Creating a group newspaper is a great way to teach students many skills, such as how to work together with classmates and how to write an informative essay. By having students create a newspaper as a group, and giving students several fun and fanciful topics for articles, you can engage them in the writing while still teaching them about how to incorporate quotes, facts, and write in a formal tone that is appropriate for publishable articles. This assignment is most appropriate for junior high or early high school, but can also be used with younger students just learning to write.
Setting up the Assignment
Separate your students into groups of five. Give them a list of five situations to choose from (a sample list is included below). Each situation should include a quote and two facts that the students must incorporate into their individual essays. Have them start by choosing who is going to write which story. After that, have them decide on a name for the newspaper and start designing the layout. Which story will go on the front page? Which story will end the newspaper? Once the layout has been decided, it's time for the students to work individually to write their articles.
Possible Situations for News Stories
For younger students, it is important not to give too much freedom with this assignment. After all, you want them to be sure to properly include a quote and two facts into their article so, to avoid using up too much time having students create or find their own quotes or facts, you can give them a list. This makes it easier and less time-consuming for them to write, and easier for the teacher to check that the skills were executed correctly. Here is a list of possible situations for students to write about:
1) Bigfoot has been sighted!
Quote: "I saw his footprint in the ground. It was so big, I could lay down inside of it!" - Bob Noone, townsperson
- Bigfoot has been sighted three times in the past ten years.
- No one has ever photographed it.
2) A new restaurant is opening in the area!
Quote: "We are delighted to be opening our restaurant today. It is an honor to be part of this town." - Sheila Crabb, restaurant owner
- Because of complications, it took three years to build the building for the restaurant.
- The restaurant served over 300 people on its first day.
3) A sports team has won a championship game!
Quote: "It was the most exciting game I've ever played." - Joe Johnson, sports star
- The team has made it to the championship game of the sport for the past four years.
- The team just got new jerseys at the beginning of the season.
4) A celebrity has been sighted!
Quote: "I really expected him to be taller." - Maggie Sue, the person who saw the celebrity
- Celebrity sightings are very uncommon in this area.
- Maggie Sue unfortunately didn't have her camera with her to photograph the celebrity.
5) Volunteers have cleaned up a local park!
Quote: "It really made me feel good to do something like this for the community." - Donnie Eastman, volunteer
- The clean-up crew threw away thirty bins of trash and recycled two bins of cans.
- A swing set was donated to the park by a local charity.
Assembling the Newspaper
Once drafts of all the articles are written, have the students assemble the newspaper. The title of the newspaper that they decided on earlier should be on the front page, as well as the date and cost of the newspaper. It should also be visibly pleasing so people will want to buy it. Have them then create final drafts of their articles within their newspaper format. Each article should also include a picture, as most articles within newspapers do. You can have students assemble the newspaper by hand, or with computers if they are available.
If there is time, the students can proofread the drafts of their articles before the creation of the final newspaper. Also, if you want to reinforce oral presentation skills, each group can present their newspaper, with each individual presenting the article he or she wrote. If you want to emphasize research skills, you can have students, choose from a list of current events and have them find their own quote and facts from other articles.