Chris Burnett's blog, The Clem, has moved to /blogs/burnett05/.

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The reason this move is to create a "new" blogging site for her 2005-2006 students.

Tomorrow we start the MEAP tests. The students will be tested up to six hours a day for three weeks. The MEAP tests are stressful enough but the changes that have been implemented will make the tests even more stressful. I know by the time the third week of testing rolls around, the students will be brain-dead and totally worn out. But we will survive.

To add to the stress of the testing, we have been informed that there will be changes in the staff as a result of student count. This seems to be an annual occurance where schedules are changed and students are placed in classrooms where fellow students, if not the teacher, changes. In three weeks, my classes can change dramatically, not only as to the students that are in them, but also the number of students in each class. So much for beginning long term writing projects before any changes are made.

I only wish that "the powers that be" in Central Administration would put students first and everything else second. With every year that I teach, I become more convinced that what's good for kids is secondary.

I'm hoping that decisions will be made quickly so that I, along with my fellow teachers, can get on with teaching instead of waiting for the proverbial axe to fall.

Friday afternoon I began receiving feedback on student writing from last year. I believe that a first year teacher had her students read some of the Town Legends that my students wrote last year. All of the feedback was extremely positive and the students that were reading the stories seemed to be impressed with the stories. So...if any of my former students are still keeping track of me, go and check out if you've received any feedback.

It's great to read feedback from other students and know that my former students have done a good job in their writing. Not bad for the first writing assignment of a school year. I can still say that I'm very proud of my former students and I only hope that this year's students will be as successful.

I know that the beginning of a new school year is hectic, maybe chaotic (especially if your building is undergoing major renovations), and frustrating at times. This year has been all of the above and more.

The hectic and chaotic part started before the new year began with a phone call from my principal (a really good guy). He informed me, along with the whole eighth grade team that we had to have our old rooms packed and ready to move so that we could start out the new year in our new classrooms. The hectic part of the phone conversation was that we were informed four days before the movers were going to arrive. During the summer my old classroom was transformed into nothing short of a "toxic waste dump" with open barrels of "liquid stuff" and an array of construction materials piled inside. I got to pack my classroom stepping over pipes, cans of paint, etc. The move did take place and I can say that my new room is set up and welcoming.

I have experienced frustrations at the beginning of a new school year, but I think this year takes top honors. The order that I submitted for dictionaries and other resource materials was messed up and therefore not placed. Unfortunately for my students, one person, a non-educator, made the decision to cancel the order without ever so much as placing a phone call to someone who would have been able to straighten the whole thing out (namely me). So my students continue to try to improve writing skills without the much needed resources. I'll try again at the end of this school year and hopefully someone will be able to accomplish the goal of placing an order.

I guess this last piece of venting is the biggest frustration I, along with my fellow Language Arts teachers face right now. October 3rd we begin administiring the MEAP tests. In the past, the students taking the writing part of the MEAP have had the opportunity and time to brainstorm, write, edit, and re-write what was going to be submitted to the state for testing. This year, not only did the state change the time of the MEAP from January to October, they have taken away two important parts of the writing process that our students have been taught. The students are now going to be scored on their first drafts and whatever they can create in 50 minutes (or whatever the alloted time will be) that is what they will be scored on. I can honestly say that I don't know of anyone who can create a good piece of writing in 50 minutes or so. The state also decided that the students cannot use dictionaries or any other resource materials as they have been allowed in the past. The way I see it, students are being set up to fail and I take exception to that! I don't like when people mess with my kids. My eighth graders did exceptionally well last year with the 7th grade writing test and this year's test will be exceptionally stressful for them because of the changes. Now some of you may be thinking that I've had four weeks to get the kids ready for these changes but that isn't the case. We were made aware of these changes two days ago at an all day workshop and the testing begins in two weeks. I certainly hope the state doesn't expect high scores from students because I don't think they're going to happen. Okay...I'm done venting, if only for a while.

On a positive eighth graders are a great group of kids. We're going to participate in various ASK programs and the kids will be meeting two authors. They will be in a partnership with a school in Istanbul, Turkey and will post autobiographical sketches of themselves along with other genres of writing. Sharing with students from another part of the world will be a truly exciting and rewarding experience. I am really looking forward to all of the school year projects.

If only we can get through the MEAP!

I am enjoying my last day of summer vacations. Tomorrow is the beginning of our new school year and I'm optimistic. In my previous entry I explained that classrooms were being moved and renovations were continuing in the building. Well, my daughter and I took a drive to the school and peered in windows to see if, in fact, my "stuff" was moved. My former classroom was a lot emptier than it was when I was there last week, so I can only assume that I have officially been moved. Tomorrow I get to find out exactly how well the move went since I will finally be allowed to go into my new room. (Construction workers made it very clear that we were not allowed into the building until then). So I am excited about being able to start a new year in a newly renovated room. Hopefully I'll be able to call this room "home" for many years to come.

While checking out the feedback for my last entry, I discovered a messge from a teacher in Istanbul, Turkey who will be teaching 8th grade this coming year. He has expressed strong interest in setting up some writing projects between our students for the coming school year. How exciting that would be for my students to share and communicate with students from another country! The teacher who contacted me, John Hogue, has some terrific ideas for projects and I know that once the school year gets into gear, both groups of students will have many opportunities to succeed. I'm very excited about the possibilities that will present themselves as the school year proceeds.

Now here's my any of my former students who published on the blog. Having published your writing and having received feedback from all over the world, what advice would you give my incoming students? (Be nice!) Your words of wisdom can be about writing, blogging, what they need to do to succeed in class, or anything else that you think the incoming classes should know. Just send your response as feedback to this entry. I promise to pass your thoughts and advice on to the students as soon as the computer is connected and working in my new classroom.

By the way, yesterday I had the pleasure of mentioning the blog and showing some of the published writing to a terrific group of teachers. They were impressed! I took the liberty of sharing feedback that I have received from one of my students who has basically keeping track of me all summer. You know who you are!

Good luck to everyone as the new school year begins!

The new school year is about to begin and well, I hope the school year as a whole is smoother than the beginning appears to be. Our middle school has been going through major renovations the past year and a half. Those of you that have dealt with remodeling and renovations will be able to appreciate the following. Our building is a three story building and for the past year or so, the third floor has been vacant while new duct work, doors, carpeting, etc. have been installed. So far so good. At the end of the school year, the classes on the second floor were moved to the third floor since work was completed. Those of us on the first floor were to be moved to the second floor during Christmas break since the second floor renovations were to be completed by then. Okay, no problem. However, last Monday I received a phone call from my principal, who happens to be a man who truly cares about his staff and students, that we had to be in our new classrooms by the first day of school, which for us is August 22nd. So I, along with a few other teachers, spent two days in our classrooms last week labeling everything that needed to be moved. Now keep in mind that our rooms might be categorized as toxic waste dumps with all of the paint, dry wall, duct work, etc. that was stored in the rooms over the summer. So the bottom line is that today and tomorrow the contents of our old classrooms are, in theory, being moved to our new classrooms. The bad news is that the staff will not be allowed into the building until Friday, the 19th after our opening day meetings. That leaves us with about three hours to clean and make our new rooms look somewhat inviting since the students will be arriving at 7:20 A.M. on Monday. I never realized how much I don't like the idea of not being able to go to my classroom the week before school starts in order to make my classroom inviting and personable to my students. But...the good news is that we will have a wonderful, warm classroom to spend our days in once everything finds its place. Okay, I'm done venting.

On a lighter and happier note. Last week my daughter and I went to get some chinese food at a restaurant that is owned and operated by the parents of one of my students I had last year. One of her first questions was, "How come we haven't gotten any feedback from anyone this summer?" She also told me that she read my entries about my daughter "going fishing" and starting new adventures. I was surprised and amazed that any of my former students was still checking the blog for feedback. My student continuing to check for feedback is testament to the power of authentic audiences and how important validation of writing is to young writers. I hope that my students that I have in class this year will be just as enthusiastic about publishing on the blog. One can only hope.

Wishing all of you the best as the new school year begins.



In my last entry I shared the story of how my daughter, Nora, has begun to plan her own adventures in life leaving behind the old and moving ahead with the new. Thanks to technology, I get e-mails from her every day and I know that she is safe and sound half way around the world. She has taken the words of Petey to heart and is seriously "going fishing."

After posting the last entry, I started thinking about how educators need to "go fishing." We get in our comfort zones full of classroom activities and assignments that seem to work for years (or so we think they work) and as a result we are reluctant to try new things. I was trying new things and I admit that I was in a major comfort zone. I knew what novels worked with my students. I knew how to teach the novel and what to do with the class after we were done reading. Since 1999 I have had my classes involved in distance learning projects interviewing authors and specialists after novels were completed. But I found myself getting bored and somewhat complacent with the activities. I had done the same thing too many times with too many kids. In retrospect the best thing that happened to me was getting reassigned to eighth grade from sixth grade. I was given the opportunity to try new novels and along with the new novels, different activities. AND...I was introduced to "the blog."

