Lesson 2.1: Finding Story Ideas
Subjects: Journalism, Language Arts, Social Studies
Estimated Time: One 45-minute class period
Grade Level: Upper Elementary, Middle and High School
By generating news story ideas from their own life, students learn how news develops from people’s natural curiosity about the people, places, events and situations of daily life.
Materials: Worksheet 2.1, Student Reporting Labs Pitch Sheet
Warm Up Activity
Review with students: What is “newsworthy”? from Lesson 1.1:
- Conflict and Controversy
- Human Interest
Main Activity 1
Show students Debate Over School Choice Divides Texans, a SRL produced piece that exhibits the qualities of a newsworthy story. After the piece is over ask students to give examples from each quality of newsworthiness.
Ask students and have them share in pairs or small groups:
- Is anything in your life newsworthy?
- Is there anything newsworthy in the stories you hear among your family, friends and in your community? Why or why not?
Ask each group to pick their most newsworthy story and share it with the class. Have students from each group explain why their story is the most newsworthy and take a class vote on whose story is the best/most newsworthy.
View and discuss these videos to build students’ knowledge of how news stories get created from the events of daily life. Being a good listener and considering the five news values is the key to finding and developing local stories.
Ira Glass on Storytelling, Part 1
Ira Glass explains how TV and radio broadcasts develop from real-life anecdotes in story form and how a series of questions and answers keeps people’s attention.
Associated Press: How to Pitch a Story
AP editors Jon Resnick and Associated Press Editor Donna Cassata explain how to prepare your story idea and pitch it to a news editor.
Main Activity 2
Generate News Stories from Life
Pass out the Worksheet 2.1 and introduce the activity. Students can work on this in class or as homework. Set a firm but short deadline so students can experience some of the pressure involved in journalism. This is an exercise to get students thinking, not a final project. Use the criteria on the worksheet to offer students feedback about their oral presentations. Have students fill out a SRL Pitch Sheet.
Time for Performance
Each individual student performs a pitch. Either you or the class should offer “warm” and “cool” feedback. Warm feedback is positive and acknowledges strengths. Cool feedback offers comments and suggestions to help the learner reflect and improve.
Common Core Standards:
Speaking and Listening
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1 and 8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 and 11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.
Lesson 2.1: Finding Story Ideas Worksheet