HOW THESE BOOKS CAME TO BE:I teach at a home-school co-operative. After working with various writing curriculums that I had to change to fit my students' writing needs, I wrote my own. As a certified teacher in Washington state, I had training in the creation of curriculum and lesson plans as part of my education at Western Washington Universty in the Woodring College of Education, which was the highest rated school for educators in the state in the 1990s (when I went). Each level can be used for a full year of writing instruction for middle school through high school students. Most of my Dynamic Writing 1 students are between 6th and 8th grade, although I have had 9th graders take the class.
After the three short descriptions and sales links, check out the free sample of Dynamic Writing 1 from the third chapter of lessons.
Dynamic Writing 1 includes 161 writing lessons for middle school students. Informal journal writing and formal writing assignments work alongside each other to grow each young writer’s skills. In one year, students will write over fifty journal entries, six book summaries, two descriptive essays, two narrative essays, five short fiction stories, a process essay, a news article, a super short biography, a short research report, two quatrains, a ballad, two timed essays, and a writing resume. In addition to essay basics like thesis statements, introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions, students will also learn sentence variations and writing concepts like short sentences, similes, adverb sentence starters, prepositional phrase sentence starters, present participial phrase sentence starters, and more. Notes for teachers and parents, as well as checklists and grade sheets are provided within the lessons, and an answer key may be found in the back of the book. With all of this, Dynamic Writing 1 is ready for use in the home or the classroom. Please note that this is the FULL curriculum. I had a sample version for sale on kindle at one time.
Creativity is nurtured through childhood, into the middle school years, and on into adulthood. We nurture creativity by offering choices. In this curriculum, students have required topics, optional topics, and general topics that nurture decision-making within the confines of an assigned essay style. Students are required to write to a certain standard, to use a certain page format, and to use specific writing constructs. At the same time, they are allowed the choice of topic, content, and the placement of those writing constructs. Unlike other curriculums, there is no requirement that the third sentence in every paragraph must follow a particular sentence construction. Sentence construction variations are helpful for students to learn, but I know that students learn them best when they create their own and place them in their essays where they choose.
An important piece of the methodology in this book, and in my own writing life, is daily practice. “Nulla dies sine line”—"Not a day without a line drawn," is a quote attributed to Apelles des Cos, a famous Greek painter from 4th Century B.C., but I believe that this quote applies to modern day writers, as well as artists. Daily practice is essential to any skill, and is especially important to writing. This curriculum is designed to create daily writing habits. Journaling may be informal, but it helps give writers a place to play with words on a daily basis. Journaling mixed with formal writing assignments helps a writer develop their voice and style, and then put those into practice within their formal writing assignments. Due to the time constraints of students and their need to study multiple subjects, the assignments given to students are based on a single writing session a day, in either formal or informal writing.
SAMPLE LESSONS FROM DYNAMIC WRITING 1
CHAPTER 3 DESCRIPTIVE WRITING, PART 1: DESCRIBE AN OBJECT
Descriptive writing is found in scientific journals, narrative essays, definition essays, and narrative non-fiction and fiction. Descriptive writing describes and helps define its subject using sensory, vibrant words and similes. Descriptive writing can ground us as readers in a writer’s words, help us to have a greater understanding of a writer’s meaning, and keep us riveted to the page. Simple yet challenging, description is like painting a picture with words. Every writer I’ve met has struggled with the level of details to include in their writing, and how the words, no matter how vibrant they are, sometimes slip around the true description of an object, place, person, or idea. Descriptive writing can vary from one type of writing to another, from plain accuracy in a legal report to symbolic poetic use. For these reasons, we will practice descriptive writing many times over throughout the Dynamic Writing course.
