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

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This Lesson's Title:

A Call
for Change

crafting a poem or paragraph that persuades others to pay attention

This lesson was proposed by NNWP Consultant Rebekah Foster at the NNWP's iPods Across the Curriculum inservice class.

This lesson is inspired by Bob Dylan's

"The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Click here to do a Google search for the lyrics.


Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:

Background informationBob Dylan was and is a major figurehead for the social change of the 1960s. His lyrics inspired a generation to critically analyze the world around them, become angry at injustice, and fight for needed change. Click here to learn more about Bob Dylan at wikipedia.

Pre-step…before sharing the song Before beginning the lesson, ask your students the following question: “What would you change about the world today?” Spend a few minutes discussing their responses. Guide them toward thinking about global, political, and social issues. Let their passion begin to show as this will be a key factor in their finished written pieces.


Step one…sharing the song and other inspiring media:  Share the song The Times They are A-Changin’ by Bob Dylan in which he sends out a call to the world to ready for, as well as, initiate change. Students should listen and follow along with the lyrics. As they do, remind them to think about the various ways to initiate and create change. They should also pay special attention to what tools Dylan feels people will need to use in order to face and make changes in this changing world.


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 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:  Now that students have listened to the song, ask them to complete the first part of this graphic organizer. This first section guides them in analyzing who Dylan is sending his call for change to, what tools he expects these people or groups to use, what changes are coming as well as what these people or groups need to do in order to meet said changes. Allow students to work in groups in order to more effectively create a dialogue regarding change as well as the poetic techniques Dylan uses in conveying his message.

Next, have students brainstorm for themselves areas of needed or inevitable change as well as who can initiate such change. Use the second page of the graphic organizer to brainstorm what issues they are passionate about. If need be, as students become stuck in this process, direct them to the “interactive button” on the student instruction page in order to facilitate ideas for change.

When students have brainstormed areas for change, use the second-half of the graphic organizer's second page to help them choose a few people or groups that should heed the call of change, what tools they could use as they face, make, initiate, and create change. Give student several minutes to work by themselves, then give them several more minutes to share ideas with others and thus receive feedback regarding their own ideas.

Finally, have students use the third page of the graphic organizer to begin their rough drafting. The lesson provides for two different outcomes: 1) a poem that models Dylan’s song or 2) a prose piece that persuades a single person or group to initiate change. Be sure to remind them that while they must convey their passion, they must also respect other’s perspectives and feelings in the classroom setting.

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 stories might become a longer story, a more detailed piece, or the beginning of a series of pieces about the story they started here.  Students will probably enjoy creating an illustration for this story 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 publish@writingfix.com if you have questions about getting your students published.

Learn more about Bob Dylan by clicking here.


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