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Lesson Plan

Ghosts and Fear in Language Arts: Exploring the Ways Writers Scare Readers

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Ghosts and Fear in Language Arts: Exploring the Ways Writers Scare Readers

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



What is scary, and why does it fascinate us? How do writers and storytellers scare us? This lesson plan invites students to answer these questions by exploring their own scary stories and scary short stories and books. The lesson culminates in a Fright Fair, where students share scary projects that they have created, including posters, multimedia projects, and creative writing.

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In teaching writing, we are always looking for interesting ways to help our students look at the effect writing has on a reader and how that effect is created. What better way to do this than through a lesson where the content focuses on the scary, while the skills focus on helping students find ways to improve their writing?

While exploring the ways that writers scare readers, this lesson plan subtly introduces basic audience awareness. In writing narratives, writers must work to imagine the reader and fit the story to the reader's questions and interests. This lesson plan brings the reader's needs into focus by talking about how a writer can scare a reader. Without mentioning the term audience awareness, then, the teacher can invite students to be explicitly aware of their audience.

Further Reading

Adapted from: Mitchell, Diana. "Ghosts and Fear in Language Arts." English Journal 86.6 (October 1997): 96-99.

Read more about this resource


Strange, Rebecca L. "Audience Awareness: When and How Does It Develop?" Eric Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication Digest #29. (October 1988).

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