An I-Pod Inspired Poetry Lesson from WritingFix

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Teacher's Guide:

Color my World Grey and Blue

exploring color and its effect on mood and setting

This lesson was created by NNWP Teacher Consultant Dena Harrison. Check out all of Dena's online writing lessons by clicking here.

This writing prompt inspired by

the song "Grey Street" by the Dave Matthews Band.

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 published model:   Before sharing the songs “Grey Street” by the Dave Matthews Band and “Blu is a Mood” by Blu Cantrell, begin the discussion of colors by asking students what their favorite colors are and why. Do these colors make them feel a certain way when they wear or see them? Jot some of their ideas down on the board or overhead. Next, share some of the incredibly interesting information on color from one of these websites with your students:

Both websites have interesting facts on different aspects of color and how they can affect moods.

Another great way to begin (or continue!) the discussion about color, is to share the book My Many Colored Days, by Dr. Seuss. This is an adorable book that shows how different colors affect the many moods of a gingerbread shaped character. ("On Purple Days/ I'm sad./ I groan./ I drag my tail./ I walk alone”)

Students of all ages will be able to relate to this book and the way the colors and moods are described by Seuss. Click here to see WritingFix's poetry assignment that uses this book.

Step one…sharing the published model:    Put The Dave Matthew’s Band’s song lyrics on the overhead; use the Google link above (just below the picture of the album cover) to find a set to print on a transparency. 

Read through the song with your students as you listen to it on your classroom I-Pod.  You may also want to point out the fact that this is a free verse poem/song and the words do not rhyme.  Explain to students that free verse poetry is a fun form of poetry because it is mostly patterned after speech and images.  Another great thing about free verse poetry is that you have the freedom to use sound effects and shortened lines whenever you feel, without worrying about getting your words to rhyme! You will also need to point out that the song’s lyrics match up a place with a color that reflects the moods and feelings associated with that place.

Comparison/Contrast Idea: You also may wish to compare the lyrics of “Grey Street” with the lyrics of "Blu Is A Mood” by Blu Cantrell. Blu Cantrell’s song does not relate color to a setting, but rather describes all that the color blue can be in a very poetic way. Click here to visit WritingFix's collection of Comparison & Contrast Resources.

Step two…introducing student models of writing:  To give them an idea of the writing assignment at hand, in small groups, have your students read and respond to any or all of the student models that come with this lesson.  The groups should certainly talk about the idea development and word choice, since these are the focus of the lesson.

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 and pre-writing:  Now it is time to pass out the graphic organizer for this assignment.   Have the students brainstorm two or three of their favorite ideas for each section of the graphic organizer (Colors, Moods and Places) to get warmed up for their own writing.

Next, they will pick their favorite one from each column to write about. (They may also need access to a thesaurus to help them come up with different shades of the color they choose.)

Once the class has their graphic organizers completed, take a few minutes to have the students share their ideas with one another before beginning their free-verse poem.

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 students' first drafts, 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 out loud and on-line):  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 the Dave Matthews Band by clicking here!

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