Lesson 4
Take Action - Writing Persuasively

Planning a Commentary:
Determining Opinion & Tone


After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Experiment using various tones and craft moves


Students make initial plans for their commentary, determining a statement of opinion, and selecting a tone before making an outline for the piece.

Guiding Questions:

  • How can making some decisions about opinion and tone help us prepare to write our commentaries?

Recommended Time:

45 - 90 minutes

Common Core State Standards:




Commentary packet that contains the following:

  1. Reading/Research: Writing Commentaries Handout
  2. Copies of the following commentaries and/or appropriate substitutes:

“Starve, Get Aid, Repeat”  by Craig and Marc Kielburger
“Put Your Money Where Your Mouths Are”  by Nick Kristof
“Kyleigh’s Law’ is not the Answer for Connecticut’s Young Drivers”  by Brian Koonz


Technology Required:



Lesson Design:

  • Explain that commentary writers, like writers of all genres, make some decisions before drafting.
  • By the end of class, students will be required to turn-in an index card with their name, the topic for their commentary, and a statement that clearly expresses their opinion about the topic and what tone they intend to use in their writing.
  • Model for students how you would determine these things for yourself. Show how you would experiment crafting an opinion statement and try writing in various tones.
  • Students use the remaining time writing to make these decisions for themselves.
  • Collect index cards at the end of class, reading them to determine who is ready for the next step.