Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Hands On Essays

Monica McManus


Students relate the concept of individuality of geometric shapes to the individuality of topic sentences. Students write and revise a persuasive argument essay using the Florida Writes Rubric.


The student organizes information before writing according to the type and purpose of writing.

The student drafts and revises writing that -is focused, purposeful, reflects insight into the writing situation;-conveys a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the main idea;-has an organizational pattern that provide for a logical progression of ideas;-has support that is substantial, specific, revelant, concrete, and/or illustrative;-demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject;-has clarity in presentation of ideas;uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the purpose of the paper;demonstrates a command of language (word choice) with freshness of expression;has varied sentence structure and sentences that are complete except when fragments are used and purposefully; andhas few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation.

The student produces final documents that have been edited for-correct spelling;-correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and semicolons;-correct common usage, including subject/verb agreement, common noun/pronoun agreement, common possessive forms, and with a variety of sentence structures,including parallel structure; and-correct formatting.


-Transparency of Scenario and Prompt (See Procedure)
-Overhead projector
-Construction paper
-Florida Writes Rubric (see attached file)


1. Write the scenario and prompt on a transparency.
2. Cut construction paper into large circles, triangles, and squares.
3. Photocopy the Florida Writes Rubric for each student.


Students will be able to focus on the topic when writing a persuasive essay.

Authentic Context:
You are helping a third grade teacher who is introducing the concept of how to write an essay to the students. The students are capable of writing complete and complex sentences, but they have difficulty staying focused on a topic sentence. Your job is to help the teacher develop a method to keep the students focused.

1. Brainstorm with the students what the term “best pet” means to them. Write student responses on the board.
2. Display the transparency of the following scenario and prompt on the overhead.

Milka lives inside a small apartment. She shares her room with her younger sister.
Milka’s parents promised to reward her if she improved her grades in math. Milka just received her report card and she received an A in math! She really wants a pet, but she knows that because they live in a small apartment, not all pets are suitable.

You are to write a persuasive essay about what pet is the most suitable for Milka. You are to write at least three reasons why she should get the pet you will recommend for her.

3. Have students write down several reasons for purchasing the pet that they recommend. Tell the students to circle the reason they would use first in a persuasive argument; place a triangle around the reason they would use second; and a square around the reason they would use third. These three reasons will become the topic sentences of the essay they will write.
4. Distribute a circle, triangle, and square to each student. The shapes should be large enough on which to write at least five complete sentences.
5. The students write the topic sentence and supporting details on each shape. Discuss with the students that each of the three different shapes must maintain the characteristics of the shape. The characteristics of a circle are not those of a triangle or square. When writing a reason on the circle, maintain the topic written on the circle; do not refer to the reason written on the triangle or square. There should be only one reason and supporting details on each shape. The object of this exercise is for the students to visualize and focus on each separate topic by associating the individuality of the topic with the individuality of each shape.
6. Students use the sentences written on the shapes as their drafts of the essay. After the students revise the drafts, they will be able to write their three main paragraphs. The introduction and conclusion of the essay should be introduced later.
7. Students use the Florida Writes Rubric to check their essay and further revise it.
8. Have students glue their shapes on a sheet of paper and read their recommendations for a pet for Milka.
9. Display these recommendations around the classroom.


The persuasive essay should be assessed using the Florida Writes Rubric provided in the attached file.

Self Reflection:
Why do you think it is important to consider the pros and cons of a situation? How does this kind of thinking help you write a persuasive essay?

Attached Files

The Florida Writes Rubric used for the FCAT Writing Assessment.     File Extension: pdf

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