Writing Lesson of the Month Network

...sharing thoughtful, mentor text-inspired lessons your students will love!

I am very much looking forward to reading these in the next week or two!  Thanks, you all, for an interesting look at persuasive writing this class session!



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Historical Perspectives:
Exploring the same topic from two different perspectives focusing on writing letters.
Lesson Overview:
At the conclusion of a history unit and after reading Fiona Macdonald’s book You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Slave in Ancient Greece, the students will compose two letters, from two different perspectives (a sender and a receiver). Students will need to pick two people from the same historical era as their “characters” who will be doing the letter writing. Students will need to conduct some research about the people they will be writing for in order to complete the assignment.
Writing Across the Curriculum Ideas:
In addition to practicing perspective and organization, the students will be researching two figures in history that may or may not have a bit of controversy associated with them. I think this idea lends itself really well to any history curriculum. Students could write letters between:
•slave and master
•Caesar and a member of the senate
•Tomb builder and pyramid builder
•Marc Antony and Octavian
•a woman in Athens and a woman in Sparta

The possibilities are endless as far as whom your students can pick.
Trait or skill focus:
I think this lesson lends itself very easily to some trait-based skills that all students need to show growth on as a part of the lesson’s objective. For students who can handle more than one trait at a time, the teacher can pre-determine additional skills to focus on while they go through the writing process. Here are the lesson’s trait skills:
•organization-all students will write a letter to another character in history
following the format of a friendly letter.
•voice-all students will write with an authentic sounding voice in their letters representative of their chosen “characters”.
•perspective-all students will accurately write from the perspective of their chosen
characters .

Using the Mentor Text:

You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Slave in Ancient Greece, A Life You’d Rather Not Have is an expository text in a series of books that gives your students a chance to read about someone in history that they normally wouldn’t hear about. The books do an excellent job of showing life from the perspective of someone we wouldn’t expect. They can also read about Cleopatra, Roman Gladiators, Egyptian Mummies and Viking Explorers.

The key with using this mentor text is to allow the students to read the book and use sticky notes to record their thoughts and feelings as they read. You will get some very strong reactions from the students as they look at the life of a slave from the perspective of the slave. Having the kids look at the slave’s world from this perspective prepares them for the upcoming task of having to write their letters.

You will need to talk with your students about comparing and contrasting different perspectives. Two people can look at the same situation and have two very different opinions on the topic and they can also agree on certain things as well. I think a whole group discussion about what the students learned from the book is time well spent when talking about perspectives.


Once the students have figured out what two figures from history they will be writing for, there needs to be some time spent researching them. The students will need to be equipped with background information about their characters in order to write from their perspective about the topic they have chosen to write about. I recommend using a research graphic organizer (Google search “region 15 graphic organizers” for a variety of organizers to use with this lesson) that states the topic, sources they will use and four questions they want answered through their research. The answers to these questions can be the base for their letters.

Different Perspectives:

Once the students have completed their research, they need some time to process their findings and do some comparing and contrasting of the perspectives of their characters on the topic they have chosen. Rather than using the Venn diagram, I use a graphic organizer that highlights the name of the character, topic they are focusing on, view points, thoughts and feelings about those viewpoints, the impact of those thoughts and feelings and any reflections they may have. Once they have these ideas in order, they can start on their letter writing.

Writing the letters:

When the research has been done and the perspective sheet has been completed, it is time for the students to begin writing their letters. Letter writing is a writing standard k-6, so most students should have had some exposure to the format of a letter. However, I do think it is wise to review the parts of a letter and let the students know exactly what you are looking for as the end result.

So, let’s say that your student has picked to write from the perspective of a slave in ancient Greece and a citizen of ancient Greece that is also a woman. Both have similarities and differences between the two of them. The first letter the student would compose would be from the perspective of the slave writing to the mistress of the house. Depending on what the student decides to write about, this will determine the context of their letter. Maybe they will write about the rights of slaves, or lack of. Maybe they will write about how they feel they are unfairly treated in Greek society; or, how it feels to be separated from their family. The second letter would be from the mistress of the house back to the slave and should incorporate their perspective of living in Greek society, how they are treated and some response to the letter writer.

During the letter writing stage, it is important for the students to talk with one another about what and whom they are writing about. Sharing ideas, reading over each other’s work, revising, and just talking are so helpful in making sure the kids are on the right track with their letters. Have the students read their letters aloud, gather ideas and then go back to independently writing their letters.

Once completely drafted, have the students gather again to hear the close to final copy of their letters of their peers. Have the students read their letters aloud; it is amazing what they hear as they are reading their own work. Be sure to remind the students to be supportive and constructive in their feedback to others work.

