A Picture Book-inspired Writer's Notebook Lesson
Focus Trait: CONVENTIONS Support Trait: IDEA DEVELOPMENT

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Teacher's Guide:

Personifying Conventions

a writer's notebook page to start a creative idea about punctuation or parts of speech

This lesson was created by NNWP Teacher Consultant Courtney Hurlburt during the NNWP's Picture Books as Mentor Texts Workshop.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book Punctuation Take a Vacation Boris by Robin Pulver. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the clever way the author personifies punctuation by having them send post-cards to the children.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Punctuation Takes a Vacation from Amazon.com, and you will 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 one becomes an authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :

Step one (sharing the published model):  Mr. Wright's students learn a valuable lesson about punctuation's importance in Robin Pulver's Punctuation Takes a Vacation: without it, writing is hard to make sense of.  Enjoy this book aloud several times with your students.  On the first read, have students guess which punctuation mark has written each of the post-cards.  As a quick extension to this on-line lesson, you might have your students write other types of correspondence (friendly notes, e-mails, memos, etc.) as if it came from punctuation instead of people.  By the way, there is a complete lesson on this called "Corresponding Punctuation Marks" in the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide.

Ask your students, "Has anyone ever seen that cartoon....oh, what's it called....The Incredibles?"  Tell your students that today they will be thinking about punctuation (or parts of speech) in a different way...just as Mr. Wright's students learned to do in Punctuation Takes a Vacation.

Tell students they will create an imaginary family of, at least, four members.  At the very least, they will have a father, mother, sister, and brother.  If they wish to include more, they can.  Tell your students, "Each family member must be like a different piece of punctuation, or they must be like a different part of speech.  As you create your family, you must think about how you will explain the connection between each family member and the punctuation or the part of speech."

Step one will be to create each family member with a name, a drawing, and with a short piece of writing that explains what punctuation mark or part of speech they are like.  Once students have four family members planned and written about, they will compile their ideas into a "book."


Step two (thinking and pre-writing): The interactive button game on the Student Instructions Page might get your students excited about planning their "Conventional Family's" members and powers, but students can certainly plan their ideas away from the computer too! A class brainstorm works marvelously.

Pass out the attached graphic organizer to help your students plan the introduction to their "Conventional Families."  Be sure to model how you would fill it out, if you were creating a family; if your students are doing punctuation mark families, plan a part of speech family using this worksheet on the overhead; if your students are doing part of speech families, plan a punctuation mark family for them.

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 three (setting up a writer's notebook page): The next step is to create a page in the writer's notebook that makes these ideas real, personifying the ideas into visible characters.

You might have your students partition off a page like this one:

Writer's Notebook Page Title:
My Conventional Super-Hero Family
Name the family:

Father:

Mother:

Name him:_________________

Draw him:

 

 

Write a creative or personified sentence that shows how he is like the punctuation or part of speech
he's linked to.

Name her:_________________

Draw her:

 

 

Write a creative or personified sentence that shows how she is like the punctuation or part of speech she's linked to.

Brother:
Sister:

Name him:_________________

Draw him:

 

 

Write a creative or personified sentence that shows how he is like the punctuation or part of speech he's linked to.

Name her:_________________

Draw her:

 

 

Write a creative or personified sentence that shows how she is like the punctuation or part of speech she's linked to.

Show them your own model of a finished notebook page and/or our webmaster's teacher model, which we have included (at left) with this lesson as our attempt to inspire you to make your own, but we will be understanding if you want to use ours as yours. If you are teaching your students to use Mr. Stick in notebooks to serve as a journal and notebook mascot, it can actually be really fun to make your teacher model. Your kids can gain real inspiration from having proof that you had fun as you created your own notebook page; we truly believe kids can have fun while learning as long as the teacher is modeling what smart and fun looks like at all times. Sample notebook pages from a teacher can be inspirational! Click here for a really large version of our webmaster's notebook page, which allows you to really zoom in on details or print on a poster, if you have that ability.


Step five (introducing any models of writing):  To help them see how they might introduce their families, show them student examples from this lesson's originator: Mrs. Hurlburt.  On the attachment below, you will see four introductions by four of her second graders.  Have your students talk about how original each student's idea was.

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 five (challenging your students to write longer paragraphs or stories about their notebook pages):  The beauty of a fun notebook page is that students can come back to it during a future writer's workshop block and search for an idea for a longer piece of writing.

In the notebooks, the students wrote one sentence about their characters. Can they find inspiration to do any of the following with one or all of their character?

  • Create a descriptive paragraph about their personified convention?
  • Write a story from their personified character's point of view, using knowledge of the convention?
  • Write an adventure story about the four characters fighting off a nemesis?
  • Or...?

Let students go "recklessly creative" with their ideas, but challenge them to come back to the original idea: this character is based on a convention of language. Can they creatively honor that convention somehow through the writing.

Here is a short paragraph that honors one of the conventions from the teacher model of the notebook page.


Step six (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 six (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 seven (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 is 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 their 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 free-to-use Writing Lesson of the Month ning.


Visit author Robin Pulver's website by clicking here.


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