Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #18

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Using Feature Writing to Illustrate with Words

Grades 7 to 12

Language Arts, Journalism, Can be adapted to other courses

In this lesson, students examine places they have visited (historic buildings and places) and bring those places/things to life. By using SchoolNet News Network's website with this lesson students learn information on writing/journalism skills and can interact with students/teachers from across Canada. Finally, students exchange their writings with each other and attempt to draw the places their peers have described.


  • SNN Writing Guide (for reference)
  • Unlined paper (one sheet per student)
  • Crayons, markers and coloured pencils
  • Computers with access to the Internet



1. WARM-UP/DO-NOW: Students respond to the following in their journals (written on the board prior to class):

  • Think of a place that you have visited that you remember in great detail.Then, free-write a description of it that is so vivid that readers would be able to picture it in their minds' eyes. Try to describe sights, sounds, smells, and other images that come to mind. Without sharing their descriptions, discuss how words can help paint a picture of a place. Where have students read such vivid descriptions in the past? What images do students recall as being particularly vivid?

.Students discuss feature writing using SNN's Newsroom. They will then be asked to do research on their structure/place using the internet, library, newspapers and magazines.

Feature writing follows the basic guidelines for good writing. But if you expect to hold your readers for 800-1,000 words or so (number of words normally used in feature writing) you must make sure the writing is lively, specific and clear. Start with a lede that captures your reader's attention. It could be an anecdote you heard during the course of your research. It could be a description of a person, place or thing that draws the reader in and encourages them to learn more. It could a newsy lede that highlights the point of the story. Move your story along with descriptions of what happened, quotes from people involved in the issue, and details that place the reader in the midst of the action. Make sure your ending is meaningful. You want to use your closing words to make an impact on your readers and to tie the various strands of your story together. A powerful quote can often make for a good ending. Or you may want to come full circle and refer back to a word or an image you used in your opening sentences.

. They will write a descriptive/feature article using their description and research making them as vivid as possible. 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.

. In their articles, students might include figurative language like similes, metaphors and personification that might help a reader envision their place more clearly. Distribute a piece of unlined paper to each student, and have them write a final draft of their piece on one side of the paper.

5. Collect students' final drafts and redistribute them around the class so that no one receives their own piece. Give out crayons, coloured pencils and markers, and instruct students to turn over the paper they receive and draw, as accurately and quickly as they can, the place that is described in the piece on the other side. After about fifteen minutes, collects the drawings and, one by one, hold them up for the class to see, without revealing the names of either writer or artist. The author of the piece that inspired each drawing must identify the picture that was created based on his or her writing and come up to claim it.

6. WRAP-UP/ HOMEWORK: Ask students to consider how well their descriptions guided the artists' rendering. How could the writing be improved so that an artist might see their place even more clearly? Students then revise their descriptions a third time to present to the class in the future. These articles make good feature/profile stories and can be submitted to their own school newspaper or an online youth magazine for publication.


Students will be evaluated based on three drafts of a descriptive written piece, participation in class discussions, and participation in a drawing exercise.



  1. Interview someone who has a job that seems especially challenging or dangerous. Write ten questions you would like to ask him or her, then take notes as you interview (you can also tape (audio or video) your conversation. How does this job affect who this person is and how he or she lives? Write a profile article about the person and send it to SNN for publication online.
  2. Find a painting or drawing you admire that depicts a place of some kind. Write a descriptive article of this place that is as faithful to the artist's rendering as possible. How hard was it to capture this picture in words? Compare and contrast the benefits of different kinds of artistic depiction, from written description to photography to abstract art and realistic painting.




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