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Lesson Plan

Write-Talks: Students Discovering Real Writers, Real Audiences, Real Purposes

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Three 60-minute and two 15-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Amy Alexandra Wilson

Athens, Georgia


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1 (60 minutes)

Session 2 (15 minutes)

Session 3 (15 minutes)

Session 4 (60 minutes)

Session 5 (60 minutes)


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Discover that writing is used in various real-life settings by people who want to accomplish a variety of important purposes by interviewing community members as they share their own writings

  • Reflect on different ways they can apply the writing process for relevant texts they write in their own lives by recording how they can approach different types of personal and professional writing

  • Synthesize what they have learned by comparing and contrasting different writing processes used to compose different types of texts

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Session 1 (60 minutes)

1. Ask students to write for five minutes about a person they admire in their lives. Students should then share their responses in small heterogeneous groups of three or four. Afterward, a few students may share their responses with the whole class.

2. Give each student some index cards and a marker that is different in color from the other students in his or her group. Students should work with their groups to brainstorm the types of writing they think the admirable people they have written about might do or have done in the past. Any type of writing is acceptable including job applications, notes for classes, flyers, lyrics, blog pages, journal entries, invitations, to-do lists, calendar entries, business websites, blueprints, and diagrams of sports plays. You may have to help students get started by sharing a few examples. Every time a student suggests a type of writing, he or she should list it on an individual index card.

3. After students have brainstormed and written their ideas, ask them to do a variety of sorting activities with the index cards, including the following:

  • Arrange the cards from informal to formal. For example, a grocery list or text message might be classified as informal while a wedding invitation might be formal. Afterwards, ask students how texts on one end of the spectrum may require a different writing process than texts on the other end of the spectrum.

  • Arrange the cards into different categories and label the categories. Categories might include the following: business writing, pleasure writing, texts with only words, texts with words and images, digital texts, texts written just for yourself, texts written for other people, and so on.
4. Ask each group to share their index card arrangements with the class, possibly by taping their categories on the board as a string of connected index cards.

5. Ask students what they learned about writing from this activity, making sure to emphasize both the wide variety of types of writing and the commonalities.

6. Explain that, in order to further learn about the writing process, students will have an opportunity to invite people from their communities to share pieces of writing and to answer questions about them. Have students generate a list of questions to ask people about their writing samples and about writing in general. Save the list of questions for future reference. Questions may include the following:

  • Who was your intended audience? How did they respond?

  • How did you use this text to accomplish something in your life?

  • How often do you do this type of writing?

  • Do you have any advice on writing for students in our class?

  • What did you enjoy most about writing this text and why?

  • What was the most difficult part about writing this text and why?

  • Which types of writing do you like the most?

  • Why did you write this?

  • What are other reasons you write?

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Session 2 (15 minutes)

1. Distribute the "Write-Talk" Invitation Letter and read it aloud. Explain that students are going to find people in their communities who write, and they will invite these people to class to give "Write Talks" as a way to learn about different writing processes that go behind different kinds of texts. Point out that you have put the questions students generated during Session 1 on the back; check in with students to see if there are any questions they would like to add.

2. Ask students to take the letters and give them to someone they admire and know uses writing. They can choose any person: scout leaders, relatives, coaches, their friends' parents. Give students a due date to return the letter that is approximately two weeks before the date you have chosen for "Write-Talk" presentations.

Note: Each student should invite at least one person, but they can invite more than one. If more people sign up to give "Write-Talks" than you can accommodate in one session, then you may want to invite them to come the following day or later in the year.

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Session 3 (15 minutes)

Ideally, this session takes place the day before the "Write-Talk" session. Post the questions students generated at the end of Session 1 where students can see them; keep them available through Session 4 as well.

1. Prepare students for the "Write-Talk" session by reminding them of proper etiquette. Encourage them to be active participants and to ask questions, explaining that their questions need not be limited to the interview questions they already generated as a class.

2. Review the Writing in the World handout with students, model how to fill in a box, and ask them if they have any questions.

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Session 4 (60 minutes)

1. As the visitors share, students should complete their Writing in the World handouts.

2. Students ask the visitors any questions they might have. The class-generated list of questions can be used to help spark discussion.

3. Thank each visitor for coming before he or she leaves and be sure to collect your requested copy of his or her writing.

4. At the end of the session hold a whole-class discussion, making sure that students consider the final question on their handout: What trends did you notice as people spoke? Additional questions for discussion include:

  • What things did most people do before and during the writing of their texts to make sure they turned out well?

  • How did the intended audience affect what people did before and during their writing?

  • How did the type of text affect what people did before and during their writing?

  • What similarities did you notice among what people shared? What differences?

  • What types of writing do you envision yourself doing as an adult?

  • What writing strategies could you start to apply to your writing that you are currently not applying?

  • Choose one of the texts and imagine a different audience for it. Would the features of the text be different? Would the writing process for the text be different? If so, how?

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Session 5 (60 minutes)

1. Ask students to think of one real-life text that they currently write or that they can envision themselves writing as an adult. Have students get into pairs, making sure each person in the partnership has chosen a type of text that is different from the other person's.

2. Review the My Own Write-Way Venn Diagram Instructions handout and the My Own Write-Way Evaluation Rubric with students and answer any questions they might have.

3. Have students work with their partners to make a Venn diagram comparing the processes behind their two selected types of writing, based on the questions on the handout. Ask each student to use a different color marker so you can track their contributions. Alternatively, you might ask students to complete their Venn Diagram online. If they work this way, tell them to include their initials as the end of each of their contributions so you can tell their work apart.

4. When students are done, ask them to evaluate their work using the rubric and to make any necessary changes or additions before turning in their diagram and worksheet.

5. Have students create and sign thank you cards for the people who presented.

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  • Rather than inviting people to speak on one day, you can distribute them throughout the school year and schedule each talk according to the genre of writing that you plan to teach for a particular unit.

  • Have students write two different texts for two different audiences, and to write a reflection on the writing processes involved in each.

  • Use the writing samples you collect as part of continuing discussions about writing. For example, if you are teaching a unit about poetry, have students review a poem or song lyric one of the presenters brought in.

  • You can also use the writing samples as part of your curricula to teach critical reading. For example, you may be encouraging your students to make critical inferences about how authors' purposes (such as to persuade) may influence the information included in their texts.

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  • Circulate as groups brainstorm during Session 1 and note the frequency and content of each studentís comments. Note studentsí conceptions of real-life texts by tracking each studentís contributions to the list of index cards.

  • Collect completed Writing in the World handouts. Use them to assess studentsí understanding of the different writing processes necessary for different texts.

  • Assess studentsí Venn diagrams according to the My Own Write-Way Evaluation Rubric.

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