STAGE OF LIFE       Share Your Story       Coupons       Education Resources
Sign Up Now!

Notes to the Teacher

Free Language Arts Lesson Plan:  Mass Consumerism

by Rebecca Thiegs
StageofLife.com Co-Founder

Free Language Arts Lesson Plan about Mass ConsumerismTitle o
f Lesson:  Creating essays on Society’s Stuff Obsession: Do We Need More?

Class time needed for this lesson: 3-6 days depending on length of classes, time you want students to journal / discuss / watch videos, and writing / conferencing time spent in class vs. time spent at home

Purpose of Lesson: To give students an opportunity to analyze their opinions on stuff and how to craft their opinions into an essay

Essential Questions of this Lesson Plan:

  • Is Black Friday bleeding into the heart of gratitude?
  • Why is our society so obsessed with stuff?
  • How do you feel about stuff?
  • How do I get my writing to a best yet / final draft?

Aspects of this lesson:


Writing Prompt - Do We Have Too Musch Stuff?1) Introductory journaling (Think / Pair / Share) / Time: about 10-20 minutes depending on time given to journal and discuss:
Ask all three of these questions or just one or two.  Have students journal for about 2 minutes per question, then share their responses with a partner.  Finally, hold a whole class discussion about these questions.

Questions:
  • 1) What is Thanksgiving all about and how does your family celebrate the holiday?
  • 2) How do you feel about Black Friday shopping? Any rituals associated with Black Friday?
  • 3) Do you think we have too much stuff as a society already? Are we obsessed with acquiring more stuff? Or having the right stuff?

2) Take the StageofLife.com Stuff Survey / Time: about 10-15 minutes depending on computer set up time, class discussion and journaling after the survey.  Take the Mass Consumerism Survey on the writing contest page.

*If you have access to computers for each student, allow each student to submit their answers to the survey.  If you don’t, ask the students each question and record a “class majority” vote for each response.  

After the survey: Have your opinions on stuff changed?  Why or why not?

Videos about mass consumerism3) Videos to Broaden the understanding of stuff:

Watch the videos about "stuff" selected by Stageoflife.com / Time: 5-45 minutes depending on if you decide to show all the videos, and how much time you allow students to journal and discuss after each video:

*Decide how many of the videos you want to show. View videos below.
  • We suggest that you start with The Story of Stuff / Basic information about stuff  (21 minutes)
  • Then, show Black Friday Crowds / Our obsession with stuff (found on the left side of the page) (1 and a half minutes)
  • Then, show Great Pacific Garbage Patch / Where does our stuff go? (4 and a half minutes)
  • Finally, show High End Hoarder / When shopping is out of control (2 and a half minutes)

After each video, allow students time to process and reflect on what they saw.  Does it change your opinion? What sticks with you? What did you learn?  

After you watch the videos and students reflect in their journals, discuss as a class - What do these videos teach us about stuff?

Videos about Mass Consumerism:

 
The Story of Stuff
  Black Friday Crowds

 

 
Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  High End Hoarder



4) Essay topic creation / Coming up with an original angle for the writing prompt: /Time: 10 minutes (or maybe use this as a homework assignment- each student needs to come up with a topic for his / her essay for the next class session)

Have students answer the question: “Do we have too much stuff?” in a quickwrite fashion - just 2-3 minutes. 

After the 2-3 minutes allow students time to “mine” their writing and opinions from all the journaling on the topic of stuff.  What seems to have the most energy or what calls to them to go more in depth?  

