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Grades 5–9
5 Sessions: 1 Hour Each
Informational, Media

Write for the Flood City Gazette!

Daniel José Older and New Leaf Literary & Media
Presented by: New Leaf Literary & Media
Students will work together to produce a newspaper for the fictional Flood City. In the process, they will take on the roles of editor and journalist to source, draft, and present their newspaper.
Download Includes
Lesson Instructions with Newspaper Template Link
Flood City Synopsis
Newspaper Glossary
Beats Sheet
Article Worksheet
What Your Students Will Learn

The characteristics of a journalistic article (as opposed to, say, opinion writing), the 5 Ws of journalism (Who, What, Where, When, Why), the fundamentals of giving and receiving peer feedback on their writing.

Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.2.B
Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.5
With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.2.A
Introduce a topic clearly, provide a general observation and focus, and group related information logically; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.2.B
Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.2.A
Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.5
With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.2.B
Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.6
With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.5
With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.2.A
Introduce a topic; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.2.B
Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2.A
Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.5
With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2.B
Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.5
Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grades 9-10 here.)
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.2.A
Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
What Your Students Will Produce

Your students will team up to create a fictional daily newspaper chronicling one day in the news of Flood City.

What You Will Do
Session 1
1 Hour
Flood City Gazette Job Descriptions
Session 2
1 Hour
Flood City Gazette Editorial Meeting
Session 3
1 Hour
Flood City Gazette Drafting Meeting
Session 4
1 Hour
Flood City Gazette Revision Meeting
Session 5
1 Hour
Flood City Gazette Presentations!
Introduction :

In these five sessions, students will be introduced to the incredible story of Flood City, the last, floating city on Earth after a catastrophic flood. Students are then invited to act as journalists for the Flood City Gazette. In the process, they will learn about the different roles needed to produce a newspaper and the fundamentals of writing a journalistic article. Students will work together as a team to tell the story of Flood City and present it to their classmates.

Session 1 : Flood City Gazette Job Descriptions

Together, the class will review the Newspaper Glossary and Flood City Summary, then break into their newspaper teams to select an editor-in-chief, review the Beats Sheet, and choose which beat to write.

You Will Need
Before You Start

Review class size and decide on the best division of students to produce roughly even groups that will each be a “paper staff.” The suggested group size is five students, with resources included for four “beats” and an editor-in-chief role, but students could be co-editors, or work in teams of two on their stories, for instance, to accommodate bigger groups.

How To Begin

20 Minutes

Watch Daniel José Older’s Message from the Editor video then read the Flood City Synopsis to establish the world and their job—to write for the Flood City Gazette!

Then, review the Newspaper Glossary to lay a foundation for the roles and responsibilities for each group or “paper staff.”

STEP 1

15-20 Minutes

Students select roles for the group (Who will be the editor-in-chief; who will be journalists).

Students review the Beats Sheet and choose a beat. In some cases, it may be appropriate for two students to write an article within the same beat. If a student has another idea for a story that doesn’t fit into the four given beats, that is OK! Encourage them to discuss their idea with their group and editor to see if it’s a good fit. (10 minutes)

STEP 2

10-15 Minutes

Class reconvenes with any questions that have arisen in the breakout group. If time allows, students can begin brainstorming ideas for their beat.

STEP 3

As an exit ticket, groups turn in a staff list detailing who will be doing what beat.

Homework (if not decided in class): Students will return to the next session with 1-2 story ideas for their assigned beat.

Session 2 : Flood City Gazette Editorial Meeting

Having established their paper staffs and assigned beat in session 1, students will return to their breakout groups and confirm one or two stories that they want to write (as a solo journalist, or some class sizes may necessitate duos or teams working on each beat). This session will establish the number and type of stories being printed in this issue of the paper so the editor can establish a layout and begin considering their contribution.

You Will Need
STEP 1

30 Minutes

Students work on the Article Worksheet, one for each of their story ideas, to brainstorm 5Ws and facts to include.

Note, students should focus their time on the 5Ws and facts for each story. For now, they can jot down any ideas for ledes and headlines, then return to those sections after the editorial meeting.

STEP 2

20 Minutes

Each journalist or journalist pair/team presents the story(ies) they’d like to write to the group.

In each case, the newspaper staff should identify the Who, What, Where, When, and Why (explained in the Newspaper Glossary) in the stories they’ll be writing.

The editor-in-chief/editor-in-chief team approves the story if the Five Ws are answered; if not, students should identify the missing or less developed Ws in class or for homework.

