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Editorial voice


This is a lesson about how voice can affect how the audience perceives an editorial. Students will discuss stereotypes of teenagers and how the public perceives the way they talk. After discussing what kinds of words to avoid, and what kind of writing helps the reader take people more seriously, the teacher will explain point of view. Then students will take time to write their editorials.


  • Students will analyze how word choice can affect how someone is perceived.
  • Students will learn how first, second and third person can be used in journalistic writing.
  • Students will write in a formal, objective voice.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1d Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


50 minutes


Slideshow: Point of view

Handout: Word alternatives

Lesson step-by-step

1. Word choice and perception — 15 minutes

Ask students what stereotypes people have of teenagers — how they act, what they think is important, and so forth. Ask students if, as teenagers, they are taken seriously by others. Distribute the word alternatives assignment. Ask what (school-appropriate) words people assume teenagers use, and have them record some of their favorite examples. Discuss multi-generational words people tend not to take seriously (such as slang like “ain’t”). When students have their lists full, discuss more formal word choices or alternatives, and have students come up with more “serious” words on their list. Explain that word choice is like clothing — some words are suit words, some words are sweatpants words (and some words are weird alternatives in between.) It’s not bad to use some informal words, the same way sweatpants aren’t wrong, but wearing them in certain contexts can show a lack or respect or make people take you less seriously. (To take the analogy further, they don’t need to write “fancy.” This isn’t a ball gown and tuxedo situation, but they do need to write in a way that can be taken seriously. They should sound professional.)

2. First, second, third person — 15 minutes

Explain first, second and third person point of view. Stress to students that in editorials they need to use third person or first person plural (“we”).

3. Work on editorials

Provide the remaining class time for students to write their editorials.