Teachers Write 7/16/13 Tuesday Quick Write

Hi, everyone! It’s Kate today. (You didn’t think I could sit back and let our guest authors have all the fun, did you?)

A couple weeks ago, I was at the Boston Museum of  Science with my daughter when I saw this quote on the wall in the room that talks about sound…


“The acoustics of the season…”

I like that. Because so often, when we write, we get caught up in our characters and the action, and we forget that every day has weather and a feeling outdoors. Every day has sounds that would let us know, even if we were blindfolded, what season it is.

So today’s quick-write is this: Write about “the acoustics of the season” for your work in progress. You can choose a single day, a single moment if you’d like. Or, if you’d rather, write about the acoustics and sounds of this photograph that I took out on the lake over the weekend.


As always, feel free to share a bit of what you wrote in the comments!

51 Replies on “Teachers Write 7/16/13 Tuesday Quick Write

  1. I’m headed out for a 30 mile bike ride now and will listen to the acoustics and write about it when I return. I love that quote!

  2. Loved your picture Kate and the phrase, “acoustics of the season”, but I’ve been up since 4, unable to turn my brain off from planning for the new school year. Obviously, that’s where this topic came from.

    Quiet conversations, punctuated by smiling greetings booming along the lengths of the empty hallways, fill the morning air. Unconsciously I smile, as I nervously tap the last few letters for my “first day of school” morning greeting for my Smartboard. The quiet hum of the projector reassures me that so far, so good-technology is cooperating today. I hear the coffee brewing in my teaching partner’s room…her morning acoustic that signals me all is on track for sixth grade today. No music for me this morning…my nerves are jangled and I swear I can hear them clanging together, reverberating this mantra, “I hope we connect!… Will they like me?….What if they hate my plans for today?…I can’t wait to get started!….I’ve been thinking about this morning all summer!…Will they see my passion?….Will they be excited?” Finally, a cheerful welcome from my principal resounds from the loudspeaker with an unnecessary reminder to venture outside to meet the new class. Shortly, the quiet of these hallways will be resounding with excited chatter and a few shouts from my new class, the joyful sounds of the first day of a new school year.

    1. I feel my thoughts buzzing similarly. Thanks for capturing these acoustics, even the intrusive announcement 🙂

    2. Your students are lucky to have you as a teacher! (I teach 6th grade also, and am often up at 4am! Good to know I am not alone)

      My “smartboard” often acts up and has earned it’s nickname, Dumb-board.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    3. It is good to know others are loosing sleep thinking about the up coming year. Your picture is clear with me 🙂

  3. I wrote this last week as we hiked in this place and I was focusing on all the colors, but got some acoustics in…
    Pewit’s Nest is a deep gorge of layered rock that appears seemingly out of nowhere between two farmer’s fields of corn. It is shaded and cool with plants of every shade of green imaginable: verdant vines clinging to the trees, moss growing on the sides of damp rocks, the pine green of the evergreen trees swaying in the breeze above, the jaded shade of the maple leaf, the olive green of the oak leaves, lime green of the succulent plants clinging to the shore. It is hard to pick out the sound of the waterfall from the sound of the breeze lightly rustling the branches above our head. A pine tree so aged that the bark resembles that of a cottonwood tree stretches towards the sky. The edge of the gorge is cool with the forest shading the rocks with dappled light. The scent of pine is strong as we crunch the pine needles underfoot. The buzzing of insects is the only sound disturbing the peace of this beautiful place.

    1. Kristina, thank you for taking me on that hike. Wow! I felt like I was there. Vivid descriptions and solid details! Hopefully that kicked off a great day of writing for you.

  4. I listened to the steady lapping of the waves upon the shore, the rhythm of the ocean almost lulling me to sleep, and then I opened my eyes. For a moment I felt as if I was inside one of the paintings that hangs on the cottage walls. As the boat came into view, I stood up on the barnacled rocks, careful not to slip on their slick surfaces. The salty air kissed my skin and set my hair in all directions, and I felt like a wild child of the sea. I licked my lips and inhaled deeply, letting the late summer sun envelop me in its heat. The buoy bell rang somewhere in the distance, its sad tolling a comfort, and a circling seagull shrieked and perched on the jetty not far from where I stood. Some deep ancestral stirring awoke and I felt as if I’d come home.

