Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mrs. P Revamps Writing Contest to Focus on Classrooms Celebrating 5 Years of her “Be-a-Favorite Writer” Contest for Kids!

For the last few years, the students at Van Meter have participated in a very special writing contest.  

And to make it even more special to all of us it is one put on by our friend Mrs. P!  

The contest is called the "Be-a-Favorite Writer" contest!
After meeting Mrs. P on Twitter three years ago, she has virtually visited with our students several times....always bringing so much fun and excitement to our library and literacy!  
When our young people find out about Mrs. P's Be-a-Famous Writing Contest they just love participating and writing something special to share in the contest and with others.

Last year Meridan Boyd (who is pictured here talking with Mrs. P during a class Skype) was one of the finalists in the writing contest.  She wrote a story called The Horse Indeanna. It was such a honor for Meridan and we were all very proud of her too.
This week I was talking with Mrs. P about her writing contest that will be launched on September 1, 2013.  Below are the things that we spoke about. There are a few changes this year.  It will be very helpful for you to know about them too.

Why did you decide to make the contest just for schools?  
Well, over the last couple of years we have done a lot of Skypes and various events using technology with classrooms, like yours.  We learned from a lot of the teachers that having the permission forms for all the kids was a bit of  burden. So, we decided to work directly with teachers this year. Teachers will be submitting the entry on behalf of their class.  Teachers will have a choice to do a group writing project for their story, or have individual stories done and then have their class vote on the one to submit.  Each class will be submitting just one story. We also changed the age groupings to have just one category for grades kindergarten to fourth grade.  Additionally, we have extended the contest to run from September 1st to November 15th, so there is more time for the teachers and students.  I am also very excite that we will be promoting a “live” event using Google Hangout and Youtube to stream my reading the winning story live!  We loved it when we did the poetry summit with your earlier this year. 

I see there is a theme this year too to write about, can you tell me how this came to be?

Yes, the theme is “Magic”.  Obviously, I have my Magic Library that I read from, but I also came up with this because having a writing prompt can be a useful guideline to get kids going.  We haven’t done that before and decided to try it this year.  I also was inspired by the past contest winners that I checked in with for a series this summer called “Where are They Now?” and their advice was so magical, it seemed like a wonderful theme to celebrate the 5th year of the contest. 

Your website says the the schools win all year, what does this mean?  

Our sponsors, BuyerTopia, Tales2Go, Powell’s Books, and Polka Dots Publishing and Penelope the Purple Pirate are all great companies that promote the importance of reading for children.  They are making possible the purchase of books that the schools get to select themselves, and also an audio listening license from Tales2Go.  So the teachers get to select what books they want for the classroom which we thought was really great. 
  • Buyer Topia Gift Certificate for $100 to purchase books.
  • One-Year Subscription to Tales2Go for your Class Up to 10 users ($180 value)
  • $150 in Powell’s Book Gift cards
  • Penelope the Purple Pirate & Polka Dots Publishing will be making possible 2 copies of the story made into an actual book with color illustrations created by Robin Robinson for the classroom & school library
  • The whole classroom will receive their very own Official Mrs. P Magic Universal Bookmarks (guaranteed to work in any book in the world!)
Will you still have the celebrity judges?
Oh yes, because it is such fun for the winners to get comments from the judges. This year we have Melissa Peterman  who is an actress and comedienne, best known for her role as Barbra Jean in the television comedy series Reba. Currently, she stars as Bonnie Wheeler in the ABC Family series Baby Daddy, and as host of ABC Family's Dancing Fools, ABCs Bet On Your Baby, and CMT's The Singing Bee.  She's also a mom to a 8 year old, so knows how to spot a good story.  And since I just love teachers, we have 6th grade teacher Karla Duff, from Oelwein Middle School in Oelwein, Iowa . She’s been there for the last 20 years.  I met her Skyping with her classroom.  We also will have one more judge announced before the contest opens.  There has to be a little mystery when we announce the grand opening of the contest! 

Why do you feel this type of contest is important for kids? 

It helps build confidence and self esteem.  And many of the students have gone onto be role models in their school or state by being a good a writer.  This is so important for others kids to see.  Just like in sports and music programs where kids can win a competition, it’s important for kids to be able to be recognized for their writing. 
What are you doing to celebrate the 5th anniversary of your writing contest? 

Well, I decided to check back in with past winners and finalists of the contest and created a “Where are they Now” series on my Reading is Cool blog. It will run for 8 weeks, and it will feature excepts from the past winners new works & Q&A’s with the various young authors. It was so inspiring to read what these talented young writers have been up too, that I really wanted to share what they had to say to other kids and parents. There are some very wise insights.  Several have gone onto win some major writing awards, like the Scholastic Arts and Writing Contest, the Betty Award and the PBS Kids Go Young Writers and Illustrators Contest.    

The contest opens September 1st for entries.  You can go here for the link to the contest
Here is a video just for teachers too!  

And don't forget to also check out Mrs. P's Magic Library online and the Mrs. P app too.
It will be a favorite place to go.....just like it is for all of us at Van Meter.  

Thank you Mrs. P for having such a wonderful writing contest for all of us every year.  We can't wait to participate and read the stories that win too.  

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