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April 30. 2011 12:52AM

NIE Lessons to improve writing skills

Here are several newspaper writing activities, along with the learning standard that each addresses. Encourage students to write regularly in journals. Students often need help in thinking about subjects to write about, and Stories they read in the newspaper are terrific jumping off points for journal writing.

Writing Activity #1

Writers want to capture attention at the beginning of a selection. In news stories, it╣s especially important that the first few sentences, often called the lead, get the reader╣s attention so that he/she will want to read more of the story. Challenge students to find the best lead in the first few pages of your newspaper. Ask them to copy the lead and analyze what it was about it that made them want to read more. They should also write another lead for the same story, attempting to mimic the style used.

National Standard: Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

Writing Activity #2

The newspaper offers terrific examples of persuasive writing on the editorial page. The letters to the editor and the editorial columns offer opinions of the writers. Invite students to read a selection of editorials and letters. Then they should write an editorial about an issue at school, telling their opinion.

National Standard: Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Writing Activity #3

Students can practice clear and descriptive writing by using an ad from the Classified section. The Homes for Sale section is especially good for this activity. After choosing an interesting ad, students can rewrite the ad, expanding all abbreviations into the complete word and adding sufficient text and punctuation to rewrite the ad as a paragraph. For additional practice with punctuation, students can write out the dialogue in the comic strips using conventional punctuation instead of the word balloons.

National Standard: Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.


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