Earth House Analogy

Write an essay based on an extended analogy between a house and our planet Earth.

First brainstorm or freewrite, because analogies demand free use of our imagination. Next write a rapid and free “discovery draft.” Let it sit at least one day, then develop your concept through at least one more draft, adding the kinds of vivid images needed to spark the reader’s imagination.

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DIY Radio

Create a radio diary.

Anyone can make a radio diary. Try your hand at making radio. Whether you’re interviewing a neighbor, or a grandparent, or someone you’ve never met, a microphone is a passport into their lives. If you or someone in your community has a story to tell, get a microphone, a recorder, a pair of headphones, and get started.

The Teen Reporter Handbook has been used in schools across the United States, as well as in Russia, Israel, South Africa, and even in a journalism training program in Southern Afghanistan.

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A Red Red Rose

O my luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
My love is like the melodie
That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonny lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only love!
And fare thee weel, awhile!
And I will come again, my love
Though it were ten thousand mile.
– Robert Burns

“A Red Red Rose” by Robert Burns is a classic song, considered one of the greatest love songs ever written.


The strength and endurance of true love is everlasting.


Rhyme, rhythm, assonance, parallel structure, hyperbole, alliteration, simile, symbolism, apostrophe.


Will the speaker return to his love?

What difficulty do you encounter while reading this poem? How did you deal with the problem?

The poem contains a number of examples of hyperbole. Can you identify them? Which do you think is the greatest exaggeration?

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The Sniper

Read “The Sniper,” by Liam O’Flaherty.

Respond to the Story

  • Reread the first paragraph. What details in the author’s description of the setting establish the tone or atmosphere of the story?
  • What message about this civil war is Liam O’Flaherty trying to convey? How does his message compare to the theme in “War,” by Timothy Findley?
  • List words and phrases the author uses to describe the sniper and what he is doing. Write your own descriptions of him, using some or all of these words.
  • The sniper is the only character the author describes in great detail. Why do you think the author chose to do that?
  • Were you surprised by the ending? Why or why not? Did you find it a powerful ending?
  • Do you think such a story could occur in Canada? Give reasons for your opinion.

Write a Factual Report
Imagine you are the main character in “The Sniper.” You’ve just returned to your company and have been asked to write a report about what happened. List the events in the story in the order they occurred. Use a complete sentence for each event. Because this is an official report, leave out how you feel or what you thought–just include the facts as you saw them.

Essay Topics

  • After researching the life of Liam O’Flaherty, write an informative essay explaining the extent to which he based “The Sniper” on his own experiences.
  • Does urban warfare, like that in “The Sniper,” affect the outlook and mental stability of combatants differently than battlefield fighting?
  • Is modern Ireland still influenced by the outcome of the violence in the early 1920s?
  • In an informative essay, write a short psychological profile the IRA sniper.
  • Can the tactics of urban guerrillas–sniping, sabotage, terrorist bombings–be morally justified?
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Conversation Starters

Are you a good listener?

Turn to the person beside you and ask them to talk to you for about 30 seconds about one of the following:

  • Tell me what you would do if you won a million dollars?
  • Tell me about the last movie you watched?
  • Tell me about why this school year is (or is not) better that last year?
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Go Stubbornly Forward

Sometimes you experience a time when what you planned takes an unexpected turn, ending in a rude awakening. Other times you may go stubbornly forward with plans which have every indication of not working out, but you are certain that you are right or you want desperately to make things right.

Recollect such a situation and report the events and your feelings in your blog. You may want to use the event in a short story, instead, or an advice column for your school website.

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Investigating Suspects in the Death of Peter Verigin

A critical thinking challenge for students, ages 16-18


Late in the evening of October 28, 1924, Peter Verigin boarded a Canadian Pacific Railway train at Brilliant, British Columbia, the headquarters of the Doukhobor community. About one in the morning a horrific explosion blew away the roof and sides of the coach. Verigin and eight others perished in the explosion, which investigators on the scene quickly concluded was no accident.

Known by the single name “Lordly,” Peter Verigin lived like royalty among a group of Russian immigrants to Canada, the Doukhobors, whose motto was “Toil and Peaceful Life.” The Doukhobors preached equality and rejected the authority of both Church and State. As a result, they were persecuted in Russia. In 1902, their leader, Peter Verigin, and many of his community came to Canada to take up a new life.

Who could have been responsible for the death of Peter Verigin? Although it may have been an unfortunate accident, at least five groups and individuals were identified as possible suspects in the murder of Verigin. You are invited to follow the evidence pointing to one of these suspects and decide to what degree this group/person deserves to be treated as a serious suspect in Verigin’s death.

The Task

This MysteryQuest invites you to make a recommendation to cold case detectives who might want to reopen an investigation into Verigin’s death. Your task is to examine some of the evidence related to one of five groups or individuals who are identified as possible suspects.

You are to select one of these suspects and decide whether it would be worthwhile for the cold case crime unit to pursue further investigation of this person or group. Before preparing your recommendation, you will familiarize yourself with the historical context of the case and examine four documents pertaining to the suspect you have chosen to investigate. After identifying evidence for possible involvement in Verigin’s death, you are to indicate how seriously the crime unit should investigate this suspect.

continue investigation …

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Your entire community – however you define that; your hometown, your neighborhood, your family, your colleagues – is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.

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Describe one of the following as vividly as you can.
1. The crowd at a rock concert
2. Cottage country in autumn
3. The kitchen of a fast-food restaurant
4. Your favourite painting or sculpture
5. A factory assembly line
6. A polluted river or lake
7. A building that you love or detest
8. Your room
9. Your pet
10. The subway platform during rush hour
11. A garden in July
12. The midway at night
13. A New Year’s Eve party
14. Your favourite gallery of a local museum
15. A fitness club on a busy day
16. The terminal of an airport
17. A garage sale
18. A nightclub on a Saturday night
19. A hologram
20. A wedding reception
21. The interior of a barn
22. A highrise building under construction
23. The race track on a busy day
24. The interior of a bus station or train station
25. A professional wrestling match

Process in Writing: Guidelines
Follow at least some of these steps in the act of writing your description.
1. If you can, take eyewitness notes for your description. If you cannot, at least choose a topic you know well enough to make very specific notes from memory.

2. Look these notes over. What is the dominant impression, your main feeling or idea of the subject? Put it into a sentence (this will be your THESIS, whether or not you will actually state it in the description).

3. With your notes and thesis before you, write a rapid first draft, leave extra white space. Get it all down on paper, rather than stopping now to revise.

4. When your first draft has “cooled off,” look it over. Does every aspect of your description contribute to the main overall effect? If not, revise. Does each word “feel” right? When one does not, consult your thesaurus for another.

5. In the next draft increase the SENSE IMAGES – appeal to sight, hearing, touch, smell, and maybe even taste. Add more TRANSITIONS. Read aloud to detect and revise awkwardnesses hidden to the eye.

6. Finally, look over the spelling and grammar before writing your good copy. Afterward, proofread word by word. Save the essay in case your teacher suggests further revision.

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