A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Teacher's Guide:

Weird Animal Adventures

pre-planning your beginning, middle, and end before writing

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Nevada teacher Lance Ferguson at an SBC-sponsored inservice class.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book Tuesday by David Wiesner. 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 Tuesday 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):  Tuesday, written by David Wiesner, is the amazing story of a magical Tuesday night when the frogs can suddenly fly on their lily pads.  They encounter different people and have different adventures.  The author is able to tell this story with very few words, but make no mistake: this adventure has a beginning that launches us into the story, an interesting middle, and one of those "to be continued" type endings.  The story has an order to the night's activities that is shown mostly through pictures.

Teachers should stress, as they share Tuesday, what the author has done particularly well in writing this story: in this case, author David Wiesner has creatively “shown” us through pictures what happens to a particular pond of frogs on a particular Tuesday night.  But more importantly, he has crafted a tale with a definite beginning, middle, and end.  Wiesner does this without words, which is very difficult to do. 

Have your students put into words Tuesday's beginning, middle, and end.  Talk about how they know they are in the beginning or the middle or the end of the story.  Talk about how there are at least three different "plot events" in the middle of the story, which is a sign of a thorough story.  You might even chart the beginning, middle, and end visually, and leave it in a place where your student writers can use the chart as a model.  After all, organization doesn't just happen in writing; writers need to plan (often graphically) their stories before composing, if they are to understand the trait of organization.


Step two (introducing student models of writing): Before having your students pre-write to create their own animal adventures, have them discuss any of the student samples that come with this writing lesson.  You should certainly have them discuss each model's organization, since that's the focus of this lesson, but you might also encourage them to talk about each model's idea development too.

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): Time to plan to write an original weird animal adventure. The interactive button game on the Student Instruction Page will give them some ideas to launch their original stories, but they can certainly brainstorm original ideas with some good modeling.

Once students have their ideas, have them fill out this lesson's pre-writing graphic organizer. It is strongly suggested that you facilitate some student-to-student conversations about their completed graphic organizers before they begin drafting their actual stories.

As they draft, encourage them to find the places where new paragraphs should naturally begin. Certainly their beginnings and ends should be separate paragraphs, and perhaps their stories' middles will be long enough (and action-packed enough) to warrant several paragraphs. The graphic organizer, if used well, should help students make these connections.

You might want to have students compose their rough drafts on this two-page drafting sheet, which comes with an organization checklist for students to complete after they written their first draft.

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.

Check out WritingFix's Serendipitous Crazy Illustration Prompt to be further inspired by Tuesday.

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