A Chapter Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix & HistoryFix
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Teacher's Guide:

Showing Credit Where Credit Might Be Due

writing a fictional account where an animal or object claims credit for changing history

This lesson was posted at WritingFix after being proposed by Nevada teacher Dayna Ayers at an AT&T-sponsored in-service class for teachers.

An "Idea" Mentor Text:

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the chapter book Ben and Me by Robert Lawson. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author, especially from chapter 4 of this book.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Ben and Me from Amazon.com, and help keep WritingFix free and on-line. We thank you!

A note for teachers: These lessons are posted so that you may borrow ideas from them, but our intention in providing this resource is not to give teachers a word-for-word script to follow. Please, use this lesson's big ideas but adapt everything else. And adapt it recklessly; that's how one becomes a truly authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :

Step one (sharing the published model):  Prior to reading Ben and Me as a read aloud, brainstorm, as a whole group, a time when students felt “credit must be given when credit is due“. Example: your sister received an increase in her allowance, when you were the one that cleaned up the toy room, not her. Share ideas and write them on the board.

Explain that we will be reading about several historical events that have taken place in the Ben Franklin era. The historical facts are true; however, they are written from an imaginary character who believes he deserves the credit, not Benjamin Franklin. Ben and Me is a historically-based fiction book written by Robert Lawson. Lawson creates an imaginary mouse, Amos, who is said to believe he deserves the credit for all the famous accomplishments Ben Franklin has done. After reading the book as a classroom read aloud, return to chapter 1, pages 3 and 4. Focus on the voice Lawson has put into his book, with the two paragraphs that begin with...

Had they asked me, I could have told them. It was ME..."

Explain how Lawson creatively teaches historical facts through an imaginary character who brings history to life. Discuss with your students how Lawson persuades his audience to believe that the mouse is the one that deserves the credit. Amos has feelings that are valid, and he shares with the reader his point of view on where credit is deserved.


Step two (introducing student models of writing):  In small groups, have your students read and respond to any or all of the student models that come with this lesson.  The groups will certainly talk about the voice , since that's the focus of this lesson, but you might also have your students talk about the organization in the writing too.

WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!

We're currently looking for student samples for other grade levels for this lesson!  Help us obtain some from your students, and we will help your students become a bit more famous!  Each year, thousands of teachers (with hundreeds of thousands of students) show and discuss each of our lessons, and posted samples have the potential to by many other students' eyes. Visit this lesson's student samples page for details on where and how to post polished final drafts..

Step three (thinking and pre-writing): Pressing the Interactive Button on the Student Instructions Page will get your students thinking about ideas for this writing assignment. You can certain

Tell your students, "Now, on the right side of your graphic organizer, write what your imaginary character/object changes to convince the reader they are the ones who really deserve the credit. Think about how the character who is telling the story might add more voice to your paper. What word choice could you use to make him or her convince the reader the new version is the real truth? Once you have gathered all your information on your graphic organizer, begin writing by retelling your event, using the drafting sheet below.

Share Graphic and Advance Organizers (for Pre-Writing)!

Help us keep WritingFix online and free to use! First of all, if you are looking for a resource with some inspiring graphic organizers, the book (at right) is one we often refer our teachers to during our lesson-design inservice classes for teachers in Northern Nevada. If you appreciate WritingFix and want to help us keep it both online and free-to-use, kindly consider purchasing the pictured graphic organizer collection using this link from Amazon. Amazon generously donates a small percentage of not only the sale of this book back to WritingFix, but they also donate a small percentage of any other Amazon products you place in your shopping cart after adding this book.

Graphic organizers are one of those tools we receive with others' writing lessons that we commonly adapt, sometimes slightly, sometimes majorly. If you end up creating an original graphic organizer (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and share it back with us, we will make sure the whole world knows you are one of those generous teachers by linking to your post and giving you full credit.

  • Original graphic organizers for specific lessons, like this one, can be submitted as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.

Step four (revising with specific trait language):   To promote response and revision to rough draft writing, attach WritingFix's Revision and Response Post-Its to your students' drafts.  Make sure the students rank their use of the trait-specific skills on the Post-Its, which means they'll only have one "1" and one "5."   Have them commit to ideas for revision based on their Post-It rankings.  For more ideas on WritingFix's Revision & Response Post-Its, click here.

Share Revision Techniques or Revision Adaptations from Your Toolbox.

Help us keep WritingFix online and free to use! First of all, if you are looking for a resource with some fabulous revision techniques, the book (at right) is one we often refer our teachers to during our lesson-design teacher inservice classes here in Northern Nevada. If you appreciate WritingFix and want to help us keep it both online and free-to-use, kindly consider purchasing the pictured graphic organizer collection using this link from Amazon. Amazon generously donates a small percentage of not only the sale of this book back to WritingFix, but they also donate a small percentage of any other Amazon products you place in your shopping cart after adding this book.

Strategic tools that encourage authentic revision are hard to find. If you end up creating an original revision tool (or adapt one of our Post-its to better suit your teaching) when you teach this page's lesson, and share it back with us, we will make sure the whole world knows you are one of those generous teachers by linking to your post and giving you full credit.

  • Original revision ideas from teacher users of WritingFix can be submitted through copy/paste or as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.


Step five (editing for conventions):
  After students apply their revision ideas to their drafts and re-write neatly, require them to find an editor.   If you've established a "Community of Editors" among your students, have each student exchange his/her paper with multiple peers.  With yellow high-lighters in hand, each peer reads for and highlights suspected errors for just one item from the Editing Post-it.  The "Community of Editors" idea is just one of dozens and dozens of inspiring ideas that is talked about in detail in the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Workbook for Teachers.


Step six (publishing for the portfolio):  The goal of most lessons posted at WritingFix is that students end up with a piece of writing they like, and that their writing was taken through all steps of the writing process. After revising, invite your students to come back to this piece once more during an upcoming writer's workshop block.  The writing started with this lesson might become even more polished for final placement in the portfolio, or the big ideas being written about here might transform into a completely different piece of writing. Most likely, your students will enjoy creating an illustration for this writing as they ready to place final drafts in their portfolios.

Interested in helping up to three of your hardest-working writers publish online? We invite teachers to teach this lesson, then share up to three of their students' best polished student samples at our ning's Publish Student Writers group. We have so many teachers who use WritingFix lesson, telling students right up front that they're looking to choose the three best student efforts to share with the wholse world by posting them (by copying and pasting the writing, as digital photographs, or by attaching them as word or PDF documents) at this posting page, set-up exclusively for this on-line lesson. You won't be able to post unless you are a verified member of this site's Writing Lesson of the Month ning. Join today.

We are limited in service space at our ning, which is why we ask teachers to share no more than three student samples per WritingFix lesson.


Learn more about author Robert Lawson by clicking here.


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