Writing in Stereo

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WiS Lesson 7F

April 26th, 2010

readingthenews.jpgThe original Writing in Stereo was published online back in the late 1980's.  Its purpose was to apply creative radio dramatics or broadcast journalism to all aspects of the teaching of high school English.  Each lesson included a lesson plan and notes.  I'm sharing these with you here.

UNIT OBJECTIVE: (VII) The student will improve primary research and writing skills using the discipline of broadcast journalism.

LESSON OBJECTIVE: (F) The student will research, write, and record a sidebar story, a new angle on a basic announcement.

MATERIALS REQUIRED: Paper and pencil, audio tape recorder/player, some recording space

INTRODUCTION: A broadcast journalist does not accept information on face value. He or she inquires after the information. The press release, like the statement at a press conference, is not the end of the information gathering. Questions must be asked ... and answered. Sometimes another story emerges. That new story is the sidebar. You, the researcher, have a responsibility to find the truth ... every aspect of it. You must be imaginative ... and pursue.


1. Brainstorm sidebar angles on a number of school announcements.

2. Consider sources where the information might be found.

3. Ask a student representative to appear before your class to participate in a demonstration interview. (Most convenient would be a student in one of your classes who is also a representative from one of the groups making the announcement ... or perhaps a cooperative teacher sponsor.)

4. Begin the appointed interview by modeling the appropriate questioning behavior with the guest. Be polite, but direct in your questioning. Take notes on the board behind the guest.

5. Encourage students to ask prepared questions. (These questions might also be on the board or in the students' notes.)

6. Having completed the interview, explored a sidebar area (or two), thank the guest and part company. With the class discuss possible approaches to the sidebar story or stories.

7. Allow students time to write (and record) their own stories based on the collected information.

8. Repeat the process with students working alone and outside of class on announcements and organizations of their own choosing.

EVALUATION FOCUS: For both assignments, consider students' initiative and objectivity. A good sidebar might be a very positive aspect of the group's efforts.