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

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Teacher's Guide:

A Pet's
Adventure Story

learning to punctuate direct addresses in a voice-filled story

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

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book Good Boy, Fergus! by David Shannon. 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 Good Boy, Fergus! 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 interjections and imperative sentences with your students.

Write several short sentences with interjections where all can see them. "Wow, that's wonderful!" and "Gee, I don't know." are two good choices.

Write several short imperative sentences that might be spoken. "Go to your room!" and "Eat it before it gets cold." are two good choices.

Explain a direct address as the adding of a name to interjections and imperative sentences. Explain that when you add a direct address, you usually need to add a comma. Show this by modifying the sentences you have written.

  • "Go to your room, Donna!" or "Donna, go to your room!"
  • "Eat it before it gets cold, Seth." or "Seth, eat it before it gets cold."

Tell students you will be reading a story today that has lots of imperative sentences and interjections. It also has lots of direct addresses aimed at its main character: a dog named Fergus.

Step one (sharing the published model):  Read Good Boy, Fergus! multiple times with your class before giving out this writing assignment.

First, read it for pure pleasure. Laugh because it's hysterical.

Second, read it and look at the interjections, imperative sentences, and direct addresses.

Third, discuss the role that voice plays in making the book a successful story.  Point out how the entire text is written from the perspective of what Fergus hears all day from his owner.  Some things he listens to, but other things he clearly ignores (such as “FERGUS MACLAGGAN! You come here right now!”)  Notice how the author uses different sizes and colors of text to show emotion. 

Reread the story once more, paying even closer attention to the illustrations of Fergus, and how they complement the text. 

Tell students they will be planning to write a story today (real or fictional) that shares details about a pet who goes on an adventure. Along with their details, students will use interjections, imperative sentences, and direct addresses to give their story voice.


Step two (introducing models of writing):  Start the modeling by sharing a true pet adventure written by you. Or you could use this story, written by Corbett Harrison, WritingFix's webmaster.

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 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): Time to plan the story! Stress that the pet adventure story can be true or fictional, but if it's fictional, it should be realisitic. Fighting a lion is not a very realistic adventure for a real pet, but going to the grocery store might just be. Encourage students to lean towards the more realisitic idea for their adventures.

The students' stories, like the models, need to share the details of a complete adventure. In between the details, students need to use interjections, imperative sentences, and direct addresses in dialogue. To have dialogue, students should probably think about having at least one other character in their stories.

If students don't have a pet or an idea for an adventure, allow them to play the interactive button game on the Student Instructions Page. It will inspire them with ideas for an original adventure.

Then, have students use this story-planning sheet to plan their rough drafts.

Students can write their rough drafts on this two-page drafting sheet, which comes with a voice checklist for them to use when they have finished their rough drafts.

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 David Shannon's books by clicking here!


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