Chris Adcock
English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • French Revolution
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • London
  • Mood
  • Paris
  • Writing
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Brainstorming Exercise

    Brainstorming Exercise


    In this lesson, you will focus on filling your writing with vivid detail. You will complete a brainstorming exercise and work on your writing assignment.

    In this lesson, students will focus on filling their writing with vivid detail. They will complete a brainstorming exercise and work on their writing assignment.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Create appropriate partner groups.

    Vignette Sensory Brainstorm

    • Tell the students that they should write in response to each of your prompts in the Your Vignette form. Explain that this is a brainstorming activity; they do not need to use what they come up with in their vignettes. However, this activity can help them get started.
    • Read and display/project the following sentence starters:
      • ✓ In your vignette’s setting, the smell in the air is ….
      • ✓ The cause of the smell is …
      • ✓ In your vignette’s setting, the air feels like …
      • ✓ In your vignette’s setting, we could hear …
      • ✓ We might also hear …
      • ✓ In your vignette’s setting, if you looked down you would see …
      • ✓ If you looked up, you would see …
      • ✓ If you could taste anything, you would taste ….
      • ✓ In your vignette’s setting, people would feel …
    • ELL: This can be a good place to support ELLs in expanding their vocabulary. Make sure that all students have access to a dictionary and thesaurus. You can also allow them to work with a student who shares their primary language.


    Imagine the setting for your vignette. Listen as your teacher reads a series of sentence starters to help you imagine details for your setting.

    • As the teacher directs, complete the sentences in order to begin thinking about effective sensory details.

    Your Vignette, First Draft

    • As you review the goals with the students, keep in mind that the main goals for this writing include the following: precise words and phrases; telling details; sensory language that conveys a vivid picture of the experiences; events; setting; characters; and writing that builds toward a particular tone and outcome.
    • As the students are writing, circulate to help guide their writing as needed.
    • Students may want to copy material from their prewriting into their first draft in the Notebook.

    Work Time

    For this assignment, your goal is to use telling details and sensory language in a way that makes your scene vivid and creates a mood. Precise language will help you establish your tone.

    • Write out the first draft of your vignette.
    • Incorporate useful ideas and details from the prewriting and the brainstorming that you have just done.

    Open Notebook

    Revision Brainstorm

    • When the time for writing is ending, announce to students that they should brainstorm or list notes for themselves about their writing using the Your Vignette form. Give students a set amount of time to brainstorm.
    • Encourage them to think about being specific. SWD: Students with accommodation for more time for in-class assignments should be allowed to use this time to work on their homework assignment, and to plan for revisions as part of their homework.


    • When your teacher announces that work time is ending, write a quick brainstorm or list of things that you plan to add or change to your writing using the Your Vignette form.

    Book II, Chapters 10 and 11

    • Remind students to read and annotate carefully. Consider spot checks of annotations to see how individuals are managing this responsibility.
    • Announce the due date for completion of the first draft of the students’ vignettes. Consider making Lesson 21 that designated time.


    • Read Book II, Chapters 10 and 11 in A Tale of Two Cities and annotate for key ideas, personal reactions, questions, and vocabulary.
    • Continue to work on your vignette at home. Your teacher will give you the deadline for your rough draft.