A Chapter Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Lesson & 6-Trait Overview

Student Instructions

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources

Student Writing Samples from this Lesson


On-line Publishing:

Publish your students at our Ning!
(You must be a member of our "Writing Lesson of the Month" ning to post.)

Teacher's Guide:

Counting Up or
Down Stories

using a number-inspired frame to explore original story details

This lesson was created by NNWP Consultant Corbett Harrison. Corbett demonstrates this lesson during his 7 Elements of a Differentiated Writing Lesson Workshop for Teachers.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is Wringer by Jerry Spinelli. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author, especially from chapter 5 of the book. This is the chapter where our main character receives "the Treatment" on his b-day.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Wringer 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 copy of Wringer by Jerry Spinelli.  Read aloud chapter 5, which centers around the ninth birthday of the book's main character.  The chapter's conclusion is a definite highlight of this novel.  As part of his initiation into nine-hood, Palmer receives "the treatment" from an older boy at the park.  Nine knuckle punches are meticulously planted on the birthday boy's bare arm, much to the delight of his watching friends.  Between the punches, counted aloud for the reader's pleasure, wonderful details are shared by the author.  Talk with your students about how these details between the counting add so much to an event that could go by rather quickly, but Spinelli chooses to slow down the world for this momentous moment of childhood.  And it makes the event so much more memorable because it goes by so slowly.  Make sure you also talk to your students about the wonderful character and setting details Spinelli uses through the entire chapter...and novel.

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 organization and idea development, because of the Post-it® Note-sized template that has been embedded on each model.

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): The interactive choices on the student instruction page might help your students to think of many possibilities on which to base their Counting Up/Down stories. But...so could a great class discussion!

Have your students brainstorm incidents in real life when people or a person count up or count down together.  The last ten seconds of a really close sports game might come up.   A parent warning a child to behave by counting out loud to five might come up.  See how many incidents your students can brainstorm.  Tell them they will be creating their own short story that centers around someone counting up or counting down out loud.  The counting will be the body of their stories, and they will then have to create an introduction to the story's body, and a conclusion that follows it nicely.

Share the graphic organizer below on the overhead.  Once students have an idea for their own counting up or counting down stories, ask them to create their own graphic organizer (modeled after the one on the overhead) on their own piece of paper.  Have them talk and share their graphic organizers with you (and with each other) before they start their stories' rough drafts.

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 Jerry Spinelli's books by clicking here!

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