Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #15

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Writing Opinion Pieces About Meaningful Issues to Kids

Grades 7 to 12

Language Arts, Journalism, Social Studies

In this lesson, students identify controversial topics on which they have strong opinions and model their own persuasive opinion pieces after the featured article. SchoolNet News Network's website: http://www.snn-rdr.ca/snn can assist teachers and students with learning more about journalism skills, see other students' articles and provide a safe, structured environment for students to publish their writing.




1. WARM-UP/ DO-NOW: On a sheet of looseleaf paper, students respond to the following prompt (written on the board prior to class):

  • What controversial issue do you have a strong opinion about?
  • Is there one that especially "hits home" for you through some personal experience? (This issue can be something that is being debated nationally, internationally, or locally)
  • How do you feel about the issue and why?

Students write their thoughts anonymousluy. The teacher should then collect the responses, read them aloud and then list the topic of each paper on the board.
As students listen, ask them to respond by raising their hands if they agree with the opinion asserted.

. Direct students' attention to the list of issues written on the board. Are there any other issues that they can think of that they might want to add (curriculum, dress codes, curfews, gun laws, drug and alcohol policies, standardized testing, etc.)?

3. After any remaining issues are added to the list, ask students to begin writing an opinion article. Their article should answer the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How). Tell them about the inverted pyramid. This means that articles should be written with the most important information first and the least important last. Encourage them to use the SNN site information to development journalistic writing skills.

4. To see how this type of article can be written, students can review the sample article by SNN Reporter attached. Tell students to use the internet, library, newspapers and magazines to research their article.

5. Finally, ask them to trade rough drafts with a partner or read their pieces aloud in small peer revision groups to assess them using the above criteria.

6. WRAP-UP/ HOMEWORK: Students revise their opinion pieces based on peer comments and bring a finished draft to class. Each student identifies his or her intended audience (school, local community, national or international).

These articles can be shared with the class if desired OR published in their own school newspaper or in an online youth ezine.


Students will be evaluated based on their participation in class and peer-group discussions and their creation of both a rough draft and revised version of an opinion piece.



  • What extracurricular activities of any kind, including jobs, have been especially important to you? Why?
  • What rules do you think you will make for your own children about the role of extracurricular activities and work in their lives while they are still in school?



  1. Write profile article for SNN about an extracurricular activity or job that has changed you in some important way. What did you learn from it?



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