LESSON 16 JOURNAL, SENSORY WRITING, BRAINSTORMING, AND SHORT SENTENCE VARIATIONS
SENSORY PLUNGE JOURNAL
Remember to write the name and date of this journal entry on the top of the page and in the table of contents. Before we go any further, I would like to invite you to take the plunge into the depths of descriptive writing. Yes, I just stated that it can be challenging. But it can also be simple. So, for that reason, I invite you to imagine that you are standing at the edge of a pool, lake, ocean, and you are ready to plunge into the water. Take a moment to picture that, think about the sensations you might feel jumping into the water, and then take the plunge and write a full page of description.
Sensory words are words which describe using the five senses: taste, smell, touch, hearing, and sight. Obviously, we might not want to taste everything we describe – like moldy gym socks, and we might not be able to hear everything we describe – like a flower vase, so we will just do our best to use at least three out of the five senses in our descriptive writing. Often, we rely on describing with just one or two senses, but we want to stretch ourselves into using at least three senses in our descriptions.
SENSORY WRITING EXERCISE
On a sheet of paper, make six headings across the top. The first column will be labeled: objects. The next five columns need to be labeled: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. Now, start with an object like pizza and moving across the columns, make checks in the columns that you can use: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. In this case, the “sound” might be the way it sounds while cooking, or the way people sound when they are eating it. Try for ten objects, not all foods, and think of which ones seem easiest to describe with all five senses. These need to be inanimate objects, not pets or people.
OBJECT DESCRIPTION BRAINSTORMING
On another sheet of paper, write down the name of an object you would most like to describe for your object description paragraph essay. Now, make five areas on your paper: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch, and list out all the specific words that could describe your object in these sensory areas.
See the example below:
Object Description Brainstorming for Pizza
• Sight: Red and light brown, with specks of darker cheese, and pepperoni slices, olives, and red pepper flakes, wedge slices, triangle slices, circular whole, pie-shaped, thick or thin, crusty ends to hold onto
• Smell: Blend of tomato, spices and cheese, like heaven, mouth-watering, sweet and savory
• Sound: No sound, except when it’s cooking – sizzling, or when eaten – happy “mm” sounds, conversation stops
• Taste: Spicy, cheesy, rich, tomatoes, onion, basil, oregano, garlic, tangy sweet tomato, hot/warm, yummy
• Touch: Hot, crusty, gooey on the top
NOTE FOR TEACHERS/PARENTS:
The sensory exercise and the brainstorming exercise are each worth ten points.
SHORT SENTENCE VARIATIONS
Sentences of varying lengths can add to the rhythm of an essay, or change the rhythm for added emphasis on a particular point. Short sentences work wonders. Please note that although the second sentence in this paragraph is short it is still a complete sentence. It contains a subject and a predicate, and holds a complete thought. Using sentence fragments for emphasis is a popular choice in today’s contemporary fiction and non-fiction writing but we will not use sentence fragments in this course.
SHORT SENTENCE VARIATION PRACTICE #1
Sentence fragments don’t hold a complete thought, or are missing one of the necessary ingredients for a sentence. Please label the sentences below as a fragment (F) or a short sentence (SS).
The little girl holding the poodle (F)
The little girl held the poodle. (SS)
1. Running down the street.
2. Cross-country runners blazed down the street.
3. Bald eagles circled over us.
4. My grandmother, who loved to wear purple.
5. Strawberries satisfy sweet appetites.
6. Biscuits and gravy, my dad’s favorite.
7. Sit down.
8. Squishy cushions cover the couch.
9. Soap bubbles fly high before bursting.
10. So much fun.
LESSON 17 TITLES AND OBJECT DESCRIPTION ROUGH DRAFT
For many writers, titles compose a challenge. Sometimes, it’s easier to wait to write a title until after the rough draft is finished. Sometimes, it’s easy to write a title and then forget to write an introductory/topic/focus statement. Finally, it’s also tempting to just write a simple title like: Pizza. However, a good title can draw in a reader and make a paragraph or essay more intriguing. Starting with the object description, the content of the formal writing titles will matter for points on the polished essay. If you’re stuck today, it’s okay. Just keep working at it from draft to draft. Add a descriptive word (adjective) to create a little more pizazz, like “Pizza Pizazz,” or “Savory Sensation.” Play with title ideas.
