Spinning Summer Postcards

(Credit to Nathan Black for Summer Postcard idea.)

This is something I've done for the past few years in my Level 2 classes that allows me months of easy peronsalization. First I get some white cardstock and colored pencils. I ask kids to think about something they did over the summer that was memorable (i.e. something they did often or a particularly special moment/event).

I am always sure to include in the instructions "something that's unique to you" so that five kids don't draw their band trip to Disneyworld. However, they can if they are able to point out a moment that makes it unique to them (e.g. getting sick on Space Mountain).

I also make a time limit on the illustration process: 20 minutes. Stick figures and ambiguous artwork are fine with me... but I do ask for color and I ask that images are outlined rather boldly (for scanning/viewing enhancement).

As you can see this student went to a One Direction concert over the summer. (And she's a good drawer.) Even still, I have students write me a sentence on the back explaining their drawing.

After I've chosen a student's postcard, I post it up in the front of the room or project it on the overhead. We spend a good chunk of time (at least 15 minutes) just talking about the factual details of her experience.

What city was the concert in?

Whick month? Day?

Was it at night or during the day?

How did she get there?

Who did she go with?

Was it a good concert?


The next step is asking a story that can lend itself to an element of the factual experience. This is virtually limitless if you are experienced at storyasking. I mainly use story scripts written by myself or and Anne Matava.

How do I choose which script to pair with which postcard?

Here are a few recurring examples:

Postcard: Kimmy went to a concert or Disneyworld. Script: "Nice to Meet You" (mine)

Postcard: John went to a golf tournament. Script: "Golf Tournament" (mine)

Postcard: Henry practiced a sport or worked all summer. Script: "Lazy" (Matava)

Postcard: Latisha went to a foreign country. Script: "Passing through Customs" or "Tastes like Chicken" (both mine)

Postcard: Dean visited a different city. Script: "The Most Important Thing" or "Come Here!" (both mine)

Postcard: Kamil watched a lot of TV. Script "Change the Channel" (mine) or "Stop Talking!" (Matava)

Postcard: Jesus had a birthday or other party. Script: "Afraid of the Package" (Matava) or "The Stranger" (mine)

Postcard: Jennie went shopping. Script: "The Perfect Shirt" (mine)

Postcard: Tyler went to a friend's house a lot. Script: "Without Knocking" (Matava) or "Feeding the Pets" (mine)

You get the gist. There are lots of existing scripts to choose from, and it's easy to adapt them to fit the i+1 needs of your students. Or if you've got the time and know-how, you can script your own. To be sure, Summer Postcards are a great way to take a nugget of truth and spin a web of fictitious gold.

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