Gather the students on the rug in a circle. Display three feature articles that have good beginnings. One article should have a lead that creates a scene, one should start with an intriguing question and the third should begin with strong facts. You can use the feature articles you have already read to them so it is familiar to the class.
Explain that feature articles usually have good beginnings so readers will want to continue reading the article. These are called leads. Tell the class that you are going to read the first paragraphs of some feature articles. Have them listen closely and tell you how the article started. Let them tell you it was a question or a visual image. Afterwards, you can give them the terminology for it. Read the first one and get student feedback. Write their answers on the board. Do the same for the second and third articles. Once you have the three different kinds of leads on the board, tell the class that these are three of the many ways they can begin a feature article. Then go on to explain them in more detail with examples.
A lead that creates a scene allows the reader to picture what you are saying. So for my article on Disney Parades, I might write, "Imagine being in the most magical place on earth. Cheerful music chimes through the many speakers around you. Colorful streamers fly into the sky. The minute you have been waiting for has arrived. Mickey Mouse and all his pals are waving to you from aboard a huge float strolling down Main Street USA. What could be better?"
Another type of lead asks a question. So if you are writing about dreams you might ask, "What's the strangest dream you ever had?' or 'Did you ever have a dream where you were running fast but you just weren't getting anywhere?"
A third type of lead states interesting facts to start your article. If you are writing about wild animals you might start with, "The cheetah, known as the hunting leopard, runs up to sixty miles per hour but can slink up to its prey almost unobserved."
Students go back to their seats and reread all of their feature article entries. They need to develop three different beginnings, one for each type of lead mentioned. If they finish early challenge them to create a lead that differs from the ones discussed. Now, they must choose the lead they like the best
Sit down at a table. Answer any questions the children may have. Some students might have difficulty with this lesson. Try asking them leading questions about their topics that will force them to think outside the box. For example, if a student is writing about baseball infielders and how they must work together you could ask him which two players in the infield do you think have the toughest positions. Could you create a scene describing these two players working together? Below is an actual lead that resulted from this discussion:
Imagine Roberto Alomar, the second baseman for the New York Mets, in a tough spot on the field. A sharp grounder is hit. The runner from first base is barreling down toward second base. The player who hit the ball is speeding toward first. Thousands of fans are screaming in the stands. How does he get both runners out from just one hit?
A student who was writing about bullies was asked to come up with other words for bullies. What can you compare to bullies? What are some verbs you associate with bullies? After much consideration she wrote this as her lead:
Tougher than a dragon. Bigger than a dinosaur. Stronger than the school mascot. We're talking about bullies and we are taking action to help people from being bullied.
You have to assess each student individually. Look at their topics and come up with some good questions to motivate the student to think.
This is a great lesson to have students share. Allow students to read one of the leads they came up with out loud to the class.
1. http://launch.wccnet.edu/category/featured-article/ - different categories of featured articles.
2. http://stemm.osu.edu/category/featured-articles/ - featured articles news.