Tag Archives: Carrot Ranch flash fiction

enriching lives and communities with education

Enriching Lives and Communities with Education

Education has the power to enrich lives. By education, I mean all of life’s experiences that contribute to learning. Sometimes these experiences occur in school. Mostly they don’t.

Schooling is but a small part of ones’ education, and its ability to enrich varies depending on:

  • an individual’s circumstances and attitudes to school and learning.
  • the school culture and attitudes to children and learning.
  • and the teacher’s attitude to children and learning.

Over the years I have been aware of enrichment programs offered in some schools. The programs were available to children considered ‘brighter’, having greater potential and, possibly, even ‘gifted’. The children were those who pleased their teachers with compliant behaviour and diligent work, and whose well-to-do families contributed to school facilities. Often, the program was a reward for children who needed neither incentive nor enrichment (their lives already had both) and an easy way for schools to say they were catering for diversity and individual differences.

The model of enrichment with which I was most familiar was a selective program offered one afternoon a week. Children were withdrawn from their regular classrooms to participate. Activities included things such as problem-solving, advanced science and maths, chess, reading and writing clubs.

In my opinion, these are activities which would benefit all children, especially those from impoverished homes who received little encouragement for learning, either in school or out, or opportunity for enrichment. My belief is that ‘enriched’ individuals enrich their communities and society as a whole. My suggestion of an early learning caravan, if implemented, would help remedy the situation for some.

early learning caravan

Surely education should be about enriching all lives, not just a few. It should be about asking, ‘What can I do to enrich your life, to provide opportunities for you to learn, and enhance your potential for a successful life?’ It shouldn’t just be ‘What can I cram into you for the test at the end of the week/month/term/year?’ I summed up some of these differences in my poem Education is.

poem about the difference between education and schooling

© Norah Colvin

Of course, not all schooling is a nightmare. Much of it is enriching. You only have to read the blogs of wonderful teachers like Jennie Fitzkee, Jacqui Murray, Marie Forst, Adam Hill and others, to realise that children’s lives are enriched by inspired teachers, every day.

readilearn teaching resources for the first three years of school

My life’s work has been an attempt to enrich the lives of others through education; from my years in the classroom to my current work on readilearn where I support teachers with resources to enhance their teaching and lighten their workload.

In so doing, my own life has been enriched in many ways. You see, I consider enrichment to be something that fills one up on the inside:

  • with feelings of self-worth, self-respect and self-confidence,
  • with a sense of purpose and empowerment,
  • with trust, understanding and empathy,
  • with compassion and love for others,
  • and an interest in all that is.

Enrichment has little to do with external riches (though most of us wouldn’t say ‘no’ to sufficient to make our lives comfortable).

I have always seen my roles as both parent and teacher, so closely entwined, to be not only a giving back but a paying forward to the future of the universe. My children, biological and in the classroom, have enriched my life enormously, and for that I am very grateful.

Enrichment flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch

But why am I writing about enrichment this week? You might have guessed —in response to the prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the idea of enrichment. Use many of its different manifestations or explore reasons why it matters to the character. Go where the prompt leads.

I hope you like my story:

What Kind of Enrichment?

The meeting dragged. After analysing data, discussing duty rosters and responsibilities, lockdown and evacuation procedures, enthusiasm flagged. Jocelyn itched.  Last on the agenda; her topic was enrichment.

As she took the floor, groans and tapping pencils defied her resolve. A phone ban meant some eyes were on her, at least. Her suggestions of enrichment were met with derision.

“They don’t learn what we teach ‘em. ‘ow are we gonna’ enrich ‘em?’ Everyone laughed.

Jocelyn’s mouth opened to respond but gaped as Taya burst in bearing an enormous cake with candles ablaze.

“Now that’s my kind of enrichment.” Everyone cheered.

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Don't Look Back flash fiction story

Don’t Look Back

Looking Back Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt

The beginning of a new year is often a time of reflection, of looking back on the previous year and of realigning goals for the year ahead. It is fitting then that, for the first prompt of the year, Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back. It can be a metaphorical reflection or a glance in the rear-view mirror. Who is looking back, and why? Go where the prompt leads.

