Thursday, April 24, 2014


My theme for A to Z this year is a wildly different, but very exciting, HERE'S TO YOU all month long. 26 posts to be precise. The most difficult part was narrowing down the 26. All of you deserve your own post. What you will find here is a post by the featured blogger, with traveling music chosen by me that complements said post, and two links. One will link back to the original post and the other to the main page. This year's A to Z is all about making new friends!

Using The Emotional Thesaurus In The Classroom was written by the extremely talented Dianne K. Salerni over at In High Spirits. I found Dianne through the Unicorn Bell blog. She and Marcy Hatch started something called FIRST IMPRESSIONS. This is what she says about it on her blog: "My first 3 posts of each month are devoted to FIRST IMPRESSIONS-- short crits of first pages submitted by YOU! I'm teaming up with Marcy Hatch of Mainewords for this feature." Dianne is one of the many published authors who pays it forward every month by helping out aspiring authors to get their words just right. Dianne is also a teacher (soon to be retired) and all-around lovely person.

Dianne used to have a photo of herself on her blog, but does not any longer. Instead, her profile picture is the main character of her newest book: Jax Aubrey. The book is The Eighth Day.

This is Jax (and not Dianne):

Cue the traveling music:

Using The Emotional Thesaurus In The Classroom by Dianne K. Salerni

Teaching is sometimes like that game where you throw Velcro balls at a Velcro target. Sometimes the ball sticks, and sometimes it doesn’t.  Teaching anything in the last week of the school year is dicey, and so when I decided to bring The Emotion Thesaurus by AngelaAckerman and Becca Puglisi on the fourth-to-the-last day of school and share it with my writing class, I wasn’t expecting much.
However, my fifth grade students thought it was a really neat idea, and they loved hearing me list the physical descriptions that went with certain emotions.  I made the thesaurus accessible and asked them to write a confrontational scene between two characters.  They were to include dialogue and physical description.
Some of the Velcro balls fell to the ground.  One student produced something that made me think he must have been in the bathroom when I gave the instructions.  Others made a half-hearted attempt and wrote a scene that used one description taken from the thesaurus. (This is called humoring the teacher and waiting for the clock to run out.)
But here’s a Velcro ball that not only stuck – it landed dead center in the bull’s eye.  This scene was written by Andy, a fifth grade boy, using The Emotion Thesaurus – and Andy did something pretty rare: He made me feel proud on the fourth-to-the-last day of school.

“Snap!” goes Will’s knuckles.
Man, are my muscles tightening.  Now he looks like he’s going to punch me.  I say, “What did I do to you?”
Will says, “You lied to me about something really important.”
Now I’m sweating like crazy and shaking. He is balling up his hand into a fist, ready to punch me.  Trembling, I say, “What are you going to do to me?”
With strength in his voice, he says, “You don’t want to know what I’m going to do to you.”  I flinch when he cracks his neck.  Now I’m looking for an escape.  Will says, “There is no escape for you.”
Now I’m blinking like a mad man who has just lost. I plead, “Please have mercy on me, Will.”
Will angrily says, “Why did you lie to me?”
I say weakly, “Because if you knew the truth, you would have got yourself killed.”

OMG – right?  Not only did Andy know how to use the thesaurus, he knew how to leave his readers hanging! 

I can’t wait to use The Emotion Thesaurus next year, starting from the beginning of the year when the kids are fresh.  And I’m definitely hanging onto Andy’s scene as an example!
Do you have YOUR copy of The Emotion Thesaurus?

Reading this (again) makes me more than a little sad that Dianne is leaving teaching. We need more Great teachers. The flip side is that she will have more time for her writing and I love reading her books. How do I emote that? I don't know. I need that Emotion Thesaurus!


  1. I know Marcy's buddy. And the Emotional Thesaurus is a great book. I refer to it often when writing.

  2. I don't envy teachers for their jobs anymore. My wife tells me crazy stories of what she has to deal with. But I'm sure it's rewarding when you get that gem of a student who appears to have a good educational future ahead and you can be part of getting them to their end goal.

    That kid had some good writing skills!

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  3. I received the Emotional Thesaurus for my birthday. It is wonderful!!

  4. Oh, how cool that I stumbled upon this on my lunch break!
    Thanks for the shout out, Robin, and I'm glad this post made an impression on you!

    Jax is way cuter than I am. Glad you used his picture. ;)

  5. I hope Andy keeps writing. He's a talented little bugger.

    Thank you, Dianne for teaching our children. It's a tough job and I don't think I could do it. Kudos to for sticking to it for so long.

  6. When at least one does a great job, the teacher succeeds in my book. Great story and great excerpt! Good pick again, Robin.

  7. I love seeing young writers learning the craft and excelling at it. Can't wait to see waht he does in the future.

    Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm

  8. Thank you for sharing Andy's excerpt. That was wonderful!
    I don't have a copy of the Emotion Thesaurus but, in the words of Pippin Took regarding a full pint of ale, "I'm gettin' one!"


  9. Dianne rocks and so does the Emotional Thesaurus! And maybe there's a 5th grader on their way to becoming a professional writer. ;)

  10. I have that book sitting on my desk. It is helpful. I feel for those teachers trying to keep the learning going to the last day.

  11. Hey Robin,

    Today, yes today, I finally get back over to your blog. I'm sure you've been eagerly waiting for one of my highly collectable comments. Delusional moment is over.

    The Emotional Thesaurus, now that I realise it's not some sort of impassioned dinosaur, is definitely something I need. Would be nice, if like Velro that works, that Dianne also stuck to teaching. Of course, I used to stick to my um "principals."

    That young grade fiver has a writing career ahead, methinks.

    Thank you, Robin.


  12. I have that book too, and I haven't actually used it yet, but it's here waiting in case I needed. A probably use it once I have time to write again. :-)

  13. That sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the post.

  14. Fifth grade Andy is a writer!! Dianne, some day you will say "I knew him when!" Robin, you spread the word about quite a few good folks today. Great job and choice.

  15. I'd like to see a second expanded edition of the Emotion T.

  16. I have to agree your student did well with that scene.
    Sounds like the book did its job too.

  17. That is pretty great for a 5th grader. I like that grade, the majority of the kids still want to learn. :)

  18. I've never even heard of the Emotion Thesaurus. I'll have to track down a copy asap.

  19. I've never heard of that book, but it definitely sounds like something I need! What a great idea to introduce it to children in the classroom.

  20. We do need more great, creative teachers like Dianne. I haven't heard of it either. Now I'll look into it.


  21. Hi, Robin...

    Love Dianne and her work. I've written reviews of her last two books. She is such a talented and sweet person!

    As emotional as I am, lol, I need to get this Thesaurus .... I use the original ALL THE TIME!


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