A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Lesson & 6-Trait Overview

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Student Writing Samples from this Lesson


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Teacher's Guide:

Special Place Poems

writing individual setting poems that can be linked together to be read as a whole-class poem

This lesson was sent to WritingFix by Louisiana middle school teacher Michelle Bozeman, who used WritingFix's lesson template and shared back with our site. Thanks, Michelle!

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book A Quiet Place by Douglas Wood. 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 A Quiet Place 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 you become an authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:

Step one (sharing the published model):  Read and enjoy A Quiet Place by Douglas Wood. As a child searches for a quiet, peaceful place, he visits many different settings in his imagination. The poetic text is full of sensory images and figurative language. Discuss the beauty of the language with your students.

Step two (introducing 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; if you don't have a student model for your grade level, you should create a personal rough draft you can show your students.  The students should certainly talk about the model's word choice, since that's the focus of this lesson, but you might prompt your students to talk about each model's idea development as well. Be sure your students see how the individual poems link together to become a large class 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): Use the Serendipitous Setting Generator at the bottom of the student instructions page to select a setting (e.g. “a broken down shack on the edge of a swamp”) the whole class can write about. Brainstorm with the class to list sensory details for this setting. Reviewing the meanings as needed, develop an example of simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification, and onomatopoeia from details the class produces.

A suggestion from Michelle: "If extensive review is needed, teach an Imagery mini-lesson (The Middle School Writing Toolkit by Tim Clifford, pp. 148-9)."

Arrange descriptive words and phrases from the class brainstorm into a poem, imitating the format from the book.

If you have access to the computer lab, each student may use the prompt generator to choose an interesting setting. If not, your students can brainstorm words and phrases into a class list (see below) that can be used to inspire all your student writers.

Class Brainstorm Example
  • spooky
  • out-of-the-way
  • pier
  • restaurant
  • covered in fog
  • sitting on a hillside

Once students have chosen a setting, distribute this graphic organizer to brainstorm words and phrases to vividly and poetically describe the setting. Students should then compose a poem (or paragraph, if you'd rather) that uses some of the ideas from their graphic organizers; it's important to stress that they make the best choices...they don't need to include every idea from the initial brainstorm.

It is always a good idea to model the filling out of the graphic organizer whole class before asking students to do it independently. You might choose a special place for you and think aloud as you demonstrate how you'd fill it out to help you think poetically about the place you have in mind.

You might have a copy of the picture book available so that students may look back at examples in the story as they compose.

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.

Be sure, before moving to editing, that your students remind themselves of the techniques of eventually linking the poems together as one large class poem.

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 author Douglas Wood by visiting his webpage.

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