Getting this blog set up was definitely "going fishing" for me. Everything about it was new and yes, exciting. My students were motivated to write, and write, and write. Some of them even admitted that they began to enjoy writing because what they were writing about was new and exciting. I'm not quite sure the topics were new and exciting, but the fact that people all over the world were reading what they wrote was the new and exciting part. Imagine...eighth graders were giving me personal poems and social studies essays to publish because they wanted to know what people thought about what they wrote!

The point I'm trying to get across is that if I hadn't agreed to have this blog, my students would never have heard from people in England, Bermuda, or various parts of the United States. This blog took me WAY out of my comfort zone and forced me to set aside the old and try the new. It forced me to "go fishing." And I am so glad I did. I'll continue the blog next school year and who knows what other new things I'll try with my students. Let's face it, the only way we're going to know if something new works with kids is if we try these new things. And that, my friends, is "going fishing."

It isn't very often that a piece of middle school level book, can have an impact on the life of a young adult and her mother. The book is Petey by Ben Mikaelsen and the young adult is my daughter, Nora.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of reading Petey, it is a true story of Petey (not the person's real name) who was born with cerebral palsy in 1920. Not knowing any better, his parents placed him in a state run insane asylum. Petey endured many humiliating moments while living in the asylum and eventually he was moved to a nursing home. While living at the nursing home, he meets a 13 year old boy named Trevor. They develop a close friendship and begin to share their lives. Trevor takes it upon himself to schedule his daily life around Petey, including hiking trips and walks through their town. Well, one day Petey decides he wants to go fishing. Trevor, being the good friend that he is, arranges for a day long fishing trip with Petey. The story goes on until one day, when Petey is quite old, Trevor and his friend go to visit Petey. Petey kept telling Trevor to go have fun with his friend and not to spend all of his time with him at the home. Trevor refused because he told Petey he wanted to spend his time with him and that it was alright for him not to do "kid things." Petey realized that Trevor was missing out on a lot because of him. At the end of the novel, Petey told Trevor to "go fishing" meaning that it was time to break away from the old and move ahead with the new. Well, my daughter took this very seriously.

Nora read Petey when she was in high school and was very moved by the book. After she finished the book, she was trying to convince me to let her go on a week long trip with her best friend, Lizzie, for spring break. I thought I was coming up with really good reasons not to let her go, but then she said, "Mom, I need to 'go fishing." Okay, that did it.

This past Friday I put her on an international flight to Prague, Czechoslovakia for a month long study abroad program. She's now 20 years old and planning her own adventures. As I was hugging her at the security gate and telling her to "Be good and be safe," she looked at me with tearful eyes and said, "It's okay Mom. I'm going fishing." And so she begins to let go of the old and move ahead with the new.

It's amazing to me how one novel had such an impact on one person, namely my daughter. As a teacher, I can only hope that one day my students will experience the same kind of enlightenment from one novel that Nora did.

By the way, Petey is an excellent novel and I encourage everyone to read it. And yes, it is Ben's fault, but I thank him for writing the book.

In my previous entry I shared my thoughts and doubts as to whether I did everything I could to get my students ready for high school. As educators, we have our doubts and rarely do we get any immediate responses from our students as to whether they thought we, as teachers, met our goals and responsibilities. If we do get any responses, it's usually years later. We may encounter one of our former students and that's when they let us know that yes indeed, we knew what we were doing.

After spending a couple of weeks just getting into a relaxation mode, I decided to check if my students' writing had received any feedback. Well, there was feedback, but not on any of my students' writing. The feedback was on my last entry and to my surprise, it was from one of my students. The first realization that shocked me was that we were out of school for well over a week and at least one of my students was still checking for feedback! However, let me continue. When I finished reading the kind words that she wrote, I was in tears. She has no idea the power that her words hold or the importance of what she wrote. Basically, she validated what I did in the classroom as a teacher. She stated that in the past she didn't like to write and thought it was boring, but then the more she wrote, the more interesting the process became. She told me that she learned a lot. Every teacher's dream! But wait...there's more!

This morning, I checked for more feedback, and lo and behold, there was feedback from another of my students.(Now keep in mind that at this point, we've been out of school for two full weeks.) She also said that she learned a lot and that she really enjoyed publishing on the blog, but yet she really, really enjoyed getting feedback. Well, I wholeheartedly agree that getting feedback is great. As I've said before, having someone think your writing is important enough to respond to is very, very powerful.

These two young students made my year! Their responses convinced me that publishing writing and having an authentic audience to read the writing are two very powerful ways to have students begin to "like to write."  So for those of you who are a bit hesitant in trying something knew in your classroom or school, don't be! The only way we know if something works and is good for kids is if we try that "something."

To my two "former students" who were kind enough to take the time to send me a response...Thank You! The two of you truly make me proud to have chosen teaching as my profession.

   My last day with students was Thursday, June 9th and yesterday I turned in my keys. This school year came to an official end at that time. As I was driving home the same thoughts that I have had every year came back. Did I accomplish all that I wanted to and did my students learn what they needed to learn in order to succeed in high school?

   I can honestly say that what my plans were last August changed as the school year progressed. I did want my students to write as much as I could get them to write. The question that kept lingering in my mind was "What was I going to use as a 'hook' to get my students to want to write instead of having to write?" As you can probably conclude, this blog was my "hook." From the first piece of writing that found its way to the blog, the motivation presented itself. And...the wonder of it all was that the motivation and desire to write remained with my students throughout the whole school year. My students were skeptical at first and questioned whether the feedback they received on their first piece of writing was "real" or if I had made it all up. It didn't take them long to realize that other people from all over the world were reading and responding to what they wrote.

   As you can see from the numerous categories I have that we published a lot. Most were class assignments but we did publish "free writing" where the students wrote about what they wanted to write, in whatever form they chose. We also experienced a wonderful surprise when Chris Crowe, author of Mississippi Trial 1955, responded to the journal entries the students published based on his novel. That's when the students really became impressed with the power of a blog.

   We wrote and wrote all year long. I don't think that the students ever wrote this much in one school year. but they did and they all gave me a great sense of pride. They raised their own levels of expectations and produced some great pieces of writing.

   We also experienced a partnership when we read the novel Touching Spirit Bear. My class, along with another eighth grade class from another school district, shared journal entries and final pieces of creative writing. Comments were bountiful in my class as I'm sure, they were in Rita Hughes' class. I, as the teacher, learned a lot about what works with partnerships and what still needs to be improved upon, but I know that the next year's partnership will be more powerful.

   I guess I can only hope that the experiences my students have had this past year will help them on the road to success in high school. If my goal was to get eighth graders to write, and write to the best of their ability, then I have had a successful year. I've had quite a few "challenging" moments as well as frustrating ones this past year, but they have all been worth the sleepless nights.

   I hope that all of you will be able to say you've had successful years. I know I will spend the summer looking for different "hooks" for my kids and sharing ideas with other educators. But first, a few days of what I call "mind mush" which is nothing more than deciding what I'm not going to do on this particular day.

Thanks to all who have read my ramblings or responded to my students' writing. Happy summer to all.


This will be my report on the story of Amistad. I will be acting as if I was in the story and I will be playing the role of Cinque, an African who is captured and was aboard the ship. Cinque also started the slave revolt on Amistad. I will bring you information about the ship’s voyage and the trials of Amistad.

Hello, my name is Cinque. I am an African who was captured and traded. I will be telling you the story of the Amistad trip.

It was very scary. People were being captured and then brought to some kind of a factory called Lomboka. I and others were sold to a Portuguese slave trader. I was then resold to a slave trader and put aboard the ship, Tecora, which was shipped off to Cuba. When we docked at Cuba, I was sold to Ruize and Montes in, Cuba. We got on board the Amistad and we were on our way to Guanaja with slave owners.

I was sick of traveling these seas with lack of food and water and I thought of killing myself numerous times, but held myself together. Every night was HELL because we slept in spooning positions and people were defiling themselves by releasing their bowels. The ship smelled horrible all of the time and we were treated badly. “That was it,” I thought to myself. I wasn’t going to be turned into a slave and beat around the rest of my life. So I started a slave revolt. Many slaves helped because they knew there could be a chance of freedom if the revolted. So we did.

We killed the captain and the cook of the ship and told Montes to steer us home. But instead, he deceived us and took us to America. We got to America and docked a half mile from the coast of Long Island, New York. Then we were taken in by the crew of the U.S.S. Washington, held, and taken to New London. We all waited in a jail cell waiting for the trial of Amistad to begin. The case did not start until five months later because the English had to teach us to read and write.

The trial started. We were all educated and we were nervous. Hammers were being hit against the table numerous times. The murder charges were dropped because the court thought it was self-defense. But then the trial turned into a matter of property. They were trying to decide if we had to be sent back to the slave traders or if we should be freed.

John Adams defended us. Good thing because I don’t think we would have been freed if he wasn’t our attorney. Many abolitionists sent money to our defense so that we would be freed. The trial finally ended in 1842.

We were free and we were later sent to Farmington for further English and religious education. I was so glad that we were finally free. There will be no more beating, lack of food, or torture.

I asked for the removal of Lombaka and they agreed with my request. They asked for the British to sail there and destroy the factory and they did! My people were not going to be captured or traded anymore!

