15 Sentence Portrait Writing in 4th Grade

This week I did the Fifteen Sentence Portrait writing activity with a fourth grade class. We wrote our descriptions one sentence at a time. Afterwards, we reflected on our writing experience. Students said they found it easy to focus on one sentence at a time, and the cues helped them practice some of the strategies we have tried before, such as using vivid descriptions and vocabulary, using similes, and varying sentence patterns. Some of the authors shared their writing with the class. Here is a student’s tribute to his grandmother, written and shared with the class during this activity…


In this memory she is missed by everone in my family. She loved snack on white shugery things. She had eyes as green as grass. She smelled as fresh as a rose. I loved her so much she was my best friend she was loved throw out my family and she alwase will be. She was alwase nice to everyone. She was alwase wearing regular close like everyone esle in my family. I just wish she would come back from the hevans. She was alwase a all animal person but she espesily loved cats. We would alwase play with each other when i saw her. She butiful, smart, and cool. She alwase had raindow colord grape or strawbarrey smellig popsicle. Her hair was as brown as fall leaves. She would yell AHHH!!! somtimes. When she died i had the blues.


The classroom teacher and I were moved to tears as the student read his writing to the class. His classmates, listening, were very quiet, and then they applauded as he finished. We witnessed the power of words.

This entry was posted in school and writing, SOLSC 2013 Weekly, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to 15 Sentence Portrait Writing in 4th Grade

  1. THe power of concise writing – WOW. THanks for sharing.

  2. Deb Day says:

    Beautiful! I went back to your original slice about this. Can’t wait to try in next week with my creative writing kids.

  3. This is a terrific frame. I also was drippy, especially after this line…

    I just wish she would come back from the hevans.

    I can’t wait to see my grandma up there. This was awesome. XO

  4. margaretsmn says:

    I love the line, “I wish she could come back from the heavens.” This poem expresses a real and true love. Thanks for sharing the activity, too. I enjoy doing these exercises that help students experience success.

    • newtreemom says:

      Yes, the students really were successful with the activity. This is the most outstanding piece, but nearly everyone wrote pieces that stayed focused and used more vivid vocabulary.

  5. luckygurl says:

    I also thoroughly enjoyed both this piece and the original slice it linked to. This is a great idea for a gift to give someone for a birthday or Mother’s/Father’s day! I am so going to try this! Thank you.

    • newtreemom says:

      A teacher at my school that I shared the idea with had her students use it at Thanksgiving to write for their parents. They wrote some very sweet lines I am sure their parents loved.

  6. This was a very moving piece for the writer and for the audience-it doesn’t get any more authentic than this!
    Thanks for sharing

  7. Terje Äkke says:

    Thank you for sharing. This young writer chose his subject thoughtfully and used the prompts, carefully picking the right words.
    I’ll try this format one day. I especially like the idea of revealing each prompt one by one.

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