An I-Pod Inspired Writing Lesson from WritingFix
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This Lesson:

What Skin are
You In?

writing a eulogy and birth annoucement for yourself to show a reader who you are

This lesson was created by Nevada teacher Allie Eckert at the NNWP's iPods Across the Curriculum inservice class.

This writing prompt inspired by

"I Will Remember You" sung by Sarah McLachlan

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:

Some information about this lesson's mentor texts In this lesson, students will be listening to a variety of songs throughout the writing process. To begin, students will be listening to I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan, which has a somber tone. This song is a ballad dedicated to a friend that has passed on. In this song, she explains what she will remember about this friend.

Students will then be listening to Man In The Mirror by Michael Jackson and watching a speech by Barack Obama that discusses the process of CHANGE in order to better oneself. Students will use this song to analyze the importance of change as well as how they can change in order to be better.

After discussing the process and necessity for change, students will listen to If You Want To Sing Out by Cat Stevens. This song is great because its very upbeat and encourages people to live out their dreams and gives way to the idea that you can be anything that you put your heart into.

Pre-step…before sharing the songsBefore introducing students to the songs, have each student make a list of words that they think of when they think of the word death. This should be done alone. Let students know that there is no wrong answer, rather it is a private interpretation. Once students have had several minutes to create their lists, have them flip the paper over and complete the same process activity using the word birth. Share out ideas as a class and write several on the whiteboard. Let the students know that over the next few days, they will be exploring the concepts of birth and death. However, since we are already alive, we will first begin with death, and then move to re-birth.

A Visual Option: If you are familiar with the film Serendipity, you might cue up and show them the eulogy clip. While students watch the clip, have them circle any words on their lists that this clip reminds them of.

Discuss in groups what a eulogy is.  Students should understand that eulogies are usually written when people die, and are used as a tribute to that individual.  At this point, students will be reading a variety of eulogies.  These can either be found in a local newspaper, or newspapers online.  Have students look through the eulogies and find common characteristics that they see in the eulogies.  Lead students to understand and become familiar with the different elements of a eulogy.

Step one…sharing the songs and other idea-inspiring media:  

Play I Will Remember You by Sarah McLaughlin.  While students are listening to the song, have them fill out the correlating two boxes on this graphic organizer.

Then play the Man in the Mirror, or if possible, show them the video of the song that goes with one of Barack Obama’s speeches about change.  This video comes from You-Tube, and it is below. If you can't access You-Tube from school, you can put the video on your iPod and play it from there at school.


On their graphic organizer, have students record the changes that both Obama and Michael jackson speak about.

At this point, hand out newspapers and have the students look at the birth announcements section.  Discuss what a birth announcement is.  Let the students know that along with a self-written eulogy, students will be writing a re-birth announcement.  Look through the announcements and lead students to understand the parts of the announcement. Let them know that when they write theirs, they will be including details about the changes that we want to make in our lives.

Then play If You Want to Sing Out by Cat Stevens.  While students are listening to the song and following along with the lyrics, have them fill out the last two boxes on the graphic organizer.

Tell students the ideas from these three songs are designed to help them think about their lives in preparation for writing two things: a eulogy for themselves and a re-birth annoucement.

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 y ou might prompt your students to talk about each model's voice 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!  Visit our student samples page for information.

Step three…thinking, talking, and pre-writing:  To begin the drafting process, students need to fill out this pre-writing sheet. Require them to include as many details as possible in the spaces provided to organize their thoughts.

If students need more direction, be sure they read the student-friendly directions for this lesson on the student instructions page that comes with this lesson.

Once students have finished filling out their pre-write forms, they may now move onto their rough drafts.  As students begin to move onto their rough drafts, it is important that they use the specific parts that are outlined on the pre-writing sheet. This will help your students to stay on topic, while allowing an easy transition to create the theme they are trying to present to their reader.

You might challenge your more creative students to write their two pieces of writing as poems or as narratives.

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.

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):   When they are finished revising and have second drafts, invite your students to come back to this piece once more during an upcoming writer's workshop block.  Their drafts might become a longer essay, a more detailed piece, or the beginning of a series of pieces about the ideas they started here.  Students will probably enjoy creating an illustration for this piece of writing as they get ready to publish it for their portfolios.

Interested in publishing student work on-line?  We invite student writers to post final drafts of their original at WritingFix's Community of Student Writers.  This is a safe-to-use blog for students and teachers. No writing is posted until it is approved by the moderator. Contact us at if you have questions about getting your students published.

Learn more about Sarah McLachlan by clicking here.
Learn more about Cat Stevens by clicking here.

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