Publishing Suggestions:

I would have the students type their letters and print them out. Putting them on a bulletin board outside of the classroom allows many people to see the final copy! The students tend to take their time when typing when they know that the “whole school” will be reading their letters.
Voice – Can you make me human?

Introduction to the lesson:After discussing poetry and poetic terms, we stop and focus on personification. Students will receive a handout which makes them give inanimate objects human characteristics (simple handout with a list of things in the classroom, desk, pens, pencils, board, dictionary, thesaurus, posters, literature books, novels, paper).We then discuss what makes something “human.” Brainstorm a list of human characteristics as a class (feelings, touch, speech, etc.) Those characteristics should be written on the board for the students to refer back to.

Mentor text:
Then the teacher reads, I Stink! By: Kate and Jim McMullan. This is a great mentor text that incorporates good voice. In this story, a garbage truck talks about his night and what he does while we are all sleeping. Great pictures and vivid descriptions of what he swallows. At one point in the book, he does an ABC of what he usually eats in a night. The last page of the book the garbage truck “reveals” himself. Through out the book, he doesn’t come right out and say that he is a garbage truck.

Using the text skillfully:
The key to using this text well is to have students listen to the different action words the author uses to make the garbage truck come to life. This book is one that needs to be read out loud at least twice.

Students have choice:
After discussing the mentor text and how the author made the garbage truck, “human,” students will have to choose one thing from the list at the beginning of the lesson (giving inanimate objects human characteristics). If they don’t like anything off of the list, they are able to choose their own topic with approval from the teacher.
The students will have to decide how they are to make their object “human.” The will fill out a venn diagram using the different ways to make things human (discussed earlier and posted on the board). The will have to find a way to use all of the senses at least twice (example: A desk smells the freshly sharpened pencils while the pencil might smell the lotion on someone’s hand).
After they brainstorm on their venn diagram, they will be given the directions on how to create their, “Who am I?”

Who am I? Directions:

1. In your first paragraph, list off 5 specific characteristics of your thing/object (Example with the desk = sturdy place to write, a support system, etc.) Make sure you are writing from the viewpoint of your object, you are the item you chose.
2. In your second paragraph talk about who you are without giving away your “name.” What do you usually do in a day? Night? Who do you help?
3. Then list off 5 action words that could describe you (Example – a desk = smelly, broken, annoying, etc)
4. In your last paragraph convince your reader that your life isn’t that bad. What is so good about your life? What makes you keep on “living?” (Example with the desk = I love my life! I see students learn new things and I’m getting pretty smart myself!)

Teacher model:
Here is a teacher model you can show students to help them understand the task at hand –

I am a sturdy place to write notes to your best friend or notes on personification. I am a great support system to anyone who sits with me. I help with drawing, I help with adding. I am also a great place to doodle on (just don’t tell anyone in charge!) I’m also a place to place your lunch, your hands or in some cases, your rear ends!
I start my day really early. I wake up to the lights being turned on and the sound of the computer whirring away as it is just turned on. I hear the lady blab to another guy about some kid who just makes her life hard. I laugh because that kid is awesome. He has shown me some of the best drawings I have seen in a long time! I hear the bell ring and await the arrival of what the day will bring. Will I see more drawings? Will I hear some juicy gossip?
Sturdy, reliable, smart, inquisitive, broken at times
Even though I am drawn on, spit on, drooled on and abused by loads of books, I still love my life! I see young minds learn, I see young minds grow! I’m moved around the room so I get to see different areas all of the time. I am taken care of by women and men who come in and clean me every day and repair me when I need it. I love
being here!

The teacher will go over the directions again, after the students have had some time to write. Then a rubric will be passed out for students to evaluate themselves and one other person in the class. The rubric will have them look for things like:
1. Did the author write from the viewpoint of their object?
2. Did they include every aspect of the writing?
3. Did they include good action words to explain their object?
It is important to explain to the students that they are supposed to help each other. Not one paper will be “perfect.” What can they do to help their classmates improve their paper? It’s important that students are talking during this time. Possibly have them read their papers out loud to their partners.

*After students evaluate themselves, they will switch with one other person in the class. During this time, the teacher is passing out 6 pieces of computer paper. Students will be creating a short story with their paper in the format of the mentor text.

