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A Left-Brained Writing Prompt from WritingFix
Focus Trait: VOICE Skill: WRITING FROM AN IMAGINARY PERSPECTIVE

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Meet this Prompt's Author:

Brian Crosby has been a NNWP Teacher Consultant since 2003. He has taught a variety of technology-inspired teacher inservices for the NNWP that focus on blogging, video projects, and Skyping with other classrooms. Brian keeps a pretty great blog about his fifth grade classroom called Learning Is Messy.

A Mini-Workshop:
A Day as Your Shoes

This step-by-step mini-writing workshop was built for WritingFix after being proposed by Northern Nevada Writing Project Consultant Brian Crosby. In 2011, the prompt was revised to include mentor text suggestions and a writer's notebook element. Check out Brian's world-famous classroom blog by clicking here.

Prompt Overview:

It's fun to personify articles of clothing as a means of inspiring creative writing from your students, and this mini-workshop has students a) personify their shoes (or socks) on a page in their writer's notebook, b) share their story ideas out loud, and c) follow the step-by-step instructions below to craft a story about life from their shoes' point-of-view.


Mentor Texts to Consider Sharing:

A good mentor text can inspire ideas and writing skills from students if used skillfully before students draft or revise their own writing. Below are three "mentor text" suggestions that creatively examine shoes and socks. You might consider sharing one or all of the suggested mentor texts before students draft or before students revise their final drafts.

Pablo Neruda's poem, Ode to my Socks, uses similes and metaphors to spark the reader's interest in his foot attire. This is a great poem to discuss as a review of figurative language techniques..

Run DMC's song, My Adidas, tells the story of the band's successes from the perspective of their footwear. WritingFix actually features another lesson that uses this song too! Click here to access our other lesson.

We found a fun stop-action video that makes you think about shoes in a unique way. If you have the ability to show this video, it's a great way to inspire your students to think about this page's prompt. As with all off-site video links like this one, be sure to preview this before showing it, and WritingFix is not responsible for other content found on the page where this video is housed.

Start with a Writer's Notebook Page!

There's no better way to pre-write than to have students create a fun page in their writer's notebooks. Explain, "I want you to dedicate a page in your notebooks to a pretty fun idea today, then I want you to illustrate some of your best ideas, and I hope many of you will be inspired to turn your ideas into a full piece of writing. I want you to create a page that personifies one of your favorite shoes; to personify, you need to give your shoe human qualities. Here are some human quality prompts that I'd like you to consider exploring on your notebook page:

  • What is your shoe's personality like? Does he/she get along with the other shoe in its pair? With your socks?
  • What does your shoe dream about at night? What would be the subject of a nightmare for your shoe?
  • What does your shoe aspire to be?
  • What are a few of your shoe's pet peeves?
  • What is your shoe's favorite song, book, movie, or TV show?
  • What qualifications does your shoe have, if it was applying for a job?
  • Other personification ideas?"
Four Funny Ideas about my Shoes

 

 

 


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(Click on the image of the notebook page to see it in larger form)

Above and at left, you see a suggestion for having students partition their notebook pages for this task. At right, you see our webmaster's teacher model for this assignment (Click here for a really large version of it, which can be printed on a posted, if you have that ability). We strongly encourage teachers using this prompt to create their own notebook page, but we will understand if you want to show ours as though it is yours. When the teacher participates in the writing process alongside the students, students take the process much more seriously; create your own notebook page, if possible! It's fun to do!


Sharing Funny Ideas about Shoes Out Loud:

Give students time over a few days to create and illustrate four (or more) funny ideas about their shoes based on personification. When all have finished their pages, require them to meet with other students, explaining their notebook page's "cartoons." You might prompt them to also "Tell your partner about a day in the life of your shoe."

When students speak their story ideas aloud before writing, they usually have an easier time launching their rough drafts.


Time to Share Student Samples?

Here are two competent samples from different-aged students. Analyzing and discussing student samples before drafting and before revision is a marvelous way to inspire students. These samples can be shown now, or they can be saved until right before revision....your choice!

