A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Using 90th Street's Advice

four techniques to inspire quality details

The writing of author Roni Schotter is inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of idea development and word choice. Join us in teaching (and adapting) this on-line lesson and sharing your students' work.

You can publish up to three of your students' edited and finished stories at this page.

Use these samples to inspire your student writers! Discussing the strengths of published student samples before, while, and after using this on-line assignment is important. If your students are engaged in trait- or skill-inspired discussions about any of the samples we've posted here, they will produce better writing, especially if you help them take their writing all the way through the writing process.

Thank you, those who share their students' writing with us.

Additional Student Samples Being Sought:
Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

Learn more about WritingFix's policies for publishing student work by visiting our Publishing Student Writers Information Page.

WritingFix is currently seeking additional student samples from this writing assignment that can be featured in this space. Submitted student work must show evidence of revision, editing, and the final draft must be typed and sent through e-mail.

To have us consider your students' writing for inclusion on this page, you must post the writing to our Ning page dedicated to this lesson. Click here to access that page. You must first be a member of the Writing Lesson of the Month Network in order to post.

Student Samples: Elementary

The Writer
by Siobhan, second grade writer

Person/Character: a student
Place/Setting: a school
Thing: a typewriter

Alison flung her light blond hair out of her blue eyes as she ran toward George Washington Elementary School.  As she burst through the gates of the school, she barreled into her friend Jesse.  Alison and Jesse both landed in a heap.  Alison jumped up, said, "Gotta go!", and charged into her classroom.  She threw herself into her chair, and pulled the cover from her old, black typewriter.  As she hammered down on the keys, it sounded like high heels clicking and clacking on a mall floor.  As she rushed to finish typing her story, the keys stuck as she banged them down.  What if the bell rang before she finished her story?

The Lifeguard
by Justin, third grade writer

Person/Character: a lifeguard
Place/Setting: a beach
Thing: a life buoy

Jake loved being a lifeguard…. until now. Today was no ordinary day. Waves smacked against the ocean floor as if they were mad at him. CRASH! Sand flew across the beach, blasting people like it was yelling at them to leave. Suddenly, Jake heard a scream, “HELP, HELP!” He glared into the ocean and spotted a little boy stuck in the sea screeching and wailing helplessly. Jake’s giant hands snatched his buoy and he dashed toward the ocean feeling anxious about the water. When he got close enough, he chucked the gleaming, colorful buoy into the air. SPLASH! Would the little boy in the water catch it?

(Click here to print Justin's writing, along with samples from two of his classmates.)

Ghost Hunt
by John, fourth grade writer

Person/Character: a man
Place/Setting: a cemetery
Thing: a flashlight

On a cold, fall night leaves were blowing in the wind by the old cemetery. A rusty old pickup truck parks. A man steps out. The cemetery glares at him as he walks through the obsidian night. He slowly walks with his small, trembling feet. His wide hands move the flashlight through the night, trying to find the ghost. Tap tap! He hears something but doesn’t see anything? As the wind howls in the moonlight, the weary man shakes from the cold. It is dark as an alley, thinks the man. Drip drip! The sweaty flashlight almost slips out of his hands. What if the flashlight burns out?

(Click here to print John's writing, along with samples from one of his classmates.)

A Visit to the Museum
by Alfredo, fifth grade writer

Person/Character: a hunter
Place/Setting: a museum at night
Thing: a net

Joe entered the museum of Ancient History, looking for an unusual adventure, a terrifying adventure because he was a brave hunter with his net. All of a sudden, Joe heard steady footsteps behind him. He twisted his body around to see what had happened, but nothing was there except for the American Indian exhibit. He was frightened; he also felt someone watching him. The cold, dark museum was silent except for the wind coming from an opened window, but then he heard the sound of moving keys. A little bit of moonlight shone on Joe’s silver net launcher and made him fall down. When he looked up, the dinosaur’s skeleton in the dark made him tremble. Joe heard someone whistling, so he turned around, accidentally pressing the button to launch the net. What if Joe’s net was launched at a police officer that worked at night?

(Click here to print Alfredo's writing, along with samples from two of his classmates.)

Real or Dream?
by Nikola, sixth grade writer

Person/Character: a secret agent
Place/Setting: an island
Thing: a pocket knife

He arose on a bright luminous morning astounded by where he had awakened.  The only thing that he could recall was that his name was Secret Agent Double 08. He reached his filthy, dirty hands deep into his pocket and discovered two things: a note and a pocket knife. The note read,

Tomorrow morning this island will sink,
so act fast and don’t forget to think!

So Agent Double 08 immediately got to work on planning his escape . There was only one tree on the entire island and no room for mistakes because this would be the only material he could use to make an escape. He decided to create a boat out of the tree, using his pocket knife, that would withstand the sweep of each treacherous wave surrounding the island.

When done making the boat, he left right away before the island sank and left him to drown. After getting about twenty yards away from shore, Agent Double 08 had realized he failed! His boat had already started to fill up with water, and if he went any further it would sink.  He jumped out and swam all the way back to the island and fell into a dark sleep.  What if Agent Double 08 drowned  in his sleep? Or what if the Secret Agent Double 08 had been dreaming this whole time?                                                     

(Click here to print Nikola's writing, along with samples from two other sixth grade writers.)

Student Samples: Middle School

Pencil and Paint
by Kora, seventh grade writer

Person/Character: an artist
Place/Setting: a street
Thing: a pencil

She sat impatiently on the fading white scratched-up curb, hitting her pencil against the sketchpad impatiently. She sighed, almost growled, and I laughed. My best friend pressed her pencil onto the paper for a second as if to draw. I waited. She scowled a little, turned her pencil around in her hands, and erased the small mark she made. We’d been sitting here forever, me talking and trying to help, while she drew. Or really, tried to draw. Her pencil was dull, but the page was still as white and clean as fresh fallen snow. I looked down at the clock on my iPod – about an hour and a half had passed. I slid my hand along the curb. It was chipping. I pulled a falling piece of dried white paint off and threw it at her. The paint landed on the middle of the page. She smiled, and traced it.

“There,” she said, showing me a haphazard square. And all of a sudden we couldn’t stop laughing.

(Click here to print Kora's writing, along with samples from three of her classmates.)

Number Two Pencil
by Max, eighth grade writer

Person/Character: Vampire Slayer
Place/Setting: Forest
Thing: Pencil

She could feel the cross necklace against her skin as she tried to write her paper on mythological creatures. Every time she thought about it, her mind came back to one thing...vampires. She couldn't stop thinking about how one could be lurking behind one of the great redwoods that towered over her in all directions. It was always dark in the forest at night, but the overcast weather and the waning moon made it hard to see anything. The darkness should have made great cover for her, for her black clothes blended in perfectly, but she still felt horribly vulnerable with only her over-sharpened number two pencil.

Suddenly she heard a crack, which seemed to come from all directions. Then she heard it again, the sound of a twig breaking, but magnified by her fear it was as loud as a whip cracking. A third time the whip seemed to crack; this time she detected where it was coming from. She quietly set down her notebook and moved toward the tree from which the sound was coming, pencil raised, ready to attack. As she grew closer to the massive redwood, horrid thoughts flashed through her head. What if the meager pencil didn't kill the vampire? She tried not to think about it...

(Click here to open/print Max's story as well as the stories of two of his classmates.)

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