Reading beautifully crafted sentences is the most effective way for students to become better writers. Combine that with a subject who is compelling to read about (Fred Rogers) and you have an engaging, highly effective lesson on writing and a chance to explore the beauty of humanity.
I've had students tell me this is the single best lesson they had in high school.
For this two-day lesson, you will use Tom Junod's article on Fred Rogers published in Magazine to study the art of narrative technique. In this lesson plan I focus on having students pull out certain phrases or sentences from the article that “pack a punch.” Sentences that make you pause, ponder, or appreciate something in a new way.
After students have a list of these sentences, they consider literary techniques such as repetition, symbolism, imagery, and metaphor. They see how a master writer uses specific techniques to reveal insight and to impact readers.
Last, students are given a chance to practice these techniques as they write a paragraph or poem about an adult who has made an impact on their own life.
This lesson is designed for two 50 minute class periods. Use this at any point in the school year. It’s also a great lesson to use between bigger units, for breaking up fiction reading with a nonfiction piece, or for the beginning of the school year when you want to introduce how students can use these literary elements in their writing.
Use this article to connect to themes and motifs in larger works that you're reading such as heroism, servitude, wisdom, community, risk taking, childhood, and many more.
The article is so provocative it does all the heavy lifting in this lesson! You and your students will feel closer to Fred Rogers and the human race after exploring this article and the writing techniques in it.