Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places--like reading comprehension texts, for example.
As we're preparing for ISTEP (yes, we're doing ISTEP prep :-/), one of our main foci is reading comprehension--understanding what you've read and what they're asking. This particular article was on Sammy Sosa's life in the Dominican Republic (before he signed his contract) and in the States (after he signed his contract). The prompt was to compare and contrast his life before and after. Here's what I got the first time around:
"He was poor. He was unlucky. He wasn't famous.
He was rich. He was lucky. He was famous."
Okay, all right, um...not good enough. In fact, downright BORING!
We went through the article again, this time equipped with a highlighter (the ISTEP-approved kind, of course). I asked them to read it to themselves and highlight any words or phrases that described Sammy's life before, and then after. What a different response I got! We ended up just listing them at first because there were so many!
"Hungry. Poor. One-bedroom apartment. Dirt floor. Sold oranges. Rocks=baseballs; sticks=bats; milk carton=glove......Lots of money. Generous (gave $ to mom). New bicycle. New house. Famous. Hero." Etc.
Every time they came up with a new one, I would ask them: "Did you just make that up??" And I forced them into this response: "No, Mrs. Steele. I found it in the text!" Then I let them autograph my Sammy Sosa paper. Everyone was able to find at least one thing. I took it home that night and framed it. It was too good to just throw away. It's on proud display in my classroom right now. And every time a child asks what it's about, one of my boys proudly explains their first step to comprehension fame. :)