Concise writing is a key skill that cuts across nearly all disciplines. And that's not just the former newspaper editor in me, or the journalism club moderator speaking. It's the mindset of a U.S. and world history teacher who constantly sees writing issues with research papers.
The attached seven worksheets are great tools to teach writing and critical thinking about writing which I use in journalism classes and journalism clubs. But I also use a couple of them in some of my history classes before I assign a major research paper, if I expect there will be a particular writing issue requiring attention.
They're great for any English or Journalism class focusing upon writing skills, and they can be used as sub-plans. Most of the worksheets have an answer sheet included.
1. Omitting Needless Words/Concision Worksheet (with answer sheet): Wordy sentences must be re-written with half as many words but include all the same information (my Journalism class students love this challenge).
2. Lead-Writing Exercise: Poorly written leads for news stories must be re-written into inverted pyramid form.
3. Editing … A worksheet: Students must diagnose problems with five lead paragraphs in news stories.
4. Active Voice Worksheet (with answer sheet): Sentences written with passive voice verbs must be re-written to include active verbs.
5. A Tale of Two Cities Journalistic Rewrite: This is a difficult exercise that involves some Internet research on the history of London and Paris to conform the opening paragraphs of Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" to a journalistic-style story. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
6. Copy Editing Exercise (with answer sheet): A poorly-written news story must be fixed
7. Review Exercise on Active Voice and Concision (with answer sheet)