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

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Teacher's Guide:

So Much Depends Upon...

sixteen-word imagery poems to inspire stories and poems

This lesson was created by NNWP Teacher Consultant Dena Harrison. Check out all of Dena's online writing lessons by clicking here.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the chapter book Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Love That Dog 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 :

Step one (sharing the published model):  Get a classroom copy of Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.  It takes no longer than a week to share with your students, and it's a great introduction to a poetry unit.  We dare you not to cry as the book ends...in sadness and in joy.  The main character resists poetry, even though his teacher shares some of the best with his class.  As he starts to let his guard down and toy with poetry in his notebook, we clearly see him imitate the techniques of the great poets.  Of particular interest, is his imitation of William Carlos Williams' The Red Wheel Barrow, which inspired this writing activity.

William Carlos Williams' The Red Wheel Barrow (click here to print the poem on a single page for your students) is a thought-provoking 8-line, 16-word poem.  'Why would so much depend upon that, Mr. Williams?' the reader yearns to ask the poet.  The format of the poem is very easily imitated.  In Love That Dog, the main character impersonates the poem with his own topic: a blue speeding car.  'Why does so much depend upon that blue speeding car?' we ask, and by the book's end...we know. 

Tell students they will be creating their own sixteen-word poems, and they will be taking their favorite and turning it into the inspiration for a short story about a character, or for a longer poem.


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, because of the post-it note that has been embedded on each model.  You might prompt your students to talk about each model's word choice as well.

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): After you have talked about Williams' imagery-filled poem and shared the portion of Creech's book that talks about it, ask your students to write four of their own 16-word poems.  Now since four of the words are already determined for them, stress the importance of making the remaining twelve words really be words that grab us with their imagery. 

Have students share their four short poems with partners or in groups and talk about each poem's word choice.  How were the poems' verbs and adjectives?  The partnership or the group needs to then open its collective mind and ask, "Why would so much depend upon that image to another person...like a character in a story?"  Brainstorm the possibilities.  If your students know how Love That Dog ends already, they will understand why so much depends upon the main character's blue speeding car.  Hopefully they will be able to find a possible story behind one of their So Much Depends Upon poems.

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 might just send you a free print resource from the NNWP for being generous.

  • 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 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 might just send you a free print resource from the NNWP for being generous.

  • 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. Fifty teachers a year who do this will receive a complimentary copy of one of the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Print Guides.

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 poet William Carlos Williams by clicking here.
Learn more about author Sharon Creech by clicking here.


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