A Chapter Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix
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What's your Fifth Element?

creating an organized and convincing argument about an item's importance

The writing of author Farley Mowat is inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of organization and voice. Join us in teaching (and adapting) this on-line lesson and sharing your students' work.

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Student Samples: Middle School

My Fifth Element: Books
by Riyah, sixth grade writer

“When Man was still very young he had already become aware that certain elemental forces dominated the world womb…the Greeks defined these as Fire and Earth and Air and Water. But at first the Greek sphere was small and circumscribed and the Greeks did not recognize the fifth element.”

—Farley Mowat, The Snow Walker

Mowat was right when he said the Greeks missed an element. I believe the fifth element the Greeks missed was books. Books are an essential part of my life because they’re important for school, provide creativity and inspiration, and are good alternatives to computers.

A reason for reading books is that it’s important in school. Many tests have sections in reading comprehension and writing. It also expands your vocabulary by introducing you to new words in original contexts. Reading also gives you information and facts. By reading different books, you also experience different writing styles. In the professional world, reading is a huge part of the workplace. As I learned from an interview with Tammi Coe, reports, memos, and emails are all things that are used in a career.

Good literature also acquaints one with unfamiliar ideas and thought-provoking concepts. It can make you think and look at something from a different point of view. A book can also take you to new places. For example, a story set in an exotic place like The Jungle Book can take you across the world in a couple of pages. An adventure tale such as Hatchet can send your heart racing with suspense. Often, books can spark your imagination. They can also entertain you and pass time. Inspiration can also be derived from books.

Furthermore, reading is a good alternative to a computer. Books like the encyclopedia and atlas are often good references and have as much information as a website. Generally speaking, they have credible and useful data. Compared to a computer, reading keeps your mind active and engaged. It stimulates your brain and requires your mind to be attentive. For example, when I read Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, I was captivated by her story. After I read the book, I was not only intrigued by the book, but also the historical elements.

Critics of books say that reading is too hard. I disagree because there are easy solutions to the problem. You could pick a book that’s short like The Pearl, and not that hard. You don’t have to choose a huge book like Grapes of Wrath that you will never finish. Reading doesn’t just have to be for school or homework. Believe it or not, reading can be fun.

Reading is important because of school, imagination, and as a substitute to computers. Pick up a book, and let the words take over. The five elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Water, and Books.

The Internet: A Fifth Element
by Griffin, sixth grade writer

Seven hundred eighty-five million people use the Internet every day. Just imagine if all those people couldn’t use the Internet for just one week. There would be global confusion. Personally, I can’t imagine life without the Internet because it makes everything more convenient, makes small businesses possible, and it gives people something to do in their free time.

My first reason you should use the Internet is convenience. The Internet saves time if you need to get a lot of stuff at the same time or just one big thing. Think about when you go to the store and you want to buy this really cool chair, but it’s really high up. You flag down someone who works there and asks for help. They reply, “Sure, one second. Let me get a ladder.” You wait for a long time and they finally get there with a ladder five minutes later. You get the chair down and put it in the cart. You push it out to your car but it won’t fit. You then call your friend and wait 20 minutes for them to show up with a bigger truck and load it up there. Now, think about if you bought the same chair for a cheaper price online. It would be shipped straight to your house and you wouldn’t need to do anything. 

Second of all, it makes small businesses much easier to manage. Imagine how many businesses wouldn’t be here without the Internet. If you're planning to start a new business and you already have the idea and everything, what would the first thing you would do be? Create a website, right? Think of the cost of a store location. Include electricity, employees, decoration, advertisement, the location, and the store itself. Now think of the cost of a website: the domain name fees, advertisement, and maybe operators. The website is much cheaper, isn't it? This would help small businesses begin by saving them money.

Now think about what you would do on those rainy days. We all love the rain, don't we? But even if you do like the rain, like me, you don't want to stay out there in the rain too long. First of all, it's COLD. Second, if you stay out too long you'll just end up with a cold, and we can all agree colds aren't fun. If you're like me, you probably just sit around and watch TV with a cup of hot chocolate. But what if nothing is on TV and you have nothing recorded. Then what? Get on the Internet! On the Internet there are lots of games that you can play. If you don't feel like playing games, you can even watch videos, episodes of a TV show, or listen to music. You can find just about any episode of lots of popular TV shows on Hulu. Now, think of what else you can do on rainy days over the Internet.

We can all agree the Internet can be frustrating at times when it's running slow. But even when it is slow there's still some good in it. First, because even if it is running slow, you'll still get where you want to go eventually. It will still save time even if is running slow, and it will also save you a lot of work from doing everything i mentioned in the first paragraph. Obviously, the Internet doesn't have everything so you'll still have to go out sometimes, but that's not bad. The fresh air is good too.

Think about life without the Internet: not as much to do in one’s free time, not as many businesses, and not as much convenience. With the Internet, this is all made possible. Go out and explore everything about the Internet. Join the 785 million who are using the Internet.

(Click here to view/print Riyah, Griffin, and three of their classmates' essays.)

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