Table of Contents

Unit 2: Planning Lessons for Informational and Argument Writing

2.1.2 Planning a Writing Lesson

Let’s begin by using the following scenario for a CCSS writing lesson. To take the first step in lesson planning, let’s apply what you learned in Unit 1 to the following scenario:

What does it mean to be an upstander? In a genre of your choosing, share an example of an upstander. The upstander you choose to write about can be historic, public, or personal. Illustrate how and why this person is an upstander by using current or past events. Explain how the events and the person have served as a call to action to you, the writer.

The Upstanders, Not Bystanders prompt creates a shared teaching scenario for the lesson planning activities of this section of Unit 2. This topic is applicable across K–12, is adaptable for English learners and students with disabilities, and can draw on reading print or digital texts from history, current events, or literature. The activity embeds the need for students to research and use information and evidence from those texts, and can result in either informational or argument writing, depending on how teachers tailor the prompt for their students and their curriculum.

Working definition of upstander: An individual, group, or institution that chooses to take a positive stand and act on behalf of themselves and others (Facing History and Ourselves, 2012).

Working definition of bystander: An individual, a group, or institution that observes or knows about a problem such as bullying or discrimination and chooses not to help or act on behalf of those who are affected by the problem.

Time to Try

Select each link below to view questions that are designed to help you think about the writing topic and its connection to your students and the CCSS. Answers to these questions will vary widely across grade levels and teaching contexts.

Writing Topic

Content and Context

Writing Text Types and Genre


Do not be concerned if there are questions you are not sure about yet. Keep thinking as you move through the activities in this unit, and use the Lesson Planning Template to capture your evolving ideas about lesson possibilities for your students.

Important Takeaway: You have just applied much of what you learned in Unit 1. Through your thinking, you are beginning to develop the writing situation — task, purpose, audience, text type, genre — for your own Upstanders, Not Bystanders lesson. If you need to remind yourself of how often these terms occur in the CCSS, re-read the writing standards for your grade level and note where these terms appear.

Remember, too, that the CCSS does not name writing applications or genres for teachers by grade level. Developing the writing situation and targeting a writing genre are the first steps of planning lessons that address the Common Core writing standards. Through your thinking you have also addressed the first two recommendations for lesson planning.