A Shocking Journey – A Dilemma

Courtesy: Joshua Earle Photography

With the recent excitement of making my stories available to the world, I’ve wondered what other works I should share. Five years ago, I wrote a short story for my students called A Shocking Journey. I wrote it in an attempt to give the students something fun and informative to read. I’ve used it every year to teach the basic concepts of electricity and magnetism. I handed the story off to my editor and she, as always, gave me brilliant feedback. Yet some of her suggestions have given me pause.

One of my pet peeves is that people care less and less about the details, like proper grammar and remembering birthdays without Facebook reminders. In the story, I start off with a basic grammar lesson concerning the uses of your/you’re and its/it’s. I teach the “one simple rule” and challenge them to use it in their every day. In short, when you write the word “your” go back and read it as “you are” and if that does sound right then you do need the apostrophe. You’re okay with that, right?

The scene in the story is educational and it sets the students into a classroom setting which is vastly different than the other that occurs at the end of the chapter when the characters get to their science class. The dilemma I have is whether I should let A Shocking Journey just focus on the science and the story or if I should keep the pet peeve in there and hope the lesson reaches some readers.

The rest of the story has the students in a desert, on a racetrack, heading down a ski slope, and so on. Each setting works as an analogy for electricity concepts. The ski slope, for instance, represents current, voltage, and resistance. The higher the mountain, the greater the potential difference, or voltage. The more skiers on the slope, the greater the current. More obstacles, like rocks and trees, represent more resistance.

I also created a series of quizzes and a Reading Companion. The companion focuses the reader on each chapter’s lesson. It brings the reader down to basics, like vocabulary and characters, then it has practice problems, like determining which “your” to use. It ends with some deeper questions about applying the knowledge. I am hoping to make this set available to other teachers for use elsewhere.

I just can’t decide yet on whether to keep all the lessons within the story or really let it focus solely on the science. There’s nothing like a good dilemma to keep the brain and heart active. If you were to pick it up, would the grammar lesson throw you off?

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