Back to School Newspaper Unit Lesson Plans
- Grade Level: Upper Elementary, Middle School, High School
- Subject Area: Language Arts
Students assemble and format their stories and layout their electronic newspaper. A variety of styles, from simple single block layouts to more complicated multiple columns are possible.
- Learn about Web publication and HTML coding.
- Continue to refine their writing skills as they create their final drafts.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer (PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
- Special hardware requirements: Access to a server to store Web pages and access to a scanner if images are to be included in the newspaper.
- Special software requirements: an HTML editor.
- Internet access: Any connection speed is sufficient for uploading Web pages to the server, it should be noted that medium-speed (28,000 BPS via modem), or high-speed (greater than 1 MBPS via network) will complete the job sooner.
- Have students visit the sites listed below in Internet Resources to see samples of student-created newspapers. While students visit the sites, have them look at the various layout styles the different papers used and decide on which type they would like to use for theirs.
- After a layout style has been decided upon, have a group of students investigate what sort of HTML codes were used to create the pages. To do so, students will want to revisit the newspaper site and view the document source for the page. In Netscape this is done by pulling down the "View" menu on the top bar of the Netscape window and then choosing "Document source." By comparing the HTML code and text of the document with what they see in the Web browser, students can select the types of codes that they will need for the paper. Students can save examples of codes they see at other sites by saving Web pages they like. To do so students should go to the "File" menu in Netscape and choose "Save as," then in the format dialog box the should select "Source" (instead of Text).
- If you have access to a scanner, have students scan in the images they have selected for their pieces. Image files need to be stored as GIF or JPEG files for Web browsers to be able to access them.
- Convert documents into HTML format. You may do this one of three ways:
- Have students input their texts into a word processor for final editing and spell-checking. Files should be saved as text-only. Next have students open the documents in an HTML editor which aids in inserting HTML tags. All files should be saved with a .htm or .html suffix (use ".htm" if you use DOS or Windows and ".html" if you use other computers).
- Have students enter their final drafts directly into an HTML editor. Insert any HTML tags to complete the layout.
- Have students enter their final drafts into a word processor and save their work as text-only format. Students can type in the HTML tags they need as they enter their work.
- You may want to publicize the first "printing" of your paper by announcing the Website's address at various electronic forums. See our list of Internet Resources below for some places to target.
LETSNet Professional Growth Modules
- Introduction to Web Publishing
Learn how to set up web documents on a server.
- Basic HTML Module
Learn more about basic HTML tags that allow you to insert sounds and images.
- Martin Luther King Jr., Elementary School's Newspaper
Students at this elementary school in Los Angeles created the content for the paper and then received help from UCLA journalism students to create the Web pages. This is a good example of a basic format for creating a school newspaper.
- Black and White and Read All Over, the Garfield School's Newspaper.
Students at this K-5 school in Monmouth, Illinois created a Web newspaper that has a slightly more advanced layout.
- Eagle's Eye, the Corona Avenue Elementary School's Newspaper.
Students at this school in Bell, California created this newspaper that highlights organizations that have helped their school. They layout is fairly advanced involving the use of HTML tags to create tables which give the paper its columns.
- Ralph Bunche School's Newspaper
Students at this school in New York City post monthly installments of their school newspaper on this page. Their format is an example of a moderately advanced page.
Resources for Publicizing Your Newspaper
- Intercultural E-mail Classroom Connection
St. Olaf College site lists a number of places where you can join e-mail discussion lists to connect with classrooms around the United States and the world.
- Humanities Net e-mail discussion list on hypermedia
Send e-mail to this address to join a discussion list moderated by a history professor interested in integrating computers and multimedia.
- Humanities Net e-mail discussion list for history teachers
Send e-mail to this address to particatipate in H-Teach. H-Teach is a list dedicated to teaching history on the college-level.
- Humanities Net e-mail discussion list for Teaching Social Studies in Secondary Schools
Send e-mail to this list to participate in discussions on secondary social studies.
This e-mail discussion list is a general education list that led the way in educational e-mail discussions.
- Edweb Discussion List
An e-mail discussion list run by Andy Carvin, based at Edweb.