Lesson at a Glance

Students learn the role of an engaging opening and introduction in a successful editorial. Using the teacher model and mentor text for guidance, students plan and draft their own opening sentence and powerful introductory paragraph for their pieces of writing.

Prep & Tech

Technology: LCD projector, laptop, Internet access or Writing Editorials CD, student computers with Internet access
Other Materials: Student folders, writer’s notebooks, your Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a),
research notes and draft for teacher model

Limited Tech Options

If there is no access to the technology needed for this lesson, try the following options:

  1. Mini Lesson: Instead of using a computer/LCD projector to model writing a conclusion, use chart paper. If there are no student computers available, show JT’s Think Aloud: Draft Your Introduction during the mini lesson with speakers instead of asking students to watch it during Writer’s Work Time.
  2. Writer’s Work Time: Instead of instructing students to type their drafts in a word processing document, instruct them to handwrite their drafts. Be sure to allot time for students to type their drafts before it is time to publish their editorials.


Students will execute strategies for engaging their readers in the opening sentence and introductory paragraph of their editorials.

Focusing Question

How can you craft an introduction that grabs the audience’s attention?

Mini Lesson (15 min)

Show the lesson visuals, Draft Your Introduction.

Explain to students that the purpose of today’s lesson is to plan a compelling introduction to their editorials. Tell students that now that they have completed their research and organized their arguments, they need to decide how they can draw in their audiences.

Review a familiar text from the Editorials Packet, such as “Dying Young” or select another mentor text with an engaging opening from Prof. P’s Office. Point out the ways in which this editorial hooks the audience in the first few sentences by using a personal story to appeal to the emotions of the reader. Review ways to engage the audience by beginning with: an interesting question, an emotional personal example/story, or a surprising quotation, statistic, or fact.

Model planning the introduction to your editorial in Section A of your Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a) by including an engaging opening and any necessary background information. Explain how you will now use this information to craft your introduction paragraph as part of your editorial draft.

If time permits, have students refer to the other mentor texts they have used previously to determine what aspects of the introductions appeal to them as readers. Ask one or two students to share specific examples with the full class. Then have students identify the background information that is presented in the mentor text.

Ask students to complete Section A of their Editorial Organizers (Handout 3.1a) and then incorporate their introductory information into their typed editorial drafts.

Teacher Model

  1. Using a computer and LCD projector, show the Introduction section of your Editorial Organizer to begin planning your introduction.
  2. Think aloud about possible ways to engage your audience in your introductory sentences – with a story, a question, a surprising fact, quotation or statistic.
  3. Choose and record your ideas in the first two boxes of the organizer.
  4. Consider any background information your audience will need to put your editorial in context. Ask:
    1. Have I explained what my issue is?
    2. Does my audience have enough knowledge to understand the issue?
    3. Have I explained why this issue is important to my audience and to me?
  5. Record the background information on the organizer and make the appropriate adjustments to your opening sentences.
  6. Open your draft and incorporate the information from your organizer to your typed draft, making sure to include your opinion statement as the last sentence.
  7. Demonstrate how you resave your document and resubmit it to Step 4 of the Online Classroom in the activity called, Submit Your First Draft Editorial.


I’ve decided to use a personal story to start my introduction because I want my audience to know what the subway is really like. I’ll start by writing:

I am edging onto the subway, one of many people each hoping to get a spot in an already crowded car. I manage to get my fingertips on the metal pole, just enough to keep my balance. Once everybody has packed in, one person’s arm in resting on my shoulder. Somebody else’s backpack is poking me in the ribs, and at least three other people are pressed against my back and side. Oh, and don’t forget the unshowered guy who has his armpit in my face.

That’s engaging, but I now need to add some background information to make absolutely sure my audience knows what I am talking about. I want to clarify the issue so that everyone can understand my editorial, whether or not they ride the subway. I’ll add:

This is the B train at rush hour, just one of New York City’s overcrowded subway trains. More than five million people ride the NYC subway every day. Most subway cars are designed to seat 44 people but at rush hour, it is not unusual for 200 or more to be jammed onto each car. For many of us, our commute is the worst part of our day.

I’m going to wrap up my introduction with my opinion statement: The New York City Transit Authority should be required to run more trains to reduce the overcrowding problem on the NYC subways.

Preparing for Writer’s Work Time

Distribute computers. Ask students to:

  1. Go to Step 4 of the Online Classroom, and watch JT’s Think Aloud: Draft Your Introduction.
  2. Choose a strategy for engaging their audience in their first sentences such as a:
    1. story
    2. question
    3. surprising fact
    4. quotation
    5. statistic.
  3. Write a few sentences on their organizer using their selected strategy.
  4. Add background information. Ask themselves:
    1. Have I explained what my issue is?
    2. Does my audience have enough knowledge to understand the issue?
    3. Have I explained why this issue is important to my audience and me?
  5. Retrieve their drafts from the Online Classroom and save them with a new date to a specified location.
  6. In their drafts:
    1. Type an opening paragraph based on the information in their organizers.
    2. Use their opinion statement as the last sentence of their introduction.
  7. Resave their documents and resubmit them to Step 4 of the Online Classroom in the activity called, Submit Your First Draft Editorial.

Writer’s Work Time (25 min)

Students work individually to complete the Introduction section of their Editorial Organizers (Handout 3.1a) and draft their opening paragraphs on computers. They should include engaging opening sentences accompanied by background information and their opinion statements. Circulate among students, checking to see that they have identified background information that is appropriate for their audience. When there are five minutes remaining in Writer’s Work Time, students should resave their documents and submit them in Step 4 of the Online Classroom to the assignment Submit Your First Draft Editorial.

Individual conferences: Guide students in developing powerful opening sentences by showing
examples of effective opening sentences. Ask students to use one aspect of an example you provided in their own work. Encourage them to try to hook you into their editorial by trying out some options for engaging openings during the conference.

Differentiated Instruction Strategies

  1. Difficulty choosing an engaging opening strategy? Encourage students to test multiple ideas by writing down a few options using more than one approach – story, question, etc. Help students choose the one that seems most interesting for the target audience.
  2. Struggling to write? Form a guided writing group in which students can help one another develop introductions for their editorials. Students can take turns focusing on one another’s opening sentences.
  3. Ready for more? Students can do additional research to see if they can find evidence that is even more compelling than what they already have. Encourage students to also visit the Study Center for additional writing activities such as the Editorial Feedback Forum.

Sharing and Lesson Summary (5 min)

Reconvene the class and allow students to share their introductions with peers. Students should give each other one piece of positive feedback and a suggestion for strengthening their introduction based on the criteria of the rubric.


Review students’ introductory paragraphs and check to make sure each paragraph has an engaging opening, any necessary explanatory information, and a clear opinion statement. Use the Teacher’s Checklist to identify what students have completed to this point.

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