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Lesson Plan

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick: Using Illustrations to Guide Writing

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The Mysteries of Harris Burdick: Using Illustrations to Guide Writing

Grades 5 – 9
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Seven 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Cathy Allen Simon

Cathy Allen Simon

Urbana, Illinois

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five

Session Six

Session Seven

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will:

  • focus on illustrations within a book to help spark their imagination and ideas for creative writing.
  • develop their creative writing skills to plan, draft, edit, and write a final version of a mystery.
  • present their mystery to other students in the class for feedback and discussion.

 

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Session One

  1. Introduce students to the idea of mystery and have a class discussion about mysteries that your students have read, written, or tried to solve.
  2. Explain to students that today they’ll be learning about The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and trying to solve the mysteries within the book.
  3. Begin reading the book aloud to your students, beginning with the Introduction.  After finishing the Introduction, read page-by-page through the book, pausing to show the pictures on each page and reading the title and caption that go with each image.  You may choose to display large, poster-size images from the book, which are available in the portfolio edition of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.
  4. Allow students to comment about each picture and caption as you read the book aloud to help spark their imagination for the writing they will be doing.

 

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Session Two

  1. Explain to students that their job as detectives is to unravel the mystery from one of the pictures in this story.  They must write a creative mystery that goes with an image of their choosing from the book.
  2. Tell students that once their stories are written, they will be read aloud to the class and the other students will be responsible for figuring out which image from the book their story represents.
  3. To prepare for writing, introduce students to the Mystery Cube student interactive.  This tool will be used to help students develop outlines for their own mystery stories.
  4. Complete a Mystery Cube as a class to familiarize students with the tool and what is expected of them.  Allow the class to choose one of the images in the book (and the caption that goes with it) for which to create the class Mystery Cube.
  5. Allow time for students to peruse the images in the book and/or the larger portfolio images to read the captions and decide on which image they’d like to write about.  After students have decided on an image to write about, they should begin brainstorming ideas for their story and using the Mystery Cube Planning Sheet to flesh out their ideas.   They will use this information to create their Mystery Cube in the next session.
  6. If the Mystery Cube Planning Sheet is not completed during the time allowed, it needs to be finished out of class in preparation for the next session.

 

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Session Three

  1. Take students to the library or computer lab and allow time for them to create their own Mystery Cube based on one of the stories from the book.  Make sure students have their Mystery Cube Planning Sheet from the previous session to help guide them.  If computer access is not readily available, you could print out the cube (prior to this session) and provide each student with a paper copy on which to write.
  2. Remind students to print their Mystery Cube when they are finished.  This interactive is not able to be saved on the computer.
  3. Allow time for students to assemble their Mystery Cube.  These will be used in the next session to help guide students as they begin their story writing.

 

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Session Four

  1. Before starting the writing process, share the Mystery Writing Rubric with students and discuss how it will be used to assess their writing.  Using the class Mystery Cube as a guide, write a short mystery as a class.  This can be done on a computer (to be projected onto a screen), or written directly on an overhead projector.
  2. To show the how the students will be graded on their own mysteries, use the Mystery Writing Rubric to grade the rough draft that the class created together.  Go through each section step by step and ask for/allow student input on what the score should be and why.
  3. Students should now understand what is expected of them for this writing assignment.  They will begin writing their own mystery in the next session.

 

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Session Five

  1. Students may begin writing their own mystery story.  They should use their Mystery Cube and the Mystery Writing Rubric for guidance as they write.
  2. Once students are done with their first draft of their story, they may begin self-editing and peer-editing.  They may use the Editing Checklist for Self- and Peer Editing to assist them and a partner when they are ready to edit.

 

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Session Six

  1. Allow students to finish their self-editing and peer-editing from the previous session, using the Editing Checklist for Self- and Peer Editing. After their stories have been edited by themselves and a peer, students may begin writing their final draft of their mystery story.
  2. Their final draft should be completed prior to the next session.  When students have completed their final draft, they should turn in their rough draft, completed Editing Checklist for Self- and Peer Editing, and their final draft for the teacher to check for completion of all of the steps.  Return each student’s story to him/her before the next session begins.

 

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Session Seven

  1. Display the images from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick in front of the class if you have poster-size images, or display one or more copies of the book.
  2. Organize a class read-aloud where each student is given the opportunity to read his/her story aloud to the rest of the class.  Allow the other students in the class time to discuss/comment on each story and decide which image/caption from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick it belongs to.
  3. Use the Mystery Writing Rubric to assess students' creative stories and attention to detail.

 

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EXTENSIONS

  • Have students create their own Stapleless Book that is full of mysterious images and corresponding captions.  Students could then write stories to go with these images and captions, much as they did in the lesson.
  • Around Halloween time, have a classroom spook-session!  Invite other students and family members to come to your classroom for read alouds of the students’ mysteries.  Try reading these stories in the dark with only a flashlight and decorating your classroom like a haunted house!
  • Have students submit their stories to the Houghton Mifflin’s Harris Burdick Book Site.  New stories are posted each month, and periodically writers are selected at random to receive books autographed by Chris Van Allsburg and other Burdick-inspired items.

 

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

 

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