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

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Lesson & 6-Trait Overview

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Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources

Student Writing Samples from this Lesson

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Teacher's Guide:

Floating Down
a River

planning both pacing and details with a graphic organizer

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Teacher Consultant Karen Suga at an SBC-sponsored inservice class.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett. 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 Daisy Comes Home from Amazon.com, and help keep WritingFix free and on-line. We thank you!

A note for 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 you become an authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :

Step one (sharing the published model):  Teachers should first read the book aloud to their students, emphasizing, “Who do you think Daisy will meet next?”   Advice from Karen: "Children familiar with Jan Brett’s books have discovered that by looking at the borders of each page you have a hint as to what might happen next.  Brett has developed this unique style to help children predict what will come next.  Subsequently, this technique lends itself well for children to organize their own writing into a step-by-step approach and to provide a satisfying ending."

Once you and your students have thoroughly enjoyed Brett's story as a whole piece of text, go back and re-read just the pages in the center where Daisy encounters the animals. Point out how each animal is given equal time in the story, and how a fairly equal amount of details and sentences are used to describe the encounter. In good writing, this is called "pacing," and writers learning about organization need to plan a story where they try the same thing.

What's bad pacing in writing? Students always enjoy hearing the story of the student who wanted to write about his summer trip to Disneyland. He spent five pages describing the packing of the family' vehicle, then was so tired of writing that he only spent a half of a page describing the actual rides. This is poorly planned pacing.


Step two (introducing student models of writing): Before having your students pre-write to create their own descriptive paragraphs, have them discuss any of the student samples that come with this writing lesson.  Have students count the number of sentences and details in each writer's sample so they can decide how well the pacing of the story came across to the reader.

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): Time to plan a well-paced story. The interactive button game on the student instruction page will give your students plenty of choices for different rivers to write about. Once they have decided that, they can use the pre-writing worksheet and the drafting worksheet to plan their stories.

Encourage your writers to use the most memorable and interesting details on their brainstorming sheets! You'll be surprised how many of those details make their way to the story's first draft!

Require your students to write the sentences they put on the drafting worksheet onto a lined piece of paper.

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 Jan Brett's books by clicking here!


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