Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Newspaper Stories
Lesson 1
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Lesson
Handouts
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework

Focus Question(s):

In what different voices does the newspaper tell us stories about acts of generosity and working to solve community issues?

Purpose:

Students become familiar with the structure of the newspaper and the purpose of the different types of articles as they explore "stories" about acts of giving and sharing time, talent, and treasure for the common good. Students recognize the types of voices and articles in the newspaper. They analyze the components of news articles and complete pre-writing for a news article about their own acts of philanthropy. 

Duration:

Two 50-minute class periods

Objectives:

The learner will:

  • browse the newspaper to gain a sense of the types of stories offered.
  • review Freedom of the Press in the first amendment.
  • define philanthropy.
  • highlight interesting articles related to philanthropy.
  • analyze and discuss the characteristics of a quality news article.
  • identify the five Ws in a news article.
  • write a lead paragraph for a news article about his or her own service experience.

Materials:

  • A variety of local, national, and international newspapers for students to read; they do not need to be the same or current.
  • Highlighter pens
  • Student copies of Attachment One: Rubric: Writing a News Story
  • File folder or 12" x 18" sheet of construction paper to make a folder for each student (for saving pre-writing activities)
Handout 1
Rubric: Writing a News Story
Handout 2
Unit Pretest
Handout 3
Unit Pretest Answer Key

Teacher Preparation:

This lesson focuses on writing and telling our stories about community service and other forms of giving time, talent, and treasure for the common good. If you haven't introduced your students to the concept of philanthropy, go to Learning to Give Unit: Community Connections, Lesson One: A Plethora of Philanthropy to provide background on giving for the common good. Refer to Learning to Give Unit: Getting to Know the Community, Lesson Three: Exploring Community Needs to guide students on identifying community needs. These lessons help students choose the service project that is the basis of the writing activities in this lesson. If your class is already involved in a service project, you do not need to refer to these background lessons.

Instructional Procedure(s):

Day One:

Anticipatory Set:
Start the lesson by telling the students a brief story about something exciting, funny, or frightening that happened to you. A story that involves some service or giving to a neighbor is ideal at this point. Start with an attention-getting statement or question. End the story with a sentence that shows the impact of the event on you. Tell the students that telling our stories of philanthropy is the focus of this unit, and they will be writing stories in different formats, reading stories in different genres, and possibly telling stories using various media. 
  • Write the term philanthropy on the display board. Review the definition (giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good) and discuss their recent acts of philanthropy (individual or as a class). If this is a new concept, see Bibliographical Resources for lessons that introduce this concept and help students identify community needs.
  • This lesson's focus is on the different types of stories found in newspapers.
  • Give newspapers to groups of students. (Note: Keep the newspapers as reference for the remainder of the unit.)
  • Introduce the concept of Freedom of the Press. Tell the students that the writers of the First Amendment knew that it was essential that the Press have the right to write about news, even if it was controversial or against the government or the church. With that right and freedom comes the responsibility to report honestly and fairly. Reporters must do research to get their facts right, spell names correctly, give accurate background information, and give equal time to both sides of an issue. (First Amendment:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.)
  • Tell students that people read newspapers differently than they read books. They scan the headlines for topics of interest, and they usually don't read everything in the paper. The first paragraph of each article gives a concise description of what the story is about. If you read the first paragraph, you can decide quickly if it is an article you want to read. Tell the students they are going to spend 15 minutes getting familiar with one newspaper.
  • Ask the students to look through the entire newspaper, identifying the sections and the types of information available. Have them scan the headlines looking for any articles, letters, or features related to people showing generosity or working toward solving an issue that affects the community, world, or nation. Tell them that if a headline looks like it might be fitting, they should read the first paragraph. If the first paragraph looks interesting, they should highlight it. When they are finished, ask them to tell the class about the articles they found. They do not need to read the whole article at this point.
  • Ask for volunteers to share the titles of articles they found in the paper about people giving their time, talent, or treasure for the common good or about people addressing issues of civic engagement. Write some of these titles on the display board. As students share these articles, help them recognize that some of the stories are local, and some are global. Some are political, and some are human interest. And note if some are news stories and some are letters, editorials, or in other formats. Help the students recognize or become aware of the other genres in the newspaper.
  • Tell the students that over the next few days they will be writing about their community service experience in one of three formats: news article, personal narrative, or persuasive writing.
Day Two:
Teacher Note: Before students come in, write the words who, what, where, why, and when on the display board.
Anticipatory Set:
Read some lead paragraphs from articles in the newspaper. As you read, point out to the students that the first paragraph is concise and attention-getting, and it gives the basic information about the article. As you read each lead paragraph, have the students identify strong (effective) words, tense, point of view (first person/third person), and the five Ws (written on the display board). Write some of their selected strong words on the display board. Also, keep track in tally form of tense and point of view used.
  • Discuss what makes a good lead paragraph for a news article. Clarify for the students that today they are looking only at objective news articles (not opinions).
  • Ask the students to recall some of the topics covered in the newspapers they looked at the previous day. List the elements of a good news article (accurate, objective, just the facts, clear and concise, topic of current interest, published in newspaper, online, or in a magazine). See the Bibliographical Resources for some websites that give information for students about writing quality news articles.
  • Remind the students of the responsibility that goes along with the Freedom of the Press. They must do research to get their facts right, spell names correctly, give accurate background information, and give equal time to both sides of an issue. This genre of writing requires careful work and research to get the facts right and without bias.
  • Brainstorm with the students events they can write about for a news article. The events should be related to philanthropy--either their own acts of giving and sharing or a school or community event. The students may all write about the same event or each student may choose a different topic.
  • When everyone has a topic, they should write a lead paragraph for their news article. The lead paragraph should capture the readers' attention, and the paragraph should communicate the 5 Ws and give the basic facts concisely.
  • If time permits, the students can start researching their topic. This research may include learning more about the background of the issue, the planning of the event, or the individuals giving or receiving services. The research may include interviews and gathering quotes for the article. Research may also involve getting accurate spellings of individuals' or organizations' names. Give the students a copy of Attachment Two: Rubric: Writing a News Article to guide their planning.
  • Tell the students to store their prewriting work from this lesson and the following lessons in a file folder. Label the folder with their name, class period, and the title "Telling Our Stories of Giving." Either collect these folders or make sure the students understand the importance of keeping them until the last day of the unit.

