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We celebrate teachers who have created their own websites about teaching writing:


Corbett's
Always Write
Website
(Grades K-12)



Jodie's
Start to Learn
Website

(Kindergarten)



Holly's
Making Mathematicians
Website

(Grades K-12)



Brian's
Learning is Messy
Blog

(Grades 4-6)



Dena's
Write in the Middle
Website

(Grades 6-8)

Writing Traits: Teaching the Skills of Idea Development
teacher-created resources and lessons...all focused on skills that make up the idea development trait

A modest request from WritingFix: If you appreciate the resources at this website, consider saying "thank you" to the Northern Nevada Writing Project--sponsors of this free-to-use website--by visiting their Publication Page and ordering any of their wonderful print guides, like their 196-page resource, the Going Deep with 6 Trait Language print guide (pictured at right). Some of the Going Deep with 6 Trait Language guide's resources can be freely accessed on this page at WritingFix, but the guide features many, many more trait-friendly ideas, lessons, and resources that can only be found in the printed version. All proceeds from guide sales help this website grow.

Each year, the NNWP offers inservice courses designed to help teachers make new and exciting connections with the six traits of writing. The goal of these professional development experiences is to help educators see the value of using traits as their classroom language during writing instruction. When both teachers and students "own" the language of traits enough to discuss them throughout the writing process, writing improves dramatically, and learners can "go deep" as they discover their personal strengths and struggles that come with the process of writing.

Idea development is just one of the six writing traits. In Nevada, it is one of the four traits that is assessed on the fifth grade state writing test. Idea development is a complex trait that should be discussed, explored, and further developed every year that students learn to write in school; both kindergartners and high school seniors can be taught to think about developmentally appropriate skills that are associated with idea development. This page contains idea development lessons and resources that we consider appropriate for sharing with third graders and up. If you are working with primary writers and the six traits, be sure to visit WritingFix's 6 Traits and Primary Writing Homepage.

Idea Development Topics and Sub-Skills Explored on this Page

WritingFix's 6-Trait Poster Set
WritingFix's Idea Development Post-Its

A Free Poster Resource for your Classroom
Idea Development is represented by the color green on our poster set.

Like the foundation of a house, idea development serves as the solid base on which a good piece of writing rests. If you start with a solid idea, your writing can grow as big as you want.

  • Click here to open and print WritingFix's seven-page poster set, inspired by the "Building a House" metaphor created by NNWP consultants Dena Harrison, Corbett Harrison, Mary Dunton, Nancy Thomas, and Vivian Olds.

WritingFix offers a free template of Idea Development Post-It sized notes. These can either be printed on green colored paper and cut out and stapled to students' drafts, or you can--if you dare--attempt to print them on real 3 x 3 Post-It Notes.

  • Click here to open/print a sheet of six idea development revision post-its.
  • Click here to visit WritingFix's Post-It homepage, where you can find instruction on printing our post-its on actual Post-It notes.

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Building a 6-Trait Mentor Text library for your classroom or your school's library?
"Mentor Text" Suggestions for the Trait of Idea Development
(Click here to access WritingFix's entire bibliography of cited picture books and chapter books.)

Idea development "mentor texts" that are focused on during the NNWP's annual
6-Trait Inservice Classes for Teachers:
(Visit our 6-Trait Homepage to learn more about our inservice class.)

Each year, the NNWP sponsors a variety of inservice classes and workshops that focus on helping teachers make 6 traits the language of their classrooms during writing instruction. A variety of presenters share K-12 classroom ideas with each workshop's audience, and--as teachers are wont to do--the participants madly write down the names of mentor texts shared by the presenters.

Here are two mentor texts shared by our presenters that our participants are always happy they have written down the titles for:

Shared during our Narrative and Memoir Inservice, this book shows the power of using photos for inspiring idea development.

Shared during our Writing Across the Curriculum Inservice, this book provides techniques for helping students put researched ideas into their own words.


Have a favorite book not mentioned on this page for teaching idea development? Send us the title at webmaster@writingfix.com.

More idea development "mentor texts" cited in the NNWP's
Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide:
(Click here to learn how to order this amazing resource from the NNWP.)

