Nebo Teacher Published in Utah English Journal

Submitted by lana.hiskey on
Melissa Heaton Teaching
Melissa Heaton, Mapleton Junior

Congratulations to Melissa Heaton at Mapleton Junior High in Nebo School District for being published in the Utah English Journal in February. This article will be distributed at the Utah Council of Teachers of English Conference.

Melissa shared her lesson and best practice of Scary Character and Setting Vignettes. She has taught for 22 years and currently teaches 8th grade English at Mapleton Junior High School in Nebo School District. Melissa is an active fellow of the Central Utah Writing Project and is a former Utah Council of Teachers of English Conference Chair and Awards Chair. Melissa continues to enjoy her involvement with both of these organizations.

We are proud of you Melissa for being a Nebo Hero. Continue to Rise Up!

Enjoy this short published piece:

Scary Character and Setting Vignettes
By Melissa Heaton

“Most students know how to write stories, but their stories are often void of description and life. Instead of my students writing whole narratives, I have them focus their mental binoculars by writing snippets of stories that I call Scary Character and Setting Vignettes.

“First, I put up a Where’s Waldo poster. I ask students to describe the whole poster in 30 seconds. Their descriptions tend to be vague. Then, I have students describe a specific part of the poster in 30 seconds, and their descriptions are more vivid. We talk about why that is the case and relate it to writing. 

“As the City Sleeps by Stephen T. Johnson is the inspiration for my students’ vignettes . The book is filled with creepy illustrations that have only titles and captions. I pass the pictures around the classroom and have students choose pictures that inspire them. 

“Students get excited to write about something scary but have a tendency to default to writing stories instead of vignettes. In order for students to understand the idea of a vignette, they need to read a lot of examples of scary characters and settings. Before students start writing their rough drafts, we spend time analyzing mentor texts to determine what students must have and could have in their own writing. I also show them my own vignettes.

“After time to write, revising and editing, and writing final drafts, students are ready to share. The day we share, I put up a faux campfire with crackling fire sounds in the background. I make a S’mores mix using Golden Grahams Cereal, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows.  We turn the lights off, and students share their scary vignettes in small groups. If we have time, a few students share their vignettes with the class. 

“I’ve had a lot of success with vignettes. Students see writing small portions of a story as an attainable goal. As they learn to focus their mental binoculars, they improve their writing skills.”

Scary Character Vignette Mentor Texts:
Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull (p.2-3)
Past Perfect, Present Tense: Shadows by Richard Peck  (p. 104)
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (p. 126-127)
Lockwood and Company: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (P. 30)

Scary Setting Vignette Mentor Texts:
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs (p. 1)
The Landlady by Roald Dahl (p. 1)
Past Perfect, Present Tense: Waiting for Sebastian by Richard Peck (p. 90-91)
Past Perfect, Present Tense: Girl at the Window by Richard Peck (p. 72-73)

#RiseUp #NeboHero #NeboSchoolDistrict #StudentSuccess #EmpowerStudents #EngageStudents #FocusOnStudents #LoveUTpublicSchools #UtPol #UtEd #ThankATeacher #LoveTeaching

By Lana Hiskey