Magnum Opus Magazine Newsletter - December 2016
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Unit 4: Summarizing a Reference

Dear Readers,

Unit 4 is designed to equip students with the tools to find reading materials on a topic, take notes, and write a summary. Additionally, this unit introduces the topic sentence and paragraph clincher. This is where the first sentence in a paragraph introduces your topic while the last sentence of the paragraph repeats or reflects two or three key words from your topic sentence. The topic-clincher connection helps the paragraph flow together and give a conclusive feel to the paragraph. Some great resources for shorter references to summarize can be found in Eyewitness Books, children’s magazines, encyclopedia articles, and IEW’s mini books, which are included in the Writing Source Packet. For more detailed information and tips on Unit 4, visit our website and watch Andrew Pudewa’s webinar on Summarizing a Reference, Structure and Style.

Congratulations to the student-authors who were published in this newsletter:

  • Melissa Johnson
  • Tad Lyon
  • Emily Mayer
  • Braden Siegal
Thank you to all the students who submitted work to our magazine. Be encouraged, keep writing, and submit again!

Happy writing and Merry Christmas,

Megan L. Horst
Managing Editor
Magnum Opus Magazine
800.856.5815 x5101


Upcoming Writing Opportunities

*Yearly Print Magazine – December 12th
Unit 5 – January 23
Unit 6 – February 20
Unit 7 – March 20
Unit 8 – April 17
Unit 9 - TBA
Poetry – May 8
Fiction - June 26
Journalism - July 24

NOTE: We are always accepting submissions. Even if a deadline has passed, you are still welcome to submit your work.

*Submission deadline extended.
Illustrators needed

The Magnum Opus Magazine is currently looking for students to illustrate stories for the 2017 print magazine. If you have a student who is interested in illustrating, please email with a sample of the student’s artwork.

Calling all journalists! 

We are looking for several journalism pieces for our upcoming print magazine. If you would like to submit an article, please email If you have a student who is interested in writing an article but needs help thinking of a good story idea, email us and we will be happy to assign a story.

Teacher Tip


“One of the most enjoyable and effective ways to make sure that your students retain what they are learning is to play games with them. Games are powerful learning tools. Students solidify their understanding of structure and style as they work together to answer questions correctly and earn points for their teams. A Jeopardy-style game is always a favorite. Students take turns choosing IEW categories such as dress-ups, sentence openers, banned words, story sequence charts, reports, and decorations and work together to answer questions correctly and earn points for their teams. Chattering with excitement, they race to list banned words, add dress-ups to improve a sentence, or create the longest alliteration. Students enjoy the competition and won’t forget the concepts they are learning as they play. Set aside a few classes each semester for review games. On days that you finish teaching early, you can use the last few minutes of class to play a short review game such as Hangman. For game ideas, check out Dress-Ups, Decorations, and Delightful Diversions. You and your students will look forward to these special game times!”

– Sabrina Cardinale, IEW instructor since 2001


A Wonderful Composer
by Melissa Johnson, age 10 

      Johann Sebastian Bach, who was inspired to be a composer, was taught to play violin by his father. When Bach was only ten years old, his parents died and he was left an orphan, but his older brother Christoph took him in. Christoph told Johann not to trespass into his music library, but Johann disobeyed and not only read Christoph’s music, but copied it as well in the middle of the night.  Later on, when he was eighteen years old, he was given a job to play music. Since the music he played was too complicated, he was considered a troublemaker.  Bach was a Christian and played at a church. Bach was married and his first wife died. Because she died, he married again and had more children. In total he had twenty children, but only ten survived to adulthood.any became musicians and composers. When Johann Sebastian Bach died, his music became famous.  Musicologists and mathematicians use computers to understand his work.  Bach, who was one of the world’s greatest geniuses, frequently played amazing music that is still listened to today. Bach was a wonderful composer.   

Reprinted from the 2016 Magnum Opus Magazine

Narnia's Creation
by Emily Mayer, age 11 

      One minute Digory and his strange group had jumped into a pool from The Wood Between The Worlds; the next they were in a dark world surrounded by nothing, but still standing on solid ground. Even though everyone was within inches of each other, the darkness did not permit them to see their neighbors’ faces. Suddenly, a low voice, singing a sweet melody, rose just above a whisper, then a little louder, then even louder until the voice seemed to roar.

