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Lesson Plan

Four Techniques to Inspire Quality Details Using "Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street" by Roni Schotter by NNWP


English Language Arts (NYS P-12 Common Core)

Grade Levels

Elementary, Intermediate, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


First, writers will search for all four pieces of advice that young author, Eva, receives from her neighbors and then uses in her story found in the book Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street. Next, writers will apply the four pieces of advice as they brainstorm details about a person, place, and thing they have chosen to write about. Finally, writers will each create a descriptive paragraph that interestingly describes the person, place, and thing they have chosen.


The Northern Nevada Writing Project
The National Writing Project

Six-Trait Overview

The focus trait in this writing assignment is idea development; the writer's goal is to create a powerful descriptive paragraph with memorable details. The support trait in this assignment is word choice; as students attempt to "find the poetry in their pudding," they will be thinking about the power of thoughtful words.


Northern Nevada Writing Project Teacher Consultant Corbett Harrison. Check out all of Corbett's on-line lessons by visiting http://www.corbettharrison.com/lessons.html.


  • The picture book Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter
  • Copies of 90th Street Brainstorm worksheet (one per student)
  • Copies or overhead of 90th Street Teacher Model
  • Overhead of page 1 of 90th Street Pre-Write
  • Copies of page 2 of 90th Street Pre-Write (one per student)
  • Copies of 90th Street 5th Grade Samples (one per student)
  • Copies of 90th Street Revision Sprint (one per student)
  • Post-It Idea Development (one per student)
  • Editing Post-It (one per student)
  • 90th_street_brainstorm.pdf
  • 90th Street 5th Grade Samples.pdf
  • 90th_Street_pre-write.pdf
  • 90th_Street_revision_sprint.pdf
  • 90th_Street_teacher_model.pdf
  • Editing Post-It.pdf
  • Post_Its_Idea_Development.pdf
  • Duration

    Two or three 40-minute class periods

    Step-by-Step Procedure

    Anticipatory Set: Ask students to identify the place(s) where they like to write. Is it easy for them to write in school at a desk, or do they prefer a place at their houses, or in the library, or on the bus?

    1. Read and enjoy this book by Roni Schotter! Her tale of a Eva, who doubts that a place she is overly familiar with can inspire interesting writing, is a marvelous story and lesson for writers.
    2. After reading, have your students recall the four pieces of advice Eva is given, then paraphrase each piece of advice into their own words. Share their paraphrases aloud.
    3. After students have paraphrased the four pieces of advice, read aloud the page from the story where Baby Joshua is introduced; it's six or eight pages into the story. Tell your students that, on this page, Eva seems to have used all four pieces of advice. Distribute the 90th Street Brainstorm worksheet. Say, "I'm going to read the page again--slowly--, and I'd like you and a partner to be prepared to talk about where she used--at least--three of the four pieces of advice. If you need to write down a sentence or phrase that seems to have followed the advice in order to remember it, that's okay. I'll read slowly, and I'll probably even read it another time, if you ask nicely."
    4. Have students record each character's advice to Eva, paraphrase the advice, and record sentences from the text from the Baby Joshua page.
    5. After students have completed the worksheet, have them talk to each other to note differences in paraphrasing and differences in the sentences and phrases they have taken from the Baby Joshua page.
    6. Before having your students pre-write to create their own descriptive paragraphs drafts, have them discuss the teacher sample (90th Street Teacher Model).
    7. Share the sample with students and have your students look for phrases and sentences that seem to have been inspired by the four pieces of advice from the 90th Street picture book.
    8. Time to brainstorm some interesting details about persons, places, and things, which your students will need to choose to write about. The interactive button game on the student instruction page at http://www.writingfix.com/Picture_Book_Prompts/90thStreet2.htm will give your students plenty of choices for persons, places, and things, if you happen to have access to a computer lab, or you have the ability to project this page to your whole class.
    9. If you do not have access to such technology available, use the following alternative method : Hand out six blank Post-It notes to each student. On the first two, have them print the names of interesting jobs that people have; I always say, "Don't be afraid to be creative. A wizard is an interesting job, isn't it?" On the next two Post-Its, have them write interesting places, but tell them they cannot use proper nouns; I always say, "If you like New York as a choice, just write it as big city on your Post-It." On the last two Post-Its, have your students write interesting items that people might have in their pockets, on their persons, or that can be carried in the hand; I always say, "Feel free to add an adjective to the object. Instead of flashlight, you might write broken flashlight ." Spread the Post-Its out in three areas, keeping the persons, places, and things separate. Have students come up to each collection and choose one Post-It they want to write about for this assignment. Encourage them to choose three things that can go together somehow, if they use their imaginations. Discourage them from choosing any of their own Post-Its. If done properly, students will return to their desks with three Post-It Notes: one with a person, one with a place, and one with an object.
    10. When your students have a person, place, and thing to use in a descriptive paragraph, use the 2nd page of the 90th Street Pre-Write file to have your students brainstorm phrases and sentences they might use to describe the three nouns they have chosen.
    11. Share the first page of the 90th Street Pre-Write sheet which is a "teacher model" on the overhead and discuss the sample.
    12. Tools for revision are provided for this lesson. You can use one or both, depending on how much time you have to spend on this assignment.

    The "Revision Sprint" worksheet asks students to determine which piece of advice from the book had the strongest influence on their writing. When students have decided which piece of advice they utilized best, they will draw an arrow on the worksheet that connects that piece of advice to the finish line. Then--and this is the important part--students will determine where the other three pieces of advice were when the winning "runner" crossed the finish line. Were the other "runners" hot on the winner's heels? Or were they hardly even out of the starting gate? Have students complete this worksheet, and talk about their decisions with each other or with the teacher, and then plan a revision. To inspire revision, tell them "One of your slower 'runners' must tie the 'runner' who won the first race, and you need to modify your story so that this can happen."

    You can also use the Idea Development Post-It. To promote response and revision to rough draft writing, attach WritingFix's Revision and Response Post-Its to your students' drafts. Make sure the students rank their use of the trait-specific skills on the Post-Its, which means they'll only have one "1" and one "5." Have them commit to ideas for revision based on their Post-It rankings. For more ideas on WritingFix's Revision & Response Post-Its, visit: http://www.writingfix.com/Classroom_Tools/Post_Its.htm

    After students apply their revision ideas to their drafts and re-write neatly, require them to find an editor. If you've established a "Community of Editors" among your students, have each student exchange his/her paper with multiple peers. With yellow high-lighters in hand, each peer reads for and highlights suspected errors for just one item from the Editing Post-It.

    Content Provider

    The Northern Nevada Writing Project: WritingFix

    Interested in publishing student work on-line?

    WritingFix invites student writers to post final drafts of their original at WritingFix's Community of Student Writers at: http://writingfix1.edublogs.org/2008/02/12/using-90th-streets-advice-prompt/. This is a safe-to-use blog for students and teachers. No writing is posted until it is approved by the moderator. Contact WritingFix at publish@writingfix.com if you have questions about getting your students published.

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