Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Leading into Good Writing

Leslie Briggs
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students identify and create “leads” for art work and essays.


The student demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject that engages the reader.

The student proofreads writing to correct convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation, using dictionaries, handbooks, and other resources, including teacher or peers, as appropriate.

The student uses conventions of capitalization (including but not limited to the names of organizations, nationalities, races, languages, religions).

The student uses various parts of speech correctly in written work (including but not limited to subject and verb agreement, common noun and pronoun agreement, possessive forms, the comparative and superlative of adjectives and adverbs).


-Overhead projector
-Examples of artwork: transparencies, posters, calendars, etc.
-Handout of Lead Notes (see attached file)
-Handout of Assignment (see attached file)


The teacher will do the following:
1. Provide the students with an opportunity to acquire a novel.
2. Print copies of the attached files.
3. Create copies or transparencies of attached files.
4. Accumulate artwork for the activity. Five pieces of artwork of various activities are needed.
5. Review the assessment and familiarize one’s self with the scoring rubric.


This lesson is designed as a mini-unit to use after the students have had practice writing essays. Students will also need to have an opportunity to acquire a novel prior to beginning this activity.

1. Initiate a discussion of “what is a lead” in writing. Explain that a lead introduces the essay, and it functions to grab the reader’s attention. A good analogy for this concept is “hook, line, and sinker.” A fisherman baits his hook with a worm in hopes of landing the big one. Hence, a writer baits his/her reader with a lead in hopes of landing an interested reader.

2. Display examples of leads from current and classical literature. These may be written on the board or displayed on a transparency. Explain the different kinds of leads. (See attached file.)

3. Students practice identifying types of leads.

4. Instruct students to copy the lead sentences of their novels onto their papers and label the type of lead it is.

5. Students orally share this information with the class: the title of the book, the author’s name, the lead sentence, and the type of lead. Comment on students' responses and clarify any misunderstandings.

6. Tell the students, “Now, we are going to practice writing leads.” Display an artwork transparency or a poster of artwork or a calendar page of artwork. (I personally use transparencies of artwork for this activity because I can make the art large enough for the entire class to see. I use the transparencies provided by our textbook publisher. If none are available to you, seek the assistance of your art teacher or start saving used calendars for artwork.

7. Announce: “I want you to pretend that this piece of artwork is your essay. Look at the colors and the actions of the art. Now write two different leads for this “story.”

8. Students compose two leads, and the teacher composes a lead also.

9. When everyone completes the leads, the teacher shares his/her lead and asks for students to volunteer. (Be prepared—I find that once everyone gets comfortable with the activity, everyone wants to share!) Repeat the activity three or four more times.

10. As a transition activity, the teacher redirects the writing of leads to an actual essay. Display an essay on the overhead, with the lead sentence blocked out. Direct the students to listen as the essay is read aloud. (Use an essay composed by one of your students or create a new essay yourself.)

11. Students compose a new lead for the essay, and all leads are shared orally.

12. Start a discussion about the effectiveness of the new leads. Questions to ask may include: Does the lead make you want to read on? What is effective about the lead? What kind of lead is it?

13. Transition to the final assignment. Students are instructed to select a topic from the list provided: sports, hobbies, holidays, friends, heroes, music, dreams, movies/T.V. shows, cartoons, and current events. Students are expected to write a verb/action, quote, summary, question, and a character lead for the selected topic. Each student selects one lead, and he/she writes an introductory paragraph using the selected lead. (See attached file.)

14. Students complete the work.


The class work and final writing activity are assessed separately. I simply give a check grade for creating the leads from artwork during class time. The class work is merely checked for understanding the concept and is a formative assessment.

The final writing activity is assessed a little differently. First, I check the leads that were created for the selected topic. I look to see that the lead matches its label. Secondly, I score the introductory paragraph using the following rubric. Allow students who are having problems to redo the paragraph after listening to good examples and conferring with the teacher.

Rubric for Introductory Paragraph:

4—Very Effective: The lead grabs the reader’s attention by being unexpected. The paragraph is clearly focused on the selected topic. Writing is logical and has few grammar errors.

3—Effective: The lead grabs the reader’s attention.
The paragraph is focused on the topic. Writing is clear and has few grammar errors.

2—Needs Work: The lead does not relate logically to the topic. Paragraph is loosely on topic and may exhibit several grammatical errors.

1—Help: Writing is fragmentary and contains many errors. Writing briefly addresses the topic. The lead is ineffective.

0—Did not attempt work.


I have completed this activity with 8th graders and a high school journalism class. In both instances, I have found that the students have enjoyed the writing. Not only do they love to share their own writing, but they also love to hear what others create. Best of all, this reminds students that writing doesn't always mean that you have to create something big like an essay; sentences and paragraphs are just as important.

Attached Files

The files, LEADS and FINAL LEAD ASSIGNMENT.     File Extension: pdf

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