Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #21

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A Thesis Statement vs. a Lede

Grades 7 to 12

Language Arts, Journalism, Media Studies

In this lesson, teachers can encourage students to write leads for news stories as a way to help them focus their writing and summarize the premise of a particular piece of writing. SchoolNet News Network (SNN)'s website http://www.snn-rdr.ca/snn works hand in hand with this lesson by providing journalism writing tools for teachers and students as well as a safe, structured environment for publishing student writing.


  • SNN Writing Guide (for reference)
  • Copies of local or national newspapers
  • Copies of text about The Lede
  • Computers with access to the Internet



1. Discuss with the entire class what is a lede. Handout copies of The Lede. Review with class SNN's Newsroom site - information on different writing styles. Discuss the similarities between a thesis statement and a lede.

Essay/Thesis Statement
When it comes to writing essays, it's good to start with a clear focus and sense of where the essay is going. That's where the thesis statement comes in. The thesis statement is that sentence or two that spells out the focus and scope of your essay. You can't deal with every aspect of a subject in the one essay. But you can focus your essay on a very specific element and define that in your thesis statement.

The Lead (lede)
In journalism, there's a similar concept called the lead (or lede). In a single paragraph, a lead must summarize the basic facts of a story and convey to a reader what you found out in your reporting. The lead must also catch a reader's or listener's attention and make them want to read the rest of your story.

.Select a news story from SNN Editions section. Divide your class into small groups.
Ask one half of each group to read the story and then come up with a list of the 5W's that factor into this story. The 5 W's of News are: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How).
Once they have listed the main elements of the story, ask the rest of the group to write an opening sentence (the lead) based on the information they are given.

. Give the students an opportunity to read their leads to the class and then compare them to the lead from the original story. Discuss the ways the various leads serve to focus the story and introduce the main elements of the story to the audience.

4. Go to the SNN Wire for major newspapers online and identify a story that's been covered by at least three of them. Print each of the stories and isolate the 5W's in each of them.

5. Then compare the leads of the stories. Does each writer include the same information in their story? If so, are the leads similar? The goal is to look at each story and see if all of the reporters focussed on the same information in their leads. If they didn't wind up with the same leads, is there an obvious reason for this?.



Students will be assessed on in-class participation, group activities and written leads.



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