A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Teacher's Guide:

Alliterative Insects

launching an original story inspired by sentences created for one's writers notebook

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Northern Nevada teacher
Elgin Thompson
at an
SBC-sponsored inservice class

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book Clara Caterpillar by Pamela Duncan Edwards. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Clara Caterpillar from Amazon.com, and help keep WritingFix free and on-line. We thank you!

A note for our teachers: These lessons are posted so that you may borrow ideas from them, but our intention in providing this resource is not to give teachers a word-for-word script to follow. Please, use this lesson's big ideas but adapt everything else. And adapt it recklessly; that's how one becomes an authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :

Step one (sharing the published model):  Clara Caterpillar by Pamela Duncan Edwards thrives on its alliteration.  This is the story of a common but cute cabbage caterpillar with no hope of becoming a colorful butterfly. She is constantly reminded of her common appearance by the crimson and catty Catisha who is also very conceited. Cornelius is Clara’s best friend and always comes to her defense when Catisha is being catty. When a crow selects the colorful crimson Catisha for a tasty meal, it is Clara who comes to her rescue.  Word Choice is an obvious trait to spot in this book.  The author has done a wonderful job choosing words beginning with the letter “C” to bring the characters to life and to launch an entire story inspired by alliterative nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

Pamela Duncan has done a wonderful job of choosing delightful adjectives, nouns and verbs beginning with the letter “C” to tell the story of Clara the caterpillar in an alliterative way.  Students should be told to pay particular attention to word choice as it relates to alliteration when reading this story.  Word choice is what makes this story especially fun to read.

The illustrations by Henry Cole bring the characters to life through their facial expressions that enhance and reinforce the vocabulary that the author has chosen.  The interactive activity below is a follow-up to reading the story and is intended to give students a starting point from which to create their own alliterative stories, using interesting nouns, adjectives and verbs that begin with the same letter, just as Edwards does with Clara Caterpillar.

Tell students they will be devoting a page in their writers notebooks to alliterative sentences about insects for the next few weeks. Each day, they will be adding one, two, or three new sentences to their growing collection. Their favorite sentence will become a longer, detailed story for their writing portfolios.

Step two (introducing 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 word choice, since that's the focus of this lesson, but you might prompt your students to talk about each model's idea development as well.

WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!

We're currently looking for student samples for other grade levels for this lesson!  Help us obtain some from your students, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  Visit this lesson's student samples page for details.

Step three (thinking and pre-writing): The interactive button choices on the Student Instructions Page are designed to get your students thinking about alliterative sentences for their writers notebooks. If you don't have access to a computer all students can see simultaneously, you can certainly inspire your pupils to create alliterative sentences simply by brainstorming or providing them with a list of insect names (katydids, ladybugs, etc.), insect-related verbs (crawl, sting, buzz, etc.), insect-related nouns (exo-skeleton, antennae, thorax, etc.), and insect-related adjectives (creepy, buzzing, crawling, etc.)

Each day, ask students to draft, revise, then carefully copy a sentence or two into their writers notebook. These sentences need to be alliterative sentences about insects.

After a week, have students share favorite alliterative sentences whole class. You might consider making a classroom bulletin board of really outstanding alliterative insect sentences.

Inform students, after a few weeks of collecting alliterative sentences, that they will be creating an original, detail-filled story inspired by their favorit alliterative insect sentence.

Read Clara Caterpillar again so they see how an entire story can be inspired by alliteration.

As students draft their stories, remind them of the importance of using memorable and interesting details. The two-page drafting sheet below includes a word choice checklist that students can use when their rough drafts are finished.

Share Original Graphic Organizers (for Pre-Writing)
from Your Teaching Toolbox.

We share graphic organizers with our peers, we find them in books, and we think we should also be able to find tried-and-true ones online at WritingFix. This year, if you create an original graphic organizer (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.

  • Original graphic organizers for specific lessons, like this one, can be submitted as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.

Step four (revising with specific trait language):  Two tools for revision are provided below.  You can use one or both, depending on how much time you have to spend on this assignment.

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.

Share Original Revision Techniques or
Adaptations from Your Toolbox.

Inspired by Barry Lane's Reviser's Toolbox, the WritingFix website encourages its teacher users to adapt our lessons, especially the tools of revision we have posted here. If you create an original revision tool (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.

  • Original revision ideas from teacher users of WritingFix can be submitted through copy/paste or as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.

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):  The goal of most lessons posted at WritingFix is that students end up with a piece of writing they like, and that their writing was taken through all steps of the writing process. After revising, invite your students to come back to this piece once more during an upcoming writer's workshop block.  The writing started with this lesson might become even more polished for final placement in the portfolio, or the big ideas being written about here might transform into a completely different piece of writing. Most likely, your students will enjoy creating an illustration for this writing as they ready to place final drafts in their portfolios.

Interested in publishing student work on-line? You might earn a free classroom resource from the NNWP! We invite teachers to teach this lesson completely, then share up to three of their students' best revised and edited samples at our ning's Publish Student Writers group.

To submit student samples for this page's lesson, click here. You won't be able to post unless you are a verified member of this site's Writing Lesson of the Month ning.

Learn more about Pamela Duncan Edwards' books by clicking here!

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