Reading for Understanding: Editorials

3 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT recognize (and later utilize) a "universal" organizational pattern for web editorials.

Big Idea

... professional writers follow patterns that students can emulate ...

Introduction and Context

9 minutes

Once again, of course, with the use of professional models ...

This time we will look at published editorials in an effort to understand their purposes, yes, but more their structure ... start with ONE model first and, experience says, do not pick an editorial about an enormous, emotionally charged controversy like abortion or gun control or an editorial about a "teen" issue like legalizing marijuana or raising the drinking age.  It is important for students to focus on the structure of this new controversy rather then be distracted by gauging their own pre-formed opinion against a new source. 


IMPORTANT NOTE: hand out ONE hard-copy of an editorial from a large, national paper.  Feel free to use my cherry-picked list of large, daily-paper websites:

I have found that using a "paper copy" is best for this introductory exercise for reasons I will elaborate upon in the lesson reflection.


For this lesson today, students will read this editorial by Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post.  Ms. Parker is a regular columnist for The Post, and her work is accessible to all readers. In this editorial she uses a great deal of personal background, which lends a certain important bit of pathos to her argument.  

As I read this aloud, students mark their paper copies when we encounter effective uses of first-person, outside (secondary) sources, and figurative language.

Once we have read this editorial slowly and carefully we discuss its meaning AND its use of rhetoric.

Guided Reading

18 minutes

Once students have had an opportunity to "loosely" notate the paper editorial, I share two more that have been annotated.

This first one is about high school football, and the comments, I think, provide an excellent "road map" to the editorial's structure.  We read this together and discuss the remarks along the way ...

This second one is about an ongoing American debate -- the display of Christmas iconography in public places.  It presents, yet another, take on the centuries-old debate regarding the separation of Church and State.  Again, we read this together and discuss as we proceed.

In the next phase of the lesson, students will work with a partner to outline/notate an editorial they have selected.

Reading on Your Own

18 minutes

Now that we have read and discussed three published, professional models for editorials, it is time to establish an understanding of an editorial's structure.  

Students work with a partner and discuss together the following questions.  I give the student pairs several minutes to do so.

  1. What similarities do you see between the three examples?
  2. How do these three writers use ethos, pathos, and/or logos in their arguments?
  3. Do you see a pattern that is demonstrated across the three examples -- that is does there seem to be a common "outline" for writing an editorial?

Working with the same partner, students create a rough outline of writing an editorial on ONE sheet of paper.  They write both names on the sheet, and they submit this to me as a "ticket out" for the period.

After a sufficient bit of time, I share an outline I believe editorial writers could (maybe would?) follow.  This outline will be a helpful resource as students begin to draft your own editorials.