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Lesson Plan

Imagine That! Playing with Genre through Newspapers and Short Stories

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Imagine That! Playing with Genre through Newspapers and Short Stories

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jacqueline Podolski

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Middle school students typically understand narration because of their exposure to the structure in their day-to-day lives. Television and movies draw on visual narrative structures; video games rely on background narrative; stories about friends, relatives, or daily experiences are narrated to them; novels and short stories depend on narration. However, students are not as familiar with the expository structures that will dominate the rest of their educational career. This lesson uses narrative structures to introduce students to one form of expository writing—news briefs and articles. By condensing a short story into a newspaper article and expanding an article into a short story, students will explore the ways that exposition differs from narration.

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Story Map Interactive: Use this online tool to map out the elements of students' original writing. The tool can also be used to analyze the characters, plot, and setting of a piece of literature.

ReadWriteThink Printing Press: Use this online tool to create a newspaper, brochure, booklet, or flyer. Students choose a layout, add content, and then print out their work.

Interactive Venn Diagram: Students use this online tool to compare and contrast the features of two genres of writing. The tool can also be used to organize ideas for a compare and contrast essay or compare and contrast two pieces of literature.

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Students learn best when the curriculum is connected to previous knowledge and experiences. Brainstorming what is already known about a topic through a graphic organizer such as a KWL (Know-Want to Know-Learned) chart is therefore beneficial because students see that they already know something about the subject. The same applies to tying instruction to events within the community. This lesson allows students to demonstrate what they already know about news writing through a graphic organizer, using articles related to local current events as models of the genre.

There is, research demonstrates, a direct link between reading and writing. As students actively read a variety of texts in different genres, their ability to write in these genres improves. This lesson not only asks students read and analyze a variety of news articles, but it also allows students to use a familiar genre (fiction) as a starting point to writing their own articles. Students gain exposure to reading and writing a new genre while connecting to a more familiar one.

Further Reading

National Council of Teachers of English. What We Know about Writing, Grades 6-8. November 2009. Web. http://www.ncte.org/writing/aboutmiddle

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