Beacon Lesson Plan Library

It's in the Paper! (Newspaper In Education Unit)

Anne Zahra
Bay District Schools


Students brainstorm a list of the kinds of information found in newspapers, present examples, and state how reading a newspaper is useful to them and people they know. They also demonstrate understanding of the term mass media.


The student selects and uses prereading strategies that are appropriate to the text (such as discussion, making predictions, brainstorming, generating questions, and previewing) to anticipate content, purpose, and organization of a reading selection.


-- Copies of a daily newspaper (recommended: 1 copy for every two students or for every group)
-- Copies of brainstorming chart, examples portfolio and student chart (see attached file)
-- Glue
-- Scissors
-- Copy of brainstorming chart on an overhead transparency with overhead projector, blank transparencies and overhead marker
OR whiteboard/chalkboard with markers or chalk


1. Print out and copy handouts in attached document. Cut and paste a sample grocery store advertisement on page 1 of the examples portfolio.
2. Gather newspapers, scissors, glue, overhead projector with transparencies and markers or whiteboard markers/ chalk.
3. Divide students in pairs or groups and ensure there are enough materials to complete the lesson.


1. Take an informal poll in the classroom to find out:
-- How many students read or look at the newspaper at least once a week?
-- How many students’ parents subscribe to or buy the newspaper regularly?
-- How many students like to read the sports section or comics?
Record the results of your informal poll on the overhead or board.

2. Write the number 56 million (56,000,000) on the board. Inform the students that this was the estimated number of newspapers sold each day in 1999. [data source: Newspaper Association Of America,]

3. Write the term -mass media- on the overhead transparency or board. Tell students that newspapers are a form of mass media, or a means of communication that reaches very large numbers of people. Ask students if they can name other forms of mass media (examples: radio, TV, magazines, Internet). Write their answers, along with the word -newspaper- on the overhead transparency or board.

4. Tell students that the purpose of the lesson is to discover the different types of information that can be found in a newspaper and decide how that information could be useful in our daily lives. Tell students they will also find examples of other types of information and later complete a chart describing how newspapers are useful to them and to people they know.

5. To help students understand the purpose of their lesson, present an example by displaying a sample newspaper article. (You might choose a story about a local event of interest to students or their parents. School-related and education-related news stories are a good choice.) Ask them who would find the information in the article useful and why. Ask them what kind of information can be found in the article (Sample answer: students might call an announcement of scholarship winners -school news-). You might ask students to brainstorm other examples of that type of information (Sample answer: -school news- might also include honor roll listings, event announcements, and the minutes of school board meetings) or examples of other types of information (Sample answer: along with school news, a newspaper contains sports scores, lottery numbers, real estate advertisements, etc.).

6. Distribute newspapers to pairs or groups of students along with one copy of the brainstorming chart (see attached file) for each pair or group. Allow students 10-15 minutes to review the newspaper and list as many types of information they can find. [Note: There are two brainstorming charts provided, one open-ended, and one structured by information category. Select the brainstorming chart that will best suit your grade and/or learner level.]

7. Once the pairs or groups of students have completed the brainstorming chart, call on a representative of each pair or group to name types of information found. Record student responses on the overhead transparency or board. Compare and discuss student responses and categorize them as appropriate (example: store advertisements and some classified advertisements might be classified as “shopping”, while movie times might be classified as “entertainment”).

8. Distribute one examples portfolio [see attached file] to each pair or group of students. Discuss the example on page 1 of the portfolio. Emphasize that the students must write a sentence explaining why they selected this example. Instruct them to discuss the reasons for their choice to be sure the examples they select are correct.

9. Distribute the glue and scissors to the pairs or groups of students. Instruct students to find, cut out, and paste onto the appropriate page an example of each type of information (news, weather, entertainment, sports, travel, community). Have each pair or group complete the examples portfolio while sharing materials.

10. After completing the examples portfolio, ask a representative of each pair or group to present one example and explain why it was chosen as an example.

11. Have each pair or group of students complete the student chart [see attached file] describing how newspapers are useful for them and for people they know. Discuss student answers and record sample answers on an overhead transparency or on the board.

12. To close the lesson, write the term -mass media- on the board again. Ask students to use the space provided at the bottom of their student chart to explain in their own words why we call newspapers a form of mass media.


The assessment process includes the examples portfolio and the student chart [see attached rubric]. Performance levels vary from SEE TEACHER (few or no correct examples provided) to COMMENDABLE (all examples correctly provided).

The criteria for achievement are:
-- Student/pair/group provides and justifies each example included in the example portfolio.
-- Student/pair/group demonstrates knowledge of different types of information in newspapers by completing student chart.
-- Student/pair/group is able to explain in his own words why newspapers are a form of mass media.


The lesson is intended as an introduction to a unit on newspapers and newspaper reading. The lesson might be extended or some content repeated for younger or lower-level students, and omitted from the unit with higher-level students. ESE or ESL students might substitute oral responses for written ones, or provide either fewer or additional examples. The lesson is most helpful for students less familiar with the content of newspapers.

Web Links

Web supplement for It’s in the Paper! (Newspaper In Education Unit)
Newspaper Association Of America

Web supplement for It’s in the Paper! (Newspaper In Education Unit)
Panama City News Herald Newspaper In Education page

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