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Idea Development Sub-Skill #1: Sharpening Details in Writing
Each of the writing traits--idea development included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one idea development sub-skill: using strong and memorable details. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Detail Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Detail Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Using 90th Street's Advice

inspired by
Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street
by Roni Schotter

Lesson title:
Top-Secret Rule Reasons

inspired by
The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups
by David Wisnieski

Lesson title:
What Your Room Says about You!

inspired by
Boy's Life
by Robert McCammon

 

Lesson title:
Borrowing Mr. Fletcher's Skills

inspired by
Marshfield Dreams
by Ralph Fletcher


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Detail Prompts for Both Sides of the Brain
(Visit WritingFix's entire Left-Brained & Right-Brained Prompt Collections)
From the NNWP's 6x6 Guide: Traits & Primary Writers
(Learn about all the NNWP Publications by clicking here.)
  • Squiggles: an idea development lesson from Nevada first grade teacher Shannon Allen

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Teaching Details
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Mallory Love, a Texas teacher, shared this idea with us. We sent her an NNWP Secondary Writing Guide as our thanks for her taking the time to share back with the WritingFix website. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

From Mallory: "Many of my students have difficultly understanding how important details are for the reader to truly understand the story. To better help them understand this concept, I have them do the following activity. This activity is really great for your hands-on learners. I love you website by the way- it is one of the most useful ones I have found on teaching writing."

Supplies needed -- Legos, plastic bags, file folders (for dividers), camera (and photos), paper, and pen

Preparation -- I first create two separate structures using Legos. I then take a picture of each structure. I make enough colored copies of the pictures so that there are one of each for every two students in the class. Then I put the Legos needed for each structure into different baggies (again enough of each for every two students). Then I arrange the desks so that every two desks are facing each other. I put the file folders up and tape them to the desk (to prevent falling) as dividers between the desks so that when the students sit down they can't see each other.

The Activity --When the students are seated with their paper and pens out on their desks, I give each student on the left side of the divider one of the pictures and one of baggies of legos that go with that picture. I then give the students on the right side of the divider the picture of the other Lego structure and a baggies with the needed supplies. I do this in such a way so that the students don't see the picture the other person across the divider has. I explain to the students beforehand that they are not to talk or share anything I give them. I then explain that they will have twenty five to thirty minutes to write directions explaining how to put the structure together. They can only use words in their directions, no pictures. At the end of the time frame, I discreetly take up the pictures and have the students switch places leaving the Lego baggies and their directions on the desk. I then tell the students that they have twenty minutes to use the supplies and directions in front of them to build the structure in the picture they did not see. At the end of the time frame, we look at who complete the structures closest to the original picture in the shortest amount of time.

Reflection --The next class we discuss what was hard about the activity and why.  We look at some of the directions that worked for the students who did well and pick out what words or phrases were most helpful. We then relate the directions to the pictures as details to the main idea/theme of our writing and how when we don't use enough detail or the right detail, the reader will miss the big "picture" of our writing.


An Innovative Detail Lesson Featured at WritingFix
from Nevada Middle School Teacher Dena Harrison
A Detail Prompt Designed for Younger Writers
from WritingFix's Writing Prompts for Kids Collection

Lesson Title: One Minute in Time

Inspired by: The Cure's song, 10:15 on a Saturday Night.

Overview: The Cure’s song 10:15 on a Saturday Night explains what happens in one slowed-down minute as the singer is waiting for an important phone call. When you slow down time to write about it, students can think about details in interesting new ways. Click here to access the entire lesson on-line. This lesson was created during the NNWP's iPods Across the Curriculum Workshop.

Prompt Title: The Top-Three Game

Overview: Students click the "magic button" until they find a prompt or topic they feel they have something to write about. Before writing, they should brainstorm as many specific reasons as possible that pertain to the topic they've selected. Teachers can then talk about how interesting reasons can become details in writing. Students choose the top three reasons (details) from their brainstorms and write them out as a story or personal essay. If your students write a particularly good "essay" inspired by the prompt they build, you are invited to send it to us at publish@writingfix.com so that we may consider publishing it for other students to be inspired by. See this prompt's student samples page for details.

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Idea Development Sub-Skill #2: Balancing Showing & Telling in Writing

Each of the writing traits--idea development included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one idea development sub-skill: balancing showing and telling. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.

New in 2011:
WritingFix now features a Showing Writing Homepage! Check it out!

Two Picture Book-Inspired Showing Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Showing Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Showing Nice without Saying Nice

inspired by
Show; Don't Tell: Secrets of Writing
by Josephine Nobisso

Lesson title:
Four-Metaphor Poetry

inspired by
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
by Mem Fox

Lesson title:
Showing a Giant Roll

inspired by
James and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl

 

Lesson title:
Showing Actions

inspired by
Walk Two Moons
by Sharon Creech


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Showing Prompts for Both Sides of the Brain
(Visit WritingFix's entire Left-Brained & Right-Brained Prompt Collections)
Resources from the NNWP's Elementary Writing Guide
(Learn about all the NNWP Publications by clicking here.)

