Page last updated at 13:39 GMT, Monday, 18 July 2011 14:39 UK
TEACHER RESOURCES - PICK AND MIX

This pick and mix section allows teachers to create bespoke lessons by picking activities and resources




This page has now been updated - you can find the new version here

A School Reporter from Accrington Academy writing her script at the computer

WRITING AND ASSEMBLING NEWS

This page contains a collection of videos, guides and quizzes about writing scripts and stories and how to assemble your material into great content.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
We would value your feedback on the resources
Email schoolreport@bbc.co.uk or fill out the form at the foot of this page to get in touch
And if you have any suggestions about how to improve the classroom activities or ideas for new exercises, we'd love to hear from you!

You can choose which resources are the most appropriate for your pupils and classroom. We've called it a pick and mix - so you can read through and select the materials that best fit in with your plans.

Please note that all times for activities are approximate and will depend on class size, age, etc.

We also have a special Teacher Essentials section which includes lots of extra information and advanced resources.

You can also use our updated six lesson plans if you prefer a more structured approach.


RESOURCES

Writing

Being able to write clearly is an important skill for every journalist - whether they work in TV, radio, print or online.

The three C's - making sure your writing is Clear, Concise and Correct - are a good starting point for every journalist.

Headlines are also a crucial way of drawing people's attention to your story. An enticing headline can be the difference between someone reading, watching or listening to all your great journalism or not.

Equally, strong stories can lose their impact if people cannot follow them because the language is confusing or the story drags on for too long.

And it goes without saying that your story needs to be factually correct.

Learn some of the skills of writing scripts and online stories, then test your knowledge with our School Report writing quiz.


RESOURCES

Assembling

Journalists and editors have to take editorial decisions about how to assemble the material into a report.

There are some tricks of the trade to make the best of your material for broadcast, while remembering your report should aim to be fair and balanced.

And if you are producing a bulletin made up of several stories, then you need to think about the "running order" - the order you want the stories to appear in.

A good bulletin should have the best story as the lead item to grab people's attention - in just the same way that a newspaper puts its top story on the front page - while a light-hearted "and finally" story will often be the final item.

These resources will help you to assemble individual reports and to compile an overall running order.

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

Video: Writing news (2 mins 30 secs video + 2-3 mins to recap/discuss)

Writing news (duration: 2 mins 30 secs

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards explains the 3 C's of news writing: being Clear, Concise and Correct.

Writing scripts and news stories also means understanding that you need to get straight to the point!

There's no point in having an amazing news story but leaving the most important fact to the last sentence!

NOTE FOR TEACHERS

You can recap the key points from the video with this accompanying worksheet, or read a transcript of the video:

A Welsh language version of the video is also available, together with a transcript.


Video: Scriptwriting masterclass (3 mins 30 secs video + 4-5 mins to recap/discuss)

School Report's scriptwriting masterclass (duration: 3 mins 30 secs)

For BBC Breakfast reporter Tim Muffett, writing engaging and informative scripts is part of his job.

Watch his video in which he gives his hints and tips on scriptwriting for video or audio reports.

There is a real art to writing a good script and a lot of the time less is more: if you have great pictures, let them speak for themselves rather telling viewers what they can already see.

NOTE FOR TEACHERS

But things are obviously a bit different for radio - then you need to be a bit more descriptive.

You can recap the key points from the video using the accompanying worksheet or read a transcript of the video:

Watch Tim Muffett's final report (duration: 3 mins)

Tim's report went out on BBC Breakfast, and you can see how he put all his tips into practice to produce the finished article.

And the worksheet below contains the script that he used for his report.

Why not watch the report along with the script to see how it was all put together.


Activity: Scripting a story (30 mins)

Work in pairs.

For this activity, you will need to print out two copies of this worksheet, one is for a first draft and the other is for a final draft.

Tell each other about the last thing that interested you so much that you couldn't wait to tell someone else. That's what news is essentially about - communicating something of interest.

Between you, decide on a news story you are going to report. It could be either of your stories or it could be something else.

If something else, do some research on the topic to gather the key facts - the 5 W's.

Now, one of you tell your partner about it, just like you did when you were telling your own piece of news.

The reason for doing this is that news is best communicated as though you were telling a friend. That way, the most interesting information, is naturally what you communicate first.

