Back to School Advice Column Lesson Plan
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Back to School Advice Column Lesson Plan

Students enjoy sharpening writing skills while they create a class advice column for an authentic audience!
Uses Recycled Items: No
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 ArtSkills Jumbo Neon Quick Letters, small

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 20in x 30in x 3/16in Colored Foam Board, small

20in x 30in x 3/16in Colored Foam Board


Material List

  • Writing paper
  • Opinion or Advice column examples from newsprint or web
  • Computer

Project Instructions

Grades: 1-12

Lesson Duration: 1-5 Days

Essential Question(s)


What is advice? How can it be helpful? How can it be hurtful?
What advice can you give to assist someone who is new to a situation that you have already experienced?


  • Students will formulate and convey their opinion in writing
  • Students will prove their opinion with supporting ideas and details
  • Students will identify the meaning of the words advice and opinion
  • Students will contribute a finished writing piece to a collective group work


  • Writing paper
  • Opinion or Advice column examples from newsprint or web
  • Try for younger students
  • Graphic Organizer Appendix A
  • Question starters, Appendix B, optional
  • Writing Rubric  (Search for writing rubric we have created for you at• Dictionary resources (internet or in print)
  • Computer
  • Wiki Space (optional)

In advance, find advice/opinion column examples from newspapers, magazines or websites to share with the students. Copy graphic organizer and make some basic decisions about layout and final presentation of the student advice columns. Copy rubric as needed. Teachers of younger students will need to adapt questioning and some activities to fit age level. Two examples are shown one for K-4th and one for 5th -12th.


Depending on the age of your students, adapt this lesson to fit your needs!

Step 1:

Introduce the lesson by reading a sample advice column submission you have found from a newspaper, magazine or website to the class. Pose the question, “What is advice?”. Elicit student answers and discuss. Share several definitions from dictionary resources. What is an opinion? Elicit student answers and discuss. Share several definitions from dictionary resources. Discuss how these word meanings may be the same or different.

Advice- Guidance or recommendations concerning future actions typically given by someone regarded as authoritative or knowledgeable.
Opinion- judgment formed about something that may or may not be based on fact or knowledge

Explain to the students that together you will be putting together an advice column to share with students who are just beginning the year that they themselves have just finished.

After reviewing the sample advice column, ask students to share the characteristics of the advice column such as, a question asked in the form of a letter, usually a greeting such as, “Dear Miss Manners” and usually signed with an interesting signature such as, “worried in Westerville”. Additionally, the writer of the column answers the letters and closes the letter with an interesting pen name. If you have younger students you may wish to use Appendix B as question starters for your students.

First choose a “name” to go by to answer the letters such as “ Jennifer Jones: Been There Done That” or “Advice you can count on” if you want all students using a similar format or you may just wish to have students sign their name to their own advice response.

Conduct an age appropriate mini lesson on writing an opinion piece explaining the purpose of, formats and characteristics of good writing.

Step 2:

For younger students, use Appendix B and give each child a mock question for them to answer.

For older students, ask them to think of advice they could give those beginning the grade they just finished. So, sixth grade students would think of advice for incoming fifth grade students. Tenth grade students could brainstorm advice for incoming freshman. Students use the provided graphic organizer (Appendix A) to brainstorm advice thoughts and ideas that they might include in their writing. Next they choose the type of advice they’d like to give and create first the question that they will answer.
Students create and write the question. For example, if the student would like to give advice on eating lunch in the cafeteria, her question may look something like, “Dear Been There Done That, I’m a little nervous about eating in the High School cafeteria this year. I’m a freshman and I am not sure what to expect. Will I be able to find my friends when I get there? Signed, Not sure Nina.”

Step 3:

Share rubric with students before they begin writing. Students compose their opinions in the form of answers to the questions. Students edit their work after teacher and peer conferencing. You might try creating a wiki so that students can peer edit and conference with you to finalize their opinions.

Step 4:
Teacher and students work together to input all advice entries into the format of choice. Create a newspaper style look, brochure, or blog. Depending on age of students and technology access, your finished product could take on a variety of forms.

Wrap It Up

Share your finished product with the appropriate audience!

Appendix A

  • When you started ____ grade what were some things that concerned you?
  • What advice would you like to give someone entering ____ grade?

 Appendix B
Question Starters

  • I’m worried I will miss my dog while I’m at school all day. He’s my best friend and I think he’ll be lonely while I’m gone. Signed, Dog Lover
  • My brother says ____ grade is hard and there is a lot of homework. Is that true and how did you keep up with it all? Signed, John
  • My friend is not in my class this year. I miss her so much and I’m afraid she’ll find another best friend. What should I do? Signed, Friendship Worries
  • Can you tell me what your favorite thing to do in ____ grade was? I can’t wait to start! Signed, Excited Ellie
  • What can I expect in _____ grade? I’m looking forward to this new year ahead. Signed, Anxious Annabelle
  • What kinds of things did you do at recess in ____ grade? Recess is my favorite time of the day! Signed, Active in Andersonville

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