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Teaching Showing
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Betty Cranston, a Pennsylvania teacher, shared this idea with us. We sent her the NNWP's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

From Betty: "Your wonderful website inspired me to take one of my favorite wordless books-- Window by Jeannie Baker--and create a poetry assignment focused on idea development and word choice. This picture book shows how the world changes outside the same window over time. A young boy grows up, and the book is made up of all the different scenes that might be seen form his bedroom window. Progress, of course, happens outside the window, and their lovely country home is encroached upon by neighborhoods and eventually commercial properties. In the last scene, the boy--now grown with his own child--has moved, and he is showing his infant the scene outside the baby's new window.

"My students created showing poems about looking out the same window over time; most chose their own bedroom windows, but some chose my classroom window. Some poems were about a single year, focusing on the changing seasons, but many--like the picture book--were about growing up over many years and how the scenery outside changed.

"The challenge to the students was to create stanzas that contained well-described and showing details inspired by great word choice. The students did a fantastic job with these showing poems."


A Word Choice Lesson with Showing as its Support Trait
from Nevada Teacher Joni Martindale
A Showing Prompt Designed for Younger Writers
from WritingFix's Writing Prompts for Kids Collection

Lesson: Let me Show You Nature

Inspired by: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.

Overview: In this lesson, writer will create a descriptive paragraph that describes an object or a place in nature, using carefully chosen adjectives, especially color and texture words.  Writers will then read their writings aloud to partners, and partners will attempt to draw the objects or places based on the author's carefully chosen words. Click here to access the entire lesson on-line. This lesson was created during the NNWP's Chapter Book Excerpts as Mentor Texts Workshop.

Prompt: The Memory Game

Overview: With this prompt, students click the "magic button" until they find a prompt that triggers a memory they would want to write about. Before writing, they should brainstorm all the sensory details and images they can as they think back. Teachers can then talk about how great showing often comes from attention to sensory details. Students write their memories out as stories, carefully selecting the best sensory images from their brainstorms. If your students write a particularly good memory inspired by the prompt they build, you are invited to send it to us at publish@writingfix.com so that we may consider publishing it for other students to be inspired by. See this prompt's student samples page for details.

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Idea Development Sub-Skill #3: Exploring & Brainstorming Unique Ideas to Write About
Each of the writing traits--idea development included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one idea development sub-skill: writing about unique topics . A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Originality Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Originality Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Original Schemes

inspired by
Enemy Pie
by Derek Munson

Lesson title:
Unique Imaginary Friends

inspired by
Ted
by Tony DiTerlizzi

Lesson title:
Original Time Travels

inspired by
The Time Machine
by H. G. Wells

 

Lesson title:
Creative Parallel Universes

inspired by
The Subtle Knife
by Philip Pullman


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Originality Prompts for Both Sides of the Brain
(Visit WritingFix's entire Left-Brained & Right-Brained Prompt Collections)
From the NNWP's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide
(Learn about all the NNWP Publications by clicking here.)

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Encouraging Original Story Ideas
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Jane Wilson, an Oregon teacher and instructional coach, shared this idea with us. We sent her the NNWP's Elementary Writing Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"This idea is the result of a lesson I collaboratively taught with two third grade teachers.  We kicked off a fictional narrative genre study by modeling story writing for our students. The three of us decided to use The Tales of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg, as the source for the idea behind our story writing modeling.  We each selected the same prompt, Lost in Venice,  but did not discuss any ideas for creating our stories. 

"The objectives were to keep our ideas secret from each other; and to teach the lesson in each of our classes by modeling how authors select ideas for their stories - thinking aloud- while writing our tales as children watched and listened in.
 
"Once each of our modeled stories was complete, we traveled to one another's class and shared what we had written.
 
"The students were amazed!  What they heard read aloud were three entirely DIFFERENT stories!  The children were astonished and delighted to discover that three people could use the same picture and write stories with very different ideas.
 
"This opened an acceptance that some people would select the same picture when it came time for the students to choose pictures from The Tales of Harris Burdick  to author their own. stories.  In our community of writers, we used this experience with idea development to help children say, ' He/She inspired me.'  Instead of, 'He/She copied me.'  This was a very powerful, and engaging lesson."