            I was walking in the forest when I saw a figure lying next to a tree. It was motionless except for a few flinches every once in a while. I was curious so I went up to the figure. I then realized it was the thing I beat the crap out of. I felt proud of my accomplishments. It looked like I broke every bone in its body. I wonder if it is dead or alive.

            I got very close to the thing. I was sure it was dead. There was no movement in it now. I licked it just to make sure. All of a sudden it poked me with a sharp object. It stung a little, but I stopped myself from attacking. I thought if I didn’t attack, maybe I could teach it that it can’t hurt everything. Maybe it would teach him to talk out his problems instead of always trying to fight. But then the sharp object drove into my neck and it really hurt. I still didn’t fight back though. But then it must have gathered all of its energy because it jumped on me and slammed a rock into my nose. I don’t remember anything after that.

            Many things happened after Cole killed the bear. He didn’t take the time to realize the bear wasn’t going to hurt him the second time he came to Cole. When he killed the bear it ruined any chance Cole had left to change. He came back to Minnesota and became a trouble-maker again. The Circle decided not to let him go back to the island. Cole ended up blaming Peter for his misfortunes and he killed Peter. Cole spent the rest of his life in prison. Maybe if he would have just accepted that the bear wasn’t trying to hurt him the second time he would have avoided all of these tragedies. Then he could have befriended Peter and could have been a better person.


         Drinking has taken over my life. It has tormented my family. I smoke, I drink. I tried to stop but I can’t. It helped me ignore the reality that was really going on. It helps me ignore my abusive husband, my disorientated son, and so on. But Ill take responsibility for how my son turned out though. I never gave him unconditional love like a mother should have. I never protected him from my crazy husband who was beating him for no reason.  But I decided to quit and start a new life. I want to be the mother he never again. So I am starting over.

         When I saw my husband beating Cole I wanted to beat him. But since I was so afraid of him I didn’t even have the nerve to cuss at him. I hate when I see my son getting beaten senseless. My husband’s father had beaten him and that’s all he knew. I know I should’ve left ASAP. But my fear kept coming back to me if I dared to. It happened at the Circle of Justice meeting when I saw the fiery look in his eyes I was speechless. But now that I’m getting a divorce from him I feel free.

        If that really happened in the book, the book would’ve been good. If that was really to happen, Cole would probably be the Peter Driscal of the book. If that was to really happen, Cole would have never met Garvey or Edwin. If that really happened, he would have never seen the Spirit Bear.






            My husband and I are on a boat to a distant island. Not for vacation; a more serious matter. Our son, Peter, who is very troubled ever since getting beat up by a fifteen year old boy named Cole. Peter is now in some kind of program to help both Cole and Peter with their emotions and to forgive each other. I’m not very fond of it but this is what Cole chose instead of prison. Cole’s parole officer, Garvey, is now trying to convince both my husband and me to let Peter stay on the island after hearing about Peter’s suicide attack.

            On the island Cole seems to have gotten more over his anger than before, but I think it might just be a front so he can get another shot at Peter. Peter doesn’t interact with Cole on the island. If Cole was supposed to help Peter how is that going to happen if they don’t talk or interact with each other? I figured this would happen. Overnight I decide we should take Peter back to the city and look for a psychologist for Peter to talk to. The next morning Cole pleads with us to let Peter stay, but I have already made my decision.

            Three months later Peter still is having trouble. He has tried another suicide attack. The psychologist says Peter should go see Cole. I really don’t want to make that phone call but what other decision do I have? My husband and I are having a meeting with Garvey to set up a time. We leave Peter at home thinking he is asleep but we were wrong. When we came home that night Peter was on the ground with blood all over. Peter was pronounced dead. We were too late. Till this day I blame myself for his death.





            I remember about a year ago there was a human living on my island. Every time he saw me he would yell at me. So I just went away. But once he attacked me so I attacked right back leaving him to die. I went back later after a nice nap to see if he was alive. I thought maybe I would help but then I thought, “No why should I help him? He tried to kill me.” Then he grabbed me.

His hand slowly moved through my fur. He seemed to move his hand through it like my fur was endless, but finally he touched my skin. Suddenly I reacted. I moved fast, lifting my paw and was batting him around like a cat toy. I didn’t want to take any more chances so I finished him off with one big crunch on his head with my powerful jaws. That was the end of that, so I left and went back to my den.

            These would have been some of the results of that event. By Cole’s death Peter could have never come to the island. Peter needed to go to the island to help him so without it he would have succeeded at committing suicide. Garvey and Edwin would feel bad for sending him to the island and as a result Cole dying. His dad wouldn’t have cared much that he was gone and his mom would have been devastated. So this would have happened if the Spirit Bear attacked him a second time.





If I Were Peter…


 I hate Cole for what he did to me. Because of him I don’t sleep at night, I can’t walk right, or even speak right. I think he should go to jail for what he did to me. I mean he bashed my head against the sidewalk several times. And believe me it hurt. I don’t think he’ll learn any lesson through the Circle of Justice. He almost killed me but he gets to go stay on an island for a year. That’s not punishment. That’s a vacation!


My head is throbbing in pain. I’m sick of stuttering. I also walk like I’m crippled. My mom and dad don’t care about me obviously if Cole got mauled and sent back to the island. If they really loved me they would have gotten him locked up. It scares me thinking he’ll come after me and hurt me again. He made me feel like dirt. Now I want to die. Not by Cole killing me though. I think I’ll kill myself. Yeah that’s it. I’ll kill myself. I’ll lock myself in the bathroom and drowned myself. Here I go. Man, I’m scared I’ll die too slow. Well I’m in the bathroom with the door locked. The bathtub is almost filled. I put bleach in the water too. I’m getting in with my clothes on. This water is hot. The bleach is burning my skin. I’m going under the water. My mom is trying to open the door. I’m under the water with my eyes open. It burns. I’m feeling dizzy. My mom just jerked me up from the water. I blacked out. When I woke up I was in the hospital. Then I was gone.


With Peter dying this way it puts Cole in a tougher situation. Now it will be harder for him to heal. The ending would definitely change if Peter would have died. Cole would have had a hard time living with the fact he drove someone to become suicidal.





          Peter just got on this island with me. He is way too quiet. I feel like I have done everything in my power to make him feel comfortable around me. I just can’t do anymore. I mean I know it’s my fault but everyone has to be forgiven at some point. He has started talking a little bit now, but not to say anything nice. He just screams and yells at me and makes little comments. He threw a rock at me! I just couldn’t believe it. I know it missed me, but still it’s just the fact of the matter. You should have seen what he did to me when I was skipping from rock to rock across the pond. But I still didn’t say anything. Now he wants to talk to me. I guess he is more relaxed.


          He asked to go to the pond alone with me. I was delighted when he said that because I thought he began to trust me. Well shows what I know! When we got there he tried to kill me. I fought back. I wasn’t going to just let him beat me up for nothing. Well I know I beat him up in the past, but I apologized. I didn’t really hurt him. All I did was push him away. What did you expect? Just for me to let him beat me up? Well even though I didn’t hurt him he went and told Garvey that I did. He also made a bruise on his arm and neck just to show that I beat him up when I didn’t. I knew he had told on me because when I came back Garvey had a very disappointed look on his face.


          That is why I am on my way back to Minneapolis on this boat. I tried to apologize but Garvey said it was too late. I felt really bad but there was nothing I can do. As soon as I got there I was arrested and thrown in the detention center. I went nuts! I was throwing things and smashing things. I guess all the anger I tried to get rid of came back that day. I just broke down sobbing. Well all I know is that when we got there Peter tried to hang himself when he was in his room late at night and he succeeded. That’s when I really was hurt. So they tried me and I got three years in a federal prison. That is exactly where I am writing this story from.





I don’t believe they don’t think I could last on this island. Well I’m going to show them. I can last on this island longer than any body else could. Bet they can’t stay on the island for a whole year. I wish they had given me a bigger cabin. I’m going to leave. I don’t need to do this any more than any body else does. I don’t need this cabin either.

When they come back, they won’t find me. They’ll find the cabin burned down. Where are the matches? Oh, here they are. Ha Ha Ha! This is what they get for the way they treated me. Here I go. I’m going to do it now. Oh, I can’t do it. If I do it, I would just prove them right. I can do it. I can stay on the island for a year. How hard could it be? If I’m going to stay here I might need this cabin, so I won’t burn it down.

After the year was up Cole was happy he had decided not to leave the island. He felt that he had gone through a change. He felt that he wasn’t as much of an angry person anymore. He started thinking of how he might have been if he tried to leave the island. He knew that if he had left the island, he most likely would have gone to jail. Garvey and Edwin were very proud of him. They were glad that he kept his promise. They all hope to live a better life.



         Cole is a very exciting person. He is bad and is filled with a lot of anger that he takes out on other people. He does not like his parents because of how they treated him, how his father used to beat him and how his mother would not say anything. He doesn’t like to get touched or get told on because he would get mad and try to fight you. In one part of the story it talked about how Cole was trying to kill the Spirit Bear and the bear had attacked him. I picked this event because Cole is very crazy to try to kill an animal that is bigger, meaner, and that can kill him. I also picked this event because it tells people that if you do something bad to someone or something, something bad would happen to you.


