A Chapter Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix
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A Character's Decalogue

embedding an original character's ten-item list in a story that shows voice

The writing of author Kate DiCamillo is currenlty inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of voice and organization. Join us in teaching (and adapting) this on-line lesson and sharing your students' work.

You can publish up to three of your students' edited and finished stories at this page.

Use these samples to inspire your student writers! Discussing the strengths of published student samples before, while, and after using this on-line assignment is important. If your students are engaged in trait- or skill-inspired discussions about any of the samples we've posted here, they will produce better writing, especially if you help them take their writing all the way through the writing process.

Thank you, those who share their students' writing with us.

 

Additional Student Samples Being Sought:
Grades 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12

Learn more about WritingFix's policies for publishing student work by visiting our Publishing Student Writers Information Page.

WritingFix is currently seeking additional student samples from this writing assignment that can be featured in this space. Submitted student work must show evidence of revision, editing, and the final draft must be typed and sent through e-mail. Teachers: if you can help us obtain up to three student samples, along with a digital photo of the student(s) and a signed permission slips, we will send you either a complimentary copy of one of the Northern Nevada Writing Project's print publications.

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Student Sample: Upper Elementary
(Samples posted at WritingFix underwent all steps of the writing process.)

Dad's Favorite Things
by Caitlyn, fourth grade writer

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon. My dad was working on his truck in the barn. I wanted to help him, but Mom said that I needed to have my homework done first. I went to my room and I did my homework in fifteen minutes. Mom checked it over and said it looked very nice. I asked my Mom if I could go help my dad in the barn now.

Dad called on the intercom and said he was polishing his truck. He asked me if I would like to help him polish.

Yes! I love to polish rims! I asked Dad if I should dress in warm clothes, and he said, “No, I have a heater in my barn.”

At 4:00 p.m., I'd been helping my dad for several hours. We had not even gotten to the rims yet. When we started on the rims, I asked Dad to tell me ten things about himself and what means the most to him.

He started by saying, "I love your mom, sister and you very much. Two, I have the best and most loving family in the world. Three," he continued, "I'll always have somebody by my side, and that is you, Caitlyn."

"Dad, I think I love big trucks almost as much as you do," I said.

"Almost?" Dad asked.

"No, Dad, more," I laughed. "So, what is number four?"

"I have gout and arthritis in my big toe, and I have to watch what I eat," he said.

"Does it hurt?" I asked.

"Oh yes, it feels like it is on fire," he said. "Five, I have a 1954 John Deere tractor that was my Grandfather's." He said, "It means a lot to me because he gave it to me."

"Wow Dad, I didn't know it was a 1954 model," I told him.

"Six, I have a Mack Superliner truck that is not made anymore," he said. "Seven, I can back-up my Mack CL713 dump truck with a diamond bed on it better than my pick up truck," Daddy said.

“That's right, Dad!" I said.

"Eight, I believe there should be a hammer lane for people who are in a hurry to drive in," Dad chuckled.

"I can see it now. The speed limit in the hammer lane is 75 miles per hour and you are driving in it all the time!" I joked.

"Very funny, Cait," he said.

"Nine, someday I would like to go on the Ice Road Trucker show because I know a lot about trucks," he said.

"I would not want you to go to Canada," I told him. "You would be gone for about three months and I would be afraid that you could fall through the ice," I said.

Dad said, "Yes, it is dangerous but the pay is good. Ten, I love to be outside," he said.

"Just like me," I said.

"Just like you, Caitlyn," Dad said.

"Father, thank you so much for telling me those ten things about yourself. I'm done polishing the rims on my side of the truck, are you done with yours?" I asked.

"Yep, just finishing up," he said.

I said, "Dad, look at the time. We need to clean up. It is almost supper time."

Just then Mom called us on the intercom and said it was time to eat. As Dad and I walked in from the barn, he kissed me and said, "Thank you, Caity, for all your help."

"You’re welcome, Daddy," I said.

Dad looked at me and said, "Now let's get some yummies in our tummies!”

 

(Click here to view/print Caitlyn and one of her classmate's Character Decalogue stories.)


Student Samples: Middle School
(Samples posted at WritingFix underwent all steps of the writing process.)

10 Reasons Why I’ll Miss You
by Lydia, eighth grade writer

Tears were forming in Ashley’s eyes as she watched her best friend pack up all of her belongings and put them in big, brown, EXPO boxes. Sarah was moving and there was nothing Ashley or anyone else could do about it. Ashley sat in Sarah’s comfy computer chair, writing her a good-bye note. She knew if she said these things out loud, she’d probably break down and cry.

So she wrote, 'Sarah, You’re my best friend, and I will always think of you as a sister. You’ve always been there for me and I'd like to list ten reasons why I’ll miss you. Starting with one, I’ll miss the way you laugh. It’s one of a kind. Two, I’ll miss coming over to your house everyday after school to watch television and eat fudge bars.’

Ashley looked up at her friend, who was blowing her red blotchy nose on a tissue. The rain outside was rattling against Sarah’s windows in her room.

Three, I’ll miss our girls'-nites-out with you Mom. Four, I’ll miss taking pictures and putting them on Myspace.'

