"Hear Ye! Hear Ye!"

Non-Fiction & Information Reports

Post date: Jan 5, 2014 11:50:29 PM

For the next 8-10 weeks, myself and my 5th class are going to be looking at the genre of Non-Fiction Texts and Information Reports in general, and specifically at Newspaper reports. While my end goal is that they will be enabled to write information reports on a range of topics, and some newspaper reports that will integrate with our SESE topics, initially I want them to read and listen to a range of information reports and newspaper reports. (Please note that newspaper reports can be an example of both report and recount writing).

Because of their relevance to non-fiction texts, I will also be focussing on these reading strategies below:

What's needed:

    • Plenty of non-fiction books, either from the classroom or the children’s own

    • Non-fiction text examples from the print media e.g. newpapers, magazines, travel brochures etc. Multiple copies of these can be useful for a group; seek out a friendly newsagent willing to send unsold copies your direction.

    • ICT: laptops, devices etc

Some of my planned activities:

DEAR Time: Instead of the usual fiction books we read as part this daily slot, we will read suitable non-fiction texts e.g. non-fiction books, newspaper reports and/or magazine articles. These can either be ones the children have brought in or they can read material that I will provide them with.

Standard read and answer the questions activities: I usually save some of the non-fiction reading activities from the textbooks/workbooks to use now. Some ways to shake up a normal reading lesson could include the following:Skimming: If available show the page in question on the IWB, but zoomed out so that the main text is obscured (and perhaps even the heading/title isn’t visible). Ask the children what they think the piece is about, and why they think this (e.g. clues from subtitles/headings, illustrations, captions etc.)

Scanning: On a different non-fiction piece, go straight to the questions without having even read the piece (this works well if the questions are on one page and the piece on another; the children can fold back the book so as to only see either the questions or reading at a time). Ask the children to suggest what answers or type of answers are required. Next you can ask them to locate the answers for each question (if the answers are located in the piece) as quick as they can (turn book/page over, find answer, put book/page face down again and hand up to show you’ve found it). Should get their competitive streaks going! This can also be a good time to categorise the questions into literal, inferential and evaluative (or as I prefer, Here, Hidden and Head questions (and heart if you choose). Later, the children can be asked to make up their own questions on a given news article in a 3-2-1 style; 3 here, 2 hidden and 1 head question. They can then swap these with a partner to answer.

The Structure and Component Parts of a Non-Fiction Report and/or Newspaper: After the class have read a number of number of expository/information reports and/or newspaper reports I will ask them to point out, and if possible identify some of the common features of both types of reports. This short video (6:32), while explaining the different parts of a non-fiction book, would also be quite useful. Another activity the children could do is complete a Newspaper Scavenger Hunt - again a fun way to familiarise yourself with the parts of a newspaper.

Newspaper Reports – ready-made lessons!

Check out Breaking News English for great lessons based on up-to-the minute stories organised into six reading levels. As I recently started a BYOD scheme in my class, and on the likelihood that more children got devices for Christmas, I’m hoping to do a lot of this on the devices and laptops available in class. That way our photocopying will be reduced and ability groups can read the articles at a suitable level. By far the most impressive aspect of this site is their extensive range of pre-reading and post-reading activities, all to accompany these up-to-the-minute stories.

Looking at News reports on News2Day: Watch one of their 8 minute news programme (aimed at 7-12 yr olds) on the RTE player, straight through.

    • What news stories can you remember?

    • What were the most important part(s) of the story?

    • What question words could I use to find out if you remember the most important parts (e.g. who/What was the story about? Where/when/how did or will this happen?)

    • What could you do to help remember the most important details or VIPs/Very Important Points? (Record notes/write down the key words etc)

    • What could you use to make sure you get all the VIPs? Use the 5 questions words and answer them.

Second time around, the children could be asked to watch again but while also jotting down the VIPs for each news story using the 5 questions words for guidance. Depending on time they could then Pair & Share, before giving feedback as a group. They could then also put all the VIPs, for each news story, together in one concise but cohesive sentence that summarises the news account.

Other useful questions to ask when reading/listening to/looking at news reports:

    • Why is this story newsworthy?

    • What is your opinion of the issues discussed in this story (if the issues are ones of major concern)?

    • Where did this story happen? How do you know? If names of places were not mentioned, what other clues could you use to decipher the location of the story? (e.g. accents. dialects etc)

    • (If other people besides the reporter/journalist featured in the story) What was the mood or attitude of the people involved? What do you think their opinion was of what was happening? What clues did you use? (e.g. tone of voice, gestures, facial expressions etc)

    • Do you feel the reporter/journalist explained the story fully/enough? What other questions do you have about this story? How might we find out more information about this story? (e.g. locate the story in another newspaper/on the internet).

