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

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Top Secret Rule Reasons!

creating a unique idea from a model, then adding personal voice to the final draft

The writing of author David Wisniewski is inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of idea development and voice. Join us in teaching (and adapting) this on-line lesson and sharing your students' work.

You can publish up to three of your students' edited and finished stories at this page.

Use these samples to inspire your student writers! Discussing the strengths of published student samples before, while, and after using this on-line assignment is important. If your students are engaged in trait- or skill-inspired discussions about any of the samples we've posted here, they will produce better writing, especially if you help them take their writing all the way through the writing process.

Thank you, those who share their students' writing with us.


Additional Student Samples Being Sought:
Grades 1, 3, 4, 9, 11, 12

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WritingFix is currently seeking additional student samples from this writing assignment that can be featured in this space. Submitted student work must show evidence of revision, editing, and the final draft must be typed and sent through e-mail.

To have us consider your students' writing for inclusion on this page, you must post the writing to our Ning page dedicated to this lesson. Click here to access that page. You must first be a member of the Writing Lesson of the Month Network in order to post.

Student Samples: Early Elementary

a sample from one of the NNWP TWIST Camps
Grown-up Rule #38: Empty the Trash

by Katie, second grade writer

Official Reason: Take out the trash so it won’t overflow

Real Reason: In reality, take out the trash because if you do not take out the trash, the trash will get bigger and bigger and bigger! It will start to take over the world.

When you see the world, it will just be trash. The aliens will scream. Even the planets will scream. The earth might even blow up. You cannot stand to hear the rest.


a sample from Mrs. Beierschmitt's class
Grown-up Rule #1,678: Color Inside the Lines

by Tanner, third grade writers

Official Reason: It won't look good.

Real Reason: The truth is when you color outside the lines, wax drips off the paper all gooey, and it grows into giant crayons! These crayons will wait until you fall asleep. Then they will color all over you, but you won't feel it. When you wake up, your family will be scared of you.

Then, the animal control will capture you and put you in the zoo. Everybody will laugh. The next day you will turn into paper, and it will be like you never existed.


Student Samples: Upper Elementary

a sample from one of the NNWP TWIST Camps
Grown-up Rule #1,000,001: Don’t draw on the walls

by Erica, fifth grade writer

Official Reason: The house looks messy.

Real Reason: In reality, the wall can feel tickled and laugh so hard that the whole house will topple over. Then, the house will fall through the ground. Under the ground, the walls will keep laughing, which will cause the ground to shake very severely. The severe shaking of the ground will cause everything (even humans) to topple over and roll this way and that way.

Eventually, everything and everybody will roll off of the earth. This has happened and been recorded before. Scientists believe that somehow the people made a human chain and pulled themselves back to Earth, which was good, but scientists say that it is impossible to do that again. Drawing on the walls can cause the same thing to happen again now or in 1,000 years.

(Click here to print Erica's sample along with two other samples to share with your students.)


a sample from Ms. Conley's class
Grown-up Rule #1,423: Eat your Vegetables!
by Meghna, sixth grade poet

Official Reason: You stay healthy and grow stronger.
Real Reason: If you neglect your vegetables, they can turn into wild animals and attack you!

Have you ever had a pet bear?
If not, read on! It’s quite a scare.
The real truth, the whole truth, no “buts” and no “whys,”
I’ll tell you the truth, while your parents tell you lies.

When you eat your vegetables, you think, “Ew!”
Your parents say it’s good for you, which is quite true.
But that reason is definitely not real,
Let me tell you how parents really feel!

When you look at vegetables, they seem so dead,
But did you know that vegetables can shed?
When you neglect them, they come alive,
Like cheetahs that sprint, or dolphins that dive.

They grow and grow, until they become free,
That is, free to attack you and me!
They can escape and go into your neighbor’s house,
But you won’t hear them; they are as quiet as a mouse.

Your neighbor will soon find a nasty surprise:
He can’t get rid of them as much as he tries!
I know this girl, whose parents were trapped,
By bears and giraffes who refused to nap.

