Coast-to-Coast Book Design—Part 2: What IS Design?

By Monique Fineman, September 29, 2006

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

One or two fifty-minute class periods


This is lesson two of a unit on book design. In this lesson, design is introduced, explained, and explored. Design is the plan, organization, or arrangement of elements in a work of art. Design encompasses many areas of life. We will be focusing on book design.

National Standards

Visual Arts
Standard 1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Standard 2. Using knowledge of structures and functions Standard 3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas Standard 6. Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines    

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts Standards: Speaking and Listening

Grade 6-8

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1.A Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 8 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)

English Language Arts Standards Writing 

Grade 6-8

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.


Students will:
  • understand the concept of design
  • be able to identify items in their lives that have been designed
  • understand the concept of book design
  • be able to create and arrange their own page layout



  • various magazine, newspaper and book layouts
  • scissors
  • glue
  • various everyday objects


  • design
  • layout


Part One: Exploring Design
  • On each set of tables, student groups should have a variety of items that were designed including items with page design (layout).
  • Have written on the board: "What is design? Which items on the table do you think were designed and why?"
  • Students will conduct discussion within their groups, writing their findings in their individual notebooks.
  • After short discussion within their groups, have students share their findings.
  • Affirm when students are able to identify in their words that design is "the plan, organization, or arrangement of elements in a work of art".
  • Give the students the definition of design and have them write it in their notebook.
  • Many items (products) that the students use daily are designed by people who are trained in art or design.  (Give examples: cars, homes, telephones, cereal boxes)
  • Go around the room and have each student name something that has been designed.

Part Two: Book Design

  • Write the vocabulary words design and layout on your word wall.
  • Explain to students that there are many types of designers including people who design books.
  • The teacher should explain and show examples of the concept of page layout.
  • Have students study the books and magazines for visual design structure.
  • Have students share their findings, making sure they show the class the page in the book/magazine they are referring to.
  • Students will cut and paste the elements of page design from the bottom of the handout (attached) onto the mock book page.
  • Using the elements of design as discussed, have the students create their own page layout.


The teacher can assess the students' work through their ability to apply what was discussed about design and page layout when they designed their own page.

Enrichment Extension Activities

  • Xerox handout to appropriate size for motor and visually impaired students.
  • Homework: students will find a page layout (newspaper, magazine, book, and brochure) that they find appealing.  Students will write a paragraph on why they feel the layout is interesting.  Students must appropriately use the vocabulary words design and layout in their paragraph.

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