            In one part it talked about how Cole was trying to kill the Spirit Bear. If I was Cole this is how it would had been. The time I saw the bear and I saw it coming, I would have stood still and waited until it left. I would not have done anything bad to it so it could have tried to kill me. The bear would have just sniffed me and the bear and I would have gone our separate ways. No, Cole had to be hard headed and tried to spit at the bear and tried to fight it and kill it. So he got what he deserved; a broken leg, broken arm, hit on the ground, clawed, and thrown around like a little toy.


            The new part would have changed the story because Cole would not have left the island to go to the hospital. He would have still been there on the island alone with a burned down house with no food or anything to eat. He would not have gotten swarmed by a whole lot of flies. If the part that Cole had gotten attacked by the Spirit Bear was not in it, to me it would have been a boring book because that was my favorite part of the story. That is how I would have had written that part in the book over.






When I got to the island I was so mad at the world. I blamed everything on everybody. When Garvey and Edwin left I decided to explore the island, I walked around feeling angry. I saw something down by the river fishing for some food. I looked at it and it turned its head towards me. I wanted that fish it was trying to eat, so I started to yell and scream at it. I threw a rock at it and it didn’t even move.

I looked around and saw something shiny in the ashes, so I walked over to the ashes and grabbed it. I looked back at the bear and he was staring at me with big eyes. His eyes were looking at me asking why I have that knife in my hands. I ran over to him and tried to stab him and he hit me with his paw. He started to attack me but I couldn’t leave. He just kept on hitting and biting on me.

      In my head I wanted that bear dead. But I looked into his eyes and they seemed empty and filled with anger. I walked over to him slowly to see what would happen. I was a little nervous because the thoughts of him attacking me were filling my head. I backed up a little and started to step towards him again. I said hello to him and he growled. I think it was because he thinks I am going to try to eat his fish so I left him alone until he finished his fish. When he was done I went back over to him and sat down next to him. When I sat down he walked away and he came back carrying a fish in his mouth. He walked over in front of me and set it down in my lap. After awhile we did almost everything together. He followed me around, he protected me and I think he could even read my mind because when I was in a bad mood, he’d be mad or he would try to cheer me up bringing me something so we could play a game.

      The story would change a little because the bear and Cole became friends and the bear would teach Cole how to be friendly and be kind to the world. The bear would teach Cole that life is about being respectful of your property as well as other people’s property. Cole would not be hurt and the people of the Circle of Justice would not think he’s a waste of time. The rest of the story would be the same as in the book because he wants to become friends and help out Peter.




         I am a 15 year old boy. I have lots of anger problems. No one cares about me. I beat up this kid because he ratted me out. Then I was sent to this island.

After Garvey left I was really angry. I decided to play their game, but I was going to come up on top. Everyone expects me to fail. Well I’ll show them. Staying on this stupid island for a year will be easy. When I first saw the cabin I was tempted to burn it. Later that night I was outside sitting on a log when suddenly I saw a white mist on the shoreline. Then I noticed that it was a bear. The next time I saw the bear I was going to kill it. But I knew that Garvey wouldn’t be happy if they found out I killed a Spirit Bear. So instead of killing it, I would scare it. When I looked toward the bay I saw the Spirit Bear standing there. So I picked up my spear and walked toward it. When I was a couple feet away I threw it. The bear didn’t move. I went back to get my knife but when I turned around he was gone. So I went to sleep.

I changed the part of the book when Cole decides that he isn’t going to listen and that he isn’t going to play their game. If the story was written like this, Cole wouldn’t have gotten mauled by the bear. This also means he might not have changed. He might have gone home the same person.








            I love to hunt for food. I’m a 700 pound animal and I have white fur. If I’m being attacked by something or someone I have to defend myself. Someone pushed me to the limit a year ago. He tried to kill me with a spear. Something told me to attack him. I just walked away and kept my cool. I really didn’t want to kill him.

            It was a dark night and I was in the woods hunting for food. I was about to catch this deer that looked so juicy when I heard this loud sound. The deer ran away and I was real mad. I looked at the shoreline and I saw this little boy just laying there. It was the same boy from yesterday, I thought. I went up to it and he must have heard me. From the looks of it he wasn’t too happy to see me. So he picked up this spear that was lying next to him. He tried to throw it at me but he missed. I was about to jump on him when something in my mind just said, “Forget it, he’s not worth it,” and I walked away.

            If this was what really happened in the book then the outcome of the book would be totally different. I feel that it would be different because when Cole got mauled by the bear he saw his life flash before his eyes. Now if this was really the event then Cole would think that life was still a joke. The bear helped him out when he mauled him. If he didn’t get mauled then he wouldn’t be right mentally. So the Spirit Bear played a big part in this book.



            The character that I chose to be is Cole. I chose to be Cole because there are a lot of things that Cole didn’t do that I would have done. Especially when Cole was at the Circle of Justice meeting and he stated that he was getting beat by his father and was scared to tell anyone because he thought that his father was going to beat him even worse. I chose this event because to me, I think that Cole should have told someone, and to be honest, I think that Cole’s father should have gone to jail. If I were Cole, I might have said this at the meeting.

            As soon as I got the feather in my hand I would have expressed my feelings, and said it all. Yes, I do get beaten by my father and I do believe that he should be going to jail. It is not fair that I am being punished for beating Peter, and my father is not being punished for beating me. Can’t you see that it’s because of him that I have all this anger, and when he beats me, I tend to have the urge as soon as I get mad to beat on someone also? I truly don’t think that it is fair that no one is looking at it the way that I am, and with my mom out having fun getting drunk, she’s no help when I am getting beat.  This happens on a daily basis. I know that she wants to change, but with her drinking habits that are taking over her life, she never defends me because she is too scared that my father will beat on her too. So basically we have to live our lives being scared of my father.

            If all of this would have really happened in the book, with me telling someone, my mother defending me, and people seeing it the way the way that I see it, then maybe all of these Circle of Justice meetings wouldn’t have to be held. If only I could’ve said something the first time that it happened, to the police or maybe even to a teacher at my school, it would have made a big difference. If I didn’t follow his foot steps and controlled my temper, then things would have been different also. If my father did happen to be put in jail for child abuse then maybe that would be even more stress relieved off of me, because then I wouldn’t have to be thinking about coming home and having my father relieve his anger off on me.




            I am going to play the role as Peter.  I am 15 years old and live in Minnesota.  I am very small and easily beat up because of my size.  I am the kid that is bullied around and gets beat up and my lunch money taken.  I guess that is why I am so small. I do not eat enough.  I am kind of the kid that stayed in the shadows and let everyone step on me until one day.

            One day I was walking home at my regular top speed walk trying to get home without getting beat up or my money taken when suddenly someone hit me in the side of the head.  I tried to run but I could not. The person, who ever it was, grabbed the back of my shirt, pulled me back, and started punching me in the stomach. Then he stopped. I figured he would take my money and run, but he did not. He threw me on the ground and pulled back my head with my hair and I saw his face. It was Cole Matthews. I knew that he would kill me if I let him because I told on him. So, without thinking, I pulled out my pocketknife and stabbed Cole in the stomach with it.

            Next thing I know I am sitting in a police car covered in blood.  I looked out the window and saw them putting Cole in a black body bag.  Two months later I am getting sentenced to a year on an Alaskan Island where I am supposed to stay and survive for a year.  Let’s see about that. I’ll probably have escaped after the first week…

I am 700 pounds, 7 foot tall and I live in the woods. I am a peaceful bear and don’t kill stuff unless I have to for food. I never see any excitement in the woods around where I live. There’s never anything happening and it’s just boring. My life is just boring except for that one time.

            That day I was drinking from the stream and I saw a human sitting on the ground. He was sitting by a burned down cabin. He saw me and was just staring right at me and not looking away. I just turned and kept walking. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him get up and start running towards me with a sharp object. The human started running at me and I turned to block his attack. I swung my arm at him and knocked him down. He got right back up and started to run at me again. The human just kept running at me and I just kept knocking him down. Once he got a big chunk of my hair and took it with him. When I knocked him down the sixth time he stayed down and I stepped on his chest and all this blood started coming out of his mouth. I started to walk away but he got up again and tried to kill me. I mauled him with my claws. Then when he was on the ground I ripped off his leg. Blood started squirting everywhere and it got all over my white fur. He was lying there motionless and all my anger came out and I crushed his head in. I was pretty sure he was dead by now, but I heard a noise when I was walking away. I went back and trampled his body. I had blood all over my fur so I had to wash. I went to the stream and washed off.

            I didn’t see any humans for a while after that. The human’s body was still lying in that same place. One day I was getting a drink from the stream and I saw two humans by the body. They looked older than the human I killed and grabbed the body and put it on this water traveler. That was the last time I’ve ever seen a human on the island. Every time I go by the stream I think of that day.

            The bear killing Cole would be a big change in the story. Cole wouldn’t change and wouldn’t get a second chance to go to the island. The book would end because the main character died. With Cole dead Peter wouldn’t change either. He wouldn’t live on the island with Cole and beat him up.



            I got up early in the morning feeling extremely hungry and decided to take a trip along the river hoping to find some prey. To my surprise, I saw a fresh and energetic salmon jumping up and down in the river. Just as I was going to reach out my arms, thinking the salmon would be in my mouth any second, I came across a weird looking creature that I had never seen before. He was standing not too far away from me and was yelling at me like crazy. Why in the world is he yelling at me like that? I have done nothing to him. The next thing I knew, he was holding up a knife and aiming it at me.       

