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Thurma Hilton
Journalism teacher
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Lesson Plans

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What Does It Take to Write a Good Story?




What Does It Take to Write a Good Story?

Thurma Hilton of West Oso High School in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Thurma L. Hilton
West Oso High School
Corpus Christi, Texas

Title: What does it take to write a good story?

Overview and Rationale for unit

The goal of this unit is to teach students how to become good writers by developing and employing good research and interviewing skills as a means to writing good stories. Students will be taught some specific journalistic rules for writing. Finally, the importance of reading to good writing will be emphasized as will the fact that what is learned in this unit becomes an ongoing process.

Goals for Understanding

This unit relates to the following TEKS objectives 2 Journalistic Writing: The student reports and writes for a variety of audiences and purposes. The student is expected to:

  • locate information sources such as persons, databases, reports, or past interviews; gather background information; and research to prepare for an interview or investigate a topic;
  • plan and write relevant questions for an interview or in-depth research;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the elements of news through writing;
  • use journalistic style;
  • gather information through interviews
  • rewrite copy

  • Essential questions
    • What do reporters do?
    • If I know how to write an essay, why can’t I write a good news story?
    • What are the rules for conducting interviews?
    • What are they for news writing?
  • Critical engagement questions
    • What is news?
    • What are the basics of good reporting?
    • Do good research and writing skills only apply to journalism? Can they be used anyplace else?
    • Will these skills only be useful in school?
    • How does writing for the scholastic press differ from the professional press?

Activities

Week 1

  • Cover what is news (elements), fact vs. opinion; begin writing leads.

Week 2

  • Discuss ways to gather information
  • Choose topics for practice news stories
  • Write questions
  • Conduct interview
  • Write practice story
  • Review, discuss and begin working on rewrite of story.

Week 3

  • Work on the use of quotations
  • Introduce the concept of style.
  • Final draft of story will be due.

Week 4

  • Introduce features.
  • Work on feature leads.
  • Continue working on feature story writing.

Week 5

  • Review gathering information.
  • Assign first feature story.
  • Students are to do planning (writing down sources, researching, writing questions).

Week 6

  • Give students time to continue working on feature stories.
  • Rough drafts will be due for editing.
  • Final feature story due at end of week.

(In subsequent weeks, students will be introduced to the various types of column and sports writing and in-depth reporting.)

Assessment

The stories the students write will be evaluated.

Recommended readings and sources

  • “10 Easy Steps to Improve Interviewing and Observational Skills” by David E. Garlock
  • “Styles of Writing and Reporting Specifics” by Wanda Cash
  • “Journalism Curriculum Guide” by TAJE
  • “News Reporting and Writing” The Missouri Group, chapter 3


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