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Teacher Resources by Grade
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Creating a Classroom Newspaper
|Grades||3 – 5|
|Lesson Plan Type||Unit|
|Estimated Time||Ten 50-minute sessions|
- Identify the parts of a newspaper
- Identify the format of a news article
- Write a newspaper story
- Edit newspaper articles
- Use ICT equipment and software
- Layout and publish a classroom newspaper
Hold up a sample front page from a selected newspaper. Ask students what they notice about the format that is different from other texts they read (e.g., black and white ink, graphics, headline, column format).
Divide the students into groups of three to four members. Explain to the students that they will explore a newspaper, paying attention to the layout and format. Instruct students to study the front page first and discuss what different parts they notice.
Ask each group to report back to the whole class what members noticed was contained on the front page. Make a list of parts on the board. (e.g., title, headlines, pictures or graphics, captions, date, subtitles, table of contents/index, etc.). Students should notice similarities between different newspapers.
Discuss with the class how newspapers use a standard format.
In their groups, have students continue to explore copies of newspapers. What kinds of things do they notice? Students should begin to identify sections and features that are specific to newspapers. Have the groups again report to the whole class what types of items they noticed in their paper. Continue keeping the list of items on the board. (Additional items may include: editorials, cartoons, horoscope, local news, weddings, classifieds, advertising, etc.)
Explain to the class that people read newspapers differently than other types of texts. Discuss how people read newspapers. Reading a newspaper matches people's interests in certain things. They scan headlines, subtitles, and images to see if the story interests them or not.
Read some sample headlines from newspapers. Ask, "How many of you would be interested in reading this story?"
For homework, have students ask their family members what newspapers they read regularly and what sections they read most often. Give an example of your own newspaper reading habits. (For example, "First I check the weather to help me decide what to wear to school. Then I go to the local news to see what is happening in my town. Finally, I scan the headlines to see what is happening in the world. If I have time, I start the crossword puzzle.")
Ask the students to report about their family's newspaper reading habits. Make a list of newspapers that are read and determine which are the most common.
List the words who, what, where, when, and why on the board, overhead, or chart paper. Answer each of the five W questions using the popular rhyme "Jack & Jill."
- Who? Jack and Jill
- What? Fell down and broke crown
- Where? On the hill
- When? Sometime in the past
- Why? Trying to fetch water
Read "Bad Fall Injures Children" article from page 4 of the Grandview Newspaper lesson plan. Students clarify their previous responses to the five Ws according to the article. Explain how these five questions help to summarize a news story.
Put students in groups of three to four members. Ask the students to choose another famous rhyme or fairy tale and answer the five W questions. Have each group read just the answers to their questions, and then have the class try to guess what fairy tale or rhyme it is. Explain that these five Ws help with the organization of a news story and that they make up the most important details of the story.
Demonstrate to the class the organization of a good news story using the Inverted Pyramid Format overhead. Use a sample newspaper story to illustrate an example of this format
For homework, ask students to select a newspaper article that they are interested in reading and bring it to school the next day.
Give students time to read the newspaper article they brought from home. Hand out the Newspaper Story Format sheet. Students should then complete the sheet using details from their particular article and share the summary of their newspaper article.
Ask the students to rewrite the newspaper article in their own words as if they were a reporter for their local newspaper. What changes would they make and why?
Have the students share their stories with a classmate using the following questions to guide their discussion:
- Were changes made to the lead? Why?
- Were changes made to the five Ws? Why?
- Were changes made to the details? Why?
As a class, discuss fact versus opinion. Explain that news articles do not include the reporter's opinion. Have students go back and see if the changes that were made to their articles were strictly factual. Refer to original articles as needed for examples of fact-based stories.
Read-aloud to the class from one or more of the suggested titles:
- Deadline! From News to Newspaper by Gail Gibbons
- The Furry News: How to Make a Newspaper by Loreen Leedy
- Freddy and the Bean Home News by Walter R. Brooks
Have students brainstorm the types of articles they would like to write and list them on the board. Look at the list and ask students if the articles could be grouped into categories or "newspaper sections."
Use the Reporting Tips overhead to present how to make newspaper articles more interesting. Go over each point and clarify any questions that students may raise.
Group students based on interests to form an "editorial staff" for each newspaper section. Have the groups meet to decide who will write which stories. Students can use the Reporter's Guide handout as a guideline. When they have finished, students can begin collecting facts for their stories.
Take students to the computer lab and have them write their first draft. They should not worry about font, size, or columns at this point. Be sure that they save their work and print a hard copy of their article for editing.
Students' stories should then be self-edited and edited by two other members of their editorial staff (using the Story Feedback Form). Students should make necessary revisions to their stories based on the comments from the Story Feedback Form.
In the computer lab, have students access the Internet Public Library website and explore newspapers from around the world. They should pay particular attention to the design and layout elements. For example, some articles may include graphics (e.g., photos, charts, graphs). Discuss what patterns of layout design the students noticed.
As a whole class, discuss newspaper layout, addressing the following points:
- Headline News: Top priority articles are near the front (1-2 pages). These are typically of high interest to your entire audience of readers (e.g., town news such as a new park or community center). Long front-page articles can be continued on an inside page to provide room for other headline news.
- Feature Articles: Stories about topics or events that are of interest to a certain group of readers (e.g., sports, animal stories, academic topics, interviews with school staff, book reviews). These are typically grouped into sections.
- Pictures or graphics: The image should always appear with the story. A caption can be included. The size usually depends on how much space is available in the layout.
Give students the opportunity to explore these layout items in newspapers in the classroom and online. Students should look at the Junior Seahawk Newsletter to get ideas for their own layout.
In the computer lab, students should complete final story revisions. They may then begin the newspaper layout using appropriate software. The ReadWriteThink Printing Press includes an option for creating a newspaper. Each editorial staff works together to complete their newspaper section.
Note: 8 ½ X 11 size pages are optimal. They can be printed and copied back to back on 11 X 17 paper that can be folded like a real newspaper. The completed paper must have an even number of pages for this format.
Pictures can be drawn or pasted into the layout. Depending on the available resources, pictures can also be scanned or downloaded from a digital camera. Tell students to play around with fonts and columns. They should experiment and be creative!
Once pages are completed, they should be printed. The editorial staff should do a final reading for errors. Pages are then submitted to the teacher for publishing.
Distribute the class newspaper to the students and allow them time to read it. When they have finished, hand out the Newspaper Writing Assessment sheet and ask them to fill it out.
Assess students' comments from the Newspaper Writing Assessment sheet.