      “Who is singing?” asked Digory. No one had time to answer, though, for at that moment a multitude of other voices joined the First Voice in song. Then, out of nowhere a small star appeared above. Then another, until millions of bright shining dots filled the sky. Digory then knew that the stars were the ones singing with the First Voice, and that the First Voice was the stars’ adept creator.         

      As the stars quieted their song, the First Voice continued to grow louder and louder. As it grew, the sky changed its color from a brilliant white to a bright pink and finally to a shimmering gold. The First Voice roared even more deafeningly than before, causing the ground to shake. Just as Digory thought he could stand it no longer, the Voice stopped abruptly, and as it did, a flashing sun rose high into the sky, which enabled the party to see. Now that there was light, they could see everything, including the solid ground.

The Declaration of Independence:

A Great Inspiration 
by Braden Siegal, age 13

Illustration by Anthony Andress

      Although it has been in existence for 239 years, one great document has inspired many people both when it was written, and in the modern world. The Declaration of Independence was designed to instill in people the seed of freedom and democracy. Myriad events led up to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. In the 1700s, conflict and strife scarred the relationship between Britain and America. Despite the fact that they were British citizens, the American colonists were treated unfairly. They had less rights than the prosperous British in England. King George taxed the colonists, but then squandered the money on himself. The people simply refused to buy the taxed items, non-violently resisting the wrongful laws. The non-compliant Americans began to demand representation in Parliament, solemnly chanting “No taxation without representation!” Some even sent petitions to coax the hostile king, but the obstinate man never responded, let alone granted it. In fact, King George sent troops across the ocean to compel the Americans to quiet down. The colonists were soon pushed to the point of no return. When ships full of tea sailed into Boston Harbor, the indignant men of the town tossed the tea into the tranquil sea where it sank into the deep azure water. Some, who were tired of the king's antics, began to believe that they were left with no choice but to declare independence from Britain. The Second Continental Congress convened to try to resolve the issue. These problems instigated the idea of the Declaration of Independence.

      The Second Continental Congress wrote and adopted the Declaration of Independence. They discussed and debated what to do. Finally, they agreed on five men—Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston—to write the paper. They elected Thomas Jefferson, the most adept writer of the five, to pen the first draft. He speedily completed the almost perfect draft in just seventeen days. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the final Declaration of Independence. It stated that a government should give its people certain rights and protect those rights, or the people can get rid of the leader, which is still how our government runs today. It also called King George a tyrant, and confronted his animosity. Everyone in the Congress then signed it, including John Hancock. He wrote his signature in a large, flourishing style, because he wanted King George to be able to read it without his spectacles. All the members who signed knew they could be arrested and hanged for treason, but they stood up for what they believed in, persevering all the way. Copies of the Declaration were sent all over the colonies. This profession of freedom was the main catalyst for the Revolutionary War. The Continental Congress is responsible for the Declaration of Independence having been written. The Declaration of Independence is an amazing inspiration of freedom and people's rights.


Reprinted from the 2016 Magnum Opus Magazine


Dogs are More Active in Cooler Regions
by Tad Lyon, age 16

      Apparently, not all dogs are equally fit, according to the studies of the companies Whistle and Tagg. Whistle makes a useful device that monitors the activities of dogs. The device counts the minutes of activity, such as running, playing, and walking. Tagg uses a device that has an accelerometer and a GPS tracking device. Whistle’s study has shown the strongest dogs are in Portland, Oregon, followed by New York, Boston, Sacramento, and San Francisco. The least active dogs were found in Houston, Phoenix, Austin, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. Surprisingly, according to Whistle the fattest cats and dogs are in D.C.; however, since their device cannot measure weight, this presumption might not be true. These cities with less active dogs are also where  it is warmer, so perhaps it might be different in cooler seasons. Interestingly, the city with more active people has the least fit animals;i.e., D.C. is the city with the healthiest humans, but is one of the cities in the least active dogs category).  During Tagg’s study they studied 17,500 dogs, which consisted of 150 dogs per breed, to see which breed was the fattest and fittest. Tagg found that the Brittany was the fittest, and the Shih Tzu was the laziest. According to Whistle and Tagg, not all dogs are as fit as others.


Reprinted from the 2015 Magnum Opus Magazine

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