Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Tree Brains

Linda Doty
Bay District Schools


Do you want your students to have fun and learn at the same time? Why not try hanging their brains out on trees? This lesson will teach students to pre-write using graphic organizers, checklist, and a rubric.


The student uses a prewriting strategy suitable for the task (for example, brainstorming, using a graphic organizer, listing ideas).


-Paper and pencil (one for each student)
-Blackboard and markers
-Checklist (see attached file) one for each
-Rubric (see attached file) one for each
-Graphic organizer (see attached file) one for each student
-Overhead projector


1. Print all needed forms, one for each student.
2. Develop a checklist or use the one provided.
3. Develop a rubric or use the one provided.
4. Develop a graphic organizer or use the one provided.
5. Make overheads of the graphic organizer, checklist, and rubric.
6. Prepare a list of topics for students to use in the exercise. Examples are: favorite movie, sports, what to be when you grow up, or favorite heros.


1. State 'Now is the time to put our minds in gear!'

2. Discuss that the first part of writing is the thinking process. Say " Writing has several steps. One of these is prewriting."

3. Explain what brainstorming means. Say, "Brainstorming is coming up with ideas before you begin writing."

4. Give examples using topics such as favorite candy, pets, or snacks.

5. Allow students to name some of their favorites.

6. List them on the board.

7. Give a verbal demonstration of how their lists can be combined to make up a paragraph. Say, "We can take these ideas and form a paragraph. Using the brainstorming that you did on "pets", we can create this paragraph.........(make up one using their ideas, use descriptive words with their nouns)."

8. Ask "Does everyone understand how to do this?" Answer any questions.

9. Reinforce that they can do this too. Say, "You can do this with a little practice."

10. Say "I will guide you through the process step by step."

11. Pair the students into small groups.

12. Pair them so you have high and low achievers in each group.

13. Provide each student with a copy of the graphic organizer they are to use for the assignment.

14. Provide them with a topic for their first brainstorming project. (example: favorite pets, sports or movie)

15. Say "You will write your chosen topic on the top line of the paper."

16. Say, "Now you will need to divide your paper under this into three columns."

17. Say, "Under each column write a noun to go with your topic."

18. Say, "You will need to underline this word."

19. Say, "Now you will list descriptive words of each subtopic in the appropriate columns."

20. Give them about 10 minutes to do this.

21. Circulate and guide the groups that need help.

22. Praise the students that are working as directed.

23. Say, "Everyone, please stop what you are doing and look at me."

24. Pass out copies of the graphic organizers that you have prepared.

25. Say "Now, write the topic you are using on the base of your tree trunk."

26. Check students for understanding of directions presented.

27. Say, "Now write each of your nouns (the top word they wrote on each column) on a separate branch of the tree."

28. Say, "Fill in the leaves of each branch with the descriptive words you listed in each column."

29. Check to see that they paired the correct nouns and adjectives.

30. Choose random students and create verbal paragraphs from their charts.

31. Pass out copies of the checklist and the rubric.

32. Say, "This is what I will be using to assess your paper."

33. Have them to return their attention to their groups and practice repeating the lesson using another provided topic.

34. Have each student peer edit someone in the group.

35. Pass the checklist and rubric to the student you assessed.

36. Discuss the reviews.

37. Have them to label their lists, checklists, rubrics and charts and turn them in to you.


The student will participate in group brainstorming to compile a list of ideas and will complete a chart using the selected graphic organizer to record information needed for his/her report.
Note: This assessment instructs on the thoughts and processing prior to writing a paper. The actual writing will not be covered in this lesson.
-Use checklist provided for assessing group activity.
-Use rubric provided for assessing individual graphic organizer part (tree) of assignment.


This lesson can be broken down over several days if needed. The first day can be brainstorming only. The second day can be applying the work from the previous day to a graphic organizer. The last day could be working with checklist and rubrics to self or peer grade work.

For ESE students word banks can be provided.
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