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Composition for alignment and space


Students will create a composition to demonstrate principles of alignment and space. Based on what they learned about pixels, points and picas as well as aligning elements using x- and y- coordinates, students will use graphing paper to lay out certain elements according to instructions, similar to a puzzle trying to fit pieces together.

There is also a middle school version of this lesson.


  • Students can apply knowledge of pixels, points, and picas as units of measurement.
  • Students can apply picas and points by drawing shapes of specified dimensions.
  • Students can demonstrate knowledge of x- and y- coordinates by placing and aligning components on a spread.
  • Students can draw and place shapes on blue graphic paper or using desktop publishing software based on preset dimensions and requirements.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA.Literacy.W-9-10.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of a subject.
CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
CCSS.ELA.Literacy. L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.


120 minutes


Handout: Putting the puzzle together

Blue Graphing Design Paper or Computer Software such as InDesign or Photoshop


Colored Pencils


Calculators (when specified)

Lesson step-by-step

1. Connect to prior knowledge — 10 minutes

Previously, students were assigned homework to find advertisements demonstrating misalignment. Students will mark the portions of their advertisements that are misaligned or disproportional. Students will submit the marked advertisement for a grade.

2. Guided/independent/group practice — 90 minutes

Distribute the Putting the Puzzle Together worksheet. Students will complete a composition from scratch using a list of components provided on the handout. The handout includes components to fit the needs of a staff or program: newspaper, online news site, magazine or yearbook. Based on the type of publication tied to the class or your preference, specify which items on the list students must include. Students may add components to a composition but must include the minimum requirements. Each component from the list needs to be labeled according to the handout, and additional elements need to be labeled with x- and y- coordinates as well as width and height dimensions as picas and points. Use the rubric provided to evaluate the composition.

3. Closure — 20 minutes

After turning in the completed assignment, students will discuss difficulties they had in fitting all the components together, or filling in the usable space around the required elements.


0 points 10 points 20 points
Required components Composition is missing most of the required components listed in Handout 1.4a. and most of the usable space is unfilled. Composition contains most of the required components listed in Handout 1.4a. and usable space is mostly filled. Composition contains all of the required components listed in Handout 1.4a. and all usable space is filled. ____ / 20
Labels None of the components are labeled as instructed. Some of the components are not labeled as instructed or are not labeled correctly. All components are labeled as instructed and are labeled correctly. ____ / 20
Alignment and placement Components are not aligned with each other and are not proportional with each other. Components are somewhat aligned with each other and are mostly proportional with each other. Components are properly aligned with each other and are proportional. ____ / 20
Total points ____ / 60