  5. Tap-tap-slosh, tap-tap slosh. The rhythm seeped into her sleep. Each hour it reminded her that the rain was still there. She finally gave up around 2am and rose to confirm what she already knew. It was still raining. As unfamiliar a sound as it was in the Texas drought, she still recognized the soft pattern.

    It continued into the day. The cars swooshed through the gathering puddles, splashing the excess onto the eager brown grass. During yoga the tap dance on the tin roof kept her mind from wandering too far.

    It captured everyone’s attention. They all listened and watched as it continued, off and on throughout the summer day. The thermometer’s red hot liquid dropped down, down, down, far below the usual 100 degrees.

    She sat on the porch, taking in the cooler air, reviving her parched soul. Watching. Listening. Feeling the dampness that the sun would soon avenge. Thanking God for this respite, even if it was only for a day.

    1. Love the sounds, sights, and feelings of water after a dry spell, the building relief that you capture here. Thanks for sharing, Tammy.

  6. Don’t you just love that uncomfortable feeling when you are congested and your ears are plugged? Ahhh, summer has finally come to southern Michigan, and one step outdoors will put you into that sensation of hearing through cotton and breathing through cork. Ugh! I can hear, sort of, lots of sound around me. Is that mowing, weed-wacking, or rain? Everything is muffled and muted and works together to make me feel as though my head is wrapped in that cotton batting stuff they use to make quilts! Heat and humidity make me want to stay indoors, where the acoustics of sound are much more pleasant. While the noise of the outdoors competes somewhat still, I can listen to my daughter sing and my son laugh and relax, having removed the suffocating batting from my face!

  7. Haven’t yet mustered the courage and perseverance for a full-fledged WIP, but I do have Kate’s photograph and this poem:

    My jib thumps full with wind,
    a bright green leaf unfurled.
    My mainsail snaps taut.
    Ropes ping along mast and boom.
    The shush of air rushes me over the lake.
    The pushy waves, shoved aside by my bow,
    tumble over themselves frothily.

  8. It’s kind of spooky when the birds are singing and the air feels like velvet but your feeling sick inside. Somehow nice days on bad days makes an even worse day. Weather like this is telling me how everyone else in the world is having this amazing time and I am a big loser. I guess I am a big loser, I’m the one that came up with this stupid trip. I’d rather have a giant storm going on, like the one that ripped our boat to shreds than this impossibly perfect day driving home what a jerk I am.

  9. I sat in the small boat on the bank of the river listening to the water slapping against the end of the boat. I looked around me. I really wanted to hate this place. I remember calling it podunk. For this early in the morning it was so hot. You’d think it would start to get cooler this time of year, but this was Florida. The temperature was already nearing the low eighties. It was going to be another hot day. The sun rose casting its pink and orange glow across the river. My dad would yell at me if he knew I was down here this early. He brought us to this place, yet was terrified of the alligators. I personally found them fascinating. I always thought they were a dark green, yet I’d seen many different colors. I sat and listened to the distant bellow of a male alligator, the fish jumping in the river. Bugs buzzed all around me. I stepped out of the boat and headed back toward the house. The Spanish moss gave the trees a haunted look as they swayed in the small breeze that came and went. The grass baked dry by the sun crunched under my feet. The sound reminded me of snow up north. I missed the feel of real grass. Not the stuff they had here that felt like lots of vines tightly woven into a matted covering, waiting to trip you up. We were going to get an early rain. Probably just enough to raise the humidity and stir up the abundance of bugs found here. I heard a rattle and stood still. This sound was often described as sounding like a baby’s rattle. To me it sounded more like sandpaper rubbing against itself. It would be stupid to move without knowing exactly where the snake was. I slowly looked around and saw it off to my left lying in a patch of sun, trying to collect as much warmth as it could before it got too hot. I took two steps backward and moved to my right grabbing a tangerine from the tree. I peeled it letting the peel drop to the ground, then bit into its juicy sweetness. I didn’t want to admit it, even though I was missing the end of football season up north, there was a lot more I could enjoy down here. There was no way I would admit that to my dad yet. I was still mad at him for blindsiding me with this move. I headed back to the cool of the air conditioned house listening to its hum anxious for cooler days.