            The strange looking creature wanted to kill me, but why? He probably wanted my beautiful and precious fur. But no, I cannot let him just end my life like that. I am still young and I wanted to see the rest of the world. Now I must think and act quickly. The next thing I knew, before the creature even had a chance to throw the knife, he was on the ground. I never knew my paws were that powerful. Just a little shove had caused him to fall and fly across the ground. I walked over to him checking to see if he is all right, but again, he raised his knife and was heading toward me. What am I going to do now? I kicked him as hard as I could in his chest. Once again, he flew across the ground and seems to have been hurt badly. I wonder if he is ok because I really did not mean to do what I did to him. I walked toward him, but when I got closer, he stood up and punched me in the face. I pushed him hard across the field and he accidentally tripped over something and the back of his head had hit a rock. He collapsed to the ground and the next thing I knew he was dead. What am I going to do? I didn’t mean to kill him. I was just trying to defend myself.

            This would have a very big effect on the outcome of the book. If Cole died, I don’t think there would be anymore story to write. There would be no transformation in Cole’s life. Peter would have never come to the island. Everyone would still hate Cole and think he had gotten what he deserved.        


            After all that boy Cole Mathews has done to my son, they want him to be sent to an island alone with that monster. I have gone through all of Peter’s pain with him. Peter won’t get over his problems by being sent away. What Peter needs is intense TLC and a suicide watch. Cole caused Peter’s problems by doing the hideous act that has left my son with speech and coordination problems; because of Cole, Peter wakes up screaming from nightmares on the few nights Peter can sleep.

            They want me to send my only child away at the mercy of a monster.  They tell us it will cause both Peter and Cole Matthews to heal. Cole Matthew doesn’t need to heal. He needs to be sent to prison. I tried to tell my husband that before they allowed that juvenile delinquent to skip out on prison and go on an island vacation. No matter what is said Peter is not going to that island.

            As the mother of Cole’s victim I don’t care if Cole Matthews heal or not. I only care that Peter is safe from that violent, selfish brat that tried to kill Peter and ruin his life. Peter has tried to kill himself too.



                      If I Were Cole’s Mother…



        I am not a single parent, but I feel like it most of the time because all my husband does is drink and beat our fifteen year old son, Cole. I never say anything about my husband’s anger because I am scared he will take it out on me also. This is how I ended up in the Circle of Justice. My son beat some little boy up and now he might get a jail sentence.

          I had a chance at the Circle of Justice to stand up for my son and say that yes my husband beats my son, but I did not. Then when my husband and son got into an arguement, I just sat there. They were talking about my son as if he was some type of a monster. If I were Cole’s mother, I would have stood up for my son. I would have said yes my husband beats my son and yes, my son needs to go to a counselor. That is all.

          My version of the book would change the outcome a whole lot. First Cole would never have been on that island. Second her husband would have gotten help a whole lot sooner. However, if the event happened this way then there would be no book.













          I am a nice kid and I always mind my own business. I am about 5’3” tall and I weigh about 113 pounds. I am not a very big kid. I am almost one of the smallest kids in my school. There is this kid named Cole and he is always picking on someone. So I do not really mess with him or talk to him because I think he is going to hurt me.

          Cole was bragging about his theft that he did a week ago. Therefore, I decided to tell on him and I did not think that he would have found out. Cole found out that I did it. After that I got really scared. Cold saw me in the hallway and he said to me, “You’re a dead man.” Later after school, Cole cornered me in the parking lot. Cole hit me and I went down. I tried to escape but when I ran, I fell and Cole jumped on me. He started smashing my head into the ground. It took six kids to get him off of me and after that, my face was so bloody.

          If I did not tell on Cole, I would not have been beaten up. I would not have had to go to the island either. However, after a while, I bet you that Cole would have ended up in jail. Cole probably would have gotten very mad and maybe even killed someone.

If I Were Cole…


            I have a very bad temper. Most of my anger comes from my parents; they never seem to be there for me. I take most of my anger out on other people/things, and because of that, I get into lots of trouble.  That is how I ended up on this island. It was either this or jail. I figured this was better than jail because at least I could have a little freedom. It was only a short period of time before I realized that I was not the only one on the island. There was also Spirit Bear. I tried my best to get rid of Spirit Bear, but was that a big mistake. I tried to kill him, but my plan backfired on me and I almost got killed.

            It was the day after I was dropped off on this stupid island when I tried to kill Spirit Bear. Instead of my killing Spirit Bear, he almost killed me. I was lying there for days. I thought I was going to die. I ate some things that I never thought I would be eating just to stay alive. I was scared because I did not want to die. After a couple of days, some people found me and I was rushed to the hospital. However, after I was better I had to go back on that island.

            If I have to change one thing in the story, it would have been when Cole tried to kill Spirit Bear. I would change this because Cole would have never gotten hurt and he would have never had to eat all of those disgusting things. I do not think the book would not have changed a lot, but Cole would have never been taken to the hospital. In addition, he would not have gotten hurt.





            The character I picked was Cole. I picked Cole because he seems to be the main character and center of attention in this book. Every action he makes predicts the outcome of this book. If something were to change about what he’s done in this book the ending would most likely change slightly or significantly also. The scene I picked was the scene where Cole was going to attack the Spirit Bear. I picked this scene because if he hadn’t done what he did the outcome of this book would totally change, and he may never have found the will power to change.

            Cole was sitting on a tree stump watching the waves roll up onto shore. He sat there thinking of anyway to get off the island. Then he noticed something in the corner of his eye… the Spirit Bear. He contemplated killing it this time, but wasn’t sure. He grabbed his homemade spear and crept slowly up to the bear. The bear saw him and looked him in the face. For minutes they stared at each other. Cole was still deciding if he wanted to kill the bear. As he began to turn around and walk away, so did the bear.  

If Cole was never attacked by the Spirit Bear he would have never been injured to the point where he almost died. He wouldn’t have ever noticed the baby sparrows and the feeling he had when he noticed they had died. Most likely he would have never wanted or thought about changing at all. He would have been the same person. Just this time stuck on an island with no one else there.


            Hello. I am almost 15 and I am in the ninth grade. The same age as the person who assaulted me. I am 5’1’ tall. Lots of people call me a red head. It makes me kind of mad, but it is true. My mom says I need to eat and I do, but I just can’t seem to gain any weight. My friends call me Pete sometimes, so if you want to, go ahead and call me Pete. My mom likes Peter, but I like Pete a lot better. It makes me feel a bit older…I think.

            One day at school I ratted on some kid whose name is Cole Mathews. He picked on me all of the time. I probably wouldn’t have told on him if he hadn’t picked on me all of the time. I really didn’t think that Cole would care that much about getting caught and in trouble. He bragged about the robbery and vandalism he caused at the hardware store, so he would eventually have been caught anyway. Cole was so mad at me when he saw me in the hallway at school. He threatened me by saying, “You’re a dead man,” and then he gave me a hard shove. I didn’t think his threat was a promise but after school I was in hot water. As I went outside, Cole cornered me and just went crazy! He started hitting me in the face with his bare fists. I was no match for Cole. I did try to run, but my clumsy self fell. When I was on the ground, he started smashing my head into the ground. I lay there crying in my blood and Cole spit on me. Oh man! That hurt so bad! But because of the vicious attack, Cole was kept in a detention center. Now I am in the hospital and I hope Cole Mathews receives some horrible consequences and pays for what he did to me.

If I wouldn’t have snitched on Cole I wouldn’t be in the hospital right now, or I wouldn’t be all depressed because I got beat to a pulp. But everything happens in life for a reason. This is how my story that day would have gone. I should have just passed Cole like a normal everyday situation and went on with my day. If I were to do that I wouldn’t have to go through all this pain from being beat up. But maybe if I didn’t tell on Cole something worse could have happened to someone, Cole himself, or something. I don’t know but everything happens for a reason. Things just don’t happen. So now I just try to get through one day at a time, and enjoy the good times.

            Why would Peter just take the harsh impact I would have tried to fight back but I think if I were Peter I wouldn’t have even told on Cole, I would have just minded my own business. I would have never told on someone bigger than me because they would beat me up.


       I am taking on the task of rewriting the part of the book where Peter beats up Cole. I will be taking Cole’s role when retelling this part of the story. I chose this event because I would want to alter how Cole reacts when Peter attacks him. I think that changing this would make the book better off without changing the overall story.

       I am Cole and I am at the island with Peter trying to help heal him and myself. One day was different from all the rest though. I got up and was going for a soak. Peter asked Garvey to stay back. I thought this was going to be an easy, but huge step towards our healing. I was wrong. Once we were closing in on the pond, Peter starts yelling at me. In his rage he starts beating me up. I know I deserved it, but I also had to be safe and not fight back. I couldn’t just lie there though. So I get up and run back to camp. I make an excuse to Garvey that Peter and I were racing. The following day Peter asks to go alone with me again, but this time I talk to him on the way there. I finally get him to believe I’m not going to hurt him or fight back. Then Peter and I reach our ultimate goal – Forgiveness.

