A Chapter Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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On-line Publishing:

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

Student Samples Page:
Counting Up or
Down Stories

using a number-inspired frame to
explore original story details

The writing of author Jerry Spinelli is currenlty inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of organization 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, 5, 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

by Justine, sixth grade writer

“Don’t be scared!” my mom said as we got on the small jet boat. I was going parasailing for the first time. When I saw the boat, I wondered how I would be able to go parasailing attached to that little boat. As the boat took me farther out into the ocean, I saw a much larger boat with a sign painted on its side. I could see the word PARASAILING in big, bold letters. I was relieved to know that this was the boat I was going on.

When we finally got to the boat, there were two men that came to help me on, and away we zoomed. The two men strapped me in different kinds of straps and harnesses. They then attached me to the parachute lying on the deck of the boat. After I was strapped in they said, “On the count of three, we will let go of the parachute, and you will be blown up into the sky.”

“One.” Excitement was going through my mind. I could feel the wind blowing through my hair.

“Two.” I started to think I was going to fall. What if the parachute broke and I fell into the water? Would I be able to swim back to the boat?

“Three.” My heart pounded with terror. My mind was screaming, “Nooo!”

I thought, Don’t let me go, but, it was too late. They let go of the parachute, and before I knew it, I was in the air. For about a minute, I kept my eyes closed. Then, little by little, I opened them. I saw the beautiful ocean and the gorgeous beach. I even saw some other people parasailing too. But my favorite thing I saw was the amazing sea life moving in the water below me.

I wanted to stay there all day, but I couldn’t. After 10 more minutes, the men started to slowly bring me down until I finally reached the boat. I will never forget that day I went parasailing, and I hope I can experience that excitement again in my lifetime.

(Click here to view/print Justine and five of her classmates' Counting Up/Down stories)

Student Samples: Middle School

The Duel
by Julius, seventh grade writer

In the Old West, a local ruffian was causing trouble for the sheriff. The sheriff had tried on several occasions to put him behind bars, but each time he failed. Finally, one day, the criminal marched into the sheriff’s office, looked him in the eye and said, “I challenge you to a duel. Winner becomes sheriff.”

The sheriff was reluctant to accept, but he knew it was the only to put a stop to this troublemaker. “Okay, but we play by my rules. We start back-to-back, take five steps forward, and then shoot. Agreed?”

On the day of the duel, the town was dead silent; not even the rustling of trees was heard. Everyone took cover behind overturned tables and barrels as they anticipated an epic battle. The sheriff and his opponent were in position, and the duel was about to start.

They took one-step forward.

“I’ve been practicing my aim, but who knows what this guy has got up his sleeve,” the sheriff thought nervously.

They took a second step.

“Just aim and shoot,” the sheriff thought. His hands felt very shaky and rubber-like.

They took a third step.

“Almost there,” the sheriff gulped. He tightened his grip on his gun until it hurt.

They took a fourth step.

“Moment of truth,” he thought to himself. The tension was high as everyone watched. The sheriff’s legs felt extremely shaky, and he was on the verge of collapsing.

They took a fifth and final step.

Both competitors drew their weapons and made a swift, one-hundred-eighty degree turn. The sheriff fell mid-turn, but still took a shot. He narrowly avoided a head shot, but managed to shoot his opponent’s knee, disabling him for life. The crowd roared with cheer as the loser grunted and fell to the ground.

(Click here to view/print Julius and one of his classmate's Counting Up/Down stories)


The Final Second
by Miles, eighth grade writer

"Miles, back up top in thirty minutes!" shouted Branko, my coach.

I was down in the locker room with my friends Brent, Dillon and Andrew. No one spoke a word. We were all great friends and on the same team. But on race day, not a word is spoken. Even though people want to talk to us, we keep our headphones in and nod our heads yes. For the next thirty minutes, all we could do is sit and wait.

As I got on the chairlift overlooking the course, I knew that it was almost time. I saw each other racer waiting for the opportunity to take me off the podium. In life, people want the worst for the best. I come down toward the pit and I try to keep focused on the task at hand.

The stress. I continue to try and keep the pressure away, but it's nearly impossible, with it breathing down my neck like a stalker in a dark alley. People have expectations, and my biggest fear is not to meet them.

