An I-Pod Inspired Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Teacher's Guide:

Quest Item

a three-part poem about
standing on the road of life

This lesson was created by NNWP Consultant Corbett Harrison. Corbett demonstrates this lesson during his 7 Elements of a Differentiated Writing Lesson Workshop for Teachers.

This writing prompt inspired by

Jim Croce's song "I Got A Name"

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 :

Step one (sharing the song):  Use the script below to share the stories of Theseus and Orpheus with your students.  The fourth page of the script is a handout that you should Xerox for each student and, as prompted by the script, have your students sketch scenes from the story.  The scenes your students will sketch are scenes from the early "life journeys" of two of the greatest mythological heroes.

After their fourth sketch, students will listen to the song "I've Got a Name," sung by Jim Croce, and they will discuss how the song could be about Orpheus, whose journey they have included among their sketches.  Use the link in the green box at the top of this webpage to open and print a copy of the song's lyrics that students can look at as they listen to the music.  After listening, students will create a fifth and final sketch that shows them standing on the road to life, about to embark on their first independent journey.  Like Theseus and Orpheus, they will equip themselves in their sketches with two or three "quest items" to help them be successful on their imagined journeys.

Step two (introducing models of writing):  Let students know that, based on Croce's song, they will be writing an original poem that has three parts.  The entire poem will be about them standing at the beginning of the road to life, and each part of the poem will examine and discuss one of three quest items they will take with them.

To inspire them further, share with your students one or all of the original poems written by the students below:

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):  The graphic organizer below should be passed out, and students should be allowed to talk to one other as each quest item they have selected is unpacked poetically on the handout.  You might consider having a copy of the graphic organizer on the overhead, and as you go through each row, show how you'd think about answering the questions, which are not the easiest questions to answer.

After students have completed their graphic organizers, ask them to create a rough draft of their poems.  Refer to Croce's song and to the student examples as they compose.  Encourage poetic thinking to be included in their drafts.  Students don't need to use every item from the graphic organizer when they write their rough drafts, but the graphic organizer--if completed--should inspire them to think poetically about their ideas before crafting a 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 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 singer Jim Croce by clicking here!

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