A Chapter Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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On-line Publishing:

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Teacher's Guide:

Rules and Things for a Funner Life

self-reflecting on an experience that taught you a life lesson

This lesson was built for WritingFix based on an idea shared by teacher Marilyn Hoffman at our AT&T-sponsored in-service class for teachers.

In 2010, this lesson was revised to include a Writer's Notebook assignment to improve students' pre-writing.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the chapter book Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author, especially from chapter 2 of this book.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Bud, Not Buddy 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 you become an authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :

Pre-step…before sharing the published model: Begin a class discussion about rules - Who has them and why do they have them? Explore reasons behind rules/laws in government, at home, at school. Should we all create our own lists of personal life rules, like the main character in Bud, Not Buddy?

Step one (sharing the published model):  Read Chapter 2 in Bud, Not Buddy. Have the students pay special attention to the rules and to what prompted Bud to create them. Is his idea for each rule explained clearly? Listen to how word choice sets the mood and tone.

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 idea development, since that's the focus of this lesson, but you might also have your students talk about the word choice 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'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  Visit this lesson's student samples page for details.


Step three (thinking and pre-writing): The Interactive Button Game on the Student Instructions Page might get your students thinking about times when they learned lessons that could lead to a "rule for life," like Bud's rules.

Using the graphic organizer below, writers will brainstorm experiences from their pasts where they learned lesson, and that warranted personal rules to live by. Encourage students to write a single, descriptive sentence that has a story hiding behind it. For example, "While running through the desert with my cousin, I slammed my foot into a prickly cactus" is one sentence that obviously has a story behind it.

After all students have at least five sentences on their brainstorming sheet, partner them up to tell each other the stories behind their sentences. Tell students they need to decide which story would make the best piece of writing for this assignment, and they can base their decision on which story would bring out the best details and word choices.

Before students begin writing their stories, be sure they can answer this framed sentence: "A personal rule I have for life is ____, and I have an interesting story of how I learned that rule." Allow students who have trouble starting their rough drafts to use this sentence frame as their story's introduction.

The second lesson resource below is a drafting sheet with an embedded idea development checklist; after students have written their drafts, they can rank their own use of idea development using the checklist on the second page.

Share Original Graphic Organizers (for Pre-Writing)
from Your Teaching Toolbox.

We share graphic organizers with our peers, we find them in books, and we think we should also be able to find tried-and-true ones online at WritingFix. This year, if you create an original graphic organizer (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, 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-it® Note-sized templates to your students' drafts.  Make sure the students rank their use of the trait-specific skills on the Post-it® Note-sized templates, 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-it® Note-sized templates, click here.

Share Original Revision Techniques or
Adaptations from Your Toolbox.

Inspired by Barry Lane's Reviser's Toolbox, the WritingFix website encourages its teacher users to adapt our lessons, especially the tools of revision we have posted here. If you create an original revision tool (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, 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 publishing student work on-line? You might earn a free classroom resource from the NNWP! We invite teachers to teach this lesson completely, then share up to three of their students' best revised and edited samples at our ning's Publish Student Writers group.

To submit student samples for this page's lesson, click here. You won't be able to post unless you are a verified member of this site's Writing Lesson of the Month ning.

Learn more about author Christopher Paul Curtis by clicking here.

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