Writing Original Stories Inspired by Another's Photographs
Enter WritingFix's Digital Photo Contest!

Start collecting interesting photos of people, places, and things. These can come from magazines, greeting cards, or from your own collection of photos that never were mounted in an album. Keep a box of these photographs in your classroom. When students are stuck for an idea to write about, have them choose a photo and tell an original tale about what's going on in the photo. Try it with the photo below (click on photo to see it a bit larger):


If you write an original story about this photograph, you can post it for others to read by clicking here.



In 2009, WritingFix sponsored its first digital photo contest for student photographers. The contest's theme was "Photographs that would inspire an original story from a writer's pen." K-12 students and their teachers submitted their photographs to the WritingFix website, and we chose four winners and posted their pictures on a new page here at WritingFix: Digital Photo Prompts for Writers.

When you are prompted by an interesting photograph, many students find it easy to write an original story about the picture, especially if the writer doesn't know the photographer or the person, place, or thing in the photograph. Visit the page cited above to see the winning photographs. If your students are inspired to write, we have established a blog for them to share their original stories.

We will be hosting our digital photography contest annually from now on. It's never too early to challenge your students to take candid or staged photographs that would inspire other students to write original stories.

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Idea Development Sub-Skill #4: Using Safe Frames & Structures to Encourage Idea Development
Each of the writing traits--idea development included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one idea development sub-skill: developing an original idea within a safe frame. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Frame Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Frame Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Unlikely Diary Keepers

inspired by
Diary of a Worm
by Doreen Cronin

Lesson title:
Rolling with the Animals

inspired by
Duck on a Bike
by David Shannon

Lesson title:
Adventurous Magic

inspired by
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher
by Bruce Coville

 

Lesson title:
A Magical Animal Encounter

inspired by
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by J. K. Rowling


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Framed Prompts for Both Sides of the Brain
(Visit WritingFix's entire Left-Brained & Right-Brained Prompt Collections)
From the NNWP's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide
(Learn about all the NNWP Publications by clicking here.)

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Teaching Showing
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Amy Maniscalco, a Northern Nevada middle school teacher, allowed us to visit her classroom and photograph the ways she uses The Important Book with her students when assigning classroom writing that leads to class-created books. We sent Amy the NNWP's Going Deep with Compare & Contrast Thinking Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.


Amy's wall poster

Class book cover

Teacher sample

Student sample

Click on the images above to see them in a larger format.


A WritingFix Voice Lesson that Uses a Great Frame
from Nevada Teacher Rob Stone
A WritingFix Conventions Lesson that Uses a Great Frame
from Nevada Teacher Corbett Harrison

Lesson Title: Creating a School Survival Guide

Inspired by: Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar.

Overview: Scott Hudson decides to write a high school survival guide for his yet-to-be-born sibling. As your students follow Scott’s journey and read his “survival guide for freshmen,” they will create their own survival guide, modeling the large variety of genres and styles found in the novel. Click here to access the entire lesson on-line. This lesson was created during the NNWP's Chapter Book Excerpts as Mentor Texts Workshop.

Lesson Title: Antonyms & Comma Splices

Inspired by: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

Overview: In the opening to Tale of Two Cities, Dickens uses a series of comma splices for stylistic effect. Student writers often overuse comma splices in reckless ways, with little knowledge of the conjunctions that can be put between two independent ideas. For this assignment, students create their own Dickens-like paragraph, but they are required to find (and punctuate for properly) appropriate conjunctions to sit between their opposites. Click here to access the entire lesson on-line. This lesson was created during the NNWP's Literature Excerpts as Mentor Texts Workshop.

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Idea Development Sub-Skill #5: Exploring Themes, Theses, and Big Ideas
Each of the writing traits--idea development included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one idea development sub-skill: themes and theses, big topics and sub-topics. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Theme Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Theme Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Same Theme, But Different Story

inspired by
Six-Dinner Sid
by Inga Moore

Lesson title:
Same Theme, But Different Story

inspired by
Fox
by Margaret Wild

Lesson title:
Same Theme, But as a Poem

inspired by
Bronx Masquerade
by Nikki Grimes

 
Lesson title:
Episodic Writing

inspired by
Pictures of Hollis Woods
by Patricia Reily Giff

Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Two Right-Brained Prompts:
(Visit WritingFix's entire Right-Brained Prompt Collections)
From the NNWP's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide
(Learn about all the NNWP Publications by clicking here.)
  • Graphic Organizers for Big Topics and Sub-topics (coming soon!)
Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Teaching Theme (and conflict) through Word Choice Study
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Pam Adamczyk , a New Jersey teacher, shared this idea with us. We sent her the NNWP's Going Deep with Compare and Contrast Thinking Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

Dear NNWP, I just love your site.

