Today's lesson was very fun! Each class started out by giving the students back the results to their political preference quizes and explaining how to read where they rated on the political spectrum. Students were asked to first think about this question- "what is news?" After a couple minutes to write down their own definition some students shared their answers and we tried to reach a class consensus. We began by using two clips and asking the students to respond to each one and whether they thought it qualified as news. The first clip was breaking news of Paris Hilton being released from prison, and after some laughter, almost every student concluded it wasn't really news and probably shouldn't be on the news. The second clip was breaking news about the shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech. Almost all students agreed that was news. We then went into what made each one newsworthy or not newsworthy.
I was somewhat surprised and very pleased that students in each class were able to name all of the qualities of newsworthiness. They didn't identify them by name they identified the idea behind each- timeliness, prominence, conflict, impact, and human interest. Having these identified, the students proceeded to an activity to assess their skills in determining newsworthiness. This part was differentiated by class. For the step 4 class we used one article, read it together as a class, and went through the worksheet to determine if the news was timely, if it related to an area near them, was it out of the ordinary, and did it fulfill other qualities of newsworthiness. This article, about a conflict at a local high school, was easy for the students to understand, and we were able to get through the whole activity. With the other classes they each had different articles (1 each in step 6, and in groups with step 5). The students in step 5 answered the questions in their groups but had individual worksheets to keep them on task.
Following this activity we defined the difference between soft news and hard news, and viewed a couple of very funny videos, which I thought really engaged the class (one about what soft news IS, and the other 3 minutes on cable news about Barack Obama's bowling game). The second video really gave them an understanding of what soft news is and how to spot it. I then listed different stories and had the class guess whether it was hard news or soft news. This was probably the point in the lesson where I felt everyone was most engaged. Lastly, we defined infotainment, the blending of hard and soft news, and concluded class. In all 3 classes we accomplished everything on the lesson plan, and I was pleased. One lesson on classroom management was that one students, obviously out of it, slept through most of the class. There was a group activity moment where it would have been wise to take him aside and tell him that he needed to be awake and staying with us, or go to the counselor.