We began by studying the genre of newspaper writing, looking at newspapers to learn about their layout and their different departments.
Each student then chose a book to report on. The choice of book was wide open, although it had to have been read very recently or be in progress; it could not be a book they had read "last year." Then, using the requirements listed below as an outline, students began writing stories for their newspapers, some choosing to write their stories in their own voice (the student as editor and writer), and some in the voices of the characters from the book.
Students chose a clever title for their newspaper, typed up the stories, drew pictures to go along with them, and began formatting their newspapers by cutting and pasting the stories and drawings onto a piece of poster board (18" x 24"), folded in half. Where there was extra space, students created ads, word finds, crossword puzzles, riddles, and horoscopes, all related to their book.
- An article in which the main events of the book are summarized in at least one well-developed paragraph
- A brief article, with a catchy title, describing the main character with a drawing of the character in a scene
- A brief article about the antagonist, explaining why this person/thing is the antagonist with a picture and a headline that relates to the antagonist
- An article proposing a new ending for the book
- An advice column where the main character writes a short letter seeking advice about the major problem faced in the story
- A book review (of the book being reported on) explaining likes, dislikes, and recommendations
- An editorial giving an opinion about an issue related to the book and taking a position
- Comics - a four panel comic strip illustrating something funny that happened in the story
- Other incidentals to fill up the space such as ads, crosswords, word searches, riddles, or obituaries, all relating to the story
The students had about 3 weeks to finish their newspapers. I gave some class time, but some of it had to be done at home.
Read Three Student Examples:
The Westingtown News, by Emily, sixth grade, (based on The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin).
The Sendarian Sentinel, by Anna, fifth grade, (based on the Mallorean Series: Guardians of the West, King of the Murgos, Demon Lord of Karanda, Sorceress of Darshiva, and The Seeress of Kell, by David Eddings).
The Pandion Paper, by Maia, fifth grade, (based on the Elenium Series: The Diamond Throne, The Ruby Night, and The Sapphire Rose), by David Eddings)
This exercise was modified from an assignment found in the book 10
Ready-To-Go Book Report Projects: High-Interest Projects That Help
Every Student Create Meaningful Responses to Favorite Books, by Rebekah Elmore and Michael Gravois, a Scholastic publication for use with grades 4-8.