Assessment:

Assess student understanding of the newspaper by their participation in the group work and discussion on Day One. Read student's lead paragraphs and assess whether they have the essential elements: attention getting first sentence and the five Ws.

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

Betsy Flikkema
Associate Director
Learning to Give

Dennis VanHaitsma
Curriculum Consultant
Learning to Give

Handouts:

Handout 1Print Handout 1

Rubric: Writing a News Story

Headline (5 pts.):
The headline is the title of the article and expresses the main idea of the story using direct and dramatic action verbs and nouns.


Byline: Often listed after the title, the byline gives the name of the person writing the story and his or her title.
 

Lead (5 pts):
The lead is the first sentence in the article, and it gives the most important information to “hook” the reader’s attention.

 
Body: (50 pts):

The body is the main part of the article, and it contains the five Ws.
 Who?


 What?


 Where?


 When?


 Why?


Write three or four important details about the story (10 pts).


Include summary or final detail (10 pts).


The article must be factual and unbiased (10 pts).


Use appropriate writing mechanics: spelling, grammar, syntax, voice (10pts).

 

Handout 2Print Handout 2

Unit Pretest

Circle the best answer.

1.      When a newspaper reports about an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good, it is reporting acts of

a.   welfare.
 
b.   philanthropy.

c.   an editorial.

d.   a political action.

e.   a campaign.

 

2.      When individual citizens give their time, knowledge, or resources for the greater benefit of all, it is known as an effort to promote

a.   the common good.

b.   benevolence.

c.   political action.

d.   job security.

e.   community pride.

 

3.      An article found in newspapers that expresses the writer’s opinion of a current issue is known as

a.   a gossip column.

b.   a headliner.

c.   an opinion poll

d.   an op-ed.

e.   a report.

 

4.      A reflection is best described as

a.   a survey of public attitudes.

b.   an accurate reporting of details.

c.   an opinion formed based on ones thinking about an experience or event.

d.   a literary method use to write poems and short stories.

e.   a way to persuade others to think like you do.

 

5.      Written reflections are most often likely to be found

a.   in newspapers and magazines.

b.   in advertisements.

c.   in fiction writings.

d.   in book reviews.

e.   in journals.

 

6.      A personal narrative is

a.   the voice that speaks to the audience in a movie.

b.   a diary entry.

c.   a piece of writing that explains a personal experience.

d.   an inner dialogue.

e.   the best way to write about an opinion.

 

7.      A newspaper has the responsibility to

a.   get the facts right.

b.   report only facts.

c.   report everything.

d.   share the editor’s opinion.

e.   publish every day.

 

8.      Which of the following would not be found in a newspaper?

a.   letters

b.   factual articles

c.   opinions
 
d.   recipes

e.   personal narrative

 

9.      Which of the following is an example of a persuasive essay?

a.   op-ed

b.   classified ad

c.   news article

d.   personal narrative

e.   all of the above

 

10.  A good supporting detail in a persuasive essay

a.   is general and inclusive.

b.   expresses an opinion.

c.   sticks to the facts.

d.   avoids statistics.

e.   exaggerates the truth.

 

 

Handout 3Print Handout 3

Unit Pretest Answer Key

1.      When a newspaper reports about an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good, it is reporting acts of

 b.   philanthropy.

2.      When individual citizens give their time, knowledge, or resources for the greater benefit of all, it is known as an effort to promote

a.   the common good.

3.      An article found in newspapers that expresses the writer’s opinion of a current issue is known as

d.   an op-ed.

4.      A reflection is best described as

c.   an opinion formed based on ones thinking about an experience or event.

5.      Written reflections are most often likely to be found

e.   in diaries or journals.

6.      A personal narrative is

c.   a piece of writing that explains a personal experience.

7.      A newspaper has the responsibility to

a.   get the facts right.

8.      Which of the following would not be found in a newspaper?

e.   personal narrative

9.      Which of the following is an example of a persuasive essay?
a.   op-ed

10.  A good supporting detail in a persuasive essay

c.   sticks to the facts.

Philanthropy Framework:

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Telling Our Stories of Giving Summary

Lessons:

1.
Newspaper Stories
2.
Writing a Personal Narrative
3.
Writing to Persuade

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