Using Best Newspaper Writing in a Journalism Class

Megan Harowitz
Winter Springs High School
Winter Springs, Florida

Overview and Rationale
Not only should students be exposed to excellent journalism, but they should also understand what makes excellent news writing. By having students read excellent articles on their own time, they are able to reflect on the reporting at their own pace.

Goals for Understanding
Students will be able to:

  • recognize a genre of reporting
  • identify reporter’s techniques
  • compare and contrast reporter’s techniques

Essential Questions

  • What makes excellent reporting?
  • How do reporters use various writing techniques?
  • How do you identify a particular genre of reporting?

Critical Engagement Questions

  • How does a reporter structure his/her article?
  • How do the reporter’s techniques relate to a particular genre of writing?


Activity One

  • The teacher will lead a brief mini-lesson on the key techniques and characteristics of a particular genre of reporting.
  • The teacher may show outside examples, but should avoid going into too much detail, as that would negate the rest of the lesson. Essentially, the teacher provides students with a platform from which to build knowledge of that particular genre.
  • Students will need to read news articles of both the finalists and the winners within one assigned genre of reporting. This can be done in class, assigned as homework, or both.

Activity Two (60 min. period)

  • In class, break students into small groups and provide each group with an overhead transparency and marker. Assign one half of the class the winner’s articles, while the other half can cover the finalist’s articles.
  • In their groups, students should identify as many journalistic techniques as possible. Students should draw on previous knowledge of terminology from other lessons, or if they have limited previous knowledge, they should look for patterns. All elements or techniques are recorded on their transparency.
  • Students answer the question: What makes this piece an example of excellent reporting?
  • Also, students identify a particular line or graph they believe is especially poignant.
  • Again, all information should be recorded legibly on the transparencies.
  • Once groups finish discussing, they briefly present their information to the class.
  • While groups are presenting, the teacher takes his/her own notes (on a transparency) of similarities and differences between each student presentation. After student groups finish, the teacher presents his/her information to the class and points out repeated patterns, techniques, etc.
  • As a homework assignment, students write an article in the assigned genre. Within their article, students should include certain elements of “excellent writing,” as agreed upon in class discussion.


Students will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • participation in group work
  • their assigned article, which meets the criteria discussed in class
  • on future tests or quizzes, a passage of the assigned genre can be included and students should identify traits of the pieces