       This event would definitely change the outcome of the book. It would make it different in which Peter and Cole forgive each other. This is because Cole runs when Peter starts attacking him and the next day they talk it over and forgive. Even though that makes the book a little different, the book still holds its true ending – Cole and Peter forgive one another and start working to help each other.

            This is going to be so easy. The thought that putting me on the island would change me, well they thought wrong. Then there’s this stupid Spirit Bear that everyone keeps talking about. This so called Spirit Bear is a fake. I have seen a bear on this island but I’ve never seen a Spirit Bear. Wait, was that a Spirit Bear? Naw that was just a dumb ol’ bear trying to catch some fish. Wow this is such an easy way to get out of going to jail, but I didn’t know that the next day was going to be the most miserable day of my life.

            The next day I was going to find something to eat when I saw that same stupid bear again. I told that bear that if he comes near me it’ll be the end of his life. I had a spear in my hand and I wasn’t afraid to use it. So after a little breakfast I saw that dumb bear. This time he was walking towards me. I quickly pulled out my spear and told the bear if he comes near me I’m going to kill him. That stupid bear just kept coming near me so I raised my spear and threaten that bear again. Once he was a couple of feet away from me I got really scared. I dropped my spear and ran toward my burnt down hut. I never really knew what real fear felt like until today. I couldn’t think of what the bear might have done if I tried to kill him. I never want to think of that again.

            This event would change the book because if Cole doesn’t try to kill the bear then the bear wouldn’t maul him. The storm would have still happened and while walking through the forest he still would have seen the dead baby birds. I think Cole would have still had the idea of Peter coming to the island when he learned about Peter trying to commit suicide. The good thing about changing the part where Cole doesn’t try to hurt the bear is that Cole doesn’t get mauled which means he doesn’t have to go through all that pain and suffering, even if he does deserve it.

          I am a 15 year old boy who has anger problems. I hate to fight but when people make me angry, that’s what I do to let it loose sometimes. The reasons that I have this problem are because my dad beats me and my mom’s an alcoholic. I had beaten a ninth grader up named Peter Driscal.

Well it all started when I was in a hardware store with some friends. I was buying a pack of pencils and a pencil sharpener for school. I already had paid for my things but was looking around until my friends were done buying their things. The cashier had forgotten that I had paid for my things because there were a lot of us in the store. When we were leaving, she accused me of stealing. I was trying to explain it to her but she said that she was calling the police. My friends were telling me to run and I was asking them for what. I didn’t do anything wrong. But no one would answer me, so I ran.

 The next thing I knew the police were on our tails. I stopped because I couldn’t take it any more and running would have made it even worse. While the other guys were jumping the fence, John and Alex were telling me to come on. I couldn’t get into anymore trouble so I let them catch me. There were a lot of people standing around waiting to hear the news. The first person I saw before the police slung me in the car was Peter Driscal. I just knew that when we went to school the next day a rumor would be started. The police took me to the station and I cleared up the whole situation and they let me go.

The next day I went to school. Everyone was staring at me and whispering. I went to John and Alex’s locker and I was asking them what the big gossip was. They told me that Peter Driscal was spreading rumors about me stealing from a store. I saw Peter walking down the hall way and I pushed him up against the lockers. I didn’t care who was looking or if he was hurt. I was really angry. I told him to meet me after school in the parking lot. Everyone was saying, “Oooh.”

 He had a scary look on his face. There were 15 minutes left of class. I was ready. I was walking to the parking lot and a crowd of people were following me. Peter and I were facing each other and there was a circle of people around us. I grabbed Peter and I told him to come sit on the bench so that I could talk to him. Everyone was asking why we weren’t fighting and I specifically told them that fighting will not solve the problem. I looked at Peter and asked him why he would spread a rumor about me that isn’t true. He said that he seen the action with his own two eyes. I asked him not do it again if he didn’t want anyone to do it to him. He said that he was sorry and we shook hands.

          If this was to happen in the book the outcome of it would be good. But sometimes a lot of people like books about drama and fighting events and others like peace and quiet like me.

I just got put on this stupid island because they said I was too angry. What do they know anyway? Those old people don’t know me. My stupid P.O. keeps being nice to me. What is his problem? Now I’m sitting on this stupid island all by myself. I’m supposed to stay here for a whole year. What am I supposed to do? There is no T.V., no radio or nothing. All these bugs keep irritating me so bad. Plus there is a big stupid bear that keeps staring at me. I’m already sick of this place. I think I will try and escape. I will swim to the next island. It doesn’t seem that far. Besides I’m the best swimmer at my high school. I tried to swim but the tide kept pulling me back to shore. This bear is still staring at me and I think it is getting closer.

I hope that bear is only curious. Just in case I will make a spear to protect myself. I walked to the shore to get some fish. I was fairly close to the bear, but I guess I was a little too close. The bear swung at me hard to ward me off. I could hear air the rushing past me like a train. I’m glad I moved back when I did or he would have knocked my head off. At that moment I had the most serious choice to make. Do I run and get my spear or do I leave the bear alone? Finally, I made my decision. I ran back to the hut and ran inside scared out of my mind. I calmed down a little bit when I read a book about bears in the box of supplies. It said that bears are more afraid of you than you are of them. Bears are very territorial. Bears have to survive. If the bear thinks it is being threatened, it will do anything it can to ward off his enemies.

As I was flipping through the pages, I heard a noise coming from outside the cabin. I peeked out the window and saw the bear staring right back at me. The bear looked oddly scared, as if it was scared of me. I went outside to calm the bear and let it know I wasn’t going to hurt him. As I talked to it is was as if it understood me. He came up to me so close that I could feel his breathing on my stomach. Now I finally understood him. Every day we would go out to the stream and he would catch some fish. We would play all the time. When I went to sleep he would stay in the woods behind my hut. We got to be good friends.

If this is what really happened in the book, Cole would have changed in less than one day. He would not had all the opportunities to change his life that he had. He might not be able to save Peter.






                        I never thought that Peter would ever have the guts to fight me again when I already beat his skull into the ground. I was wrong to hit him in the first place and I was very wrong to have done if for no reason.  As you know I beat the brains out of Peter for snitching on me but that was a long time ago. So now he decides to come on the island and to do what? Try to beat me up! No way I am going to letting this happen. So I am going to change the event when Peter beat me up. Only because he has no right to touch me. If  he that was in self defense then he is wrong because the last time I hit him was the day I found out he snitched on me.

            So it starts off that I am walking near the pond when all of a sudden I hear something in the bushes. I am startled and take a couple steps forward to see what the problem or danger is. All of a sudden Peter comes from behind me from the small trail that Garvey made.

            Cole said, “Hi Peter.”

            “Hey, what’s up Cole? I had to talk to you about something,” as Peter said with a grin.

            “What is it?” Cole asked.

            “Well I did not like the fact that you beat me up a couple of months ago and I would really like to return the favor,” Peter grinned.

            Cole jumped up and was a little scared and thought that Peter might use a weapon. With quick thinking Cole threw a punch as fast as he could and knocked Peter to the ground. Peter was not done with him and picked a boulder up and smashed Cole’s hand. Cole then started to run to the totem pole so he could get his knife. As Cole approached the totem pole he saw the knife sticking out of the wood. Quickly Cole picked the knife up and turned around. Peter wasn’t there. Cole was puzzled and put down the knife. Cole then fell to the ground and starting gasping for air. All of a sudden Peter slammed his elbow into Cole’s solar plexus. Cole couldn’t breathe and Peter beat Cole’s face in and Cole was bleeding severely. Garvey walked from behind the bushes and saw what was happening. He quickly stopped Peter and Cole got up.

            “What the heck is happening?” Garvey started in bewilderment!

            “He came out of nowhere and crushed my hand with a rock! Then I went running for the knife at the totem poll and I looked back. He wasn’t there and then he jumped on me and started beating my face in until you came,” Cole said gasping with air.

            “You can’t believe what he says. He is a J.D. and he was beating me up. Then I hit back in self defense!”

            “Is this true?” Garvey asked.

            “WHAT? LOOK AT ME! DO I LOOK LIKE I STARTED THIS?” Cole said in a loud voice

            Garvey took a couple steps towards Cole and picked him up. He wiped the blood off of his face and startled. His eye was out of socket.

            “If this was in self defense then why were you beating him when he was out of commission?” Garvey asked.

            “WH, WH? Why is the sun yellow? How does a rainbow form? It just does,” Peter said.

            “Garvey stared at Peter and said, “Go back to your parents’ tent. Now!” Garvey yelled.

            It has been one week since the attack from Peter. Garvey walks behind Cole and pats him on the shoulder.

            “There is some good news and some bad news. The good news is I saved a bunch of money on car insurance by switching to GEICO.” Garvey replied.

            “What’s the bad news?” Cole asked.

            “Your injuries will keep you on this island for another month because we need to keep an eye on your eye.” Garvey said.

            “Oh that’s wonderful news!” Cole grinned.

So Cole spent the last week on the island and he enjoyed his last stay except for the fact that Peter beat him up and that no one believes him about seeing Spirit Bear. But Cole learned a lot of lessons that will be valuable later in life. Guess what? Peter went to Circle of Justice for beating Cole up and will be spending a year on this island starting next week.

