Write information reports: Frame a central question about an issue or situation, include facts and details for focus, draw from more than one source of information (speakers, books, newspapers, other media sources)
The ability to relate information to others through writing. The paper should be focused with a central question as well as related facts and details to guide readers. Regardless of the topic, the writer should utilize many, varied sources of information.
To teach your child the importance of multiple resources, research a controversial issue together, such as global warming, school uniforms, or oil-gas prices, war, etc. Look on various news websites (e.g. CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, FOX, KTLA, PBS, National Geographic, USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, etc.) for different perspectives about the issues. Select a couple of oppositional (e.g. conservative vs. liberal, old vs. new, progressive vs. traditionalist) resources. You might have to look in the archives, which are stored articles. Use each site’s search engine to find the specific topics you select. Compare the opinions from different resources to see why it is important to see both sides of an issue and how to report both.
Watch a reputable news source (e.g. CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, FOX, KTLA, PBS). As the reporters/ anchors convey information about topics, watch and listen carefully to see if they portray any bias. You can tell this by noticing:
Do they say their own personal opinion about the issue?
Do they ask for other’s opinions about the issue?
What facts, or absolutely true statements/ details, do they include related to the topic?
Do their facial expressions show their feelings (e.g. raised eyebrows, frowning, smiling, winking, rolling eyes, etc.)?
Do their voice tones show bias (e.g. sarcasm, loudly emphasizing a point over and over again, etc.)?
Talk about a journalist’s job and responsibility to report the truth, and how bias influences that duty.
Write a brief (short) report about a somewhat “controversial” issue at home (e.g. rule of watching TV or doing homework first after school, laundry, dishes, other chores, etc.) Stick to the FACTS – only include what is absolutely proven and true and try to show both sides of the issue if possible. For example, if you have to abide by the rule to get your homework done before playing outside, watching TV or playing video games, write reasons why this is beneficial, and oppositely, why it is not necessary.
Rule: finishing homework before choosing other activities
getting homework done while it is fresh in your head from school helps complete it faster and with more ease
as long as the homework is completed, it doesn’t matter what order or time it is done
TV and video games can distract from completing homework
it is too dangerous to play outside when it is dark, so it is safer to play first, then come inside and do HW
procrastination (waiting until later) adds more stress to the situation
sometimes a break is needed after school – your mind needs to rest before doing more work
if you get stuck on a part of the homework, there is more time to ask for help rather than waiting until later
sometimes HW is to watch the news, which doesn’t come on until later
The child can practice taking notes on speakers’ ideas and write a short report based on their accounts. If there are at least two adults nearby that can tell about a common experience they had or an event they both attended, that is wonderful. Otherwise, other children that shared a situation is fine. As each person tells their view of the event, the other person should not be able to hear. The child, or “reporter,” essentially, should take detailed notes. The same thing should repeat with the other speakers. When finished, he child should share their report with the speakers for them to compare points and check accuracy.
Practice answering common everyday questions with mini-reports. For example, when answering, “How was school today?” (central question) have fun writing facts and details about the day to then share with readers. The hard part is not to infuse opinion statements such as, “I didn’t like it when…” or “It was the highlight of the day when…” but rather to just report the FACTS – We went to the library and I selected a book by Roald Dahl. Other examples:
The day started off with a fire drill.
For lunch, hamburgers were the only menu option. I ate all of mine, even the pickles.
Why is it important to gather information from many, varied resources? (to cross-reference, or compare and contrast, the information given to determine what is true and valid)
What different kinds of questions are there? (fact and opinion)
What kinds of questions are expected to be answered in informational reports? (factual questions)
What can a framing question begin with? (5 Ws and/or H – Who, What, When, Where, Why, How)
What are some keywords that can be used when framing a question? (significance, function, condition, purpose, kind, traits, etc.)
What does controversial mean? (it describes something that people have very strong, and very different, feelings about – often opposing ideas or opinions)
What are examples of contemporary controversial issues? (gas prices, war, global warming, drug use, best technology, etc.)
What is the opposite a fact? (opinion)
What is an opinion? (someone’s perspective or point of view; what they think about something)
What is the opposite of an opinion? (fact)
What should an information report contain? (details and facts)
What are synonyms for a fact? (truth, reality, actuality, information, evidence)
What are synonyms for a detail? (point, feature, element, aspect, specificity)
What does objective mean? (unbiased, neutral, unprejudiced)
What is the opposite of objective? (subjective)
Why are newspapers important resources? (they have archives that show events and issues over time, and should be from objective points of view – so facts and details are reported)
When can radios and televisions be important resources? (for current events, updates, issues – to get information fast)
Why is the Internet a valuable resource? (it has unlimited information from many different sources)
How can the Internet also be a poor resource? (not everything on the Internet is real or true, although sometimes it is portrayed that way)
How can encyclopedias be useful? (to get a general overview or understanding about a topic; they have records that date back many years)
What kinds of magazines can help in informational reports? (non-fiction magazines based on real-world events; examples: National Geographic, Time, US News and World Report, Zoobooks, Newsweek, Highlights, Sports Illustrated, US Weekly, Forbes, etc.)