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Teachers: Literacy: Text

Last Updated: Monday September 18 2006 16:49 GMT

Develop journalistic style - birds

Text level

Hen harrier


One of England's rarest birds of prey remains vulnerable despite a record number of fledglings this year.

English Nature says that 46 Hen harrier chicks have hatched this year in nests they are monitoring.

But breeding is limited to one area - the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire - and the species is still threatened.

Learning aims
  • To develop journalistic style through considering selection and presentation of information.

Click below to read the story:


Summarise the story to familiarise the children with the content they will be using for this lesson.

Let the children know that they are going to become newspaper reporters. They will be presented with lots of information to use for their report. They have to order the information so that it tells the story from beginning to end with relevant detail.

Remind the children of the key points to the story:

  • The bird is endangered
  • Eggs have hatched
  • But there is still a worry about their survival

    Present a framework for writing a story:

    1) OPENING
    3) QUOTE
    5) END - SUMMARY

    Now present some ways to begin the story:

    A rare bird has hatched new eggs OR New eggs hatch

    Ask the class what they think is the best opening and why. Guide the children into understanding that the first sentence needs to sum up the story in one go but leaves out some information so readers want to carry on to the next part. The shorter opening doesn't give the 'newsy' detail that the birds are rare.

    Develop the story by saying that the next paragraph needs additional detail, then more information is required to take the story into new territory. Add more information further down in the story and conclude with a summary.

    Main activity

    Display potential sentences - children must select one from each grouping to use in their article.

    • One of England's rarest birds has hatched new eggs.
    • New eggs hatch.
    • There are more than 1 million pigeons in the UK.

    • Hen harriers are on the increase.
    • The Hen harrier has had a successful breeding season and more than 40 chicks have been born.
    • The birds had lots of baby chicks.

    • A spokesman for English Nature, said: "This is great news for the Hen harrier. I hope that more are hatched in the future."
    • A spokesman for English Nature, said: "I love watching the news."
    • A spokesman for English Nature, said: "Male Hen harriers are pale grey with black wing tips."

    • More than 40 Hen harrier chicks have hatched.
    • But some people are worried.
    • But campaigners are worried about the threat to the creatures as vandals attack the birds' nests.

    • Twelve nests have been set up since 2002.
    • Let's hope the Hen harrier doesn't die out.
    • Conservationists are now thinking of ways to protect the birds so that more can be bred.
    Extension activities

    Use bullet points to present facts on any bird-related theme.

    Rewrite a newspaper article by condensing it into five paragraphs - but including as much information as possible.


    Ostriches do not need to drink - they can make their own internally and get the rest from vegetation
    Barn owls don't give a hoot -they screech.
    The fearsome Gastornis bird is thought to be a descendant of the dinosaur

    Volunteers read their stories. Praise the use of suitable sentences and explain why some of the others options do not make such good choices.

    Problems could include; being too brief, not related to story, not enough detail, information in the wrong place, opinion opposed to fact.

    Teachers' background
    • Hen harriers have a 99 to 121cm wingspan.

    • Males are pale grey with black wing tips and a white rump. Females and fledglings are brown.

    • The birds live across North America, Europe and Asia.

    • They inhabit moors, coastal marshes and reed-beds.

    • They feed on small mammals and other birds.

    • They migrate south of their breeding grounds in winter.

    • Egg laying occurs in mid April to early July.

    • Hen harriers emit a ke-ke-ke call when frightened.

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