Georgian Court University
Creating Your Own Newspaper
Introduction: In this suite of lessons, students will work in groups to develop a variety of different newspaper sections (news story, editorial and one additional section designed to provide opportunities for creativity / fun). Together as a class they will collaborate and produce a newspaper about Phragmites.
Estimated Time Frame: 6-8 class periods
Subject(s): Language Arts (English), Media Studies, Research
Grade/Level: 6, 7, 8
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).
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.
STANDARD 3.2 (Writing) All students will write in clear, concise, organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and purposes.
A. Writing as a Process (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, postwriting)
· Write informational compositions of several paragraphs that engage the interest of the reader, state a clear purpose, develop the topic, and conclude with a detailed summary.
· Generate ideas for writing through reading and making connections across the curriculum and with current events.
· Expand knowledge about form, structure, and voice in a variety of genres.
· Use strategies such as graphic organizers and outlines to elaborate and organize ideas for writing.
· Draft writing in a selected genre with supporting structure and appropriate voice according to the intended message, audience, and purpose for writing.
· Make decisions about the use of precise language, including adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and specific details, and justify the choices made.
· Revise drafts by rereading for meaning, narrowing focus, elaborating and deleting, as well as reworking organization, openings, closings, word choice, and consistency of voice.
· Review own writing with others to understand the reader’s perspective and to consider and incorporate ideas for revision.
· Review and edit work for spelling, usage, clarity, organization, and fluency.
· Use a variety of reference materials to revise work.
· Use computer writing applications during the writing process.
· Understand and apply the elements of a scoring rubric to improve and evaluate writing.
· Reflect on own writing, noting strengths and setting goals for improvement.
Writing as a Product (resulting in a formal product or publication)
· Expand knowledge of characteristics, structures, and tone of selected genres.
· Write a range of grade appropriate essays across curricula (e.g., persuasive, personal, descriptive, issue- based)
· Write grade appropriate, multi-paragraph expository pieces across curricula (e.g., problem/solution, cause/effect, hypothesis/results, feature articles, critique, research reports).
· Write various types of prose, such as short stories, biography, autobiography, or memoir that contain narrative elements.
· Support main idea, topic, or theme with facts, examples, or explanations, including information from multiple sources.
· Sharpen focus and improve coherence by considering the relevancy of included details, and adding, deleting, and rearranging appropriately.
· Write sentences of varying length and complexity, using specific nouns, verbs, and descriptive words.
· Prepare a works consulted page for reports or research papers.
· Provide logical sequence throughout multi-paragraph works by refining organizational structure and developing transitions between ideas.
· Engage the reader from beginning to end with an interesting opening, logical sequence, and satisfying conclusion.
Mechanics, Spelling, and Handwriting
· Use Standard English conventions in all writing, such as sentence structure, grammar and usage, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, handwriting.
· Use a variety of sentence types and syntax, including independent and dependent clauses and prepositional and adverbial phrases, to connect ideas and craft writing in an interesting and grammatically correct way.
· Use knowledge of English grammar and usage to express ideas effectively.
· Use correct capitalization and punctuation, including commas and colons, throughout writing.
· Use quotation marks and related punctuation correctly in passages of dialogue.
· Use knowledge of roots, prefixes, suffixes, and English spelling patterns to spell words correctly in writing.
· Demonstrate understanding of reasons for paragraphs in narrative and expository writing and indent appropriately in own writing.
· Edit writing for correct grammar usage, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.
· Use a variety of materials, such as a dictionary, grammar reference, and/or internet/software resources to edit written work.
· Write legibly in manuscript or cursive to meet district standards.
Writing Forms, Audiences, and Purposes (exploring a variety of forms)
· Write for different purposes (e.g., to express ideas, inform, entertain, respond to literature, persuade, question, reflect, clarify, share) and a variety of audiences (e.g., self, peers, community).
· Gather, select, and organize information appropriate to a topic, task, and audience.
· Write narratives, establishing a plot or conflict, setting, characters, point of view, and resolution.
· Use narrative techniques (e.g., dialogue, specific actions of characters, sensory description, and expression of thoughts and feelings of characters).
· Write reports based on research with a scope narrow enough to be thoroughly covered, supporting the main ideas or topic with facts, examples, and explanations from authoritative sources, and including a works consulted page.
· Write persuasive essays with clearly stated positions or opinions supported by organized and relevant evidence to validate arguments and conclusions, and sources cited when needed.
· Use a variety of strategies to organize writing, including sequence, chronology, cause/effect, problem/solution, and order of importance.
