Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #2

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Grades 7 to 12

Language Arts, Journalism, Social Studies, History

Students analyze and evaluate news summaries provided with this lesson plan and found in a local or national newspaper, focussing on the steps and criteria necessary for summarizing a news article briefly and accurately. Students then write two news summaries: one based on a newspaper article of their choice, and another on a specific event in history.



1. WARM-UP/ DO-NOW: Students respond to the following questions in their journals:

  • What does it mean to summarize something?
  • How can summaries of news articles be useful?
  • If you were assigned to write a summary of a news article, how would you go about doing so? Detail the steps you would take in summarizing your article.

Students then share their responses.

2. Divide students into five groups, and assign each group one of the following News Summaries:

Group 1: Mandela urges action not dissent on AIDS
Group 2: Honda robot walks on two feet
Group 3: Proposed greenhouse tax unfair, farmers say
Group 4: Stop CD 'cyber shoplifting': music industry
Group 5: China Tightens Reins On Political Speech

For each article, students answer the following questions (labeling their answers for each with the article title):

  • What is the focus of this summary?
  • What background of this news story is offered? (What has happened prior to this story?)
  • What new information is offered?
  • What essential details about this news event are provided?
  • What else would students like to know?
  • How does the headline apply to the summary?

Students compare and contrast the articles:

  • What do these articles have in common in terms of writing style? (length, organization, wording)
  • Who is the audience for these articles? What purpose does each article serve?
  • How do these articles differ, other than in subject matter?

3. Students select a news article from copies of a local or national newspaper or online news website (see SNN Newsroom's ‘The Wire'). Students first take notes organized into the categories "Background" and "New Information." Students then write a summary of the article modelled after the summaries provided.

Summaries should meet the following criteria:

  • Clearly states the focus of the article.
  • Includes enough relevant background information so that the reader will fully understand the new information.
  • Includes any new developments or information clearly.
  • Introduced by an interesting headline that offers the most important piece of information in the article.
  • Edited to be 100-140 words or less.
  • Remember the 5W's of News: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How). Use the inverted pyramid. This means that articles should be written with the most important information first and the least important last. Use SNN's Writing Guides to show how a news article is done.

5. WRAP-UP/ HOMEWORK: Students choose any specific historic event (such as the Fathers of Confederation, First Man to walk on the Moon, sinking of the Titanic, or Mark McGwire breaking the homerun record) and write a news summary, meeting the same criteria as presented in the newspaper activity (procedure #4 above) Students may find pictures suitable for print with their news summaries.

6. News summaries and summaries of historic event can then be reviewed by the class and placed on the school/class website as a class project.


Students will be evaluated based on journal entry, participation in classroom discussions, written summary of a newspaper article, and written news summary of a historic event.


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