Ellis Students Recognized in WPCTE Flash Fiction Contest
Eight Ellis grade 3 students were recognized for their literary talents in the Western Pennsylvania Council of Teachers in English (WPCTE) Flash Fiction Writing Contest, with one student taking home the grand prize for the grades 1–3 age group. Sadie A., Olivia B., Safiya E., Emerson O., Aura S., Silvia V., and Estella W. each received honorable mentions for their submissions, with Alexis P. taking home grand prize honors for her submission titled “Camp Evergreen.”
Developing strong writing skills is a critical part of the third grade curriculum, and students embark on a narrative writing unit to kick off the year. Ellis Lower School Teacher Jennifer Lakin says the Flash Fiction Contest gives students the opportunity to take on new challenges and try out these newfound writing techniques in an exciting setting.
"It is challenging because of its short length. Third graders can find it difficult to jump right into the action of a story and to include a beginning, middle and end!” she shares.
Early on in the writing curriculum, grade 3 students learn techniques to grab readers' attention using dialogue, questions, or even sound effects. Students are encouraged to experiment with different approaches, share their stories with classmates, and have fun with the process. At the conclusion of the writing unit, students have the option to submit their work for the contest if they so desire.
"The girls love the sharing of stories and are always proud to have a completed copy of a 'real story,'" Ms. Lakin says. "They do find the process difficult, because, as all writers know, it can be very hard to transform the ideas in your head into clear writing on the page. We remind them that rough drafts are just that and that all good writing requires creative thinking and revision!”
The WPCTE is an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English and is a professional organization that provides shared learning experiences for teachers and engaging literature and writing events for students. Its Flash Fiction Writing Contest was open to students in grades 1–12, who submitted fictional writing of 500 words or less to be reviewed by a panel of judges. This is the second year Ellis students have participated in the contest.