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Lesson: News Writing Tips and Tricks

Title

News Writing Tips and Tricks

Description

A multi-part lesson on how to write high-quality news articles that attract readers

Summary

This lesson is best for advanced and honors students who have already mastered a basic level of writing. Students will learn what to do and what not to do when writing news articles while writing and revising their own work.

Objectives

  • Students will analyze the qualities of news writing to attract readers.
  • Students will summarize the 6C’s of news writing (Correct, Complete, Consistent, Concise, Clear, Coherent) and apply them in their own work.
  • Students will learn what to watch for in their own writing to be sure that it is clear and easy to read.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1d Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills — Student Outcomes

Skills P21 outcomes
Critical Thinking Reason effectively
Use systems thinking
Make judgments and decisions
Communication Communicate clearly
Information Literacy Access and evaluate information
Use and manage information
Media Literacy Analyze media

Length

Four classes of 50 minutes (additional class time for writing or rewriting)

Materials

Slideshow: News Writing for Readers

Handout: Gems of Advice

Handout: LQTQ

Handout: GQ STUDS

Handout: News Writing Rubric

Quiz: News Writing

Lesson step-by-step

Before this lesson:  Use one of the processes outlined in Lesson: Finding Stories to assign a news story to each student in the class. This lesson is to be used during classes while students are gathering information and conducting interviews outside of class for their news stories.

DAY ONE

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Using the News Writing for Readers slideshow presentation, engage the students in a discussion of what they already know about writing for readers. Show the examples. Ask, “What makes you keep reading?” At this point, you can ask students to find examples from today’s news of writing that enticed them to keep reading, or pull a few examples of  your own from current news.

Discuss these examples or continue on with the presentation at Slide 7. Explain that today students will learn a number of tricks that they can use to improve the overall quality of their writing — not just for news (although that’s the focus) but also for essays, feature writing and other general writing purposes.

2. Present — 30 minutes

Assign students to take notes on this presentation, or distribute the two-sided Gems of Advice handout “Gems of Advice.” To guide students in their note-taking, announce there will be a test (short-answer quiz provided). Continue with the presentation, emphasizing the importance of each of the 6C’s and other tips for high-quality news writing.

FLIPPED CLASSROOM OPTION: Teachers may wish to assign the News Writing for Readers presentation as homework, then just review in class to allow more time for discussion and the related activity.

3. Connecting activity — 10 minutes

Have each student choose a student-written article from your student media or another student publication. Assign them to find and highlight every are, is, were and was in the story, then rewrite one sentence from the article using a strong verb and active voice instead.

4. Closure — 5 minutes

Ask students to share their rewrites.

Assessment

Teachers may ask students to turn in the activity for a daily grade. Grade on-task completion.

5. Take-home activity:

A first draft of the news stories they have previously been assigned is due next class.

DAY TWO

1. Quiz — 15 minutes

Begin the class with the short-answer quiz (News Qualities Quiz) on the previous day’s presentation.

2. Work time

Allow students to work on writing the draft of their news stories in the classroom. This gives them an opportunity for individual coaching on using the LQTQ formula and to address any issues or problems they have. Students should complete a draft by the beginning of the next class. Distribute the LQTQ handout again, or ask them to use the one you’ve already given them in a previous lesson. Use Slides 3-4 of the Revising and Editing slideshow as reminders.

Assessment

Grade the quiz according to its key to assess how well students learned the writing tips. Reteach as necessary, focusing on key qualities that most missed.

Continue to Lesson 5.2 for revising and editing of the story drafts.