1st Edition

Hit the Headlines Exciting journalism activities for improving writing and thinking skills

By Colin Macfarlane Copyright 2012

    Hit the Headlines charts out a series of fun and inspiring, cross-curricular journalism workshops that enhance key skills and confidence in areas such as:

    • Writing and editing.
    • Critical assessment.
    • Interviewing and observation.
    • Mental flexibility and resourcefulness.
    • Role-playing and teamwork.

    This book will enable teachers of 9 – 15 year-olds to involve their students in a number of effective and well-tested exercises, games and scenarios, which will encourage them into enthusiastically seeking out and gaining further knowledge in areas such as news, journalism, social issues, IT, data assessment, ‘intelligent observation’, and enhanced questioning and listening. This is ‘organic learning’ at its best!

    An introduction to the theory behind the book summarises short and long term learning outcomes which your students can achieve through these methods, explaining why scenarios which feel ‘real’ can immerse students and inspire them to achieve greater proficiency. The author also flags up particular aspects of the book which encourage readers to read and use it systematically, as well as to take on specific challenges themselves in order to better assist their students in the writing and editing challenges it contains.

    Practical photocopiable templates for many chapters are provided, which can be used as classroom (and out-of classroom) exercises, examples and solutions to exercises. Through these engrossing journalistic scenarios, students will learn how to critically assess levels of ‘interest and importance’ of diverse facts, and so begin to understand that report or presentation writing of any sort involves sequencing a critical balance between these two factors.

    Readers and users of this book can go on to customise their own scenarios, drawing on the stimulating techniques outlined to improve their students’ factual writing and related thinking skills. In particular, classroom teachers in primary, middle and secondary schools and all literacy co-ordinators will find this book extremely useful, as well as students studying for PGCEs and NQTs.

    CHAPTER 1: introduction and theory; CHAPTER 2: a few words on how to use this book; CHAPTER 3: the secrets of fact sequencing; CHAPTER 4: the shape of a news story; CHAPTER 5: ideas for studying the newspapers together; CHAPTER 6: ‘Story Quest’ – a journalism game; CHAPTER 7: live action (why realistic scenarios are so effective); CHAPTER 8: ‘Group Scenarios’ – a dramatic way to learn; CHAPTER 9: writing and editing the group scenario stories; CHAPTER 10: ‘A Sub-Editing Challenge’; CHAPTER 11: the ‘Challenging Changes’ activity explained; CHAPTER 12: ‘Making it Real’ – creating news scenarios; CHAPTER 13: more on news scenarios and ‘some we made earlier’; CHAPTER 14: recounting, spin & bias in journalism, with exercises; CHAPTER 15: beyond print journalism in educational settings; CHAPTER 16: some suggestions for making a project newspaper; CHAPTER 17: headlines and headline games; photocopiable sheets: fictitious stories for ‘What’s the Headline?’ game; CHAPTER 18: adapting journalism techniques for any educational project; Glossary of journalistic and workshop terms


    Colin Macfarlane is an educational consultant, writer, professional performing poet and ex-journalist. He has had considerable experience over the past 20 years in developing and running a great number of highly acclaimed writing workshops in schools, and intensive residential courses around the country.