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Teaching Basic News Writing in Middle School -- A Scavenger Hunt

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 1/17/2012

Teachers of middle school students can teach journalism basics by completing a newspaper scavenger hunt. Students learn by looking at model stories and advertisements in a real newspaper.

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    Newspaper Scavenger Hunt

    Middle school is a good time for teachers to begin introducing journalism concepts to students. Teachers can start a junior newspaper for the school. Because most computers come equipped with a program to layout the paper, the process of making a paper has become quite a bit easier for the classroom teacher.

    Before students can write for a paper, they need to understand the parts of a paper. One easy activity for students to learn the basics of a newspaper is to complete a newspaper scavenger hunt.

    Preparation: Teachers need to collect enough newspapers for students to work in pairs. Tip: Some local newspapers will donate newspapers to classroom teachers. Before assigning the Newspaper Scavenger Hunt, make a model of what students should do in this activity. Circle and label all listed items in student directions for the scavenger hunt in red marker.

    Complete a News Scavenger Hunt Teaching Steps:

    Step 1 -- Divide students into pairs. Give each pair a newspaper and two markers.

    Step 2 -- Tell students that they are going to be searching their newspapers for basic news writing techniques. Explain the term lead, headline, byline, quote, news story, editorial and advertisement.

    Step 3 -- Show students a scavenger hunt that was completed by you with a red pen. Show an example of each item listed on the Newspaper Scavenger Hunt Directions and tell why you chose it.

    Step 4 -- Allow time for students to work in class to complete the scavenger hunt. Ask each pair to share a few interesting items from their search.

    Newspaper Scavenger Hunt Directions for Students

    Directions: With a partner, find five examples of each of the following techniques in your newspaper. Circle and label each with a marker.

    1. Lead -- Usually one sentence that tells who, what where, when, why and how. It is found at the beginning of the story.
    2. Headline -- The title of the story
    3. Byline -- The author of the story
    4. Quote -- Exactly what someone said and is in quotation marks

    Find and identify two of each of the following:

    1. News story -- A story that is timely and describes an event of interest
    2. Editorial -- A writer tells his or her opinion about a subject
    3. Advertisement -- An article or ad that is paid for by the company

    Students now have a basic idea about the format of a news story. These are basic journalism terms. If students are confused, check out the websites in the reference section for more detailed information. After the scavenger hunt is complete, you can move onto teaching students how to write their own news story.

    Resources and References:

    Basic news writing, http://www.ohlone.edu/people/bparks/docs/basicnewswriting.pdf

    News writing, http://knol.google.com/k/yvette-lessard/newswriting-inverted-pyramid/1ycnxlw6aeny7/25#

    News writing basics, http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/dl/free/0073526142/363043/Chapter3a.pdf

    Photo credit:

    Kellie Hayden