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

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Student Writing Samples from this Lesson

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Teacher's Guide:

Poems to Bug
Your Reader

using wordplay to develop a poem about invertebrates

This lesson was built for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Teacher Consultant Denise Gallues at an SBC-sponsored inservice class.

The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the picture book insectlopedia by Douglas Florian. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author.

Check out insectlopedia at Amazon.com. By using our link to order this book, you are helping us keep WritingFix inline, free to use and advertisement free. Thanks in advance for your consideration in this matter.

A note for teacher users: 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 and excellent writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:

Step one (sharing the published model):  Teachers should stress the author’s clever use of language in these poems.  

“The Ticks” is wonderful collection of tic words.  Florian’s rhymes are delightfully unexpected: he finds a way to rhyme denim and venom in “The Black Widow,” cheese and knees in “The Daddy Long Legs,” and pupa and super in “The Caterpillar.” 

The puns are fun—The Praying Mantis swallows religiously.   And, his word inventions like faterpillar and spiderobic are positively brilliant!  The writing activity below encourages students to experiment with language—creating words, and puzzling out unusual rhymes to entertain the reader.


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.  The groups should certainly talk about the word choice and the idea development, since these are the focus traits of this lesson.

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): The interactive button game on the Student Instructions Page is designed to get your students exploring insect-based ideas that might lead to word play. Have them write down several of their favorite options.

Take the options back to class and allow students time to begin drafting short poems about insects. Start by encouraging small, four-line poems. When students have drafts of these, have them share them out loud with each other in small groups. Encourage them to borrow ideas from one another.

After playing with short poems, challenge them to create a longer poem. This longer poem can be an expanded version of their smaller poem, or it can be about a different group of words that inspired them before.

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):  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 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? 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, which only takes a few minutes.

Learn more about Douglas Florian's
poems and paintings by clicking here!


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