Formal vs. Informal Writing

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The lesson introduces students to the characteristics of formal and informal writing, the appropriateness of each, and their differences.  Because of texting, emails, and other technology shortcuts today, many students may not be aware of the necessity to write formal essays, articles, letters and other types of writing.  The lesson can also be used in conjunction with a lesson related to public speaking, oral reports, etc.  Students can recognize the times when it is necessary to speak formally versus informally as well.

Formal vs. Informal Writing Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Formal vs. Informal Writing
  • Hands-on homework activities giving students practice on identifying and using Formal vs. Informal Writing
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 4-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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Description

The lesson introduces students to the characteristics of formal and informal writing, the appropriateness of each, and their differences.  Formal writing is a challenging skill for students to understand and appreciate, because they are used to texting, emailing and using other technology shortcuts.  The lesson requires students to consider the audience and purpose of their writing to determine which writing style they should use, and provides examples of each style.  The lesson can also be used in conjunction with a lesson related to public speaking, oral reports, etc.  Students will be able to recognize the times when it is necessary to speak formally versus informally as well.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction

      1. Welcome the students to class using a formal introduction (such as Good Morning, boys and girls. I hope all of you are well today…) and then an informal introduction (Hey, what’s up with you guys today?  Everyone okay…) or something similar, 4 or 5 lines each.
      2. Following the introductions, ask: What did you notice about the introductions I used to start the class today?  How were they different?
      3. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students if there are times when they speak using different words or tone of voice.  Ask students to share examples.
      4. Allow for responses and discussion. Tell students it is the same with writing.  Introduce Formal vs. Informal Writing.
      5. Distribute Formal vs. Informal Writing content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Give students ample opportunity to share some examples of informal and formal writing (or speaking).  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding
      6. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Pair students.  Encourage students to remain on topic for each writing example.  Circulate through the room to ensure students remain on task.
      7. Once students have completed the examples, randomly redistribute the pages throughout the class. Allow students time to rewrite the examples.
      8. Once all students have completed, each pair of students share at least one before/after writing example.
      9. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
      10. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.

Common Core State Standards: 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.1.D

Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions.

Additional Resources:

Want more language arts resources? Check out our other Language Arts Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade

Subject

Language Arts