Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Details and Observations IQ or the Eyes Have it

Colleen Starr


After studying Chaucer as a master of details, student partners exercise powers of observation to create a short story linking unrelated details into a logical plot with a clear setting and established characters.


The student determines the main idea and identifies relevant details, methods of development, and their effectiveness in a variety of types of written material.

The student selects and uses appropriate pre-writing strategies, such as brainstorming, graphic organizers, and outlines.

The student drafts and revises writing that: is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation; has an organizational pattern that provides for a logical progression of ideas; has effective use of transitional devices that contribute to a sense of completeness; has support that is substantial, specific, relevant, and concrete; demonstrates a commitment to and involvement with the subject; uses creative writing strategies as appropriate to the purpose of the paper; demonstrates a mature command of language with precision of expression; has varied sentence structure; and has few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

The student produces final documents that have been edited for: correct spelling; correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and common use of semicolons; correct capitalization; correct sentence formation; correct instances of possessives, subject/verb agreement, instances of noun/pronoun agreement, and the intentional use of fragments for effect; and correct formatting that appeals to readers, including appropriate use of a variety of graphics, tables, charts, and illustrations in both standard and innovative forms.

The student organizes information using appropriate systems.

The student writes fluently for a variety of occasions, audiences, and purposes, making appropriate choices regarding style, tone, level of detail, and organization.

The student selects and uses a variety of electronic media (such as the Internet, information services, and desktop-publishing software programs) to create, revise, retrieve, and verify information.

Analyzes the effectiveness of complex elements of plot such as setting, major events, problems, conflicts and resolutions


-Observations Handout (see Associated File for all handouts)
-Details Writing Assignment handout
-Self Evaluation Checklist
-Peer Evaluation Checklist
-Final Grade Sheet
-School computer lab


1. Arrange seats in back to back partner pattern before students enter the room.
2. Make sure enough handouts have been duplicated for each student to have one of each of the three.
3. Be prepared to lead discussion regarding the importance of attention to detail in real world experiences – both for students and for adults. Examine career implications.
4. Secure use of your school’s computer lab if possible for several consecutive days.
5. Monitor computer lab use to make sure students stay on task. Allow for fun, but consistently encourage completion of task at hand.
6. Guide students from phase to phase of this activity allowing for individual differences in completion times.
7. Respect students work by grading it quickly and responding to their creativity as positively as possible.
8. Expect student work to be both age and setting appropriate.
9. Allow student excitement to blossom by taking volunteers for show and tell time.


*Students study Chaucer’s CANTERBURY TALES PROLOGUE with emphasis given to Chaucer’s attention to detail in order to create vivid descriptions and believable characters.
*Students gain an understanding that details add the spice of life in both oral and written communications.
*Students see how attention to detail has real world applications in everyday life.
*Students should have a working knowledge of word processing on your school’s computer program of choice.

