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Writing social media posts for breaking news


A lesson introducing students to techniques used in writing for social media, with a particular focus on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest


  • Students will explain the process for writing an effective social media post.
  • Students will write social media posts for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest that effectively and ethically convey information to an audience.
  • Students will participate in a simulated breaking news situation, “updating” social media accounts in real time to reflect a changing news story.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.


60-140 minutes


Handout: Simulation 1 — Student

Handout: Simulation 1 — Teacher

Handout: Simulation 2 — Student

Handout: Simulation 2 — Teacher

Rubric: Social media post

Handout: Writing for social media homework practice

Slideshow: Writing for social media

Handout: Writing for social media slideshow notes

Rubric: Breaking news simulation

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

1. Review from previous lesson — 5 minutes

Remind students of the previous class discussions centered around the centrality of social media in the changing 21st Century media marketplace, and how important it is to craft social media posts carefully because they are generally a journalist’s primary means of public relations.

2. Slideshow — 15 minutes

Distribute the note-taking guide for social media and go through the slideshow about how to write a social media post, taking questions and explaining each of the main examples.

3. Sample discussion — 10 minutes

Show the first example from the slideshow of how to develop a breaking news situation for social media by posting to Twitter first and continuously, following up on Facebook, and archiving articles and other content in a Pinterest board as the story progresses.

4. Rubric distribution and discussion — 5 minutes

Review the Social Media Post Rubric with students, making sure to explain why each section is important.

5. Partner practice — 10 minutes

Student pairs should complete Example 2 in the Writing for Social Media Notes. There is ONE situation, but six steps (most important info, sentence, headline, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest.)

6. Small group discussions — 5-10 minutes

Place students in groups with others who had the same scenario and have them compare and contrast the ways each student approached the story. Additionally, have each group use the rubric to rate the posts and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. If time, ask each group to report their approaches back to the class.

7. Homework assignment — remaining class time

Distribute the homework assignment (writing for social media homework practice) and review the instructions with the students, prompting them to complete the same exercises on their own and be ready to discuss them in class.

Day 2

1. Homework review — 5 minutes

Split students into groups and ask each group to review one of the homework examples together, then discuss the results as a class. Determine if students are ready to move on to the simulation or if they need more practice with the skill before practicing it in a pressured situation.

2. Option 1 for simulation (for those who are struggling) distribution — 5 minutes

If students need more practice, distribute materials for simulation 2, which includes the same story as simulation 1 but allows students to develop their social media posts without time constraints. Alternatively, students could practice writing social media posts for their own previously published work, for a real-world hook.

3. Option 2 for simulation (for those who are not struggling) distribution — 5 minutes

If students are ready, distribute materials for simulation 1, which requires students to write posts for various social media as the teacher presents different facts about a developing news story via slideshow or by simply reading the new developments. Students may work in small teams or on their own, depending on their readiness and teacher goals.

4. Instructions for simulation — 5 minutes

Explain the simulation instructions, going through each step in the process and being sure to review the rubric requirements for a good social media post with students before starting.

5. Simulation — 30 minutes

Read the opening situation for the simulation and prompt students to write a Twitter post; the beginning gives the background for the scenario, as follows:

The quarterback of the Tigers football team, junior Andrew Weaver, has collapsed in the middle of the third quarter of the Homecoming football game, holding his stomach and screaming. Weaver had previously thrown for three touchdowns, with the team leading over the Spiders at 21-7. Paramedics are running onto the football field and general panic is settling over the crowd. Weaver’s girlfriend, senior Angela Snow, the drum major for the marching band, is running toward him, leaving her post.

After students have had several minutes to write a Twitter post, read the next piece of information and prompt students to write a Twitter update and a Facebook post.

Weaver has been taken off the field on a stretcher and freshman replacement quarterback Mitchell Isaacs has taken over. Isaacs has never played in a varsity game, but has led the JV team to a record of 2-1 so far. Snow has departed with Weaver and junior Peter Monroe has taken over as drum major.

Continue reading through the following updates, asking students to write a Twitter or Facebook post, according to your preferences.

At the end of the fourth quarter, the Spiders have scored two touchdowns, but Isaacs has yet to complete a pass; the score is 21-21. With 30 seconds remaining on the clock, Isaacs hands off to senior Tristan Lin, who runs the ball for a first down at 18 yards.

The Tigers win the Homecoming football game 24-21, thanks to a last-minute field goal. Though Isaacs did not assist with a touchdown, the team still high-fives him before rushing off in a bus to the local hospital to find out about Weaver’s condition.

Weaver’s parents, Jack and Cindy, release a statement through the school the next morning, stating that his appendix had been inflamed and burst after a tackle during the game. He has been in surgery, but will recover; however, he will miss several weeks of school. Snow still dresses for the Homecoming dance on Saturday, but visits Weaver in the hospital instead of going to the dance with her friends.

The following week, the football coach announces that Isaacs will take over during Weaver’s absence. He practices during the week and throws one pass for a touchdown against the Bears, but the team still loses, 7-30.

6. Peer feedback and assignment — 10 minutes

Ask students to trade posts with a partner/another group and to critique the list of posts using the rubric, marking one that is their favorite and one that needs the most work. Students should then turn in their work for evaluation. Use the breaking news simulation rubric to grade student work.