Writing a Newspaper Article About Watts Towers

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SWBAT write a newspaper article about Rodia, a self-made engineer, who built the Watts Towers.

Big Idea

People such as scientists and engineers share their ideas through media, and so can we!

Teacher Notes

Activity Description

In the previous lesson, the children learned about Simon Rodia and the towers he created.  We also learned about what is included in a newspaper article and made an anchor chart.  In addition, the children filled out a graphic organizer that will help them complete today's assignment.

Watch the 35-second video for a complete description of the activity.

In this lesson, the children will use their graphic organizer to help them write a newspaper article about Simon Rodia and his towers. To show that scientists communicate their information, the children will do the same.  They will share their ideas with the class.

NGSS/Common Core Connections

One of the science practices is communicating information.  This lesson has the children both write and then communicate their information to others.  This lesson also helps build a foundation for science and engineering practices in future lessons.


Daily Post workpage--1 per student

newspaper writing rubric--1 per student



7 minutes

 Yesterday we watched the video of The Wonderful Towers of Watts, so today I chose to reread the book to re-engage the students and refresh their memories.  It only takes 6 minutes to read the book without stops, so I thought this would be a good investment of our time.  I want the children to have lots of information to write their articles with, and I find when you reread something, you pick up so many more details than you did the first time.

I start with a few questions before I reread the book.  Here are a few sample questions:

Who can tell us what they story was about yesterday?  What did the man do?  Why do you think he made the towers? 

Remember that you are going to be a reporter today and write about the man and his designs.  Listen carefully to the story and see if you can learn new information or notice something that you didn't from before.


Writing the Article

30 minutes

We review what we learned yesterday about writing newspaper articles using our anchor chart.

Who remembers what kinds of facts does a newspaper article contain?  What questions does it answer?  What are the special features?

I see the children looking at the chart to find the answers.  BINGO!  That is exactly what I wanted to happen.  Anchor charts are hung up in the room with that intent.  I was very pleased to see that they made that connection.  Then I pass out Daily Post workpage for them to use for this assignment.  I have the children start at the top of the paper.

 Let's begin your article by writing a headline at the top.  Think about what you might want to use for a headline and write it at the top.  Headlines should tell the most important part of the story.  So think about what the most important thing is and write it down.  Remember that each word in the headline should begin with a capital letter.  

I give them a few moments to compose their thoughts and write down a headline.  I walk around to make sure that everyone understands the task.  I also remind them about the use of capital letters.

See the small box on your paper?  That is for you to draw a picture of something that you want to highlight in the story.  You might want to draw a picture of Simon Rodia himself, or the towers or maybe even Rodia standing in front of the towers.  Here are some actual photos of Simon Rodia and his towers for you to look at to get inspiration.

I created the montage of Rodia and the towers since I knew that the children probably wanted to have a visual when they were drawing.  It always helps spark ideas in reluctant artists.

When you are finished, you can begin writing your actual newspaper article.  Make sure to look at your planning paper to make sure you include all of the necessary details.  Many times reporters begin with telling who and what the story is about, but sometimes they start other ways.  Think about how you would like to start your story.

I like to give children an idea how to start but leave the door open for the creative, more advanced students to do a little more or start with a little twist.

You should make each of your ideas into complete sentences.  Of course make sure to begin each sentence begins with a capital and end each statement with a period.  When you are done writing, reread it to make sure it makes sense.

If you have a limited amount of time, this would be a great BREAKING POINT.

Sharing Our Ideas

20 minutes

After the children have finished writing, we share their ideas.  The children take turns reading their articles and listening to others.  Click here to see a confident child reading her article. Click here to see a reluctant writer reading his paper.  I was so proud of him!  After I turned the video off I told him he should be proud of his great work.  He looked at me with a great big smile and said, "I am very proud of myself!"  (Of course I'm kicking myself for not getting that on camera).

Wow!  You have done a great job sharing your ideas.  People such as reporters, scientists and engineers share their ideas and their thinking with others.  In that way, other people can benefit from their knowledge.



5 minutes

To end the lesson, we review what we have learned.

Who can tell me the important questions that should be included in an informational article?  

Most children are able to recite the 5W's plus why, but I see a few looking at the chart for reference.  I know the children will use this chart for reference in the next occasion to do so.

In your science journal, on the next available page on the right, I would like you to copy this idea and then finish it.

On the board I write--"People can share their ideas by......"

Your first sentence should finish the sentence.  Your next 2 sentences should tell me more information.

My goal for this writing is to practice the skill of writing a statement and then expanding the idea with details.  I also want the children to come away with the idea that ideas can be shared through a common media, such as newspapers.  Tying these two skills together with this task is perfect.