Recently, we finished Amy Tan’s, The Joy Luck Club, and as part of that unit, I required the students to keep vocabulary lists within their reading response journals. I asked them to look up twelve to twenty words for each chapter (sixteen chapters in all), write the definition and part of speech for each word, then use the words in their own sentences. As I graded the journals, I made my own list of words that were common among all the students’ vocab entries. From my list I selected twenty words and devised a ‘fun’ final vocabulary test. On a Thursday, I gave the students my list of words that they would study over the weekend. I explained that on Tuesday we would have our test; they would be required to write a creative short story using correctly in both meaning and grammar at least ten of the words from the list. They would have fifty minutes to craft their story. Creativity, proper usage, correct grammar are of the essence!
Below are two of the best. Though she only used nine instead of the required ten words, Mia’s was by far the most creative; hers is the “Lovely Rings.” *Mia wants to study design,
jewelry and metals at HSU. Olina, I think, took more risks with her choice of vocabulary words. *Olina also tells me her mother makes her play piano when she goes home, though I think she’d rather not… The vocabulary quiz stories below incorporate words (bolded) from Tan’s, The Joy Luck Club. *One last bit of disclosure: The students initially hand-wrote these stories in-class. I asked Mia and Olina to correct a few errors then send me their final drafts typed, so these two pieces have been revised from the original.
There were a couple of ornate rings lying in the jewelry shop. They were blue and red. They were dainty and loved each other. They wanted to stay with each other forever and have a happy life. If one ring had some wonderful experiences or sad times, he would confide in the other ring.
However, distress happened. One day, a man went to this jewelry shop and found this couple of rings. He thought they were
beautiful, and he wanted to buy them. He took them home, and then the man wanted to take apart one to know how the ring was so beautiful. The two rings realized that the man was a jewelry designer and that he wanted to know the structure of the beautiful jewelry.
The blue ring decided to scrape himself because he wanted the man to destroy him, not the red ring. That was an ordeal for him, but he could stand it. The red ring felt so sad. She knew that the blue ring’s love penetrated her life, but she couldn’t prevent him from doing what he thought he must.
When the man wanted to begin his work, he found that the blue one had some scratches, and he started to destroy the blue one. At that time, his wife went to his room, and she nudged him and said,
“Cease. Don’t do that please.”
“Darling, I wanted to know the structure of this ring. You know, I’m a designer, and this blue one was scraped,” the man answered.
“I know, but they were so delicate, and they were beautiful and matched. It’s a pity to destroy one,” she said.
“Okay, darling, I will not do that.” A warm smile appeared on his face. Then he put the red ring to her finger, and he put the blue one on his.
A Free Bird
Tomas is a ten-year old boy, but he is not a normal person-he is a noble. There is rose embroidery on his cuff, which represents his noble status. Tomas is a piano prodigy, and he practices piano all day. His mother always applauds him because he is so diligent. No one but himself knows that he is lonely. He tries to be a perfect boy in front of others, but he has nausea to practice the boring piano. The only thing he can confide in is a vase that his dead father gave him on his eighth birthday.
One day, he broke the vase accidently, and when he wanted to pick the pieces up, one piece penetrated his hand’s skin. The blood flew, and he had much distress. He stared at those pieces and felt very sad because his memories of his father were also broken. He wanted to cease this boring life, so he started to rebel against his mother. Tomas made big noises when he was eating a meal, and his mother said impatiently, “Tomas, according to protocol, you shouldn’t make noises when you eat such a dainty meal. Understand?”
“Mom, why do you always interfere with me? I don’t want to be a hypocritical man, and I must express my real feelings. I don’t like playing piano, and I want to play with other boys…”
“Stop, Tomas! Don’t forget you are a noble. How can you speak like that?”
“No mom, you never understand me. Do you know how much I admire the birds flying in the sky? I won’t be a puppet any more. I want to be a free bird,” Tomas said firmly.
Tomas went back to his room and packed because he wanted to leave this house which was like a big cage that trapped him. As
soon as he went out of the gate, he would be a free bird, but he would also meet a lot of difficulties. Was he ready to face everything? His mom couldn’t see his expression on his face, but she could feel his firm back view.
“I am a free bird now.” Tomas said to himself and smiled.
*OK, I don’t know about that last bit of ’feel his firm back view,’ but Olina did a great job, and I’m really proud of her work.
HSU, are you ready for this, ALL this awesomeness headed your way August 15th? Get ready—they’re gonna rock your redwood world!