Fiction News Teams Compete to Create at HS

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Freshmen and sophomores in teacher Greg Kguloian’s English classes at the high school worked as imaginative, cooperative teams, competing to create imaginary articles for their latest student-centered class activity, “Fiction News.” Each student was expected to do independent research to prepare for as “real-world” recreation of how news is efficiently collected, checked for verification and then presented to the public at large.

In the first part of the project, students read newspapers to see how professional news outlets present news articles, and watched news broadcasts from the major television network channel of their choice. After each student had the experience of seeing how the real world presents action news, the East Islip high schoolers were charged with creating their own fictional news.

In the next section of the lesson, the students read Shakespeare plays – “Romeo and Juliet” for the freshmen, “Julius Caesar” for the sophomores – and made detailed annotations about what they had learned. They then used these notes to create an imaginary article, choosing any major character from the play and writing several paragraphs about any scene from their point of view.

After completing each play, the classes voted for three “general managers,” and each student manager hired their own news team from students in their class. The three teams worked to create scripts from their combined individual imaginary news articles, with the general managers serving to coordinate the stories to form informative formal presentations, which were rated by their classmates.

“Authenticity was paramount,” said Kguloian, who said that the head-to-head competition between the three teams recreated the old prime-time network wars between ABC, NBC and CBS.

Each student group brought something unique to the table. Some teams utilized prerecorded video feeds as if they were “live at the scene,” while others included appropriate sports and weather segments.

“My kids put a lot into this activity and got a lot out of it,” said Kguloian. “I wanted our students to do something that would help them interact with the text of the plays and effectively utilize details and quotes from their close reading. They really enjoyed taking what they learned and creating something more out of it, and it helped make the literature that we read seem more interesting and relevant.”