The editor-in-chief presents their idea/topic, whether they are choosing to write the “Letter from the Editor” or any other option provided on the Beats Sheet.

STEP 3

10 Minutes

Class reconvenes with any questions that have arisen in the breakout group. If time allows, students can work on finishing their Article Worksheet.

Homework: All students should complete their own Article Worksheet in preparation for drafting their article next session.

Session 3 : Flood City Gazette Drafting Meeting

Having selected their beats and identified the most important elements of the story (the 5 Ws), in session 3 students will work independently in their group to flesh out their story.

You Will Need
STEP 1

30 Minutes

Each journalist or journalist pair/team works independently on writing the actual article that will appear in the newspaper.

STEP 2

20 Minutes

The editor-in-chief/editor-in-chief team reconvenes the team from their independent writing to do a status check with each journalist/journalist team. They could ask each journalist to share:

  • What’s going well? Share your strongest line or paragraph with the group.
  • Where do you need more facts or details?
  • Where are you stuck?

As journalists/journalist teams share and discuss their work, the rest of the team should be ready to provide ideas that further develop their story and suggestions to overcome any sticking points.

STEP 3

10 Minutes

Students return to their own article, using this time to add ideas and suggestions from the team.

Homework: Before the next class session, students should finish the first draft of their article.

Session 4 : Flood City Gazette Revision Meeting

Students will provide feedback on the stories they’ve read.

You Will Need
  • Finished first drafts (paper or digital)
Before You Start

Students should come to this session with a finished first draft to share for peer review.

How To Begin

Preview how students will participate in the peer feedback process—providing written feedback for one team member’s article, then sharing that feedback during a team meeting. Clarify how team members will swap pieces (e.g., make a digital copy of their article and share with appropriate team members or swap their paper first drafts) for review.

STEP 1

30 Minutes

You may opt for students to use a peer feedback strategy that has worked well for your group in the past, or try the “T.A.G.” peer review activity, a simple peer review strategy used for writing revision. With this strategy, students swap writing pieces and create three “T.A.G.” notes for each piece they review:

T — Tell the writer something you like about their writing.

A — Ask a question about their piece.

G — Give the writer a positive suggestion.

Students should swap drafts to review and “T.A.G.” at least one other story from their team (including the editor-in-chief’s piece) and be prepared to share this feedback in their group. The editor-in-chief should ensure each story has at least one reader providing feedback.

STEP 2

20 Minutes

After all team members finish their review, they should convene as a paper staff.

The editor-in-chief calls on each journalist/journalist team one at a time and the members of the staff who reviewed that story provide feedback in person. It may be helpful for each group to elect a timekeeper for the revision process, spending roughly 5 minutes per article, depending on the size of the group.

Each journalist should take notes and ask questions about feedback they are given so they can incorporate the changes in class and/or as homework.

STEP 3

10 Minutes

Final revision time in class! If students don’t finish their article in class, this revision will be homework.

Session 5 : Flood City Gazette Presentations!

Students will present their newspapers and respective stories to the class. As an optional extension, students can format their articles into a newspaper template.

You Will Need
Before You Start

Optional: Before or after students present their stories to the class, you may opt to build in additional class time for students to transfer their final articles onto the Flood City Newspaper Template. To use a editable version of this template, follow these steps:

  • Open the template in Google Slides by following the link.
  • In the top left corner of the Google Slides bar go to ‘File’ – ‘Make a Copy’ – ‘Entire Presentation.’
  • In the Google Drive of the account used, there should now be an editable copy of the presentation. You can add student editors to the same template via the share option, just make sure to check the ‘edit’ option!
  • Students can rearrange the template as they wish, changing fonts, sizes or arrangement to fit their vision of the Flood City Gazette.
STEP 1

15 Minutes

Explain to students that each “paper staff” will have five minutes total to present their newspaper to the class. Post presentation requirements on the board—all presentations should include:

  • An introduction by the editor-in-chief(s) that provides an overview of the paper (was it a slow news day in Flood City? Or did a big event dominate news coverage?) and share a section from their piece of writing.
  • Each team member should take a turn introducing their stories. Students should share their interest in the story and identify the 5Ws. If they wish, they can share a line or section from their story as well.

Provide 5-10 minutes for students to prepare in groups.

STEP 2

45 Minutes

Paper staff presentations!

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Poetry

In this lesson, students will emulate Dylan Thomas’ famous drama, Under Milk Wood. Students will create imaginative works of fiction that examine their neighborhood in order to bring it to life.

