An I-Pod Inspired Poetry Lesson from WritingFix & HistoryFix
Focus Trait: WORD CHOICE Support Trait: ORGANIZATION

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Student Writing Samples from this Lesson


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Rob Stone has been a Northern Nevada Writing Project Teacher Consultant since 2000. He teaches high school in Sparks, Nevada.

Rob keeps a personal portfolio of work here at WritingFix.

Teacher's Guide:

The Legend
Lives On

documenting a historical event poetically

This lesson was created by Northern Nevada Writing Project Consultant Rob Stone. If you're interested in using music in the classroom, you can join Rob's Music Inspires Writing! Ning.

This writing prompt inspired by

"Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald," sung by Gordon Lightfoot

Click here to do a Google search for the lyrics.

A note for teacher users: 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 song Before sharing The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, students should be thinking about their favorite stories and what makes them stand out…whether it is something in a history book or something they heard at lunch yesterday. There are many ways to do this. One way is to simply have students brainstorm all the elements of a great story. You can have them do think-pair-share or just brainstorm on the board as a class. Guide them towards the fact that what makes a great story are the details. To bring a story to life, we need imagery. What can we see, hear, smell, etc? What thoughts, feelings, moods drove the people within the event or story? A good story makes us laugh or cringe or even cry. We need to be involved and have a stake in how the whole thing ends!

Another way, depending on how much time you wanted to spend on this step, would be to have kids write and/or tell brief stories in small groups, highlighting what made each other’s interesting. This would be a good time to mention the importance of strong verbs and adjectives.

Which reminds me, another idea is for you to share the same personal story twice, the first with mundane verbs and adjectives and details and the other full of great words and great emotion. Then have them compare and contrast the two, citing specific words/phrases. They love to hear our personal stories!!!

Step one…sharing the song and other inspiring media:  Now they are ready to hear the published model. Place the lyrics on the overhead, or give students a personal copy and play the song. Have them jot down or underline parts of the song that really stood out or led to vivid images in their mind. After hearing the song in its entirety, have them go back and re-read the lyrics, circling the best adjectives and verbs.

This would be a great time to remind them of the focus trait which is word choice and why it is so important. Was the song effective? Why or why not? Also, have them look for organization in the song. Did it have a strong intro, conclusion and title? Was the repetition/chorus successful? Did the conclusion tie back into the introduction?

Have them partner up for a couple minutes and compare the words they circled and underlined and their thoughts on the song's word choice and organization. As a class summarize this step by answering two questions…Would students make any suggestions to the songwriter or tell him it was a job well done? Why?

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 it's the focus of the lesson, but y ou might prompt your students to talk about each model's organization 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!  Visit our student samples page for information.

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:  Facilitate students as they work through this graphic organizer. Page one of the graphic organizer has them choose a historical event and break it down, thinking about what they know for a fact about the event and what they can assume about it. Point out that most of Lightfoot’s song describes the facts surrounding the event, but what makes it so personal for us is how he adds in the sailor’s perspective and even some dialogue. Since no bodies were ever recovered, we have no idea what victims were thinking and feeling but as poets, we can make assumptions and fill in those details.

Point out that the song also makes the lake a character in the story through personification. In the conflict of man vs. nature, each side gets equal description and attention. This is very effective and students may try to model it on page 2 of the graphic organizer where they begin to think about how their own poems will take shape. The organizer is meant to focus kids on the focus and support traits, so they see that great poetry has several pieces that create the larger whole. They should leave the graphic organizer feeling confident because the heart of the poem and the motivation for writing it should already be done. Now they just have to write it! If your students need inspiration for what their poems might be about, encourage them to use the the interactive buttons on the student instructions page to get their brains moving.

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 Gordon Lightfoot by clicking here.

Learn more about the SS Edmund Fitzgerald by clicking here.

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