It can also be a very interesting task to compare reports of the same news stories from multiple sources; and in particular to identify how they differ, leading to discussion on bias, credibility/reliability of sources etc. Just pick on any news story of the day and ask the class to use the internet/other news sources to find out more.

Match up! Read a selection of news reports that have the headlines removed; Predict what the headline might say? Then show some of the headlines and ask the students to match them to the most suitable news report.

    • Why do you think this headline and story match?

    • Could this headline match to more than one story? Which one?

    • Are the headlines as you predicted?

    • In what ways are they similar/different?

Simply put... Read a news article and summarise its main points in one sentence, making sure to have addressed the key question words. This can also be an ideal homework task.

And finally the writing...

Information reports: I usually start with writing information reports as they can be easier to start with than newspaper reports. As part of the drafting stage, and in a whole class setting, through consultation, we usually put together a Google Docs presentation concerning an SESE topic recently covered in class e.g. Mexico, the Romans etc. The children should be encouraged to do most of the drafting e.g. suggesting the subtitles for each slide, and identifying the VIPs for the bullet points. If they don’t already know, I show them how to locate and insert a suitable image for each slide. Next, we progress to creating a different collaborative presentation, but this time with three pairs of children working simultaneously on different laptops to produce one collaborate presentation, again using google docs. Finally, I encourage the more able to produce comprehensive, non-bulleted reports using suitable titles, subtitles etc based on the topic, using a suitable word processing program.

Newspaper Reports: A great tool for this is the Newspaper Clipping Generator, which allows you to generate and download a realistic looking newspaper clipping.

The Writing Process - Revising: While I have done quite a lot of work with this class recently on the editing stage of the writing process, using the editing COPS, I now plan to focus very firmly on the stage of revising using the STAR acronym. I have also found that revising is easier for the children when they can use ICT.

For more tips and ideas for reading check out my reading board on Pinterest, for writing check out my writing board, and for tips and ideas specific to non-fiction texts check out this board on newspapers and reports.


Relevant Curriculum Content objective(s): The child should be enabled to

Fifth Class, Sixth Class > Oral Language > Developing cognitive abilities through oral language >

    • discuss issues of major concern

    • use the basic key questions and checking questions as a means of extending knowledge

    • listen to a presentation on a particular topic, decide through discussion which are the most appropriate questions to ask, and then prioritise them

Fifth Class, Sixth Class > Oral Language > Competence and confidence in using language >

    • hear accents and dialects other than his/her own on tape and on video and discuss them

Fifth Class, Sixth Class > Oral Language > Receptiveness to language >

    • listen to radio broadcasts and discuss what has been learned

    • interpret mood, attitude, emotion and atmosphere in video extracts, advertisements, paintings and photographs

Fifth Class, Sixth Class > Oral Language > Emotional and imaginative development through language >

    • discuss with others his/her reactions to everyday experiences and to local, national and world events

Fifth Class, Sixth Class > Reading > Receptiveness to language >

    • engage with an increasing range of narrative, expository and representational text

    • become self-reliant, confident, independent readers, having time in class for sustained, silent reading

Fifth Class, Sixth Class > Reading > Competence and confidence in using language >

    • read widely as an independent reader from a more challenging range of reading material, including stories, poems, myths, legends, novels and non-fiction texts appropriate to his/her age and reading ability

    • learn about the structure and appreciate the function of the component parts of a newspaper

Fifth Class, Sixth Class > Reading > Developing cognitive abilities through language >

    • have access to a wide range of reading material in the classroom and/or school library

    • develop study skills such as skimming, scanning, note-taking and summarising

    • retrieve and interpret information presented in a variety of ways

    • distinguish between fact and opinion, and bias and objectivity, in text and in the media

Fifth Class, Sixth Class > Reading > Emotional and imaginative development through language >

    • examine similarities and differences in various types of text

Fifth Class, Sixth Class > Writing > Developing cognitive abilities through language >

    • write in a wide variety of genres

    • write for a particular purpose and with a particular audience in mind

    • refine ideas and their expression through drafting and re-drafting

    • use notes to summarise reading material and write an account from the notes

    • sketch an ordered summary of ideas and draft a writing assignment based on it

Fifth Class, Sixth Class > Writing > Competence and confidence in using language >

    • engage in the writing of one piece over a period

    • write independently through a process of drafting, revising, editing and publishing

    • choose a form and quality of presentation appropriate to the audience

    • develop skills in the use of information technology