Grades 3–9
Lessons
Beyond the Page: Writing Graphic Novels

by Klariza Alvaran, 826CHI

Media
Narrative

In this lesson, students explore the graphic novel genre with a focus on plot and character development, scripting dialogue, and visual composition.

Grades 6–8
Lessons
Artifact Detectives

by Louise McCune, 826 Valencia

Informational
Narrative

Working as budding archaeologists, students use artifacts as inspiration for several short writing pieces.

Grades 6–9
Lessons
Poets in Revolt!
by Amplifier.org

by Ola Faleti, 826CHI, with an introduction by Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S.

Poetry

The pen is mightier than the sword. In this lesson, students learn there's no better evidence of this than the poetry behind social movements.

Grades 6–7
Lessons
Infinite Recess

by Emily Clader & Daniel Reck, 826michigan

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative
Poetry
STEM

Students will create infinite poems using fractals, imagine life on a doughnut, and speculate about a universe where time goes crazy. Along the way, they'll explore cool, new math facts and concepts.

Grades 7–12
Lessons
Write with Pride

by Molly Sprayregen, 826CHI

Informational
Memoir
Narrative
Poetry

Over the course of this lesson, students produce memoirs, poems, and essays that explore what it means to be a member of the LGBTQIA community in America today.

Grades 3–5
Lessons
New Holiday

by Ashley Smith, 826 Valencia

Narrative

In this lesson, students will explore different holidays people celebrate around the world and then create a new holiday of their own.

Grades 1–5
Lessons
If Poems

by 826 New Orleans

Poetry

Students will imagine what they would do if they were someone or something else.

Grades 5–6
Lessons
Amazing Stories

by Nathalie Lagerfeld & Jill Carey, 826CHI

Fantasy/SciFi
Media
Narrative

Borrowing inspiration from out-of-this-world illustrations, students will create an amazing sci-fi story with a fantastical setting, realistic characters, and page-turning plot.

Grades 8–12
Lessons
Low Down Dirty Maps

by Saiya Miller, 826 New Orleans

Informational
Media
Narrative

Students will collect dirt, map their neighborhood, and listen to music that explores low sound, depth of soil, and the psychological landscape of New Orleans.

Grades 7–10
Lessons
Fake News: A Lesson in Media Literacy

by Stephanie Wykstra, 826NYC

Informational
Media

A student’s guide for evaluating evidence and learning to spot misleading and false information.

Grades 4–8
Lessons
King Cake Pourquoi Tales

by Kyley Pulphus, 826 New Orleans

Narrative

In this workshop, students will create a pourquoi tale, or origin story, of how a local delicacy came to be.

Grades 7–9
Lessons
Meet Your Protagonist!

by Ryan Harty, 826michigan

Narrative

By examining patterns in engaging published stories and applying a set of meaningful prompts, students will learn how to develop well-rounded characters that readers really care about.

Grades 5–6
Lessons
Rules, Rules, Rules

by Mindy Misener, 826michigan

Poetry

Students learn how poetry can “break the rules” then practice breaking the “rules” in their own poems by challenging the expectations, assumptions, and principles their work set up.

Grades 5–6
Lessons
A Superpowered Comics Lesson

by Ashlyn Anstee, 826LA

Fantasy/SciFi
Media
Narrative

Using the classic battle between superheroes and villains as inspiration, students will create their own twist on a superhero comic, featuring believable characters and Marvel-worthy dialogue.

Grades 7–12
Lessons
The Pandemic and Creative Communities

by Dr. Anne Desrosiers and Precediha Dangerfield, 826 Valencia

Narrative
Poetry

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives. This lesson will support students in processing the changes in their everyday lives and help them to identify the creativity their community has exhibited.

Grades 3–6
Lessons
Take a Stand: Anti-Bullying Skits
by Cartoon Network

by Jessica Barbaria, 826NYC

Informational

In this lesson, students dive into the many forms bullying can take, create scripts and role-play bullying scenarios, and reflect on their own experiences with bullying.

Grades 6–12
Lessons
No Lab Coats Required: The Poetry Laboratory

by Katie Manning and Brandon Brown, 826LA

Poetry

Students enter The Poetry Laboratory, no lab coats required, and use methods of observation and playful strategies to embark on the process of writing poetry.

Grades 6–7
Lessons
#SaveOurSlogans

by Meredith Goldberg-Morse, 826LA

Media
Persuasive

In this lesson, students write about a cause that they are passionate about, imagine how they can create change, and come up with slogans to convince other people to take action.