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Write Cook

           Writing tools, tips, and tricks!



Posted on September 2, 2013 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)
Dear middle school students, teachers, and parents,

I will be posting writing tips and resources during the first week of each school month.

This month (September) the topic is paragraphs.

1- Here's a great website that contains a variety of free resources for writing paragraphs:

2- The following website lets you download many documents on teaching paragraph writing:

3- Here's my own document on paragraphs:

4- And last, but not least, a paragraph assessment for teachers to use all year long:

5x5 Revision Game (PDF — 93 KB)

Happy writing,

Write Cook

P.S. Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store and look for the printable/reproducible document titled "Paragraphs - Basic Structure" (only $2.50) and the free "Hamburger Paragraph" graphic organizers.

Sentence Fluency

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 10:18 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, students, teachers, and parents,

This will be the last grammar review lesson of the summer. Some of you started school today and some of you will start school next week. I hope this summer review has prepared all of you to begin the school year with self-assurance and motivation.

So far you've studied the parts of speech and the basics of sentence construction. Today you'll take a look at sentence fluency: writing sentences that are varied in length and structure and that flow smoothly from one to the next.

First, read and study the following document.


Then, write a paragraph about something special that happened to you this summer. It can be about something happy or sad, spooky or dangerous, or exciting or embarrassing. Make sure your sentences are varied in length and structure and that they flow smoothly from one to the next. 

When you finish your paragraph, revise it for word choice: substitute generic nouns for precise nouns, bland verbs for vivid verbs, and add artful adjectives, smart adverbs, and interesting prepositional phrases. 

Finally, read your paragraph aloud to make sure that it's fluent and that your word choices work well.

And that's all folks!

I wish you all a fun and successful school year.

Write Cook

A Yummy "How to" Paragraph

Posted on November 17, 2012 at 2:11 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,

This coming week's assignment is very similar to last week's. Take a break from last week's paragraph (we will continue to work on it after Thanksgiving), and work on the following prompt, instead:

What's your favorite Thanksgiving side dish (or dessert)? Write a well-developed "how to" paragraph (8-14 sentences long) where you explain how to make the dish. 

Make sure to plan first. A list of steps would be a good way to plan this paragraph (if necessary, ask a family member to help you with the recipe). 

1- Start your paragraph with a descriptive hook and a strong topic sentence, 
2- follow it with elaborated details (as many as necessary), and 
3- end it with a closing statement that restates why you like the dish.

Revise your first draft for accuracy and clarity, and write or type a lovely final draft (start your paper with a descriptive title and a list of ingredients). 

Here's a cool idea: Make copies of your "how to" paragraph, paste your copies on large, unlined, colored index cards, decorate the cards with fall motifs, and hand them out as Thanksgiving gifts to your family and friends. 

Happy writing!

Write Cook

P.S. Continue to get ready for Thanksgiving by checking out the recipes, crafts, and more at

The Expository Paragraph

Posted on November 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,

You've done a fantastic job with the personal narrative, congratulations!

Our next big task is the expository essay, but we'll work on the hamburger paragraph first, so you can get a solid grasp of the basic topic - support - conclusion structure.

First, review the document on different types of paragraphs:

Your assignment for this week is to plan and write the first draft of an expository paragraph. Here's your prompt:

Middle school is quite different from elementary school. Write a well-developed paragraph (8-14 sentences long) where you explain how your life has changed now that you are in middle school. 

1- Start your paragraph with a strong topic sentence, 
2- follow it with three supporting elaborated details, and 
3- end it with a reflective closing statement.

Use the following graphic organizers to help you plan your paragraph and write your first draft:

Planning a Paragraph (PDF — 168 KB)

Happy writing!

Write Cook

P.S. Get ready for Thanksgiving by checking out the recipes, crafts, and more at

Fun with Nouns

Posted on September 20, 2012 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,

This week we'll have a bit of fun reviewing nouns.

Take one more look at the following document:

NOUNS (PDF — 235 KB)

By now you've noticed that nouns are classified in many different ways.

Take a look at this list:

common nouns -  example: dog

proper nouns - example: Fluffy

concrete nouns - example: mountain 

conceptual nouns - example: freedom

count nouns - example: one toy, two toys

non-count nouns - example: fun

singular nouns - example: school, child

regular plural nouns - example: schools

irregular plural nouns - example: children

possessive nouns - examples: cat's tail; cats' tails

precise nouns - example: school is more precise than building; Lincoln Middle is more precise than school.

collective nouns - examples: family, flock, bunch

compound nouns - examples: football, middle school, mother-in-law 

subject nouns - example: The dog is hungry.

predicate nouns - example: The dog climbed a tree.

object nouns - example: The dog jumped over the fence.

Furthermore, a noun can act as an adjective:

I'm leaving on a jet plane.

A noun can act as a verb:

I'll phone you when I get to the airport.

And certain nouns can act as adverbs:

I'll fly today.

Verbs ending in "ing" (gerunds) can be used as nouns:

Swimming is my favorite sport.

And the infinitive verb form (introduced by "to") can also be used as a noun:

To swim is my goal.

Nouns are so versatile!

Try making your own list of different kinds of nouns.

Here are a few games and a couple of videos to help you identify nouns. Have fun!

Video on Apostrophes:

Video on Nouns - Uses (click on the tab titled Parts of Speech):

This week's assignment: 

1- Write a list of nouns (at least 20) related to autumn (pumpkins, Thanksgiving, family, etc.).

