2 Lead writing reminders Think of the “what” and the “who” first … usually those make the best start for a lead.Look at the facts and numbers. Anything?Choose the information with the most impact or that is the most interesting. Think of your news values (proximity, timeliness, impact, conflict, oddity, human interest …)Write a complete summary lead. One or two sentences to start the story and cover most of the 5W’s and H.Don’t add info that you don’t know!This is a series of daily “Do Now” or bell ringer lessons that teachers can require during the 5-10 minutes of settling in, taking role, answering individual questions that takes place in the first few minutes of class. Once you teach the students to do this, they can do it on their own. It’s easy to grade, as no lead should be more than 30 words – unless you want to require more than one paragraph.Challenge students to be creative and engaging while still getting the 5Ws and H into the lead.Take off points for leads that start with where or when!This series of exercises gets more difficult day by day.
3 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H According to Lake Mary Police:Where: Lake Mary, Fla., an Orlando suburbWhen: Monday, Sept. 9Who: George Zimmerman, who was found not guilty in the shooting of Trevon Martin, who was unarmedWhat: Zimmerman was arrested after his wife called 911, saying he had threatened her and her family with a gunWhy: Zimmerman’s wife recently filed for divorceHow: Police dashcams showed Zimmerman on his knees as police approached. One of the officers had a gun drawn on him.
4 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H Where: Orlando, FBLA state competitionWhen: Sunday, Nov. 3Who: Adam Bernstein, seniorWhat: won first place in Website DesignWhy: His website for the fictional Willow Lake B&B was judged the best of those submitted.How: “I’ve been working on this website for months based on the national topic,” Bernstein said. “I’ll be tweaking it based on the judges’ comments in hopes of winning at nationals.”This should be an easy one: Senior Adam Bernstein won first place in Website Design at the FBLA’s state competition on Nov. 3.Award extra points if they can get creative and write something that isn’t so boring, such as:Senior Adam Bernstein has been working for months on a website for a fictional bed and breakfast inn. On Nov. 3, his work became real when he took first place in Website Design at the FBLA state competition. (It’s a little long, but it gets the job done.)
5 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H What: Try-outs for the 20 available positions in the Color Guard. Ability to twirl a flag not necessary, but coordination is.Where: Main courtyardWhen: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 3 p.m.Who: Dancers, students with rhythmWhy: New positions are open because the award-winning band auxiliary is expanding.How: See Ms. Brenda Lee, Color Guard coach, Room 142, to sign up.See how creative students can get. Award full credit to any who begin with who, why or what and get most of the other info in.Example:The award-winning Color Guard wants dancers and students with rhythm to join the expanding band auxiliary. Try-outs are Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the main courtyard.
6 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H A fight broke out in the cafeteria during second lunch on Tuesday.Ten students were suspended, according to information the principal provided to teachers.Although students are saying race was a factor because one of the students seen in the fight used the n-word, the principal denies that race was an issue.“The students suspended were of different races and nationalities,” Principal Joe Garcia said. “And that’s all I’m going to say about it.”New format. Now the students have to find their own who-what-when- where-why-how, but it’s color-coded for them. The news here might be the cluelessness of the principal. Extra points for any student who leads with that!
7 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H Music teacher Susan Schaub has received a grant to study in New York this summer.She will take a course at The Julliard School and participate in a choral performance at Carnegie Hall.She will attend symphonies, an opera and a Broadway musical, meet directors and conductors and participate in music seminars.“It’s a dream come true,” she said.She’s particularly excited to be bringing what she learns back to her students next school year.
8 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H The monthly meeting of the student council was called to order at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1. The roll was called and the minutes approved as written.Vicki Chavez, treasurer, reported that there was $2,425 in the treasury and that the group had raised $1,621 at the talent show on Jan. 18.Rob Andrews, finance committee chair, said because of the success of the talent show, his group would like to have another one on May 19. His motion to have another talent show passed.Discussion: The May talent show will emphasize teacher talent rather than student talent. Assistant Principal David Hart will perform with his rock band, and the faculty women will do a comedy routine.The challenge on this is the need to synthesize across several of the bullets, and there’s NO NEWS in the first bullet at all. There’s news that’s tied together in the second and fourth bullets. Full-credit leads should read something like this:The January talent show was such a great moneymaker that the student council voted to have another one in May, this time with teachers performing.If you ask them to write more than one paragraph, the next paragraph should elaborate:The student council voted on Feb. 1 to have a teacher talent show featuring Assistant Principal David Hart’s rock band, on May 19. The student talent show on Jan. 18 raised $1,621, bringing total student government funds to $2,425. Rob Andrews, the council’s moneymaking committee chairperson, said four teachers are already lined up to sing and faculty women will do a comedy routine.
