Lesson Plan

Dear Diary

Students plan, compose and publish a personal letter in response to an online news article, on the topic of the migrant crisis.
Mairead F.
Frostburg State University
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My Grades 3
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts

Note: Lesson Flow is aligned with the English Curriculum (1999) standards of Ireland

Strand: Writing

Strand Units:

  • creating and fostering the impulse to write
  • developing competence, confidence and the ability to write independently
  • developing emotional and imaginative life through writing

Curriculum objectives:

  • express in writing his/her reactions to personal reading
  • write in a variety of genres with greater sophistication (letter writing)
  • develop his/her ability to write using information technology
  • see his/her writing valued 

Specific Objectives to this lesson: students will be able to...

  • Recall and discuss information from an article
  • Locate Syria, Turkey and Greece on a map
  • Examine a graphic organizer for letter-writing and engage in a collective brainstorm using this graphic organizer
  • Plan a personal letter using a graphic-organizer
  • Compose and edit a personal letter 
  • Publish a letter


English Language Arts
Grades 3
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 The Hook

Free to Try
  • Display the NEWSELA article People run to Europe to escape war, but some are stuck at train station, on the Interactive White board. Ensure that the text is set to 530L (on the right hand pane). This article would have been assigned to children previously (in class or for homework)
  • Engage the class in the lesson by asking them to study the picture accompanying the article. Prompt their thinking; where has the boy come from? Where is he traveling to? Why has he left his home country? How does he look? Why does he look this way? How was his journey to Greece? What do you think the young boy and the other migrants will do now? Why?, etc.
  • Track the boy's journey from Syria to Turkey and onto Greece, using the interactive map from the Maps101 website. This could be done on the Interactive White Board or on i-pads (paired-activity)


2 Direct Instruction

  • Explain to the class that they are going to write a personal letter from the young boy's perspective. He is sending the letter home to his grandmother in Syria, who was too old to make the journey
  • Show children a graphic organizer (see link) for a personal letter on the Interactive White Board
  • Discuss each component of the graphic organizer and brainstorm as a class possible points that might be included in each section using the ActivInspire program. These might include; an opening paragraph on where the boy is now and how he is feeling, a second paragraph on his journey over from Syria and a final paragraph on the young boys' thoughts about what will happen next and his plan of action.

3 Guided Instruction

Activity: Creating
  • Children brainstorm their personal letter using the graphic organizer, drawing on the class brainstorm on the Interactive White Board as a prompt
  • Children do this brainstorm orally with their partner initially. Different pairs are invited to share their responses with the class. Teacher prompts and probes to develop children's brainstorms
  • Children record their developed brainstorms on their graphic organizers

4 Independent Practice

5 Wrap-up

  • Children publish their work using voicethread. In groups, Children read-aloud and record their letters using this platform. Pictures of migrants' journeys and music may be added to the recordings to enhance the readings. Recordings can be merged (using the import feature of voicethread) to make one final class recording
  • The recording could then be played to the whole class using the Smart Board, Children could be invited to share something they liked about a letter as well as a question they had for the writer (peer-assessment). 


As a follow-up activity, students could write a response letter from the grandmother to her grandson.