A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: ORGANIZATION Support Trait: IDEA DEVELOPMENT

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Powerful First Paragraphs

Can three random nouns launch a powerful story idea?

The writing of author Robert De San Souci inspired 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 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12

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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 Sample: Upper Elementary

The Never-Ending Trouble
by Zohra, fourth grade writer

person: princess
place: castle
thing: ring

A globe of white luminosity rose, and moonlight flooded the room on the top tower of Castle Glista, where a girl of extraordinary elegance lay, tears sparkling on her cheek. Beside her, on a table that had legs with lions carved so carefully into them, a jewel-laden box sat that no one was allowed to open except Camilla, and no one ever would. Or would they? Above the girl’s head, a plaque was nailed into the flowered wallpaper, and read “Princess Camilla” with italics and gold writing. By the door, a pleasantly stout maid slouched, her head leaning on her shoulder, snoring, while the platter she was carrying tipped dangerously.

(Zohra was inspired be her first paragraph to write a longer story. Click here to see it.)


Alexander’s Quest
by Shari, sixth grade writer

person: a peasant boy
place: Greece
thing: some bread

The sun beat down on Athens, having no change on the anything new. Alexander Apolche,a poor boy, was at the market to buy some bread. Walking back along the crowed streets in the market, he headed home. He had long blonde hair, deep blue eyes, and a face that looked like the gods had made it. He was a very fast runner, but he had never left the city. He went back to his house that hadn’t changed in Zeus knows how long. He lived on the outskirts of town and was just in time for dinner. They had the wine and bread he had just bought home a few hours ago. Alexander was an only child who lived with his father because his mother died in a fire a year ago. Alexander wanted to know what lay beyond the rivers and beyond the mountains. Soon his chance would come.

(Click here to open/print Shari and one of her classmate's opening paragraphs.)


Student Samples: Middle School

Larry’s Violin
by Miguel, seventh grade writer

person: a musician
place: subway station
thing: a violin

Larry had a gift that touched the hearts of many. His story began at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. Larry was a tall, pale man with green eyes that he inherited from his mother, and long black hair inherited from his father. When Larry’s parents passed away long ago, he became homeless and spent countless nights sleeping in alleyways. He spent most of his time at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority Subway Station that was usually cold, damp, and riddled with large crowds. All Larry ever wanted was to be in an orchestra, so he took his only possession, a violin, with him everywhere. He had played the violin as long as he could remember, and had grown good at playing it. Though he knew the rosewood violin was a priceless, family heirloom, he never sold it. Instead he played it in the subway station, knowing it might be is ray of hope.

(Click here to open/print Miguel and two of his classmates' opening paragraphs.)


The Truth
by Sammi, eighth grade writer

person: orphan
place: office
thing: golden locket

Would you want to live in a cold, orphanage where you would always hear other crying? Try living there for sixteen years. Niki had sort of been an orphan her entire life. The only thing she had to remember her parents by was the old golden locket with a picture of her and her mother when she was a baby. But Niki didn’t know where her mother had gone. The only thing she wanted to know was the truth. “Your father left your mother, Viki, when she was pregnant with you when she was 20. She didn’t have the money to raise a child, so she had to put you in our orphanage,” the orphanage director had told her. Niki had heard the rumors that her mother had re-married and was now living in Long Island. If only Niki could get the key to the filing cabinets where all the records were kept.

(Click here to open/print Sammi and four of her classmates' opening paragraphs.)

 


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