A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: ORGANIZATION Support Trait: WORD CHOICE

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Students: Publish your writing to this prompt on-line

Teachers: Discuss how you used this lesson on-line

This Lesson's Title:

Who's to Blame Stories

sequencing a story while talking about cause and effect

This lesson idea was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Nevada teacher Deanna LayPort at an SBC-sponsored inservice class.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! by Rosetta Stone. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author.

Check out Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! at Amazon.com.

Washoe County teachers, click here to search for this book at the county library.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:

Step one (sharing the published model):  Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo!, written by Rosetta Stone (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss), is a terrific circular story that starts with a small action that leads to an enormous reaction.  A small bug sneezes, causing a seed to drop, which in the end causes a jumbled mess with a circus parade in the city...where we find the bug that started it all.

This clever adventure is a simple cause and effect story that follows a predictable pattern throughout:  Because that seed dropped, a worm got mad.  Because he got mad,..One skill of the organization trait is planning a logical sequencing of events.  This book will serve as a model to help your students to sequence without the common signal words. 

Says Deanna, "Teachers should be sure to stress as they read aloud Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo!, that the author chooses to use a specific pattern throughout the story.  Draw the students’ attention to the lack of sequence words in the story, but point out that the story does have a logical sequence of events.  After reading, discuss with your students how such a small event as a bug sneezing led to such an outrageous event in the city with a circus parade.  Talk to them about how the author has a whimsical way of bringing nontraditional characters to life and creating a humorous story.  Invite your students to share any connections they made between this story and other characters in other Dr. Seuss books.  Also invite them to share an experience when something small happened that then led to something larger."

Let students know they will be creating their own stories that borrow Dr. Seuss's pattern but rely on them to create a completely original series of cause and effect events.

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 organization, since that's the focus of this lesson.  You might prompt your students to talk about each model's word choice as well.

  • We're looking for student samples for all grade levels for this prompt!  Help us publish some, and we'll send you free books for your classroom!  Contact us at publish@writingfix.com for details.

Step three (thinking and pre-writing): The interactive word game on the Student Instruction Page is designed to help your students come up with a humorous beginning to their own circular story. Your students will enjoy writing their own outrageous events and sharing these laugh-out-loud stories with the class.  Have the students follow the same pattern as provided by the book Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!

Step four (revising with specific trait language):   Two tools for revision are provided below, and students should be encouraged--after they have created a second draft--to consider a third draft. 

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.

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