When students get to discover the who, what, where, when, why, and how of a particular event or topic, they gain a much deeper understanding of the content. This strategy allows students to investigate a topic independently focusing on the 5Ws and a How of the article they are reading. As they read, students can search and annotate key information related to the 5Ws and How. They they can chart this information on a graphic organizer. Students can then use what they've learned to complete a short summary.
Teacher Preparation and Planning:
Select a Newsela article or use one of the examples provided in the resources section below. If choosing a different article, be sure to fill out the 5Ws and How Blank Graphic Organizer ahead of time to confirm that the article and the strategy will work well together.
Photocopy the 5Ws and How Blank Graphic Organizer and 5Ws and How Writing Response Paper for students (included in the resources section below).
Gather chart paper (or a similar resource) to write the example paragraph. Referencing the example graphic organizer while writing the paragraph is necessary.
To establish background knowledge about the 5Ws and a How summarization method, have students connect to an event that has recently taken place in your classroom or at school and ask students to provide you with information about the event. Place their details in the appropriate boxes on the 5Ws and How Presentation graphic organizer (in the resources section below).
Explain that when journalists write, they ask themselves these questions to make sure they're fully investigating and explaining an event or topic.
Introduce the topic of the Newsela article.
Assign a Newsela article and allow students to adjust the Lexile as needed.
Provide the following instructions:
Highlight the WHAT in red
Highlight the WHO in yellow
Highlight the WHY/HOW in purple
Highlight the WHERE/WHEN in green
Explain to students that there will likely be information in the article that isn't directly related to the topic. This information does not need to be highlighted. (For instance, at the end of the compasses article it discusses solar compasses, but the graphic organizer is about magnetic compasses.)
Keep the example organizer up so that students can use this as a reference for both the color scheme and the types of information that go in each section.
Monitor student highlighting as they work and provide additional support as needed.
Provide students with a copy of the 5Ws and How Blank Organizer (see the resources section below) and have them fill it in using the information they have highlighted.
When everyone has finished, review the information on the graphic organizer as a class. Fill in the information on slide 2 of the 5Ws and How Graphic Organizer in the 5Ws and How Presentation (see in the resources section below) and allow students to add/edit information as needed.
Model writing a paragraph using the original graphic organizer from slide 1 (about a class/student event) from the beginning of the lesson.
Hand out the 5Ws and How Writing Response Paper ( in the resources section below) and allow students time to complete the assignment, leaving your paragraph on the board as a reference.
Provide closure by asking these questions and allowing students to engage in a "Think, Pair, Share" (To learn more about the Think, Pair, Share strategy, consult the BetterLesson Lab):
How did asking yourself the 5Ws and How help you to more thoroughly investigate the event/topic?
How did this strategy help you to improve your summary?
Where else could you use this strategy?
What is a compass?
The job of the president
Happy 200th birthday to our nation's song
Using the information from the 5Ws and How Graphic Organizer, students develop a creative writing piece.
Explain that now that students have an understanding of the event/topic, they can better imagine what it would be like to experience it themselves.
Assign a creative writing task. Below are possible ideas based on the Newsela article examples provided.
Write a narrative about a child who used a compass to find his/her way home after getting lost in the woods.
Imagine you were elected president for the day. How would you spend your time?
Pretend you were there to see Francis Scott Key write the national anthem or were a journalist reporting on the day Congress approved "The Star Spangled-Banner" as the national anthem.