After revision:
Students will then transfer their writing onto the pieces of computer paper. They will have to draw a picture for every page and have it colored. The page that has the action words on it will have to include a lot of color and there will be pictures of some of the pages placed throughout the room to give the students ideas on how to create their short story. On the first piece of computer paper, they have to create a title for their piece (this will be encouraged to be their last step). The last piece of paper will have them revealing their object to the reader writing, “Who Am I? at the top and the reveal at the bottom with a picture.
“My ________ Is Better Than Your _________!!!”
By: Jill Bayliss
Exploring a topic from two perspectives with dialogue
Focus Trait: Persuasion Support Trait: Dialogue
Three-Sentence Lesson Overview:
After reading “My Dad Is Better than Your Dad” by Andy Griffiths, students will compose a persuasive paper that demonstrates two perspectives about a person or item of their choosing. They will use dialogue to communicate both perspectives and highlighting to see if they are giving both sides equal weight. Finally, they will create a published piece that presents two perspectives but may take a variety of formats.
Mentor Text:
The Mentor Text for this lesson is “My Dad is Better than Your Dad” by Andy Griffiths out of the book Guys Write for Guys Read edited by Jon Scieszka. You will find the story on pages 94 to 96. This is a fun short story about two boys who are arguing, as kid’s will, about whose dad is the best. Throughout the story the kids try to trump their friend’s latest comeback by using exaggeration and flat out lies! The story is told using dialogue with a little bit of descriptive language thrown in. If you use this mentor text well, students will gain a lot of skills to enhance their persuasive writing.
Teacher Instructions and Lesson Resources
Step One: Read the mentor text to your class. This is the most effective if students have a copy of the mentor text in front of them so that they can follow along. After reading the story to the students, pass out two different color highlighters. Ask students to highlight everything the narrator says in one color and everything that Buck says in another color. If it is not in quotes or a tag line, they should not highlight it at all.
Step Two: Discuss what they highlighted and why. Ask the students questions like: What do you notice about the amount of text you highlighted for the narrator? What do you notice about the amount of text you highlighted for Buck? Is one side shown more clearly? Do you think that each kid made a case for why their dad was better than the others dad? What techniques did they use to get their point of view across? Was one more persuasive than the other? If so why?
The ideas you want to focus on here are that both sides are represented equally and that each child uses exaggeration and lies to convince the other one of their ideas. They also build on each others arguments in order to make a stronger case.
Step Three: Ask students to brainstorm a list of people or items that they could do a "Mine is Better than Yours" paper about. They can do this in partners on a blank sheet of paper or you can generate a class list on the white board. Allow students to choose which item or person they would like to write about. Some possibilities are: mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, cell phone, iPod, computer, or sports team. Have them fold a white or lined sheet of paper burrito style and label each side with Perspective One, and Perspective Two. They should use this graphic organizer to brainstorm their ideas for each perspective. Once they have gotten all of their ideas down they can begin writing a draft of their paper.
Step Four: Once all students have generated a draft have them read their papers to a peer. After they have read their paper to a peer, have them allow the peer to highlight their paper and circle all of their “said” verbs and then give it back to them with several suggestions for improvement.
Step Five: Have a process discussion where students talk about what part of the activity was most difficult for them. Did they struggle more with the dialogue, the perspectives, or the persuasive techniques? Did they find having a peer listen to their paper and highlight their perspectives helpful? Did they find that highlighting a peer’s paper helped them to see their paper differently?
Step Six: Have students look at the mentor text a second time and circle all the times the author uses the words say and says. Discuss other ways to say these words that would give the story more life. Have them generate a list of alternative words using an alpha box. After five or ten minutes, allow them to talk with their peers to see if they can complete their whole chart.
Step Seven: Have students go back to their drafts and edit their own papers for different ways to say “said”; they can use their Alpha Boxes for support. When they have improved their word choice they can write a published piece.
Step Eight: Allow students to publish their papers as a poem for two voices, a complete dialogue paper, or as two important book poems; one from each perspective. If they choose to change formats, they should capture the essence of the persuasive techniques demonstrated in their original story.
Verbing Their Voice
By Michele Erikson
This story continues with the wild, crazy and amazing use of verb to beef up the enjoyment of the author’s writing. The stories based on “There Was _____ Who Swallowed _____!” lends itself to the use of great verbs to get your students energized about verbing their voice in writing.
Skill/Trait Focus:
1. Parts of Speech
2. Build student sentences with varied verbs.
Gathered Mentor Texts:
• “To Root, to Toot, to Parachute What Is a Verb?” by Brian Cleary
• “Easy Writing Lessons For the Overhead” by Lisa Blau Scholastic
• “There Was A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow!” by Lucille Colandro
• “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout!” by Teri Sloat
• Colored markers and pencils
• Chart paper and tape
• Clip boards
• Copies of pages 9,15, 19 and 23 from “Easy Writing Lessons For the Overhead
• Sentence Stripes in two colors
• Samples of Student/Teacher models
• Pages for students to create their own book ( 8 by 11 paper with lines on both sides, lines don’t go all the way across the page, with a large area to illustrate in)
• Create a rubric from Rubystar.com
• Camera
Lesson: (1 week)
1. Read “To Root, to Toot, to Parachute What Is a Verb” and then fill in the ABC’s boxes as a group; include student input and encourage students to include 2-3 words for each letter.
2. First read “There was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow!” read again and have student jot down verbs from the story. Show a model (2-4) of using a story verb in a sentence. Have student‘s create their own sentences using verbs from the story. Post under the story title on the board (a place where it can stay up for a few days).
3. Write pages 22 and 23 on chart paper and have students underline/highlight the verbs from the book. Also have student circle the words that repeat in the story.
4. Day three review what a verb is and ask students if there are any new words to add to their lists. Read “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout”, read again and have students write down new verbs (in their ABC boxes). Show a model (2-4) of using a story verb in a sentence. Have students create their own. Post under the story title on the board next to the other story.
5. Write pages 25 and 26 on chart paper and have students highlight/underline the verbs from the book. Also have students circle the words that repeat in the story.
6. Compare the two stories and the use of verbs.
7. Questions for students to ponder in small group- do the author use the same verbs and the sequence of object eaten.
8. Model to the class a copy of both graphic organizers; using classes ABC boxes as a reference and use student input to complete. Also include an explaination of the rubric and writings at each level.
9. Share past student published samples and ask student to identify the graphic organizer.
10. Part two of the questions to ponder have students use pages 19 or 23 to draft their own “_____Who Swallowed a ______”; complete one of the forms on their own. Students should also have their ABC boxes next to them as they write, to use a reference. Photograph students as they work.
11. Have students share with a partner for grammar, punctuation and order of objects. Students will initial that they have proof read the rough draft.
12. Teacher will review students copy before publishing piece.
13. Using book paper student’s will rewrite their story and illustrate pictures that match their writing.
14. Photograph students as they read their piece to the class.
15. Have students grade themselves with the rubric.
16. Students will sit in the class’s authors chair and read their story and teacher will grade with a rubric.
17. Post to Writingfix or Corbett Harrison.
Forming Educated Opinions
By Dawn Callahan

