Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)
TITLE: Snappy Challenge
By Beth Muehlhausen
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Mrs. Little stands before her high school creative writing class with a glint of challenge shining from her daredevil eyes. “With the little time left today we’re going to have a contest, class. Here are the rules.”
Ron groans. Tony shuffles his feet and bangs them against the legs of his desk. Theresa, over by the window, mock-coughs as if in pain.
But Mrs. Little is hardly daunted. Instead, she cocks her head, stands her five foot two inch frame as tall as it will go, and raps her finger on the desk with characteristic “pay attention” fervor.
“Are you listening?”
In reality her students love Mrs. Little. She’s an exemplary teacher with a fun, creative personality. Laura speaks for the whole class. “I think we’re ready, Mrs. L.”
“I see; all right then. You will have two minutes to write a four-line poem about a particular topic.”
She draws four dots on the blackboard, then three more rows of four dots each. “There must be four lines, four beats each, and the first two lines should end with rhyming words. For example …”
Mrs. Little begins writing on the blackboard:
I have no clue
What you should do
“Likewise, the last two lines must end with rhyming words. The topic word must end the third line. So if the topic were ‘rat’ the example poem might end this way.”
Again, she writes so the class can see:
About the rat
That killed the cat.
A hand shoots up. “Yes Ronald?”
“Um, Mrs. L, why do we only have two minutes to do this? Can’t we do it tomorrow when we have more time?
“Because Ronald, I want to see what you can do with first-reaction, free-flowing thoughts! Any more questions? No? All right, the topic is … ‘snap’. Ready, set, go!”
The minute hand sweeps time away as it moves around the face of the clock. Mrs. Little watches the students write, erase, chew their pencils, sigh, and compose some more.
“One minute and thirty seconds – you have thirty seconds left.”
Heads bob. Eyes flit. Pencils scratch.
“Buzz-zer! Put your pencils down. How about if I choose a few of you to share your poems out loud since we still have a couple of minutes left? Let’s start over here with Kay. Read us your poem, please?”
“My mother’s dress
Was quite a mess
Without a snap
To fix the gap.”
The class hoots: “Hey - cool – YEAH! Go Kay Baby!”
“Good work, Kay – nicely done. Melissa, you’re next, but let’s hold our applause this time until we’re completely finished reading.” Mrs. Little squints one of her “I mean it” looks over the tops of her wire-rimmed glasses. “Go ahead Melissa.”
“Granny’s so quick
She knows the trick
Of how to snap
Beans on her lap.”
“Very nice – I like it! Robert?”
“The well-trained Scout
Must keep look out
For twigs that snap
Hiding a trap.”
“When I feel bad
And very sad
I just might snap
Without love’s tap.”
“Ah, that’s so true. How about Carolyn?”
“A broken bone
Would make me moan
If it went snap
When I went thwap.”
“I like it! Thwap – what a word, Carolyn! Now … Tom?”
“It takes some time
To make words rhyme
But in a snap
Out comes the rap.”
Titters float across the room. Tom is a musician and would-be rapper. Everyone knows he’d rather be just about anywhere than in a classroom.
“Class, class … settle down. Just one more. How about Tammy.”
“When babies grow
Their mothers know
To use the snap
To loose the cap.”
“So sweet. Thank you, Tammy.”
“All right, all of you please pass your papers to the aisle. I’ll read them all and judge them, and let you know tomorrow which are the first, second, and third place winners. And, maybe if you’re lucky, there just might be prizes, too!”
Cheers erupt throughout the room.
“Oh, and while you’re passing them in, let’s see … I should try my own quick-write poem.”
Mrs. Little walks to the blackboard again and writes:
If you’re a mouse
In someone’s house
But hear a snap
You’re in a trap!
The students cackle. Ruth waves her hand. “Ohhhh … yours is TONS better than ours, Mrs. L!”
Riiiiiiiing. There is a mass scuffling and shuffling as students jump from their seats and head for the door.
“Class dismissed! Let’s be snappy-snappy – off to your next class, all of you!”
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