Breaking News: A Lesson in Writing Newspaper Articles
Students write a newspaper article about ancient Greek mythological characters in a modern-day, mock current event context.
- Grades: 9–12
- Unit Plan:
Students will free write their newspaper articles about mythical characters, sharing what happens when they invade the modern-day city of Los Angeles.
- Answer when-where-what-who-why and how questions in their newspaper article.
- Demonstrate understanding of new journalism vocabulary (the lead, news lead, quote lead, and description lead) by organizing their article around one of these ideas.
- Use the peer editing process.
- Four pieces of chart paper/marker
- Students' completed Big Question handout
- Los Angeles Now (PDF) (from Lesson One)
- 5 or 6 Current Newspapers (from Lesson One)
Set Up and Prepare
- Print the Los Angeles Now sheet to read aloud in order to help students generate ideas for their newspaper article.
- Divide your students into groups of five or six, depending on the size of your class. Arrange the student desks/tables for group work. Place the newspapers at each group.
- Write the following on each piece of chart paper to use during a class discussion:
- The lead - sets the structure for the rest of the story. The structure should "lead" the reader from idea to idea simply and clearly.
- News lead - begin the article with factual information relating to an event.
- Quote lead - begin the article with a quote, leading the reader to ask "What could that (the quote) possibly mean?"
- Description lead - begin the article with intriguing descriptive language that beckons the reader to continue.
Day 1 - Getting the Lead
Step 1: Remind students that they will be "reporters" as they write about what happens as the mythological gods and goddesses of the past roam the modern-day city of Los Angeles (or your city). However, there are a few tips they need to learn that all good reporters know.
Step 2: Share the four pieces of chart paper with the "lead" information with the students. Briefly preview each. Instruct the students that they will be using the newspapers from Lesson One to find examples of the three leads - news lead, quote lead, and description lead. Allow students to work in small groups to find examples for 10-15 minutes.
Step 3: Ask each group to share the examples they found, allowing each group to add to that if necessary. Briefly discuss the effectiveness of each type of lead.
Days 2-3 - Free Write
Step 4: Share the example articles from the Los Angeles Now to help students generate ideas.
Step 5: Using their Big Question handout, notes, and the "lead" chart papers, allow students to free write their first draft of their article. Remind students that their news story is much like a conversation, beginning with a summary of the highlights and working its way down to the least interesting facts - the inverted pyramid approach.
Step 6: Upon completion, allow students to peer edit the articles. Instruct students to look for a specific lead, specific answers to the questions, and the progression from most interesting facts to least.
Supporting All Learners
Allow students who are having difficulty to pair up with another student or work with you.
Students can rewrite any Greek myth as if it happened in modern times.
1. Write a newspaper article.
Did the students have difficulty transferring their ideas from the Big Question graphic organizer to their article? Were they able to incorporate the ideas from the questions and the lead information?
Grade the news article, using your own rubric.