Rising Action, falling leaves

Yesterday was a glorious Fall day. It had been windy and wet in the middle of the week, but Thursday night the skies cleared and the temperatures dropped leaving a hint of frost everywhere. I know there is more of that to come, a lot more of it. I was up late Thursday night writing my narrative and getting ready for school even though I was out of school Friday, I still had to prepare via the web and the Blackboard – an electronic Blackboard – of sorts. Beth is out of town visiting her parents in Ohio and the kids needed me at home before school started and after when they came home.

Really, I needed to be at home – for the kids. I was torn, being gone isn’t as easy as setting up a video for kids to watch and be entertained. There are lessons to teach, even when I am gone and I have to write a plan that someone can execute so kids continue to learn. It takes time to write the plans, often three to four times longer than the class would take. Fortunately, I know a substitute who I can rely on to teach the lesson I write and be able to answer questions and engage the kids. I know it is not the same, which is why I always fill the plan with more resources than I need, so I finished my rough draft of my introduction and rising action with notes and uploaded them to the Blackboard. The Blackboard is a web program my district has used and I pioneered in my classrooms beginning in 2001. I enroll my students and they can log in and visit to get homework help, replace lost worksheets, get tips on writing, get enrichment, or just find an extra credit assignment. I use it to post homework and long-term assignment reminders as well as student presentation times and dates. It is pretty powerful. But, the best part of the Blackboard is that it can be accessed at home or anywhere there is an internet connection and over the years, I have seen kids who have used it to help them remember what happened in class and to step up to the next level. It is refreshing and is worth the time I put in to maintaining it.

a maple tree, a fiery orange, we came upon on our Friday morning walk

But, I digress. I finished the rising action between the time William left for school and Olivia had to leave. She was excited to have dad at home and we had decided to walk to school rather than take the bus – I wouldn’t have ridden the bus, only she would have. But, you get the point, we were walking and Ivy was coming with us. It was cool, almost freezing and Olivia did not heed my warning to wear pants but she walked along side me and we talked, she looked for treasures, and had fun. She complained only once; I reminded her about the pants and she told me she remembered and that was it. It was a good walk and all of us enjoyed being outside. The rain and wind earlier in the week and cold has really zapped the leaves and many of the trees are bare but there are a few that are amazing – bright red, fiery orange, or simply a vibrant yellow and the clear blue morning sky was the perfect backdrop. It was nice to walk together and I dropped her off wishing her a great learning day. She didn’t look back, but Ivy whined and whimpered and we turned for home. Ivy was tired when we got home and napped on the carpet in the sun while I worked.

I worked on the climax, and other bits of the story. I used Facebook to reach out to a few of my classmates from that year, whom I still stay in touch with or rather follow, despite being a thousand miles away. I got a message in return from a friend who remembered the announcement, too. Mostly, I caught up and organized next week and the next three lessons in class. Below is the rising action section I shared including the notes.

Narrative Rising Action Outline
The rising action should be anywhere from 2 to 4 paragraphs in length. The purpose of these paragraphs is to show the reader the extent of the conflict in the narrative. Show how the characters feel about the situation. You are basically describing the events that lead up to the climax. You are creating empathy for your characters.

Mr. Watkins’s Rising Action

I had started seventh grade full of hope and energy. I was excited. It was a new start with new teachers and I could play sports for the first time. I had some great teachers that year in seventh grade – Mrs. Atlee, Mr. Gilbert, and Mrs. Guinn. I remember all of them well. I remember our science teacher, Mrs. Turner, got hepatitis and needed a substitute until she was better, so the school hired Mrs. McGregor, my classmate Coleen’s mom, to take her place and teach science. It didn’t seem weird to me, but I wasn’t Coleen. Coleen and I had been in class together going back to third or fourth grade at Lakeview Elementary. We knew each other, but not that way. I was a shy, very quiet, and very unaware seventh grader. She was the opposite popular, pretty, and smart.

I had looked forward to football and then basketball, but my dad reminded me I needed to be eligible and I would have to work hard to keep my grades up, something I had not done in sixth grade. I stayed eligible the entire football season, but just barely, enough to keep my head above water. One Sunday afternoon, when football season was over, my parents called a family meeting and sat my brothers and I down and told us the news. They were getting a d-i-v-o-r-c-e. They told us as if it was a good thing, but it wasn’t, or so it seemed at the time. I didn’t know what to think, I was upset and after that, I seemed to go downhill. I tried out for the basketball team and didn’t make the final cut, my grades took a downhill slide and I was looking ahead to Christmas vacation because it meant I could hide for at least a couple of weeks. No homework, no tests, no school, just vacation.

Christmas without my dad was weird, but my grandparents, mom’s mom and dad, had come to stay with us, from Philadelphia, and mom took a few days off for Christmas vacation. Christmas day was family, presents, and Christmas dinner. But for most of the days, I could do what I wanted. I could read, build my airplane models, play football with my friends, or watch television. Mostly, I played and watched the vacation disappear. Before I was ready, it was time to go back to school and I got up Monday morning, climbed on the bus, and day dreamed on the ride to school.

NOTE TO STUDENT: I have three paragraphs and 417 words. My rising action is in rough draft form – it needs work lots of it. But I am going to stop and let it sit for a day and loom ahead to the climax. I have drafted my plot line diagram and know where the story is headed, I think you do too. However, I have a couple of twists to make it better or at least I think I do. Your draft should be 2-4 paragraphs and somewhere between 175 to 350 words, of course you can go over, but not under. I look forward to seeing your stories, grow and develop. Happy Friday!

So, I sent it off and the sub shared my draft with my two classes. I’ll be back Monday to answer questions and allay fears. I’ll work with the students who need help and I will share my story’s climax – or the point of the highest interest – and, we’ll work on it in class Monday. It will be good day, a great day and for many of my kids they will begin to think of themselves as writers.

the view out the 'office' window, Saturday morning

Today is Saturday. I am upstairs at the kitchen table and I can look out and see the deck littered with leaves and I just know today is going to be great day, a truly great day. Last night the three of us went to watch the Wheaton-Warrenville Tigers play in a high school football state playoff game. It was an epic game and they ended up on top, 7-0 against an undefeated team with a powerful offense. It was fun to watch and Olivia was dressed as a tiger, again. She is convinced they can’t win unless she is there and dressed as a tiger. There were times last night I was urging her to put her outfit back on. William and I texted updates to Beth who was following her own Tigers who were playing in the Ohio playoffs back home, they won, too. The kids are sleeping and I am going to wake them soon. We’ll have breakfast – pancakes, then head out to corral the leaves for a day and do other household chores before having a movie night to spend our last night of day light savings time. Making the Days Count, one pancake stack, and one leaf pile at a time!

What is your favorite Fall breakfast?

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