Of course, there are many reasons for looking back but, perverse as I am, I’ve chosen to write about someone who wouldn’t look back.

Don’t Look Back

Don’t look back. Don’t look back.

She pulled her coat tight, pressed her bag into her side and leaned into the wind, quickening her pace.

The footsteps pounded behind her, closing in. She knew, even over the wind’s roar, they were coming for her. She breathed in shallow quick gasps.

Don’t look back. Don’t look back. If she couldn’t see them, perhaps they didn’t exist?

Her eyes stung. The wind stole her breath. Her side split.

Lights ahead. Please. Please … almost.

A hand on her shoulder. A deep gravelly unintelligible voice.  She twisted. “Noooo!”

“Miss, you forgot your umbrella.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

results of the Carrot Ranch Fracture Fairy Tale Flash Fiction contest

Rodeo #4: Fractured Fairy Tales Winners

The results of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest #4 Fractured Fairy Tales are now posted at the Carrot Ranch. Pop on over to find out who the winners are and to read all the qualifying entries.
Thanks to all who entered for giving us a fun and entertaining read.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

By Norah Colvin

Fairy Tales — Fractured in 99 Words

Once upon a time on a virtual ranch,
Was a whole bunch of writers wanting a chance
To fracture a tale in no more and no less
Than 99 words to show who was the best.

The judges were ready, no red pen in sight
And sent out the prompt for writers to write.
In trickled stories one after one
Till time was up and the contest was done.

The judges then read them and read them some more
The stories that numbered ten times four.
They pondered, selected and collaborated
Till agreement was reached on the #1 rated.

Thank you, contestants. We judges, Anne Goodwin, Robbie Cheadle and I, had a wonderful time reading your stories and thank you for submitting them to the Fractured Fairy Tale Contest.

Although many traditional fairy tales begin with ‘Once upon…

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results of the Carrot Ranch flash fiction memoir contest

Rodeo #2: Memoir Winners

Results for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #2 Memoir are in. “She did it” was the prompt; and she did it, she won, but do you know who it was and what she did? Check out the results at the Carrot Ranch and join me in congratulating the winners, the runners-up and all contestants. Well done, everyone!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

By Irene Waters

She Did It was the prompt for the memoir ride in the Rodeo.

The four judges were given a judging sheet: was it a complete story, grammar, and spelling, structure, use of language, adherence to memoir rules (not accusing, showing the bad- not telling, reflection and was it believable) and then a subjective score worth 35% of the marks.

I couldn’t have asked for better judges with Helen, Angie, Gil and myself all being diligent in reading and evaluating the pieces.

Reading memoir is quite different from reading fiction. As a reader of memoir, you have a pact with the writer that you will believe the facts being told and this, makes the focus of your reading change. You read to gain understanding, to see how someone has coped and how it has changed their life. Memoir also touches our emotions and shows us ways of dealing…

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a selection of potato dishes

How do you like those potatoes?

Now that the 2018 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo has ended and winners of each contest are being announced weekly, the regular flash fiction challenges have resumed.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction mashed potato super power prompt

This week, Charli Mills challenged writers to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pairs mashed potatoes with a superpower. It can be in any circumstance, funny or poignant. Go where the prompt leads.

A month or two ago on readilearn, I wrote a post titled Learning to be friends — unleash your friendship superpower.  In that post, I suggested that we need to

Help children to see that, although they may have some special friends, they can be friendly towards everyone. No one should be excluded. Everyone should be included.

Explain that being friendly towards others encourages others to be friendly towards them. Being a friend is like a superpower. It helps everyone, including yourself, have a good day.”

ideas for teaching friendship skills in early childhood classrooms

I also discussed some new and existing resources to support the teaching of friendship skills in early childhood classrooms.

How could I not choose friendship as my superpower, but how could I mash it with potatoes as Charli suggested?

Of course, there is the Wiggles song Hot Potato that includes mashed banana, why not mashed potato?

