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

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Teacher's Guide:

Actions Speak Louder than Words

creating a character sketch inspired by an interesting verbs and actions that show

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Teacher Consultant
Heather Eckart
at 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 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author, especially from chapter 18 of this book.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Walk Two Moons 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 :

Pre-step…before sharing the published model: “Actions speak louder then words”. Discuss this idea with students. What we do, how we do it… these say a lot about what kind of person we are.

Model a character trait like “generous” on the board. Brainstorm: “What would a ‘generous’ person do or not do to show us this trait?” Ex: share a toy, buy a gift, give away something special, not be stingy with… These actions demonstrate, prove or “show” us the trait of generosity.

Tell students they are going to read an example of how an author used specific details, actions, likes and dislikes to "show" a character in a story.



Step one (sharing the published model):  Walk Two Moons is the story of a 13-year-old girl (Sal) who is on a road trip with her grandparents in search of her mother who has left the family. She entertains her grandparents with stories about her friends. All the while she struggles with the loss of her mother and how this has impacted their family.

In Chapter 18, Sal pauses to tell us more about her father. Read the first part of chapter 18--“The Good Man”--which is found on pages 107-109 of my copy. Discuss how the author focuses on showing (not just telling) us about the character. She describes the father using a few traits: kind, simple, honest and good. After each trait, she shows us with a number of specific examples that flesh out that trait.

Tell students they will be composing character sketches today that--similar to Creech's style--show us at least two character traits of an original character.

To demonstrate how they will fill out this assignment's graphic organizer that will help them create an original character sketch, model filling out one in front of them for the father character from the passage that has been read. The second page of the graphic organizer shows what the model might look like. Notice how verb phrases are what are brainstormed; these are the actions that speak louder than words.


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 idea development, 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, talking and pre-writing): Students first need to pick a character to write a character about: a favorite person, a family member, or a fictional character. Ideas for interesting characters can be discovered if your students can use the interactive buttons on the Student Instructions Page. If you cannot get your students to a computer, then they can certainly come up with ideas on their own.

Students will brainstorm three or four traits, and then pick two traits for their graphic organizer, brainstorming actions, likes or dislikes that would show those two traits to a reader. Have students who are working on different characters share ideas with a partner as they complete their graphic organizers so that they can hear one another's thinking about choosing quality and realistic actions.

Read the passage from Walk Two Moons once more before students begin composing a rough draft, instructing students to listen carefully to Creech's style and showing ability. Tell students you want them to try out some of Creech's techniques when they write about an original character.

When students are ready to begin creating a rough draft, consider using this Drafting worksheet with an Idea Development checklist. It is designed to remind students to think about the focus trait before, during, and after composing.

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 Sharon Creech by clicking here.


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