Sample Lesson Plan for Writing & Publishing: Encountering the Literary Journal

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Discussion Questions:

What is your first encounter with this magazine, as an object?

What do you think about the physical and aesthetic features of the magazine: the weight, the paper stock, the cover, the cover art, the font? What, if anything, would you change?

How do you read it? In order? Piecemeal? How do you think this affects your reaction to the magazine?

How do pieces (poems, essays, stories, images) relate to each other? What is the effect of their placements on you as a reader?

Why do you think a specific piece was chosen? Would you have chosen it? Why or why not?

Choose a story that made you feel a particular way. Explain this feeling, and then explain what in the text contributed to that impression.

What can you gather about the authors included in the issue?

What do you think it means for a creative work to have a strong sense of place?

What do you see as the advantages and challenges of curating a magazine with a defined sensibility or theme? What is the effect of having such a defined theme?

Do you believe the magazine is succeeding in its mission?

How do you imagine finding the audience for this magazine?

How do you see this magazine fitting into the broader literary landscape?

If you became editor of The Common tomorrow, what is one thing you would change?

How do the website and print publication relate to each other? What do they offer that is different? Similar? What is the effect of the digital pieces versus the print pieces?


Write a sample review of an issue of The Common for a website or newspaper. Think about the questions above. Help your reader understand what The Common is, and what they might find if they pick up an issue. Consider aspects of the journal (or particular works) that you find to be particularly strong. Consider what might be improved.


Select a story, essay, or poem and describe why you think it was selected. What are its strengths? Weaknesses? Consider how the work fits with the journal’s mission. Think about how the work relates to other pieces in this issue.


Select a story or essay, and write a letter to the author. (Choose one of the following):

  • Draft an acceptance letter, in which you describe what you like about the work, as well as what aspects you would like them to consider changing.
  • Draft a rejection letter, identifying any areas of the work you find to be successful, and describing in what ways the work might be improved. Invite the author to send future work for consideration.

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Learn more about teaching The Common and request a free sample issue.

Sample Lesson Plan for Writing & Publishing: Encountering the Literary Journal

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Resources to help you plan for the fall semester

We know this fall’s going to be a weird one. We’re here to help with your classroom (or home school) planning!  Here’s one thought:  Give your students a break from the screen by putting print issues of The Common in their hands– just $20/student:  Two issues for each student, free desk copies for teachers (that means you too, parents!),