A Chapter Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Publish your students at our Ning!
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Student Samples:
A Moment Like

a personal narrative inspired by
's powerful first chapter

The writing of author Jerry Spinelli is inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of word choice and idea development. 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.

Thank you, those who share their students' writing with us.

Additional Student Samples Being Sought:
Grades 4, 9, 10, 11, 12

Learn more about WritingFix's policies for publishing student work by visiting our Publishing Student Writers Information Page.

WritingFix is currently seeking additional student samples from this writing assignment that can be featured in this space. Submitted student work must show evidence of revision, editing, and the final draft must be typed and sent through e-mail. Teachers: if you can help us obtain up to three student samples, along with a digital photo of the student(s) and a signed permission slips, we will send you either a complimentary copy of one of the Northern Nevada Writing Project's print publications.

To have us consider your students' writing for inclusion on this page, you must post the writing to our Ning page dedicated to this lesson. Click here to access that page. You must first be a member of the Writing Lesson of the Month Network in order to post.

Student Samples: Upper Elementary

The Funniest Flip Ever
by Anthony, fifth grade writer

Ding dong! I heard while I was watching an afternoon Yankee's game. The doorbell chimed like a blue jay singing a sweet spring song. When I opened the door, I saw my friend Andy from down the street. "Hey Andy," I said.

"Guess what? Guess what? Guess what?" he yelled all at once.

"What?" I replied, obviously annoyed.

"I can land my back flip on the trampoline! Wanna come over and see?" he asked.

"Sure." I said, as I put a tape in to tape the game.

As we darted down the street, Andy explained to me how long he had practiced and worked at landing the flip. When we entered Andy's house, the aroma of fresh, homemade chocolate chip cookies filled the entire, two-story house. I felt like I was in a bakery. "Mmmmm!" I slowly said.

"I'll ask my mom if you can stay for dinner so you can taste some of those awesome cookies," he said. While I said hello to Andy's brother Brian, Andy sprinted out the sliding glass door to the trampoline. As I attempted to climb on too, Andy cut me off and said, "Stop! I need to be on the trampoline alone to do it!"

As he rapidly began bouncing, I was doubting that he would be able to land it. Andy got a good bounce, thrust his hand back and...stuck the landing! Although when Andy's feet hit the floor of the trampoline, so did his pants. He was wearing Power Ranger undies!

Trying to hold back my laughter, I blurted out large, hearty chuckles and was rolling on the grass. "Ha! Ha! I'm... I'm... Sorry but... Ha! Ha!" I bellowed joyfully.

"Hey!" Andy screamed.

"I'm really am sorry," I said.

"That's OK. It was pretty funny," Andy said with small giggles. That's why it was the funniest flip ever.

(Click here to view/print Anthony and four of his classmate's memoirs.)

The Strange Night
by Zoe, sixth grade writer

It was dark, and I was restless. It was two in the morning, but I didn’t care. I sneaked out of my bedroom and into the hallway. As I passed his room, I could hear my dad’s snores while he was sleeping. The house still smelled like chicken and strawberry pie from dinner.

Suddenly, I heard click-clacking from the living room. “What could that be?” I wondered to myself. Spencer, our dog, was asleep in my room, although I didn’t really check. It was really dark, and the only reason I wasn’t tripping and falling was that a tiny bit of moonlight was coming through the windows and making an outline of the objects.I was still scared, as any other eight-year-old would be. The metal parts of everything were giving off a faint glow.

Click-clack, click-clack. I heard it again. I was really frightened by now. What if someone was in the house and I had no protection whatsoever? Quickly, I grabbed the heavy dictionary from the bookcase. I was in the living room now, and nothing was there.

Click-clack, click-clack. It came from the kitchen. If someone was in there, I would have seen through the gap in the wall to serve people meals. When I looked through, nothing was there. I looked away.

Bang-bang, I heard from the kitchen. I went inside, but it was only Spencer. He had knocked down the garbage can.

Soon, the lights came on and my dad came into the kitchen. “What are you doing up?” he asked me in a drowsy voice.

“I wanted to see what the noise was,” I said in a hush. We picked up the trash and went to bed.

At the end of my bed, Spencer whimpered softly. He knew what he did. Until I fell asleep that night, I thought of how stupid I was. Nothing was wrong, and we all knew it. But what would happen if someone had really been there?

(Click here to view/print Zoe and one of her classmate's memoirs.)

Student Sample: Middle School

The Furry Surprise
by Lyndsey, seventh grade writer

My heart was pounding with anxiousness. I was running down the stairs, and there underneath the Christmas tree, I saw a puppy. I didn’t realize until afterwards, but I had been screaming the moment I saw the dog. My excitement had taken over my eight-year-old little body, and before I knew it, I was downstairs trying to pick up the furry surprise. He was black, furry, chubby, and to top it off, there was a red bow tied around his neck. As I was complimenting all of his greatest features, I felt a sudden pain in my arm and looked down to see the puppy’s teeth sinking into my skin. I yelped “Aaaah!”

