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Lesson Plans




An Introduction to the World of News

Elly Schleifer of Gorton High School in Yonkers, N.Y.

Elly Schleifer
Gorton High School
Yonkers, N.Y.

Title: An Introduction to the World of News

Description of the School & Students

Located in the north Yonkers, New York, Gorton High School is one of four magnet high schools in the city. With an enrollment of close to 1600, our student population reflects the cultural diversity of the city with a population that is approximately 30 percent African American, 40 percent Latino, 8 percent Asian, and 22 percent white. Our students mirror the economic status of the city as well with a significant number residing in Public Housing or subsidized apartments. Nearly 75 percent of our students rely on programs of public assistance.

Description of the School & Students

Located in the north Yonkers, N.Y., Gorton High School is one of four magnet high schools in the city. With an enrollment of close to 1,600, our student population reflects the cultural diversity of the city with a population that is approximately 30 percent African American, 40 percent Latino, 8 percent Asian, and 22 percent white. Our students mirror the economic status of the city as well with a significant number residing in Public Housing or subsidized apartments. Nearly 75 percent of our students rely on programs of public assistance.

Background

Since journalism is a new endeavor for both my students and me, I felt thisunit should incorporate an introduction to news and the elements of news. I wanted to include activities that would get students to use the language of the profession and to analyze how items are placed on the page. Students need to start thinking like journalists and critiquing the papers they read. The Institute sessions I referenced in planning this unit were Newspaper Logistics by Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez and Randy Vonderheld and Styles of Writing by Ira Hadnot. I used my notes from both sessions and incorporated the TAJE Journalism and Newspaper Curriculum Guides. In addition, two Web sites I found helpful were www.media-awareness.ca and www.jteacher.com (For Journalism Teachers Only) .

Overview & Rationale:

This unit begins with students assessing their own sources of news. Students will then examine the question: What is News? to understand and evaluate the elements of news. In the second part of the unit students will become familiar with and start to use newspaper vocabulary to identify the parts of the page and features. Finally, students will look at placement issues on the front page. In assessing the front page, students will use their newspaper vocabulary and apply the elements or factors affecting the value of news. Since this is an introductory unit, vocabulary is emphasized and will be reinforced throughout the study of journalism, news values, and design.

Goals for Understanding:

  • What are sources of news?
  • What is news?
  • What are the elements of news?
  • What is the language of the journalism profession?
  • Why is it important to use newspaper terminology?
  • What factors determine how articles are placed on the front page?
  • Does the placement of a story affect the reader’s response to it?
  • In addition to news stories, what other information is included on the front page?
  • What is the significance of placement?

Activites

Day 1: Definitions and Sources of News

  • Motivational Activity: Each day people throughout the world depend on newspapers, television, radio news, and personal interactions to keep up with global, national, regional, and local events. Consider your own news sources. How do you learn about what is happening? Complete Handout 1: My Personal News Sources.
  • Partner share of results followed by class discussion about various sources of news used by students. Additional questions to consider:
    • Which of the sources is most accurate/reliable?
    • Which is most entertaining?
    • Why are people interested in getting news?
  • Pose question: What is news? Create a definition. Brainstorm and chart ideas on board.
  • Read and discuss
    • Handout 2: What is News? Reinforce/expandstudent suggested definitions. Continue discussion with News Elements: Concepts that Make News News (adapted from ForJournalism Teachers Only)
  • For homework, complete Handout 3: What is News?Assignment adapted from Making News: An Introduction to Journalism by John R. Harrold and Lois A. Stanciak

Day 2: Newspaper Vocabulary

  • Motivational Activity: Students will read Handout 4: Newspaper Vocabulary . Teacher will have overheads of newspaper pages and will ask which words are confusing? Further clarification and examples will be given. Question to consider: As beginning journalists, why is it important to know and use proper terminology?
  • Group Activity (3-4 students per group):
    • Using Vocabulary and main section of the daily paper, each group will use post-it notes to identify and label terms in the news.
    • Groups will exchange papers to review vocabulary identification labels. The “editing” group should check work, note any problems/corrections, and label any additional terms.
    • Groups will conference to discuss problems and additions.
    • All work will be displayed for a Gallery Walk by the larger class.
  • Extended Assessment: For homework, students will complete an individual identification of terms with a new paper. Multiple copies of papers will be assigned in order to form groups for Front Page Analysis.

Day 3: Assessing the Front Page

  • Motivational Activity: Find the students (2-3) who had your same homework paper and review identification of newspaper terms in your group. Teacher will announce today’s lesson focuses on the content and elements of the front page. Question to consider: Why is the front page of a newspaper so important?
  • Group Activity (3-4 students per group):
    • Groups will use Handout 5: Assessing the Front Page to analyze the front page of the newspaper.
    • Each group will present their front page and responses to it to the larger class.3. Class discussion about similarities and differences between publications. Students justify what they like and what they don’t like. Discuss placement issues. Connect ideas to starting a school paper and the design of the front page.
  • Extended Assessment: Using the same paper, for homework, students will choose one article to check to see if it follows the inverted pyramid. Students will list the who, what, where, when, why, and how and tell in what order these facts occur. It is important to note that students now have a newspaper that has been labeled with newspaper terms, analyzed for front page information and placement,and tested for use of the inverted pyramid.

Recommended Readings & Sources:

  • 5 handouts accompanying this lesson plan
  • AP Stylebook 2001
  • Harrold, John R. and Lois A. Stanciak. Making News: An Introduction to Journalism. Portland, Maine: J. Weston Walch,Publisher,1988.
  • Hinman, Sheryl Lee and Thomas E. Winski. Journalism: Writing for Publication. Ohio: The Center for Learning, 1994.
  • TAJE Journalism and Newspaper Curriculum Guides
  • www.media-awareness.ca
  • www.jteacher.com (For Journalism Teachers Only) .



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