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Writer's Notebook

Site: Westsyde Secondary
Course: English 8
Book: Writer's Notebook
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Monday, 22 October 2018, 5:01 PM

Inform and Explain the real world

the writer...

...................states a main point and purpose

...................tries to present the information in a surprising,

unique way

Unofficial and Unwritten Rules

In Sherman Alexie's (2007) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, the narrator, Junior, a native American who relocated to an all-white school, shares the following unofficial and unwritten rules for fighting:

The Unofficial and Unwritten (but you better follow them or you're going to get beaten twice as hard) Spokane Indian Rules of Fisticuffs

Rule 1: "If somebody insults you, then you have to fight him."

Rule 2: If you think someone is going to insult you, then you have to fight him."

Rule 3: "If you think someone is thinking about insulting you, then you have to fight him."

Using Junior's list as a starting point, write your own list for something going on in your own life.

Inquire and Explore the real world

the writer...
                           ...................wrestles with a question or problem

                           ...................hooks with the problem and lets the reader

                                              watch them wrestle with it

The Most Disturbing Things

Nails scratching across a chalkboard?  Mice hiding in your cupboards?  Horror movies?  
What are issues, events, or situations that you find disturbing? 

  • Have a look through the local newspaper.  
  • Search for real life stories or events that you find disturbing.  
  • Make a list of these things.

Draft a paragraph or two describing the reasons why you find one thing so troubling.

How Does _________ Change Your Actions

Title → How Does _____________ Change Our Actions

Sample topics (you may choose your own)

People distracting you




Pentagon (attack)






Video games





Walking Dead





Mrs.Reed’s sample:  I have a fear of spiders that changes my behaviour.  When I see a spider I act like a toddler rather than a 46 year old parent.  I scream, I get the heebie-jeebies, and I run to my husband and grab onto his leg!  I scream again and babble out that there is a spider.  


Read the following story:

When did you get here?
A minute ago?
What happened? There?
In the bedroom? Yes?
I think so.
What? No.
How did you know.

Most readers will be able to figure out what happened.  But how? 

Readers think about the clues (a piece of evidence or information) and the context (the situation in which something happens).  

Genre: Suspense and Thriller

In a few sentences, describe each element:

  1. Fear (verb)
  2. Mystery (noun)
  3. Suspense (noun) 
  4. Anticipation (noun)
What do you know about each of these feelings?  Give examples of events or scenarios where you might feel these elements.

Take a Stand

The writer seeks to persuade audiences to accept a particular position on a controversial issue.  The writer describes the problem, proposes a solution, and provides justification

Rhetoric - the art of using words effectively in reading and/or writing

Also, persuasive writing technique to persuade audiences by affecting emotions, connecting to a character, or providing reasons.

Organize information

Practice using 3 graphic organizers to develop ideas and details.

  1. Cause and effect
  2. Problem and solution
  3. Compare and contrast

Would You Rather

Below is a list of scenarios.  Choose one of the options and explain why you would prefer one situation over the other. Take some time to write out some of your own "Would You Rather" situations. 

….. be the smartest kid in class or the best player on a sports' team?

..... be able to fly or read minds?

..... eat a giant bug or get stung by a bee?

..... live in a modern condo or in a log cabin?

..... wear socks and shoes or flipflops?

..... eat chocolate cake or chocolate bar?

..... read the book or watch the movie?

..... feel too hot or too cold?

..... ride in a hot air balloon or go deep sea diving?

..... own a snake or a mouse for a pet?

..... eat rotten cheese or rotten eggs?

..... be the player or the coach?

..... have 10 months of winter or 10 months of summer (but still go to  


..... go to university (i.e. doctor, teacher) or go to trades college

(i.e.mechanic, welder)

..... eat a spoonful of butter or a spoonful of hot pepper sauce?

..... go for a hike or walk through a park?

..... live without music or live without TV and movies?

..... hang out with a famous actor or the Prime Minister?

..... watch Youtube or TV show

5 Simple Things

5 Things You Can Do To ____________  

Open the file here to see some examples of how to present this writing.  

  • Promote world peace
  • Prevent animal cruelty
  • Stand up to bullies
  • Simplify your life
  • Get healthy and stay healthy
  • Have a good argument
  • To improve your writing
  • To become a reader
  • To be a pro-athlete

Analyze and Interpret

To analyze means to study something closely and carefully.  It is to learn that nature and relationship of the parts of a whole. 

To interpret means to explain or tell the meaning of something; we usually need to use inference to make realistic or plausible interpretations.  

Inference is the thinking process used to come to a conclusion using known and logical evidence. 

Student writing can move beyond simply summarizing and into areas that sharpen the writer's ability to think and the reader's ability to understand.  

Photos, pictures, and symbols

Analyzing and interpreting visuals (photos, pictures, symbols) are one way of practicing this kind of thinking.  It allows the students to look at individual parts, make connections, and then explain the whole picture using those parts. 

A fun and simple activity to practice analysis and interpretation are "droodles".  According to the original creator, Roger Price, droodles are "dopey little drawings that don't look like much of anything until you know the correct title." (Classic Droodles by Roger Price. © Copyright Tallfellow Press.)

Think of the drawings as riddles.  Look at all of the parts to interpret the "real image".

droodles images