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Last week, my writers workshop spent time learning the basics of a newspaper, writing using the 5 Ws, and writing a family newspaper. And, it’s something you can do at home with your family, too.
First, look through the newspaper to discover everything in the newspaper. Make a list. You might list things like:
*I took out newspaper pages with inappropriate content.
Introduce the 5 Ws. Do you know that the first paragraph of a newspaper story usually includes these five Ws?
In my class, two girls just had shared very dramatic falling off bikes / scooter stories, so I used those real life news stories to write them as examples using the 5 Ws. (The Why is hard for kids- and funny — like the rock jumped out at me and made me fall! Not, I was clumsy.)
If I were teaching another several days of newspaper, which I wasn’t, I would add on headlines, captions, editorial, column, and other newspaper concepts on another day. It’s important that I don’t overwhelm the writers with too much information before I let them apply the learning. You can add on when you think your writers are ready to learn more.
My group of writers used this newspaper template to because it had lines and a fun newspaper-ish border. Later, the kids pasted the pages into their blank Bare Books. This worked much better than laying out articles in a newspaper format which requires more time than we had – 2.5 hours. Read Write Think offers a free online newspaper / newsletter template if you want to design your own online.
Use your newspaper list and choose what to write first. Choice is very important in giving kids ownership, especially if they don’t really want to write.
- summer activity you’ve been doing
- your music / sport’s achievements
- movie or book review
- an injury
- the worst day of summer / the best day of summer
- biography of a person in your family
To motivate a few reluctant writers, I encouraged writing a classified ad selling their sister or brother — but, they had to be very nice or no one would want to buy their sibling. I suggested one reluctant writer start with inventing a word search which worked for her.
Some wrote comics.
Some wrote movie reviews.
Some wrote for sale ads; others wrote news articles.
We had enough time for me to ask each child to write six articles or more. I don’t correct editing issues unless they interfere with the reader’s ability to understand and usually I ask the writer to “go back and look for capitals that you forgot” or something like that. I do ask many questions to help writers think of ideas, and revise. “What made this movie fun?” “What happened when your bird flew away? Did you ever find the bird?”
You can do the same. Try to ask questions and if you have a teaching suggestion, pick one thing – not more than that.
The best part about writing is sharing with an audience! Let your writers share with family and friends and watch the pride shine through.