Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #13

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A Sense of Emptiness in the House That Michael Built: Evaluating Journalistic Techniques in Reflecting on the Career of Michael Jordan

Grades 7 to 12

Language Arts, Journalism, Social Studies

In this lesson, students investigate different journalistic techniques used to add colour and new dimension to fact-based news stories. Use the SchoolNet News Network's website: http://www.snn-rdr.ca/snn/ to assist students with learning about journalism skills and to provide student and teacher interaction with other student/teachers throughout Canada.




1. WARM-UP/DO-NOW: In their journals, students respond to the following question (written on the board prior to class):

  • What are different techniques that journalists could use to make the story different or to add a new dimension to the story?

Students then share their responses, and the teacher writes them on the board.

. Distribute a highlighting marker or coloured pencil to each student. Then, as a class, read The Bitter Chill in Chicago: Any Future Without Jordan. While reading, students should highlight only the facts about Michael Jordan's retirement that are presented in the article. After finishing the article, students share what they have highlighted, justifying why these are facts essential to the story. Then, discuss the purpose of the non- highlighted material (the bulk of the story). Why does the journalist use so much non-factual information, and what does it add to the story?

3. Read and discuss the article as a class a second time, focussing on locating the use of the following journalistic devices:

  • Quotations. What quotations stating facts are included in this story? What quotations expressing opinions are included? How do these two different types of quotations add to the reader's understanding of the story?
  • Literary and historical references (such as metaphors for the city of Chicago, famous writers such as Saul Bellow, Ann Landers, Al Capone, Michael Jordan's restaurant, other "losing" Chicago teams, and Michael Jordan's endorsements for McDonalds). What does the writer expect the reader to know about Michael Jordan and the city of Chicago? How does this seem to "personalize" the story for the reader?
  • Colourful language. What examples of descriptive language can students find in the article? How does description add to the tone of the article and to understanding how sad the people of Chicago are to lose Michael Jordan as a Bulls player?

4. Students will do research through the internet, library, newspapers and magazine on the career of Michael Jordan.

5. WRAP-UP/ HOMEWORK: Using the research done by the students, each student writes a purely factual article about Michael Jordan's retirement, using information from the featured article as well as from any other information sources that they choose. Students then write a one paragraph reflection about the differences between this article and the article read in class.

Their article should answer the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How). Use the inverted pyramid style which means that articles should be written with the most important information first and the least important last.


Students will be evaluated on in-class participation and their written article.



  1. Write a colourful news story about a school event. Try to use some of the journalistic techniques discussed in class and to give your article an interesting slant on the facts. Send your articles to SNN.
  2. Write a feature/ biography article for SNN on Michael Jordan, focussing on his upbringing, his professional sports career, and other projects in which he is involved.
  3. Write a persuasive essay/opinion article for SNN about the roles of athletes as heroes in American society.
  4. Investigate the nature of celebrity endorsements for products. What celebrity endorsements can you recall, and how do these endorsements affect your view of the quality of the products? Write an opinion article on endorsement for SNN.




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