A Poetry-Inspired Writer's Notebook Lesson

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Teacher's Guide:

Nash-ing the Animals

wordplay for writer's notebooks with Ogden Nash's inspiration

This lesson was created by NNWP Teacher Consultant Dena Harrison. Check out all of Dena's online writing lessons by clicking here.

This on-line writing prompt is based on the poetry of Ogden Nash. Before writing to this assignment, students should hear and discuss the poetry of this great poet.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Ogden Nash's poetry 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:

Three animal poems by Ogden Nash

The Panther
The panther is like a leopard,
Except it hasn't been peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch,
Prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Don't anther.

The Cow
The cow is of bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other is milk.

The Eel
I don't mind eels
Except as meals.
And the way they feels.

Step one (sharing the published model): 

Ogden Nash wrote many poems in his lifetime.  He is known for his pun-like writing style and the fact that some of his words are purposefully misspelled for comic effect.  Some of most popular were about animals.  Share a few of the amusing, short poems he wrote with your students and discuss what makes each so fun and silly.  They should notice his inventive rhyming words and creative spelling through their giggles.

Step two (introducing student 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; two can be located on the bottom of the Ogden Nash handout from above.  Encourage the students to talk about the word choice in each poem, and then to talk about how idea development was accomplished by the writer.

  • We're looking for student samples for all grade levels for this newly-revised writer's notebook 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): Once the models have been shared, have students get out their writer’s notebooks.  Now it is time to start generating a few fun animal names on the board to help get everyone thinking.  If students can’t seem to find one that grabs them, have them click below on the interactive button above until they find one. 

The next step involves using rhyming dictionaries or www.rhymezone.com to generate lists of words that rhyme with their animal.  Have them try out two line, three line or even longer poems until they find one that makes them giggle gleefully!  Repeat as desired.  Encourage your students to try more of these in the future, or even include one in an original story.

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 is 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 their 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 free-to-use Writing Lesson of the Month ning.

Learn more about poet Ogden Nash by clicking here.

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