2- Use at least 10 nouns from your list in an 8-sentence paragraph.

Happy writing! :)

Write Cook

P.S. Autumn begins next Saturday. What's your favorite autumn dessert? My favorite is pumpkin pie.

Possessives and the Writing Process

Posted on September 11, 2012 at 6:12 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,
We've reviewed the basic structure of a paragraph and the importance of using precise nouns and vivid verbs. This week we will ...
1- take a look at possessive nouns and 
2- study the writing process.
A possessive noun is a noun that has been modified by adding an apostrophe or an apostrophe s to indicate ownership (the noun owns or has (possesses) something. For example: the cat's meow (the meow that "belongs" to the cat).
Study the following document, complete the exercises, and take the quiz.
Possessive Nouns (PDF — 81 KB)
Here's a link to the rules and to a few fun videos:
Every writer has a personal writing process or system for planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. You need to discover and develop yours. The following document will walk you through the basics. I want you to keep in mind that writing is an artistic process similar to creating a painting or cooking a gourmet dish. You start by learning and following a series of basic steps, but as you become more experienced, you usually end up modifying the process so it suits your creative style. And that's perfectly okay. Think of the writing process described in this document as a place to start your journey as a skilled writer.
Your assignment for this week is to write an 8-sentence paragraph following the writing process (brainstorm, plan, draft, revise/edit, write a final copy) about someone who means/meant a lot to you. (What is/was this person like? What makes/made him/her so special?) 
You could start your paragraph: "A person that means a lot to me is _____." or "A person that meant a lot to me was ____."
Talk to you next Wednesday.
Happy writing!
Write Cook
P.S. What's your favorite lunch item? Mine is a granola-almond-cranberry mix.

More Nouns and the Hamburger Paragraph

Posted on September 5, 2012 at 6:41 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,

This week we will continue studying nouns, and we will review the basic structure of a paragraph.

Many nouns can be singular (one) or plural (more than one). For example: friend (singular), friends (plural). These nouns are classified as "count" nouns because they name things that can be counted. Nouns that name things that cannot be counted are classified as "non-count" nouns and are never used in a plural form. For example: fun, ice.

It's important for writers to know the guidelines for spelling the plural of nouns. Study the following document and complete the practice exercise:

Spelling Plural Nouns (PDF — 135 KB)

Your main assignment for this week is to review the basic structure of a paragraph and to compose a paragraph that follows this structure. 

Paragraphs that begin with a main idea statement and end with a restatement of the main idea are often called hamburger (or hot dog, or sandwich, or accordion) paragraphs. The following document contains examples of different kinds of paragraphs and instructions on how to compose a hamburger paragraph:

Read the document and write a 5-8 sentence paragraph about your favorite activity (what it is and why you like it). You could start the paragraph like this: I love to ___. (For example: I love to go fishing.) 

Use the following document to plan your paragraph:

Planning a Paragraph (PDF — 168 KB)

Make sure to use vivid verbs and precise nouns. If necessary, review the following document:

Wonderful Colorful Words (PDF — 428 KB)

Have a great week! I'll post again next Wednesday.

Write Cook

P.S. Here's an easy way to make a grilled cheese sandwich (it's not really grilled, but it tastes almost as good). 

1- Toast two pieces of your favorite sandwich bread.
2- Spread butter on the outside of the pieces of toast.
3- Place one of the pieces of toast (buttered side down) on a microwavable dish.
4- Add two slices of American cheese (or any other favorite cheese).
5- Top with the second piece of toast (buttered side out).
6- Cover loosely with a paper towel.
7- Microwave 15-20 seconds (until the cheese starts to melt).
8- Enjoy!


Conceptual Nouns and Precise Nouns

Posted on August 29, 2012 at 9:46 PM Comments comments (0)
Hello, writers and teachers,

The first lesson of the school year will be on identifying and using nouns. We will focus on conceptual (abstract) nouns and on precise (specific) nouns. 

Nouns are the names we give to persons, places, things, and ideas. Review nouns by studying the following document:

NOUNS (PDF — 235 KB)

Conceptual (abstract) nouns are the names of ideas:   

Things we can think about: thoughts   

Believe in: democracy, religion   

Feel (emotionally): anger, love, pride   

Imagine, but can’t touch: math, time 

Your first assignment for this week (due next Wednesday), is to compose an acrostic poem about yourself. Each line should start with a letter of your name (first name or first and last names) so that the letters spell your name if you read them from top to bottom. Your poem must contain (in each line) conceptual (abstract) nouns that represent some of your ideals. For example: curiosity, courage, intelligence, strength, etc.

Here's mine:


Your second assignment is on precise nouns. Study the following document:

Wonderful Colorful Words (PDF — 428 KB)

Precise nouns are the specific names of persons, places, things, and ideas. For example: I am a teacher. Teacher is one of my generic names. I am Ms. Pla. Ms. Pla is my specific name (it's also a proper noun). Precise nouns are often proper nouns as well.

Your assignment is to write a paragraph (5-7 sentences) about what you hope to do next summer. Use at least five precise nouns.

For example: Next summer I hope to visit the Denver Zoo. (Instead of writing the common noun "zoo," I wrote the more specific (precise) noun "Denver Zoo.") 

Work on these two assignments this week, and also play the game "Abstract or Concrete" found in (go to Grade Level Help, then 6th Grade Language Arts).

Talk to you next Wednesday,

Write Cook

P.S. School makes me hungry for pizza. My favorite? Pineapple and black olives. Yours?