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.

Focus in writing
This brief lesson will help students recognize when a paragraph loses focus and will help them understand the concept of focus.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–10 English Language Arts)
By Peter Bobbe.
You can't tell it all!: Narrowing the focus of personal narratives
Students will learn to focus their personal narratives on just one main event by listing events on a topic and identifying one main event to write about. Focusing their personal narratives on one main event helps students to write about only the important things and leave out events and details that are not related to the main event.
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–5 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.
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.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–10 English Language Arts)
By Margaret Ryan.
The taste of relevance
Students will learn the importance of selecting relevant details by picking the right toppings for an ice cream sundae. This activity gives the students a concrete visual memory of what good details are.
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–4 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.
"So what?" details
Students will learn that adding details to a piece of writing doesn't make it better if the details are "So What?" details. Details and elaboration should be related to the main idea and should move the story along in an interesting manner.
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–5 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.
Invention convention
In this integrated unit, students will draw upon language arts, science, and math while inventing a magnetic or electric product. The lessons in this unit provide accommodations for English Language Learners at a variety of developmental levels.
Format: lesson plan (multiple pages)
Identifying RAFT elements in writing prompts and assignments
Student will read writing prompts and practice identifying RAFT elements: role of writer, audience, writing format, and topic. This is the first lesson in a series of three based upon LEARN NC's 9th grade writing exemplars.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9 English Language Arts)
By Kim Bowen.
Revising and editing an essay
Students will learn how to revise and edit an essay. In particular, they will focus on pronoun agreement. This is the third lesson in a series of three based upon LEARN NC's 9th grade writing exemplars.
Format: lesson plan
By Kim Bowen.
Focus activity using RAFT
Better writing requires consideration of RAFT: role, audience, format, and topic.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–10 English Language Arts)
By Kathleen Bost and Leigh Ann Webb.
Plain Polly: Adding relevant details
This instructional technique creates a lasting visual image of how relevant details help develop a character and a focus. Students learn to add only details that are related to the main idea of a “Plain Polly” stick figure. These mascots serve as reminders to students to be selective with the details they use to support their main idea.
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–4 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.
Narrowing the focus: What's the main event?
In this lesson, students will learn how to narrow the focus of their personal narrative down to one main event by selecting a more specific title. Good stories are focused on one topic or main event. The reader should be able to tell the most important thing that the story is about. Instead of writing a story about a whole vacation that describes many events, it is a good strategy to write a story about one thing that happened on the vacation - one main event.
Format: lesson plan (grade 2–4 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.
Life history slide show
Students will use photos to create a slide show of their life. They will plan a presentation based on significant episodes of their life and describe their personal experiences in writing.
Format: lesson plan (grade 8–9 English Language Arts)
By Mary Lou Faircloth.
School uniforms: Point-of-view writing
This lesson deals with an issue that is very important to students: school uniforms. It incorporates writing, speaking, and math.
Format: lesson plan (grade 7 English Language Arts)
By Linda Bulluck.
Defining risk: A search for theme in Fahrenheit 451
Students explore their understanding of the notion of risk in relation to their own experiences and in response to a variety of quotes. This exercise serves as a springboard to themes in the novel Fahrenheit 451.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9 English Language Arts)
By Leatha Fields-Carey.
Where do I begin?
Picking a good beginning helps you to focus your story on just one main event. In this lesson students will learn how to pick a good beginning for their personal narratives.
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–5 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.
Literature biography project
Students will learn to develop the various processes used in researching and writing a biographical research paper, including brainstorming, note taking, outlining, creating a bibliography, and writing the final draft.
Format: lesson plan (grade 6–8 English Language Arts and Information Skills)
By Sandra Dail.
Using RAFT to determine how to write an informational essay
Students will use RAFT as a tool to determine how to write an informational essay. They will also design a graphic organizer for the assignment as well as compose a rough draft. This is the second lesson in a series of three based on the LEARN NC 9th grade writing exemplars.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9 English Language Arts)
By Kim Bowen.
First draft/final draft
Students will compare paragraphs with and without elaboration and descriptive details. They will learn how to revise their own writing by adding descriptive details such as adjectives, adverbs, concrete nouns, and precise verbs.
Format: lesson plan (grade 3–5 English Language Arts)
By DPI Writing Strategies.
Poetry from prose: A different kind of "book report"
Students use a word-processing program to write a poem that summarizes important themes or events central to the plot of a novel. Once the poem is proofread, students type the poem according to specific directions. They then print their work and illustrate over or around the writing for an illustrated "book report." Students incorporate details from the novel in their writing and in their illustrations of their poems. In this way, students focus on the themes or events in the novel that appeal to them most -- the ones they feel are most important to the novel's meaning.
Format: lesson plan (grade 6–8 English Language Arts)
By Sally Watts.
Escapes
This lesson will help students become more understanding of cultural differences. Students will analyze the theme of escape in two poems. They will recognize and record literary elements found in the poems and connect the poems to life in a meaningful way.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–10 English Language Arts)
By Mary Lou Faircloth.