A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: ORGANIZATION Support Trait: SENTENCE FLUENCY

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Between Repeated
Catch Phrases

creating a story that "stacks" on itself

The writing of author Judith Viorst is currently inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of organization and sentence fluency. 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.

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Additional Student Samples Being Sought:
Grades 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

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Student Samples: Elementary

I Wish it had been a Dream
by Vivian, second grade writer

One day I woke up from bed. I went to the kitchen to eat breakfast, but I didn’t get the cereal I wanted. My brother made me laugh when I was eating and some of the milk fell out and got on my shirt and got my favorite jeans wet. I wish it was just a dream.

When I was going to school, I forgot to tie my shoe and I tripped on my shoelace. When I got off the bus, someone pushed me and I fell down on my elbow. I wish it was just a dream.

When I came home, I rang the doorbell ten times and started to cry. I thought I was alone. Then the door opened and it was my brother. I wish it was just a dream. When I went to bed, my brother erased all of my answers on my homework and changed it. I wish it was just a dream.

The next day at school I got an “F” on my homework. It was another horrible day. It wasn’t a dream.

(Click here to print/view Vivian and two of his classmates' stories.)


Any Worse?
by Andrew, third grade writer

I woke up on Friday morning. “This is going to be the best day ever!” I announced. I jumped out of bed to wash my face and shower. Suddenly I tripped on my toy sword as if I stumbled over a rock. “Ouch!’ I said. So I went to wash my face. Then I hopped in the shower. “Brrr!” I said. It was really cold. It felt like someone dumped icy water on my head. I dashed out of the shower and grabbed a used towel. I was so busy drying myself that I fell down the stairs. “Ooof! Ouch! Ahh!” I shrieked. I crashed into a pile of boxes. It was like bowling!

“Ha ha ha,” my brother teased.

“Shut up.” I said. I had no time to argue. It was 8:10. I snatched my waffle, choked it down, got hold of my chocolate milk and chugged that down also. On my way I thought, “Could this day get any worse?”

When I got to school I knew I was late. A glacier could have beaten me to school. After a while it was time to check our homework. I looked for mine but couldn’t find it. “Rats!’ I said. When Mrs. Higgins came around to check it, I told her I forgot it. I got a zero for homework that day. When it was time to go home I got the papers from my mailbox and copied down my assignments. “I have homework on a Friday?” I shouted. Then I looked at my test. “Good grief!” I said. I got a U on my test. Could this day get any worse?

When I came home, my mom saw my test. “Andrew!” she scolded. “You shouldn’t fail your tests!” she continued. Then she had a whole boring speech.

When I thought I’d die of boredom she finally stopped. Then I did my bizillions of homework. After that I spilled water on it, so I had to wait for it to dry. When it was dry I got back to work. It must have still been a bit wet because I ripped it. When I was finally done around 8:00, I decided to play my Wii. Halfway through the batteries died. Could this day get any worse? Suddenly I saw the clock turn from 8:59 to 9:00. It was time for bed.

I hope tomorrow will be a better day!

(Click here to print/view Andrew and three of his classmates' stories.)


The Worst Picture Day Ever
by Tarique, fourth grade writer

Today when I woke up, I thought it was our Halloween party so I put on my Halloween costume. On the bus, my friend told me it was picture day! I hit myself on the head, and then blurted, “I wish I was stuck on Pluto.”

At school, I said to myself that it could not get worse. But it did! Bang! The kick ball hit me right in the eye. I yelled “Ow!” When I noticed I had a black eye, I whispered, “I’m really going to Pluto tomorrow.”

At lunch, I sat beside my best friend. Someone called him, and his hand hit my juice…Whoosh! Right on my shirt! Then I said to myself, “Why don’t my mom and dad rent a space ship to Pluto?”

Once it was picture time, I started sweating. My clothes were very wet. I whispered, “I can’t take a picture like this.” So… I dashed to my locker. When I looked, my other clothes were not there! I got dizzy and then I fell fast asleep. When I woke up, it was the end of the day.

I went home, told my mom what happened, and she said, “Sometimes picture day is bad, even on Pluto.”

(Click here to print/view Tarique and two of his classmates' stories.)


The Worst Day Ever
by Noah, fifth grade writer

As I got out of bed, I got my hat for Crazy Hat Day and my “I hate teachers” shirt. As I went to the kitchen, my sister moaned, “Glue your hat on your head! Then you will be more crazy.” So I did. When I went downstairs, I tripped down the stairs and landed in a dog present.