Having spoken your story out loud, write it down on the worksheet.

This will turn your story into a script, and also enable you to calculate how long it will take a presenter to speak it. Newsreaders usually read at three words per second, so a short 10 second story should be about 30 words.

Remember to keep your words clear, concise and correct:

Clear: Write it how you would say it. Get straight to the point at the beginning.

Concise: Don't waffle. Keep your sentences - and the length of your report - short.

Correct: Get your facts, spelling and grammar right.

You will probably need to rewrite your script, using the second worksheet, which is all good news making practice. Most journalists will write and rewrite several times before they are happy with their work.

Once you have completed your script, you can add in notes about any quotes, sound effects, stills, graphics etc on the left-hand side of the worksheet.

If you've finished your script, write a cue - that's the introduction that another presenter gives before they hand to the journalist presenting the report. Remember, the aim is to promote the story that's about to come, not to tell it twice.

So, in your cue, don't repeat the words that are in the opening sentences of the report.


Activity: Writing news - beginning, middle and end (15 mins)

Work in pairs.

A, print off a news story from the BBC News, BBC Local News or CBBC Newsround websites, other news websites, newspapers and school newsletters.

Cut up the story into sections, with two or three sentences in each section - or individual sentences if you wish to make the task more difficult.

A and B, underline the facts and circle the opinions. A fact is something that it true (often who, what, where, when). An opinion is what someone thinks.

B, try to put the sections in order.

A and B, compare B's order with the original story.

A and B, answer these questions:

1. What did you notice about the beginning, middle and end of the report?

2. Where are most of the 5 'W' facts?

3. Where are most of the opinions?

In many genres of writing, the main event occurs in the middle, or at the end, such as a murder-mystery novel.

But in news, the first sentence should reveal the key occurrence and often includes the key 'W' facts.


Activity: Writing captions (15 mins)

The captions on the BBC's picture galleries are a good example of how to write a story in a very concise way - usually just one sentence.

NOTE FOR TEACHERS
A few photos cut out from a newspaper or newsletter is a low-tech alternative if you don't have internet access

Find a picture gallery on the BBC News' In Pictures section that interests you.

Take off the captions by clicking on the 'hide captions' button at the bottom right of the first picture.

Now write your own captions for the photos.

Then unhide the captions, if you're working online, or look at the captions/story information in the newspapers or newsletter.

Compare your captions with the ones written by the BBC/newspaper journalist and answer these questions:

1. What do you notice about the language they use?

2. Which of the 5W's - and How - are used the in captions?


Activity: Writing concisely (15 mins)

This activity will help you develop your own concise news writing style by replicating what BBC online journalists have to do every day.

Journalists writing for the BBC News or BBC Sport websites have to be able to write very concisely because their stories also appear on the Ceefax and Red Button text services, which are usually just four paragraphs long.

This is the same story on the BBC Sport website and the Red Button text service
This is the same story on the BBC Sport website and the Red Button - but the Red Button text service has only four paragraphs to tell the story, while the website goes on to expand on its report

So the stories have to sum up all the important facts - the 5 W's - in four paragraphs (before expanding on them for the websites). That means every word counts.

Find a story that interests you in a newspaper, magazine or other reliable source and try to tell the whole story in four paragraphs, which equates to about 80 words.

What kind of information do you have to cut out? What do you notice about the language you use?

This is a useful discipline to have in journalism. Try sticking to it if you are going to write text-based online reports - it really helps keep your stories engaging for the reader. And you can always go into more detail after telling the key points.


Guide: How to write for the web

If you're creating a story for the web, read this guide. It explains how to make sure your writing is clear and offers some advice on how how to arrange your story on the page.

And if you are thinking about using live event pages, where a series of short updates enable your audience to keep up with a fast-moving event like a breaking news story or a sporting event, try our experts' tips on writing live text pages.


Activity: Answering the 5 W's (10 mins)

Work in pairs.

Print out a story that interests you from the BBC News, BBC Sport, BBC Local News, Newsbeat or CBBC Newsround websites, or from other reliable news websites, newspapers or school newsletters.

Go through the story and underline or highlight the parts which answer the 5 W's - the Who, What, Where, When and Why. And there is usually a How in there as well.

Virtually every story should be able to answer these questions - is your story missing any of the 5 W's? What questions would you need to ask to find out the answers?

