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How To Teach Essay Writing Lesson Plans

It can be tough to think of ways to keep things interesting when teaching writing to high school students.

Fortunately, there are so many great lesson plans out there to give you a starting point. We’ve compiled a list of 12 great lesson plans for teaching different writing techniques and styles to high school students.

1. News stories

It’s important for students to learn that different types of writing require different styles. For example, the structure and tone of a newspaper article differs greatly from a creative narrative. This news story writing lesson is a great way to help students produce writing with more lexical variation, complex sentences and passive structures.

2. Calling all characters

Writing fictional narratives can be daunting to many students who feel uncomfortable sharing their ideas, so breaking down the creative writing process is a good way to help students get the ball rolling. This lesson plan requires students to brainstorm character traits, behaviours and actions, then write scenes about that character. Although this lesson plan was designed for primary students, it can be adapted for secondary-level creative writing by removing the simpler games.

3. Drafting your essay

Essay writing is a major part of high school so it’s important to find different ways of engaging students to reinforce their learning of this type of text. This activity has students deconstruct other essays to learn about essay structure, which will help them when they go to write their own essays. Again, because this is a lesson plan for primary school students, it should be adapted to suit the grade of high school you’re teaching, for example, substitute the picture book for a secondary school novel.

4. Object creative writing

Rather than starting with characters, another way to prompt students to write stories is the object creative writing lesson plan. By giving students an object to describe, they learn to think creatively in response to a stimulus and develop their descriptive writing skills. Thinking on their feet will help them develop the skills to formulate their own creative ideas in the future.

5. Letter of complaint

Letters are a common text type that your students will be familiar with. The purpose of this lesson plan is to encourage students to use phrases that express attitude and emotion, which are found in letters of complaint.

6. Advertising

Advertising uses persuasive language, so practicing this type of writing can help students in forming arguments in essays and debates. Learning how to sell something can also help develop confidence in students.

7. Peer editing

This lesson plan involves students editing the writing of their peers. Marking the work of others can help a student develop an understanding of their own writing skills by analysing what they would do differently. Responding to feedback from peers also encourages students to develop a positive attitude towards criticism and learning.

8. Self-reflection

Writing about writing is one of the best ways to help students reduce the number of errors in their work. This lesson plan requires students to read over their work and identify one error that occurs frequently, then rewrite the piece without the error. This activity helps students learn how to correct their work and address habits so that they occur less frequently in the future.

9. Writing for a real purpose

Writing for a hypothetical purpose can leave students feeling unmotivated to produce their best work. For this lesson plan, students respond to real life scenarios that they’re personally interested in. This way, students adopt an authentic voice, based on real life experience, making their work more engaging.

10. The 100-word challenge

Being able to write clearly and succinctly is an important writing skill for students in high school and beyond. This lesson idea teaches students how to get to the point in a small number of words, by asking student to respond to a prompt in 100 words or less.

11. Start a pseudonym project

If you have a students who are particularly shy about sharing their writing with others, you can introduce an anonymous system. Allow students to choose a pseudonym they will use for handing in work. The idea is that students will feel less conscious about being personal or passionate in their work, and therefore produce higher quality work.

12. Copy cat

Some types of writing, like poetry and creative writing, are harder for students than structured essays and short responses. To help students adopt more creative tones in their writing, this lesson asks students to bring in a piece of writing (poetry or novel) and write their own original piece using the same style and tone.

Get creative

Learning to write different text types, from essays and letters, to creative stories and poetry, can be challenging for students. To help them along the way, it’s important to introduce lesson plans that encourage imagination and help develop lifelong skills that will improve their writing.

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Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

How-To Writing: Motivating Students to Write for a Real Purpose

It's not easy surviving fourth grade (or third or fifth)! In this lesson, students brainstorm survival tips for future fourth graders and incorporate those tips into an essay.

 

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Exploring Cause and Effect Using Expository Texts About Natural Disasters

Students explore the nature and structure of expository texts that focus on cause and effect and apply what they learned using graphic organizers and writing paragraphs to outline cause-and-effect relationships.

 

Grades   4 – 7  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

A "Cay"ribbean Island Study

As a pre-reading activity for The Cay, groups of students choose and study a Caribbean island, create a final product in the format of their choice, and finally, do an oral presentation to share information learned.

 

Grades   3 – 6  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

The Houdini Box: What Did Houdini Hide? Writing Creative Endings

Students are encouraged to understand a book that the teacher reads aloud to create a new ending for it using the writing process.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Developing Citizenship Through Rhetorical Analysis

Students analyze rhetorical strategies in online editorials, building knowledge of strategies and awareness of local and national issues. This lesson teaches students connections between subject, writer, and audience and how rhetorical strategies are used in everyday writing.

 

Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Defining Moments: Charting Character Evolution in Lord of the Flies

Savagery, treachery, lost innocence... Lord of the Flies is rife with character development. Use this lesson to help students chart the character changes of Ralph and Jack, both in groups and individually.

 

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Persuasion Map

The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.

 

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Compare & Contrast Map

The Compare & Contrast Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to organize and outline their ideas for different kinds of comparison essays.

 

Grades   5 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  December 5

Walt Disney was born in 1901.

Students describe female characters in Disney films, discuss their characteristics, and write a thesis statement about them.

 

Grades   6 – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Teaching With Podcasts

This Strategy Guide describes the processes involved in composing and producing audio files that are published online as podcasts.

 

Grades   K – 5  |  Strategy Guide

Implementing the Writing Process

This strategy guide explains the writing process and offers practical methods for applying it in your classroom to help students become proficient writers.

 

Grades   K – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Shared Writing

This strategy guide explains how to use shared writing to teach students effective strategies that will improve their own independent writing ability.

 

Grades   K – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Write Alouds

This strategy guide explains how to use write-aloud (also known as modeled writing) to teach effective writing strategies and improve students' independent writing ability.

 

Grades   3 – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Inquiry Charts (I-Charts)

This guide introduces I-Charts, a strategy that enables students to generate meaningful questions about a topic and organize their writing.

 

Grades   6 – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Developing Evidence-Based Arguments from Texts

This strategy guide clarifies the difference between persuasion and argumentation, stressing the connection between close reading of text to gather evidence and formation of a strong argumentative claim about text.

 

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