Sharing news stories from the New York Times with my upper elementary students has forced me to think a lot about how these articles are written. One thing I’ve realized is that far too many news articles are just inaccessible for many people. They’re too difficult to follow, certainly at least for this age group, but probably, more broadly, for a lot of people who do actually care about what the stories say.
I encourage teachers to quickly read the articles ahead of time, find the high points and go with them to build interest. Share the great details, the fun quotes, the interesting tidbits. Summarize the rest. For the most part, there’s simply no way to simply point the stories out to students and ask them to read on their own before discussion time. At best, you’d have to give an overview first, then ask them to read the story and come back ready to discuss it.
This is actually a bit sad for me, because I do believe deeply both in newspapers like the New York Times and the importance of understanding the world for elementary school students. But, alas, now is not the time to solve all of the world’s problems! Instead, I just wanted to share this guide, published by National Public Radio for print news reporters who now are writing for radio.
Why is it also a guide for teachers? Simple. The New York Times is essentially the print reporter. You are more or less the radio reporter: giving an audio version of the news for your students. This guide can help you understand both how newspaper reporters (especially at the New York Times) tend to write, and what you need to do to be more like a radio reporter, making it interesting and accessible for your students.
I also wanted to share because my class is taking part this year in Student Reporting Labs,, and I think this shares great advice about how to write a story. It may be helpful to other teachers who want to guide students toward good story-telling.
You can find it via the link above or here.