Writing to describe – Creative writing unit about homelessness

What's included?

PowerPoints and Word docs

Key Stage

KS3, KS4


Years 9-11


The focus of this 11-lesson unit is writing to describe. It is based on the issue of homelessness.

You may want to accompany this unit with a class reading of Robert Swindell’s novel Stone Cold to encourage feelings of empathy. The assessment, however, isn’t on Stone Cold, but on a creative writing piece focusing on writing to describe.

Students must use description (so not narration) to describe a homeless person. You might also want to show your group clips from the film The Pursuit of Happyness, to help get their minds working about issues of homelessness.

This unit is suitable for Year 9s, but you can also adapt it to use with Year 10s to produce descriptive writing coursework. You could also adapt this unit to focus on narrative writing.

Assignment success criteria for writing to describe

  1. Write in an appropriate manner for the genre or purpose of your story.
  2. Use a varied range of sentences and vocabulary to keep your audience’s interest.
  3. Keep punctuation accurate and produce logical paragraphs to make your meaning clear.
  4. Develop characters and settings within your narrative.
  5. Use literary devices such as similes and metaphors effectively.
  6. Show an awareness of tone in words and sentences.
  7. Be accurate in punctuation and spelling.
  8. Write with flair and originality.

Krista Carson is a secondary school English teacher, research lead and Cambridge MEd grad. You can find her resources on her TES page Krista Carson’s Shop. Check out her blog at and follow her on Twitter at @reflectiverambl.

Writing to describe unit
Writing to describe – Creative writing unit about homelessness

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