Now discuss your answers with the class.


Activity: Writing headlines (20 mins)

Headlines "sell" stories to readers, viewers and listeners by telling them what the story is about and grabbing your attention.

Ideally it should leave you wanting to know more so you read or listen on to find out more information.

Writing good headlines is a skill and this activity will help get you thinking about how to promote your stories with great headlines.


Activity: Compiling a running order (20 mins)

You are producing a TV news bulletin for teenagers. The bulletin has to have six stories.

Look at today's news stories on the BBC News, BBC Local News, Newsbeat, or CBBC Newsround websites. You might also like to look at other news websites/newspapers.

Choose six stories to put in this running order worksheet.

You must include a lead story and an "and finally" story.

You may also want to use a news round-up, in which case, place grouped stories in a single story slot on the worksheet.


Activity: Running order in pictures (20 mins)

The BBC News website's Day in Pictures is a good example of a picture gallery that tells some of the day's stories in photos and text.

If you have access to slideshow software, create a six-slide gallery and try to tell the story with your captions.

NOTE FOR TEACHERS
You can only use these images for your School Report work. You must not use them in any other way

Alternatively, cut out photographs from newspapers and/or the school newsletter.

Slide 1 should be the lead story and slide 6 the "and finally". Add captions to each picture to explain the story.

Only use photographs from the BBC website which have AP, PA, AFP or GETTY IMAGES in the right-hand corner; the BBC has gained copyright permission for you to these ones.


Quiz: Writing news (10 mins)

Quiz: Writing news

This is your chance to see just how much you know about writing a good news story.

School Reporter using computer

1.) Writing news

Journalists use language that is clear, * and correct.

  1. concise
  2. cool
  3. crafty

2.) Writing news

Journalists' language is simple and to the point. Which of the following phrases is the best example?

School Reporters writing scripts
  1. Police hit out as demonstrators make point
  2. Riot police used shields to push demonstrators back
  3. Demonstrators show their emotions as police get involved in clash

3.) Writing news

Which of the following will help make your report more interesting?

School Reporters looking at a computer screen
  1. Made-up facts
  2. Quotes from key interviewees
  3. Exclamation marks!!!

4.) Writing news

Which of these is most likely to annoy readers?

School Reporter writing on a cue card
  1. Jargon
  2. Big chunks of text
  3. Inaccurate spelling and grammar

5.) Writing scripts

After you've written your script, what's the first thing you should do?

An autocue with a script on it
  1. Give it straight to the editor
  2. Read it aloud to make sure it sounds okay
  3. Move on to the next story

6.) Writing headlines

What is the golden rule for writing headlines?

School Reporter sitting in television studio
  1. Be as clever as possible
  2. Keep it short and bright
  3. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story

Answers

  1. The answer is concise, which means short. When you're writing the news, it's important to keep your sentences short, so that people can understand what you are trying to tell them. It's also important that your report is not too long, otherwise people will switch off.
  2. Riot police used shields to push demonstrators back is the most clear because it simple and straightforward. No word is wasted. The other examples are vague and unclear.
  3. Quotations will add interest to your report. A quote is a great way to add some colour. Listen out for interesting or amusing quotes when you are interviewing people.
  4. Inaccurate spelling and grammar is most likely to annoy people, so double check before you publish. But long chunks of text and jargon are also irritating!
  5. The first thing you should do is to read it aloud to make sure it sounds OK. It may feel a little weird to read something you've written out loud, especially when the people around you are quiet. But journalists who write for radio and TV are always told to read their scripts aloud to make sure there are no tongue twisters in it!
  6. A headline should be short and simple. It should grab people's attention but mustn't mislead them. Be clear and tell readers what the story is about.

Your Score

0 - 1 : Keep working at it

2 - 4 : Good but could be better

5 - 6 : Well done!

NOTE FOR TEACHERS
The online quiz gives you the answers at the end of every question. If you are using the quiz worksheet, the answers can be found here:

This multiple-choice quiz is designed to test your knowledge of how to write scripts and stories.

It also provides real-life scenarios to prompt discussions about the issues that can arise during writing news.

Pupils can take the above quiz online, either on this page or on a separate page which is easier to email and distribute at school; a low-tech alternative would be to print out this worksheet:



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