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Writing Prompts:
Prose, Pamphlets and Poems

A lesson on integrating an Atlas reading and a writing product

Teacher Guide

Student Prompts

Scoring Guide

Grade Level: 6-12 (easy adaptations)
Subject Areas: Communication Arts, Social Studies and Science

Objectives: The student will
1. Choose and read a designated Atlas segment.
2. Analyze the reading to determine main ideas and supporting ideas.
3. Compose an outline or other graphic organizer for the construction of a writing product that integrates reading content and imagination.
4. Compose the designated writing product according to the prompt.
5. Utilize Internet, computer and communication skills throughout the lesson.

Duration: 1 – 2 class periods for the warm up and modeling based on grade level.
2 – 3 class periods for production of the product if not assigned as homework.

Show - Me Standards
Process: 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.4, 2.7
Content: CA 1, 3, 4, 5. SS 4, 5, 6, 7. S 3, 5, 6

1. Print copies of the chosen writing prompt and the corresponding Atlas reading for modeling exercise.
2. Print copies of the scoring guide (same for all prompts)
3. Print copies of assorted prompts and source Atlas readings based on grade level, language skill focus, and accessibility to computer lab.

Warm Up:

1. In cases where the teacher selects one type of writing product to be utilized by everyone (letter to the editor, diary, newspaper article, how to instructions, story book, or guide book picture captions), have students brainstorm what they know about this type of writing product utilizing the What I think I know, What I need to know and What I learned question format as a class, small groups and/or individuals.

2. In cases where students will be choosing one of several writing products, then compare and contrast their purposes and formats through Venn diagrams, teacher directed questions or the best suited graphic organizer.

3. Explain to students that they will be producing the designated writing product(s) based on key information that they gleam from a reading in the Bryant Watershed Atlas.


1. Provide students with copies of a prompt and corresponding reading for modeling.
Choose one that is fairly easy for your students. Utilizing the appropriate method for the class, have students determine the who, what, when, where and why for the prompt as well as identifying the task at hand by underlining key words.

2. Instruct students to read the corresponding Atlas reading utilizing any combination of the following active reading strategies:

  • a) Skim, Scan and Scour Method: Have students skim the segment to familiarize them with the topic and then scan the topic to look for information that stands out. Have students scour the segment as they read by identifying main and supporting ideas by underlining, highlighting or with mini sticky notes. Do this exercise as class, in pairs or independently as long as students get immediate feedback.
  • b) Reading Pals: After skimming and scanning, have students read paragraphs independently and then explain what they just read to a partner. The partner then repeats the information as he/she heard it. Together the pair then identifies the main and supporting ideas.

3. Provide students with a copy of the scoring guide and explain how the scoring guide works. Have students insert any number weights and/or specific descriptions that you wish to include or emphasize.

4. As a class or in pairs have students construct a framework for the writing product, which integrates the main ideas, supporting ideas and their own inferences. Utilize the type of framework that the students are the most familiar with or one that is best suited for the type of writing product. The framework could be a standard outline or a graphic organizer. All the while have students check back to the prompt and scoring guide to assure that they meeting all specifications.

5. Write the product as a class to demonstrate how to utilize the framework as a writing guide. Have each student be responsible for adding sentences. Have designated students as monitors for the prompt and scoring guide to assure that the class writing stays on track.


1. Have the students repeat the four-step process modeled above with a designated prompt or allow them to select one. In cases of student selection, have the students utilize the Atlas to skim and scan the selected reading so they can compare the assignments before choosing one.

2. Have the students construct a rough draft, make edits, and produce a final copy.


1. Grade student work utilizing the provided scoring guide with any predetermined weights inserted.

2. Please submit your best student work to the Bryant Creek Watershed Atlas to be posted on the website. See Sending Us Your Work.

Written by Mary Ann Mutrux, Willow Springs High School teacher.
Based on the lesson Writing From the Atlas, written by Mary Chipps, Educational Specialist, and piloted by Donna Sherman, Ava High School teacher, in May 2001.