Students should be given freedom to answer this question in whichever manner they choose.  For those that are stuck, offer some ideas (remind them that not all stuff is bad, and they could write about why stuff is good instead):
  • Writing prompts on StageofLife.comAn item(s) that is (are) REALLY important to them
  • The meaning of Thanksgiving / personal anecdotes about Thanksgiving traditions
  • The craze of Black Friday
  • A Black Friday tradition or story that is meaningful
  • Why loving stuff is okay
  • Why our obsession with stuff is not okay
  • An essay about environmental impacts due to our obsession with stuff
  • An essay about hoarding or stuff overload

5) Stuff essay drafting / Conferencing / Partner sharing
- Time: 20-45 minutes

I love allowing students to have 10 minutes on the first day (after they all bring in their topics) to just write freely without over analyzing their writing.  After those 10 minutes, I put them in pairs to share what they are thinking, and as they share with their partner, I walk around the room to check in with everyone to see that everyone has a start.  After that, I give them another 10 minutes to keep going.  Once students are set on a topic, and I give them focused time in class, they can usually finish a really rough draft before going home.  

Assign students to have a full rough draft (about 200-500 words) for the next class session

6) Rough Drafts and Peer Review and More formal teacher conferences
/ Time: 1 class period (maybe more if you are doing one on one conferring with each student)

Free Language Arts Lesson Plan about Mass ConsumerismStudents should come prepared to the next class session with a completed rough draft.  Assign students to a trio (it is always good to have a 2nd opinion reviewer).  Set up the peer review session.  Explain to students HOW to give good feedback.  These are steps I usually take:

  1. Allow each student a chance to write about his/her own progress on the back of the draft.  What can someone help them with specifically to get to a more polished piece? What is going well with the writing?  

  2. Assign students into peer review trios.  Explain they should take turns.  Read over the questions on the back and focus on those questions while reading.  Students should not ask the author of a paper to clarify something while they are reading.  If it doesn’t make sense, they should mark that on the paper.  After the read throughs, students should put comments on the back of the paper that specifically answer the author’s questions and any other helpful comments they want to include.  When all reading and commenting is complete, students should discuss what they thought with each other.  

  3. As the students are immersed in their peer feedback sessions, conference with students individually or sit down with each trio to see how things are going.  This can be as formal or as informal as you want it to be.  I like to have at least 1 one on one conference with students during every writing piece, but if your class sizes are huge, you may want to sit with the trios and answer questions and provide feedback to the whole group rather than conference individually.  

  4. At the end of the peer review session and teacher conferencing, give students a due date for the BEST YET or final draft.  

StageofLife.com free lessons plans7) Revision workshop before the final draft is due**
(optional)
Depending on how many essays students have already crafted you may want to allow students time to work through their final touches on their own.  I usually try to have at least one revision workshop dealing with a surface level revision like a grammar technique such as sentence construction or commas, or a big strategy like how to do deep revision like Kelly Gallagher’s STAR revision strategies (S=Substitue, T=Take things out, A=Add, R=Rearrange).  

It is up to you to decide what kinds of skills your students need to work through in order to become better writers.  If you haven’t tried a writer’s workshop revision strategy, try one and see what happens.  You may get students to understand one skill that drives you crazy before the final draft.  


Share your essay on StageofLife.com8) Publishing / Final (Best Yet) Draft Sharing / Uploading Essays to Stageoflife.com
- Time: 1 class period

On the day that the final (best yet) drafts are due, I have students complete a “Dear Reader” letter which helps me hone in on what they want me to comment on specifically, what they are proud of, what they know needs work and what they thought of the overall assignment.  This helps to direct me when I am grading and gives me feedback, too.  

I also have students share a few lines (up to a page) for the class to get a sense of the other writer voices in the classroom.  

If you are uploading these to the writing contest, make sure you have students submit their final work to you BEFORE they upload it to the site or at least give you a copy of their paper (either electronically or hard copy).






Contact StageofLife.comDo you have ideas for feedback on these Teacher Notes to share?  Please Contact Us!

View Stage of Life's current Student Writing Contest

Menu - Notes to the Teacher

Notes to the Teacher - Writing ExercisesVisit our special "Notes to the Teacher" pages below to get practical ideas on how to use the Stage of Life writing resources in your classroom tomorrow...
  1. Statistics on Teens
  2. Hero Concepts
  3. Inspirational Videos
  4. Recommended YA Books
  5. Mass Consumerism
  6. 10 Tips for Creating a Writing Centric Classroom
  7. Random Acts of Kindness Lesson Plan

View all our free Educational Resources on StageofLife.com

Educational Resources and Free Lesson Plans

Free Writing Resources for Students

The below Stage of Life teen writing contests, teen trend reports, etiquette Q&A, and teacher resources have been mentioned by...

