Selected lesson plans from ReadWriteThink, which partners with the National Council of Teachers of English, and whose mission it is to "provide educators, parents, and afterschool professionals with access to the highest quality practices in reading and language arts instruction by offering the very best in free materials."
1. "Langston Hughes was Born in 1902"
Provide students with a copy of Hughes' poem "Dreams" Each stanza of the poem is one sentence, and each sentence contains a metaphor for a dream. Tell students that a metaphor compares two objects or ideas that are not generally associated with one another. Have them identify the metaphor in each sentence, and then ask them to think about what Hughes was trying to convey about dreams by using these metaphors. What kind of dream would a "broken-winged bird"represent? How about a "field frozen in snow"?2. "Book Report Alternative: Creating Careers for Characters"
Brainstorm with the class some other metaphors for dreams that Hughes might have considered for his poem. Conversely, have the class brainstorm metaphors for dreams that people may have that they hope will come true. Working in groups, students can then compose poems using metaphors for dreams coming to fruition.
Students first explore resumes using the internet. They then work as a class to construct a sample resume for a character in a book they have all read. Next, they explore want ads and online job sites for possible jobs for a character from a book they have read on their own. They write a letter of application and create a resume for their character for the selected job.3. "Cooking up Descriptive Language: Designing Restaurant Menus"
Students explore the genre of menus by analyzing existing menus from local restaurants. After establishing the characteristics of the genre, students work in groups to choose a restaurant and then create their own custom menus. They then analyze the use of adjectives and descriptive language on sample menus before revising their own menus with attention to descriptive phrasing.4. "Author Lois Duncan was Born on This Date in 1934"
Share with students some of the mysteries from Ken Weber's Five Minute Mysteries series and test their sleuthing abilities. After students have had a chance to solve a handful of mysteries (the solutions are in the back of the books), ask them to brainstorm the critical attributes of a good mystery. What elements do mysteries share? What do authors need to do to write a compelling mystery for readers?5. "Writing about Writing: An Extended Metaphor Assignment"
Once the class has completed this part of the activity, place them in small groups and ask them to compose some short mysteries themselves. They can plan their stories using the interactive Mystery Cube. Groups can then exchange and attempt to solve one another's mysteries. The mysteries from each group can also be compiled and shared with other classes as well.
This lesson asks students to reflect on their writing process, and helps the teacher learn more about students' habits and techniques as writers. Students begin by reading and analyzing the poem "The Writer" by Richard Wilbur, particularly discussing the use of extended metaphor. Students then reflect on their own writing habits, compare themselves as writers to the writer in the poem, and brainstorm possible metaphors for themselves as writers. Finally, students complete one of several recommended projects to extend the metaphor describing themselves as writers. Throughout the process, students share their work in small groups.6. "Draft Letters"
Draft letters ask students to reflect on a single piece of writing that they have completed, thinking more deeply about their writing and how they work as writers. This process of deep reflection helps students improve as writers. Dawn Swartzendruber-Putnam explains:Note what counts as justification for the last lesson: not empirical findings on how children learn to write, but a tendentious "statement" by one person embedded in a tendentious "explanation" by another person--neither of whom knows how to write a coherent sentence. Has either Swartzendruber-Putnam or Pianko consulted with anyone who can?
“Reflection is a form of metacognition—thinking about thinking. It means looking back with new eyes in order to discover—in this case, looking back on writing. As Pianko states, ‘The ability to reflect on what is begin written seems to be the essence of the difference between able and not so able writers from their initial writing experience onward’ (qtd. in Yancey 4)” (88).
Beyond the importance of critical thinking, active learning allows students to take ownership of their work while increasing their engagement with the activities at hand. Activities such as draft letters encourage students, rather than teachers, to “direct . . . every action and decision about their writing” (88).