Lost in Jamaica
by Lexus, fifth grade writer

Hello, I am a shoe. I’m nothing special, just a plain old shoe that once lived in Idaho. I’m not a shoe that plays in the NFL or NSL or whatever. Not a shoe that goes to parties or live in a nice house. I'm just a plain old tennis shoe named Ruby. I like my existence, never rushing around, just chilling out enjoying the scenery. I don’t worn much anymore because a kid named George left me on a beach in Jamaica when he went back to Idaho. Sad, I know, but at least I am a healthy golden tan now!

Yes, I miss some things I admit, but I also love things about my new life that George could not have given me. Like I adore the salty puff of air I awaken to in the early hours of sunlight. I am also very fond of the water washing back and forth, in and out of the shoreline. The aroma of the sweet and spicy cooking every noon and night is so amazing that I find it hard to accept as true that I treasured any other scent of chow back in Idahp. The soft sand that I bask on is so soft, sandy and it feels superb on my tatty heels. My life is cool here if I do say so myself.

There is one thing that I miss about Idaho though: the feeling of movement; even though I live on a beach now, I would still like to move a little. Moreover, the food here is pretty awful. I mean, if someone would leave a spicy plate of noodles and a nice shoe sized glass of ginger ale once in a while than that would be a different story. However, they never do, so I am stuck eating raw hermit crabs and unfortunate clams that roll in from the sea. Yuck, they taste awful! It is painful to smell all that good food and not being able to eat it! At least in Idaho they fed me!

I am learning some things about Jamaica. Number one, I have learned to get food the hard way: catch it yourself. Number two, I learned survival skills. Number three, it is not fun to eat clams. Now I know what people who go to those fancy me’m-oh-so-fancy restaurants that rub that they have clams in other restaurant's faces. Big deal that they have fresh clams...like the other restaurants care! And finally number four, I realized my Grandmama was right. She always said “Ruby, you don’t know what you have ‘till it’s gone.”

She was right; I want to go home!

A Shoe's Eternity
by John, tenth grade writer

Every morning, I wake up in a rush. I'm thrown on hurriedly, tied obnoxiously, and then I'm taken for an unpleasant jog to a bus stop. This is my life as a shoe.

On the bus, I get to sit on nice, hard plastic flooring. Did you catch that? I was being sarcastic. I hate my life - I don't get to enjoy anything to its fullest because I'm only four inches tall, and I'm constantly treaded violently. If anything, I should be full of hatred. But I'm not. I can't be, because I'm a poor little old shoe, and I can't do anything to change it.

During my day, I get to meet other shoes who I know so well. I get to see Livi's high boots, Toni's stilettos, and Nate's DCs, among many others. None of us want to be shoes; we were just made that way. I wanted to be a nice leather jacket, but no, I was made a shoe instead. Someday, I believe that shoes will overthrow humans and rule the world.

When my day is finally done, we return home. What a relief it is to feel the soft carpet underneath me! Then, I get to be taken off. It's really a joyous event, and only a shoe can appreciate it. After awhile, I'm put into the same closet I came out of that morning, where I can converse with my brother, Right Shoe, before finally retiring for the night.

I guess being a shoe isn't all bad, but it is nowhere near perfect either. Tomorrow, I will do the same thing again. And the day after that, and the day after that into what seems like eternity.

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 hoping to see student samples from other grade levels for this lesson!  Help us obtain some from your students, and we might send you a free resource for your classroom!  You may post up to three of your students' shoe stories at our posting page for this lesson.

 

Students' Step-by-Step Writer's Instructions:

Explain that students are now ready to take their writer's notebook ideas and turn them into an original story about the life of one of their shoes. Say to them:

"Most of us wear shoes most days, but have you ever thought about what it would be like to be your shoes for a day? Your shoes would have a whole different perspective on your day.   As you write, really try to write as if you were your shoes...make the words sound like your shoes. Ready? 

"Get some scratch paper and sharpen your pencil.  Press the button below when you're ready for your first instruction."

 

Press the button below to receive your first instruction!
Press it again when ready for the next task!

 


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