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Lesson: What’s In The Middle Of Your Profile?


What’s In The Middle Of Your Profile?


A lesson on how to structure the middle of a profile


Students will learn how to organize the middle of a personality profile and heighten readability.


  • Students will analyze a variety of profiles and explain what strengths/weaknesses are evident and what the author did to make personality shine through.
  • Students will be able to explain, orally or in writing, revision techniques specific to profile writing and how they can improve their own piece.
  • Students will apply revision techniques to their own work.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2a Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2b Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2c Use appropriate and varied transitions to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grades 9–10 here.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills — Student Outcomes

Skills P21 outcomes
Communication & collaboration; critical thinking & problem solving Evaluating own and others’ work using criteria on a rubric
Critical thinking & problem solving Reading critically and critiquing own and others’ work
Critical thinking & problem solving; initiative & self-direction; productivity & follow-through Revising own work and submitting final copy
Communication & collaboration; critical thinking & problem solving Evaluating own and others’ work using criteria on a rubric


Two 50-minute periods


Class set: Profile Rubric

Profile draft (assigned in previous lesson)

Profile examples from previous lessons

Literary devices/techniques handout

Lesson step-by-step

1. Connection — 10 minutes

Review the last workshop experience (on features) by eliciting responses:

What is one thing you remember from your feature writing experience about feature ledes?

What do you remember about feature endings?

Briefly review the importance of strong ledes and endings, then shift the focus to today’s lesson: the middle of the profile.

2. Direct instruction & exploration — 30 minutes

The middle of a profile needs to be carefully constructed. In addition to facts, you must build in descriptions, explanations, anecdotes and quotes to give your reader A sense of what the person is really like. Character must shine through.

Explore one of the profiles provided with supplementary materials (see master list). Have students work independently or in pairs. Divide profiles among pairs or individuals so each has 4-5 to work with and each piece is being analyzed by more than one person/pair in the class. Students should skim and label the examples, looking for what makes the profile relatable, shows the individuals’ unique traits and lets character shine through at a personal level.

3. Discussion — 10 minutes

Go through each feature, asking those who analyzed each to comment on the following:

  • What made the story interesting?
  • What do you wish had been included?
  • How did that organization serve to support theme or topic?
  • What details provided an insight into the subject’s character?
  • What could the author have done to improve the piece?

4. Direct instruction & exploration — 15 minutes
Go back over your first draft with your notes and transcripts and consider the following.

  • What quotes should you add?
  • What details have you forgotten?
  • Do you have side-notes or alternate sources that would add to the profile?

Add them all in.

Then reread again and check for your own voice. Is it strong and sure? Does the story have good flow? Is it interesting? How can you make it better?

Your profile is now probably too long, but it’s got everything you think is interesting. Now you have to begin cutting. Remember, nothing is sacred. Consider the following:

  • If you’re beginning with an anecdotal lede, read it carefully to be sure it’s tight, bright and on point.
  • Does the biographical paragraph (usually the nutgraf) wander to much or just say what’s essential? Are you trying to tell too much? If so, you may need to cut or condense whole sections.
  • End on a strong note. Sometimes this can be the toughest part of a profile. Consider letting the source have the last word (end on a strong quote) or going the circular route (returning to the opening anecdote or scene). Other options include answering the question you started with or ending with a different anecdote.

5. Assignment — 40 minutes

Students should continue working on their profiles.

6. Exit ticket — 5 minutes

Report out: What did you learn about profiles in the past two days that you applied to your feature? What did you do with your story, and how has what you learned helped you? Be specific.