Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Outlining for Beginners

Kim Forgione


Students learn the standard form of an outline, practice categorizing information, and create a simple outline.


The student organizes information using alphabetical and numerical systems.


-Warm-Up activity (See file.)
-Example outline (See file.)
-Copy of Student Practice Activity (See file.)
-Overhead, chalkboard, white board or chart paper


1) Make a transparency of the Warm-Up activity and example outline OR make copies for each student OR copy Warm-Up activity and example outline on board or chart paper.
2) Make student copies of the Student Practice Activity page.


1) Write the word -outline- on the board. Ask students what they may already know about an outline.
2) Inform them that an outline is a special way to organize information.
3) Show the example outline and label or describe each part as you discuss with students the terms -major topics,- -subtopics,- and -sub-subtopics.- Alert them to the placement and alignment of each part. The major topics use Roman numerals and are lined up throughout the outline. The subtopics are identified by capital letters and are lined up, and the sub-subtopics are noted with Arabic numerals and are lined up, too.
4) Tell students the skill of outlining depends on how well they can group related ideas. Introduce the Warm-Up activity and record student answers on the board, overhead, or chart paper as they decide how to group the words into two categories.
5) Address any questions or comments students may have about the Warm-Up activity before moving on to the next step.
6) Provide each student a copy of the Student Practice Activity. Decide as a whole group which three words name the categories and complete the list for the first category together.
7) Create an outline of the first category together using the example outline.
8) Instruct students to group the remaining words into the next two categories and create outlines for the two categories using the example.
9) Assist students as needed to complete the practice outlines.
10) Collect the students' completed outlines for assessment.


The Student Practice Activity pages will be evaluated to assess whether students understand and are able to correctly categorize and outline information. Students having difficulty categorizing and using the proper outline format should receive further instruction and practice. Students who successfully categorize and outline the information should receive more practice and then begin to outline paragraphs from text. Since this is an introductory lesson for this skill, assessment of the Student Practice Activity page should be for the purpose of planning for future instruction. Students should be able to complete the practice outline with 80% accuracy. Those who are unable to do so may need one-on-one instruction. Continue assigning outlining activites throughout the year and assign a grade to one or more of the activities only after students have had several opportunities to practice this skill.


Students with special needs may need an outline form that can be used where they fill in the proper information in the correct place on the outline. In other words, put in the Roman numerals, capital letters, and Arabic numerals needed for the information, and have the student put the information where it should go on the outline.
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