K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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  • Welcome to my world!: Developing a personal narrative timeline: Students will create digital, narrative, and drawn versions of a timeline of at least five events of their life.
  • Getting paragraphing down P-A-T: One way to remember when to indent and begin a new paragraph is when (P) the place changes, (A) the action changes, and (T) the time changes (P-A-T). In this lesson, students will learn how to identify appropriate places to indent new paragraphs in their writing.
  • Posing a scenario and "looping" to provide focus in a cause/effect essay: Most of us are familiar with the idea that in narratives a writer chooses a “hot spot” or critical incident to serve as the focus of the work. Teachers of expository writing also must assist students in finding the “hot spot” or focus of their essays. Use this exercise to help student focus on one aspect of the essay.

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Getting Paragraphing Down P.A.T.
One way to remember when to indent and begin a new paragraph is when (P) the place changes, (A) the action changes, and (T) the time changes (P-A-T). In this lesson, students will learn how to identify appropriate places to indent new paragraphs in their writing.
Great beginnings
Good beginnings hook readers and make them want to continue reading. Students will learn the features of good beginnings by reading the beginnings of several narrative picture books, and then writing good beginnings for their own narratives.
Great endings
Sometimes authors end their stories with a memory, a feeling, a wish, or a hope. Other times they end the story by referring back to the language of the beginning. In this lesson, students will examine the characteristics of good endings by reading good endings of narrative picture books. They will then practice writing good endings for their own narratives.
Little Bit ? BIG BIT ? Little Bit
This lesson helps students who tend to jump right in and tell their entire story in the first few sentences and then struggle to complete their story. Students will learn to start and end their stories with just a “Little Bit” about the setup and closure of the story.
Meanwhile - Transition Words that Connect Ideas
Students will identify transition words in picturebooks that they can use in their own writing. Transition words are the glue that holds sentences and paragraphs together. They signal that this is a new part of the story.
Transition Words and Phrases
Students will learn to combine sentences using two kinds of transition words: time transitions and thought (logical) transitions. Transition words link related ideas and hold them together. They can help the parts of a narrative to be coherent or work together to tell the story. Coherence means all parts of a narrative link together to move the story along. Think of transition words as the glue that holds a story together. Using transition words helps avoid the “Listing” problem in stories.


Cause and effect writing: What it looks like and who reads it
Students examine the causes and effects presented in a brochure called “Ozone: The Good and the Bad.” They also examine the language of the brochure with regard to audience appropriateness. Students then write their own brochures examine their classmates’ brochures for cause and effect and for audience appropriateness.
Helping Students Understand Text Structures: Informational Problem/Solution
This exercise teaches students to understand the organizational structure of problem/solution essays by having them write “what it says” and “what it does” statements about a text. Asking students to write these statements about a text will enable students to read the text closely and will ensure that they understand the structure of a problem/solution text.
Examining effective openers and closures in writings
Students will listen to a reading of Dr. Seuss’ and Jack Prelutsky’s Hooray for Difendoofer Day! Students will then work cooperatively to edit one another’s rough drafts of analytical essay, focusing on openers and closures.
Practicing Elaboration in a Problem/Solution Essay
One theory suggests that students tend to list in an essay because they lack the tools to elaborate. Because they do not have the strategies, they attempt to fill up the empty space by introducing new primary ideas instead of fleshing out the ideas they have already presented. This activity attempts to make students aware of the need to elaborate and to provide students with some workable strategies for elaborating. Using a PowerPoint presentation, the teacher demonstrates the necessity for elaboration in a problem/solution essay. Students then choose a particular point in the PowerPoint presentation to expand through elaboration.
Making Patterns, Make Sense
Students will analyze organizational patterns in analytical writing by reading, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss. Students will then apply these patterns to their own writing by creating children’s books about success.
Thematic and Organizational Patterns in McLaurin’s “The Rite Time of Night”
Students will learn to identify and color-code thematic and organizational patterns found in the narrative and then use two-column notetaking to highlight how these patterns helped McLaurin give his story focus and organization. As a suggested follow-up activity, students are given ideas for writing their own narratives, using similar techniques as McLaurin.