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Debra Helmberger
Newspaper Adviser
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Lesson Plans

Writing is Just Like Talking, Right?

Writing is Just Like Talking, Right?

Debra Helmberger at Farmersville High School in Farmersville, Texas.

Debra Helmberger
newspaper adviser
Farmersville High School
Farmersville, Texas

Title: Writing is Just Like Talking, Right?


Some students come to Journalism I with a loathing for writing. They have the preconceived notion that writing must be a long and tedious process, and that their work is truly never good enough. It’s important to show them that writing can actually be fun and challenging instead of cumbersome. They need to look at writing as more of an adventure rather than a classroom assignment.


This unit will demonstrate the different journalistic writing styles and how to distinguish between them. The student will learn how to gather information and use that information accurately in order to write journalistically so as to engage the reader.


The student reports and writes for a variety of audiences and purposes and researches self-selected topics to write journalistic texts.

State requirements:


Journalism Teks: 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 2I, 2J, 2M

Essential Question:

  • How is news writing different for writing an essay paper in English?

Critical Engagement Question:

  • What are the different criteria for the different journalistic writing styles?


  • Class discussion of straight news, feature news and editorials. Students will learn about the inverted pyramid, the hourglass and opinions. Students will also learn about the 5 Ws and 1 H.
  • Students will examine articles in the different sections of a major metropolitan daily newspaper and determine the type of news writing the articles represent.
  • Students will examine articles from the newspaper to find the 5 Ws and 1 H within those articles.
  • Students will examine articles from the newspaper to find the inverted pyramid or hour glass writing style.
  • Students will take the information they have gathered from a recent story they have written for class and determine the 5 Ws and 1 H.
  • Students will determine if this story is hard news, feature news or an editorial.
  • Students will write a story using the journalistic formula appropriate for their information.
  • After going through the critiquing and copy writing process (assessment), the students will submit their stories for publication in the student newspaper.


  • Students will explain their findings of articles from the metropolitan newspaper justify their observations according to the different journalistic writing styles during class discussion.
  • Students will critique their papers following a guideline sheet
    • Students will assess each others’papers through copyediting
  • Students will submit stories for publication in the student newspaper.


  • Ferguson, Donald L, Jim Patten, Bradley Wilson. Chapter 6-9,11-13. Journalism Today. 6th ed. Lincolnwood, Illinois. National Textbook Company. 2001.
  • Lamb, Jane. Chapter 3. The Complete Newspaper Resource Book. Portland, Maine. J. Weston Walch, Publisher. 1985
  • Osborn, Patricia. Unit 2. School Newspaper Adviser’s Survival Guide. West Nyack, New York. The Center for Applied Research in Education. 1998.
  • Texas Education Association. Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills: Journalism I. http://www.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter110/ch110c.html#110.62

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