A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Lesson & 6-Trait Overview

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Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources

Student Writing Samples from this Lesson


On-line Publishing:

Publish your students at our Ning!
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Teacher's Guide:

What Got

using excellent details to launch organized, original mystery story

This lesson was proposed by
Northern Nevada teacher Jenn Potter
at an SBC-sponsored inservice class.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book Grandpa's Teeth by Rod Clement. 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 Grandpa's Teeth 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):  Rod Clement’s picture book, Grandpa’s Teeth, is a witty mystery full of interesting details.  The book centers around a distraught Grandpa whose teeth are stolen...and no one would ever guess who actually did it.   Teachers should read this book aloud and point out the fantastic idea development the author displays through his use of excellent details.

Share this funny story about a family mystery.  While reading it aloud, stress how Clement has taken a simple plot about a stolen item and used intriguing details to create a wacky mystery.   The story can then inspire students to write their own goofy mystery, using creative idea development details to describe characters and objects in their story.   By using interesting details, the writer can take readers on a roller coaster adventure of “Who did it?”   Students should be challenged to broaden their "writing minds" by showing details and not just telling...just as Rod Clement did with Grandpa's Teeth.

Step two (introducing models of writing):   Have students look at the following elementary student's mystery story. Ask them to determine where Marisa is already showing strong idea development and organization skills. Ask them what advice they might give Marisa, if she was about to revise her story for just these two traits.

Where’s My Popcorn?
by Marisa

It was a dark, scary night and I heard a noise. I opened the pantry door and my popcorn was gone!

I thought it was the fish, but I wasn’t sure. So I had everyone hold out their hands so I could see if their hands were buttery.

Then I saw the pig and I k new it was him because he had a buttery face. We all watched a movie together and ate all the popcorn.

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 idea development, 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): The interactive button choices on the Student Instructions Page can certainly inspire your students to begin generating ideas for this assignment, but you can certainly create a class brainstorm that accomplishes the same without being on the computer.

Once students have a victim, a stolen item, and a suspect, the are ready to begin brainstorming words and details for their five-part stories.

In part one, their victim will discover he/she has been robbed.

In part two, the victim will discover a clue that leads them to think of a guilty suspect.

In part three, the victim will discover the clue has led them to the wrong suspect, or they will find another clue against the original suspect.

In part four, they will find a final clue that leads them to a different suspect or verifies their suspect.

Part five will have them catch the right person, or discover they have the wrong person, so the story might continue later.

Once they have planned their stories, have them write it on the two-page drafting sheet below. It has an idea development checklist embedded on its second page, which will help them self-evaluate their skills of that trait.

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 Rod Clement's books by clicking here!

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