· Demonstrate higher-order thinking skills and writing clarity when answering open-ended and essay questions in content areas or as responses to literature.
· Use relevant graphics in writing (e.g., maps, charts, illustrations, graphs, photographs).
· Demonstrate the development of a personal style and voice in writing.
· Review scoring criteria of relevant rubrics.
STANDARD 3.3 (Speaking) All students will speak in clear, concise, organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and purposes.
· Develop and deliver a formal presentation based on a central theme, including logical sequence, introduction, main ideas, supporting details, and concluding remarks to an audience of peers, younger students, and/or parents.
· Prepare, rehearse, and deliver a formal presentation in logical or sequential order, including an opening, supportive details, and a closing statement.
· Use clear, precise, organized language that reflects the conventions of spoken English.
· Use visuals such as charts or graphs when presenting for clarification.
· Use props effectively while speaking.
· Use verbal and non verbal elements of delivery (e.g., eye contact, stance) to maintain audience focus.
· Read aloud with fluency.
· Understand and use criteria from a rubric to improve an oral presentation.
· Incorporate peer feedback and teacher suggestions for revisions in content, organization, and delivery.
STANDARD 3.4 (Listening) All students will listen actively to information from a variety of sources in a variety of situations.
· Listen actively for a variety of purposes such as enjoyment and obtaining information.
· Listen attentively and critically to a variety of speakers.
· Acknowledge the speaker through eye contact and use appropriate feedback and questions to clarify the speaker’s message.
· Recognize and analyze persuasive techniques while listening.
· Listen to determine a speaker’s purpose, attitude, and perspective.
· Use, when appropriate, criteria/rubric to evaluate oral presentations, such as purpose, delivery techniques, content, visual aids, body language, and facial expressions.
· Demonstrate competence in active listening through responding to a story, interview, or oral report (e.g. summarizing, reacting, retelling).
· Demonstrate competence in active listening by interpreting and applying received information to new situations and in solving problems.
· Ask pertinent questions, take notes, and draw conclusions based on information presented.
· Make inferences based on an oral report or presentation.
· Follow three and four-step oral directions.
STANDARD 3.5 (Viewing and media literacy) All students will access, view, evaluate, and respond to print, nonprint, and electronic texts and resources
· Respond to and evaluate the use of illustrations to support text.
· Use graphs, charts, and diagrams to report data.
· 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.
· Interpret verbal and nonverbal messages reflected in personal interactions with others.
· Discuss the emotional impact of a still image (e.g., photo, poster, painting) and how it aids understanding.
· Understand the uses of technology (e.g., the Internet for research).
Living with Media
· Express and justify preferences for media choices.
· Choose the most appropriate media for a presentation.
· Use a rubric to evaluate the content of media presentations.
· Examine and evaluate effects of media on the family, home, and school.
STANDARD 6.1 (Social Studies Skills) All students will utilize historical thinking, problem solving, and research skills to maximize their understanding of civics, history, geography, and economics.
· Analyze how events are related over time.
· Use critical thinking skills to interpret events, recognize bias, point of view, and context.
· Assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources.
· Analyze data in order to see persons and events in context.
· Examine current issues, events, or themes and relate them to past events.
· Formulate questions based on information needs.
· Use effective strategies for locating information.
· Compare and contrast competing interpretations of current and historical events.
· Interpret events considering continuity and change, the role of chance, oversight and error, and changing interpretations by historians.
· Distinguish fact from fiction by comparing sources about figures and events with fictionalized characters and events.
· Summarize information in written, graphic, and oral formats.
STANDARD 8.1 (Computer and information literacy ) All students will use computer applications to gather and organize information and to solve problems.
Basic Computer Skills and Tools
· Use appropriate technology vocabulary.
· Use common features of an operating system (e.g., creating and organizing files and folders).
· Input and access data and text efficiently and accurately through proficient use of other input devices, such as the mouse.
· Create documents with advanced text-formatting and graphics using word processing.
· Design and produce a basic multimedia project.
· Use network resources for storing and retrieving data.
· Choose appropriate electronic graphic organizers to create, construct, or design a document.
Information Access and Research
· Choose appropriate tools and information resources to support research and solve real world problems, including but not limited to:
o On-line resources and databases
o Search engines and subject directories
· Evaluate the accuracy, relevance, and appropriateness of print and non-print electronic information sources.
STANDARD 9.2 (Consumer, Family, and Life Skills) All students will demonstrate critical life skills in order to be functional members of society.
