Essay Outline Lesson Plans


  • Arts and Humanities
    --Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Special Ed



Brief Description

This fun hands-on activity engages students as they learn about outlining.


Students will
  • learn about outlining.
  • distinguish between main ideas of a topic and supporting details.
  • write an outline in the correct format.


outline, outlining, note taking, notetaking

Materials Needed

  • colored construction paper
  • wipe-off markers

The Lesson

Before the Lesson

Prepare sentence strips in advance. You might laminate four large sheets of colored paper (12 inches by 18 inches) and cut that paper into large strips (e.g., cut each sheet into three strips measuring 4 inches by 18 inches, for a total of 12 strips). Use a wipe-off marker to write

  • three headings (main ideas) and
  • three subheadings (supporting ideas) for each heading
related to a topic on strips of the same color.
For example, for an outline headlined Sports, the first main idea might be Football, and its three supporting ideas would be Superbowl; helmets and shoulder pads; and touchdown. Two more main ideas (e.g., Baseball and Basketball) will each have three subheadings. Mix up the strips and bundle them with a rubber band. Attach a sticky note with the title of the overall topic/subject -- Sports.

In the classroom, push desks to the corners of the room so students will have enough room on the floor to work with the outlines. Place one outline topic with all of its strips -- in random order -- in a stack on a desk near one side of the cleared area. Place the strips for the other outline on another desk on the other side of the cleared area. As students enter the classroom, assign them a number (1 or 2). Direct the 1's to one of the outline areas and the 2's to the other outline. Students will work together as a team to put together the outline.

Using the Activity With Younger Students (Grades 3-4)
For younger students, you might prepare in advance two simple outlines such as the one below. The outlines might be about holidays, units of study, or other topics of interest to students. Create each outline on paper of a different color. For example, the outline below about Fall might be created on orange paper.


Using the Activity With Older Students (Grades 5-up)
For older students, create two outlines based on topics of interest to students or on parts of the textbook related to the current week's lessons. Prepare outline strips similar to those prepared in the younger students' activity above. Provide students with time to piece together the outline. You might let them use their textbooks to help; or they might try first to build the outline on their own, then use the textbook to confirm or change their first impressions.

Additional Topics for Outlines
Following are a few more topics for which you might create outlines for students:
For younger students

  • Sports
  • School Subjects
  • Authors
  • Continents/States
  • Literature Genres
For older students
  • Causes of the Civil War
  • States of Matter
  • Math Vocabulary
  • Presidents of the Depression Era
  • Cities of the World

Extension Activities

  • When each team has completed an outline, they might switch places with the other team and construct the other outline.
  • When the teams have completed both outlines, review them as a class.


Have students transfer the information in their on-the-floor outline to a work sheet with the outline format printed on it.

Submitted By

Jessica Maroney, Armstrong Elementary School in Fayetteville, North Carolina

Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

How-To Writing: Motivating Students to Write for a Real Purpose

It's not easy surviving fourth grade (or third or fifth)! In this lesson, students brainstorm survival tips for future fourth graders and incorporate those tips into an essay.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Exploring Cause and Effect Using Expository Texts About Natural Disasters

Students explore the nature and structure of expository texts that focus on cause and effect and apply what they learned using graphic organizers and writing paragraphs to outline cause-and-effect relationships.


Grades   4 – 7  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

A "Cay"ribbean Island Study

As a pre-reading activity for The Cay, groups of students choose and study a Caribbean island, create a final product in the format of their choice, and finally, do an oral presentation to share information learned.


Grades   3 – 6  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

The Houdini Box: What Did Houdini Hide? Writing Creative Endings

Students are encouraged to understand a book that the teacher reads aloud to create a new ending for it using the writing process.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Developing Citizenship Through Rhetorical Analysis

Students analyze rhetorical strategies in online editorials, building knowledge of strategies and awareness of local and national issues. This lesson teaches students connections between subject, writer, and audience and how rhetorical strategies are used in everyday writing.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Defining Moments: Charting Character Evolution in Lord of the Flies

Savagery, treachery, lost innocence... Lord of the Flies is rife with character development. Use this lesson to help students chart the character changes of Ralph and Jack, both in groups and individually.


Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Persuasion Map

The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.


Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Compare & Contrast Map

The Compare & Contrast Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to organize and outline their ideas for different kinds of comparison essays.


Grades   5 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  December 5

Walt Disney was born in 1901.

Students describe female characters in Disney films, discuss their characteristics, and write a thesis statement about them.


Grades   6 – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Developing Evidence-Based Arguments from Texts

This strategy guide clarifies the difference between persuasion and argumentation, stressing the connection between close reading of text to gather evidence and formation of a strong argumentative claim about text.


Grades   6 – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Teaching With Podcasts

This Strategy Guide describes the processes involved in composing and producing audio files that are published online as podcasts.


Grades   K – 5  |  Strategy Guide

Implementing the Writing Process

This strategy guide explains the writing process and offers practical methods for applying it in your classroom to help students become proficient writers.


Grades   K – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Shared Writing

This strategy guide explains how to use shared writing to teach students effective strategies that will improve their own independent writing ability.


Grades   K – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Write Alouds

This strategy guide explains how to use write-aloud (also known as modeled writing) to teach effective writing strategies and improve students' independent writing ability.


Grades   3 – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Inquiry Charts (I-Charts)

This guide introduces I-Charts, a strategy that enables students to generate meaningful questions about a topic and organize their writing.


0 Thoughts to “Essay Outline Lesson Plans

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *