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Revising to be heard


This is a lesson on revision and literary elements to incorporate into feature writing. Students will share and revise the vignette they wrote in the previous lesson, Writing a vignette. Then, they will review literary elements and incorporate them into their work during the revision process. This is the final lesson on writing vignettes.

For a more in-depth lesson on coaching writers through the revision process, see Coaching writers.


  • Students will be able to critique their own and others’ work.
  • Students will be able to propose suggestions for improvement.
  • Students will be able to explain that literary elements can improve feature writing and provide examples.
  • Students will be able to incorporate literary elements into their own writing for a desired effect.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
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.9-10.2e 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.9-10.2f Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3a Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3b Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3c Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3d Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
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.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
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.


Two 50-minute class periods


Class set: Feature writing vignette rubric

Vignette draft (from previous lesson)

Class set: Literary devices in feature writing

Class set: Scholastic examples (from provided resources)

Note: It is suggested that the teacher select one of the longer human interest or news analysis features to read aloud to students, as these will include more opportunities to find literary devices. However, teacher should select example that best matches students’ abilities. Teacher should avoid choosing profiles, as these will be covered in a later lesson.

Lesson step-by-step

1. Connection — 20 minutes

Distribute sample feature and read aloud to students. While you’re reading, direct students to highlight passages that stand out to them as interesting. Ask students to share what they highlighted and, by a show of hands, ask if anyone else in the class highlighted the same passage.

2. Direct instruction — 20 minutes

Ask why they feel those passages stood out. Explain that writing should be written to be heard, not just read. One way to improve writing is to apply fictional techniques to factual material. Literary techniques such as narrative, description, character development, conflict, suspense, dialogue, word choice, figurative language, interpretation and resolution all enhance feature stories. Using literary devices can also help.

Other techniques writers may use (and students may find in their samples):

Tell their story using scenes. By writing through direct observation and providing solid description, they can put the reader in the scene.

Use full dialogue rather than just quotes and transitions.

Write through a unique point of view (present the scene through the eyes of a participant).

Include everyday details (behavior, friends, family, possessions) to help develop character.

Distribute literary devices handout and review terms aloud with students, making any clarification as necessary.

3. Assignment — 30 minutes

Distribute several feature examples to students, one per student, but provide a variety to match reading abilities and allow for greater class discussion. Ask students to find three examples of literary devices in their assigned piece. Have students share the examples they find (share several, not all), and correct any misunderstandings/misidentifications.

4. Connection and revision — 30 minutes plus additional revision time as needed

Ask students to look again at their feature writing vignette rubric. How can literary devices and techniques move a writer up the scale on that rubric?

Share student vignettes aloud (not all – just some – these were finished either for homework or during previous class time). After each piece, ask each writer what he/she would do to make it better. Encourage all students to make constructive suggestions. Give students time to revise before handing in their work for teacher evaluation.