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Guide for Teachers, Students and Families

The Story of Nellie Bly


Activities During the Unit

Have students prepare a "Reporter's Notebook" as they read each chapter of the NewsBook. The blank "Reporter's Notebook" is located within each chapter of this guide. The "Reporter's Notebook" offers students some space to create their own notes about information retrieved from outside sources such as a newspaper or the Internet. Information the students gather would serve as a factual basis for them to write a news story or an editorial about the general themes covered in each chapter. Click here to read a list of some of the general themes covered in each chapter.

Have students keep journals of terms and definitions (Use the glossary on this website.)

Have students create a timeline of Nellie's life, including world events and social-historical movements which occurred during Nellie's lifetime. (Use the historical timeline on this website as a handout or as a key to evaluate student work!)

Have students do the Nellie Bly Word Search.

Have students write a journal from Nellie's perspective, recreating what they think her reactions would be to the events of each chapter.

Keep a portfolio of student work to exemplify their individual growth as writers .

Conduct a pre-and-post survey of newspaper interest and knowledge.

In addition to the exercises offered here, we urge teachers, students and families to retrieve and use the First Amendment Curriculum Guide, which illustrates the importance of our nation's basic Constitutional right. The First Amendment guarantees all Americans the freedom to worship any religion, to speak their mind without fear of punishment, to freely publish anything they have created, to peacefully assemble in public, and to petition the government for any reason. The content of Chapter 3 of this Guide for Teachers, Students and Families illustrates how important the First Amendment is and always has been in the United States.

Also, we urge readers of this guide to go to the "Around the World in 72 Days" website offered by the Public Broadcasting System. That site offers a teacher's guide and other helpful information about the story of Nellie Bly, including the ability to download audio of the Steven Foster song, "Nellie Bly."

Activities at the End of the Unit

To incorporate drama and arts have students write a script of the story and perform it.

Create a song about Nellie Bly's life using newspaper terminology.

Develop an "Around The World in 72 Days" game board. For ideas, visit www.nelliebly.org for a link to a site that shows the original game.

Using the link on that site to see scans of Nellie Bly trading cards as models, develop similar advertising and trading cards for some of today's network correspondents and other highly visible journalists.

Develop a game formatted like the popular game show "Jeopardy" and base the questions on the NewsBook.

Use categories such as: newspapers, history at the time, Nellie's career, Nellie's trip. Have students use low order questions for least amount of money and higher order questions for higher amount of money.

Create a poem related to Nellie's life.

Have students illustrate each chapter of the NewsBook, explaining their choice of drawings.

Have students draw a silhouette of Nellie. Fill in the drawing with words from newspapers describing Nellie Bly.

Have students write autobiographies. They may also try writing fictionalized autobiographies.

Create mock newspapers using the format of the Nellie Bly NewsBook. Divide the classroom into small groups. Have each member of the group self-select and submit a piece of writing to exemplify their knowledge of various newspaper features. For example, select a column, an editorial, a feature story, a news story, an obituary, and advertisements. Have each group work together to decide placement of the writing pieces based on their knowledge and share the completed project with whole class.

End of the Unit Topic Question Suggestions

Describe how Nellie's views were or were not influenced by the events and attitudes which existed during her life.

Compare and contrast Nellie's early writing style with her later work. Discuss Nellie's growth as a writer and a reporter as demonstrated through the NewsBook.

Write a critical analysis of Nellie's personal life as it reflected on her professional life.

Select an event or topic Nellie wrote about and discuss the impact her reporting may or may not have had.


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