Georgian Court University

Home Up Newspaper Intro Phragmites Times

What’s in a newspaper?

Introduction: People read newspapers for lots of different reasons, including to obtain information (facts), to hear interpretation of events (opinions) and for entertainment.  In this lesson, students will explore the different sections of a newspaper.  Students will also read specific articles and assess how the author of the story answered the “5W’s and H.”   Finally students will practice distinguishing between fact and opinion within a newspaper article

Grade/Level:  6, 7, 8

Estimated Time Frame:  One to two 45 minute class periods

New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

Standard 3.1:  (Reading) All students will understand and apply the knowledge of sounds, letters, and words in written English to become independent and fluent readers, and will read a variety of materials and texts with fluency and comprehension

Concepts About Print/Text

·          Survey and explain text features that contribute to comprehension (e.g., headings, introductory, concluding paragraphs).

·          Recognize and use common print formats to obtain information (e.g., newspapers, magazines, electronic sources).

Decoding and Word Recognition

·          Use a dictionary to decode new words independently.

·          Use context clues or knowledge of phonics, syllabication, prefixes, and suffixes to decode new words.

Reading Strategies (before, during, and after reading)

·          Apply graphic organizers to illustrate key concepts and relationships in a text.

Comprehension Skills and Response to Text

·          Respond critically to an author’s purpose, ideas, views, and beliefs.

·          Identify genre by their distinctive elements (e.g. tall tale-exaggeration).

·          Use cause and effect and sequence of events to gain meaning.

·          Construct meaning from text by making conscious connections to self, an author, and others.

·          Recognize persuasive and propaganda techniques used to influence readers.

·          Recognize and understand historical and cultural biases and different points of view.

·          Identify and analyze features of themes conveyed through characters, actions, and images.

·          Distinguish between major and minor details.

·          Make inferences using textual information and provide supporting evidence.

·          Recognize common organizational patterns in text that support comprehension (e.g., headings captions).

Inquiry and Research

·          Develop and revise questions for investigations prior to, during, and after reading.

·          Select and use multiple sources to locate information relevant to research questions.

·          Draw conclusions from information gathered from multiple sources.

·          Interpret and use graphic sources of information such as maps, graphs, timelines, or tables to address research questions.

·          Summarize and organize information by taking notes, outlining ideas, and/or making charts.

·          Produce projects and reports, using visuals, media, and/or technology to show learning and support the learning of an audience.

·          Compare themes, characters, settings, and ideas across texts or works and produce evidence of understanding

STANDARD 3.5 (Viewing and media literacy) All students will access, view, evaluate, and respond to print, nonprint, and electronic texts and resources

Constructing Meaning

·          Respond to and evaluate the use of illustrations to support text.

·          Distinguish between factual and fictional visual representations (e.g. political cartoons).

·          Identify the target audience for a particular program, story, or advertisement.

·          Demonstrate an awareness of different media forms (e.g. newspapers, internet, magazines) and how they contribute to communication.

·          Understand uses of persuasive text related to advertising in society.

·          Distinguish different points of view in media texts.

Visual and Verbal Messages

·          Understand that creators of both print media and electronic media have a purpose and target audience for their work.

·          Evaluate media messages for credibility.

·          Explore and interpret various messages found in advertisements and other texts.

·          Compare and contrast media sources, such as film and book versions of a story.

Living with Media

·          Express and justify preferences for media choices.

·          Use a rubric to evaluate the content of media presentations.

·           Examine and evaluate effects of media on the family, home, and school.

STANDARD 9.2 (Consumer, Family, and Life Skills) All students will demonstrate critical life skills in order to be functional members of society.

Critical Thinking

·          Communicate, analyze data, apply technology, and problem solve.

Interpersonal Communication

·          Demonstrate respect and flexibility in interpersonal and group situations.

·          Organize thoughts to reflect logical thinking and speaking.

·          Work cooperatively with others to solve a problem.

·          Demonstrate appropriate social skills within group activities.

·          Practice the skills necessary to avoid physical and verbal confrontation in individual and group settings.

·          Participate as a member of a team and contribute to group effort.

Performance/Behavioral Objectives


SWBAT analyze an example newspaper and identify the different sections and types of information found in each.


Student will demonstrate familiarity with some of vocabulary associated with newspapers


Students will assess articles within a  newspaper article in order to distinguish between the facts and opinions contained within it


SWBAT identify the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, why) and the H (how) of a newspaper article

Materials and Resources:

Variety of newspapers



Vocabulary sheet


Fact / opinion worksheet


Newspaper article analysis worksheet


Story Star worksheet


5 W's and the H chart

(The teacher should have the handouts at the front of the class for the students; also there should be plenty of extra copies.)  Note:  Unless otherwise noted, these charts and worksheets are modified from

Newspaper Vocabulary:

·        Above the fold : The top half of the first page:  This is the place where the top stories  in the paper are run since they will be seen even when the paper is folded on a shelf in the store.