ROUGH DRAFT GUIDELINES FOR THE OBJECT DESCRIPTION
Please use the following guidelines to write your rough draft:
1. Hand-write your rough draft on a lined piece of paper.
2. Create an eye-catching title and write that on the top line in the center.
3. Write your name, date, and “Object Description Rough Draft) on the left hand side of the page.
4. Write a topic sentence for your paragraph. This is technically the thesis/focus point.
5. Describe the object using at least three of the five senses. Try to write at least one sentence for each sense.
6. Use specific, vibrant nouns.
7. Try to leave out people, places, or animals and focus on the object.
8. Write a conclusion that finishes the paragraph.
9. Include one short, complete sentence that is less than seven words or less in length.
Bonus: Try to leave out the word “you.”
LESSON 18 SYNONYMS, SYNONYM PRACTICE, AND CHECKLIST
Synonyms are words that have nearly the same meaning as another word, giving more nuances to a description or definition. Some examples are: happy, joyful, and glad. Some others are: red and crimson. A thesaurus is a book or website that contains synonyms and antonyms for many words. (Antonyms are opposite meaning words like good and bad.) The best book for synonym usage is The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale, but any thesaurus or synonym website can help a writer find synonyms. To ensure that you have specific, vibrant words in your essays, you may want to try using synonyms.
SYNONYM PRACTICE #1:
Find two to three synonyms for the five words below.
OBJECT DESCRIPTION CHECKLIST
Use the checklist to go over your rough draft and look for areas that you can strengthen or improve. Get help with spelling or grammar, if needed.
What do I like best about my essay?
1. Did I write my name, the date, and the draft number in the upper left hand corner?
2. Did I create an exciting title and center it?
3. Did I have a topic/thesis sentence?
4. Did I indent the first sentence of my paragraph?
5. Did I include three out of the five senses to describe the object? If not, look at the chart and write down a few sensory words in the margins.
6. Did I use specific, vibrant nouns?
7. Did I leave out people, places, and animals and focus on the object description?
8. Did I write a short sentence of seven words or less?
9. Did I have a final, conclusion sentence?
10. Did I skip lines?
11. Did I leave margins on the paper?
12. Are there any words that I’m unsure of spelling? If there are, please circle them and look them up in a dictionary. Write the correct spelling above or below the misspelled word on the rough draft.
13. Are there any sentences that I’m unsure about with grammar? If so, underline them. Ask a parent or teacher for help with these, or look up that type of sentence in a grammar book.
14. Did I repeat words? If so, please look up a synonym and write it above or below the word on the rough draft.
Is there an area I would like help with?
LESSON 19 SECOND DRAFT ASSIGNMENT
Take all of your notes from your own checklist, and write or type a second draft of your object description. Please turn this into your teacher/parent for more feedback and help.
LESSON 20 SOUND JOURNAL AND TEACHER/PARENT CHECKLIST
Make sure to name and date this journal entry at the top of your journal page and in your table of contents. For the sound journal, listen to the sounds around you, and then write about them for a full page.
What do I like best about this object description essay?
1. Did the student write his/her name, the date, and the draft number in the upper left hand corner?
2. Did the student create an exciting title and center it?
3. Did the student have a topic/thesis sentence?
4. Did the student indent the first sentence of his/her paragraph?
5. Did the student include three out of the five senses to describe the object?
6. Did the student use specific, vibrant nouns?
7. Did the student leave out people, places, and animals and focus on the object description?
8. Did the student write a short sentence of seven words or less?
9. Did the student have a final, conclusion sentence?
10. Did the student skip lines?
11. Did the student leave margins on the paper?
12. Are there spelling errors? (Circle them.)
13. Are there grammar errors? (Circle them, and show correction.)
14. Were words repeated or were synonyms used?
What is another excellent part of this object description?
