Get in the Newspaper Habit
- Grades: 9–12
- Unit Plan:
- Study journalistic style and the signals of bias.
- Use the newspaper for grammar lessons, such as locating action verbs.
- Read and summarize articles from the newspaper.
- Write a news article about a school or local event.
- Class set of newspapers (preferably a week's worth). Contact your local newspaper for information on the Newspapers In Education program, which gives free or low-cost papers to schools. You can also print out articles from online newspapers. Scholastic publishes The New York Times Upfront and Scholastic News as two other options for news.
- Copies of the Newspaper Log Form (PDF), if desired
- Highlighters, writing supplies
- The following Scholastic PDFs for teacher reference on journalistic writing:
Set Up and PrepareMake transparencies of a straight news article and a letter to the editor or op-ed piece. Make copies of the Newspaper Log Form (PDF) for each student (optional).
Using the transparency of the straight news article, highlight how the article answers the Six Journalistic Questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?
Teach grammar in context to improve student writing and use the newspaper as a model. Have students locate the action verbs used in the article and use these as a basis for a mini-lesson on grammar for the journalistic style.
Other great mini-lessons to teach from newspaper articles include active voice, sentence patterns for newspaper writing, or paragraph structure. Extend the grammar lessons with newspaper articles as needed. Students can highlight specific parts of speech for grammar practice each day.
Explain that journalists write with only the facts and attempt to write free of bias. Look for bias in the news article, and then compare it with the transparency of the letter to the editor (or op-ed piece).
Highlight the features of the second transparency to show where the writer's opinion is expressed. Discuss the words that reflect bias. Can students brainstorm other words that signal bias? Lead a class discussion on bias in the news.
Model how to write a summary of a news article, including the main idea and important details. Emphasize the importance of students using their own words when writing a summary.
Assign students to choose an article and write the summary. Use the Newspaper Log Form (PDF) if desired. Over the course of a week, the teacher can assign a different section each day so that students become familiar with all sections of the paper. Allow student choice of article and section from time to time to honor their interests. The overall goal is to encourage a lifelong reading habit.
After students have had several exposures to newspaper style, go back to the Six Journalistic Questions and discuss the style that newspaper writers use to convey information. Model how you would construct a short article on something that happened in your classroom.
Assign students to write a short news article using journalistic style about a school or local event.
Supporting All Learners
Modeling the skills of locating a particular part of speech in a sentence, finding bias in writing, summarizing, and writing in a journalistic style are essential to the success of all learners. Teachers could also partner struggling students with those who are more independent or add a "teacher as editor" segment to conference with those writers needing extra support.
Ask students to search the newspaper for other articles with signs of bias. This could lead to a debate about the media and whether or not they are biased in either what is reported or what does not get reported.
A favorite extension of these lessons is to study interviews within articles, and then have students interview someone in their family and write an article containing the interview. One class of mine put together a newspaper with articles and interviews about each of their births. I sent copies home to each family and received many compliments from parents on the project.
AssignmentsHighlight assigned parts of speech in a news article. Summarize newspaper articles. Write a news article on a school or local event.
Observe your students as they get into the newspaper habit. As you broaden their horizons when you assign an unfamiliar section, ask students to brainstorm how that section might apply to their life or future job. Does the section they turn to, given choice, reflect their interests - and do their interests broaden with exposure to the different sections of the newspaper? Does the newspaper habit lead to discussion between students about current events? Can students reflect on pop culture trends by what is featured in the paper? Your students will provide the best evaluation of this lesson. My students really miss their newspaper time, if the papers happen to be delivered late. Sometimes I run into former students who tell me they still read the newspaper every day because of the habit built in my class. That is success!
Create a rubric at Scholastic's rubric maker at http://teacher.scholastic.com/homepagebuilder/rubric.htm. Assess the summaries on finding the main idea, including essential details, and putting in student's own words. Create another rubric for the student news articles that would assess on answering the Six Journalistic Questions or on a general journalistic style.
Open Newspaper Article Rubric - http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/athens_games/tguide/pop-rubric2.htm - for suggestions.