SchoolJournalism.org

Practice Makes Perfect: An Exercise in News Writing

Katrina Myers
Henley High School
Klamath Falls, Oregon

Overview and Rationale:
To begin understanding how to write a news article, students must be able to recognize elements of a good story and then strengthen their writing skills by shadow writing an article in a similar voice. These activities will increase in difficulty as the semester progresses. This exercise could become a staple of the classroom. As it does, students will progress into bringing their information and working with it to create a news story that reflects good writing.

Goals for Understanding

  • Essential Questions:
    • What elements make a news story
    • What elements are present in the sample story
    • What is the organizational style of the sample story
  • Critical Engagement Questions
    • How do professional writers put together news stories
    • Oregon standards of “analysis of writing” apply (see Standards)

Resources/Materials

  • Overhead projector
  • Three copies of different news stories
  • Worksheet for partner work (related article)
  • List of newspaper facts for organization activity (related article)

Overview and Timelines
This lesson will take place over the course of 2 days

Activity 1 – (20 minutes)

  • Teacher will briefly review news terms and then will put an overhead of a typical well-written news story on the overhead and go through the story and show students the following elements that have been previously discussed:
    • Lead
    • Nut graph
    • Quotes
    • Transitions
    • Style/Grammar
    • Quality

Activity 2 – (30 minutes)

  • Teacher will give students a copy of a newspaper article that would have interest to the students to read as partners and discuss. Students will use a highlighter to identify each element of the story, noting placement of elements.
  • Students will then share their ideas with the group.
  • Teacher will put the news story on the overhead and using the groups input identify the elements.

Activity 3 – (20 minutes)

  • Teacher will give handout to students with a variety of information, and with that information write a news story incorporating the elements discussed and practiced.
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