Informative Writing Unit: The Photo Essay - Digital

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  • Google Apps™
220 slides + 32 pages + 7 videos
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Includes Google Apps™
The Teacher-Author indicated this resource includes assets from Google Workspace (e.g. docs, slides, etc.).


Looking for a way to meaningfully cover ALL the informative writing standards while also engaging students in the writing process? Enter the photo essay! This informative writing unit takes students on a deep dive as they write about a topic that interests them. They may choose to write about their own lives, a social issue they believe in, or a research question that sparks their curiosity.

Aligned with middle and high school informative writing standards, this informative writing unit takes approximately three to four weeks to complete. A suggested pacing guide is included, but your students may need more or less time, depending on how long their essay will be, the length of your class periods, and their readiness levels.

Because this informative writing unit is, specifically, a photo essay, students will be able to take their own pictures or use ethical image research practices to cite fair use photographs from the web. An MLA reference page and quick tutorial are included.

What is a photo essay?

In photojournalism, photo essays are used in place of words to tell a story or convey information. In this ACADEMIC photo essay, students will use images and multimedia to enhance the message of their informative essay, clarifying meaning to aid in comprehension for the audience.


  • Suggested pacing guide
  • PDF download that contains a note for teachers and all the digital links
  • Introduction to informative writing lesson, video, and activity
  • Descriptive writing lesson, video, and activity
  • What is a photo essay? handout
  • Types of photo essays handout
  • Introduction paragraph video lesson
  • Introduction paragraph brainstorming graphic organizer
  • Introduction paragraph rough draft Google Slides
  • Example introduction paragraph
  • Body paragraphs video lesson
  • Body paragraph brainstorming graphic organizer
  • Body paragraph rough draft Google Slides
  • Example body paragraphs
  • Conclusion paragraph video lesson
  • Conclusion paragraph brainstorming graphic organizer
  • Conclusion paragraph rough draft Google Slides
  • Example conclusion paragraph
  • Photo essay final draft template on Google Slides
  • Editable teacher rubric on Google Slides
  • Editable student self-assessment on Google Slides
  • MLA citation format for Works Cited page
  • 2 examples of photo essays

This unit does include some MLA tips, modeling, and examples. However, if citing research is new to your students or if they need more than a refresher, you will want to supplement with targeted MLA lessons.

Please open the preview for this resource for more specific details.


This resource is created for Google Drive™. Google Docs and Google Slides are included. Some of the handouts are included both as Google Drive documents and PDF files. You can use this resource easily with both face to face and remote learning.

A few of the files included are editable, like the rubric, student self-assessment, and one of the example essays. Most of this resource is created so that students can type onto templates. Those are not editable.


The video lessons in this unit are created for descriptive writing organization. However, to challenge students who are ready for the next level, or just to hit a different type of informative writing, you can also use this unit to write in cause and effect and problem and solution formats.

Photos are inspiring! I hope this informational writing unit entices your writers to engage in thoughtful responses that will help you get to know them better and identify areas of strength and those for growth.

Questions? I'd be happy to help. Just drop me a note through Q & A.

Looking for other unique writing activities for your class? Find these popular writing units in my store.

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And more here!

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Total Pages
220 slides + 32 pages + 7 videos
Answer Key
Does not apply
Teaching Duration
1 month
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.


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