·        Art / Photo Editor :  Locates images to illustrate stories.  May also create images by drawing, photography or use of computer graphic programs.

·        Article : A story written about a given topic.

·        Beat : Most reporters have a specialization or "beat," e.g. entertainment, food, sports, etc.

·        Byline : Name of the reporter who wrote an article.  Not all articles are credited to the reporter who wrote them, but if they are, the byline will usually run at the top or bottom of the article.

·        Caption : When graphics such as photos or art are used, the words under that picture that describe what it is are termed the "caption."

·        Copy :  All material written for a paper is referred to as "copy."

·        Cut : shorten. Because space in a newspaper is often limited, articles are often cut by an editor to fit into the available space

·        Deadline : Because the newspaper must be completed by a certain time in order to be printed and on your doorstep when you wake up in the morning, reporters usually have to have their work completed by a certain time in order to be included in the next day’s paper.

·        Editor : Approves writing assignments from team members. Makes sure the newspaper meets deadline, keeps people on task, and proofreads everything

·        Editorials : Opinion articles, written by the publisher, editors, and columnists of the paper.

·        Feature : A newspaper article that is about something that would be interesting at any time (rather than news which tends to be time-sensitive).  These articles may be connected to news stories, but can also stand alone (for example, a feature article might discuss the loss of biodiversity currently underway in ecosystems around the world, or describe the way in the increasing trend for humans to live in cities and suburbs rather than on farms in the countryside might affect people’s views on animal rights or the need for conservation of wild places).

·        Flag : The title (often including a distinctive logo) of the newspaper.  This is usually seen at the top of the front page

·        Headline : Each story or article has a headline designed to provide a sense of what the article below it is about. This is usually printed in a larger font and in bold face and should build readers’ interest in reading the story.

·        Hook : Reporters know that if you are not interested in what you are reading, you will quickly move on to the next thing.  As a result, they try to write something particularly interesting or provocative in the first couple of sentences of their article in order to catch your attention and make you want to read on into the rest of the story.

·        Lead Story or Article : The main article in a paper each day.  The headline and at least the first part of this story will appear at the top of the front page (above the fold).

·        Lead (or lede) : In addition to a hook, the first paragraph of a newspaper article should orient the reader as to the basic content of the story (aka the 5 W's: who, what, when, where, and why) and the "how" of the story.  The rest of the article will then elaborate on these.

·        Op-ed : The opinions and editorial section contains articles that express the opinion of writers, many of whom often do not actually work for the paper.   

·        Publisher : The owner, or someone who acts directly for the owner, overseeing everything from reporters to editorial and advertising.  This person is everyone else’s boss at the newspaper

·        Rag : A colloquial (and generally uncomplimentary) term for a newspaper

·        Reporter : Researches and writes news articles.

·        Scoop : Every reporter wants to be the first one to write about a big story.  When they do, they are said to have "scooped" their competitors.

Learning Experiences and Resources

The teacher will ask the students how many of them read a newspaper at least once a week. The teacher will then say something like, "Let’s take a look at a few and see what we can find".   

The teacher will divide the students into groups of four. The teacher will give each group two different newspapers. The students will be guided to identify the different sections of the newspaper.  The students will then be asked to select a specific article and to identify the five W’s of their selected newspaper article. Each student in the group will be provided with an analysis chart, which he or she will complete for each article.   


1. The teacher will ask students to analyze the newspapers given and list what kinds of articles they find. You are looking for responses such as news articles, editorials, and other items such as classified section, lifestyles, travel, puzzles, world news, local news, weather, science, and a business section.

2. The teacher will ask the students to identify the different sections of their newspapers.


World news


State News


Local News (usually includes weather)







Feature articles (non-news e.g. article on using native plants in ones garden, or the history of thatching in European homes)


Entertainment (e.g. TV, movie, book or play reviews)




Fashion information


Advice columns


Comics and puzzles


Classified advertisements

Pages dedicated to small advertisements for things for sale or rent, job openings, garage sale announcements, etc.


Display advertisements are usually also found throughout the paper.  It is these which generate most of the money that keeps newspapers running.


Birth, Marriage and Death Announcements

3. The teacher will give each student in the class a few graphic organizers.  The graphic organizer is a chart with a circle in the middle for the subject, and boxes branching out containing the words who, what, when, where, why, and how. Each group will choose an article from each of the newspapers given. Each group will analyze an article from their example newspaper using their graphic organizer.  The teacher will then engage the students in a discussion of their story.  For example, the teacher may ask some or all of the following questions:

·   Did the article that you wrote cover all five "W"s and the H?

o       If not, what information was missing?