      1. We came to Florida for vacation right before I would have started 10th grade. We moved down two months later. My dad came in one night and said he’d sold our farm and we were moving to Florida. This was how I felt. But I really had to think about where I live for this assignment. It was good for me to really look, hear and feel my setting.


    “Hey lady, get a move on!”
    Reluctantly tearing my eyes away from the yellow butterfly hovering over the flaming red bee balm bordering our street, I looked into the rearview mirror. A shirtless teen holding a giant red Slurpee cup was hanging so far out the window that his hand almost touched the pavement. In the seats behind him five other boys with crew cuts and baseball caps bounced to the sound of the Beach Boys.
    “Sorry,” I mumbled back.
    He was right, I did need to get a move on – out of the neighborhood. The hum of lawnmowers and green smells lured me to stay. I passed our mailman; he was wearing shorts, a non-regulation wife beater tee shirt and his pith helmet.
    On the highway cars were backed up, aggressively beeping and vying to pass a stalled vehicle. Steam was coming out of its open trunk.
    Finally reaching the red light by our usual pick-up spot I noticed a few sparrows playing in what used to be a puddle. In the shade of the lamppost the little birds were fluttering and flicking themselves with dust. Litter chirps emerged from the background lull of car noises.
    “Hey lady, get a move on!”

    1. Jennifer, I like your bookends: “Hey lady . . .” I want to tell your lady to stop being a distracted dirver! I like that you’ve included a lot of words that have both a visual and and audio connotation: Slurpee, fluttering, flicking. I also love your mailman description.

      1. Diana – I think we were writing our comments on one another’s writing simultaneously!

  11. This is from my WIP. Tracy just found out that her mother has died.

    At some point it occurred to Tracy that it was Sunday. Karen and Debbie would be at the beach, racing each other to the dock. She could picture Mrs. Murphy sitting on her big plaid blanket, scanning the sand and water for each of her five kids. “Justin, you keep an eye on Katie! Don’t let her get into the water!” she’d yell to her oldest son, who was in the same grade as Tracy. If Karen and Debbie weren’t at the beach, Tracy liked to play with Katie, even though she was only four. One day, she and Katie built a giant sand castle. Tracy remembered being so focused on packing the sand into the bucket and getting it to slide out so it formed a perfect tower that she barely heard all the kids laughing and splashing in the lake. Even the motor boats whizzing by seemed far away, more like mosquitoes buzzing than engines roaring.
    But instead, this morning, there was only the low murmur of the women in the kitchen, with Aunt Claire’s loud, bossy voice piercing the hush every now and then. Tracy could hear snatches of their conversation.
    “…and someone driving by saw the lights from her car…”
    “…it’s such a long drop to the water…”
    “…all those rocks…”
    Tracy couldn’t listen anymore. She had to get out of there. “I’m going out,” she announced to the room.

    1. Catherine,
      I think you are on to something here, similar to our Monday’s lesson about showing emotion through the actions. Here you are showing the emotion with sounds. I think you could build on this even more at the end with Tracy clamping her hands over her ears to block out the sounds. Maybe the conversation plants sounds into her head, such as the screeching of the wheels, or the car crashing over the rocks. Lots of possibilities.

    2. I’m hooked – I only wish there was more. The dialogue helped move this excerpt along. You could feel the tension and left the reader (myself in particular) wanting more. Great work!

  12. “Close my eyes? I don’t think I wanna’ try this game.” I plead.

    “C’mon, I think you’ll be surprised at how many sounds you can identify.” Kalie begs.

    This was the last thing that I wanted to do on the beach, but Kalie has a way of getting me to do things that I normally wouldn’t do. I sit down on the beach next to her, sigh, and get one more glimpse of that soft orange sky and the sun that is fading in the distance.

