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Winning Lesson Plan

Opinion Articles

Subject: Current Events, Technology
Grade: 6-8

Brief Description

Students research opinion pages and create documents in newspaper-style column format.



  • research information on assigned topics
  • formulate opinions about current topics
  • combine the research and opinion into word processing documents
  • type the research and opinion into word processing documents
  • format the text into columns
  • use spell check.
  • insert a header that includes the name of the article
  • insert a graphic into the body of the text.


article, current events, history, newspaper, opinion, research, writing

Materials Needed

  • computers with word processing software
  • current news topics related to previous or upcoming studies
  • newspaper opinion articles
  • resources for research

Lesson Plan

Pre-Lesson Activity

  • Gather newspaper articles or newspaper Web sites about current topics, such as USA Today.
  • Show samples of opinion columns.
  • Discuss what kinds of items writers include in opinion articles.
  • Review general typing skills and the basics of the computer application that students are going to use, such as Open and Save.

Lesson Activities

  • Assign current news topics. Give students time to research information and form opinions about the topics.
  • Hold classroom discussions about the assigned current news topics.
  • Go through the writing process students will use to create their first drafts. Some teachers may allow originals to be done on the computer, and others may require that students write out their rough drafts.
  • Have students enter their drafts into a word processing document. They should choose the regular format. They will format the header and columns after completing the body of the article.
  • Tell students to use the spelling and grammar check to correct spelling and grammatical errors.
  • If students are using Microsoft Word, ask them to follow the directions below. If they use another word processing program, they should follow the directions for that program to create the document.
    1. Format the text to include a header. In Word, choose View, then Header and Footer. Type in the title and the author's name. Format text to center aligned, size 24, Times New Roman font, Bold. (These specifics can be changed; however, it is easier to give specific characteristics for grading the papers.)
    2. To format the text into columns, choose Format, then Columns. In the dialog box, choose two columns. Click OK.
    3. When the text is formatted and the header is complete, insert graphics; the words will wrap around them.
    4. Choose Insert, then Picture for inserting clip art. Choose graphics that correlate with topics. Once the clip art is chosen, click Insert.
    5. To position the clip art in the desired spot, click on the clip art until the image has boxes at each corner. When the boxes appear, move the mouse around so that the mouse pointer turns into a four-edged arrow. Click and hold the picture to drag it to the desired spot in the text. The text should move around the image.
    6. To make changes to the picture, right click on the menu bar and turn the picture toolbar on. The toolbar can now be used to manipulate the image and the text wrapped around it.
    7. Give the document a final check and print it. Find a partner to revise and peer edit the text.
    8. Save the file to disk by choosing File, then Save.
    9. Print a final copy to submit for grading.


    Create a rubric or check sheet to assess specific criteria you have established for the documents. For example, a check sheet could consist of yes-no selections to which you assign point values.

    1. Times New Roman font: (1 point)
    2. Size 24: (1 point)
    3. Text formatted into two columns: (1 point)
    4. Spelling errors (1 point)
    5. The research supported the opinion: (20 points)
      (Number 5 would be subjective.)

    Teacher Suggestion
    Some team teachers may want to collaborate on this lesson. Students could receive grades for English, history, computers, etc.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Submitted By

    Lisa Nash, Hunter Elementary School, Brownstown, Michigan

    The submitter of our highlighted lesson received a $50 honorarium. See our guidelines to submit your lesson plan!

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