A Chapter Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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This on-line lesson was posted by Amie Newberry, who invites you to share your student samples for this lesson with us at WritingFix!

Teacher's Guide:

Unique Metaphor Collections

playing with word choice and idea development to build a page in students' Writers Notebooks

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Teacher Consultant
Amie Newberry while attending an
AT&T-sponsored in-service class
for teachers.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the chapter book Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author, especially from chapter one of this book.

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

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :

Pre-step…before sharing the published model: Pass out note cards with common (and overused) metaphors on them: I’m dog tired; rugrat; She thundered into the room; I’ve hit a wall; You’re a couch potato; birdbrain; She took me under her wing; I’ve got egg on my face; You’re a good egg; You’re hogging it; Let’s pig out; He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing; You’re a sitting duck, Stop badgering me, I’m bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; She’s an eager beaver; He’s a lone wolf; There’s a white elephant in the room; She’s the queen bee; Snail mail; She’s a litterbug.

Have students draw out the literal definition of one or two, and then share them as a class. After sharing, ask them if the words/expressions mean what they literally drew. Once they make the connection that they aren’t literal, ask how they know what they mean. This should lead into a conversation about the definition of METAPHOR and how metaphors make our writing rich with word choice and help us develop our ideas.

Step one (sharing the published model): 

Next share Langston Hughes poem “Dreams” out loud. After reading, ask them to think about and discuss the following questions:

    • What is this metaphor referring to within the context of the poem?
    • How do these metaphors work in relation to the poem's title, "Dreams"?
    • Can you describe how or why this metaphor works?
    • What makes this an effective metaphor and why?

After having a conversation about metaphors—what they are and why they are effective in writing—read from the mentor text, Girl with a Pearl Earring. The first chapter starts out with the main character, Griet, describing people in the novel using metaphors. The author uses metaphor to enhance word choice and develop a rich storyline.

Have the student pair up and read the first two pages of chapter one. Ask them write down as many examples of metaphors they can find. Share the findings out loud. They will discover the characters being described with metaphors such as “rich carpets in their voices, books and pearls and fur”, “my mother’s voice—a cooking pot, a flagon”, “her two eyes warnings”, “her eyes were two brown buttons”, etc. Talk about why this make the writing better. Also, discuss what the writing would be like if the author didn’t use these types of metaphors.

Tell students they will be dedicating a page in their writer's notebooks or their journals to "unique metaphors." Starting today, and continuing throughout the remainder of the year, they are to think of unique metaphors for persons, places, and things. When they create one that they believe is really great, they will be neatly printing on the page they have set aside for it. On occasion, the teacher will ask students to turn to that page and to have students share any new ones with the class.

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 word choice , since that's the focus of this lesson, but you might also have your students talk about the idea development in the writing too.

  • We're looking for unique metaphors from students at all grade levels for this prompt!  Help us get some, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  Contact us at publish@writingfix.com for details.

Step three (thinking and pre-writing): The Interactive Button Game on the Student Instructions Page might get your students thinking about

After reviewing the unique metaphors from chapter one of the mentor text and discussing student samples, ask students to begin composing their own metaphors for themselves. Use the graphic organizer to help them think of starting ideas, and give them about 15 to 20 minutes to brainstorm strong word choices to fill out the graphic organizer. Stress that their metaphors should focus on word choice and idea development. They may even mimic some phrases and word choices from any of the examples read/shared in class.

Challenge students to--once a week--create two or three metaphors, then publish their favorites on the page they've set aside in their writers notebooks. When students are bored (in life or in another class), challenge them to look around and start turning persons, places, and things into unique metaphors. Publish their metaphors in the journal and out loud in class. When students are writing longer pieces--like narratives or poetry--remind them to look over their growing collections in their notebooks, and to choose/modify one from their collections and to insert it in their rough drafts.

  • Drafting Sheet with Word Choice Checklist -- if you're having students use their notebook's metaphors in longer drafts, here is a sheet to have them create their drafts on. It will challenge them to think about revising the focus trait here as they prepare to move from rough draft to second draft.

Step four (revising longer writing that has been inspired by student metaphors):   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.

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):   When they are finished revising and have second drafts, invite your students to come back to this piece once more during an upcoming writer's workshop block.  Their stories might become a longer story, a more detailed piece, or the beginning of a series of pieces about the story they started here.  Students will probably enjoy creating an illustration for this story as they get ready to publish it for their portfolios.

Interested in publishing student work on-line?  We invite student writers to post final drafts of their original at WritingFix's Community of Student Writers.  This is a safe-to-use blog for students and teachers. No writing is posted until it is approved by the moderator. Contact us at publish@writingfix.com if you have questions about getting your students published.


Learn more about author Tracy Chevalier by clicking here.

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