Ashley was crying now, and a big wet tear slid down her cheek and plopped on the notebook, leaving a little puddle, like the rain that was coming down outside the house on the sidewalk.

Five, I’ll miss your crazy ideas for fun! Six, I’ll miss the pictures of dogs that you always draw for me. Seven, I’ll miss being in every single one of your classes.’

The thoughts of her friend leaving were so sad that Ashley couldn’t believe it was happening to them.

Eight, I’ll miss you coming over for sleepovers every weekend. Nine, I’ll miss riding bikes with you up and down town.’

Suddenly, Ashley thought this was a bad idea. Sarah was sad enough as it was.

Ten, I’ll miss being your best friend. I’ll always cherish the fun times we had together, and even though you’re moving, I’d still like to stay in touch. You best friend~ Ashley.’

There was her note, the last thing she’d probably ever give to Sarah again. The rain outside had settled and Ashley knew she’d have to go home. So she stood, up, and hugged Sarah. “I’ll miss you,” she whispered, handing her the note.

“Me too,” Sarah said as she took the piece of paper.

“I really should go,” Ashley said stiffly,“while the rain is down.”

“Yeah, I know.” Sarah looked down at the floor.

“I’ll still see you again someday,” Ashley said, turning her head and walking for the door. “Good-bye.” That was the last thing she’d probably ever say to her friend again, and it was definitely the hardest thing to say as well. Confidently, Ashley choked down the tears, and rode home, the sun peeking around the clouds as she peddled down the street.

 

Wishful Thinking
by Jason, eighth grade writer

It was a nice, winter evening. Snow was falling, and I had my fire burning. My little cat, Toby, curled up beside it and almost soundlessly fell asleep. I was reading The Blue Moon by Laurence Housman. Soon, I peered out my window and got a quick glance of a car. I walked outside and opened the dark wood door, and saw a silver BMW approaching the driveway. A man walked outside, and I recognized who he was instantly. “Hey Dad!” he said.

“Hey, Sean. Wow, nice car you got there,” I said, “and it looks like you have a beautiful wife, too.”

“Yeah, she’s gorgeous!” As Sean and I were talking, I saw a small girl walk over to the red fence. “Hey, is this your daughter?” I asked.

“Oh, this is Suzanne! Ain’t she cute?” he said with a grin.

I walked over, and gave her a smile. I kneeled down to grab her hands. As soon as I did, she turned around and shouted, “Hey Grandpa!” I was surprised by the sudden burst of excitement, and gave a quick chuckle.

Sean’s wife, Shannon, came next to me and muttered, “We should go inside. It’s freezing out here!” A few moments later, we found ourselves inside my living room. All huddled around the fire. “We’ll make dinner,” Shannon insisted.

“W-we?” stuttered Sean.

“Yes, we.” She said, “Now let’s get going.”

They both walked toward the kitchen and Sean glanced back. “You two have fun now. It’ll only take a moment,” he breathed, and they walked off.

“Grandpa,” Suzanne muttered. She walked near Toby, and sat down. Toby stretched his grey fur a bit, and lay down on her lap. “What are your regrets?”

“Ahh, I have too many, Suzy. I can’t possibly list them all.”

“Then let’s make them wishes!” she suggested.

I knew my first answer already, but I guess I just wanted to ramble on. “Well, let’s see…” I pondered, “for starters, I want to be rich and famous.” I said this seriously, and waited for some reaction.

She looked unphased, and she kept petting Toby. “What else?” she asked.

“Oh, right. Uhh… I suppose I could have eternal youth and relive my younger days. Haha!”

She didn’t seem all that happy. “Come on, Grandpa! Be serious. I want deep thoughtful wishes.”

“To be able to redo my mistakes,” I retorted with a grin.

“Getting better…” she said.

“Well then… on to the next one. Uhh, number six?” I thought out loud.

“Five,” she corrected me.

“Oh, that’s right. Anyways, number five. I’d have to say not to have regrets. It pains me enough to think about what I’ve done wrong, but to be able to move on and not think what I did was right or wrong.” I explained.

“Now we’re getting somewhere! Keep ‘em coming!” she said with joy.

“Haha. I wish everyone could be free. Feeling unrestrained.” I walked over and opened my drawers. I had a whole collection of classical music pieces, from Beethoven to Brahms, and lots more. I put in a CD and a beautiful sound engulfed the room. It was exhilarating. Sitting back in my chair again, I let out a big sigh. “I wish I could find true love again…” I said.

“What about Grandma?”

“Yeah… she was lovely. Too bad she’s not here anymore. I wish I could just… speak with her once more.”

“That makes eight wishes,” Suzanne said cheerfully.

“You’re quite the intelligent, little girl, aren’t you?” I chuckled. “Apart from all these things, I want to see you grow up. It pains me to think about how I might have to leave you, and your Mom and Dad. Which then leads me to wish number ten. I wish… to stay at this moment forever.”

“I do too, Grandpa! Forever, and ever!”

“Yes Suzy… Forever and ever.”

“Hey, it’s time for dinner!” called Sean. “Get the plates the silverware, Suzanne!”

“Okay, Dad!” she called.

Yes, I thought, I definitely want to stay here forever.


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