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Regina Vogel Lichtenstein
Journalism teacher
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Straight News

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Straight News

Regina Vogel Lichtenstein of Boone High School in Flushing, N.Y.

Regina Lichtenstein
Boone High School
Flushing, N.Y.

Title: Straight news lesson

Note: This is a short “”straight news”” lesson. It’s good to use when you need half the period to review homework, previous assignments, etc. This is a good “”last”” lesson in straight news writing.

Goal:

How does the Inverted Pyramid work for “”straight”” news stories? Students will review the Inverted Pyramid and show their ability to outline it in a published news story.

Materials needed:

Select a recent news story (at least 8 paragraphs). Cut out each paragraph, change the order, tape on an 8 1/2 x 11 paper and make copies. (I usually use a second story, perhaps 5 paragraphs, in case I have extra time at the end of the lesson).

Activity:

Review Inverted Pyramid with fast questions (and hopefully fast answers!), such as

  • What is the shape of a straight news story?
  • Are the three traditional parts of an essay present in a new story (intro, body, conclusion)?
  • If no, name the parts of a news story.
  • What information is included in the lead?
  • What does the lead tell the reader?
  • Give me another word for a news lead.
  • What information is included in the body?
  • How do I know what information to put after the lead, in the middle of the story and at the end?
  • If I have a 400-word article and there’s only room for 350 words, how do I edit a news story?

Distribute copies of a news story. Tell students it’s a recent story — out of order. Their assignment is to decide which is paragraph 1 (the lead), paragraph 2, 3, etc. Have a student read all the paragraphs. Remind students to watch out for transitional words, chronological order, etc. as clues. Working in pairs is OK.

When I do this assignment, I tell students to call me over if they have the correct order. If they don’t have the correct order, I will tell them which paragraphs are in the correct order. I give “”stickers”” to those who complete the assignment. After one student/pair has the correct answer, I allow the others 3-4 minutes to also get a “”sticker.””

Summary:

First student/pair to figure out the correct order tells the class the correct answer and explains how he/she/they figured out the answer. (obvious lead, least important information, order of occurrence, transitional words, etc.)

I will use the shorter assignment, perhaps five paragraphs, as “”back-up”” just in case this exercise ends early.

 



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