A Chapter Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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A Teacher's Guide:

A Hurricane Blowing In

finding a natural rhythm in writing to blow your readers away

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Nevada teacher
Tamara McCollum
during 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 The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author, especially from chapter one of this novel.

Check out The Lightning Thief at Amazon.com.

If you are a Washoe County teacher, click here to search for this book at the county library.

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; adaptation is how one becomes a truly authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :

Pre-step…before sharing the published model: Before teaching this lesson to students, be sure they are able to identify word choice that supports the mood or tone in their writing. Students should also be familiar with replacing worn-out, over-used words with more interesting and lively ones to improve their writing.

Step one (sharing the published model):  Preface the reading by asking students to listen carefully to how easy it is to enjoy the sound of Riordan’s writing. His writing is writing to be read aloud, and that is something to work toward in their own writing.

Share with students pages 8-15 of Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief. This selection begins at the second break in the first chapter and continues to the end of the chapter. Be certain you have practiced reading this selection first, so that you can share it with the students using appropriate intonation and emotion to convey the feelings of the story’s protagonist, Percy Jackson. This portion of the chapter describes Percy’s first, though not his last, encounter with a monster after him because he is a half-blood.

Tell your students that they will be writing a single scene that may later become a part of a longer story. For the purpose of this lesson, students will create a short piece of writing in order to utilize excellent sentence fluency and interesting word choice, modeled after Riordan's writing style.

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 sentence fluency , 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 a scene for this writing assignment. If students can come up with their own ideas for an interesting scene, encourage them to do so.

Using this brainstorming graphic organizer, students decide on the who, what, when, and where of their scenes. They may also include other characters, if it is suitable for their piece. Students will then create a web-like brainstorm for each starburst, identifying descriptive words they might use to set the scene for their piece. Encourage them to select descriptive words with great care.

Students will then take the ideas from their brainstorming graphic organizer to begin composing basic sentence on this pre-writing worskheet; the scene the pre-write for here is centered around the action of their key characters (the who from their brainstorm). The checklist on the right-hand side should guide students to check their writing for good use of sentence fluency characteristics.

Have students transfer their pre-writing ideas from the worksheet into a paragraph or a series of paragraphs. Have them write their rough drafts on their own paper, or you can use this rough-drafting sheet with an additional sentence fluency checklist.

They will then prepare to revise as necessary and this piece can be included in a longer story or kept as a short scene.

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 Rick Riordan by clicking here.

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