Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #16

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Writing Letters to the Editor

Grades 7 to 12

Language Arts, Journalism, Social Studies

In this lesson, students examine the role of the Letters to the Editor section of the newspaper as an outlet for the expression of opinions and ideas. Students analyse the motivation, purpose and value of Letters to the Editor by examining letters written in their local newspaper provided by their teacher. For homework, students write their own Letters to the Editor in response to a key issue in their school and community.


  • SNN Writing Guide (for reference)
  • Copies of letters to the editor from local/national newspapers and magazines
  • Copies of articles from newspapers/magazines that students can respond to



1. WARM-UP/ DO-NOW: Write the following instructions on the board prior to students' arrival in class: "Use the first five minutes of class to list current events and other topics about which people have strong feelings and opinions."

After the five minutes have passed, ask students to think about different ways people express their views about such topics. List student responses on the board.

  • What audiences do each of these methods reach?
  • When would people want to reach a wide audience with their views?
  • Which methods do students feel are most effective at reaching a wide audience?
  • Which methods do students feel are the least effective?
  • How do people respond differently to these different ways of expressing opinions?

Explain to students that today they will be examining how and why people write letters to the editors of newspapers. Why might someone want to express his or her views in this way?

. As a class, read and discuss one or two Letters to the Editor chosen by teacher focussing on the following questions:

  • Discuss why a person would write a Letter to the Editor.
  • What might motivate a person to respond to a news article?
  • Why is this an important section of the newspaper?
  • What specific issue does each writer address in his or her letter?
  • What is each writer's opinion of the issue and situation?
  • How does each writer's language illustrate how he or she feels about this issue and situation?
  • What solutions do the writers offer? What suggestions do they make?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the contents of the letters? Why or why not?
  • What effect might a Letter to the Editor have on the course of a particular issue?

3. WRAP-UP/ HOMEWORK: From newspapers, magazines, internet mainstream news website, select articles. Teacher can have some pre-selected articles or have students select their own. Each student writes a Letter to the Editor (Opinion) in response to the article they have selected. Students can peer edit classmates' letters to make sure that they are well-written, thoughtful, and cohesive.

Their letters should answer the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How). Use the inverted pyramid style which means that articles should be written with the most important information first and the least important last. Check out Lesson #1 - Writing a Newspaper Article and SNN Writing Guide for more information on journalistic writing.

The letters can be shared with the class or submitted to their local newspaper for publication.


Students will be assessed on in-class participation and on their ‘Letter to the Editor'.




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