Search Menu


This site is available only to JEA members. Please log in below.

Condensing for space


In this lesson, students bring completed feature or longer news stories to class. These may be drafts or final work. Students will be asked to cut the stories to fit a smaller space.



  • Students will be able to identify the most important information in a story for the given audience.
  • Students will be able to rewrite a longer story to be more concise and remove detail yet retain balance and accuracy.


Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.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.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.9-10.8 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.WHST.11-12.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes and audiences.
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.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.9-10.7 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.


60 minutes


Completed drafts of student writing that is at least 300-400 words in length

Rubric: Condensed news story


Lesson step-by-step

1. Introduction — 5 minutes

Frame today’s editing activity with this announcement: You’ve written a story, and your editor just told you it has to be cut to a news brief because the principal has just announced his/her resignation (he/she is moving). The story will fill the front page and bump your story to another, smaller spot.

You have just 30 minutes to rewrite your story so it is 150-200 words long. It should be a news brief that conveys the main facts and includes at least one source.

2. Writing time — 30 minutes

Provide students time to write in class. Remind them to go back to their initial 5W’s and H and to be sure the story is balanced.

3. Pair share — 15 minutes

Divide into partner groups so students can read each other’s work. They should be able to highlight the 5W’s and H from their partner’s story. Invite them to ask clarifying questions of the writer and offer constructive feedback. Move among the partner groups as needed and emphasize that their goal in pairs is to make sure the new story includes all necessary information.

4. Discussion and closure — 10 minutes

Ask the class to reflect together on the experience. What was hard? What was easy? What was your process? These reflection questions could be part of an exit ticket or brief journal entry.

Evaluate students’ stories using the rubric provided.


One option for students who need more time or special accommodations is to ask them to mark the original story in places it can be cut rather than rewriting the full story. Another option is for students to continue the revision exercise as homework or to work with a partner, editor or advanced student to work through each part of the story at a slower pace or with guidance.