Our writing contests mentioned by TIME.com
Our Teen Trend Report mentioned by MarketWatch Our etiquette resources mentioned by FOX Business Educator tips mentioned by Mashable

 

With over half a million teachers, professors, teens, college students, and parents visiting StageofLife.com each school year, we make it a priority to create the best free writing resources for students and teachers.  We are a grassroots writing initiative founded with a mission to get people of all ages writing, and in particular encouraging students to write outside of the classroom...

Teen Writing Contest

National Student Writing Contests

  • Encourage your students to enter free, monthly national writing contest for high school students and college students.
  • StageofLife.com once hosted the world's largest international writing contest for high school students and college students.  Our essay winners have received mentions by the media including TIME.com, Mint Education, and more.
  • Essay contest topics dealt with real-world issues.
  • Great practice for AP Test, SAT test, college essay writing, and more.
  • View Details, Summaries and more About Our Writing Contests
  • View Participating Authors who work with Stage of Life on our Student Writing Contests
 

  Contact Us with questions about our writing contests
 
National author support for StageofLife.com 

Participating Authors

  • Question:  What do internationally published authors Susannah Cahalan, Richard Louv, Kimberly Rae Miller, Elyn Saks, and Andrew Soloman all have in common?
  • Answer:  They've all collaborated with StageofLife.com to support our grassroots international writing community.

Explore the dozens of published authors that have worked with us.  We're proud of the support these literary greats have put in the digital literacy mission of StageofLife.com...


View Participating Authors
  Contact Us if you know an author or celebrity who has writing advice for teens or would like to donate a signed copy of their book.
 
Word of the Day - Vocab Exercise
 

Word of the Day

  • We featured a new vocab word each day
  • Use our Word of the Day as inspiration for a personal essay or blog post on StageofLife.com
  • Teachers and educators can integrate the vocabulary in their classroom activities or ask the students to use the word in a free-write activity.
StageofLife.com's word of the day
 
Classroom writing exercises and ideas
 

Notes to the Teacher


Notes to the Teacher - Writing Exercises
  Contact Us if you have a lesson plan to suggest from Stage of Life's content
 
 Homeschool Writing Resources

 Homeschooling Writing Resources

  • Our writing resources are great for the classroom, but if you're a homeschooling student or parent, check out our free, homeschooling writing resources.
  • Writing contests, educational resources, and homeschooling resources are updated here...
Homeschooling Writing Resources
 
 Free classroom poster

Get "Writer" Classroom Poster - OUT OF STOCK

  • We've created a 18" x 12" color poster for high school or college classrooms.
  • We only charge for the shipping and handling fee
  • We've sent out over 1000 posters to Language Arts, Creative Writing, and English Teachers!
Get free writing poster for your classroom

  Print mini-poster now
Questions about our poster?
 
Introduction to Blogging Lesson Plans

Introduction to Student Blogging

  • Get the 101 on blogging
  • Digital literacy - why blogging is important for the classroom
  • Our Blogging Lesson Plans include activities such as...
    1. Blogging Basics lesson plan
    2. Values & Beliefs lesson plan
    3. Reflection & Wisdom lesson plan
    4. Life stage interview lesson plan
    5. Food, Health & Writing lesson plan
    6. Heroes lesson plan
    7. Teen stress lesson plan
Blogging lesson plans on StageofLife.com
  Print blogging lesson plans Print Blogging Lesson Plans
Contact Us about our Student Blogging Resources
 
Mentor Texts and Essay Examples

Mentor Texts

  • Use our past student winners as good examples of essay writing, i.e. Mentor Texts
  • Our teen writing winners provide excellent essay examples of authentic voice and utilizing a stylistic point of view
  • Read past writing contest winners and finalists by visiting our Teen Trends reports
  • View Mentor Texts
Examples of good essay writing -- mentor texts
  Print Mentor Texts  Print Mentor Texts
  Contact Us with questions about our mentor texts
 