And there is the popular party game Hot Potato where everyone sits in a circle and passes an object like a ball, bean bag, or even a potato around the circle while music plays. Whoever is holding the object when the music stops is out, so it is important to pass it quickly, like a hot potato, so as to not be caught with it. Could the game be played with mashed potato? It could get rather messy, I think.

fist game one potato two potato

When I was a child, we used to play an elimination game using the song One potato, Two potatoes. Everyone would stand in a circle and put out both fists. “It” would go around the circle, bumping each fist in turn. Whichever fist was bumped on ‘more’ would be put behind the player’s back. The song and actions would then be repeated until only one fist (one player) remained.

Then, of course, there is the Mr Potato Head toy which made a comeback in the Toy Story movies.

Singing songs and playing games, including these, is always a great way to help develop that friendship superpower.

Although I’ve presented quite a mash of potato ideas, I haven’t even mentioned real potatoes yet.

If I stayed with childhood stories, I would say that mashed potato was a regular feature of evening meals with a humble serving blobbed unceremoniously on the plate. Roast potatoes were traditional for Sunday lunch and always much preferred. I never saw mashed potato as anything to get excited over, but Hub, who hails from Northern Ireland, has high praise for the champ of his younger days.  Though I’ve tried, my attempts haven’t ever matched his expectations. I am surprised to see that mash is now a popular item on many restaurant menus —not quite so humble anymore, and perhaps a healthier choice than chips, which seem to be served with nearly everything.

So where to for a mashed potato superhero? Sometimes you need to look no further than the plate in front of you.

Here’s my response.

If only

Jake pushed the plate away.  “Don’t like mash.”

Mum sighed and turned away.

As Jake stared at the potato, out popped a tiny, lumpy, and obviously grumpy, old man. He shook his fists.

Jake leaned forward. “Pardon?”

“I’m leaving.”

“Why?”

“Ya always push me away. Say ya’d rather chips or roasties. Doncha know we’re all the same—inside—only outside’s different.”

“Didn’t think—”

“Your kind—unkindness—never do. Gotta learn ta look beyond the differences, kid. Learn ta love us all.”

“Wait—”

“What?” said Mum, turning as Jake scooped the last spoonful of mash into his mouth.

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Winners of #1 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest: Dialog

Rodeo #1: Dialog Winners

And the results of #1 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest are in. Congratulations to the winners, honourable mentions and all who entered. Read the winning entries in the Carrot Ranch post and follow the link to read all entries. What a fabulous read!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Well, it’s over, and we judges have had a blast. It looks like you people did too. In all, we received 38 entries. Only a couple failed on word count, a couple of others didn’t stick rigidly to dialogue, but most of you were very good and complied with the rules. Even managing to make something from what was a tricky picture prompt.

Yes, that is me, and that is a giant tortoise; my family spent a day behind the scenes at London Zoo, including feeding these magnificent reptiles. My daughter is responsible for capturing me having the brief catch up…

Before we get down to the business end a few general thoughts:

  • In a fair few cases, there was still some ‘telling’. When you only have 99 words you really mustn’t. You have to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination, let them work it out. Sometimes the best…

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winners of the Tuffest Ride contest

The TUFFest Ride: Winners

The winners of the TUFFest Ride at the Carrot Ranch are announced. Congratulations winners and congratulations to all riders (writers)!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

After one of the most challenging rounds of judging 118 entries from 36 writers over five 24-hour free-writes with five different prompts, three judges selected five writers to take the TUFFest Ride.

TUFF stands for The Ultimate Flash Fiction. As a literary form, it requires a writer to master spontaneous drafting, reduction, and expansion for a single story. As a writing tool, it guides a writer through revision to get to the heart of a story or the point of an idea. The TUFFest Ride is a writing contest that invites a small group of writers to exhibit their skills to master the process publicly.

The first task of TUFF is to free-write. That means to draft a story from scratch. It’s a demonstration of creative instinct, pushing into the unknown to retrieve a possible story. To help spark an idea, writers followed the lead of a prompt: mudslide.

The…

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