I find Shi-shi-etko to be  a great book to use to inspire students with the traits of writing.

 Shi-shi-etko is a fabulous book written by  Aboriginal storyteller and children’s author, Nicola Campbell. The illustrator is Kim LaFave.

  It is the heartbreaking story of a young Salish girl in British Columbia, who is gathering her memories together ,before being sent to residential school.

Shi-shi-etko   by Nicola I. Campbell

I was teaching a lesson with a class who wasn’t very interested in writing. We have been studying the traits, and how understanding them helps us to write, for a while. I was trying to think of ways to motivate them to think about their reader,as they write. This book hits a topic most kids can relate to on some level-loss. It also brings in our First Nation Content.

I read the story to the class, really thinking aloud as I read. I shared my connections, inferences, and other comprehension strategies as I read. They shared some of their thoughts as well. I really wanted to ensure their comprehension was strong before we moved to writing

 After reading the book to them, we talked about the various traits in the story.

I wrote the traits up on their white board. Then we filled in the following  chart together.

Shi-shi-etko   by Nicola I. Campbell

1.Word choice nature, descriptive,repeating words
2.Sentence fluency poetic verse, some shorter than others
3.Ideas being taken away somewhere you don’t want to go/loss
4.Organization Introduction 1-2-3-4 mornings until I go to school, Sequence-count down of days and what she does till she leaves. Conclusion Shi-shi-etko leaves in a truck.
5.Conventions Capitals ,  “” every time someone speaks, . ,  ?
6.Voice young girl, narrative 3rd person sad/angry/lonely
      Presentation lots of pictures, sad muted colours

 We then talked about how an author might come up with an idea. I asked them to think about a loss they had faced in their life-that only they could talk about. How would they tell it? What voice would they want to use? I modeled for them from my own experiences.Sharing a personal story adds validity to the writing.  I provided them with the following graphic organizer to start filling in their ideas. The wording seemed to really help them as we talked about the purpose of each step very carefully.


My writing            Name
1.Word choice Beautiful language, not boring, sometimes just how you would say it helps your reader visualize: 
2.Sentence fluency How it will sound when someone reads it aloud, easy to read, makes sense, not too many words the same, sentences are not all the same length: 
3.Ideas What do you want to write about? Select your idea, develop it, stick to main idea, what is the best way to share your idea?:  
4.Organization Introduction-hook the reader, sequence makes sense, pace , conclusion-make the reader feel the ending made sense:  
5.Conventions Like good manners, happens when you are done and ready for good copy, spelling, capitals,punctuation. , “ ( ? ! grammar :  
6.Voice How you want to make the reader feel-the mood of the writing-your idea that nobody else can tell:  
Presentation What will your final copy look like?