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New School Year
National Poetry Month
Happy new year, writer!
Goals and Plans
Grammar Review


A Writer's Notebook
Lessons on the Parts of Speech
Personal Narrative
Plagiarism / Citing Sources
Rhetorical Devices
State Assessments
Teaching Writng
The Essay
The Narrative
The Writing Process
The Writing Process - Revision
Word Choice
Writing Exercises
Writing Goals
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The Write Kitchen

Entering the Writing Zone

Hello, writers and teachers,

Your story plan is wonderfully ready, so this week you will enter "the writing zone" and complete the first draft of your fictional narrative. 


Writing a story is like jotting down a daydream -- like watching a movie in your head -- a movie that you're making up and writing down as you visualize it. And since you're the director of this movie, you can rework a scene as many times as you need to, until you're satisfied with it. You can also imagine yourself as one of the actors -- perhaps the protagonist.That makes the daydream even more enjoyable. 

There is only one requisite to this process: you must stay focused. That means you need to be by yourself in a place that's free of interruptions (as much as possible). It's okay to listen to music, as long as it doesn't distract you (instrumental music -- such as a movie soundtrack -- is usually best).

Remember that you're writing a first draft. You may revise as you go (if that's your writing style), but don't worry about editing. Simply focus on getting your "mind movie" on paper. (If you're handwriting your story, skip every other line -- it will make the revision process much easier.)

Find a private spot.

Enter the writing zone.

Write your awesome story.

Happy writing!

Write Cook

The days are getting warmer. Drink a cool beverage (such as iced tea) while you write. :)

Setting and Characters

Hello, writers and teachers,

Before starting the rough draft of the fictional narrative, you should plan your setting and your characters. The following documents will help you:

Planning the Setting (PDF — 20 KB)

Planning Characters (PDF — 110 KB)

You may also gather images from magazines or the Internet to help you visualize a place, time period, character's appearance, etc. Do a bit of research and have fun with this!

Next week you'll write the first draft.

Write Cook

I love fish and pizza, so I'm trying to create a fish pizza with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil. I'll let you know if my family likes it.

Planning the Fictional Narrative

Hello, writers and teachers,

Congratulations on coming up with fabulous ideas for your narrative! 

The next step in the writing process is the planning. Here's a tip: Identify the climax (the turning point) of your story, and then, determine the sequence of events that will lead to it. Finally, plan your ending. Use the following story diagram to write your plan. (Remember that your plan is simply a road map for your writing, so it doesn't have to be very detailed -- save the details for your rough draft.)

Story Diagram (PDF — 28 KB)

Next week we'll work on developing the setting and the characters. Start thinking about these two elements. Try gathering images to help you visualize the place, time period, and people in your story.

Happy writing!

Write Cook

Teachers: Check out the Plot House digital poster on my TPT store. 

P.S. Add canned chicken breast and shredded cheese to a tortilla, and heat it up for 30 seconds in the microwave for a yummy, easy quesadilla. Or enjoy a scrumptious chili con carne with beans:  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chili-con-carne-with-beans-10000000491537/ Yum!

Brainstorming The Fictional Narrative

Hello, writers and teachers,

Happy Earth Day! And congratulations on successfully completing all state and district assessments! :)

We have six weeks left of school, and we need to make them count. We will be focusing on the fictional narrative (fun!).

This week your task will be simple: Come up with an idea for a story. Here are a few tips:

1- Base your story on a personal anecdote, modifying it to make it more interesting (make sure to change names, etc.).

2- Chose a manageable premise (an incident). Remember that you will be writing a short story, not a novel.

3- Choose something you would enjoy reading.

4- Gather images to help you imagine the setting, the characters, and the action.

5- Imagine that your story will be made into a movie. 

Most importantly -- have fun!!!

Happy writing!

Write Cook

P.S. Eat chocolate; it's good for you!

Talk to you later.

Hello, writers and teachers,

I'll be traveling (visiting family) for a couple of weeks. I'll resume blogging on the week of April 8. Enjoy Spring Break!

Write Cook

State Assessments

Hello, writers and teachers,

State assessments this week!

Here are a few tips on getting ready for the tests:

1- Get a good night's sleep.

2- Have a protein-rich, nutritious breakfast. For example:

-one egg (hard-boiled or scrambled) or a couple of slices of ham or turkey
-one slice of whole-wheat toast 
-low-sugar cereal
-low-fat milk
-a small serving of fruit or fruit juice

3- Wear comfortable clothes.

4- If possible, don't sit next to students who could distract you.

5- Take a few relaxing deep breaths before the test.

6- Pace yourself: don't rush, but don't spend too much time on any section.

7- Apply what you've learned. 

8- For the writing section: Follow the writing process, but don't spend too much time planning (15 minutes should be enough). 

9- For the reading section: Skim the questions before reading the selection.

10- For multiple-choice questions: Answer the ones you're sure of first. Then go back and tackle the troublesome ones. Don't make wild guesses; use the process of elimination and narrow down your choices.

I'll post again after the tests. Best wishes and happy writing!

Write Cook

Taking an Essay Test

Hello, writers and teachers,

Fantastic job revising your essay! All you need to do now is write a beautiful final copy. Final. As in you're all done. Congratulations!

