Write All About It: Newspapers

Unit Plan

Phil Coogan & Brian Gillespie
Adapted by Linda Scott
4 weeks

California Language Arts Content Standards
Standards Addressed in this Unit
1.0Writing Strategies
Organization and Focus
1.1 Demonstrate an understanding of the elements of discourse (e.g., purpose, speaker, audience, form) when completing narrative, expository, persuasive, or descriptive writing assignments.
Grammar and Mechanics of Writing
1.3Demonstrate an understanding of proper English usage and control of grammar, paragraph and sentence structure, diction, and syntax.
Manuscript Form
1.4Produce legible work that shows accurate spelling and correct use of the conventions of punctuation and capitalization.
Supporting Standards


Smiley Select and adapt these learning activities to best meet the needs of your students, and to fit the time available:

  1. Preparation

    To encourage a newspaper reading habit and to help students familiarize themselves with newspapers:

    Order a half class set of newspapers for the duration of the unit. Spend the first ten minutes of each period reading and discussing what is in them.


    Spend the first 10 minutes of the period reading a selection of Online Newspapers.

  2. In preparation for the roles they will assume later in the unit, have students explore the parts and functions of the newspaper.

    Have students title three columns with Inform, Entertain and Persuade. Then by referring where necessary to their daily newspaper, place each of the following under the correct heading:

    • news reports
    • letters to the editor
    • feature articles
    • crossword
    • editorial cartoon
    • editorial
    • display ads
    • sport
    • horoscopes
    • classified ads
    • weather
    • comics
    • stock quotes

    Use this treasure hunt as an oral or written quiz to reinforce the newspaper knowledge.

  3. Explore the front page of the newspaper

    1. View this front page and, using it as a guide, paste examples of each feature from your local newspaper under each term. Have students explore features of news stories and newspaper layout.

    2. Compare that front page mock up with the front page of the local paper or some of these front pages from newspapers around the world. Discuss which features from the mock up are included and which features are missing or different.

  4. Explore the language and structure of news stories

    1. The traditional structure of news writing

    2. The language of news writing

    3. Analyze today's lead story

    4. A different structure - telling stories

      Although most news stories adhere to the 5 Ws and a H structure, a new style has emerged in recent years which involved the reporter telling a story. Take a look at this example.

    5. The Whole Truth? Thinking Critically About News Stories

    6. Flaunt Your Style
      Select activities to acquaint students with the Associated Press Stylebook as it applies to high school journalism.

  5. Opinions in the Newspaper

    1. The editorial and Writing Meaningful Editorials
    2. The editorial cartoon

      See the Social and Political Cartoon Satire unit for a brief guide to reading editorial cartoons or this site for fuller studies and resources including guidance on the creation of cartoons or The Cartoon Web for a large archive of political cartoons, caricatures and illustrations. Also view the Catalog of Political Cartoons by Dr. Seuss.

      New York Times political cartoon gallery contains current cartoons for study. See also the excellent TIME cartoon site for a cartoon of the week, together with archived cartoons from the newsmagazine's top cartoonists. Finally, view Editorial Cartoons from Comics.com.

    3. Letters to the Editor

  6. Creating Your Own Newspaper

Collaborative online projects related to this unit:
  • Newsday
    An online project that challenges students to utilize their reading and writing skills while they learn about current local, national and global issues. In the Newsday Project, students will write articles and post them for others to read. They will read and choose articles from other schools to download and include in their own newspaper!
  • Extra! Extra! Read All About It! A Newspaper Project
    Reading a newspaper is not always a common task in some households. This project will give students a chance to explore a newspaper on a specific day each month. By answering questions the students will have a better understanding of the front page, sports section and the classified ads.


Assessment Task: Writing a New Report
Assessment Rubric




Individual students who have been particularly motivated by their work on newspapers and wish to do more or perhaps explore journalism as a career, should visit the Journalism Theme Page.