This lesson is meant to help kids form researched and well thought out opinions. In three steps the students will learn to research, debate, and write about censorship and freedom of speech. Students will learn some tools that will help them make educated decisions in the future.

Writing Across the Curriculum Ideas:
This lesson would be useful in any subject where two varying opinions are shared and discussed, such as in a social studies or Language Arts class. Although this lesson is developed for a high-school classroom it could modified for earlier grades.

Trait/Skill Focus:
• Passion: Students will learn more than one side of a topic and be able to express their feelings about that topic after understanding the various points of view.
• Perspective: Students will defend a point of view through arguments and counter-arguments.
• Persuasion: Students will write a persuasive paper convincing their audience their opinion is the correct opinion.

Mentor texts:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

• Fahrenheit 451:
This lesson is based around the futuristic world Bradbury creates where any type of media that can offend another person is banned. This novel lends itself to debating the right of free speech.
• Sylvester and the Magic Pebble:
This is a fun book to share with a class and have them decide why the book was once banned. Before sharing this book, it is a good idea to have students look at a list of books they’ve read during their school careers and discover that most of them have also been banned at one time and show them why. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was banned in 1977 by a group of policemen in Illinois because of the illustrations depicting policemen as pigs. Students find this entertaining and rarely figure out the reason as it’s being read to them. Be sure to show the pictures.
• The Lorax:
The Lorax is a fun book to share and have students guess about in the same way Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was. This book was banned due to potential political controversy.

