A Literature-Inspired Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Lesson & 6-Trait Overview

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This Lesson's Title:

Hat Trick

comparing different descriptions of similar objects in one passage

This lesson was built for WritingFix
after being proposed by Northern Nevada Writing Project Consultant Nancy Thomas during 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 The Pearl by John Steinbeck. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author, especially from chapter 4 of the book.

Check out The Pearl at Amazon.com.

If you are a Washoe County teacher, click here to search for this book at the county library.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:

Pre-step (before sharing the published model): Groups will look at various examples from current magazines of all sorts of people wearing hats or headgear (baseball caps, tiaras, ski caps, etc.) The pictures should be mounted on construction paper and laminated for maximum use. Students will discuss with each other why people wear the headgear they wear. Students might also discuss what they are telling the world about themselves by wearing other articles of clothing other than hats.

Step one (sharing the published model):  If your students have previously been introduced to Kino, Juana, and Coyotito, they understand that Kino has found The Pearl of the World and is now on his way to sell his pearl to the pearl buyers. Students are aware of Kino’s strength, honor, and dignity. They understand that Kino’s dreams for his family will only be realized if Kino is able to sell his pearl at a fair price.

Share this short section from chapter 4 from The Pearl:

Kino put on his large straw hat and felt it with his hand to see that it was properly placed, not on the back or side of his head, like a rash, unmarried, irresponsible man, and not flat as an elder would wear it, but tilted a little forward to show aggressiveness and seriousness and vigor. There is a great deal to be seen in the tilt of a hat on a man.

Using the attached graphic organizer, have students organize the paragraph phrase by phrase to show the different ways a man can wear a hat.

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 should certainly talk about the idea development, since that's the focus of this writing assignment, but you might prompt your students to talk about each model's organization as well. 

  • We're looking for more student samples for most 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.

Step three (thinking and pre-writing): The Interactive Button Game Nancy designed on the Student Instructions Page is designed to get your students thinking about

Before they start drafting their descriptive pieces, request that students work from the Traits Guide for idea development and organization. Peer editing from the Traits Guide is an effective way of double-checking to see that all of the requirements for each trait have been met. Have the students use the ideas and organization draft sheet. This sheet’s embedded Post-it® Note-sized templates asks the students to rank themselves for both traits for this piece of writing.

To promote deeper thinking about idea development while students draft, you can have your students draft their writing on WritingFix's 2-page idea development drafting sheet.

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 author John Steinbeck by clicking here.

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