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A Writer's Notebook Brainstorm inspired by a Great Poem
Focus Trait: IDEA DEVELOPMENT Support Trait: VOICE

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Meet the Lesson's Author:

Corbett Harrison has been a Northern Nevada Writing Project Teacher Consultant since 1996. He teaches a variety of inservice classes for the NNWP.

Corbett maintains a personal website where he stores most of his favorite lessons.

Welcome to this Lesson:

Tillbury Town Tales:

A Butcher's Story

responding to class discussions in writer's notebooks

This lesson was created by NNWP Consultant Corbett Harrison. Corbett uses this poem as an example mentor text during his 7 Elements of a Differentiated Writing Lesson Workshop.

The mentor poet:

Edwin Arlington Robinson

This is a writer's notebook-friendly lesson! This write-up has been recently revised to incorporate the creation of a writer's notebook page as part of its pre-writing process. A teacher model of the notebook page can be seen at left. On the teacher instructions page for this lesson you can read the step-by-step instructions for this writer's notebook task , which makes use of our webmaster's "Margin Mascot," Mr. Stick.

You can visit WritingFix's Writer's Notebook Resources Homepage to access more lessons and prompts revised to inspire effective modeling of writer's notebooks for our student writers.

A great classroom resource!

Overview of this Notebook Lesson:

In my classroom, a writer's notebook serves many functions, one of them being a place for students to react and respond to literature and class themes in interesting ways; when asked to look back for ideas for an upcoming writing assignment, a well-maintained notebook should provide plenty of early-draft thoughts that somehow link to your class's big ideas. This assignment should be used early in the year, when helping students first begin to understand what sorts of class-related things they can write in their writer's notebooks. With this lesson, students discuss multiple interpretations of E. A. Robinson's mysterious poem, Reuben Bright, selecting five interpretations to record on a page in their notebooks. 

Later, students can be directed back to their notebooks and reminded of the connections they made with the poem. After explaining how writer's workshop time can be used to further explore themes and interpretations from class, students can be easily encouraged to transform one of their interpretations into an interesting piece of writing. My students always enjoyed writing three fictional diary entries, all from the point-of-view of Tillbury Town's butcher: one entry immediately after Reuben Bright is told his wife must die; one entry after she has died; and one entry after he has torn down the slaughter house.  Students attempt to capture an authentic-sounding voice as they compose these diary entries inspired by Robinson's sonnet. Teachers: click here to read the entire lesson plan.


6-Trait Overview for this Lesson:

The focus trait in this writing assignment is idea development; writers should be encouraged to explore a personally intriguing interpretation of the poem to base their journal entries on.  The support trait in this assignment is voice; remind writers to do their best to capture the emotion in their butcher's voice as they write from his point-of-view.


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