    “Are your eyes closed?” Kalie asks.

    “Yes.” I try to sound annoyed, but she just laughs.

    “What do you hear?” She asks.

    “Nothing.” I quickly answer.

    “You didn’t even give it a try. Please try.”

    “Alright.” Sounding annoyed again, but this time she doesn’t laugh.

    I lie back in the warm sand and immediately feel the pounding of the waves on the beach. How cool! I hear the waves crashing against the beach. I hear young voices on the bridge that leads over the dunes. These are all familiar sounds, but I don’t want to tell Kalie because then she will think that I am not trying. All of a sudden, I hear it. It is a soft flapping sound, almost rhythmic, but I am not sure where it is coming from. It’s gone, but I don’t open my eyes. It’s back, and now the flapping seems faster and there are a number of different rhythms all blending together.

    “I hear flapping.” I cry.

    “Good,” she says with enthusiasm, “you’re playing. What is the sound?”

    “I have no idea.” But then I know. “Is it birds?” I ask.

    “Open your eyes.” She says.

    Directly overhead is line of pelicans, about a dozen long, floating through the sky and only about four feet above the water. Wow!

    “That is so cool. Now it’s your turn.” I say as I open my eyes and see Kalie smiling from ear to ear.

    We play this game for the rest of the evening. Listening to the sounds of the beach at dusk. We are entertained by the cicadas, the crabs scurrying across the beach, the frogs, the lizards scampering in the dunes, and the laughter of children playing chase. These are sounds that I would not have ever heard if it wasn’t for Kalie and her game.

    As we are walking up the bridge back to the house, I ask, “What is the name of that game?”

  13. “I call it ‘The Acoustics of Pelican Island Beach’.” And she puts her arm around my shoulder, probably because I was a good sport for playing along.

    Oops! I left off the ending. Sorry about that. Thanks, Kate, for the quick write.

  14. I took a deep breath at the end of this passage, feeling my heart rate slow down. The comfort of home. Your details set the scene and the mood. I\’d like to hear what is unique, or sad, about how the bell rang. The shrieking of the sea gull gives me the feeling that this is the calm before the storm?

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Early November at the foot of the Rockies in Colorado, at first glance, is just blah. Monochromatic tan, cold without grabbing your attention, low sun, short days – blah. It’s quiet. Any leaves that have escaped our determined raking have already been stepped on, driven over, and rained on, so that walking through them elicits only the faintest “squish.” The robins’ simple two-note refrain and the mourning doves’ whoo-whooing have been missing since the mid-October migration. But if you pay attention long enough, you detect a sense of expectancy. Not the expectancy of March, when new life is about to burst forth in the exuberance of spring, but that feeling you get just as you’re drifting into sleep. You sink a little deeper into your bed as drowsiness descends, until that swooping, plunging feeling yanks you back to full consciousness. November is like that. It hints that the deep dormancy of winter is nearly upon us. Arctic winds have already blasted us, shrilling from the north. Usually the first snow has fallen. But then – swoop! – the temperature will rise again to the 60s. Canadian geese still call from their south-pointed vees, children return to the shouts and laughter that are the rhythm section of their street hockey, and the ornamental cabbage and mums are still flaunting their colors in the neighborhood. November perches on the brink of winter’s full slumber.

    1. You really paint a vivid picture of a season and a place! I love the contrast of a bleak time that when noticed is a time full of promise and surprises. Your personification of this season with the experience of drifting off to sleep works well. My favorite part is when you call the shouts and laughter of the children the rhythm section of street hockey. Thanks for sharing.

