A lesson on three strategies to make online stories easier to read.
- Students will identify the challenges unique to journalists when writing online stories.
- Students will be able to explain the three methods of making online stories easier for the reader to understand.
- Students will suggest revisions to a story for better online presentation.
Common Core State Standards
|CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.4||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.|
|CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.3||Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.|
|CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.2||Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.|
Handout: Story from student publication or local media
1. Introduction — 5 minutes
Begin with the slideshow. Have students look at the first two content slides. Ask for volunteers to guess why the fictional reporter’s stories are going unread. (Answer: Stories are all text, difficult and overwhelming to read.) Ask students what they think she should do to make the story more reader-friendly.
2. Activity — 25 minutes
Distribute the printed story to students. Working with a partner, students should use three different writing utensils (color pencils work great) to mark which areas of the text should be linked, and to what, where the text should be chunked, and how, and how the article could be shared on Twitter and through Facebook. Also have them brainstorm graphics or multimedia that could be included and where they should be included.
Alternatively, the story could be shared with students as a Google Doc. Have students open their copy and mark the text using links and formatting within the Google Doc editing panel. After changes are made, the doc should be submitted to you. In this scenario, students should actually link the text, change its format, and use the comment function to suggest multimedia and graphics.
3. Evaluate — 15 minutes
As a class, share the updated story using a document camera or computer if students made the changes on a Google Doc. What did they share in common? Were there differences? Did some link too much, if there is such a thing? Did others miss important opportunities?
4. Evaluate, cont. — 20 minutes
As an extension activity, or for homework, students should complete the story readability evaluation (below and in slideshow) on an online story of their choice. For students who are members of a publication staff, they can use one of their own stories for this evaluation.
HOW READER-FRIENDLY IS MY STORY?
- What is the title of the story?
- Is there a deck, or subheading? If yes, what is it?
- Is the text of the story chunked into parts? If yes, what are the chunks? If no, did you feel it should be, and what could the chunks have been?
- Does the story contain any links? If yes, include them below and indicate the nature of the link.
- Is there a way to share the story via social media? How?
- Are there any interactive elements of the story? Are they engaging? Describe them below.
- Was the story shared via the publication’s social media account(s)? If so, how? Copy the text of the post or tweet.
- Overall, how effectively was the story “chunked, linked and liked”? Was it online reader-friendly?
6. Evaluate, cont. — 30 minutes
As an additional extension, have students do a comparison of the effectiveness of three different organizations (NYT, Wired, Slate, local paper are all good ones). Students should set up a three-column chart in a notebook and label each column with one organization. Look through stories posted to each site to answer the following questions:
- Are they consistent?
- Do they seem to have considered how online readers are different when preparing stories for the Web?
- Are there stories you are more or less likely to read because of the way they appear?
- Which organization would you consider the best at making online stories easier to read?
The story readability checklist could be used throughout the year as a method of critique.
For the three-organization comparison activity, the teacher may want to assign students in different groups different organizations, then have students present their findings while displaying examples from their assigned organization(s).