Okay, okay, okay! Here it is!

Today is the start of a new challenge for me. I registered for the Picture Book Idea Month(PiBoIdMo) Challenge and the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Challenge. Keep in mind, I just finished the #31in31 Picture Book Challenge (read 31 picture books in 31 days) . The PiBoIdMo challenge is in the month of November as picture book writers committed to coming up with an idea for a picture book. At the end of the month you will have 30 ideas.

The NaNoWriMo challenge is for the month of November, writers commit to completing a novel in 30 days with a minimum word count of 50,000 words. I was excited because I had a work in progress and I figured this was the right motivation I needed to complete it. But, last night and six hours before midnight, I learned that it cannot be a work-in-progress. You have to start over, fresh, from square one, with a brand new novel. So since I did not have anything planned, this will truly be a challenge which I plan on completing.

Back to PiBoIdMo. Coming up with an idea daily is not a challenge for me. I get ideas all the time. The challenge for me is to take this further. I committed to getting an idea, immediately thinking of three failures that the character will face, and the ending. Then I will go back and create the story in its entirety in December.

What is my strategy? My strategy is simple – START WITH THE END IN MIND. I am going back to the days of being a teacher in grades K-12.  I started each class with a mystery (Thanks to Agatha Christie and Carolyn Keene of which I am a huge fan). This is how it plays out:

I walked in the cold, drab classroom and immediately went to the board.  I grabbed the eraser, cleared a spot, and wrote : THE MYSTERY OF THE LONESOME TWO and twenty-eight random numbers between 3 and 200.  Hanging two pieces of butcher paper on opposite sides of the room, I write on each respectively, ONLY TWO FACTORS & MORE THAN 2 FACTORS. After putting markers, crayons, white boards on each of the twenty-eight desks, I wrote the daily agenda on the side board waiting for my students to enter.

“Good Morning, Miss,” DeVon said walking in and grabbing his math book from under his desk, “what are we learning today?”

“What do you think?” I asked pointing to the board and moving to the door to welcome the other as the first bell sounded. I love introducing new concepts to my student. I have mastered the skill of containing behavior issues from arising -KEEP THEM BUSY FROM THE MINUTE THEY WALK IN THE ROOM ‘TIL THE DISMISSAL BELL SOUNDS.  Asia, my self-appointed homework retriever, collected the homework putting it on my desk and campaigning for president as she sauntered back to her seat. She waved, smiled,  and tapped each child in her path waiting for me to tell her to get there quickly.

“Are you on your Po-ra thing?”  asked Benjamin, the future rapper and BET Award winner.

“It’s spelled ‘P-o-i-r-o-t’, but pronounced P-wa-row,” I said slowly giving him a high-five.

“Yeah, that’s what’s up, Miss,” he said returning the gesture and pulling the textbook from under his chair.

“You don’t need the textbooks today,” I said. “At least not yet. ”

Walking up and down the aisle, I glanced at each notebook getting a feel of what they thought this lesson would be about today. Each morning upon arrival, the students used the clues in the  room to predict the days lesson. Since this was a third grade classroom, the term ‘prime and ‘composite’ has yet to be introduced in the lower grades so I was confident that no one would predict where this lesson was going.  At least that was what I thought until I met Winnie.

Winnie was new to the school and had only been in our class for six days. She was from Jamaica, a small Caribbean island. It was written in perfect cursive – PRIME AND COMPOSITE NUMBERS.  Upon noticing that, I created a new character, “the detective”.

We have a mystery need solving,” I said strolling back and forth. “And the clues are in the numbers on the board. Winnie, you are the detective.  You are not allowed to tell them how to solve the mystery. You are a facilitator. This means, you will prod, not poke. Encourage, not discourage. And prompt conversation, not partake in them.  Assign each student a number please.”

Winnie nodded to let me know that she understood the demands of her new job and the task that assigned to her.  She grabbed her notebook moving to the front of the room, walked to each desk and wrote a number for each student. “Good luck,” she said each time she wrote a number.

“Make a list of all the factors of your number. Then write them on the corresponding butcher paper.  You can list your favorite football Player, Basketball player, Nascar driver, etc. anything that is associated with numbers. That is the bonus. Let’s get some clarification, what did I say?

Hands immediately went in the air. I called on Thomas, the boy in the back who spends his day either reading a book or writing a book. “I Language, please.”

He stood up taking a deep breath as he strolled to the front of the room, “This is what I hear you say. We are to find the factors of our numbers that Winnie gave us. Then once we do that, we are to put it on the butcher paper. If it has only two factors then write it on the butcher paper for ONLY 2 FACTORS. But, if it has more, then write it on the other one.”

“Perfect,” I replied. I watched the classroom buzzed as the students worked hard to accomplish the task. Fingers licked as Frankie J multiplied by nine with their use.  Ng drew matrices multiplying by 3. And the others all had different strategies to find and list factors.

I watched my 28 third graders worked hard to find the clues in the number. The task did not take long since all my students mastered the skill of factoring with an 85% or higher.

The butcher paper was completed. This is what it looked like: ONLY TWO FACTORS – Dwyane Wade, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, Michael Jordan, 27, 29, 31, 37, 41

MORE THAN 2 FACTORS – 4, LeBron James, 8, 9, 10, 12, Barry Sanders, Barack Obama, 51, 55, 57, 81, 111, 123, 200.

The answers were appropriate. Now we were off to analyze the charts. We discussed the choices, the players. “I understand the jersey numbers, ” I said writing numbers above the names. “But i was not aware that POTUS played a sport. What’s that number? Who wrote it.”

“I wrote it,” said Thomas standing tall. “It was my number 44. So since he was the 44th president, i wrote his name.”

All I could say was wow. Thomas is a reader, not a mathlete. He likes to read and I let him. I only have one rule, do my work first then read away. After they discussed what they learned, they had to complete the journal – IN YOUR OWN WORDS, DEFINE PRIME AND COMPOSITE NUMBERS, THEN MAKE A PICTURE AND PUT IT ON THE BOARD.

They solved the mystery. The mystery of the lonesome two is about prime numbers. Why we have them. How to recognize them.  And what makes them unique.

So for me, PiBoIdMo is what is my character trying to solve. The three obstacles in the way. How it (obstacle) was defeated.

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30 Picture Book Ideas in 30 Days. I am so in!!!

30 Picture Book Ideas in 30 Days. I am so in!!!



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