My mom came to me and said, “I can’t believe that you have a black eye and…is that what I think it is? On picture day?”

“What?” I screamed in terror, “Today isn’t picture day.”

When I went outside, I slipped in mud. I sat there and thought to myself, “I should just dig a hole to Tokyo.”

On the bus, a pizza met my muddy face with a SPLAT! When I got to school, the janitor had a bucket of water and SLIP! Water spilled on me and it looked like I peed in my pants. All of the kids laughed at me. In class, I accidentally stapled my shirt while I was stapling my essay. I should just dig a hole to Tokyo.

We all went to the picture taker. I was next to go as I saw Billy Doof, the doof who doofed me with his doofin’ pizza. He blinked during his picture, but he got a second picture taken.

It was my turn. The picture man looked at me and said, “Ready, 3,2…” as I picked my nose and sat on a tack. “1”, he finished. FLASH!

The next day, I saw the yearbook and myself. The lighting was bad and everyone laughed at me, especially Bily Doof. Then I boomed, “So what!? Your last name is Doof!” and all of the kids called, “But you said your last name is Dean!”

I never said I should dig a hole to Tokyo again, and I lived happily every after. But I can’t say the same for Billy Doof.

(Click here to print/view Noah and one of his classmate's stories.)


Simply a Bad Picture Day     
by Mathew, sixth grade writer

What a great day , I thought to myself as I was getting out of bed. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and everything seemed perfect. Then I remembered it was the day for school picture retakes! That was a bummer because, the day before, I had to get my front chipped tooth fixed, and my mouth still felt frozen; as a result, my smile was a little lopsided. When I tried to comb my hair, it seemed like someone had put a spell on it because it just didn’t go the way I combed it. Having finished with the ordeal of getting dressed for school, I bolted downstairs, but I tripped and landed on my face. As I got up, my tooth felt funny. I rubbed my tongue on it and realized that half my tooth was missing. My mom was horrified when I told her about it. I couldn’t eat breakfast because my tooth hurt too much, so mom made me a fruit smoothie. My mouth was still numb, and unknowingly I spilled the smoothie all down my shirt. From that moment on, I knew I was going to have the worst school picture ever. I wished I could fly to Mars.

Arriving at school, I was greeted by Cory, the school bully. He tried to tease me as much as he could, but when I didn’t react, he pushed me in the mud. My white shirt was soiled and my trousers were wet and smelly. At that point I thought that I had seen the worst for the day, but I was very wrong. As I was walking inside, I heard someone call my name. I turned around to see who it was. It was my friend Dawson. “Hi,” I said. When I turned back around--WHACK!--I walked into a pole. I went out like a light. It was horrifying. I really wished I could fly to Mars.

When I awoke (which must have only been a few seconds later because everything was still buzzing inside), there was a big red mark in the shape of a pole on my forehead. At my locker, my lock wouldn’t open, so I kicked it as hard as I could. This idea worked because my locker opened, but unfortunately my foot felt liked it was going to explode. After getting my books and entering the classroom, I sat down for the first period. It seemed like everything was finally under control, but just then the announcement came over the intercom: “Could all grade 6 students who are getting picture retakes please report to the gym.” I thought to myself how I could possibly pose for a picture in this state. My clothes were a mess, my front tooth was chipped and I had a big red mark on my forehead. Mom says there’s no air on Mars, but I’m sure it’s better to live there than being humiliated here.

The wait time for the pictures was very long. I’m always last because my last name is Ztropilisky. I was so nervous that I almost wet myself waiting in line. When I nearly reached the head of the line, I felt like I was going to vomit. As I sat down to get my picture taken, I winced because a sharp piece of metal dug into my leg. I thought it was a tack, but it was just the latch that made the stool fold up. I barely had time to relax and the camera flashed right in front of my eyes. Unfortunately the camera man was in a rush and did not take a second shot. This was my only chance and I could see what a mess my school photo would be. I bet the aliens on Mars have high tech photo shops so everything is always picture perfect.

Nine months later, on my way home I was looking at my yearbook. Dawson was walking home with me. As we were flipping through the yearbook, we arrived at the specialty pages with pictures of students who have been voted the class leader, athlete of the year, smartest person and so on and so forth. On the page designated for funniest pictures, right in the middle was a snapshot of none other but me. I looked as comical as ever.

What had started out as the worst school picture day turned out to be the cause of some laughter amongst my friends. I guess going to Mars isn’t necessary after all.

(Click here to print/view Matthew and two other sixth graders' stories.)


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