Writing has always been an important part of communication. For centuries, we’ve used the written word to tell stories, share information and communicate with one another. And writing is perhaps more important now than ever with people communicating via email, text and social media.
Many teachers, however, believe digital technology helps student writing, but encourages shortcuts. A 2013 Pew Research study found that 68% of teachers surveyed agreed that digital tools make students less likely to put effort into their writing. They worry that the truncated language of text messages and social media impact students’ ability to produce a solid piece of writing.
But whether students use pencil and paper or type on a keyboard, writing skills remain an important skill to learn. Good writing skills drive effective communication, and allow you to share your ideas and messages with clarity and ease. And writing is also a crucial skill necessary to craft good communications in the workplace.
Creating a News Report to Improve Writing Skills
In this activity, students will create a news report to put their writing skills to the test. The goal of the activity is for them to research, write and share a story that communicates their message clearly and effectively.
Before starting the activity, make sure students understand how to write a news report. Discuss the “five Ws and an H” of journalism: who, what, when, where, why and how. This information should be included at the beginning of the report. Then, take time to discuss the main components of a news report and write them on the board or a large sheet of paper for students to review. Each news report should include the following:
- Lead paragraph
- Body paragraph
Watch this video on creating a news report to learn more about the main story components and see examples of each one.
- Ask students to form groups of four to create a news team. Assign one of the following roles to each group member: lead investigator, reporter, writer and photographer.
- As a team, have students brainstorm news story ideas from their own lives. They can report on an interesting friend or family member, a big event at school or one of their favorite places in the community. The key is to make the story newsworthy, or interesting enough to be shared with the public.
- Once they’ve decided on a story idea, ask students to begin gathering information. They can conduct research, interview other students and take pictures to support their story. The lead investigator will determine what information is needed, who they should interview and so on. Remind them to find the “five Ws and an H” of the story, which will set the tone for their news report.
- Then have them regroup and work together to create their news report. Make sure they remember to include the main components that were discussed earlier in the activity. Have the writer create the report and add the photos in a Word or Google Document.
- Encourage students to review their reports for accuracy, spelling and grammar mistakes and clarity. Once finished, have them print their news report.
- One by one, have the lead reporters read their news report to the rest of the group. Discuss each report: Did it answer who, what, when, where, why and how? Did it include each story component? Was it newsworthy?
- If time allows, have each group discuss how they could improve their news report.
Writing is a timeless skill that students will use throughout their lives. And journalism is a great way to promote the basic elements of good writing, including focus, organization, research and clarity. Use this news report activity to foster good writing skills in a fun and engaging way.