A Picture Book Poetry Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: WORD CHOICE Support Trait: ORGANIZATION

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Student Writing Samples from this Lesson


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Teacher's Guide:

Listen to the Word Choice of Authors

crafting a poem about the wind, modeled after Listen to the Rain.

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Teacher Consultant
Karen McGee

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this books' authors.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Listen to the Rain 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 :

Pre-step (setting the stage): Show your students the online video called rain.wmv. If you find the right video, it shows a chorus on stage performing the sounds of a rain and thunder storm. If possible watch it once (with no picture showing) and then watch it again (with a picture showing.)

We have attached a link to the video below, which should work on your school distict's computers.


Step one (sharing the published model):  Read Listen to the Rain the first time without showing any pictures. If possible, use a rain stick to help students hear the rainstorm. On the second read of the book, while sharing the illustrations, invite the students to comment on whether or not they appreciate the match between Martin’s words and the illustrator’s pictures. By asking students to attend closely to the pictures, they also attend closely to the words.

Put the typed poem on the overhead. On the board to the side of the projected poem, write two columns— Hard, Soft. As you read the poem slowly from the overhead, you interrupt yourself on the key words and ask students if they think that those words sound like a soft rainstorm or a hard rainstorm. Either you or a scribe write those words in the correct columns. When the majority of students disagree on the placement of a word, we write that word in the middle between the columns. While doing this analysis, students notice that the author used some ordinary words in unusual ways and that sometimes he “made up” some new words to fit the mood he was trying to create.

Step two (introducing models of writing):    First, read aloud one or all of the student models that come with this lesson. Focus on the sounds of the language. Then put the student models on the overhead and examine how the students used words from the Soft, Middle, and Hard charts to create their own wind poems. Draw students’ attention to how closely or loosely the writers modeled Bill Martin Jr.’s organization in his poem.

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): Explain to the students that they will now write their own poems entitled “Listen to the Wind,” modeled after Bill Martin Jr.’s book. In order to collect the necessary words for the Wind Content Word Wall, the students will need to read an assortment of books. Put the students in groups of 3-5, and appoint a reader and a scribe to each group; the other students in the groups are called, “stoppers.” Give each group one or two texts that have wind words somewhere in them. As the reader in the group begins reading, the stoppers listen carefully and say, “Stop,” every time they hear an interesting word that they think might be connected to the wind; the scribe records that word. Remember to invite students to search for words which might be used in an unusual way just as Bill Martin Jr. did. The small group does not have to classify the words at this time. When most groups have finished the reading, come back together as a whole. Using three sheets of chart paper labeled Hard, Middle, Soft, put the words in their columns. Begin with one group saying, “Give me one word that you think is Soft,” and continue around the room until all groups have shared a word; you record the words in the proper columns. If there is a disagreement about the placement of a word, you might take a vote from the whole group.

When your Content Word Wall is complete, students are ready to write their own poems. To help them remember the form Bill Martin Jr. used, keep the overhead version projected. If you have primary students or if you have students who are lower functioning in writing, you might pull them together and write a group poem. A group poem written by primary students can be put into a book form where select students illustrate each page. If a group poem is written with older students, have each students sign the poem, make copies for all, and have the students draw illustrations as borders around their own poem.

The interactive button game on the Student Instructions Page is designed to help your students start thinking about the types of words they might use to describe different types of wind in their poems.

Karen designed this template for students who might need more organizational scaffolding when drafting their poems. If students use this worksheet to create a draft, be sure to encourage them to break away from the pattern of the book as they prepare to revise and make a more unique poem.

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):  One tool for revision is provided below.  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 Bill Martin Jr. and his books by clicking here!

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