  16. My WIP is written in verse. I needed to write a summer scene in which the MC turns her attention to a new crush. I used the summer rain shower that was happening outside for inspiration.
    At the pool, the lifeguard blows his whistle,
    All out—lightning sighted!
    Sure enough, the sky begins to roll,
    rumbling thunder echoes,
    dark clouds move across and drop
    a shower, a soft sprinkling.
    Steam rises from the pool,
    the gutters clank with the overflow of water,
    the green of the leaves deepen,
    drops cool my sunburned face.
    Two little kids twirl around
    trying to catch the drops on their tongues,
    mothers gather them up in beach towels,
    squeals of resistance.
    I look over to see Todd offering a towel to Elizabeth.
    They are laughing.
    Next to me, I feel the warmth of someone standing near.
    It’s Neal, the new boy, smiling at me with a towel offering.
    His deep brown eyes make me stomach jump.
    Here, I brought two, just in case.
    I swim in the curl of his smile.
    All I can say is thanks.

    1. Margaret, I love that you chose the sounds of a summer storm rather than a typical sunny day at the pool. “I swim in the curl of his smile.” is a great line. Can’t wait to read more!

    2. Margaret, my favorite place to be in the summer is the local pool. I felt like I was there and the best part is the actions are so realistic – that how the young kids act at the pool (my 8 year old son loves watching it all – I have to shield his eyes:). There is a nice flow to the excerpt ( details and description). Thanks for sharing!

  17. I’ve been playing “catch-up” today, so I combined a few writing prompts together…

    Dear Alcoa Technology Department,
    This is my last day of 6th grade and you made my day!

    A few weeks ago, the eagle camera broke and the Alcoa website explained that it couldn’t be fixed this season. My teacher uses the eagle cam in class to help us become better writers. This has been my best year yet. I’ve nearly filled in my entire composition notebook (you know, they’re usually black and white on the cover, but I found a purple one this year!) Anyway, I wrote about the size of the next, when the eggs hatched, and all the weird and gross stuff those little eaglets eat everyday. So, the day the eagle camera went down made me feel like I lost 2 little friends, almost like losing a brother or sister named Honor and Glory. They were still growing, almost ready to fly. I was heartbroken that I would not be able to see that happen…until your department came up with a ! You put another camera up in a different spot so we could see the nest from a different angle. I know it’s not , but at least we could see the eaglets again.

    I really appreciate all that you did for our class and as a of gratitude, I would like to give you something in return. I know the sound is off now, but if we could hear inside the nest like we could before, I imagine it might be like this:

    My report of the day Honor (or Glory) left the nest (in case you missed it)

    She flaps, she hovers in the wind, whoosh-whoosh, strengthening her wings, then drops into the nest.

    “Eee-eee,” mother calls out.

    “Eee-eee,” in a lower screech, brother seems to laugh.

    She tries again, a leap and a flap, brushing the leave. Rustle, rustle…creak.

    She lands on a thick branch, bending and bouncing like a swimmer on a board deciding whether to dive into the deep end.

    She looks side to side, listenign to the crowd. Karee-karee, chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp.

    Whistles and twangs floating toward her in the breeze.

    “You can do it,” they cheer!

    She stretches her left wing, and then her right. And in a flash, she bounces once,then twice. Her yellow talons let go! Flap, flap flap. The diving board branch her into her place in the sky. A new American Bald Eagle has arrived.

    I hope you liked my report of when Honor (or Glory) . I am so glad it happened on my last day of school! Thank you Mr. (or Miss) Technology person for letting me see the eaglets grow up! This is definitely a memory I can take with me!

    Your friend,
    Dr. Jackson Rooney
    (a future ornithologist)

    P.S. the are the “word tickets” my teacher pulled today that we had to use in our writing.

    P.S.S. I already know what an ornithologist is.

    1. Hi Andrea,
      Thanks for sharing. I usually type the quick write into a Word document and then copy and paste into the comment box. I hope this helps.

      I enjoyed your excerpt. Excellent descriptions and creativity!

  18. ok- so I couldn’t get the word ticket words to underline in the comment box, so I put them inside the triangle parentheses, and that makes the word delete!

    so you’ll have to insert them…

    “next” is supposed to be “nest”

    then came up with a “solution”

    …it’s not “ideal”…

    and as a “token” of gratitude

    the diving board branch “propels” her…

    P.S. The “words” are word tickets

    And, oh my gosh, I just figured out how to make the comment box bigger so I could read more than one line at a time. So sorry for all the typos!