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Create a Class Newspaper

Students will identify issues or events that are important in the school or community. They will conduct interviews to learn what happened. Then they will choose a format and write a news article about their subject. They will combine their articles to create a class newspaper.

PROCESS:

  1. Inform students that several different types of news articles appear in newspapers and magazines: a) Straight news articles report on breaking news or current events. b) Background pieces analyze what's behind breaking news to give readers more perspective on current events. c) Investigative reports go even deeper, usually digging up secrets someone is trying to hide. d) Features focus on people, introducing the public to ordinary people who do extraordinary things. e) And opinion pieces, or editorials, are a means for journalists to express their personal opinions.
  2. Discuss the merits of each type of news article. Then challenge students to identify difficulties journalists might face as they worked on each. For example, straight news articles are usually written on a tight deadline. It takes a lot of research-and sometimes luck-to dig up secrets for an investigative report. Even features can be challenging if the subject is reluctant to reveal details about his or her life.
  3. Have students brainstorm ideas for articles about issues or events that are important to your school or community. Assign topics and have students select the type of news article they would like to pursue. Then give students time to conduct interviews and write their articles.

ASSESSMENT:

Combine students' articles to create a classroom newspaper. Give students time to read the paper. Then invite writers to discuss their articles with the class. Encourage them to share any issues they ran into as they conducted their interviews. As a class, discuss why it is important for countries-or schools and communities-to have a free press.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
Prior to conducting this activity, provide students with tape recorders or digital recording devices. Encourage students to practice interviewing one another and recording their conversations. Continue doing this until all students are comfortable with the process. Then brainstorm ideas for articles as a class. Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group one topic. Help groups identify the best type of article for their topic, key people they should interview and important questions to ask. Give students time to conduct their interviews and write their articles.
Grades 5-6:
Prior to conducting this activity, provide students with tape recorders or digital recording devices. Encourage students to practice interviewing one another and recording their conversations. Then divide the class into small groups. Challenge each group to think of a good topic for an article. There should be no repeats. Then have groups identify the best type of article for their topic, key people to interview and important questions to ask. Encourage groups to divide the work so each member contributes to the final product. Give students time to conduct their interviews and write their articles.
Grades 7-8:
Prior to conducting this activity, provide students with tape recorders or digital recording devices. Check to make sure that all students understand how to use the recorders and are comfortable with the interviewing process. Then divide the class into pairs. Instruct each pair to select a topic for its news article. There should be no repeats. Then tell partners to choose the type of article they'd like to write, identify key people to interview and create a list of important questions to ask. Give students time to investigate their topics and write their articles. As they write, remind them to develop their topics with facts, definitions and concrete details about the subject. Encourage them to include quotes from sources involved in the story.
Grades 9-10:
Prior to conducting this activity, provide students with tape recorders or digital recording devices. Check to make sure that all students understand how to use the recorders and are comfortable with the interviewing process. Then instruct each student to select a topic and format for a news article. There should be no repeats. Give students time to investigate their subjects and write their articles. As they write, tell students to develop their topics with facts, definitions and concrete details. Encourage them to include several quotes from sources involved in the story. As an added challenge, have students find appropriate photos to accompany their articles.