As I sat inside the tent, I could hear the tree-mounted speakers naming off other competitors and their times and current standings. The clock was counting down, and I knew all I had to do was exist between the break of the start beam and crossing through the laser. But for some reason, those sixty seconds always feel like a lifetime.

It was nearing the start. I clicked into my skis and waited outside my tent, anticipating my name to be called to enter the starting shack. As I stood silently, Mark Macay, my Atomic USA representative approached me with another familiar face: Rob Dill, the owner of the company who put his trust in me to put his product on top of the podium after each competition. "Miles, keep it up on two, and we will be waiting for you under the tent at the finish line. Go do what you know we need you to do." Mr. Dill stated this with a stern tone.

This being said, I became more nervous than usual. Then "Miles B., two out, enter the start house!" came out of the speakers. Both racers ahead of me were out, and now all eyes were on me. Thoughts and comments came racing through my head. The gate keeper then spoke, "Racer ready?"

With a firm nod to him, "Here we go," I said to myself.


"Stay low, stay quick," I said in my head.


"Everything I've got! Everything!" Now my brain is racing at a pace I can't explain.


And with one hard kick, I break the wand and everything disappears. It's me and the snow. My thighs start to burn, and I keep saying to myself, "Stay strong! Stay strong!" And as the finish corral nears, I charge harder and harder until I make one last stretch with my hand to stop my time.

"And with a time of 56.327 seconds, Miles B. has taken the lead!"

I make a fist and hold it up to show that I am number one. I look into the tent, and my sponsors just smile and nod yes. They know that I will remain unbeatable. Until the next time, when it all starts over again.

(Click here to view/print Miles Counting Up/Down story)

Student Sample: High School

First Dive
by Chelsey, ninth grade writer

We walked through the warm, beige sand to the dock, giggling and sharing stories.  At the end of the wooden, soaking wet dock, I wondered why I had ever agreed to jump.  It was mine and Amber's first time jumping, but Claire and Missy were naturals at it.

Amber and I stood side by side, glaring at the fresh green water beneath us.  The water was clear, but the bottom was so far down that it looked like an endless black.  I stuck my arm out to my left side and Amber intertwined her fingers with mine.  Having Amber's hand in mine gave me a little more confidence.  We both took a deep breath.

"Ready?" Claire called out, leaning forward to ensure we had all linked hands properly.

"Ready," I heard Amber whisper as she double checked the temperature of the lake with one foot.

My toes curled around the edge of the dock and I took another deep breath.  I felt like I was falling forward, like the water was pulling me into its deeply unpredictable waves.

The water swirled around the splintered posts supporting the dock.  Occasional shouts from children on the beach, along with ripples, found their way to the moss green water laid out in front of me.  Noise from the distance motor boats smothered my heavy breathing.  I was glad.  Was it too late to turn back?  To walk off the creaky dock and move back to the secure sand?


I took another breath of the fishy, Vancouver air.  A sudden rush of panic jolted itself into my stomach.  I had never jumped off the dock before, what if when I hit the water I can't find my way up in time?  How was I going to know where to come back up?

I blinked, looking down at the peaceful water.  A few children were laughing off in the distance.  I tried to step away, but Amber's hand in mine held me perfectly still.  I swallowed hard to demolish the lump of fear blocking my throat.

"Two!" Claire's voice sounded more and more excited as she counted up the ladder of numbers.

A shot of adrenaline shot through me like a racing bullet.  My body was numb and I wanted to push myself off the dock right at that moment and hurdle myself into the cool lake water.

I couldn't hear the children in the distance anymore.  It seemed as if everyone had stopped.  Like everyone around me was holding their breathe, watching me intently, waiting for me to become semi-rigid in the deep lake.

I squeezed Amber's hand and she squeezed back.  One more number to go and we'd be in the water.


I drew my last hard breathe in and pushed my feet against the dock.  I launched into the air and closed my eyes.  As we plunged down towards the refreshing lake from our anticipated jump, I let go of Amber's hand.

I could hear the joyful shouts of Claire and Missy as my body hit the numbing water with a slap like splash.

I bobbed to the surface within seconds.  My insides twisted into a smile and I pulled myself back onto the dock with the rest of my friends.  Amber hugged me tight and, and the same exact moment, we climbed to our feet for round two.

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