Teen Trends 

Teen Trend Reports

  • Over 800,000 teenagers, college students, and teachers visit StageofLife.com each year to either read or submit an essay.
  • Because of these visits, we are able to pull together full teen trend reports from our national writing contests and survey results on topics ranging from sports to politics to nature to bullying and more.
  • You'll also find in each report links to the relevant student essays, all grouped by topic.
  • View Teen Trends

  View StageofLife.com Teen Trend Reports
  Contact Us for more information about our monthly teen trend reports
 
Teen Writing Workshops

Writing Conferences and Workshops for Teenagers


  Teen writing conferences and workshops
Contact Us to add your Writing Conferences or Workshop to our list
 

 Essay Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts

  • Are you looking for ideas on though-provoking writing prompts for your Creative Writing, English or Language Arts classes?
  • We have scores of writing prompts that deal with real-world issues important to teens
  • Each prompt came from one of the previous Stage of Life national student essay contests
  • Mentor texts, lesson plans and summary pages are provided as appropriate
  • View Writing Prompts
Ideas for writing prompts
  Print Writing Prompts  Print Writing Prompts   Contact Us to submit writing prompts
 
Library Resources on StageofLife.com 

Library Resources

  • As a free literacy initiative, Stage of Life features blogs, articles, statistics, trends, resources and information about libraries
  • View our Library Resources
   Library Resources on StageofLife.com Contact Stage of Life Contact Us about our Library Resources
 
 Common Core State Standards

English and Language Arts Common Core State Standards

  • Stage of Life mapped its digital literacy activities to the Common Core State Standards
  • Get ideas on how Stage of Life fits many of the Language Arts State Standards, both for those states using the Common Core State Standards and those using their own.
  • View the Stage of Life and Language Arts State Standards Mapping

   Common Core mapping on StageofLife.com Contact Stage of Life Contact Us about our Common Core and State Standards mapping
 
New Journalism - Use Blogging to Conduct Interviews 

Interviews - Students Use Blogging as Form of New Journalism

  • Interviewing a professor or teacher, celebrity, band, government official, or really anyone for that matter, is a great way for students to use blogging to explore "new journalism" formats and techniques
  • View our blog interview example
Example of Blog Interview - StageofLife.com
 

How Would Teens Improve Education

 

How Would Students Improve Education?

How would teens improve education?
  Print Free Goal Setting Worksheet  Print Teens and Education press release   Contact Us with comments about how students can improve their schools
 
 Student goal setting

Goal Setting Worksheet

  • Help your students set goals
  • Our Stage of Life Goal Setting Worksheet can be used as an in-class activity or as a take-home assignment
  • Educators are encouraged to use it themselves as a personal or professional tool too
  • View Goal Setting Worksheet
Goal setting worksheet
  Print Free Goal Setting WorksheetPrint Goal Setting Worksheet
  Contact Us with questions about our free goal setting worksheet
 
 Teacher Appreciation

Teacher Appreciation

  • View over 180 positive essays written by teens about their teachers
  • Read the five positive relationship benefits good teachers bring to their students
  • Get the latest trends on teens and how they communicate
  • View Teacher Appreciation page
Teacher Appreciation
  How do teens communicate? Print Teen Communication Trends
  Contact Us about our Teacher Appreciation efforts
 
 

Teens Making the World a Better Place

  • Utilize our "Making the World a Better Place" writing prompt to get students thinking and writing about how they can change the world and make a difference
  • Read past student essays about making the world a better place
  • Ask your class to explore the list of student-nominated, "making a difference" organizations by our teen bloggers and writers - maybe they have their own cause to add to the list?
  • View Making the World a Better Place
Making the world a better place on StageofLife.com
  Be The Change lessonPrint press release
  Contact Us with questions about our Making the World a Better Place initiative
 
 

