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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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.
Lesson plans for teaching focus
A collection of LEARN NC's lesson plans for teaching focus, the first of the five features of effective writing.
Format: bibliography/help
The five features of effective writing
The five Features of Effective Writing — focus, organization, support and elaboration, style, and conventions — are a valuable tool for understanding good writing and organizing your writing instruction. By teaching these features, you can help your students become more effective writers in any genre, at any level, and make your writing instruction easier to manage at the same time. This series of articles, written with the support of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, will show you how.
Format: series (multiple pages)
Critical areas explained
The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics identify Critical Areas for each grade level which describe two to four big ideas at that grade level. Educators can use the Critical Areas to focus the work students do in the classroom and to make instructional decisions.
Photo comparison: Focus on geography
A worksheet for students to use when comparing photographs, focusing on information about the population of the region in which they were taken.
Format: worksheet
By Eric Eaton.
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.
About the five features of effective writing
An explanation of the "Five Features of Effective Writing" model (focus, organization, support and elaboration, style, and conventions) with links to detailed articles, lesson plans, and exemplars of student writing.
Format: bibliography/help
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.
In The five features of effective writing, page 2
Focus, the first Feature of Effective Writing, is the "so what?" in a piece of writing. This article will help you teach students to stay on topic.
Format: article
By Kathleen Cali.
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.
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.
Writing exemplars (high school)
Samples of varying levels of performance on different types of writing assignments by high school students, with comments based on the five Features of Effective Writing: focus, organization, support and elaboration, style, and conventions.
Format: tutorial
About the English Language Development Standard Course of Study
An introduction to the North Carolina curriculum for English language learners, including an explanation of the domains and proficiency levels of language acquisition.
Format: article/help
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.
Lesson plans collection policy
In Web Publishing & Collaboration Guide, page 1.1
LEARN NC's policies for accepting lesson plans for publication and managing its collection of lesson plans.
Format: article/help
Jonkonnu celebrations in North Carolina and beyond
In this lesson plan, students read two articles about Jonkonnu, an African American and Afro-Caribbean celebration among slave populations with origins in West Africa. Students complete a graphic organizer comparing Jonkonnu in North Carolina, Belize, and Jamaica.
Format: lesson plan (grade 8 and 11 Social Studies)
By Jamie Lathan.
Mandarin Chinese II | 中文课程2
Part two of an online textbook for learning Mandarin Chinese.
Format: book (multiple pages)
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.
"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.
Grassy bald with spruce and rhododendron
In Roan Mountain Highlands, page 10
Figure 8 shows the grassy bald at the crest of the Roan with spruce-fir forest and rhododendron. Figure 8 also signals a change in this fieldtrip's focus from geology to ecology. The grassy bald mystery deepens with views like the one shown here. The bald...
By Jennifer Godwin-Wyer and Dirk Frankenberg.