1. Explain to class what censorship is. Have students write the opinion they have about censorship. Ask them to agree or disagree then write a sentence or two about why. Next call on students to share and discuss answers.
2. Have students shout out books they’ve read (while you write the list on the board) in school so far and maybe add some they will be reading in future school years. Then using the internet or a preprinted list of popular banned books, show them how many of those books have been censored. Share the reasons and ask them how they feel about those reasons. Do they agree or disagree? Hopefully, there will be reasons supporting censorship or not supporting. It may be necessary for the teacher to share opposing view points.
3. Let the students know they will be debating the censorship issue in class. Let them know you will be choosing the side they will support. This way you can have an even number on each side potentially. While this will cause some students to argue for something they may not agree with at this time, it also helps to keep students from being too offended when others disagree with them during the debate since they didn’t get to choose the side they wanted.
4. Put them in six groups of no more than six per group. Then assign three groups to argue against censorship and three groups to argue for the use of censorship. Each group will need to work together in the library to research information about the topic. They should find enough information for each student to make one strong point about the topic as well as one counter argument about the topic. Essentially, students are looking at both sides of the argument. If not already taught, this would be a good time to teach students what a counter argument is.
5. Have students spend one class period in the library researching the argument using the graphic organizer. This organizer can help guide them during the debate the next day.
6. There are many ways teachers have students debate in class. This is just one way:
On the day of debate split the kids in half. Have the three groups for censorship on one side of the room and the three against on the other side. At this point, give each group slips of paper or cards with the numbers 1 through 6 on them. These cards will determine which order the students in the group will speak in. The kid with the “1” card will speak first and have a good opening argument and so on. All ones will speak first going from one side of the room to the other. Then the kids with the number two cards will speak back and forth and so on. The numbered cards are great because they can account for kids who are absent or even groups that don’t have six students. With six cards the group must speak six times even if there are only three in a group, for example. So, some kids will speak more than once for the group. From there students present their arguments and counter arguments going back and forth between the “for” groups and “against”. Each student can only speak when it is their turn and they cannot speak again until all students have gone. Students should be taking notes on the graphic organizer as they listen to arguments. This organizer can also help kids remember what they wanted to say when they get to speak again. Notes on the graphic organizer will be helpful when time to write their persuasive paper. The teacher can tell the students at the end if there was a winning side or not. It may also be important to have students remember to criticize ideas not people.
7. The next day have students discuss their thoughts about the debate and return to what they wrote in step one. Have them decide what they believe now. Then have them begin prewriting for a persuasive paper where they will convince their audience of their opinion about censorship. The paper should have a strong introduction stating their opinion, Three body paragraphs that give a reason each and a counter-argument, and a conclusion that ties everything together including finishing touches to reiterate their heartfelt opinion.
8. After the first draft is complete have them do peer response. A good method is to have each student get with a partner and for a first read the partner should read the paper aloud to the writer. This allows the writer to hear any language that doesn’t sound right. The writer can stop the partner at any time to reclaim their paper and make corrections then continue. On the second read the partner reads the writer’s paper silently on their own and looks for mechanical/grammatical errors and makes note of them on the page. Then the partner reads for a third time making sure the writer has stayed on topic and also gives any suggestions to help the paper.
9. Finally, after revision the student turns in the final paper for a grade.

This lesson can be done with any two sided, debatable topic with slight modifications to mentor texts.


Students could upload their writing to a NING blogging website and respond to each other’s papers.
A Persuasive Writing Lesson Inspired by Point of View
By: Diane Frank, 4th grade teacher
Title: Come Hither, Little Fly!
Skill/Trait Focus:
In all writing lessons, teachers must focus a trait based skill in order for their students to gain practice and become more proficient in their writing. Voice is the main focus for this lesson based on the degree of persuasion the Spider accomplishes. All students will write a poem that sounds like a Spider is talking and also a Fly. Word Choice is the second. Here students will add powerful adjectives and verbs to show their persuasion. During the revision process, students can add the necessary words to make their voice more persuasive.
Mentor Text: The Spider and the Fly by Tony DiTerlizzi and Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
Using the Mentor Text Skillfully:
This mentor text is a great example of persuasion from the point of view of the Spider. He has great voice in the way her persuades the Fly to come into his web. The Spider uses his wily ways to gain a meal. First, introduce the text and have them look at the pictures. They should notice the darkness of the pages. Lead a discussion on mood and tone. Although this is not a major focus for the writing, setting the mood or tone of a book has a lot to do with the outcome. Have the students discuss with their teams their thoughts. Ask for several examples from the class on what their ideas and thoughts are. Also, discuss the idea of persuasion. Have the students discuss with a partner what they think persuasion is. Let them share. Ask them if they have ever persuaded someone to do something or if someone persuaded them.
Gather the students around you and read the book. After a few pages, have them discuss how the Spider persuades the Fly to come to him. List the ways he accomplishes his goal. Keep reading and discuss a few more times. Add the ways to the list. Lead a discussion on his skill level and what made the Spider a good persuader.
Pass out a sample from Joyful Noise and have the students look at the sample. What do they notice? How would someone read this poem? Explain that this poem is written for two voices. Where would the two voices read together? Not? Model how to read the poem by first the teacher be the first voice and the students be the second. This may take a few times but they should get the hand of it. Then, have the student’s pair up and read the poem. Discuss how the two voices were heard and where they weren’t. What were the differences and similarities between the two voices?
Explain that they are going to use the voice of the spider and the fly and write a poem with two voices. Show the model of the graphic organizer with a poem already written.

