A Chapter Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: ORGANIZATION Support Trait: WORD CHOICE

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The Ultimate Survivor

a survival plan that explores organization

The writing of author Gary Paulsen is inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of organization and word choice. 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.

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Grades 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

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Student Samples: Middle School

The Henry Marsh Collection
by Steven, seventh grade writer

He felt blood but he was not bleeding; he was hungry but yet he has food; he feels pain but all his wounds are healed. Now he, Henry Marsh, is within the arctic, scared, lost, and alone. How will he survive?

In the beginning, Henry was visiting his uncle who studies wildlife activity in their natural habitats. Henry was interested by this, so he packed his bags and was on his way by dog sled until he saw that baby seal that was hurt. Whatever the animal was had left bite marks.

Henry jumped off to help, not knowing that his ride was leaving. After realizing this, he started walking. Halfway to the tent, Henry heard something. Something large and was close. Before knowing what the animal was, a moose trampled him from behind. The moose was relentless; the beating didn’t stop until Henry started to play dead. He felt cuts and broken bones; the pain was unbearable. The moose left, but not without making his point heard.

The pain was coursing through Henry’s body until he felt something in his pocket. His favorite mirror was destroyed, but this gave him an idea for both protection and starting a fire. This broken mirror was his only tool, and the only way to survive in the arctic was with this tool. Henry couldn’t move from all the pain. His body felt like he was being stabbed by nails everywhere. He was cold, scared, and vulnerable to any predators if they decided to attack. Henry began to cry. He was just falling apart in his mind, but he knew crying wouldn’t help him. He was going on. Henry could stand, but not walk. He remembered a survival show where someone had made arrows out of ice. Henry though if they could do this with ice, then he could make arrows from pieces of mirror.

Out of nowhere Henry heard something. He was scared the sound was another moose. He looked, but at night everything was hard to see anything. The sound had been his stomach, so his fear stopped. He slowly fell asleep.

Henry could now crawl, so he needed to look for a shelter or a place to make a fire. Suddenly, he saw a small patch of dry grass. Henry had an idea. He angled the sun’s reflection onto the mirror to make fire. Time went by, and two hours later, his fire began. The fire was small but warm, so warm. He was still hungry, and he found a berry bush near the fire. He couldn’t believe the luck he was getting; he didn’t know this, but his luck was about to change in the worst of ways. When he ran up to the berry bush, the killer of the arctic stood on two feet and began roaring to the top of her lungs.

The roar had come from an enormous grizzly bear that stood as tall as the roof of his school back home, and this bear was about to attack. Henry had hardly survived a moose attack. How was he going to survive this? Henry couldn’t run or hide. He would have no choice but to fight. He took out his crude mirror “knife” and was ready. The first attack came, and the war started. Cutting and biting, gnawing and stabbing, the war became gruesome and only one would be left standing. From the early afternoon to about four in the morning, the battle went on until the bear had fallen. Henry had cuts and bite marks all over his body, but he was victorious. The battle was hard fought, and he now had food other than berries.

A week passed, and Henry had bear meat, shelter, and a fire. He was almost in the lap of luxury, but the weather was getting colder than usual. Winter was coming, and he would not survive with such a small fire. Henry would have to find civilization soon, or he would die. Henry took out his knife and stared at himself for a few minutes. You would think he was being silent, but Henry was speaking a silent oath to himself that if he would not reach society by tomorrow night, would slit his wrist to stop his loneliness and suffering.

He walked for hours on the first day, but nothing came to his rescue until the second night had almost come. The time to find safety was now or never. Henry took out the crude knife and was about to cut himself when he heard something. Not a moose, or a bear, but what could the sound be? Maybe the sound was in his mind. The sound of, of, of… THE DOGS! The sled that left him returned with his uncle driving. Excitement spread across his face when he saw the lead dog, Bolto. Henry sprinted forward to see if this was true. His uncle stopped the dog team and hugged Henry for what felt like hours. He had survived in one of the harshest elements known to man.

Henry was finally going home!

(Click here to open/print Steven's story as well as stories from two of his classmates)


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