This is part 4 in our series on Newspapers and focuses on how to teach students to write feature articles.
We suggest taking the students through the entire writing process of writing a feature article by modeling how to use each graphic organizer in this set. In that way students will see how all of the organizers flow together to write the article. The graphic organizers for this post (with the exception of one anchor chart) are linked at the bottom of the explanation of lessons.
Lesson 1: Determine Your PAT (Purpose, Audience, Topic) – Start by brainstorming some good feature article topics. Guide students not only to focus on a topic, but also make sure there is a fitting purpose for writing the article and who their intended audience will be. Use the graphic organizer we have provided to model how to focus on a purpose, audience and topic for a feature article. Be prepared to use that topic in a guided writing exercise with your students.
Lesson 2: Writing Engaging Leads – Use our Top Ten Ways to Write Engaging Leads Chart to show students several ways to write creative leads for their feature articles. One way to make sure students understand each technique is to take the topic that was chosen in the previous lesson and have students practice writing leads in each of the top ten ways. (You may want to put them into groups for this and assign techniques.) We have also provided a lined page for practicing leads. Each has three lined boxes so students can draft a different techniques to determine the best. Some explanations and examples of the techniques on the anchor chart are shown below in case you want to use them as illustrations:
Lead with a Question – Helps to immediately get your reader thinking and wondering about the answer (Have you ever thought about how doughnuts are made?)
Lead with Dialog – Introduces the reader to the subjects in the article (“From the time I was only a child, I have always been interested in horses and how to take care of them,” explained Dr. Smith.)
Lesson 3: Organizing a Feature Article – Use our graphic organizer to model how students should be thinking about the organization of a feature article. It needs to make sense and flow well, in addition to including critical and pertinent information. It is also important to note that an article might not require all parts of this organizer. This is a two page organizer that has a box for the lead and then boxes for students to describe the who, what, when, where and why of their topic. It also contains a box for other important information that may be important to add.
Lesson 4: Drafting a Feature Article – Use this final graphic organizer as simply a place to write a first draft for a feature article. It is labeled with the words lead, body and closing as a reminder to include all parts. Again, we recommend that you model how to use this graphic organizer by continuing the writing process with the article the class chose at the beginning of these lessons.
In case you are interested, here are the links to the first three in our series on Newspapers as well as a link to our post focusing on vocabulary surrounding newspapers.