Take Me Seriously!:
Produce Formal Writing

Unit Plan

Lorraine Dodd
Adapted by Mark Rounds
3 weeks

California Language Arts Content Standards
Standards Addressed in this Unit
2.0Writing Applications 9/10
2.3 Write expository compositions, including analytical essays and research reports:
  1. Marshal evidence in support of a thesis and related claims, including information on all relevant perspectives.
  2. Convey information and ideas from primary and secondary sources accurately and coherently.
  3. Make distinctions between the relative value and significance of specific data, facts, and ideas.
  4. Include visual aids by employing appropriate technology to organize and record information on charts, maps, and graphs.
  5. Anticipate and address readers' potential misunderstandings, biases, and expectations.
  6. Use technical terms and notations accurately.
2.4 Write persuasive compositions:
  1. Structure ideas and arguments in a sustained and logical fashion.
  2. Use specific rhetorical devices to support assertions (e.g., appeal to logic through reasoning; appeal to emotion or ethical belief; relate a personal anecdote, case study, or analogy).
  3. Clarify and defend positions with precise and relevant evidence, including facts, expert opinions, quotations, and expressions of commonly accepted beliefs and logical reasoning.
  4. Address readers' concerns, counterclaims, biases, and expectations.
1.0Written and Oral English Language Conventions 9/10
Grammar and Mechanics of Writing
1.2 Understand sentence construction (e.g., parallel structure, subordination, proper placement of modifiers) and proper English usage (e.g., consistency of verb tenses).
1.3Demonstrate an understanding of proper English usage and control of grammar, paragraph and sentence structure, diction, and syntax.
Manuscript Form
1.4Produce legible work that shows accurate spelling and correct use of the conventions of punctuation and capitalization.


Take Me Seriously! is an expository writing unit to prepare students for the portion of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) that assesses the California English-Language Arts Content Standards from the Writing Applications Strand. See the CAHSEE Questions and Student Models (pp 108-112). The unit guides students through the process of generating thoughts in response to a chosen topic and developing a structured, coherent and formal written response.

By the end of the unit, students will write a coherent response of at least 250 words that expresses and argues a viewpoint about a chosen topic. They will express ideas with supporting detail, use a writing style and structure appropriate to audience, purpose and text type, and use writing conventions without intrusive errors.

In addition to preparing students for the CAHSEE, this unit will prepare students for the type of formal writing they will experience in college prep, honors, and AP classes. While many of those pieces will be written under exam conditions, formative work should still involve taking students through the processes that contribute to producing quality, structured writing. These processes involve students:

A. Pre-writing:getting going and gathering their thoughts
B. Drafting:putting their thoughts down and making their point
C. Revising:checking through the ideas they've written and improving them
D. Editing:focusing on the surface features of spelling, syntax and punctuation

Formative assessment will take part throughout the entire unit. The drafting and revising time should all be regarded as opportunity for formative assessment. Students should have plenty of opportunity to practize new skills, to learn and create new knowledge and gain feedback. During this time, the teacher will work alongside students to provide them with as much feedback as is appropriate about the progress they are making towards the outcomes. This feedback is likely to be oral for the most part, but may also be written.

The unit that follows is addressed to students and can be used directly in the classroom.


Select and adapt these learning activities to best meet the needs of your students, and to fit the time available:

Take me Seriously!: Overview
Having an opinion and making a point is one of the great pleasures in life. We all love to feel confident and wise when we've got something to say and we love to think others are listening to us and taking us seriously. If we want others to listen to us, then we need to become familiar with producing a balanced perspective. When we have a conversation, it's not about sharing one idea loudly and forcefully. It's about being open enough to explore a range of ideas and then feeling comfortable to choose one of those ideas to believe more strongly in, for the time being. One way to become a confident conversationalist and encourage others to take us seriously when we're making a point is to put ideas together in a piece of formal writing. This unit will support you to produce a piece of formal writing that expresses your ideas about something in life that's important to you.

  1. Pre-Writing
  2. Drafting
  3. Revising
  4. Editing


Use the Persuasive Writing Rubric based on the California English-Language Arts Content Standards to assess the Persuasive Essay.

You have now completed your "Take Me Seriously!" piece of formal writing. Congratulations! With the support of your teacher, your piece can be submitted to the editors of Teen Ink, the online magazine. Details about submitting pieces for publication can be found in How to Submit.

Your teacher will assess your piece against the Assessment Rubric you have already been provided with.