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

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Teacher's Guide:

A Scientific
Mishap

organizing a story with purposeful paragraphs

This lesson was created by NNWP Teacher Consultant Dena Harrison. Check out all of Dena's online writing lessons by clicking here.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Dogzilla 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):  Have fun reading Dogzilla aloud to your class.  Celebrate the word play that Pilkey is known for.  Be sure to emphasize that the Dogzilla creature is a mixture of the traits of a dog mixed with the size and strength of Godzilla.  Suggest to your students that perhaps the creature Dogzilla was created in a scientific lab… perhaps by an unfortunate accident.  Have them discuss how they think this accident happened.  Tell them they will be writing their own story about a scientific mishap that leads to the creation of a new creature.


A note from this lesson's creator:

"I saw a B-movie on the Sci-Fi Channel once: Mansquito.  It reminded me of the title from Dogzilla, and the idea for this writing prompt just came to me. Recently, they changed the title to Mosquito Man, so I'm glad I saved the image of the original poster below."

--Dena Harrison

Step two (introducing student 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 organization, since that's the focus of this lesson.  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 word game on the Student Instruction Page will inspire your students to create "combined creatures," but students can certainly find successful ideas for this writing prompt through discussion and brainstorming away from the computer.  Their task is to combine the two word pairs into one interesting name that could be their story's title.  (Examples: Dog + Godzilla = Dogzilla; Man + Anaconda = Manaconda)  Have each student come up with three, then pick their favorite combination.  After pre-writing on the two-page worksheet, require students to create a new draft on their own 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 Dav Pilkey's books by clicking here!


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