Haley's first letter to Mrs. Szymanski

November 12, 2001
Dear Mrs.Szymanski,

My name is Haley. I live with my Momom, Popop, Matthew and my Daddy. My hobbies are to collect baseball and pok'emon cards. My talents is a good baseball player. I like to go to the movies.

Your friend,

Mrs. Szymanski's reply

Lois November 16, 2001
Hi Haley,

How are you? I am enjoying reading the letters you and your classmates have written to me. It seems that almost everyone likes to collect baseball and pokemon cards, and almost everyone likes baseball. Baseball is my favorite ball game. It would be my favorite sport too, excpet that I like horseback riding, jumping and showing a little bit more! Which is your favorite baseball card?

Like you, I love a good movie, too. I can't wait to see the new Harry Potter movie. Do you plan to go see it? I have read all of the Harry Potter books and I love the way J.K Rowling writes! Have you read any of the Harry Potter books yet?

Have you begun to think about what you will write your story about? When you start to plan your story, try to write about something you know and love. It will make the story more fun for you. I always write about the things I love the most in life. That's why I write lots of horse and ghost stories! Do you like to read about horses? Do you like ghosts? What is your favorite thing to read about?

Well, I will let you go so you can start coming up with ideas to write about! I hope to hear from you soon!

Your New Friend,
Lois Szymanski

Haley's second letter to Mrs. Szymanski

November 24, 2001
Dear Mrs. Szymanski,

Here are some of my ideas for my story:

About my Cocker Spaniel
My strange home
My cat
A day at the park
The ocean floor
The Magic Trick
A scary message
The Mean Fish
A Big Snake

I'm going to do the title About My Cocker Spaniel for my story.

Your friend,

Mrs. Szymanski's reply


November 29, 2001
Hi Haley,

I liked all of your story ideas very much. I am glad you decided to write about your Cocker Spaniel, because you will be writing about a topic that you care about.

Think about these questions while you write:

Who? The story is about your Cocker Spaniel, but who is he? What is his name? How old were you when you got your dog, and how old was the dog? What are some of the funny things your puppy does, or has done in the past? What makes him (or her) a special dog? What does he (or she) look like? Did you train your puppy yourself? Do you have any other animals that are friends with your Cocker Spaniel? All of these questions can make you think about your dog and who he or she is.
What? What is your story going to be about? What has your dog done that will make the story exciting?
Where? Where will the story take place?
When? When does your story take place? Today? Yesterday? Two years ago? Ten years ago? Twenty years ago? A hudnred years ago, or maybe in the future?

I like dogs a lot and I think Cocker Spaniels are very pretty dogs. I can't wait to see what you will write!

Your Friend,
Lois Szymanski

Haley's story map
Here is my story map. Can you help me with my story?

Your friend,

Mrs. Szymanski's reply

Lois December 10, 2001
Hi Haley,

I like your story map. I like the way you put your dog in the center!

You have wrtten good things for "who", "what", "where" and "when". It is all very clear. You even wrote down the time of day and that's important, too. Good for you!

The "what" circle is your story problem. It is a good one, and so is your solution. But what will happen in between the problem and the solution? How will you solve the problem?

Will you call your dog, or bribe her with food? Will you try to win her over with love, and by petting her and talking sweet to her? Will you demand that she comes, or hook a lease to her and pull her home? Or will you make her chase a ball or a toy toward home? How will you get her to come with you? This is the part of the story that could be fun, or funny! You can write what really happened, or you can use your imagination to make your story funny, or more interesting.

I like the way you worked out each section of your story, and I am looking forward to reading what you will write!

Your Friend,
Lois Szymanski

Haley revised her story map

Haley's rough draft
Hi Miss Lois,

I been working hard on my story. I hope you like it.

Your friend,

Home At Last
By Haley

"Mia! Hurry! I will keep you safe."

I was at Dawn's house with my dog, Mia. She's black with a white belly and she's a friendly little puppy. Mia is my best friend. I was visting her at 2:00 in the afternoon on a warm summer day.

I played tag, chase and hide and seek with Dawn. Mia played with us. We played all day.We had a very good time.Mia always finds me.

Supper time came and I had to go home. Mia didn't want to come home with me. She was afraid to go outside because she saw another dog, Maria. Maria takes other dogs home with her and lets them die. I gave her a treat. Her favorite treat is dog snapers. They are big and juicey. They are meat. They look like sausages.They have a good taste. I tried to give her other ones but she would not eat them.

I had to hook a leash to her while she was eating. Then she came home with me The other dog's family moved to a farm and Mia was not afraid to go outside.

Mrs. Szymanski replied

Hi Haley,

I read your story several times, and I feel like I have come to know Mia. What a wonderful dog she must be!

As I read the story I asked myself, What is the real problem in Haley's story? What is the problem that must be solved by the end of the story? You'll have to let me know if I am wrong, but I think the problem is Mia's fear of the other dog, Maria.

If this is the conflict, or problem your story is about, you will want to start out with that problem in the first paragraph. A good story usually starts with a problem, and solves that problem by the end of the story.

Maybe you could start your story with you and Mia going out the door of your house, on your way to Dawn's house. Maybe Mia could see Maria outside and back up, refusing to go outside. That would be a problem for you! Maybe you have to push and tug her, and encourage her to go with you by feeding her those wonderful dog treats!

Once you got to Dawn's house, I felt like you and Mia were having fun with Dawn. It made me want to play with a dog! I loved hide and seek at Dawn's house, and how you said, "Mia always finds me." What a special dog! It would be fun if you told some of the places you hid, and how Mia found you. Did she sniff you out, or follow a trail of candy you dropped, or see your sneaker sticking out from behind the sofa, or did she just know where you would hide?

I did wonder how the big dog, Maria could take other dogs home with her, and how she made them die? Could it be that Mia is just afraid of Maria because she is a BIG dog?

When it is time to go home Mia shows how afraid she is, and that's a good scene too! I wondered what Mia looked like when she was afraid. Did her tail droop, or did she put it between her legs? Did she lay her ears flat on her head, or did her hair stand up on her back? Did she growl, or bark at you, or try to hide?

I wanted to learn more about Mia and why she is afraid of Maria, and how you will help her get over it. Your story has me wanting to hear more, so write back soon!

Your Friend,
Lois Szymanski

See Haley's Final Story!


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Patti Weeg

March 23, 2002