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Learning Circles Teachers' Guide
Open Circle Plan Projects Share Work Publish
Close Circle Overview


Children in the News

Presenting news stories that effectively deliver a message requires a good understanding of the issue as well as attention to the specific needs and interests of the readers or viewers. Students are interested in many of the same stories that capture the attention of adults, but their approach to the issue may be different. There are also some items that have a greater impact on and appeal to children.

Sponsoring Children in the News:

Each week there are many news and feature stories that deal with issues that particularly affect children. As sponsors of this project, you will be asking the students in other classrooms to focus on issues that are specifically related to children. For example there may be a story about a local student who challenged the dress code arguing that First Amendment rights allow for freedom of expression. As the sponsors of this project, you might decide to ask students to explore this particular issue in more detail in their community. Your students and you can decided what type of research, writing or information that you like your distant partners to contribute. For example:

Your students may to compare the dress codes at each school and interview the teacher or principal regarding the reasons for establishing a dress code.

Your students might issue a challenge to students. "Design a school dress code that is appropriate for the range of activities that take place in schools and does not restrict free expression nor offend the rights of others."

Or there might be a local story about the effects of the summer floods on kids at home and at school. This time the sponsors might suggest a comparison of the types of natural disasters that occur in their area and what agencies and resources are available to help children and families in distress.

The sponsoring class is responsible for selecting the topics and organizing the project responses.

Publishing Children in the News:

The sponsors of this project would be responsible for selecting, editing and illustrating the articles that would be included in the "Children in the News" section of the Learning Circle publication. These might be comments or summaries of some of the important issues discussed in weekly messages or they might be student writing on the topic selected.


Feature This

A feature article allows for in-depth coverage of a topic. Often the feature news stories explores the historical background of a situation currently in the news, such as civil war in Yugoslavia, and highlights the geographical factors underpinning the event. A feature program might also take a close-up look at an issue or event that has disappeared from the front page headlines but persists nonetheless, such as the spread of AIDS or NASA's space program.

Sidebar Stories
A sidebar is a statement or essay related to
a main topic being presented. It reflects the
main topic or issue in a news story but allows
for travel down an interesting tangential road
providing a side-ways look at the main topic.

Sponsoring the Feature This Project:

The class who chooses this project will be watching the programs with the goal of coming up with ideas for feature stories. They request the help of their distant partners in selecting a topic, doing the research, and writing the feature story.

The sponsoring class may want to start by asking students working on this project from the partner schools to send a list of ideas for feature articles. They might ask the students to think about "What other classes in the Learning Circle might like to know more about and why?" These messages can help the sponsors select the topic of the feature story or stories.

Once the sponsoring class has decided on the topic, research teams can be organized to collect materials. Students from participating classes could be involved in a number of different ways. They could be distant reporters who collect and provide information for the sponsoring class to use in writing the feature story. The sponsors might send a short survey or a list of questions to their distant reporters asking them to provide a local focus on this issue. Distant reporters might be asked to provide a short "sidebar" story that deals with the issue form the perspective of their school, community or region.

Publishing Feature This:

The sponsors of this project will be writing one or more feature stories with information they collected from student groups located in the other classrooms. They will be the managing editors that will organize the final version and decide on the use of sidebars. Students may find it helpful to look at Time and Newsweek Magazines to see how they layout their feature stories and accompanying sidebar stories. Also have them note the team of researchers, reporters, and writers who are often listed at the end of the article. This should help them think of a way to recognize the distant researchers and reporters.

Continue with more examples

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Copyright © 1997, 2002, Margaret Riel