Follow the News
At the beginning of the month (or semester, depending on how extensive your current events unit is), discuss a few news events with the class and focus on one that sparks the most interest among your students. Instruct them to listen to the news, read the papers, and surf the Internet to get more information about the story as it unfolds. Encourage students to bring in newspaper clippings, Web research, photos, and other information that chronicles the story. Dedicate a bulletin board or set aside wall space to post the updates they’ve gathered, and spend a little time each morning discussing the latest reports. By following a story together, your students will develop an interest in keeping up with current events and will begin to understand how the news affects them and the people around them.
Discuss the role editorial cartoons play in communicating the news, and invite students to bring in examples they find in news sources at home. Together, create a class collection of editorial cartoons and discuss how cartoonists use the form to make readers laugh and think. Then ask students to create their own editorial cartoons about the upcoming election or another current event, and add them to the collection.
Scavenge the Papers
Conduct a newspaper scavenger hunt by providing each student with a copy of the day’s newspaper, along with a list of things to find on the front page. For instance, they might hunt for examples of math-related words and terms (a percent, a measurement of distance, a cost, an address, a fraction) or grammar-related terms (a present-tense verb, a past-tense verb, a proper noun, an abbreviation, a colon, serial commas). Students could also work in small groups to hunt for as many nouns (or proper nouns, or verbs) as they can find in a story or on the entire front page. The group that finds the most within the allotted amount of time is the winner.
Find the Story
Traditionally, news stories are written in an inverted pyramid format, with the most important information at the top and less significant details toward the bottom. Explain to students that in a well-written news article, they should be able to find answers to the “five Ws” (who? what? when? where? why?) at the top. Ask them to bring in news stories from home or distribute various news stories you’ve collected and let them practice finding the main ideas and summarizing the story.
Rewrite the News
Provide each student with a different article from a newspaper or news website. Ask them to read the story, determine its five Ws, and write them down on a separate sheet of paper. Collect the students’ papers and redistribute them among the class. Ask students to review the new list of five Ws they’ve received and use them to write the opening paragraph of a news story. When everyone has completed their paragraphs, have students share their pieces and the original stories to see how they compare.
Create New Forms
After discussing the role that newspapers, news sites, and television newscasts play in our world, ask students
to create their own news products, either for current events or for a time period that they may be studying in history class. They could create a newspaper, videotape their own broadcast, or even set up a simple news website, using a platform such
as Tumblr. Consider having students work in groups so that they can learn about all the different roles that are involved in researching and reporting the news.
Report the News
The school building is the perfect environment for getting your young reporters out into the field. Divide students into small groups and then assign each group a “beat.” One of the groups might interview the front office staff about upcoming assemblies or guest speakers. Another might check in with the P.E. teacher about seasonal sports. A third could speak with the school’s kindergarten teachers about the projects their students are working on, while a fourth could talk with cafeteria staff about healthy menu options. They shouldn’t forget to gather quotes about various school happenings from fellow students. As the editor-in-chief, you’ll guide students in publishing their school news.