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Lesson Plans On Writing Essays For High School

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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PREWRITE FIRST!!! Choose a trio topic: three of may favorite things, three goals, etc. Develop 3 signifigant details for each trio topic. Develop 1 example for each signifigant detail. (3 details + 1 example + 1 transition= 5 sentences per body paragraph!)

MINI LESSON: Print the overhead material below. Make student take ver betum notes as the minilesson.

ACTIVITY:Each day, assign students a part of the essay to draft after mini-lesson. They should write each part of the essay (intro, body, conc) on seperate sheets of paper. Pair them up for editing, and MONITOR the groups to help them proofread. Assign the 2nd draft for HW on a Friday. Rewrite until it's right!

ASSESSMENT:E-mail me for the INCREDIBLY EASY & QUICK grading rubric for 5-paragraph essays.

Writing Essays


1. "Clincher" statement that catches the reader's attention

2. Overview of what you plan on discussing in your essay

3. Thesis statement - state your POSITION

4. Transitions smoothly into first paragraph


1. Main idea of your entire paper

2. Expresses your position in a full, declarative sentence

3. Controls the focus of the entire paper

4. Points forward to the conclusion

5. Conforms to your reasons, examples, and evidence


Opinion and Fact

Dracula was one of the better films this summer because if its setting,
action, and philosophy.


Social ostracism, great expense, and personal hardship are three of the
unfortunate results of the most dangerous disease of the century - AIDS.


From my personal experience, I know that poor preparation, alcohol consumption, and insect infestation can cause most family picnics to fail.


  • Avoid a purpose statement, such as "The purpose of this..." "Now I shall prove", "in this paragraph I will tell you" SHOW -DON'T TELL
  • Avoid repetition of the title or text
  • Avoid complex or difficult questions that may puzzle your reader
  • Avoid simple definitions - EXPLAIN
  • Avoid artwork or cute lettering



  • A group of sentences that presents and develops one MAIN IDEA about a topic

  • These sentences work together to communicate one MAIN IDEA


  • the overall POINT of the PARAGRAPH that is conveyed in the TOPIC SENTENCE


  • USUALLY the first sentence of the PARAGRAPH that states the MAIN IDEA stated in each part of the

  • It tells the READER what the reset of the paragraph is ABOUT

  • This helps the WRITER focus on the MAIN IDEA and not stray from the MAIN IDEA

  • This is more GENERAL than the SUPPORTING DETAILS that follow.


  • Other sentences in the PARAGRAPH that give INFORMATION that SUPPORTS the MAIN IDEA that was stated in the TOPIC SENTENCE

  • A paragraph with only 1-2 supporting details is NOT EFFECTIVE and UNACCEPTABLE

  • At least THREE details are NEEDED to provide STRONG SUPORT for the MAIN IDEA:






  • Paragraphs should be AT LEAST 6 sentences, including TRANSITIONS


the UNITY of the paragraph


The last sentence of each paragraph should reflect:

  • what you have just discussed in the paragraph
  • signal the change into the next paragraph


  1. Restate the thesis
  2. GO BEYOND the thesis by stating something worthwhile:

    reach a judgment

    endorse an issue

    discuss findings

    offer directives

  3. Leave the reader with a thought provoking


  • AVOID presenting new IDEAS
  • AVOID stopping at an awkward spot or trailing off into meaningless or irrelevant information
  • AVOID questions that raise new issues
  • AVOID fancy artwork or cute lettering