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

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Teacher's Guide:

Creative Convincing

reviewing the friendly letter format with persuasive techniques

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

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book CLICK, CLACK, MOO: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin. 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 Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type 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 :

Pre-step (before sharing the published model):  Review friendly letters. This lesson should not be used as an introduction to this type of letter-writing, but it should be used as a fun review...perhaps before an assessment.

Step one (sharing the published model):  This book is truly excellent as an idea generator for young writers.  On the surface, the book's writing may seem very basic; however, for struggling or beginning writers, imitating this book's idea can be a wonderful tool to unleash the imagination of a developing writer!  You should read the book to students at least twice:  once, purely for entertainment as this is a hysterical book; a second read to set up this on-line writing assignment.

While reading Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin, point out how this book is about negotiation in an unexpected and absurd setting.  Celebrate the improbability of cows, chickens, and ducks being able to use a typewriter to communicate with the farmer.  While pointing out the impossibility of animals using communication technologies, focus on the power of negotiation and using writing as a tool for communication – absurd setting and situation or not!  

Says Vicky, "This book can also be used as a great cross-curricular tool to teach negotiation or revolution, i.e. the Revolutionary War.  Let the barn animals become the upstart American Patriots, and the Farmer can be the British.  What are the similarities between the battling groups?"

Tell students they will be writing a persuasive and friendly letter in the voice of an animal who wants something from a human. They will need to display humorous voice while completely adhering to the format of a friendly letter.

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 voice, since that's the focus of this lesson, but you might prompt your students to talk about each model's organization 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): Students should have no problem coming up with an animal's voice to use for this assignment, but if they do, the interactive buttons on the Student Instructions Page might give them ideas.

Before drafting, create two classroom lists: "persuasive words" and "persuasive techniques." Ask students, "How do you convince someone to give you something they have never thought to give you? What kinds of words do you use? What kind of tone do you take on?" Discuss ideas and put them on the list for students to refer to as they draft.

By reading Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type again, you might find some techniques to add to your classroom list. You might also find some different techniques by sharing some of Ike's letters home in the book Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague. WritingFix has a lesson that uses this book as its mentor text too; click here to access that lesson.

Once students have some techniques and words to include in their letters, let them write. You might want to put WritingFix's friendly letter template on the overhead for them to refer to as they write.

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 author Doreen Cronin by clicking here.

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