Oh yeah. Cole finished the last carving on his totem pole. It was Peter’s face.









   The final piece of writing for Touching Spirit Bear has been completed. the goal was to have the students write in someone else's voice. They were to choose a character from the novel, introduce themselves by describing themselves and their actions, choose an event in the book that the character was involved in and change it, and then explain how the changes would have affected the outcome of the book. The kids did a really nice job. Writing in someone else's voice is not an easy thing to do, but once again, the kids didn't disappoint me. A few of the kids really challenged themselves by choosing the Spirit Bear! These writings are in the category Changes. We hope you enjoy the stories.
I have chosen the part of a mother whose son has done something wrong and is being sent to an island for a whole year because of his mistake. I am also a wife whose husband beats our son. I have chosen to tell you what I would have done differently when Cole, my son, was being beaten by his father. I have chosen this event because I think that if I, as Cole’s mother, would have handled the situation differently then Cole would never have beaten up Peter and been sent to the island. I also thought that if I would have defended him he never would have turned out to be a hoodlum. This is how I think it would have been if I defended Cole I stepped into the room where I heard Cole, my son, scream. I saw my husband hitting Cole. I was scared but I knew that I had to stop him. However, I knew that if I tried then he would turn around and hit me too. I also knew that I was no match for him. So I told him to “STOP” in a firm voice and when he didn’t listen and he just told me to mind my own business, I called the police. It turned out though that the neighbor called them fifteen minutes ago because of all the noise so they were already at my front doorstep knocking on the door. I ran to let them in to stop my husband. As soon as I opened the door they heard Cole scream again and they ran to him. Once they saw what was going on they took out their weapons and told my husband to put his hands above his head. After five minutes they had him in a cop car and one of the cops took him to the police station. Immediately after that Cole and I pressed charges against him for emotional and physical abuse. The jury found him guilty and he was sent to prison for a long time. Cole and I started a new life together. We got a new house and everything.

I think that would change the whole ending of the story because if Cole’s father could not beat him then Cole would not have to learn to respond to people that way. Also if Cole was defended then I don’t think that he would have been such a bad kid and stole from that hardware store. If he didn’t steal from the hardware store then Peter never would have told on him so Cole never would have beat him up, never would have gone to the island, and never would have seen spirit bear.

I am taking on the role of Cole. I am choosing to change the event where Cole decides to be an idiot and burn his cabin down. I chose this event because if Cole had never burnt his cabin down, so many things in the book would have happened differently. Cole might not have been mauled. Peter and his parents may have never had to go to the island. Peter may not have tried to commit suicide. So many things could have happened differently.

I am Cole. I have been banished to an island for a whole year just because I beat up some kid that deserved it. I’m really mad. No one is here. The elders have just left, and I don’t know what to do. I’m just going to go inside my cabin and do nothing. This event would have changed the outcome of the book because if he had never burned his cabin down I don’t think he would ever been mauled by the bear. He would have never left the island. I also think that Peter would have ever come to the island.
I was taking my mid-morning walk along the shore when I looked out into the water. I saw a queer looking creature splashing around further in the water; it seems it was trying to make it to a far off island. I’ve been to that island before and I cannot understand why anyone would want to go there! The food is dreadful and trees there are sparse. Maybe when it is through swimming it’ll come over to my den. I really don’t have any friends or family since I took a trip from my homelands off the coast of British Columbia and got lost. Anyway I think I’ll come back later just to check up on this bizarre looking creature. After thinking about my earlier encounter with the splashing creature I’ve realized that what I saw was a human! I’ve seen some back home always catching fish with their long wood sticks; don’t they know it’s much easier to catch them with their hands? Well I think I’ll go check up on the human. Walking down the dewy grass I saw it, the human. He was holding a pointed stick and yelling at me! But why? I was just walking and minding my own business. I think I’ll get a closer look.

As I got closer he got even louder. By this time I was kind of baffled. I always try to be kind and gentle, but he was asking for it. I decided to teach him a lesson, but I’m not going to be too hard on him. I got closer and he hit me. I didn’t like that at all, so I made a big, loud growl. He began to sweat. Even though he seemed scared, he kept fighting back. At this time he jumped on my back, so I threw him down as hard as I could. He got up hastily and ran to the forest. I was still angry but instead of chasing him and hurting him more I decided to head home, for there was a storm coming.

Cole hid under a tree during the immense storm. He wasn’t hurt badly, but he did change. He spotted the baby sparrows and was watching them before the storm. After the storm, he looked around for them; the lightning must have gotten the tree for it was lying on the ground and the baby sparrows, well, they didn’t survive. I watched Cole as he cried, staring at the nest of the late baby sparrows. It made me feel hopeful, that maybe, just maybe, he will change because of what he saw.

When Edwin and Garvey came on their small boat to check up on him, they could tell he changed, and were proud of that. However, the burning of the cabin disappointed them. He went back to the Circle of Justice to ask for forgiveness. He wanted to go back to the island, and they let him, but many of the people there opposed the decision. He had to sell his things to pay for new supplies. He also had to pay for the cabin, and build it himself. The ending of the story is still the same as in the book, but Cole doesn’t have any scars to show for his fight.

          I was surprised it took Cole so long to recover. Don’t get me wrong, six months is a long time. But considering his injuries, I thought it would take longer for him to heal. I didn’t think that they would put him back in the detention center. I thought they would allow him to go home with his mom. But I guess I thought wrong. I didn’t think that the Circle of Justice people would allow him to have another chance on the island after he blew his first chance. But he did have to pay for everything himself, so I guess it was a fair deal.

          When Cole went back on the island I thought Edwin and Garvey would help him out a little bit. The only reason I thought this is because Cole has a bum right arm. But when they made him do everything himself, I was a little surprised. I thought Edwin’s explanation of how life is a hot dog was of kind funny. I think Cold felt the same way I do. At first I had no idea why they wanted Cole to do those weird dances, but now I see that it was to teach Cole some valuable lessons about life. I had no idea why Edwin would want to go in that freezing cold water, but now I see it as his way of “washing” away his anger and all of his problems. If only for a little while.

          I was surprised Cole actually wanted to help Peter after he found out Peter tried to commit suicide. I thought Garvey was crazy for bringing Peter on the island with Cole. But now I see that it was the only way for them to forgive each other. I thought Peter would never forgive Cole for what he did to him, but after awhile he starts to do the things Cole does. After Peter beats up Cole, Peter finally forgives Cole. I find it kind of funny that the only way for Peter to forgive Cole was for Peter to do the same think that Cole did to him.




Wow! Tim’s gotten taller,

Wade turned into an NBA baller.

Dominic’s too busy playing the drums,

Mike just got in trouble for chewing some gum.

Now Kurt’s hair is long and curly,

Brian complains about waking up too early.

Ivan plays his guitar every single day,

Alex is smart. He averages an A.

John has a nickname. I think it’s Tiny,

Jenny’s earring is too dang shiny.

Oh yeah! My name’s Dustin. I am a sugar rush.

I calmed down a bit, but not that much.

Oh yeah. This poem is part 2,

So read the first one because this one’s new.






           I think Cole should go back to the island even through being mauled by a bear. Cole learned a lot on his first trip about himself and his anger. I think Cole can continue learning if he goes back to the island. Besides he hasn’t completely gotten over his anger. He still makes bad situations even worse and sometimes has bad attitudes. If Cole stays on the island he has a good chance of getting over his anger. But I wouldn’t put him on the island by himself he has now proven he can’t be trusted by himself.

         I think the routine of waking up before dawn, soaking, and carrying the ancestor rock up the hill helped Cole a lot with his anger. The animal dances seemed to teach him a lot about patience and trust. Both of these actions seemed like meditation. If Cole would have been introduced to this in the beginning it would have changed the whole book completely.  

          The most surprising thing to me in this section was when Peter’s parents let him stay on the island with Cole. I would have never put my kid in harms way no matter how convincing it may sound. What were they thinking Cole beat there kid senseless and now there going to give him the chance of doing it again. I’m not sure if Cole can be stopped before doing damage to Peter. If I did decide to let my kid stay there I would have more people there for Peter’s protection

             I thought Cole showed much mutinous by not hitting Peter back. I think he realized I do deserve this I was wrong for what I did. Even after the beating he still trusted and forgave Peter just how Peter forgave him. Cole not only saved his life but he saved Peter’s also.




Question: What was the last object carved into the totem?  





            Cole has been doing well since being mauled by the bear. He can’t use his right arm anymore but he is still doing okay. He had to be put in a detention center until the Circle of Justice knew what to do with him. They said they will give him one more chance. So when he went back to the island Edwin and Garvey stayed with him. Garvey and Edwin didn’t give him the same privileges like the last time. He had to build his own cabin and make his own food. I feel he deserves it because he burned down his first cabin and threw away all of his food.  Cole had thought of leaving the island on the boat but he decided not to. Anyways if he did try to leave the island he couldn’t have left because Edwin had the spark plugs for the boat so he wouldn’t even try to leave. I feel he did the right thing because if he would of left then he would be done for and would have to go to jail.