Example Poem for Two Voices
Voice #1 Voice #2
I am a car I am a truck
I seat 5 people I seat 2 people
We both carry people to places
I am small I am big
I have little wheels My wheels are huge
We both use gasoline to get us around
Have the students read the sample lead a discussion on their thoughts. They should notice the similarities and the differences. From here, brainstorm the traits of the Spider and the traits of the Fly. What are their similarities and their differences? You can use a Venn diagram for the students to gain a visual representation of their thoughts and their organizational skills. Add to the diagram and go beyond the book to get their background knowledge of spiders and flies. Have students discuss their ideas. Remember that Voice is the main skill being taught. In their best Spider voice have them talk to their partners their voice. Do the same for the Fly voice.
Student Have Choice:
Distribute the graphic organizer of a poem for two voices. Have them work with a partner and they can choose who will be the spider and who will be the fly. They will need to work together and complete the poem. Remind the students that word choice is the second skill and they should add strong adjectives and verbs. Once the class is done, have them share out their writing. From here, brainstorm other examples they could write about. For example, a bird and a tree might be one. List them on chart paper. Now, the students can choose their own samples to write a poem in two voices. This may take time but it is well worth it. Pass out a clean copy of the same graphic organizer and let them begin.
The students now have a class example, a student sample they have written with a partner, and a Venn diagram for them to use. They also have a list of ideas to write about. Have the students begin their poetry writing.
Students Talk About the Process:
Talking is crucial to process the steps required. Meta-cognition is a higher level skill that all our students can achieve. Their writing will be richer and more well thought out rather then just a piece of writing. All students will benefit because they have discussed. Before they are to write their rough drafts out, the students will pair up with another partner and discuss their ideas on their poems. Here they can get more ideas and add this to their poems. By the time they have written their rough drafts, the students have talked at each step and have become clearer on their Voice and their Word Choice.
Revision is a confusing process for students and often ignored. Yet, revision is a crucial step to make writing better. Here, focus the students where they can add richer adjectives and verbs. Where can they be more descriptive with their persuasion? Model how you can revise using the sample. Cross out words and add new ones. Have the students help with their ideas. Just because a sentence or a piece of writing is longer doesn’t mean it is better. Emphasize the key skills to be focused on: Voice and Word Choice. Once students have revised their poems, they can publish them onto lined paper. Make sure they follow the poem for two voices outline. Celebrate their writing by having the students share with a partner. Really get the two voices to read the writing.
Have the students brainstorm other examples and they can continue to write more poems. One could be the student and the principal. Also, they could connect their writing to a book of their interest, a sport the like, and subjects in school. Another idea would be for the students to use voice and write from the point of view of the Fly. The students could extend the story and write from her perspective. What was she thinking? Give her a voice!

Graphic Organizer: See page 61 of Going Deep with Compare and Contrast Thinking

I am
A persuasive writing lesson inspired by Persuasive Writing Across the Curriculum: Exploring the power of Voice, this writing across the curriculum assignment inspires voice and ideas from your students

This Activity’s Title: “Join the Job Market or Welcome to the Princesses’ Ball” exploring verbs and job skills using action from life

Three-Sentence Lesson Overview: After reading and analyzing the action in Teresa Bateman’s The Princesses Have a Ball, student will complete a graphic organizer about the action in their lives. Next, the student will select active verbs from the text and from résumés. Finally, student will develop a résumé and cover letter.

Writing Across the Curriculum ideas: In addition to practicing word choice, voice, and idea development, this lesson would enrich a unit on topics that might have a little bit of controversy associated with them:
• Elections and the election process
• Propaganda and advertising
• Poetry

Trait/Skill Focus:
Voice Students will convey passion and ability of their own skills as they prepare a résumé and cover letter using word choice.
Idea Development Students will put their own skills into a written objective and in their own job qualifications as they prepare to write their résumé and cover letter.

First, inspire students with a Mentor Text:
Read The Princesses Have a Ball aloud to students and ask them to share the main ideas. Have students share while you record and then display the active verbs they share. After that, read the text again and ask the students to record the active verbs from the text, then have them share those verbs in their groups.

• How would the story be different if the text were written in the passive voice?
• How would the mood of the story change if it were all written in the active voice?

Pass around several different pages from of the text and ask students to underline the verbs and discuss the mood of the page or stanza. Then have students rewrite the page or stanza using all active verbs and share the mood (don’t worry about the rhyme).

Next, analyze a résumé for a teacher or a student. First read the résumé aloud to students while they listen for active verbs. Record and display the active verbs shared by the class. Read the text again and ask the students to record the active verbs from the text, then share those verbs in their groups.
• How would the résumé be different if the text were written in the passive voice?
• Why are active verbs and voice important in a résumé?

