Bored With Your Pretend Journalism Topic? Have Children Writing Real Advocacy Journalism Instead!
This half term we focused on the teaching of advocacy journalism. Advocacy journalism is when you advocate for something. It means you champion it, support it and try and stand up for it.
In our first week, we discussed this genre using our genre-booklets. To make the writing truly purposeful, the school contributed a charity grant fund worth £150 to a JustGiving page and invited the community to top this up, which in the end raised well over £300.
So, over half term, we asked the children to talk with their families and choose a local charity, organisation or cause that was worthwhile or important to them. They then had to research details of the charity and bring their information into school. They even had to phone up their charity on the phone to try and get a quote – some of them did remarkably well with this.
We explained that the grant money would be given away to three of the local charities the children decided to write about. Depending on the focus, each news article was placed into one of three groups:
- Helping people,
- Helping animals,
- Helping the environment.
The articles were presented to a group of Year 6 pupils who were asked to determine which pieces were the most effective in: informing, persuading and providing a personal touch.
The three winning pieces received a share of the grant money.
Choosing A Charity
We were struck by the sheer variety and personal commitment to different local charities. We had originally proposed a list of charities the children could potentially use but found, much to our surprise, this wasn’t necessary. A great many children were able to choose charities that they had been directly involved with or received help from. This was lovely and made writing the pieces even more genuine.
Our writing-study lessons were good but we also learnt what to do next time.
As we always do when introducing a genre for the first time to the class, we wrote a couple of examples ourselves. I wrote about a local charity which supported my sister during her brain injury, whilst my colleague wrote about an animal sanctuary. In both cases, we interviewed someone connected to the charity; this was also a requirement for the children to do as part of their homework.
What became clear was that this was a multi-faceted genre. It required us (and therefore the children) to negotiate aspects of informing and persuading as well as recounting a small anecdote relating to the charity.
After looking at our examplar text, the children were shown a terrible example of what NOT to do when writing theirs. This was a worthwhile lesson as we could see some of the children’s plans were looking very similar to this examplar!
Our functional-grammar study focused on the use of direct quotation and modal verbs, but also ventured into discussion of moving between informing and persuading, formal and informal tone.
Below, we are pleased to share a list of some of the topics that were chosen from across the year group. These were produced by children in year 5 (9-10 years old).
If you have liked what you have read here and would like to read more about our approach to writing which we call ‘Real-World Literacy’, you can follow the link here. If you’d like to view our Genre-Booklets, you can follow this link.
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As always, thank you for reading and we hope you enjoy the articles!
Writing Topics Chosen
- Chomp – a charity making food for those who can’t afford to feed their families.
- Kitty In The City – a charity looking to rehouse stray cats.
- Whoopsadaisy – a charity looking to support children and the families of children with physical difficulties.
- Step – a charity looking to support children with physical difficulties.
- Mind – a mental health charity.