State assessments are around the corner. It would be wise for you to practice taking a timed essay test. The following document will guide you through the process:

Here are a couple of essay prompts:

Expository Essay Prompt: 

Explain why becoming a skilled writer is important.

Persuasive Essay Prompt:

Think of something you believe would improve your school. Write a letter to your principal persuading him or her to implement your idea.

Happy writing!

Write Cook

Try the following sandwich: ham, turkey, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on French bread or -- even better -- sweet Hawaiian bread. Microwave for a few seconds (until the cheese starts to melt), and enjoy!

Revising the Persuasive Essay

Hello, writers and teachers,

On to the revision process. (This is always my favorite part!)

You have written an excellent first draft full of great supporting details. Now you will transform your paper into an AWESOME second draft.

Follow the following revision process, and watch the magic start to happen.

The Five-Step Revision Checklist   

___ 1- Revise for organization. Make sure the components of your essay are in logical order. Your essay should have:    
___ a) an introductory paragraph with an opinion statement,   
___ b) three body paragraphs, each with a transition, a main idea (reason), and elaborate supporting details, and   
___ c) a concluding paragraph that includes a rebuttal of an opposing opinion and the restatement of your opinion statement.  
___ And don't forget that your paragraphs (all five of them) need to be             indented!   

___ 2- Revise for quality and logic of content. Take out what doesn't belong or doesn't make sense. Add missing supporting details where necessary. Your ideas should work together to support the opinion statement, and be focused, clear, logical, interesting, insightful, and creative.   

___ 3- Revise for word choice. Replace dull verbs with vivid verbs. Replace generic nouns with precise nouns. Add artful adjectives and smart adverbs.   

___ 4- Revise for voice/style. Make sure your tone and voice match your role and audience. Add special effects(rhetorical devices) such as dialogue and figurative language.    

___ 5- Revise/Edit for sentence fluency and language usage. Fix sentence problems such as sentence fragments and run-on or rambling sentences. Check that your sentences vary in length and that your ideas flow smoothly and logically. Correct mistakes in verb tenses, subject-verb agreement, pronoun antecedents, capitalization/punctuation, and spelling. 

It seems like a lot, but you don't have to do it all in one day. Take your time. Try completing one or two steps per day. Read your revisions aloud to yourself. Have someone else read them aloud to you. Get feedback. Get ideas from Mr. Hot and Spicy:


But, most importantly: have fun with this step of the process.

Happy writing!

Write Cook



After eating all that candy for Valentine's Day, it's time to take a break from sweets and eat some fruits and vegetables. Here's an idea: Find out what's in season in your area, and go grocery shopping with your parents for your favorite organic produce. Then, make your family a delicious fruit or vegetable salad. Brownie points!

The First Draft of the Persuasive Essay

Hello, writers and teachers,

Great job planning your persuasive essay. Now you'll be writing your first draft. Here are your instructions:

Once you have completed your plan, start composing the rough draft. (Don't forget to skip lines - it will make the revision process much easier.) Let your ideas flow, and be generous with your words. Make sure to elaborate on your details. Give examples, include anecdotes, and share opinions and feelings. Don't worry about grammar, spelling, or word choice at this point. Instead, focus on content, organization, and voice (write to the specified audience). 

Use the following checklist to help you organize your content:

Happy writing!

Also, check out my monthly book review at The Reading Café (www.elsapla.wordpress.com).

Write Cook

P.S. Have a sweet and happy Valentine's Day!

The Persuasive Essay

Hello, writers and teachers,

Congratulations on your excellent final copy of the expository essay! Here's a checklist of essay components and an exemplar. Compare them with your essay and be proud of your accomplishment.

We need to work on two more essays before the state assessments. The first one will be a persuasive essay:

The purpose of a persuasive essay is to convince (persuade) your reader to think the same way you do about a topic. The structure of a persuasive essay is similar to the structure of an expository essay. Study the following document and note the similarities and differences between the two kinds of essays.

Also, study the following checklist of the components of a persuasive essay.

Now, let's begin.

The prompt for your persuasive essay is: 

Do you think cell phones should be allowed in school? Compose an essay to persuade the school community of your opinion.  

This week you will brainstorm/plan the basic points/ideas for your essay. You will need to -

1- Form an opinion about the topic and write an opinion statement. The easiest way to do this is by restating the prompt.

2- Think of three strong reasons why others should share your opinion.

3- Support each reason with three methods of elaboration.

Since this is the planning step of the writing process, you don't need to write complete sentences or add lots of details. In other words, be brief. Your goal is simply to think and organize your thoughts -- you'll get to develop your sentences when you write your first draft. 

The following documents will help you:

Methods of Elaboration (PDF — 98 KB)

Happy planning!

Write Cook

P.S. Valentine's Day is approaching. I found an easy recipe for strawberry heart cookies on Pinterest:

Easy Valentine Cookies
I box of strawberry cake mix
1 stick of melted butter
1 large egg 
several drops of red food coloring (optional)
strawberry frosting 

Combine first four ingredients and stir until dough is uniform in color. Roll out and cut cookies into heart shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Cover cookies with strawberry frosting. Yield: about one dozen. 

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