Grade Level:9-12 (with suggestions to adapt for younger students)
Subject Area:world history
Curriculum Focus:research and writing skills, media and computer skills
Duration:two to three weeks
Objectives:Cleopatra, one of the most fascinating women in history, was considered to be the last pharaoh of the Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled Egypt from 305 to 30 B.C. With her death came the end of a unique era in Egyptian history. In this activity, students will produce a special edition of a newspaper calledThe Ancient Times. This special edition announces Cleopatra’s death and is a retrospective of her lifetime.
Materials:News Article Plannerreproducible; access to print and online resources (seelinks); computer(s) with an online connection; word-processing software; publishing software (optional)
Student reporters will write news articles, features, editorials, interviews, and sports and recreation articles, and report on literature, the arts, business, architecture, fashion, home and garden, etc., following the model of today’s newspapers but reflecting Cleopatra’s time.
Students will follow the basics of good journalism, including the option of using the inverted-pyramid format for news stories.
Students can include graphics scanned from print materials or copied from Web sites as long as they secure permission from the source to do so.
The scenario: Cleopatra’s death has just been announced, and as staff reporters forThe Ancient Times, students are assigned by their editor-in-chief (you)
to put out a retrospective, commemorative edition which covers the significant news events and cultural trends of Cleopatra’s lifetime. Explain that reporters usually
have beats—typically international, national, and local news, as well sports, business, recreation, and other topics. Don’t forget editorials and letters to the editor,
commenting on the now-departed Cleopatra. Students can sign up for a beat, and their assignment during the project period is to write one news article and one feature article related to their chosen area.
Surround students with current newspapers and newsmagazines; examine and discuss the difference between hard news stories and features. Encourage students to analyze how facts are presented in news writing.
News stories sometimes follow a classic format called the inverted pyramid, in which the who, what, where, when, why, and how are presented in descending order of importance. First, the facts appear in descending
order in thelead, or opening sentence or paragraph. The pattern follows in each of the remaining paragraphs, as the facts are expanded upon, one at a time. Younger students may find this formula for news
writing especially helpful. As students look through the newspapers and magazines you’ve assembled, encourage them to identify stories that follow the inverted-pyramid format, as well as describe other formats
they come across. A reproducibleNews Article Planneris provided to give students practice in using the inverted-pyramid format, but they may also model their writing after other formats they’ve observed.
As students do online and print research to complete their articles, encourage them to look for graphics too. If your final publication is to be distributed beyond your classroom or published on a Web site, studentsmustcontact the source for permission to use graphics. This means writing the publisher of print materials or e-mailing the creator or sponsor of a Web page. Students may need your assistance in locating addresses for the sources.
When articles are finished and have gone through a peer editing process, it’s time to begin assembling the publication. See below for suggestions for younger and older students.
Adaptations for elementary students:
It may be helpful to have younger students work in pairs or small groups to research and write their articles. You may find it more manageable to publish a magazine, rather than a newspaper, with younger students. This requires less technical expertise in formatting the pages, as no columns are necessary. Simply have students write and revise their work using word-processing software and insert any graphics as desired on the page. Compile the pages under an attractively designed cover, and the magazine is complete.
Adaptations for older students:
Depending on your students’ technical expertise and the resources available to you, creating a fully formatted publication with headlines and columns can pose an enjoyable challenge for your class. Even with templates available in software such Microsoft Publisher or PageMaker, students will still need to calculate and measure to make sure headlines, graphics, and text fit and look attractive.
Closure:Make enough copies ofThe Ancient Timesso that parents and other classes can read and react to it. Or, if you’ve published online, publicize its Web location so families can view it on their home computers.
Extensions:Creating and publishing a Web page is getting easier all the time, thanks to special software (Claris Home Page, Microsoft Frontpage, and Adobe PageMill are some popular packages). Even easier are free, Web-based templates with tutorials, such as Pacific Bell’sFilamentality. Let us know if you publish yourThe Ancient Timeson the Web by writing to us firstname.lastname@example.org.
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