For when you want to tie them up by day,
You must wait till morning; it’s the only way!
To tie them up and ship them far,
By bus, by plane, by train, or by car.

So let’s keep those animals in the zoo,
Put the veggies in your mouth, and chew, chew, CHEW!

(Click here to print Meghna's sample along with two other samples to share with your students.)


Student Samples: Middle School

a sample from Mrs. Stanton's classroom
Grown-up Rule #497: Clean up your room before you have friends over

by Claire, seventh grade writer

Official Reason: It’s not polite, and it gives people the wrong impression of you.

The Truth: The real reason your parents won’t let you have friends over if your room isn’t clean is because of the Clutterling. No, it’s not “cluttering”, it’s Clutterling. Clutterling is when the mess in your room gets “protective”. The mess in your room builds characteristics and relationships the longer it’s out. Obviously, the relationship is with YOU! It feels the need to have your full attention, and so, you see the mess gets to be protective. Crazy as it seems, that’s what Clutterling is. Now, what do you suppose happens when a friend comes over to your house and your Clutterling sees it? That’s right it attacks your friend! Title waves of clothes, tsunamis of books, and tornados of dust attack your friends.

Now I am pretty sure your parents like to uphold a good reputation. What happens if every one hears about how a kid mysteriously disappeared at their house? Their reputation goes bye-bye, but of course they care for you and your friend too. Sometimes it doesn’t happen so badly but even having your friend trip and fall into your mess or twisting their ankle in your clothes pile is considered Clutterling.

Now you know how important it is to clean your room. It’s best if you do it A.S.A.P.! You don’t want to leave your mess out too long or else… CLUTTERLING!!!


a sample from Mrs. Kirkpatrick's classroom
Grown-Up Rule # 66: Put Away That Laundry
by Drew, eighth grade writer

Official Reason: These are not their clothes.

The Truth: When the laundry piles up in the baskets, all nicely folded and just waiting to be put away, parents always make up some special reasons to get kids to put the laundry away. But we all know the real reason for NPAL syndrome (Not Putting Away Laundry syndrome); it’s just common human laziness.

A long, long time ago, way before people had enough money to buy more than two outfits, they didn’t have to worry about laundry getting out of control. Then, progress was made. First came the washboard, then the washing machine. After that, people realized they could buy as many clothes as they wanted. That led to another problem: the clean wash piled up because people could do huge loads at a time. That created another problem: a basket full of clothes that needed to be put away. Soon laziness set in. It got late, and night fell, and kids felt fatigued from a long day. They lay down on their beds, just for a minute, and before they knew it, they fell asleep.

But parents know what happens if the laundry isn't put away. While they sleep, the laundry goes out of control. It tears up the house, leaving everything for the humans to clean up at dawn. When the sun rises, humans wake up to see couches flipped over, a trail of socks on the stairs, paintings knocked down, and the refrigerator empty and all its contents in the oven. When you put your clothes away, it’s like the laundry is locked up in a prison cell and can’t get loose.

That’s why parents always stress over putting the laundry away. One night of NPAL syndrome is enough to scare anybody into emptying the laundry basket before night falls.

(Click here to open/print Drew and another eighth grader's descriptions.)


Student Sample: High School

a creatively-adapted sample from Mr. Stone's poetry class
Amanda Mett

by Shatton, tenth grade poet

Have you heard the story of Amanda Mett
Who went outside with her hair dripping wet?
Her mom told her no, but she didn’t listen.
When she stepped outside, her hair began to glisten.
The frost quickly took over her locks,
And before she knew it, they were as hard as rocks.
The last thing she wanted was for her mom to see.
She figured it was too late when she let out a scream.
Her mom marched out, looking quite stout,
And with the prick of her finger, Amanda’s hair began to fall out.
Big chunk, little chunk – it all fell to the ground.
Amanda knew she was in trouble, with her mom not making a sound.
You now know the story of Amanda Mett.
Never go outside with your hair dripping wet!


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