A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: SENTENCE FLUENCY Support Trait: ORGANIZATION

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Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources

Student Writing Samples from this Lesson

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On-line Publishing:

New! Publish your students at our Ning!
(You must be a member of our "Writing Lesson of the Month" ning to post.)

 

 

Teacher's Guide:

Counting Sentences' Words

...so your sentences' words
count more

This lesson was created by NNWP Teacher Consultant Corbett Harrison. Check out all of Corbett's on-line lessons by clicking here.

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

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Owl Moon from Amazon.com, and help keep WritingFix free and on-line. We thank you!

A note for our 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 writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:

Step one (sharing the published model):  In Owl Moon, author Jane Yolan shows off what she does best.  Yolan writes beautiful descriptions that sound so rhythmic.  While it's hard to pinpoint exactly where the rhythm comes from, some of her techniques can certainly be analyzed.  Yolen, for example, varies back and forth between longer sentences and shorter sentence.  She also, for the most part, begins her sentences with different words.  Share this book aloud and enjoy the masterful descriptions of a wintery owl hunt shared by father and daughter.  On a second read, ask your students to talk about where they think they heard rhythm in the story.  They'll sense that it's there, but probably won't b able to explain how it was created.

Have one of the book's pages typed on an overhead or a handout.  Ask students to look closely at the beginnings of Yolen's sentences...for the most part, they start with different words.  Ask students to look closely at how many words are in Yolen's sentences...for the most part, Yolen varies between longer and shorter sentences.  Explain that these are two techniques for adding sentence fluency that this writing lesson will stress.


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 will certainly talk about the sentence fluency, because of the discussion prompt that has been embedded on each model.  You might prompt your students to talk about each model's organization as well.

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):  

After showing them the teacher sample about the chihuahua, have students imagine a scene where a different dog is running in a different location. Working in pairs, have students create a descriptive paragraph.

And now student writers should be more able to compose, using sentence fluency, as individuals.

Use the interactive button and word game on the student instruction page to explore a variety of short, non-descript sentences to inspire a paragraph.  If you don't have the ability to have all kids on-line at the same time or the ability to project the Internet in your classroom, borrow four or five of the choices and write them on your overhead or white board.  Students can probably come up with a few original examples once they see a model of what a short, non-descript sentence looks and sounds like.

Once students have a sentence to inspire a paragraph, use the pre-writing worksheet below to help them create a variety of longer and shorter sentences.

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 might just send you a free print resource from the NNWP for being generous.

  • 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):  Two tools for revision are provided below.  You can use one or both, depending on how much time you have to spend on this assignment.

To promote response and revision to rough draft writing, attach WritingFix's Revision and Response Post-Its to your students' drafts.  Make sure the students rank their use of the trait-specific skills on the Post-Its, 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-Its, 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 might just send you a free print resource from the NNWP for being generous.

  • 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? 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. Fifty teachers a year who do this will receive a complimentary copy of one of the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Print Guides.

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.


Learn more about Jane Yolen's books by clicking here.


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