A Literature-Inspired Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: IDEA DEVELOPMENT Support Trait: WORD CHOICE

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Teacher's Guide:

Mechanical Monsters

creating a futuristic pet with Fahrenheit 451's inspiration

This lesson was created by NNWP Teacher Consultant Kim Cuevas and then presented at an AT&T-sponsored in-service class for teachers.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author, especially from chapter 1 of the book.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Fahrenheit 451 from Amazon.com, and help keep WritingFix free and on-line. We thank you!

A note for teachers: 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:   Discuss with students how authors create characters in literature. Students should be aware of indirect (physical descriptions, actions and behaviors, habits, what the character says, the character’s thoughts, and interactions with other characters) and direct (what others say about the character and insights or statements of character analysis made by the author) methods of characterization. Have students think about a dog, any dog, and then have students complete the “dog” portion of the F451 Characterization T-Chart, using words that they would use in writing a description of a dog. Encourage students to think about choosing great words to describe a dog.


Step one (sharing the published model):  Bradbury uses traditional methods of characterization to create a living, breathing (sort of) character from a hunk of metal. Now that students have had to think about ways they may describe a dog, hand out copies of the text. You will be using pages 24-27, where the Mechanical Hound is first being introduced. Read the text out loud to the students. Then allow students to work in groups to complete the “mechanical hound” portion of the t-chart. Students should begin to think about how Bradbury plays on the features of a regular dog to develop the character of the mechanical hound. Discuss the t-chart as a group. Focus students on the great words that Bradbury uses to create the mechanical hound.


Step two (introducing a teacher or student model): 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, because of the Post-it® Note-sized template that has been embedded on each model.  Encourage students to think about how the students used methods of characterization to develop their characters. You may want to use a similar t-chart to discuss student models. You might prompt your students to talk about each model's word choice as well.

  • Because this is a new lesson, 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!

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 all developmentally appropriate 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): Either use the online interactive prompt or brainstorm a list of animals that students might use to create their own futuristic animals. Once students have decided on an animal, have them think about that animal in general. Then they should complete the t-chart describing that animal. Next students should take the characteristics of their animal and use the t-chart to determine the futuristic version of that animal. Again, encourage students to think about the words they are choosing when describing their characters. After students have completed the pre-writing, they can begin drafting their paragraph about their animal.

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):   The teacher model (from the overhead) has some obvious word revisions between its original and the second draft (at the bottom of the same overhead). Encourage revision between students' original, comma-spliced passages and their second drafts. Consider attaching a Word Choice Post-It to their rough drafts to encourage word revisions. 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 four (editing for conventions):  After students apply their revision ideas to their drafts and re-write neatly, require them to have a fellow editor check their punctuation.   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 notebook pages and their revised and edited stories 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 Ray Bradbury by clicking here.


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