Brainstorming/Organizing: The first page of the graphic organizer found on page 14 of Going Deep with Comparing and Contrasting, (Life Boat) requires students to think and write about their home life and the responsibilities or chores they carry out. They also write about their free time activities or hobbies and their special skills, talent, or positions they hold. After the students complete this portion of the graphic organizer stop, put the writing away for at least four days.

The next day use the second graphic organizer, Alpha-Boxes http://www.writingfix.com/PDFs/Writing_Tools/Alpha_Boxes.pdf, for students to write active verbs for the activity in their lives. Let them share and add to their lists with other students in the class. Next, distribute examples of résumés and blank résumés and ask students to read them and with a partner share what they like about each one. Then focus student attention on the objective and qualification areas and have them chart active verbs with specific skill. After that, have students share their observations with the whole class. Finally, have students choose an objective they like from those posted and copy it for their own.

On day four, students pull out Life Boat graphic organizers and review what they have written. Students will use their Alpha-Boxes, their peers, and the résumé examples to fill in the negative space between the flags on their graphic organizers. Next, let students select the résumé template of their choice and fill it in using the verbs from their Life Boat to describe themselves. Let the résumé gel for several days.

Review the elements and purpose of a business letter. Share examples of cover letters. These should be the same whether sent by snail-mail or e-mail. Use the active verbs to summarize what student brings to a particular job.

If this lesson is used to actually create a résumé and cover letter make computers available for student use to type their own résumé and write their cover letter. I always ask students to print them out and e-mail them to me so they are available for student revision.
The Cold War and Dr. Seuss’s Butter Battle Book
Writing Across the Curriculum Ideas – Skill/Trait Focus
This lesson focuses on Voice, specifically Point of View and Idea Development, specifically unique approach /technique to explore a topic.
Mentor Text – The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss’s, The Butter Battle Book is a wonderfully illustrated tale about two communities, Yook and Zook. Unfortunately, the Yooks and the Zooks do not get along because they disagree about how to eat their buttered bread. Yes, that’s right, buttered bread! The Yooks prefer to eat their bread with the butter side up while the Zooks prefer to eat their bread with the butter side down. This may not sound like a huge disagreement but it sparks long held distrust and dislike of one another. The dislike results in the building of a wall separating both communities and finds an armed guard monitoring the Yook side of the wall. When VanItch, a Zook, fires a rock at the Yook guard and breaks his weapon, a greater escalation of weapons build up occurs. Weapons like a Triple-Sling Jigger, a Jigger-Rock Snatchem, and then finally The Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo are created by the “Top-est Secret-est Brain Nest. The Zooks, not be out done, create equally imaginative weapons to defend themselves from possible attack. By the end of the book, both the Yooks and Zooks have “Big-Boy Boomeroo’s” and both sides are prepared to use them to get rid of their enemy. The question, “Who’s going to drop it”, is answered with the very ambiguous statement, “We will see…”.
If this situations sounds absurd yet familiar, good for you! This is an allegory for the Cold War weapons build up that resulted in not only the building of the Berlin Wall but of a distrust and dislike between communist USSR and the capitalist United States that resulted in decades of nuclear arms build up. The same question, “Who’s going to drop it”, was one on everyone’s mind as two superpowers raced to be the superpower.
Lesson Outline
Thoughts before beginning the lesson: Although the Butter Battle Book is allegorical, I don’t believe my juniors would have the prior knowledge from eighth grade to connect the text with the Cold War. Therefore, I would begin the lesson with a graphic organizer and a brief portion of their textbook that leads them through the idea of escalating confrontation. I would use examples from the following: building of the Berlin Wall, Bay of Pigs Invasion, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. An example graphic organizer titled “Crisis in Berlin” is attached. Once students have activated their brains with events from that time, I think introducing the mentor text would then be appropriate. My thought is you can’t ask kids to compare two things they are not aware of. Make sense?
1. Bellringer/Anticipatory Set: I always have some type of activity for students to complete right after the bell rings. There are two purposes here: one is to get them into their seats focusing on class and the other is to focus their minds on what we will be covering that day in class. For this lesson day I would begin with something like the following:
• List reasons for going to war.
• What effect does war have on soldiers, families, civilians?
• Can you think of a time when two countries were at war with one another but they didn’t actually attack one another?
• Any one (or more) of these can help focus student attention on the Cold War.

