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Lesson Plan

Character Clash: A Minilesson on Paragraphing and Dialogue

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Character Clash: A Minilesson on Paragraphing and Dialogue

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 50 minutes
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Instruction & Activities


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • explore paragraphing conventions for dialogue.

  • examine their own writing closely using a self-editing activity.

  • work toward their own empowerment as writers by correcting their own writing.

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Instruction & Activities

  1. If students need a review of the use of dialogue tags in narrative writing, use the Dialogue Tags guide to outline the way that tags are used and suggest possible revision strategies students can try after this activity.

  2. Distribute the Character Clash Instructions (or share the sheet using an overhead).

  3. Read an overhead or computer-projected copy of the dialogue example with your class. Alternately, you can use a student example (with the student's permission, of course) or a passage from a book you've read recently as a class.

  4. Using the instruction sheet, work through the example text to demonstrate how to complete the activity.

  5. Ask students to choose a narrative or another piece of writing that includes dialogue to examine for paragraphing conventions.

  6. Allow students to work at their own pace, using the instructions and their own text.

  7. Circulate through the room, helping any students who have questions or comments.

  8. Collect the highlighted draft with the revised draft.

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For ideas for other ways to help students to improve their use of dialogue and to easily see the shift in speakers that will need to be represented by paragraphing in their writing, see the collaborative activities described in the essay "Collaborating to Write Dialogue" from the National Writing Project Report.

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  • Kidwatching provides the perfect assessment for this activity. As you circulate throught the room, note which students understand the concepts and which need more practice. Provide on-the-spot help for any students who need more examples or instruction.

  • More formal assessment of the paragraphing of the narrative, if you choose to include it, works best as a part of the assessment of the paper itself.

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