An I-Pod Inspired Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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

Lisa keeps a personal portfolio of work here at WritingFix.

Teacher's Guide:

Creating Memorable Advice

"always wear sunscreen" and other advice worth remembering

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

This writing prompt inspired by

"Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) - As Made Famous By: Baz Luhrmann"

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 :

Note from Tamara, this lesson's author: "The goal of this writing assignment is to produce a compelling piece of text that others will remember! Here is the one-page assignment overview I give to my students."

Pre-step: Have your students write a personal decalogue that takes the form of ten rules to live by. Some great examples of decalogues can be found in: The Ten Commandments, Ben Franklin’s Autobiography, Because of Winn Dixie, A Separate Peace, and right here at WritingFix's Personal Decalogue Prompt.

Once your students have a first draft, ask them to share them aloud in small groups. Spend some time on a comletely different task (5-10 minutes is optimal), and then ask the students to write down lines that they remembered from their peer’s writing. This should lead into a conversation about what makes writing memorable; to start their thinking, you can use this journal prompt, or this more guided list of choices for them to rank. Enjoy the discussion as students get passionate about their favorite types of writing!

Step one…sharing the song:  Now that the class has established a general idea of what makes writing memorable, listen to “Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen).”

I-Pod Link: If you happen to have access to YouTube at your school (or know how to download one of their videos to your I-Pod), you can show the video version of the song, using the link below. If you can't see the video link just below, you are on a computer that doesn't allow access to YouTube; you can certainly watch the video later on a computer that allows you access. The subtitles on the video, by the way, are in Portuguese.


After listening to or watching the song, ask your students to recall their favorite lines from it, and help them make connections between those favorites and the criteria they’ve created for memorable writing.

After some discussion, surprise them with the fact that this was a newspaper article before it was a song! (Click the link to read the history, including the original newspaper column.) Have them listen to the song again with the newspaper article in front of them and look at literary devices used by the writer; use this list of literary devices to help keep them informed. This how and why chart might help guide this discussion as students identify the devices used by the author and ponder the purpose behind those devices.

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. Each student model is presented in different format, although all began as basic decalogues. The groups should certainly talk about the idea development and sentence fluency, since that's the focus of the lesson. Also , students should note how the student models each have a purpose behind the final product, and each uses sentence fluency and language to achieve that purpose.

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:  Have your students choose 3 things that they liked best or remembered the most from “Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen).” They will be transforming their original decalogues, using new ideas to make their original ideas more memorable.

For their final product, students will be asked to completely change the format and genre of their original decalogue . They can use the buttons on the student instructions page for some creative ideas, if they have trouble coming up with one of their own.

Just as they filled out the “how and why” chart for the song, they can also fill out the sam chart when planning their own final product; if the product is more artistic than linguistic, students can still use the “how” section to explain color choices, symbols, patterns, and other visual methods, and then explain the purpose behind those choices. Click here for a "how and why" planning sheet, which also contains the rubric that Tamara's students use as they plan and assess their final projects.

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' initial 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 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 the history of the song and video
that inspired this lesson by clicking here!

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