Newspaper Stories
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Give examples of needs not met by the government, business, or family sectors.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Describe different processes of program evaluation.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.

Students become familiar with the structure of the newspaper and the purpose of the different types of articles as they explore "stories" about acts of giving and sharing time, talent, and treasure for the common good. Students recognize the types of voices and articles in the newspaper. They analyze the components of news articles and complete pre-writing for a news article about their own acts of philanthropy. 

PrintTwo 50-minute class periods

The learner will:

  • browse the newspaper to gain a sense of the types of stories offered.
  • review Freedom of the Press in the first amendment.
  • define philanthropy.
  • highlight interesting articles related to philanthropy.
  • analyze and discuss the characteristics of a quality news article.
  • identify the five Ws in a news article.
  • write a lead paragraph for a news article about his or her own service experience.
  • A variety of local, national, and international newspapers for students to read; they do not need to be the same or current.
  • Highlighter pens
  • Student copies of Handout: Rubric: Writing a News Story
  • File folder or 12" x 18" sheet of construction paper to make a folder for each student (for saving pre-writing activities)

  1. Day One:

    Anticipatory Set: Start the lesson by telling the students a brief story about something exciting, funny, or frightening that happened to you. A story that involves some service or giving to a neighbor is ideal at this point. Start with an attention-getting statement or question. End the story with a sentence that shows the impact of the event on you. Tell the students that telling our stories of philanthropy is the focus of this unit, and they will be writing stories in different formats, reading stories in different genres, and possibly telling stories using various media.

  2. Write the term philanthropy on the display board. Review the definition (giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good) and discuss their recent acts of philanthropy (individual or as a class). If this is a new concept, see Bibliographical Resources for lessons that introduce this concept and help students identify community needs.

  3. This lesson's focus is on the different types of stories found in newspapers.

  4. Give newspapers to groups of students. (Note: Keep the newspapers as reference for the remainder of the unit.)

  5. Introduce the concept of Freedom of the Press. Tell the students that the writers of the First Amendment knew that it was essential that the Press have the right to write about news, even if it was controversial or against the government or the church. With that right and freedom comes the responsibility to report honestly and fairly. Reporters must do research to get their facts right, spell names correctly, give accurate background information, and give equal time to both sides of an issue. (First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.)

  6. Tell students that people read newspapers differently than they read books. They scan the headlines for topics of interest, and they usually don't read everything in the paper. The first paragraph of each article gives a concise description of what the story is about. If you read the first paragraph, you can decide quickly if it is an article you want to read. Tell the students they are going to spend 15 minutes getting familiar with one newspaper.

  7. Ask the students to look through the entire newspaper, identifying the sections and the types of information available. Have them scan the headlines looking for any articles, letters, or features related to people showing generosity or working toward solving an issue that affects the community, world, or nation. Tell them that if a headline looks like it might be fitting, they should read the first paragraph. If the first paragraph looks interesting, they should highlight it. When they are finished, ask them to tell the class about the articles they found. They do not need to read the whole article at this point.

  8. Ask for volunteers to share the titles of articles they found in the paper about people giving their time, talent, or treasure for the common good or about people addressing issues of civic engagement. Write some of these titles on the display board. As students share these articles, help them recognize that some of the stories are local, and some are global. Some are political, and some are human interest. And note if some are news stories and some are letters, editorials, or in other formats. Help the students recognize or become aware of the other genres in the newspaper.

  9. Tell the students that over the next few days they will be writing about their community service experience in one of three formats: news article, personal narrative, or persuasive writing.

  10. Day Two: Teacher Note: Before students come in, write the words who, what, where, why, and when on the display board. Anticipatory Set: Read some lead paragraphs from articles in the newspaper. As you read, point out to the students that the first paragraph is concise and attention-getting, and it gives the basic information about the article. As you read each lead paragraph, have the students identify strong (effective) words, tense, point of view (first person/third person), and the five Ws (written on the display board). Write some of their selected strong words on the display board. Also, keep track in tally form of tense and point of view used.

  11. Discuss what makes a good lead paragraph for a news article. Clarify for the students that today they are looking only at objective news articles (not opinions).

  12. Ask the students to recall some of the topics covered in the newspapers they looked at the previous day. List the elements of a good news article (accurate, objective, just the facts, clear and concise, topic of current interest, published in newspaper, online, or in a magazine). See the Bibliographical Resources for some websites that give information for students about writing quality news articles.

  13. Remind the students of the responsibility that goes along with the Freedom of the Press. They must do research to get their facts right, spell names correctly, give accurate background information, and give equal time to both sides of an issue. This genre of writing requires careful work and research to get the facts right and without bias.

  14. Brainstorm with the students events they can write about for a news article. The events should be related to philanthropy--either their own acts of giving and sharing or a school or community event. The students may all write about the same event or each student may choose a different topic.

  15. When everyone has a topic, they should write a lead paragraph for their news article. The lead paragraph should capture the readers' attention, and the paragraph should communicate the 5 Ws and give the basic facts concisely.

  16. If time permits, the students can start researching their topic. This research may include learning more about the background of the issue, the planning of the event, or the individuals giving or receiving services. The research may include interviews and gathering quotes for the article. Research may also involve getting accurate spellings of individuals' or organizations' names. Give the students a copy of Handout Two: Rubric: Writing a News Article to guide their planning.

  17. Tell the students to store their prewriting work from this lesson and the following lessons in a file folder. Label the folder with their name, class period, and the title "Telling Our Stories of Giving." Either collect these folders or make sure the students understand the importance of keeping them until the last day of the unit.


Assess student understanding of the newspaper by their participation in the group work and discussion on Day One. Read student's lead paragraphs and assess whether they have the essential elements: attention getting first sentence and the five Ws.