Thursday, June 20, 2013
Creating a Classroom Newspaper: Part 2 of 3
Days 6-7: What Do You Know and Need to Know. Since newspaper writing is a kind of informational text writing, it all starts with the 5 W's (and H). It's all about the facts. This was also another nice opportunity to reinforce the difference between facts and opinions. I spoke about journalistic ethics, and how writers should not write something if it is not a fact. I know. I know. Many journalists have thrown that part out the window these days, but we can certainly teach the ideal, right? I had my students just draw this graphic organizer in their Writer's Workshop notebooks, but I have also created a Newspaper Article Prewriting Graphic Organizer freebie that you are welcome to use to do just this.
Then students were to begin filling in the graphic organizer with all the facts they knew. Any holes in the graphic organizer became questions to go at the bottom of the organizer. Finally, students were to write down who could answer those questions for them. That gave them the names of who they would need to interview. It took most students about two class times to complete this form and generate a good list of questions.
Days 8-9: Conducting Interviews. Before I set the students loose to conduct their interviews, I went over some etiquette rules. I wanted to make sure they weren't just going to barge into someone's classroom and start attacking them with questions. I also gave the teachers the heads up that one of my students would be coming. I went over how to politely ask the questions and how to write down their answers. Many of my students just needed to ask other students questions or interview me, so we really didn't disturb too many teachers for too long.
inverted pyramid structure (from the Jack and Jill lesson). In this structure, facts are written in a story in the order of importance, not sequential order like most students are used to writing. The reason this is the case is that most newspaper readers don't ever finish a story. I emphasized to the students that their job when writing was to make the headline interesting enough that a reader would want to read the lead (or introduction). And then they had to make the lead interesting enough that a reader would want to keep reading. And finally, they need to put all the really important facts at the top of the story so the reader got the big ideas before they stopped reading.
Days 13-14: Self and Peer Editing and Editor Approval. Once their rough draft was complete, the students were to self-edit their writing. Then they were to exchange stories with a peer and edit each other's writing as well. Finally, they needed to get the approval of the editor-in-chief (me).
Day 15: Typing the Stories. I scheduled a day in the computer lab when most everyone was done with their stories. I had the students all type their stories with a headline and their byline into Microsoft Word.
Of course, there were some students who worked through this process faster than others. That's where the extra submissions opportunities came into play. I told students, once their story was complete, they could work on additional items for the paper. I gave them choices of writing an opinion story, creating ads (on paper or in the computer), illustrating their story, drawing and writing a comic, or creating a game such as a word search or crossword. It all ended up working out pretty well, and the students were generally busy the whole time we were working on the classroom newspaper.
The last blog post discussing creating classroom newspapers will hit on laying out the newspaper, proofing, printing, and distributing.