Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

It's All About Balance!

Parallel Structure

Brandy Hackett, Lindsey Link | Published: September 15th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course
  • Time Frame Time Frame 100 minutes
  • Duration More 2-3 class periods


In this lesson, students will explore the meaning of the word "parallel" and analyze how and for what purposes parallel structure is used in speeches. At the end of the lesson, students will compose a tweet to summarize the purpose of parallel structure in writing. This lesson includes optional modifications for distance learning and resources for use in Google Classroom.

Essential Question(s)

What is the purpose of parallel structure, and why do writers use it?



Students analyze an image of parallel-parked cars to determine what the term “parallel” means in one context.


Students interpret the meaning of “parallel” and its synonyms in various contexts and environments.


Students examine the use of parallel structure in a speech and analyze the author’s purpose for using parallel structure.


Students create a claim about the speech author’s use of parallel structure and provide support for the claim.


Students compose a tweet to summarize the purpose of parallel structure in writing.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Famous speeches (linked; share the links or print one copy each per student)

    • I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • Malala Yousafzai's Nobel Peace Prize Lecture

    • President Bush on the Patriot Act

  • Frayer Model handout (attached; one per student)

  • Claim Evidence Reasoning handout (attached; one per student)

  • Student devices with internet access


Using the attached Lesson Slides, introduce students to the essential question on slide 3 and the objectives on slide 4.

Go to slide 5. Show students the image of parallel parked cars and pose the following questions:

Why is it called parallel parking? What does that mean?

Have students use the Think-Pair-Share strategy to first think about the image and the questions individually, next talk about their thoughts with a partner, and then share out with the whole class.


Go to slide 6. Explain to students that beyond a driver’s test and parallel parking, there are many other areas where the idea of being parallel is important. The word parallel is similar to other words. What other words can students think of that are similar? Have students brainstorm ideas as you write them on the board.

Have students form small groups and identify a list of other disciplines or areas of their lives where these words apply. Where have they seen these words used?

Regroup with the whole class and have groups share out their thoughts. Add new ideas to the brainstorm list.


Go to slide 7 and pass out copies of the Frayer Model handout. Explain that the word parallel can mean different things depending on the context in which it is used.

Introduce the definition of parallel structure as it pertains to writing, and have students work with their Elbow Partner to analyze this term and fill out each section of the Frayer Model.

Once pairs have finished working, ask volunteers to share out with the class what they have written in the various sections.

Go to slide 8. Give students the opportunity to choose which speech they will be reading. The links below take you to the page for each speech. If you have not prepared printed copies, share the links with your students.

Have students Why-Light their speech to call out the parallel structures they find as they read. Students can work individually or with an Elbow Partner.

After they've finished reading and annotating their speeches, have students form small groups with others who chose the same text and share their findings.

Ask students to consider the following questions:

What did you notice about the ideas that were presented in parallel? Why did the authors choose to use parallel structure for these ideas?


Go to slide 9. Pass out copies of the Claim Evidence Reasoning handout or have students navigate to the digital version. Review the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) method of writing with the class, and then pose the following prompt:

How did the author use parallel structures in the speech? What was the author’s purpose and intent in using parallel structure with these ideas?

Have students begin by writing their claims. Give them time to draft their claims individually, and then organize students into small groups and have them share their claims with each other.

Ask groups to each choose one claim that they consider to be the strongest, and have a volunteer from each group come up and write that claim on the board.

Once all the groups have submitted a claim, have the class vote on the strongest claim. You can conduct the voting via any method you choose, such as engaging students in a Spend a Buck activity or setting up a Google form where students can vote anonymously.

Wrap up the discussion by telling students that by reviewing examples from their peers, have seen several different ways to write strong claims.

Give students time to work individually to make any revisions to their claims and to complete the remaining portions (evidence and reasoning) of their CER paragraphs. Students can submit their completed CER paragraphs on paper or digitally through Google Classroom or another LMS platform of your choice.


Go to slide 10. Have students get out a sheet of paper. Ask them to reflect on the purpose of parallel structure in writing and write down their thoughts for one minute without stopping.

Go to slide 11. Have students review the ideas they generated and use the Tweet Up strategy to compose a tweet that identifies the purpose of parallel structure in writing. Challenge them to employ parallel structure as they compose their responses.

When they are finished writing, have students share their tweets by posting them around the classroom and then engaging in a Gallery Walk to view their classmates’ responses. Or, have them share digitally, via Twitter, Flip, or Padlet.