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Unit 16: In the news

Day 2: Writing a news story


  • Students will create a story about a fictional local hero, using the imperfect and present perfect tenses.
  • Students will discuss the layout for their group newspaper.

Setting the Stage (5 minutes)

Teacher initiates a class discussion about contemporary heroes. Teacher asks students who their heroes are. Students share their thoughts about their personal heroes.

Input (20 minutes)

Teacher tells students that they will create a story about a hero. Everyone will participate in the process. Teacher will ask all kinds of questions that will engage students in the creative process. Teacher will continually reinforce the details of the story throughout the process to ensure student comprehension by asking questions and repeating the information. Teacher has prepared the questions in advance and has a general idea what the content of the story will be. Students simply provide some of the details.

Types of questions to ask:
  • Who? What? When? Where? Why?
  • Personalized questions
Teacher writes new target language vocabulary (no more than 8 or 9 items) on the front board, with a translation into L1 (the students' common language) next to each word. A sample vocabulary:
  1. fire
  2. smoke
  3. hero
  4. fire truck
  1. apartment building
  2. photographer
  3. fire fighter
  4. ambulance paramedic

Teacher provides a visualization (body language or drawing) for each new vocabulary word as it is introduced into the story. Teacher focuses on making sure that the students all understand as they create the story. Teacher may ask one student (usually someone who normally has difficulty in the class) to signal to Teacher when he or she (student) does not understand something. This student will feel very pleased to know that he or she is helping the rest of the class by making sure that everyone understands. Teacher encourages students to be very creative. Teacher chooses the most creative and unusual details provided by the students. The funnier and crazier, the better! Students will enjoy being creative and unusual. Teacher shows constant interest in the students and their suggestions. Teacher makes constant eye contact with the students who volunteer suggestions for the story.

Teacher shows lots of enthusiasm as students help to provide details for the story. As students provide details, Teacher retells the story over and over again by asking questions about the details.

These details are in parentheses in the frame of the story described below.

Main elements of the story:

  1. (name) of a person, either male or female, chosen by students
  2. (name of place) where this person lives
  3. (country) where this person lives
  4. Last week, (name) was reading. (Students provide what he or she was reading)
  5. (name) smelled smoke
  6. (name) ran to the window and saw smoke.
  7. Smoke was rising high into the sky.
  8. (name) ran to the phone and called police.
  9. (number of) fire trucks arrived on the scene.
  10. One of the fire fighters, (name) heard screaming.
  11. (name of fire fighter) ran into the apartment building all the way to the (ordinal number) floor and broke down the door.
  12. (Man or woman), (old or young) was lying on the floor and gasping for air.
  13. (fire fighter) picked up (victim of smoke inhalation) and ran down (cardinal number) flights of stairs and out into the street.
  14. An ambulance from the (name of ambulance company) was waiting.
  15. (number) ambulance paramedics lifted the (description of victim) into the ambulance, climbed into the ambulance and raced off.
  16. All the firefighters cheered for their friend, who had shown such great courage!
  17. All the firefighters drove back to the fire station and had a big celebration.
  18. They had (names of drinks and food) for dinner.
  19. (name of fire fighter) was the hero for the day!

Teacher may choose to have several of the more outgoing students in the class come to the front of the room and pantomime or act out the story as the rest of the students create the story.

Guided Practice (10 minutes)

Students, in pairs, read the text of the Story for Day Two that Teacher has translated into the Target Language ahead of time. This story might be on a sheet of paper or projected on the screen in the front of the room. The pairs of students are to translate this story into L1. Teacher collects and checks for comprehension at a later time.

Independent Practice (15 minutes)

Students gather in their assigned "newspaper" groups. Students look at examples of layouts in several local and national newspapers (either hard copy or online Internet newspapers) and discuss the following:

  • Which articles are on top?
  • Which articles are below?
  • Why are there photographs for some articles and not for others?

Students work together in their groups to brainstorm the layout of their group newspaper. Students will submit a rough layout plan to Teacher by end of class.

Closure (5 minutes)

Students groups share their layout plans with another group.

Students submit their layout plan to Teacher.

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