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Lesson Plans

Ellen Fredberg
Journalism teacher
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Lesson Plans

Learning how to coach writers

Learning how to coach writers

Ellen Fredberg of Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Ellen Fredberg
Washington High School
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Title: Learning how to coach writers


  • Students will understand writing is a process; publishable writing needs several revisions before it is complete.
  • Students will learn that part of the revision process includes talking about his or her writing.
  • Students will learn how to listen and give feedback to student writing, and how to act as a coach to fellow students.

Anticipatory set:

When you receive a writing assignment, how do you complete the assignment? (Brief discussion about writing in class — lead up to fact that most of the time, we don’t talk about our writing — we keep it to ourselves and don’t ask for help.)

Sequence of activities:

  • Have students take out a sheet of paper and pen/pencil. Ask them to make a list of objects they own that are significant or important to them. (3 minutes; teacher also writes along with students.)
  • After listing objects, students will rank the objects in terms of which would make the best story.
  • Once students have chosen their topics, give students five minutes to just write about that topic.
  • At the end of five minutes, students pair up with another student. One student reads the writing, and the other listens. They have two minutes, and must follow these rules:
    • Reader cannot apologize for his or her writing
    • The listener can only make positive comments
    • The listener cannot interrupt the reader
  • After two minutes, partners switch roles and follow same rules.
  • Students are given another five minutes to continue writing. At the end of the five minutes, follow same procedure as before, but give three minutes for each speaker instead of two.
  • After second round, ask students what has developed so far. Ask students if they liked listening or talking about writing. Also discuss what worked and didn’t work in the beginning process.
  • Give students rest of the hour to write and develop their story.
  • Stop students five minutes before the end of the hour. They may use the last five minutes to meet with their partner to read or listen to their story before the first draft is due tomorrow.


Bring first draft of story to class tomorrow.

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