Do your students struggle with reading and writing in a meaningful manner? Do they complain about feeling always bored in class? The cause of their disengagement is that the topics offered in ELA class are out of their interest field. Therefore, journalism writing could be the answer you need.
I was exactly in your shoes until I decided to take the leap and introduce journalism writing lessons in my ELA classes. All of a sudden my students started reading because we focused more on what was happening in the world around us and writing because they had something to say about it.
Creating their own newspaper, news blog or news site was a challenge they welcomed with open arms. But in order for them to be successful we went through a series of journalism writing lessons to teach them how professionals do it.
We started by learning the ingredients of a catchy headline and went on to analyze real life publications. I was surprised to see that they immediately had ideas for improvement. I gave them topics, passages and pictures and asked them to write headlines that will make people read the articles below them and their answers were so so good.
As a bonus activity, I gave them popular headlines. I also asked them to write the story behind them in a narrative form. They got totally creative and it was a delight reading their stories.
After we nailed the headlines, it was time to focus on writing articles. I gave them examples of news stories, columns and review articles. We analyzed each of them. This is how we discovered the ingredients that they had to use in order to write similar, successful pieces. Then each of my students got an individual prompt and started researching to write a qualitative piece.
I went one step further and used a picture prompt with cues. I asked them to imagine the story behind it and write a news article covering the events. It was one of the best ideas I had!
Introducing journalism writing in my ELA class made my reluctant readers and writers engaged and willing to work harder. I used journalism activities tailored to their needs and the response was simply amazing. I firmly believe that bringing topics of interest is the only solution to keep our students engaged in a world that encourages instant gratification. Journalism teaches them to be patient, thorough, organized and, above all, to question everything.