2. Graphic Organizer: Hand out the Butter Battle Graphic organizer and read the book to students showing them the illustrations as you read (an Elmo would work well here). Have students fill in the flow chart of events taking place between the Yooks and Zooks. Help fill in one or two with them. Continue until the book has been completed and students have filled in their graphic organizer.
Discuss the following with students:
• Why were the two groups at war?
• Why do you think they kept building bigger and bigger weapons?
• How was the story like real life?
• What was the purpose of the author?
Lead a discussion about how The Butter Battle Book is an allegory for the Cold War. Remind students about the prior lesson(s) about the Berlin Wall, Bay of Pigs Invasion, and/or Cuban Missile Crisis.
3. Groups: Put students into groups and assign them the task of comparing the Yooks and Zooks to the United States and Soviet Union. Give each group one of the three Cold War topics and give them a few minutes to make their comparisons. Have them post to “publish” and discuss as a group.

4. Student Writing Assignment/Students Have Choice: Alright, this is the tougher part for me because I have so many ideas but nothing lined out as the “definitive” persuasive writing assignment. So, I’ll give you several ideas and you can select the one that best fits your time allotment! Or, let students select the writing assignment they would like to complete.
• Students can write a new ending for the Butter Battle Book from one of three perspectives: The Wall (as in Berlin - intriguing), The Yooks (as in the United States) or the Zooks (as in The Soviet Union).
• Students could write a compare and contrast paragraph or essay comparing the Butter Battle Book and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
• Students could write a radio program (the most available multi-media of the time) reporting on the Cuban Missile Crisis from either the U.S. perspective or the Soviet perspective.
• Students could also use the Diamond Poem technique to compare/contrast perspectives of any one of the Cold War events.
Here are the Graphic Organizers
A Persuasive Writing Lesson Inspired by Perspective

Picture book: Grandad

Skill/Trait Factors:

To get the most from your students, the teacher knows her audience and knows their skill level. The goal is to take the student where they are and bring them to the next level of growth. For students who are ready for more than one trait at a time. Another objective is to predetermine additional skills to help who are ready to go on with the writing process. Here are this lesson’s trait skills:

- Voice – all students will write important passages that examine different perspectives with an authentic-sounding
- Idea Development - stronger writers will work hard to make sure the ideas presented in each perspective
paragraph are completely in original thoughts and words.

Mentor Text :

Explore Grandad’s past wonderful world. The book is inspiring to students to see the wisdom of generations of past. The key to using this mentor text well to make sure students really think about what’s the most important thing about the topic about writing about. Having to ponder a loved one’s position and ideas is a great way to analyze another’s perspective.

Talk to your students about perspectives and differences, especially of age. Say, “Four people could look at the same incident, and the four may have four different statements about what they saw.” When Rachel Elliot wrote, Grandad, she wanted her audience to see he will not grow old gracefully. Today, we’re going to talk about the same concepts exploring two different perspectives.

Share the passages from Elliot’s book and be sure your students understand the value and format of each passage. If it helps, creating a frame for your students to successfully understand the passages.

Student/Teacher Models:

Models are provided to promote discussion among students before during and after the writing process. When a student looks at the following models, have them focus on voice, idea development and word choice.
Show your student’s an example of a well structured letter, expressing a student‘s appreciation, again in the form of a letter, to their grand dad or a loved one conveying their appreciation for what he or she has taught them.

Using the Graphic Organizer:

A graphic organizer is a tool serves as a great pre-write to this writing assignment. Once your students have had time to learn about the topic(s) they will be writing about, have them brainstorm two possible perspectives by creating a three part organizer. You may use a Venn-diagram and divide the perspectives into three groups: granddads world, grand daughter’s world and where both grand dad’s and grand daughter’s worlds are the same.
Students have choice:

Here’s where you have to take the lid off. Your kids need to brainstorm and show their creativeness. The student must be able to speak out loud for a few minutes until you see their creative reserves are empty. Remember, our students come from many backgrounds and have many different views and experiences to make a wonderful discussion. Have them talk about their experiences and write down at least three personal experiences. Once written, ask them to think about why their experiences are important to them and the many places they enjoyed.
Now, ask your students to write a outline about their experiences, why they are important and where you learned your lesson.

Students talk about the Process:

Have students partner up and discuss in detail the experiences they choose and explain why their points are important. Have them ask their partner to suggest which ideas they liked best too and why. In addition, have them share common experiences.

Revision suggestions:

Revision is a very important step during a skill-based writing lesson. When students revisit and think deeply about the lesson’s focus and after at least one rough draft is completed, they are more likely to remember strategies for using that skill the next time they are asked to write. Glossing over this step when writing lessons will undermine the process, expect this step to take longer than anticipated; be certain to make time to include real revision with this lesson.

Once students have revised their letters, allow them to publish them on stationary, and if possible make copies on the overhead to illustrate great examples.




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