· Communicate, analyze data, apply technology, and problem solve.
· Describe how personal beliefs and attitudes affect decision-making.
· Identify and assess problems that interfere with attaining goals.
· Recognize bias, vested interest, stereotyping, and the manipulation and misuse of information.
· Practice goal setting and decision-making in areas relative to life skills.
· 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.
Materials and Resources
Performance Tasks and Assessment
Learning Experiences and Resources
The students will be broken into groups of 4-5 depending on the size of the class. Each group should be given a fun creative section and a more content rich section to work on. 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 and 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. Finally, each group will be assigned one topic on which they should prepare an op-ed piece developing the case for a specific action or opinion regarding the Phragmites invasion. (Teachers may want to develop their own topics or may want to use some or all of the following: 1. The case FOR using chemical herbicides to treat invasive Phragmites. 2. The case AGAINST using chemical herbicides to treat invasive Phragmites. 3. The case FOR using introduced natural predators to fight the Phragmites invasion. 4. The case AGAINST using introduced natural predators to fight the Phragmites invasion. 5. Phragmites is one of the most damaging invasive plants in America today. 6. The Phragmites invasion isn’t that bad; people are overreacting. 7. New Jersey should make it illegal for nurseries and other vendors to sell non-native plants that have a high risk of becoming invasive in their stores. 8. New Jersey’s residents should have the right to buy whatever plants they like at their local plant nurseries and similar outlets.)
If students are confused by this assignment, an example of an op-ed on this topic is present at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/04colnj.html?_r=1)
In all cases it should be emphasized to the students that the focus of their stories, classified ads, cartoons, op-ed pieces etc. must focus on topics relating to Phragmites. Students should be encouraged to work outside of class with their group or individually at home and bring their ideas to the group members at each subsequent class meeting. They should also be encouraged to incorporate what they are learning in their other classes into the content of their articles for the paper.
The teacher should review with students the roles of “publisher,” “editor,” and “reporter” within a newspaper.
Reporter: Researches and writes news articles.
Once this is done, each group should appoint an “editor” under the guidance and supervision of the instructor (in his / her role as the “publisher”). The student appointed as editor should be a student with a particular strength in language arts. This student will make grammatical corrections as the sections are being written and discussed. The teacher will also act as the “publisher” and walk around the class and provide the groups with ideas, comments, corrections, and advice. The section editor may also write his or her own content if desired. Other students may also collaborate on reporting, editing and acting as “art / photo editors” within the group as the “publisher” directs. The students will have approximately 6-7 class periods to work on this project so they will need to be mentored to use their time effectively in order to complete the assignment on time. They should also be encouraged to find outside resources other than the ones provided on Phragmites. In addition to web and print resources, some groups may want to conduct an interview with a local park naturalist, or municipal manager who comes in contact with Phragmites as part of their everyday work. Students should also be encouraged to find Phragmites in their area (if available) and take their own pictures of it. The last 1-2 classes should be dedicated to each group presenting their sections to the class. For each presentation the other students will be provided an evaluation sheet. On this sheet the students will be encouraged to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the content of each section, as well as the presentation itself. The evaluations will be collected by the “publisher” and, if appropriate, shared with each group to help them to learn from their successes and to identify areas in need of remediation in the future.
Part 1: Brainstorming and Task Assignments (About 1 class period)
Inverted Pyramid” of information flow (from http://www.newspapersineducation.ca/eng/level_7to9/lesson5/images/inverted_pyramid.gif)
Part 2 (1-2 class periods, depending on time): Research
Part 3: Concept Outlines and Development First Drafts (1-2 class periods depending on time)
Part 4: Revising and Editing (1-2 class periods)
Part 5: Publishing and Preparation of Presentation (1-2 class periods)
Part 6: Presentations (1-2 class periods as desired… teacher can control this by controlling the maximum length of presentation each group is assigned)
For Students: Guidelines for Junior Journalists: http://www3.thestar.com/static/PDF/060217_jrjour_guide.pdf
Resource For Teachers: Journalism in the Classroom: A Unit for Grade 10 Students: http://www3.thestar.com/static/PDF/061004_Classroom.pdf
TEACHER FEEDBACK REQUEST: We are always to working to improve these lesson plans. If you use this lesson plan, we'd love to hear from you with your thoughts, comments and suggestions for future improvements. Please take the time to fill in our survey at http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/?p=WEB229JA3BEWBD . Thanks!
© 2009. Allison McGrath (Author), Louise Wootton and Claire Gallagher (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.