1. Before students enter the classroom, arrange the chairs in groups of two so that partners will be seated back to back. No warning should be given about this activity prior to class time.
2. As students enter, ask them to sit anywhere they wish, but they must be seated with a partner. (Seats may be assigned if the teacher feels this would be a more productive arrangement.)
3. Distribute DID YOU NOTICE Handouts to students and ask them to fill out the questionnaire basing answers on the physical appearance and dress of their partners. Partners must respond without looking to determine correct answers. Allow 5-7 minutes for this activity.
4. Ask students to turn around and visually check the answers with their partners. Once comparisons have been made, have students raise hands to indicate evaluation of their own powers of observation.
*All 23 items correct - Extremely Observant (Students are qualified to be inspectors for Fruit of the Loom or could possibly be called upon to diffuse nuclear weapons in the interest of national security)
*18-23 items correct -- Very Observant (Could seek work in some branch of law enforcement or hold some other position in our legal system.)
*13-17 items correct -- Selectively Observant (Never seek a career in inventory control.)
*0-12 items correct -- Rarely Observant (You could be voted the person I least want to be the only witness to a violent crime with me as the victim. You definitely need to hone your observation skills.) Allow 10 - 15 minutes for this activity.
5. Turn the conversation to a more serious note by asking students how attention to detail could be an asset in college or career planning. Ask students to brainstorm as you write a list on the board of possible jobs that require attention to detail. Accept all reasonable answers and ask students to explain how their suggestions require this skill. Develop the list into a chart by adding a column listing possible problems created when observation skills and attention to detail are neglected in each of the careers listed. Allow 5-7 minutes for this discussion. More time may be allowed if students are particularly thoughtful. (Teachers should determine to spend as much or as little time as is necessary for the point to be established in discussion. Discussion may also include benefits and liabilities students face concerning attention to details in situations such as meeting class deadlines, applying for colleges and scholarships, filing tax returns, etc.)
6. Distribute the Creative Writing Assignment Handout. Ask students to follow directions on the handout. They are to write a short story paying careful attention to details. They must use each of the listed unrelated details to create a logical story with a clear setting and characters. (Those students really attentive to detail may notice a repeated item on the list as well as a misspelling.) Tell students that items may be used in any order and in any form as long as the concept remains unchanged. For example, a red sports car may be used as a red Ferrari. All directions must be precisely followed.
7. The first draft of the story is worth 75 points, and students may use the balance of the period to begin writing. First drafts are to be completed by the end of the next class period.

8. Review directions for the assignment, and distribute self/peer evaluation sheets for use later in the period. Go over evaluation instructions and answer any questions. Be sure to explain breakdown of point values as listed.
* First drafts – 75 points
*Final drafts – 100 points
*Self/Peer Evaluations – 75 points
9. Tell students that first drafts, self evaluations, and peer evaluations should be completed by the end of the period. (See attachments for handouts)
10. Take students to a computer lab if your school has one available. Tell partners to work together to compose as they type their stories. Lesson may be modified if computer lab use is not an option.
11. When stories are complete, ask student partners to print two copies and enlist the aid of another set of partners to evaluate their story based on preset criteria. One copy is to be kept by the writers and one copy is for the readers. Stories will be completed at different speeds, so some students may be composing while others are evaluating. Partners have the freedom to work at their own pace as long as these two goals are accomplished during the class period. Some students will be so excited or giggly about their story line that they encourage many others to read their work. Encourage excitement, but keep students on task. This has been an assignment that has generated unparalleled cooperation and excitement every time I’ve used it. In the event that a few students do not finish before the end of the class, completion and evaluation may be completed for homework as long as both jobs are completed before the beginning of the next class.
12. Evaluators must be certain that all items on the list are used somewhere in the story.

13. Return to computer lab if possible for final editing and revising of drafts. Final copies should be ready by the end of the class period today. Students should once again print two copies, one to turn in and one to keep.
14. Final copy packets should include the following items stapled together – final draft, first draft, any prewriting, self evaluation/peer evaluation form. The packet is worth a total of 250 points.
*First draft – 75 points
*Final draft – 100 points
*Self/Peer Evaluation – 75 points
15. Completion of final packets is usually accomplished within 30 – 40 minutes.
16. Inevitably there are at least a few groups who cannot wait to share their stories with the class. Allow sharing by any who wish. As students read aloud their own work, several things happen. They will read with the intended tone and inflection that an author can supply perfectly. They also receive immediate positive feedback from their peers on their prowess as authors. Usually word has spread by this time, and most students have read each other’s work outside of class or are at least somewhat familiar with the stories written by classmates. The self esteem boost is great to watch.
17. Give verbal feedback immediately and have papers graded within two days for written feedback. Return papers to students within two days. Immediate gratification will help create a desire for a subsequent success.


Formative Assessment – observations during partner cooperation of exercise, participation in class discussions, oral reading of stories
Summative Assessment – final packet including all components that meet written directions, successful use of word processing program and printing of finished product


Lesson may be modified if computer lab use is not available. Times allowed for various portions of activities may be altered for various ability levels. This is a good lesson for ESOL students who may be paired with native speakers.
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