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

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Lesson & 6-Trait Overview

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This lesson's author:

Tamara Turnbeaugh has been a Northern Nevada Writing Project Teacher Consultant since 2006. She teaches high school in Sparks, Nevada.

Tamara keeps a personal portfolio of work here at WritingFix.

 

 

Teacher's Guide:

Ain't That
America

Imitating "Pink Houses" to think deeply about a novel's themes, history's events, or an original character's voice

This lesson was created by Northern Nevada Writing Project Consultant Tamara Turnbeaugh.

This writing prompt inspired by

John Mellencamp's "Pink Houses"

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:  Themes from American literature, like those in To Kill a Mockingbird, The Jungle, The Scarlet Letter, and The Great Gatsby, pair with the song "Pink Houses" very well, as do events from throughout American History.

Start this lesson by using this first graphic organizer to brainstorm and record conflicts in the material your class is currently studying: place characters from a novel or historical events in the bubbles and discuss the many conflicts that surround that person or event on the spokes.

Terms to review include: internal conflict, external conflict, theme, and sensory detail.


Step one…sharing the song:  Give your students a printed copy of the lyrics to "Pink Houses" before listening to the song so that they can follow along. Instruct students with the following directions and challenge them with these questions:

  • In the margin, describe the concept/conflict of each stanza.
  • What do the pink houses symbolize?
  • How does this apply to To Kill a Mockingbird? (Or whatever novel or historical era you're studying)
  • How does this apply to The American Dream today?

After listening, use this second graphic organizer to track sensory details and key phrases; these details will enable students to analyze the main conflict of each stanza and, in-turn, the overall song.


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!  Help us get some, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  Contact us at publish@writingfix.com for details.

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:  Once both the song and any available student models have been thoroughly analyzed, connect the conflicts from the song to the literature- or history-specific conflicts brainstormed earlier.

Using this third graphic organizer, have the students pick three historical events or characters from your class novel and develop some unique ideas. Finally, re-write the main stanzas of the original song to speak about the events or characters from your curriculum. Students may keep the original chorus, or modify it to better match their songs.

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 John Mellencamp by clicking here!


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