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This “Cubicle Reading and Writing” lesson is appropriate for Back To School time


Language Arts  


8, 9, 10, 11  


By – Mary Ann Beggs
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects –
Grade Level – 8-11

This idea is borrowed and modified from an idea presented in Janet Allen’s book YELLOW BRICK ROADS Shared and Guided Paths to Independent Reading 4-12( Stenhouse Publishers, Portland, Maine.

I will use this idea at the beginning of the school year. It will serve as an icebreaker and as an introduction to the skills addressed in class. It also gives students personal space and I link it to the idea of office cubicles in the working world. I put the folders together and then prepare a handout explaining each section of the cubicle. Students will cut and paste and write on the folder during class. If more time for creativity is needed then I send the folders home to be completed by a certain date.


1. Overlap two file folders so they make a center panel. Staple them together. You should have a cubicle shape with one side open. This cubicle folder will be placed on the student’s desk during writing or reading periods.
2. On the outside (Panel one) have the students list their hobbies, favorite foods, sports, talents, and professional goals. This information can be collected in an interview process. I ask student to print clearly and fairly large in order for me to be able to see this information from the front of the room.
3. The middle panel will face the front of the room when the cubicle is placed on the desk. On this panel I ask students to print their first and last names fairly big for me to see. Since we will have addressed their learning styles, I ask them to print their learning style on the panel and also create a symbol/metaphor/picture that represents them. They will use this information when they introduce each other to the class.
4. On the third outside panel, I ask them to make a T-chart. On one side they list the books, movies, magazines, newspaper, and or music they like and on the other side list the ones they do not like. This will be shared during an interview and used during class introductions.

Inside of cubicle folder:

1. I typed up a page of Grammar and Language Pointers which we will go over in class. These are points I have found to be useful when students start the writing process. An example comment: 1. Try sentence variety when you develop your essays. (A few examples are given.) Another pointer: When to use there, their, they’re. The teacher can create what works for his/her class. Over the years certain items stand out and I complied these on one sheet of paper. I will ask student to glue this page on the left-inside flap.
2. The middle section inside I typed a page called THE WRITE STUFF. On this page I explain the structure and purpose of an introductory paragraph. I explain the structure of a body paragraph. I give a few visuals on how to structure an essay. The teacher can design what he or she thinks best suits the needs of the students.
3. The right side-inside panel has a page that has what I call INSPIRATION CORNER. It also lists twenty questions to consider during or after reading a novel or story. In the INSPIRATION CORNER I want the student to select a quote or have a parent write something, or they could glue a picture that inspires them to work hard.

Oral Presentation:

1. Students have been given the cubicle and a sheet of written direction on how to design the outside of the cubicle. I also have made a model of a cubicle. I give each student a magic marker to use for designing the outside of their personal office space.
2. I pair students in order to begin the interviews using the above information for the outside of the cubicle. Students may take it home and polish it up, but they must return with a completed product by a certain date.
3. Each interview team is called on to introduce his or her partner to the class. The information shared comes from the outside of the cubicle they each designed. I have the class write down each person’s full name in their class notebooks and we as a class decide on one thing we want to remember about that person.
4. After all the introductions have been completed, the teacher has two options: 1. Each student may fold his/her cubicle and keep it in a notebook for future use. 2. The teacher can collect and keep in a file and hand the cubicles out when the occasion calls for them.


1. During a writing assignment where I want to students to concentrate quietly on their work, I ask the students to set up their cubicle space. This means clearing the desks of book bags and other books. Inside the “office space” should be writing material. As they write , the student has not only a personal space of privacy but also some pointers to guide them as they write which are posted on their cubicle.
2. During reading time, the student is asked to set up his or her cubicle and read. As the student reads they are referred to the questions posted in their cubicle. At the end of the reading time, they are asked to respond in writing to one or more of the posted questions.

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