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Mysteries of Harris Burdick

by Chris Van Allsburg

Creative Writing


Table of Contents



Alternative Energy Persuasive Essay


Ancient Civilizations Thematic Essay Unit


Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman


Class Calendar


"Charles" by Shirley Jackson Short Story


History of the English Language




Mysteries of Harris Burdick

NYS English Language Arts Exams Review


Painting Pictures with Poetry



SHEroes Memorable Women in History


Teacher Resources


Writer's Workshop





Table of Contents

Project Description / Contest Winners / Contest Rules / Rubric (Assessment)/

Plot Review / Student Resources / Teacher Resources /


Project Description

Your goal is to pick your favorite Harris Burdick mystery picture and write a story that goes with it.  Your must follow the guidelines for using appropriate content for sixth graders.  We are focusing on using the  6 + 1 Traits of writing that we have used so far: ideas, organization, sentence fluency, conventions, and word choice.  During the rough draft, we focus on ideas and organization.  The ideas must make sense and the details must support the main story idea.  The organization must follow a story plot (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution).  During the revision process of the writer's workshop, we focus on sentence fluency.  You must include the four kinds of sentences: declarative (statement), interrogative (question), imperative (command), and exclamatory (excited feelings).  During the editing process you will focus on word choice (vocabulary, vivid verbs) and conventions (spelling, grammar, capitalization).  You will be successful if you follow the rubric.


Contest Winners

View the Mystery of Harris Burdick pictures

Winner of the contest will be posted soon!

"Captain Tory" "Oscar and Alphonse" "The Seven Chairs" "Just Dessert" "Another Time, Another Place"
"The 3rd Floor Bedroom" "Archie Smith, Boy Wonder" "The Harp" "The House on Maple Street" "Mr. Linden's Library"
"Missing in Venice "Missing in Venice" "Under the Rug" "Uninvited Guests" "A Strange Day in July"



6 + 1 Trait






Ideas are linked to picture, accurate, & supportive sensory details







Organization: intriguing hook, follows the structure of a story plot







Conventions: spelling, capital letters & ending punctuation







Word Choice: at least 5 terms from the mystery vocabulary list







Sentence Fluency: varies the 4 types of sentences







Presentation: follows typing guide format







Printable Version (click here) (MSWord Document)

6 + 1 Traits Scoring Guide (Adobe Reader)

Plot Review

Plot Vocabulary Notes (MsWord Document)



Student Resources
  1. Rubric: explains how you are being graded

  2. Ideas: Teacher Web (Questions to think about before writing)

  3. Ideas: plot details (graphic organizer)

  4. Organization: plot format & plot vocabulary

  5. Sentence Fluency: Vary 4 Kinds of Sentences (student Handout)

  6. Sentence Fluency: How to write a Good Hook

  7. Sentence Fluency: Complex Masterpiece Sentences

  8. Word Choice: Words of Mystery

  9. Word Choice: Visual Thesaurus for vivid verbs (requires school password)

  10. Conventions: (spelling)

  11. World Book Online (dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, encyclopedia)

  12. Conventions:  Capitalization Rules (class notes)

  13. Presentation: Typing Guide & Contest Rules



Teacher Resources

  1. Halifax Regional School Board: Mysteries of Harris Burdick "Solved Mysteries"

  2. Lafayette School, CA: Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Student Samples)

  3. Canada's SchoolNet: The "Solved" Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Student Samples)

  4. Houghton Mifflin's Teacher Guide

  5. Chris Van Allsburg Web Site

  6. Visual Thesaurus

  7. Contest Rules

  8. 4 Kinds of Sentences (answers)



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