Getting to Know You Newspaper

Getting to Know You Newspaper

Course(s)/Subject(s): Eighth Grade English

Grade Level(s): 8

Key Words: Interviewing for a News Story, Technology

Developer(s) Name: Pamela E. McKnight

School: Washington Irving Middle School

Approximate Time Frame:5 to 645-minute class periods

Materials/Equipment Needed:Newspaper articles, digital camera, Adobe Photo Shop software, computers with ClarisWorks

Description of Lesson (includes context):This is typically a fun assignment at the beginning of the school year because it facilitates an opportunity for students to get to know each other and for the teacher to get to know the students. Students write questions to get the most information, interview another student, and then write a front-page news story or a feature story about the person interviewed. News stories will be published and shared with other team students and parents.


  1. What is the objective of this lesson?
    Students will use oral language skills to acquire information; they will evaluate the
    effectiveness of their questions; and they will engage in the writing process as they
    formulate the information into a news story using word processing skills on the computer.

FCPS POS Standards: 135

FCPS POS Benchmarks:8.1-1, 8.3-2, 8.3-3, 8.3-4, 8.5-3, 8.5-4

FCPS POS Indicators:

8.1-1 bullets 2 and 4;

8.3-2 bullets 1-3, 5-7, 9-


8.3-3 bullets 1, 3-5

8.3-4 bullets 1-4

8.5-3 bullets 1-4

8.5-4 bullets 1 and 4

VA SOL(s) (including Computer/Technology):8.1, 8.5, C/T8.1


  1. What will we examine as evidence of students' knowledge and/or skill?

Product(s):Students will produce a one to two page news story formatted into two
columns with a header and an inserted graphic/photo.

Performance(s):Students will write general questions and then focused questions.
Students will ask questions using appropriate language skills and
record answers.
Students will draft, revise, edit, and print final copy.

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Students will share published news stories with class.



  1. What exactly will the students and teacher do during the lesson?

Directions to students for proceeding with the lesson:

  1. Write ten open-ended questions to ask your interviewee. Remember that the objective
    is to get as much information as possible.
  2. As you ask the questions, use appropriate eye contact, voice level, and body language.
    You want to make the interviewee feel comfortable and not threatened or intimidated.
    Seem genuinely interested and friendly while encouraging the person to respond.
  3. Record the person's responses listening for direct quotes. You will want to have at
    least two direct quotes in your news story, so listen for words that really express the
    interviewee or convey a main point. It is important to have the person's voice in the
    story because it makes it more authentic; it's as if the person can be heard. While
    recording the responses, also note the person's body language, mannerisms, and voice
    tone. People speak non-verbally and these cues will be helpful. For example, while
    asking a question, if the person begins to bite his/her lip this may mean that this is a
    difficult/painful topic or if the person uses a lot of gestures this might mean the person
    is very energetic or expressive.
  4. Review your responses, and then pick one subject to write about. You want to have a
    focus to the news story, so you need to select one topic and then develop at least ten
    new questions that focus on that specific topic. For example, if the interviewee
    mentioned sports, make up new questions specifically about the sport that they play or
    a specific game.
  5. Record the new responses and direct quotes that you will use in the news story.
  6. Decide if you will write a front-page news story or a feature story.
  7. Using ClarisWorks make a two-column document and insert a header for the title of
    your story. Then begin drafting the story.
  8. Revise draft for content to include a better lead, more elaboration, improved word
    choice and sentence structure and variety.
  9. Peer conference with your partner and review suggestions.
  10. Make changes and print a second draft.
  11. Edit for grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. Peer conference again.
  12. Insert graphic and make sure it is the size that you desire.
  13. Print final copy and turn in all work.

Directions to teacher/administrator using the lesson?

  1. Prepare students to write news stories by discussing and bringing in examples of front-
    page stories and feature stories. Explain that most of the front-page stories use the
    inverted pyramid format and are usually about something that happened with the most
    important details at the beginning. A feature story will highlight a person's life or
    something about the person's life or accomplishments with the best details toward the
    end of the story. Also discuss that a good lead is necessary to attract a reader's
  2. Give each student a partner to interview. I would recommend that the teacher have
    students pull names from a hat or use some other arbitrary method. I would not allow
    students to choose their partners because some students may choose people that they

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already know.
3. Discuss the difference between closed-ended and open-ended questions and that their
objective is to ask open-ended questions that are relevant.
4. For homework students can write questions and then the next day the teacher should
informally check students' questions before interviewing begins.
5. The teacher should model good interviewing techniques and examples of non-verbal
6. Students will ask their first general questions and record responses.
7. Then direct students to review responses and to write at least ten more questions
focused on a particular topic/subject about the person.
8. Instruct students to ask the new questions and record the responses.
9. As students interview each other, teacher should circulate providing assistance and
redirecting students when necessary. Some students will get very little information and
will need assistance on what to ask even beyond their questions to get as much
information as possible.
10. Plan to be in the computer lab three days. In the computer lab instruct students how to
create a two-columned document with a header. Also discuss font size, bolding,
underlining, and any other formatting requirements.
11. As students are drafting, teacher should take a picture of each student with the digital
camera. Then the photos need to be downloaded onto the hard drives of two extra
computers in the lab with the Adobe Photo Shop software already loaded. (You don't
actually need two computers, but it makes the process of inserting the photo into the
document go much faster when there is an extra computer.)
12. Instruct all students on how to insert a graphic/photo into their documents. However,
specifically train two students who will be able to assist others with inserting the photo
at the two extra computer stations.
13. During the three days in the computer lab students will take turns going to the extra
computer stations and inserting the photo into their document. Once they have
successfully inserted the photo, they return to their original computer station and
continue to work on their news story.
14. Once students have completed the writing process they are ready to print their final
copy with the inserted photo. (Explain to students that it is most important to finish the
written work and that they can stay after school to insert the photo if they don't have
enough time.)
15. Have students share the news stories and present them at a team function or at a parent


  1. What options in presentation(s) and/or response(s) are suggested in order to provide the opportunity for all students to demonstrate achievement of the benchmark(s) and indicator(s)?

The teacher could provide students with a few starter questions or allow the students to write
fewer questions.

The teacher could shorten the length of the assignment by decreasing the number of required

The teacher could provide students with an outline of what should be in each paragraph. The teacher could allow students to record responses instead of writing them.

The teacher could enlist the help of the ESL specialist to explain and model non-verbal cues that

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ESL students might not be aware of.