An I-Pod Inspired Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: VOICE Support Trait: IDEA DEVELOPMENT

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This Lesson's Title:

Your Personal
"Dream Team"

designing a program (like a sporting event's program) for a different type of dream team

This lesson was created by Northern Nevada social studies teacher Whitney Foehl.

This writing prompt is inspired by the song

"Dream Team" by Spearhead

Click here to do a Google search for the lyrics.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:

Background informationMichael Franti (the singer and songwriter for Spearhead) has many sociopolitical messages in his songs. Many of them can be used for educational purposes, if you want to look into his music further. This song, Dream Team, has three swear words in the original but if you download it from I-tunes, they have bleeped them out for you. You will have to white them out from the copy of the lyrics that you hand out to your students.

Pre-step…before sharing the songOpen with a statement about how everyone has people in their lives who influence, inspire, and motivate them in a variety of ways. You want your students to start thinking about who these people are in their own lives.

Use the first graphic organizer to get the students to brainstorm a list of people who motivate or inspire them. This organizer is broken into three categories to help them. There are spaces for nine people, but students don’t have to fill out the whole thing…encourage them to think of at least six.

Step one…sharing the song and other inspiring media:  After completing the first graphic organizer, it is time to play the song. Before starting it, talk about the 1st time, in 1992, NBA players were allowed into the Olympics and what a big deal it was because it gave America the chance to showcase a “dream team.” Mention that the song the students are going to listen to is about this moment in history and one man’s perspective on it. The author of the song tells of his real dream team, people who inspire him and the role they play on his team during the Olympics.

Handout the lyrics so students can follow along.

Afterwards you can discuss some of his characters…see which ones the students recognize and briefly go over some of the ones they don’t recognize (Hey, they were just being born, or weren’t even born, when Rodney King got beaten up!). You can make connections to U.S. History if your students are juniors or seniors.

Tell students they will be creating a piece of writing that has them write about their own "Dream Team" today.

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 voice, since it's the focus of the lesson, but you might prompt your students to talk about each model's idea development as well.

  • Because this is a new lesson at WritingFix, 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 for details.

Step three…thinking, talking, and pre-writing: After you play the song, use this second graphic organizer to guide the students through the development of their own dream team. This should act as a pre-write for the “program” they are going to create in the end.

Students should be encouraged to choose adjectives that provide high-quality details of their team members that “show” who each person is. When writing about why that person is inspirational, students should convey passion, emotion, or provide emphasis through words.

In the last column of the graphic organizer, students pick a role, job, or position for that person on their dream team. For this, students should refer back to the song lyrics and all the various roles the author speaks of (coach, manager, entertainer, players, bench warmer, fans, concessions, cheer leaders, announcers, etc.)

After the second organizer, students should be ready to start on a more polished project, their “programs” for their dream team. The program that they create will consist of 6-8 dream team members, their pictures, their role description, and a 4-6 sentence overview. This overview is the heart of the writing for this project. It should include an inspirational and creative summary of the person, how they fit on the team, their experience, and/or why they made the team. These will be personalized…remind students that this is their team, their “peeps.” Their individual voices should come through in their writing. Remind them of their audience as well. They would be handing out these programs at the Olympics (their own Olympics...figuratively).

Students can use the last graphic organizer to draft their program. It might be helpful to have them look at student samples again before starting.

Students should finish the project on their own and turn in a final, completed program that looks professional and that they are proud of! If they want to format it differently, that is okay, as long as they meet the requirements.

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 if you have questions about getting your students published.

Learn more about Spearhead by clicking here.

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