Throughout the now-past school year, I kept having such a hard time choosing my "Mr. Stick of the Week" awards (because I was seeing so many great pages in my kids' notebooks).  I give those awards to select students based on their writer's notebooks during my monthly checks; I just love it when a short piece of writing is decorated with a clever use of Mr Stick--our notebooks' margin mascot.

When, in April, one of my students suggested we should have a "Mr. Stick of the Year" award, I wholeheartedly agreed.  I'm not big into class competitions, but my students are.  So I decided that, instead of a monthly writer's notebook extra credit challenge for May, we would have an extra credit contest: The Mr. Stick of Year Award!

I created this contest page at my website, which shared rules and gave suggestions as to what might make a new writer's notebook page stand out so that it might be deemed a "winner."  At our middle school, our kids are put into core teams for the three years they spend with us; our school has seven different teams of students, and when they told us we could name out own team, our kids chose "Team Phoenix" as our name.  I was thrilled to find--while serendipitously searching on e-Bay--a Boy Scout patrol patch that actually showed a stick man on fire--perfect for a Phoenix Stickman ribbon.

With rules and awards in place, we were open for business, and my kids spent the month of May creating multiple entries that they felt might make them deserving of one of the three ribbons I would be awarding on June 1st.  I warned students they would only be allowed to nominate one of their entries into the contest, encouraging students who were creating many entries to select their very best idea and spend some extra time on it.  Though this contest was completely optional, on May 31st I had over 60% of my students enter the contest.  Using my rubric from my rules page, I was able to narrow the search down to the twenty best looking pages, and my wife then helped me choose the three winners and the nine honorable mentions.

The winner (25 extra credit points!) was one of my graduating 8th graders--bass-playing Chris--who borrowed the "How To Be [insert character name here]" poetry format we had used as part of my World War Novel Unit, and Chris composed a charming poem called "How to Be Chris":

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Second place (15 extra credit points) went to a sixth grader, the amazing Mimi, who created a two-page notebook spread that shared the highlights of her entire year as a member of Team Phoenix--from the first day of school to her playing a large role in our school musical:
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And third place (10 extra credit points) went to a seventh grader--Andrea--who decided to offer a two-pages of Mr. Stick sharing advice on how to keep a great writer's notebook.  My wife and I both loved her simple but effective use of Post-it Notes to make the page stand out:
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There were also 9 honorable mentions which are featured at the webpage where I've housed the rules.  I've already purchased three more "Flaming Stickman" patches for next year's contest.

Can't wait to show these winners when I introduce Mr. Stick to my new sixth graders next year.  Ah yes, the value of having student-made models to inspire future success.



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