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Lesson Plans

Editorial Writing Lesson

Pat Graff of La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, N.M.

Pat Graff
La Cueva High School
Albuquerque, N.M.

Title: Editorial Writing Lesson

Objective: Students will learn how to write editorials using a videotape prompt, a simple format, and group work.


Day 1

  • Ask students if they have ever been victims of discrimination of any kind. Allow a few students to share their experiences briefly.
  • Show students the videotape of "The Shadow of Hate." Tell them to take many notes as they watch the tape, looking for facts, stories, and examples of discrimination. Remino them that the more notes they have, the easier their assignment will be. NOTE: Tape is 40 minutes long.
  • Immediately after the tape is finished, have students record their feelings about the tapefor ten minutes. I have mine write in their journals.
  • As homework, students should write a thesis/opinion statement (one sentence long expressing a feeling about the topic of discrimination, then list three supporting details or facts for this thesis. These supporting details can come from the film or from the student own research.

Day 2

  • Give students the notes on writing an editorial using a simple structure. See related "Editorial Notes on Structure" article.
  • Divide students into small groups of two or three. Assign each group the job of writing suitable "hook" for an editorial on discrimination. Specifically assign to the groups one of the four types of hooks: description, startling statistic, anecdote, or question. Remind them that these hooks should be no longer than 30 words long and should grab the reader attention. Give them 5‑10 minutes to do this.
  • Share the hooks with the class. (You will be amazed…)
  • Briefly discuss what are some of the concessions that one might consider for the other side of the topic. (This is a bit of a challenge with this topic, but it can be done. Consider the viewpoint of "America is supposed to be the land of the free, but…")
  • Show students how they essentially have all the pieces of a good editorial already written, except for their closing paragraph: hook, thesis, concession, supporting details. Remind them that their closing should recall the opening and encourage a course of action.
  • Assign the editorial. Most students will be able to finish the first draft in less than 30 minutes! Then revise, peer edit, etc.

Materials Needed

  • "The Shadow of Hate" videotape (obtain from Teaching Tolerance, Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery AL 36104; also at this link: http://www.tolerance.org/order_forms/tt_films.jsp)
  • Related article on structure, "Editorial Notes on Structure"

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