·   What additional information was contained in the story that you read?

o       Did that information help make the article more interesting?  Why or why not?

·   Overall, did you find the story interesting? 

o       If so, why? 

o       If not, what information might they have added that would have increased your interest in the story?

·   What other things might you do / change in the article if you were writing it?

4. Assessment of impartiality (or the lack thereof)

Most reporters would tell you that they try to be impartial when they write their articles, which means that they try not to let their own opinions color the way in which they write a story.  They must try to present both sides of an issue and present a balanced account of what happened.  Of course though, they may not always be successful.  In addition some publications have a specific “slant.”  For example, a publication dedicated to saving wildlife might be expected to feature stories with a different slant from one dedicated to promoting oil exploration or a similar industry.

If there is time the teacher may wish to allow the students to explore this idea further.  For example, the teacher may bring in examples in which the same event is reported in different publications and have the students read both accounts and assess the similarities and differences between them.  Students would then be asked to discuss any bias or “slant” that they felt was present in the two different versions of the same story.  If relevant the reasons for the slant (different intended audiences, differences in ownership / management etc.) might also be discussed.


The teacher will inform the students that they will remain in these groups for the next few weeks. The students will be informed they will be creating a newspaper on Phragmites. The students should also be made aware that the lesson on Phragmites is an integrated lesson (meaning that what they learn in each of their classes will be, and should be carried over in their sections of the newspaper.).

To ensure fairness in assigning sections to groups, students will draw the names of the sections that they will be working on out of a “hat.”  To make this happen, the teacher will have prepared two containers.  One will contain pieces of paper describing a variety of “serious”, content rich newspaper sections (1. front page 2. local news 3. world news 4. science section 5. history section). The second container should contain the sections with more room for “creative” or “fun / humorous” content (1. classified advertisements 2. Obituaries 3. Puzzles, comics 4. Travel 5. sports). Each group will choose one piece of paper from each container. These will be the sections that each group will be working on in order to complete the class newspaper.

This should be a fun, creative, and interactive lesson. It is highly encouraged that the teacher book time in the library or technology rooms so that the students can use additional resources to those provided through their classes and learning trunk.  However, if this can’t be arranged, a variety of resources are available, such as the booklet provided, the notes, and handouts they receive.

The vision for the paper is to create awareness to the community about the effects of an invasive species. The one that is being focused on for this project is Phagmites australis  also known as the “common reed.” An example vision would be: the group that gets the obituary section might research certain species that may be outcompeted (driven locally extinct) due to the Phragmites  invasion and write obituaries for these plants and / or animals. Similarly, the group assigned to work on the travel section might want to include a section on what places a Phragmites  seed or shoot might want to go in order to flourish. They could also focus on the species that are looking to get away from the Phragmites  invasion and places they might like to go.  Or students could write about some of the places that are studied in the social studies portion of these lesson plans (e.g. Egypt where Phragmites  pens lead to a revolution in calligraphy), Europe (where Phragmites  is used to create thatched roofs on homes), American South West (where Phragmites  was used to weave mats and to make pipes etc.).  The business section could contain information on the economic costs of the invasion or on potential economic uses for the species. The front page, local or any of the informative sections should contain information relating to what the students are learning in their other classes:  What is this plant?  Why the concern?  What’s going on?  How fast is it spreading and what does that mean for the future? What’s the historical significance of the plant?  What’s its history in this country? and so forth.  In the editorial section, students should be encouraged to prepare articles that address contrary points of view.  For example, the pros and cons of using chemical herbicides or introduced predator species to control invasive species.  Students could even produce arguments for and against controlling Phragmites  at all (some scientists have argued that the species may have its place in natural ecosystems (see Phragmites, A sheep in Wolf’s clothing and articles that follow for example). 

 Accommodation and Modification:

Some students may be provided with a different graphic organizer (for example: the story star model). The story star could also be in color so it is more visually appealing.


The teacher will review the sections of the newspaper and the "5 W"s and the "H" with the students using a question and answer or similar format. The teacher will then instruct the students to work on their assigned sections outside of class with their group or individually at home and bring their ideas to the group members at the next class meeting.


Students should be encouraged to go home and begin working on their sections. They may use the internet if available. All work done at home should be brought into the class the next day and discussed with their group. Students should also be encouraged to be creative and have fun.

Additional Web Resources.


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© 2009.  Allison McGrath (Author), Louise Wootton and Claire Gallaher (Editors)

 Although the information in this document has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement NE97262206  to Georgian Court   University, it has not gone through the Agency's publications review process and, therefore, may not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency and no official endorsement should be inferred.

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