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

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This on-line write-up was posted by Amie Newberry, who invites you to share your student samples for this lesson with us at WritingFix!

Teacher's Guide:

Advice to Youth on Things now GONE

examining personal philiosophies about life and time with an original poem or song

This lesson was proposed by NNWP Consultant Amie Newberry during an I-Pods Across the Curriculum Workshop for teachers.

This writing prompt is inspired by the song

"Gone" by Switchfoot

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:

Background information Switchfoot is a very popular teenage band. My students were very excited that I knew who this group was and that I was playing it in class.

Pre-step…before sharing the songThe day before this poetry lesson, I completed Rob Stone’s iPod lesson called “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” We discussed the concept of “time” and what it means to them (as well as characters in the book we just finished). I ask students to bring in lyrics to one of their favorite songs for tomorrow.

The next day, I ask them to highlight any words or expressions they like from their song. I ask questions like: What do these lines make you feel? Why do you like it? What’s the point of the song? What message is the artist trying to express? Do you see any metaphors in your songs? We discuss the connection between poets and song writers.

My students have been working on both Word Choice & Idea Development…this lesson extends those two traits and drives this lesson.


Step one…sharing the song and other inspiring media:  I hand out the three-page graphic organizer, and I briefly tell them to look over the questions and think about them during the song. I then play “Gone” by Switchfoot. The lyrics are on the graphic organizer. I ask them to highlight words or phrase that strike them. After they have listened to the song, I give them about 3-5 minutes to finish filling out the first side of the graphic organizer. We then discuss the questions and talk about why they highlighted certain words.

I then have a student read the poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” written by Robert Herrick. I read the questions on the graphic organizer and tell them to think about them while we watch a clip from Dead Poet’s Society (it is the second scene, or two clicks forward in the movie. It is when Robin Williams has them read “To the Virgins…” while standing in the foyer). After the clip, I give them a few minutes to answer the questions and think. We share and discuss what the author was trying to say.


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

  • Because this is a 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:  On the third page of the graphic organizer, I ask them to think about their own philosophy on life and write it in one sentence. Then I walk them though the prewrite section of the graphic organizer. I encourage them to steal any words or expressions from their favorite song/s, or from “Gone,” or the poem. We focus on the metaphors from both songs. We talk about creating their own metaphors and using their own personal language. The graphic organizer leads them into composition.

They need to create a rough draft poem or song lyrics about their own personal belief about time and life. The focus is on word choice and finding the “right” words to convey their meaning. To encourage them to think about idea development, you might have your students compose their poems on this two-page drafting worksheet.

Sidenote from Amie —This could easily be used with characters from a book. You could have students write from a character’s perspective about time and life.

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 Switchfoot by clicking here.


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