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

Navigating WritingFix:

Return to the WritingFix Homepage

Return to the Chapter Book Lessons Page

Return to the Word Choice Homepage


Navigating this lesson:

Lesson & 6-Trait Overview

Student Instructions

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources

Student Writing Samples from this Lesson


Join our on-line WritingFix community:

Students: Publish your writing to this prompt on-line

Teachers: Discuss how you used this lesson on-line



This Lesson's Title:

Make 'em Laugh or Cry or...

writing a mood-inducing paragraph for the reader

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Nevada teacher Melonie Reichman 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 Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author, especially from chapter 19 of the book.

Check out Where the Red Fern Grows at Amazon.com.

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

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :

Step one (sharing the published model):  If your class is not familiar with Where The Red Fern Grows, a short bit of background knowledge will help them understand the chapter you will be sharing.  This is a story of a boy who worked very hard for something he desperately wanted.  Billy comes from a very poor family who live in a town in the Ozarks where hunting is a part of life.  As a young boy Billy decided that he was going to buy himself a pair of coon hounds to hunt with.  His family was not able to afford the dogs, so he worked and saved for nearly two years before he was able to buy the dogs.  Billy and his dogs, Little Ann and Old Dan, are eventually the best hunting trio around and win a very large hunting contest in their state.  

Chapter 19 is what you can share with the students to inspire them before this writing assignment.  In this chapter, Billy goes out at night to hunt.  Something horrible happens, and all of their lives are put on the line.  Throughout chapter 19, we hear many words that help set the scene and its mood.  The vocabulary is also important because it evokes the reader to feel.  Read the chapter aloud to the class.  Tell your students to listen to--possibly make notes of--what makes this chapter so powerful and emotional to its reader. 

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 word choice, since that's the focus of this lesson, but you might also have your students talk about the voice in the writing too.

  • We're looking for student samples for all grade levels for this prompt!  Help us get some, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  Contact us at publish@writingfix.com for details.

Step three (thinking and pre-writing): As a class--or in small student groups--you will want to brainstorm some words that evoke emotion in a reader.  Or the interactive buttons on the Student Instruction Page might inspire your students to write their descriptive paragraphs.

Below is a graphic organizer to pass out to the students that will help them decide on a mood, scene, object, and new vocabulary for their writing.  If they are stuck getting started, you can direct them to the interactive button game above to jumpstart their ideas.

Also included below is a drafting sheet with a word choice checklist for student writers to complete after they have created a draft.

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.

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):   When they are finished revising and have second drafts, invite your students to come back to this piece once more during an upcoming writer's workshop block.  Their stories might become a longer story, a more detailed piece, or the beginning of a series of pieces about the story they started here.  Students will probably enjoy creating an illustration for this story as they get ready to publish it for their portfolios.

Interested in publishing student work on-line?  We invite student writers to post final drafts of their original at WritingFix's Community of Student Writers.  This is a safe-to-use blog for students and teachers. No writing is posted until it is approved by the moderator. Contact us at publish@writingfix.com if you have questions about getting your students published.


Learn more about author Wilson Rawls by clicking here.

WritingFix Homepage Lesson & 6-Trait Overview   Student Instructions
Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources  Student Writing Samples

© WritingFix. All rights reserved.