mouth mumbling noise
As your knees drop down
No more celebrating

STEP 5: Keep repeating until your poem is done. 


Your task:

Write a sestina about anything you like. I will only ask that write 3 stanza, not the traditional 6. However, I would ask that no word ever finds itself in the same line twice.