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Monday Morning Ready04.20.2018
Jumpstart Your Week!

If you visit the halls of government in most developed countries, you’ll see not just politicians at work, but journalists documenting the decision-making with cameras and computers. But for five days in 2016, the Polish parliament’s debating chamber banned journalists altogether.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Do you think journalists should be allowed to write about anything they want to? Why or why not?

Grade 5-6

Why do you think a government would want to ban journalists from documenting its decision-making process?

Grade 7-8

What does the term "free press" mean? Do you think it's important to have a free press? Why or why not?

Grade 9-10

According to the article, in 2016 leaders of Poland's ruling party tried to ban journalists from covering government meetings. They also tried to control how journalists characterized the country's history. Do you think a government should be able to control the news like this? And why would a government want to rewrite people's ideas about the past?

LESSON PLAN
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.
VISUAL RESOURCES: FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
Spreading the News
In this lesson from the National Museum of American History, students follow a guided Internet hunt as they play the role of a newspaper reporter trying to research, write and publish an article about the history of the Star Spangled Banner. The lesson’s intent is to teach how to better synthesize ideas and facts in written and artistic products.

For All the World to See
This online exhibition from the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County explores the role of visual media, such as newspapers, photographs and film in shaping the fight for racial equality and justice in the United States. Associated educational resources hone skills of comparing and contrasting, image and object analysis and making personal connections.

Limits of Presidential Power
This section of the National Museum of American History’s online exhibit “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden” addresses the limits of presidential power. It explores the importance of the system of checks and balances, Congress, the Supreme Court, impeachment, public opinion and the press in restricting the powers of the president.

Declaring Ourselves Free
With this teacher-created lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students learn about the Declaration of Independence by creating their own document—something they would write if they were to declare independence from the United States today.

First Amendment
This Smithsonian History Explorer inquiry leads students through an investigation of students’ rights and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. By investigating the compelling question, students consider the ways in which their rights provide a unique perspective on learning about the First Amendment and the extent to which schools are “special areas,” in which various courts have made rulings that may be seen as limiting students’ First Amendment rights.

How the Associated Press Became Part of the Nazi Propaganda Machine
Journalism is all about access. To get the scoop, reporters must first get in. But some access comes with a price—and when totalitarian states hold the keys, ethical lines can be crossed. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn why researchers think an agreement like this existed during World War II between one of the world’s most respected news organizations and the Hitler regime.
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