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

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Lesson & 6-Trait Overview

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Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources

Student Writing Samples from this Lesson


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Teacher's Guide:

Teaching Character Traits

writing stories that teach younger children important messages

This original lesson was created by
NNWP Teacher Consultant Campbell Valle.
Campbell also serves as Page Host at WritingFix's Ideas for Responding to Writing Homepage.

This writing prompt inspired by

music from "Free To Be...You And Me"

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:

A note from Campbell, this lesson's author:  "Free to Be...You and Me: Released in 1972, the stories cited for this lesson can be found on an album that is close to my heart. As a small child, I listened to them and absorbed the messages of tolerance, equality, and limitless possibilities. The video links below come from the TV special that originally aired in 1974."

Pre-step…before sharing the songThe stories written during this lesson are meant to be shared with an actual audience of younger children. You should be sure that you have a contact with a teacher who teaches a younger grade than yours.

Your students writing these stories need to have a familiarity with basic plot terms (conflict, exposition, riding action, climax, falling action, resolution) and the concept of theme. It will help if they are familiar with concepts related to character-building, such as citizenship, responsibility, empathy, respect… They will need to be in groups of 3-4.

Step one…sharing the music and stories...

DAY 1:

  • Show students the list of character traits that have been studied throughout the year so far, or introduce a short list of character traits that are desirable in people.
  • In groups, have students talk about how, as little kids, they learned about these character traits…what happened to them to teach them, or what advice did people give? After they discuss for a few moments, remind them to think about other sources, such as TV, movies, and books.
  • Watch (using the video link below, if you can access it from school) or listen to (by downloading to your iPod) “Ladies First” from Free To Be...You and Me... As they watch/listen, students are to think about the lesson that this was teaching. After the story is over, come up with a single-sentence theme statement for this video, and briefly discuss the theme.


  • Repeat the same process with the story called “A Good Friend,” but this time have students discuss/discover the theme in groups.


  • Finally, watch “Atalanta” and have students write down their own theme statements before discussing with the group.


  • Move into the writing process by having each group select a character trait from the board and think of a theme / lesson that someone might learn in order to learn the trait.
  • For a few silent minutes, have students start thinking of a story they could write to help an elementary school student learn it. What characters might be involved? What would happen to convey the lesson? In groups, share some ideas. Tell students they will be creating original stories that teach character traits, and that their stories will be shared with younger children.

Step two…introducing student models of writing:  This might be the perfect time to 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, since it's the focus of the lesson, but you might prompt your students to talk about each model's voice as well.

  • Because this is a brand new lesson at WritingFix, we're looking for student samples for all grade levels for this prompt! 

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: 

DAY 2:

  • Distribute this graphic organizer.
  • Have students, as a class, vote for their favorite 2 videos from yesterday. They are now to watch each one and fill out a plot chart for it (on the side that says “Plot Practice”).
  • As a group, students are now to continue planning and organizing their stories using the plot chart graphic organizer and guiding questions (on the side that says “Story Planning Page”).
  • Remind students that they are going to be writing their stories for elementary school children (in our case, it was second graders), so they need to keep this in mind as they draft. It would be helpful to, as a class, brainstorm a list of questions that students should ask themselves to determine whether or not the younger students will “get” the lesson they are trying to teach. Examples might include: Can they understand all of the vocabulary? Is the lesson understandable? Are the characters funny or interesting to little kids? Will they be able to follow the story?
  • Have students draft their stories on this drafting sheet, and have them use the checklist on the second page when their first draft is complete. It will help them start to think about revision tasks based on this lesson's focus trait.

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 Free to Be...You and Me by clicking here.

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