The next thing on my mind was what am I going to name this rambunctious pup. It didn’t matter what my mom, my dad, or my brother wanted to name him; I felt that I was in charge. My friend had always named her pets after presidents—like Lincoln, Hayes, and Madison—so I thought that was a wonderful idea and in my head started to come up with president names. As if it just struck me, I came up with the perfect name.

“Franklin,” I shouted. Franklin Roosevelt Anderson sounded grand to me!

After that, I went outside in the powdery snow and played with Franklin. I stuck my tongue out and on it plopped a snowflake. At that moment, I was the happiest eight-year-old girl alive. Franklin and I romped around; I didn’t even care that inside my other Christmas presents awaited me.

That moment, was the starting of a friendship that has lasted me ever since. My puppy is no longer a puppy, but he is a dog. Although his maturity and size may have changed, the bond we have together is unbreakable.

(Click here to view/print Lindsey and three of her classmates' memoirs.)

by Chelsea, eighth grade writer

The sun was setting, and a chill was just barely tangible in the evening air. The pink bogenvalia vines waved lazily to me in the cool southern California breeze. As I walked across the lawn to the front door, I felt awkward and out of place. My uncle had been invited to dinner with his neighbors in the house next door, and since my family was there, we were invited as well. However, just because my uncle was friends with these people doesn’t mean that I felt any more comfortable around them. I was a stranger in a stranger’s house, and on top of that, I was expected to eat their food! Thankfully I was with my family, so I wasn’t totally alone. Emily bounded up the steps in an effort to beat me there, of course. I wasn’t trying, so it didn’t matter anyway. Mom chatted with my aunt, and my dad and uncle talked about the man who lived here. Apparently, he was in a band and wrote his own songs. My dad used to be in a band and my uncle is currently in a band … total music junkies. I sighed and put on my best ‘Meeting New People’ smile, which probably looked more like a pained grimace, or someone trying very hard to hold back a sneeze.

As usual, meeting new people is never as bad as it seems at first, and the family was very nice. The man’s name was Andy and his wife was Melissa and they had just had a baby boy, Thomas. Barbequing ribs and tri-tip permeated the air with the delectable smell of garlic, spices, and the bittersweet scent of oranges. After dinner, Andy opened the large door to the free-standing garage. Inside was an electronic drum set, several guitars and microphones, all wired to amplifiers. He conspired with my uncle, and together they got Daddy to play lead guitar and sing while my uncle played bass and Andy was on drums.

Everyone gathered around inside the small garage. The floor was concrete covered in patches with faded threadbare carpet. The wires for the amplifiers trailed in chaotic rats’ nests across the floor, and the sole table against the wall was littered with beer bottles, cigarette butts, and random musical instruments, such as a tambourine and a maraca. This was obviously a guy haven. The men tuned their guitars and bantered about which song they were to sing. They finally decided on the song ‘Proud Mary.’ Everyone ready, someone called out “One -two, ONE – TWO – THREE – FOUR!” and suddenly my dad was playing lead, my uncle strumming the bass line, and Andy whacking the electric drum set like his life depended on it. It was then that time stood still as my dad began to sing. The exposed light directly above his head abruptly turned into a spotlight. He was no longer dressed in a blue sweatshirt and old jeans, but one of the outlandish costumes he had worn ‘back in the day’ when he played with his band. The buzz of the cars outside became the roar of the crowd, and I--his daughter--was the luckiest girl alive. I had the best front row seat ever, and I was watching the world’s coolest Rockstar. I was entranced as I stared up at the man who used to be ‘just daddy.’ Suddenly he had transformed into the musical genius my uncles were always claiming he was. I stared in rapture at the Rockstar… my Daddy … my Rockstar.

The song ended and I shook my head, trying to clear it. A few more songs were sung, but I wasn’t really paying attention. It was getting late, so we said our goodbyes and walked back across the lawn to my uncle’s house. The rest of the family was walking a few paces ahead of me and my uncle as he questioned me quietly, “You’ve never seen your dad play like that before, have you?”

“No, never. He was in his band long before I was born.” I shook my head again and sighed, “You were right, he is amazing.”

My uncle just laughed and clapped me on the back.

Later that night, on the floor in my uncle’s living room, snuggled up in my sleeping bag and my sister breathing quietly next to me, I thought about my dad. From my earliest memories, I can remember him playing the guitar and singing to me … watching him play and sing as my sister danced … listening to him practice his latest favorite song from the radio. Those times were not particularly special in any way; they were just something Daddy did. Tonight, I had caught a glimpse of my Daddy, the Rockstar, and I would never see him as ‘just daddy’ again.

(Click here to view/print Chelsea's memoir.)

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