Students create a front-page newspaper article and layout, including photos, about the sinking of the Titanic.
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
Using their Titanic article, interview, and appropriate images, students will create a front page of a newspaper.
- Select 3-5 appropriate images from the Internet that are reflective of the content of their front-page newspaper
- Write explanatory captions that fit each image
- Lay out all of their newspaper components in an organized and logical manner
- 18- by 24-inch sheets of white paper for each student
- Sample of Newspaper Layout (PDF)
- Students' completed summary articles from Lesson One
- Students' completed interviews from Lesson Two
- Samples of newspaper front pages from at least two different papers
- Photo of a newsboy holding an "Extra" edition about the Titanic from Lesson Two
- Titanic resource books (see my booklist for recommendations)
- Sheet of paper displaying 4 sample fonts
- Note to parents (optional: see Home Connections below)
- Black ink pens
- Glue sticks
Set Up and Prepare
- Gather enough sheets of 18- by 24-inch paper for each student.
- Print the Sample of Newspaper Layout (PDF) for your reference.
- Select front pages from at least two different papers. If possible, choose editions when "big" news occurred and the main headlines are larger than usual. I have several reproductions of actual newspapers written at the time of the disaster. These are available at many bookstores and through the Titanic Historical Society's website.
- If you haven't prepared Lesson Two, find a photo of a newsboy selling an "Extra" edition in your resource books, or on the Internet by typing "Titanic newsboy image" into a search engine.
- Visit various websites that have photographs from the Titanic. Find these by typing "Titanic image"s into a search engine. Write down or bookmark the addresses of one or two sites you'd like your students to use to find pictures for their newspapers. You may want to ask parents to help their children find these at home.
- Using the computer, write the word "TITANIC" in four different fonts sized 100 point or larger. Choose fonts you think would be authentic-style typeface for the large headlines on the students' newspapers. Print to use as a display for the students. You will use this sheet to help students select a font when they're typing their own headlines.
Step 1: Display front pages you've collected where everyone can see them. Ask your class to compare the pages. Ask: What does each have in common? Write answers like: each has a name, headlines, bylines, pictures, price, and weather on the board.
Step 2: Tell students they're going to create their own front page about the Titanic disaster.
Step 3: Remind students how people waited eagerly to hear news about the Titanic, that many of the early headlines were incorrect, and that the most accurate accounts were printed in pages dated April 17th and after. Use this teachable moment to discuss how technology has changed how quickly news spreads around the world.
Step 4: Show the photo of the newsboy holding the paper. Discuss the types of headlines and the size of the print. Tell students those types of headlines are called "screaming headlines" and their purpose is to "shout" at the reader in order to grab their attention.
Step 5: Have students take a few minutes to write their "screaming headline" about the Titanic tragedy. Help proofread and correct any spelling errors.
Step 6: Next, instruct students to choose and write down the name for their newspaper. You can remind them that certain papers were in the forefront when it came to reporting the news. (Background you may want to share with your students: The New York Times was criticized heavily early on because it was the first major paper to publish reports saying the ship had sunk and lives had been lost. Many people thought it was irresponsible to report that an "unsinkable" ship had sunk.)
Step 7: Tell students that no front page is complete without a few attention-grabbing photos. Show photographs from your Titanic resource books and discuss the types of photos they may want on their front page. Give students the website addresses you found and ask students to find three to five appropriate images for their papers. Remind them that many will select the same photos as their classmates because there aren't that many images available. Students should print their images and trim away the white space.
Step 8: Have students write brief explanatory captions for each image to go underneath.
Step 1: Using the computer lab or classroom computer center, have students type and print the following using landscape view for the page setup: (Please see the Sample of Newspaper Layout (PDF) for your reference.)
- In a 200-point font of the student's choice, type your "screaming headline."
- In a 100-point Old English style font, type "name of newspaper."
- In an italic 18 point Times New Roman font, type "April 17th, 1912" and "Price: 2 cents."
- In an italic 24 point Times New Roman font, type "Editor-in-Chief" along with the "student's first and last name."
- In an italic 12 point Times New Roman font, type appropriate captions for their pictures.
Step 2: Model how to trim the words they just printed. Take a ruler and draw a very light line around the name of the newspaper, leaving 1/8 of an inch of white space. Have students do the same. Monitor to make sure students don't leave too much white space around the title. Many students will have to splice together words from their headlines that printed on different pages or lines.
Step 3: Show the class how to carefully trim the newspaper name, cutting on the line you just drew. Ask students to do the same.
Step 4: Model the outlining and cutting of the other typed items they completed in Step One. Students should then outline and trim their remaining pieces.
Step 5: Have students use a ruler to outline and trim the white space away from their summary article and their interview from Lessons One and Two.
Step 6: Using the Sample Newspaper Layout as a guide, model each step of this process very carefully. To begin, give each student a ruler and a black pen. Ask students to follow these steps:
- Measure 3 inches from the top. Draw a line straight across with a black pen. Glue the newspaper name in the center of this space. The Editor in Chief (student name) goes in the upper right hand corner.
- Measure 1/2 inch under the first line. Use the ruler to draw a straight line all the way across. Glue the date on the left side and the price on the right side.
- Lay the screaming headline underneath the dateline. Make sure students have it centered before allowing them to glue it down.
- Draw a black line under the screaming headline.
- Arrange the article, interview, and photos with captions in the remaining space. Note: This is a very quick process for some students and very challenging for others. I always encourage the students who finish early to help others with their layout and gluing.
- Allow students to glue down the main part of their paper only after you've given them the okay.
Step 7: If possible, laminate the completed newspapers to give them a smooth, professional look.
Step 8: Proudly display your students' newspapers in a place for all to see.
Supporting All Learners
You'll find your visual learners benefit a great deal from all of your modeling and from seeing the actual newspaper pages. Those students with spatial intelligence are likely to design and layout their papers nicely. Use those students to coach others who may not be able to visualize how all of the parts should go together on the large paper.
Many of your students' newspapers will have room for additional material. I allow my students to use classroom resources to write "Five Fantastic Facts" about the Titanic. This gets glued on with the other newspaper components on Day Two. I also give students the option of adding a chronological timeline starting with the idea of ship to its sinking.
You may want parents to help students gather Titanic images from the Internet that can be used on their front page. Send a note home a few days before you begin Lesson 3. Remember to include addresses for a few sites with images to get them started.
Having all of your students put the newspapers together at the same time can be challenging if you have a large class (and sometimes even if you don't!). You may want to invite parent volunteers to work with small groups and ensure students trim the components properly and lay them out in an organized format.
- Write a "screaming" headline for their paper.
- Search for and select 3-5 photos using the Internet.
- Write brief explanatory captions that fit each picture.
- Type and print headings in appropriate font sizes.
- Trim typed pieces and photos.
- Layout components of newspaper so every item fits completely on the page.
- Did you model enough?
- Were students able to follow your directions or did they seem confused about what went where?
- Was there enough space in your classroom for all of the newspapers to be spread out?
- Were parent volunteers needed?
- Did students organize their layout in a logical, attractive way?
- Did students have any difficulty finding photographic images on the Internet?
- Did the papers look similar to real pages when they were displayed?
- Were students able to follow the step-by-step directions in the correct order?
- Were the captions brief and did they fit the pictures?
- Did students work well together?