LESSON 21 JOURNAL, PEER REVIEW, ADJECTIVES, AND SYNONYM PRACTICE #2
LOST SENSE JOURNAL
If you lost one of your five senses suddenly, right now, what would you do? How would you cope? What would it be like? Think about this, and then write a reflection, a story, or a poem about what it would be like.
Today, for peer review, find a partner and read them your object description out loud. I know this is scary, but it is good practice for public speaking and it can help you hear your own writing voice.
When listening to your partner, find a way to encouragingly finish these three sentences and give them a “review” of their work with those ideas.
One thing I really enjoyed about your object description is . . .
One thing I think you could strengthen in your object description is . . .
Another part of your object description that I enjoyed is . . .
ADJECTIVES AND ADJECTIVE VARIATIONS
Adjectives are words that describe nouns. In the synonym practice last week, you were working with the adjectives big, beautiful, funny, bright, and loud.
Adjectives can also come in pairs like this: big and beautiful.
Adjectives can also come in triples, or quadruples, although triple adjectives are about as many as you might want to use all at once. Using more than three adjectives in one sentence is less than popular these days and might be considered overdone.
Adjectives can also come in phrases that work as useful sentence starter variations, and we’ll get to those later on in this course.
SYNONYM PRACTICE #2
Find two to three synonyms for each of the following ten adjectives.
SYNONYM CHALLENGE GAME
Split into two teams. Use a one minute timer for each round. Each team will try to write down as many synonyms as possible for each general word in less than a minute. To score the game: each team reads their synonyms aloud. If teams have the same words, then those words must be crossed off the list. The team with the highest number of unique words that work as synonyms wins the round.
LESSON 22 POLISHED DRAFT AND GRADE SHEET FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS
Using your teacher’s feedback, the checklists, the peer review, and your previous drafts, write the polished draft of your object description. Staple this together with all the previous drafts in this order, from top to bottom: polished draft, peer review (if written), teacher checklist, second draft, student checklist, rough draft, and brainstorming. This whole package will go to your teacher/parent for a polished draft grade.
GRADE SHEET FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS
Please note that each of the previous drafts and the brainstorming are worth ten points each, as they are finished. Turning all of the previous drafts in with this polished draft may seem excessive, but it shows a student’s progress through a project.
Created an interesting or exciting title /5
Had a topic/thesis sentence /5
Included three out of the five senses to describe the object /10
Focused on the object /5
Had a final, conclusion sentence /5
STYLE AND USAGE:
Proper page format /5
Used specific, vibrant nouns /3
Wrote a short sentence of seven words or less /2
Used synonyms where appropriate /2
Included early drafts with final draft /2
Total Points /50
Percentage and Grade:
What I liked best about this object description:
LESSON 23 SHORT SENTENCE PRACTICE #2 AND JOURNAL
SHORT SENTENCE PRACTICE #2
Write ten complete sentences of seven words or less.
A free journal is simply a journal entry that is your choice. You may write any kind of journal entry you like about any topic. If you want to switch topics for every paragraph, you can do that. Just write a full page.
LESSON 24 SUBJECT-PREDICATE PRACTICE #4 AND JOURNAL
SUBJECT-PREDICATE PRACTICE #4
Find the subject in these five sentences:
1. Sammy walked to the store.
2. Jumping Josephine jumped around the room.
3. Sly Billy, the neighbor, ran down the street.
4. The cinnamon applesauce is frozen.
5. Pay attention.
Find the predicate in these five sentences:
1. Logan drew colorful scenes of wild waves.
2. The athletes warmed up before their run.
3. A hollow log became a home for a family of field mice.
4. Ferns grew in the forest.
5. The phone rang.
For today’s journal, you have three options.
1. Continue whatever you started for the Free Journal yesterday.
2. Or, write a new “free” journal page.
3. Or, write to this prompt: The best song I’ve ever heard is . . .
LESSON 25 SMELLY JOURNAL
Today, write a journal page in which smells play an important role. You could describe your favorite or least favorite smells, create lists, or write a story or poem in which the sense of smell plays an important role.