Inspirational Videos

  • Watch our collection of inspirational videos sourced from YouTube
  • After watching the videos, ask your students blog on StageofLife.com about how they intend to change the world or be a positive change in the world.
  • View Inspirational Videos

  Inspirational videos for teachers to use in the classroom
  Contact Us with an inspirational video for teens or teachers
 
Digital Literacy

Digital Literacy - Using Blogs in the Classroom

  • Hear from our panel of experts who use blogging in the classroom
  • Get tips on how to increase your students' digital literacy by incorporating technology into the classroom
  • View Digital Literacy experts
  • View latest trends on Teen Communication

  Digital Literacy
  Contact Us about Digital Literacy
 
Health effects of writing

Health and Writing

  • Read about the positive health effects of blogging and writing
  • Help your students reduce teen stress through journaling, blogging or writing
  • View Writing is Healthy

  Writing is healthy
  Contact Us to add resources about how writing is healthy
 
 Susan Wooldridge

Poem Writing Tips

  • Tips for writing poetry from author of Poemcrazy, Susan Wooldridge
  • View Poem Writing Tips

 
Poem writing tips from StageofLife.com
 Contact Us to add poem writing resources
 
Education partnerships 

Education Resource Partners

Stage of Life has been fortunate to either work directly with or referenced by organizations, schools, non-profits and programs who see a value in our mission to improve digital literacy and have a like-minded mission to support students, teachers and educational initiatives.

A few examples of our educational partnerships or features...
  • NCTE - Stage of Life was an exhibitor at the 2013 NCTE Annual Convention in Boston.  Hundreds of high school Language Arts teachers and college English professors stopped by to meet our VP of Education, Rebecca Thiegs, and pick up our classroom writing contest poster.
  • Teach.com - inspirational resource for anyone currently teaching or thinking about becoming a teacher.  Our very own Stage of Life education consultant, Rebecca, was featured on the Teach.com blog.
  • Mint Education - helping teach students about financial literacy.  Mint featured several of our Stage of Life student blogs about money.
  • Lancaster Museum of Art - Stage of Life CEO, Eric Thiegs, was invited by the LMAPA to present a seminar to teens on the power of writing and artistic collaboration.
  • Tech.IT.U - Stage of Life CEO, Eric Thiegs, was a featured speaker on "the Benefits of Teen Blogging" at the Penn State York sponsored Tech.It.U conference.
  • PCTELA - "Voices of Literacy" Conference - Stage of Life co-Founders, Eric & Rebecca Thiegs, were featured session speakers on "Extending Writing Outside the Classroom Through Blogging" at the 2012 PCTELA conference (Pennsylvania Council of Teachers for English and Language Arts).
 
Coupons for Teachers

Up to 50% Off Discounts for Teachers

Because of the generous support of our national education sponsors, our Stage of Life members can save up to 50% off at many top brands and retailers.  Check out Stage of Life's free My Life Rewards® program to find great coupons and discounts for teachers to save money inside the classroom and out!

     

   Discounts and coupons for teachers  Contact Us about our discounts and coupons for teachers

Contact UsPlease check back often: these pages are regularly updated with new material and ideas.  Our door at Stage of Life is always open: if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to contact us!

Find Us on Facebook      Follow Us on Twitter     Read our Founder's Blog

StageofLife.com was launched in 2009 as the premier destination for people of all ages to find information, coupons, and stories about one of ten key stage of life transitions:  high school, college, on my own, wedding, married without children, having a baby, home ownership, parenting, grand parenting, and empty nest/retirement.  Nearly 1 million visitors come to the site each year to find information about their stage of life.  Stage of Life users (teens, college students, Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers) can also share and archive their life stories via their Stage of Life profile page.  Specialized content includes statistics, quotes, videos, financial tips, coupons, news, writing contests, and more tailored to each of the 10 life stages featured.  My Life Rewards® is the free discount program for all Stage of Life users, readers and writers dedicated to providing printable coupons and coupon codes tailored towards each stage of life.

Terms of Service and Privacy