Goal: Encourage students understand the difference between types of news leads and the rationale behind them.
Time: 40 minutes
1. Collect eight different inverted pyramid leads from newspaper stories, and post them on the walls of your classroom. Try to choose leads that take varied approaches: “you” leads, delayed-identification leads, multiple-element leads, summary leads and so on.
2. Put your students in pairs or groups of three, and have each group stand in front of one of the posted leads. (If you will have more than eight groups of students, create a second set of leads by photocopying the originals.)
3. Give students one or two minutes to answer the following questions about each lead:
• What kind of lead is it?
• Which of the six questions (who, what, where, when, why, how) are answered by the lead?
4. Have students rotate through all eight stations.
5. After the groups have analyzed all the leads, have each group pull one of the posted leads off the wall. Give students an additional two or three minutes to review the lead and their answers to the activity questions. They should also score the lead for its effectiveness on a 1 to 5 scale and offer a rationale for their score.
6. Have each group quickly present its findings to the class.
7. Facilitate a discussion by asking: Which lead was the best? Which was the worst? Why? Which lead variation was most effective? Which was least effective? Why?