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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

All the News Too Fit for Print

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/mbhs/scragg/contents.html

How it works:
This program can serve as the introductory unit to an online journalism class in which students produce their own online magazine, "Background Source" (www.angelfire.com/ny4/scragg). The students learn the basics of journalism: doing research, writing a headline and a lead, news judgment, interview skills, objectivity, and avoiding plagiarism. They complete activities to practice these skills, and then put the skills to use by producing their own publication. This course would not have been possible without current technology, as the students create an online publication. Not only is an online publication more "current"--  it is also comparatively inexpensive compared to printing a magazine! Using the Internet, students link directly to professional articles, read the daily headlines, and actually do research on the spot. They learn the value of working with primary sources and are enlightened by seeing the media from the ground up. In this way, students gain a working knowledge of media literacy, a crucial skill in today's society.

Standards addressed:  

The students read and comprehend informational materials, research online documents, gain media and technology literacy, produce an informative report and a narrative account, participate in group meetings, make informed decisions about TV, radio, and film, analyze a public-speaking performance, analyze and revise work to improve its clarity and effectiveness, respond to non-fiction using interpretive and critical processes, produce work in at least one genre that follows the conventions of that genre, and critique and produce public documents.

Materials used:
One computer with Internet connection and a word processing program is required for each student.

The students:
This Journalism class was an English elective course, so participants were more motivated than the average student. Most had a cursory knowledge of computers, e-mail, and Web navigation; only a handful of students had more complex technological knowledge. Students had to have passed the New York State English Regents to participate, so they had to be competent writers.

Overall value:
Most of my students had never looked critically at the media before. To me, this is the best feature of the course--using available technology to allow students to see what goes into the making of a publication. Students also learn how to make their own Web pages and see their stories (with their byline) online, which is extremely rewarding for both themselves and their families.

Bring in current publications for students to look through. Relate your lessons to current stories and allow students to see more traditional sources of news as well as their online counterparts. Require students to watch the news. You will notice a new sophistication in the way they interpret what they see. Students need to write and find information on the spot. This immediacy is valuable because it mimics the real world of journalism with its deadline pressure. You may want to require that students can type fast enough to keep up with the exercises.




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