News articles are totally different than any other type of composition. When learning how to write news, it can be a challenge for students to switch gears. Ever since elementary school, students are taught how to write in a very specific way. Teachers emphasize the importance of things like:
- elaborating to include more detail
- embed quotes into paragraphs for smooth transitions
- express creativity with varied vocabulary
- persuade the reader with logical conclusions
But news writing is short and to the point, heavy on quotes, and does not include the writer’s opinion – ever.
Start with a game
A quick game of Trashketball is the perfect way to introduce the differences between traditional essay writing and crafting a news article.
Give students 10 minutes to make a list of EVERYTHING they know about writing – from the super easy and obvious things to the complex grammar rules they can remember.
Give them a few examples:
- A period always goes at the end of the sentence.
- Capitalize the first word of a sentence.
- First person = “I” & second person = “You”
- Elaborate to add more details
Have them crumple up their piece of paper into a snowball. Plop your trashcan in the front of the room and tell them to throw their ball into the trash.
They will be confused. This exercise illustrates that there are a a LOT of things about journalistic writing that are different than everything they’ve been taught in English class, and in your classroom it’s ok to “throw out” those concepts.
- Each quote gets it’s own paragraph.
- Never elaborate. In journalism, we want just the facts.
- We always write in third person.
Let them play!
Host a competition – who can get the most baskets? Then, have a quick “snowball” fight!
Also use this as an opportunity to grab some great action shots!