Had to share this delightful book--Armadilly Chili by Helen Ketteman. Was in San Antonio for the NWP Conference and had to find something from Texas to bring back to my 7th graders. This is a fun read just for the word choices and the art work is adorable. Look at how all its words are related to the West/ cowboy/ or Texas, sticking to a word theme. I used it to introduce and review conflicts with my 7th graders. They loved it. The story conflict “seems” like Man Vs Nature at first, then It’s Man vs Man, but ultimately it is Man vs Self. It was a great way to get these three types of conflicts across to all of my students and a good review on how to determine the conflict in a story by going to the main character and seeing how he/she solves a problem and changes.

Focus Trait is Idea Development: Theme and Conflict
Support Trait is Word Choice.

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Idea Development Sub-Skill #6: Self-Relfection...or Writing about What You Know
Each of the writing traits--idea development included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one idea development sub-skill: self-reflecting to write about what you know. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Self-Reflection Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Self-Reflection Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Show How You Deal with Anger

inspired by
When Sophie Gets Angry
by Molly Bang

Lesson title:
Scary Somethings

inspired by
Harry and the Terrible Whatzit
by Dick Gackenbach

Lesson title:
Writing About Life's Lessons

inspired by
A Single Shard
by Linda Sue Park

 

Lesson title:
Rules & Things for a Funner Life

inspired by
Bud, Not Buddy
by Christopher Paul Curtis


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Three Left-Brained Writing Prompts
(Visit WritingFix's entire Left-Brained Prompt Collection)
Two Right-Brained Prompts
(Visit WritingFix's entire Right-Brained Prompt Collection)

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Finding Topics through Self-Reflection
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Lisa Tisdel, a Michigan teacher, shared the idea below with us. We sent her the NNWP's Elementary Writing Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

Lisa students often say they don't have anything to write about. Lisa says:

"Sometimes the most difficult part of writing workshop for our young writers is getting started, or coming up with a good idea in the first place.  My favorite mentor text to help solve this problem is Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things that Make Me Happy by Scott Menchin.  In this short, simple book, Sweet Pea asks a variety of people and animals, "What makes you happy?" while trying to discover what makes her happy.  In the end, she finds more than 20 things that make her smile.  This is a great text to use for writer's notebook... getting kids to think and write about what makes them happy.  These ideas could later be developed into life stories, personal narratives, and poetry."


Three iPod Lesson with Self-Reflection as the Focus Skill
from Nevada teachers who took our iPods Across the Curriculum inservice
A Self-Reflection Prompt Designed for Younger Writers
from WritingFix's Writing Prompts for Kids Collection

Lesson: The Next Thing on My List

Inspired by: If Today Was Your Last Day, sung by Nickelback, and Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Overview: Students create a polished list that details the things each student would like to experience in their lives.


Lesson: Oh, the Places You Can Go!

Inspired by: Days Like This, sung by Van Morrison, and I Hope You Dance, sung by Lee Ann Womack

Overview: Students write about wisdom about life they have discovered from experience and from the mentor texts.


Lesson: What Skin Are You In?

Inspired by: Video and I Am Not My Hair, both sung by India Aria, and The Skin I'm In, written by Sharon G. Flake

Overview: Students write an expository essay comparing who they are on the inside to who they are on the outside.

Prompt: The Idea Game

Overview: With this prompt, students click the "magic button" until they find a prompt that triggers a memory they can think back on and write a short narrative about. The prompt encourages the writers to self-reflect especially on the five senses as they prepare to write a short piece of writing. Ultimately, the writers are encouraged to include three of the five senses in their short narrative's final draft. If your students write a particularly good story idea inspired by the prompt they build, you are invited to send it to us at publish@writingfix.com so that we may consider publishing it for other students to be inspired by. See this prompt's student samples page for details.

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Copyright 2014 - Corbett & Dena Harrison, Educational Consultants, LLC, and WritingFix- All Rights Reserved.
Please, share the resources you find on these pages freely with fellow educators, but please leave any page citations on handouts intact, and please give authorship credit to the cited teachers who created these wonderful lessons and resources. Thanks in advance for honoring other educators' intellectual property.

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