This unit plan has students act as journalists and write a news story about the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912.
- Use technology to research the life and accomplishments of an important American figure
- Write an anecdotal news account of an American hero based on biographical information
- Write an expository essay based on online research
- Complete the entire writing process: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing
- Pencil and paper
- Lost Star or another Amelia Earhart biography
- Computer lab with Internet connection and access to The Flight of Amelia Earhart student activity
- News Story Rubric (PDF)
Set Up and Prepare
Part I (2 Class Periods in Computer Lab)
Step 2: Instruct students to choose one event that intrigues them. This will be the event they cover in their newspaper article. Remind them about the purpose of an anecdote from Lesson One and that their article will cover a single event in Earhart’s life.
Step 3: Once they choose their event, have them browse the Internet, books, or encyclopedias to gather information on the specific event.
Step 4: Conduct a brief book talk about Lost Star. Provide several copies for research.
Step 5: During the next day or so, encourage students to gather additional resources from the school or public library and bring them to class.
Part II (In Computer Lab)
Step 6: Introduce the News Story Rubric printable to the students. Highlight key elements of the final draft.
Step 7: Review the writing assignment by having students visit The Flight of Amelia Earhart: Write a News Story.
Step 8: Allow time for students to write their rough draft of the newspaper article.
Step 9: When students complete their drafts, have everyone switch papers with a partner. Instruct them to proofread and help revise the articles as needed.
Note: You may want to make extra copies of the rubric and ask each student to give each article a preliminary grade. This is a good strategy to show students how successful their article is in meeting the assignment objectives.
Step 10: Allow students time to incorporate their peer's feedback and rewrite a final draft of the newspaper article. This may take two more class periods in addition to homework assignments.
Here’s the crucial part. All writers, including students, must be given an audience for their writing. Whether students share in small groups, with a partner, or on a prominent bulletin board, they must participate actively through the publishing stage.
Step 11: With students, decide on a creative way to publish the completed newspaper articles.
Invite each student to write an expository essay on a famous woman in history. I would suggest that this be done independently in order for the students to demonstrate the transfer of learning. Students may use the Women Who Changed History activity or the Honor Roll of Notable Women Online activity as starting points for research.
Step 2: Students should conduct research about their chosen women as they did for the Amelia Earhart articles.
Step 3: After thoroughly researching the women, students should write about the women's lives in expository essays. You may use a rubric similar to the News Story Rubric to evaluate this essay.
Optional: I also recommend that you give students an audience to share these women's stories, whether in class or on a school bulletin board.
Supporting All Learners
The opportunity to work with their peers offers every student the same chance for success.
Students may expand research to nonprint resources such as movies and films. Remind them to only use nonfiction resources from credible sources.
Suggest that students discuss their person to research with their families. Parents may also help students acquire resources for the research.
Use the rubrics from the newspaper article to gauge how well students grasped the concept of an anecdote. This will also reveal how students are able to complete the writing process, which will let the teacher know where to begin with the next writing lesson.
- Using the News Story Rubric, evaluate the newspaper article.
- Observe participation during the research and writing process.