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

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Start with What Isn't There

setting moods in setting descriptions

The writing of author Stephen Kramer is inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of voice and idea development. 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 6, 8, 10, 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 Samples: Elementary

The Grocery Store
a group story by Rodolfo, Julia, Misty, and Jose, second graders

I would not see a monkey in the grocery store. There will not be a dinosaur on the shelf. You can’t find a school in the grocery store. When I go the grocery store, I will not find an elephant eating crackers.

I would see vegetables in the grocery store. You would see food inside the store. In the grocery store you will find vegetables. You would find a water bottle in the grocery store.


The Haunted Ship
by Danny, third grade writer

There are no people. No one has gone there. No music has been played.
No plants have grown. There was no light, not even a pinch.

Five kids didn’t believe in it until it happened. They were taken by the ship. There were spiders everywhere, even skeletons. Every night they heard noises. That night mummies were walking. They were never seen again.

(Click here to view and print Danny and two of his classmates' descriptions.)


The Beach
by Amanda, fourth grade writer

A day at the beach is nothing like a day at home.  The sound of the waves is not interrupted by the noise of the television.  There is no furniture in the way of the sand castles.  Beauty can be found at the beach.

A day at the beach is full of sunshine and waves.  Cool ocean waves crash intro the hot, soft, sand pushing the seashells onto the shore.  The laughter of children can be heard while building sand castles.  The birds soar across the blue sky searching for left over picnic food.  The beach is a great place to be.

(Click here to view/print Amanda and one of her classmate's writing.)


Rain Forest Poem
by Konor, fourth grade writer

Towering trees blocking the sun.
No houses, no people,
Nothing to do
Except look at the beautiful glory.
It’s every animal for
Himself out there.

Jaguars glaring from tree to tree.
The prey and predators are lurking.
Snakes are slithering, rats are quivering.
So full of wonder.

(Click here to view/print Konor and four of his classmates' writing.)


A Lake
by Faith, fifth grade writer

At the lake, when the sky darkens and the sun disappears, nobody is there to splash or jump in the water. The water sits still as if it were dead. You don’t hear or see laughing or smiles. Nobody is talking, swimming or riding in boats. Nothing is heard. If you were to make a sound, it would only be repelled. The lake looks like a black hole in the earth as fog floats over it. Nobody would want to be at a lake on a dark gloomy night.

But then, the moon seems to flip and turn into the sun, and the trees seem to part, and the sun peers through the leaves and glimmers on the lake. After it rises, people come and the jump and splash in the lake. You hear laughing and talking. Smiles sprout out from the beams of sun, making your eyes water. But whether the sun rises or sets, it still is a lake.

Mexico Trip
by Justin, fifth grade writer

My dad and I went to Mexico for summer vacation. What were we doing in Mexico? Good question. My dad would not tell me. When we pulled up to this place, I went cold. It was definitely not a mansion. It was not even a medium-sized house! We got out of the car. When we got in the house as tiny as a mouse hole, my jaw dropped immediately. There were no living plants, no lights, no clean walls or countertops and …..NO TELEVISION! I felt a tear in my eye.

The beds were made out of pure stone. The toilets….you don’t want to know. All of the nonliving plants were pure black. I finally blinked and tears came pouring out. My dad took me out on a hike to let me cool down, but it didn’t work. I suffered in that cave my dad called a house for a month.

(Click here to view and print Faith, Justin and another of their classmate's descriptions.)


Student Samples: Middle School

Lost in the Forest
by Sarah, seventh grade writer

I walk from bright sunlight to a lonely place. You wandered too far away. It is very quiet, not a sound in the air. There are no people, toys, or food. There are no clothes to warm you from the cool breeze. There is but a bed of grass for you to sleep upon. You want to scream with sadness, but you know that chances are no one will hear you. When you are alone in the woods, you feel so alone. In this time of darkness, you know you are alone. No one can see or hear you cry.

Suddenly. You hear voices. The wind blows, and the tree branches seem to part, letting sun light the way to the voices. You see your family. You are not alone in these dark woods. At last you are with your parents. You laugh with relief. Birds chirp, and you are on your way home.

(Click here to view and print Sarah and two of her classmates' descriptions.)


Student Samples: High School

Calypso’s Island & Cave (from The Odyssey)
by Emma, ninth grade writer

No monsters inhabit this island. No dirt dares be seen on this island. This is not a place to feel uptight or afraid. No evidence of danger can be found here: no bones; no flesh; no sadness. There are places filled with feelings of hurt and danger, but this is not one of those places.

One enters this island and feels an overwhelming sense of peace. One is welcomed by the sweet scent of flowers and ocean breeze. Water spouts out of fountains into streams, where birds rest and animals graze. Vines wrap around this cave that’s blanketed with flowers. This place is filled with beauty and passion. This is Calypso’s cave.

(Click here to view and print Emma and one of her classmate's descriptions.)


My Room
by Brandon, eleventh grade writer

I enter my room. No silence here. It is an area void of any order or neatness. I know only by faith that the floor is even there, hidden beneath mounds of dirty and clean clothes. The walls, invisible under posters and pictures, souvenirs and snapshots, haven’t seen the light of day in years.

I take a step further in, being careful to avoid what could be hiding under the mounds of stuff that buries my floor. The stereo is booming beside my bed, which is unmade. This is a room of beautiful disorder. All four walls are one big collage.

(Click here to view and print Brandon and two of his classmates' descriptions.)


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