Getting the Story
- Grades: 6–8, 9–12
- Unit Plan:
The Big Question (PDF) 5-6 Current Newspapers (use also for Lesson Two) Los Angeles Now (PDF) (use also for Lesson Two) Colored pencils/pens Chart paper or chalkboard Lined paper Index cards Overhead projector/transparency
Set Up and PrepareCopy the Big Question reproducible for each student. Print the Los Angeles Now handout for your reference for Step 8. Make a transparency of the Big Question for modeling. 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, paper, and pencils at each group in Step 3. Be familiar with the news headlines of the current newspaper you are using for this lesson. Choose an article, interesting to your students (front page or otherwise), that is conducive for creating the 5 W and How question format. Write the headline from the article you choose on the chalkboard. Create six columns on the chart paper or chalkboard, each with the title of the 5 "W" (When-Where-What-Who-Why) questions plus "How." On index cards, write several "fast facts" about several popular Greek myths to help activate prior learning. I like to use 15 Greek Myth Mini-Books
Step 1: Begin this lesson by referring students to the headline
on the board. Share with them that it is from (your date's) newspaper.
Ask for those who are familiar with the news event to share what they
know with the class.
Step 2: As a class, have the students brainstorm Who, What,
When, Where, Why, and How questions that they think might be answered
in this article, without reading it. Write the questions in the six
columns on the chalkboard.
Step 3: Distribute the newspapers and instruct the groups to
find the article. Have them follow along as you read the article aloud.
While reading, invite the students to raise their hands to signal that
they heard an answer to one of the questions on the board. After reading
the article, have students share the answers that were provided by the
article, as well as those that were not. Briefly discuss why these questions
might not have been addressed in the article, and how one might find
the answers to these questions.
Step 4: Talk about the "inverted pyramid" style of
a breaking news article. In this style, news is reported from the most
important "who, what, where, when, why, and how" of a story
to the least important so that the public does not have to wait to learn
the most crucial facts.
Step 5: Collect the newspapers to use for Lesson Two.
Step 6: Activate prior knowledge of ancient Greek myths by
engaging in a "fast facts" discussion. First, ask students
to recall story elements they remember from each myth before reading.
Then, you read or ask some students to read the fast facts aloud.
Step 7: Tell them the following story:
"It has been many years since the Greek gods influenced
mankind. Zeus, the mightiest of all, has decided that it is time for
him and his fellow gods to travel to Los Angeles (or your city) and
live among our people. Needless to say, their everyday actions around
mortal men have been making headlines ever since. You are a newspaper
reporter and your job is to write an article about one of these remarkable
Step 8: As a class, brainstorm a variety of exciting stories
using a variety of mythological characters (see the Los Angeles Now
handout for some ideas), listing the events on the classroom board.
Then, brainstorm example questions using the 5 W's and How for a few
stories listed on the board.
Step 9: Distribute The Big Question to each student. Inform
them that they need to decide what their news article will be about
and create a compelling headline. Using your transparency of the handout,
instruct students to take notes with the colored pencils as you discuss
the details of the 5 W and How questions. Talk about how news articles
answer some or all of these questions. Write the following on the transparency:
Who - names
the subject of the story. Can be a person, group, a building, an institution,
a concept, etc. Provide some examples pertaining to the mythical characters.
What - the action
taking place. Tells what the who is doing. Use action verbs. Provide
When - the time
the action is happening. Use an adverb or adverb phrase. Provide examples.
Where - the
place the action is happening. Use an adverb or adverb phrase. Provide
Why - explains
the action in the lead. Use an adverb or adverb phrase.
How - usually
describes the manner in which action occurs.
Step 10: Allow time for each student to brainstorm questions
and responses for their news article in the sections. They may need
to write more than one question for each. Ask: Which facts might be
most important to tell readers right away? Students will need this handout
for Lesson Two. If you want to evaluate them prior to Lesson Two, collect
them at this time.
Supporting All Learners
Allow students who are having difficulty
with The Big Question handout to pair up with another student or work
with you to verbally generate ideas.
Allow the students to do their prewriting
with the Myths Brainstorming
Machine. Students can generate ideas about mythical characters,
mood, setting, and view a graphic organizer.
1. Complete The Big Question handout.
Do students comprehend the idea of the
"inverted pyramid" that it summarizes the facts of
a news story? Did students need additional background when recalling
myths and legends of ancient Greece?
Written Outcome: Evaluate each box on The Big Question handout using
this simple "three point per sentence" rubric:
3= Perfect sentence which answers question correctly.
2= There are one or more mistakes in the answer.
1= There was an attempt to answer the question.