9 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H The student council voted at its meeting on Thursday to spend $350 for prizes in a campus clean-up campaign.Prizes will be awarded at the end of first quarter to the clubs that create and complete the best clean-up plans.First prize is $150. Second prize is $100. Third prize is $50.The Environmental Science Club figures it will win the top prize because it already has recycle bins in most of the classrooms and members pick up the recycling weekly.The Key Club plans to sweep teachers’ classrooms after school.SHAPE will go outside with gloves and trash bags and pick up trash.The Cheerleaders bought Magic Erasers and Clorox wipes and plan to clean all the door frames in the school.Spirit Club has decided to stop all use of profanity in the halls and lunchroom by calling for a school spirit ban on the use of such words.Tricky thing here is that the more interesting information won’t necessarily give all the facts. Students might need more than one paragraph to get all the 5Ws. Full credit to students who can hook readers in the lead then expand with a delayed summary in the second or third paragraph.
10 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H According to a North Miami police report:Joe Platto, 17, was driving south on Biscayne Boulevard when another car apparently ran a red light at 172nd Avenue and broadsided Platto’s car, a blue 2005 Toyota Corolla. It was demolished.Sergi Clemens, 34, was driving the other car, a 2009 Buick.Clemens wasn’t hurt. He was issued a ticket for reckless driving.Platto was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital by EMS, but he died without regaining consciousness.The accident occurred around 12:30 a.m. SundayPrincipal Joe Smith also confirmed the following information:Platto was a transfer student in his second week at North Dade Senior High. He was in 11th grade.Funeral services will be held on Thursday at 3 p.m. at Fred Hunter Funeral Home.Grief counselors are available all week in Student Services.Feel free to substitute local landmarks and names if you wish. This is all made-up anyway. You may need to note for your students the time – 12:30 a.m. – is not really morning, it’s late at night. This one is a challenge for students. They must think of the audience and find the news that is buried in this list of notes.A sample of a lead that should receive full credit:A North Dade Senior transfer student died when his car was broadsided by a reckless driver on Biscayne Boulevard just after midnight on Sunday.Who: North Dade transfer studentWhat: diedWhere: Biscayne BoulevardWhen: after midnight on SundayWhy/How: his car was broadsided by a reckless driver.If you require a second paragraph, it should go something like this:Joe Platto, 17, who transferred in the 11th grade just two weeks ago, was driving his 2005 Toyota Corolla south on Biscayne when he was hit by a 2009 Buick driven by Sergi Clemens, 24. Clemens was charged with reckless driving. Paramedics rushed Platto to Jackson Memorial, but he died without waking up.
11 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H The Principal’s Award is given each year to the most outstanding senior.This year’s award is to be presented to Janie Jordan.According to the criteria, the award should go to the person who is most outstanding in scholarship, athletics, music and extracurricular activities.Some students think that Janie, who has a 2.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, does not meet the criteria.Other students support her nomination because she is captain of the school’s winning volleyball team and senior class president. She sings the National Anthem at school functions. She was the lead in the school play, won a state award in thespians competition, and she leads the chorus.This one is a challenge because it requires students to state that there is a controversy or conflict about this year’s winner in order to write the best lead.REMIND students that the lead also needs to tell the most important and interesting facts, not just transcribe the slide!
12 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H A mural to brighten up the school picnic area is behind schedule.Students in the Art Club are supposed to be doing the work.Kelly Jeffries, Art Club president, blames the principal for not providing money.Principal Joe Baker says the Art Club has been uninterested in doing the mural. He says the money is available.The Art Club has planned a mural of school life on the largest wall of the picnic area.Jeffries says the committee has not received approval for the mural from the principal.The principal says no drawing has been presented, so he cannot release the funds.This one is a challenge for students because the story isn’t clear; there’s a conflict between what the two sources are saying.A full-credit lead should look something like this:A mural planned for the school picnic area hasn’t been started because of a conflict between the Art Club and Principal Joe Baker over money and plans.This is a good one to challenge students to write a couple of paragraphs to see where they go with it.
13 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H The PTA met on Tuesday night, April 26, in the cafeteria.Treasurer Ines Martinez reported that there are 252 members and the treasury has $6,823.Robin Lattice, who teaches algebra, was named Teacher of the Year for her work with the Homework Hotline, a phone line students can call for help with math homework.Member Kathy Burrows was named Member of the Year for having perfect attendance.The awards were presented by PTA President Cindy Li.Li also announced that the school’s faculty has reached 100 percent membership for the second year in a row.Students have difficulty with this one because it seems so boring. Challenge them to find the most newsworthy item for their lead. Hint: It’s the teacher.
14 Write a lead using the 5W’s and H A baby macaw parrot was stolen from the Baby Exotic Birds store in Lakewood.Jill O’Connor, 35, faces felony charges for stealing the bird, worth $2,000.O’Connor was employed at Baby Exotic Birds.She traded the bird for a 2000 Mercury Cougar.She bragged to the car owners that she’d smuggled the bird out of the store by nesting it in her brassiere.The car owners were friends with the owners of the bird store. They reported the theft.O’Connor was booked into the county jail.Have fun with this. It’s based on an actual story that appeared years ago in the Fort Myers News-Press about a woman who was arrested for stealing a greenwing parrot by hiding it in her bra to exchange for a vintage Kharmann-Ghia. Happened in Englewood, Florida.