            Cole has been doing better since the spirit bear incident. Cole, Edwin, and Garvey have been doing animal dances. Cole saw a humpback whale and so they did the dance of the whale. I thought that was kind of weird because I don’t hear of people doing that dance everyday. Cole had to also make them a feast. After Edwin and Garvey left for the rest of the year Cole had the lonely feeling that he had when he was on the island last time. I feel that he can survive because he survived the Spirit Bear attack so I know he can survive on the island. Cole found a log so he could carve a totem. Cole founded out that Peter tried to commit suicide. So Cole said that why don’t Peter come on the island with him. When Peter was on the island he hardly talked. But when Cole told him about the ancestor rock and about the pond he started to talk more. I feel that Peter is going to forgive Cole. Peter saw a Spirit Bear too.



In the book Cole carved a circle for his carving. Why do you think he carved a circle for his totem pole?




             Since the last few months Cole has been doing well controlling his anger. Ever since Garvey and Edwin introduced the pond and the ancestor rock to Cole, he has been doing well with the same routine all along, soaking in the pond and carrying the ancestor rock. They both help relieve pain, anger, and stress. It seems that every since Cole has been doing it his anger has been getting lighter and lighter everyday. Edwin and Garvey had finally left Cole on the island by himself. Cole had to then learn how to gather firewood to keep warm and to cook his dinner. Every since the accident Peter has never been the same. He hardly eats his food, talk to his parents, and even sleep. Cole has been wondering about the things that he could do to help Peter heal the pain. On the doctors note they said that Peter would never forget about the accident and would be scared of Cole for the rest of his life. Peter thought that his life was worthless and didn’t mean a thing to him, and to people since Cole had  did brain damage and left bruises on his body.

            Peter then tried to commit suicide. Everyone then started to get worried and was wondering what they could do to help Peter. When Edwin came back and told Cole the news Cole was very scared. Cole thought that maybe he and Peter need to spend time alone so that Peter would get to know that he is not a bad and mean person. The only way that Peter’s parents had agreed with it was if Garvey stayed on the island with him. When Peter arrived for the first two weeks he was silent and didn’t say anything to Cole. Once Peter got used to the place he was talking to Cole for a little bit and even carrying the ancestor rock and soaking in the pond, until this one day Cole thought that it would be a good idea for him and Peter to go without Garvey. All of a sudden Peter just snapped on Cole and started yelling and pushing Cole. Cole refused to fight back; he really thought that he deserved it because he had beaten Peter badly. Peter was punching and kicking Cole in the places where he was mauled at, Peter didn’t care he just wanted revenge. They both were talking out their problems towards each other and then they both started crying. They both looked at each other and silence broke. The only time the spirit bear came was when it was quiet. Peter didn’t believe his eyes. He was actually looking at the bear. He wondered if he should tell Garvey and if he would actually believe him. Cole told Peter it doesn’t matter what they believe or not you just have to believe it.


Question: By seeing the baby Sparrows what made Cole change his attitude.



          Cole is back on the island and I feel it is good for him. He learned plenty from his deadly encounter with the bear, so he deserves another chance to learn more than what he learned while he was half dead on the island by himself. Now Garvey, Edwin, and Cole are on the island together but only for a little while. Then Edwin and Garvey are going to leave the island and Cole to fend for himself.

          Garvey and Edwin finally left Cole to fend for himself but before they left they made him build his own cabin with his own two hands and a bad arm. I feel Cole is getting what he deserves when they made him build the cabin by himself because just like Edwin said in the book, “I built the last cabin for you. I built it well. I still feel hurt from what you did. If you burn this cabin, you hurt only yourself.” I feel what Edwin is saying because I’ve had been in the same situation before that was sort of similar. I made someone something and they destroyed. They didn’t realize  it but they would need it in the long run. The first time Cole went to the lake to soak he had many bad thoughts about how he shouldn’t have to soak and carry the ancestor rock, but I feel that Cole needs this just so he could clear his mind. In the part where Peter came to the island and saw Cole with his parents he was a down hearted and depressed boy. He didn’t talk and he could barely walk. I felt sorry for him when his parents left him and made him stay with Cole, It seemed as if he was just scared to death of Cole.

                   Peter was very mean in these chapters. Just to get revenge on Cole he threw rocks, he tripped him, and he even left the door open when he came from the bathroom and Cole was asleep by the door. He also destroyed his spirit bear carving on his totem poll. After Peter was finished with getting his revenge on Cole you would assume that they would be even but that’s where everyone went wrong. That morning he asked to go with Cole alone to the pond to soak but when they got there he started hitting and kicking Cole and showing various acts of violence. Cole would not touch him though. After seeing the spirit bear Peter gained trust in Cole and that’s all Cole wanted.



Q: What made Peter trust Cole after Peter had beat on Cole by the pond? Do you think he should have trusted him after that?


          When I began to read the second chapter, I did not like Cole’s father, mother or him either because to me they had all did something wrong. Cole’s father his problem was he beats his child and than he lies about it. Cole he had many problems one of his problems is that he beats people up. Cole’s mother she sat there and does not stop him or say anything to the police.


          In chapters 14-16, I think that is somewhat wrong that Cole’s father not once came to see him in the hospital. That is not even cool how you are not going to go see your own son in the hospital. If I was Cole’s father even though we have our problems I would still love him so I would go see him anyways. In the chapter Garvey talks Cole’s mother into talking to the police I am so she decided to talk to them because something needed to be done or else Cole will probably continue to do the same old things right along in his foot steps. Maybe once they get him, they can get him some help, maybe he will stop drinking, and than they could be a happy family, they once may never have been. If I was Cole when he’s in the hospital and his moms acting like he cares I would be kind of scared to believe her because if she really cared than she would have stud up for him in the Circle Of Justice.


          In chapter 20, Cole keeps mentioning he sees spirit bear. I am wondering is he really seeing spirit bear or is this all in his head. I am not sure if there is a really spirit bear or not I think it is somewhat unbelievable. Cole’s nervous to tell Garvey he seen spirit bear, yeah I would have been to because there probably going to think he is crazy.








Question: In the book they keep mentioning this dance thing what is the purpose for the dance ?


      I don’t blame the Circle of Justice or the Driscals for still not doubting Cole. Peter has no reason to trust Cole anyway. Cole has not shown himself to be trustworthy or thinking before he acts. In the past Cole burns down he shelter and supplies, and then tries to escape breaking his agreement with Circle of Justice. To show himself as more irresponsible he tries to kill a large bear with a stick and then continues to blame his problems on everyone else. I don’t think because Cole acted stupid he should be exempt from punishment for breaking his agreement with Circle of Justice.

      I think Cole going back to the island is an interesting idea. That he has to buy his own supplies and build his own shelter obligates Cole to the island and his promise to Edwin, Garvey and the Circle.

      I think Cole’s dances help him even though he originally thought they were stupid. They helped him to learn from each animal. Cole is also helped by the ancestor or anger stone and his morning soak.

      Cole’s sightings of the Spirit Bear may have been real or imagined but it did cause changes in the character of Cole. The deal with the connection between Cole’s anger, being invisible, and the sightings of the Spirit Bear isn’t real even if Peter can see the Spirit Bear also.

      Cole’s totem shows he is healing and trying to control his anger. That is shown when he stops himself from carving a canoe and instead uses the log as a totem pole. Cole is also honest with Edwin about what he almost did.

      AS interesting as Cole’ returning to the island was, Peter coming to the island is even more interesting. Peter has the right to feel angry at Cole for the awful, horrible thing Cole did to him.

The book was all right but the ending was boring and unrealistic.


Question: What significance did Garvey place upon Peter and Cole’s carving of the Circle on the totem pole?




            Six months later after the whole bear episode. A lot had change, also. Cole’s mom has been doing great. She stopped drinking and change for the better. But his father on the other hand didn’t ever visit him. Cole wants to go back to the island but the reality is that he will probably go to jail. They had another circle justice meeting because of what happened. Edwin came surprisingly. He showed how quick people can change if they’re on the right path. Cole was later released in Garveys and Edwin’s Custody. That meant he was going back to the island. This time was going to be hard for Cole to survive since him to sell him property in ads to support himself. He also had to build a whole new cabin on his own.  Cole was really excited to come back. He was already thinking about the spirit bear. One Morning Edwin woke up Cole and took him to a ledge in a pond. Both of them got into it but it was freezing, it was suppose to release stress. Then they went up a slope and rolled down an “ancestor” rock.  It was supposing represent anger rolling away. Cole did this routine ever since. One day Cole saw the spirit bear again. He didn’t want to tell Edwin or Garvey because he thought they wouldn’t believe him. But they already knew about it. They left the island a few days later. Cole was doing great. During one of Edwin’s visits he gave Cole a knife to carve things. Cole decided to make a totem pole. When he found a log big enough he was thinking of making a canoe. But that brought back anger though. So he put a big cut in the log so he couldn’t.  Edwin came back; he told Cole that Peter was trying to kill himself. So Cole had the Idea to bring Peter to Island. Nobody really brought it though. But one day Peter came he didn’t talk for a while. But he talked through his action and it showed that he was mad.  One day he Beat Cole like Cole did him. This was a step forward. Peter and Cole settled their differences. And all was well.




Question: What did Peter say after he beat up Cole?? And what did this mean