A newspaper or magazine can be a terrific collaborative project, combining writing, editing, design, and teamwork into a single assignment. The text structure of a newspaper or newsletter is predictable. Helping students explore this genre allows them to become more familiar with the common features and terminology of newsletters and newspapers.
The age of technology has brought about significant changes in the news world. Stories once written on paper are now transmitted via electronic means. Students using computers to create newspapers and/or newsletters will experience a modern perspective on how a whole paper comes together.
Local and regional newspapers may have lesson plans and materials available free to schools and teachers. Visit their offices or websites and inquire about programming. Many valuable resources can be found in our communities!
Newspaper Association of America
Find curriculum ideas, research, and training materials related to newspapers.
National Elementary Schools Press Association
Resources for elementary and middle schools looking to create student newspapers.
Let’s Write a Newspaper Course
A website presented by John Hopkins University where students will learn to:
- Work cooperatively
- Research and write stories
- Learn valuable writing tips
- Write a newspaper story
- Edit articles
- Add graphics and captions
- Write a headline
- Lay out and produce a newspaper.
Making the News
A website full of online newsletter templates. These templates allow for really well focused and formatted group work and/or homework using either traditional tabloid or broadsheet layouts and formatting.
ReadWriteThink Printing Press
Create brochures, newspapers, booklets and flyers right on their interactive website.
The Write Site Newsroom
An online journalism and language arts project for middle schools, developed by Think Network.
The Newspaper Clipping Generator
A fun interactive designed to create an image of a single article. Enjoy other tools at this site including a movie clapper-board, talking squirrels, writing ninjas and a few others.
- eHow video tutorial on using Microsoft Word to create a newsletter
- Enchanted Learning lesson plans and templates
- NESPA (National Elementary Schools Press Association) provides downloads of example newsletters from elementary and middle schools.
- ReadWriteThink lesson plans, activities, and interactives
Multimedia presentations can be integrated in any number of ways. Plan on spending at least 30 minutes familiarizing yourself with some of the formatting tools that might help students make a newsletter. It will probably take another 30–60 minutes to create an appropriate assignment, but use the many newspaper-type projects on the Web as a guide.
Creating news-style layouts with word processors
A newspaper layout can be easily created in word processors using two tools: the Text Box and Columns.
Text boxes are inaptly named, as you can put images and other things in them as well. They simply act as placeholders. To draw a text box, click on Insert a Text Box and then click and drag the mouse to draw a box on the document. Once the box is drawn, you can click and drag on the corners of a text box to enlarge or shrink it.
A long rectangular text box along the top of a page can be a newspaper banner. A short vertical text box in the lower left-hand corner can be a table of contents. The front page can contain several different small text boxes with story leads and then the rest of the articles in text boxes on subsequent pages.
Another tool that can be helpful is the Column tool. Click on Format Columns to reveal a window of options for formatting with Columns. Using this tool, a page can easily be broken up into two or three columns like a newsletter. This is simpler than formatting with text boxes, though the boxes have more flexibility. You can also combine these tools, inserting text boxes onto pages formatted with columns.
Some word processing programs contain ready-made templates, which only need customization for specific projects. A template is a great place to start when trying to create newsletters or newspapers.
Desktop publishing software packages are another viable option for creating newsletters and newspapers for all purposes. User-friendly and full of great clipart design options, these programs are great for children and adults alike.
Students can jazz up their newsletters with digital photographs or images from the Web that are copied and pasted into text boxes. With a little formatting work, your students can create a slick-looking newspaper in short order.