A Picture Book-Inspired Poetry Prompt from WritingFix
Focus Trait: ORGANIZATION Support Trait: WORD CHOICE

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Student Writing Samples from this Lesson


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Teacher's Guide:

Start and Stop Poetry

linking introductions and conclusions in structured poetry

This poetry prompt was created by NNWP Teacher Consultant Corbett Harrison. Check out all of Corbett's on-line lessons by clicking here.

Two mentor texts:

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Twilight Comes Twice and If You Give a Pig a Pancake 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 (before sharing the published model):  If You Give a Pig a Pancake is a book I share early on in the school year, long before we start Start & Stop poems. If your students don't know the book or are familiar with its structure, you should share it several days before starting this lesson.

Share the example Start & Stop poem at right. Ask them what they notice with the poem. Ask them what makes it unique or interesting. Help them discover both the link between the first line and the last line as well as the poem's personification of a season. Remind them of the poem's similarity to Numeroff's book's structure.

Have students--in groups of three or four--choose a different season and to write a quick poem that personifies the season between the opening lines "Outside my window..." Share some. Tell students they just created a Start & Stop Poem, and today they will be working to create an original one.

In Winter

Outside my window
I notice Winter walking towards the house
His cane clacks the sidewalk like hailstones
His cloak casts such lengthy shadows
His beard leans into the chilly wind
And his arrival changes the world
That once grew and thrived
In greens and pinks
Outside my window.

Step one (sharing the published model):  Before introducing Ralph Fletcher's Twilight Comes Twice, ask students to listen for Fletcher's best word choices. Read the book aloud. From memory, have students record four or five words or phrases on a piece of paper once the book ends, then compare their lists to another student's. Have each partnership shout out a "best" word or phrase for a class chart.

When your classs chart is complete, and your students have thought about word choice, analyze the simple sentence "Twilight comes Twice." Discuss how good word choice in poetry is often not about choosing the "fluffiest sounding words"; rather, it is about choosing words that play off each other and that say interesting things in a limited amount of words.

Put students in groups of 4 or 5. Challenge them to create a Start & Stop Poem that begins and ends with the sentence "Twilight Comes Twice." For their poems, they may borrow from the class chart of excellent words choices, but they are not to copy complete sentences or ideas (other than Twilight comes Twice) from Fletcher's picture book. Their poems should be part "found poem," part original descriptions.

Here is a brief example, if your students need it:

Twilight comes twice.
It shines its light on the blackboard night sky,
Drinking the darkness, bringing new types of shadows
To daylight, which grows and thrives
The pale light returns at sunset
As the day halts and slows,
Tempting fireflies who love more than most that
Twilight comes twice.

Step two (introducing student models of writing):  In small groups, have your students read and respond to any or all of the original student models that come with this lesson.  The groups will certainly talk about the organization, but you might also have your students talk about the word choice in the writing 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): It's now time to have individual students plan and write an original Start & Stop Poem.

It might prove to be very important to begin by choosing a word, phrase, clause, or short sentence that is worth coming back to when beginning this activity. In truth, the simple-sounding word "Go" could become a powerful first and last word of a poem in the hands of the right poet, but you may want to encourage your students who aren't your strongest writers to choose a powerful starting line; this might save you from having mediocre poetry submissions.

The interactive word game on the student instruction page might inspire your students who are struggling to come up with a first line...encourage your writers to "tweak" the words, phrases, or clauses to inspire them.

It might be a good idea, to re-read Twilight Comes Twice before they begin composing, and to draw their attention back to Fletcher's word choices and imagery. Encourage them to use the class chart to borrow word/phrase ideas for their own poems, which should be about topics other than twilight.

They will probably struggle to make their poems logically come back to the opening in a way that sounds poetic...not just like a repeated first line. Be prepared to challenge them with this. You might find yourself suggesting that students change the form or their first line, or to change the first line completely and start over. This is part of the process.

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):   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 about Ralph Fletcher by clicking here!
Learn about Laura Numeroff by clicking here!

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