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Carol Wadden
NIE Co-ordinator

Newspaper In Education
Serial Stories


The following general teacher’s guide can be of assistance for serial stories that may or may not have a teacher’s guide designed specifically to accompany the story.


Note: Since this guide is quite extensive, teachers will need to be selective in choosing questions for their students


Or, this guide can be used as a developing unit or as an extended assignment for your students, either individually or in small groups.


To develop the skills of skimming, scanning, finding, sorting and processing information, as well as to further enhance the literary response process, teachers may also assign their students to search the newspaper and find a character, article, developing story, photo, headline, setting, theme, conflict or situation that may also be reviewed as a comparative contemporary response to selected questions. In addition to serial stories, many of these questions can easily apply to newspaper articles, developing stories, editorials, columns, pictures, cartoons, etc. as another means of developing creative and critical thinking.




  1. Who are the main characters? Who are the minor characters?
  2. Compare and contrast the main characters.
  3. Select words you would use to describe the main characters; the minor characters.
  4. What problems does each of the main characters face?
  5. Write a character sketch of the main character. Identify three character traits with support from the story.
  6. Do you like or dislike the characters? Why?
  7. Who are the protagonists and antagonists in the story? Explain your answer using examples of their behavior and actions from the story.
  8. Does a character in this story remind you of anyone else you have read about?
  9. Choose one minor character. Why was this character important to the story?
  10. If you could be any character in this story, who would you be? Why?
  11. Suppose you had a chance to meet one of the characters. What would you say to him or her?
  12. What do you think the different characters in this story hope to gain? What is there to lose?
  13. Are there any victims? How serious are their outcomes in the story? Who or what is responsible?
  14. Do any of the characters evolve, mature or change as the story progresses? Explain your answer.
  15. Choose a character in this story and draw a caricature of that character.
  16. Are there any special skills that some of the characters possess?
  17. Do you share any character traits in common with the main character or minor characters in the story? Describe and explain the traits you identify with.
  18. Draw a Venn diagram to compare/contrast the two main characters in the story.
  19. Sometimes we do not know what a character thinks or feels. We only learn about the character from what the author tells us or from what other characters say about him or her. Choose a character and write a journal entry in which this character reveals something to the reader.
  20. Search the newspaper and try to find any modern-day characters that may be compared to any of the characters in this story.




  1. Where does the main story take place? Describe the setting.
  2. Have you ever been to a setting like the one in the story?
  3. If you have, how was it like the setting in the story?
  4. When does the story take place: long ago, in the future, or in the present? How do you know?
  5. How did the setting affect what happened in the story?
  6. How would the story be different if it had been set in a different time?
  7. If you could visit the place in this story, would you go? Why or why not?
  8. How would you best describe the atmosphere after reading each chapter; after reading the complete story?
  9. Create an illustration that best represents the scene for each chapter, as you progress through the story.
  10. Before reading the next chapter, study the illustration for that chapter. Write a short explanation of what you think the illustration represents. Compare your interpretation of the illustration after you read the chapter. How close were you to the author’s use of the illustration to convey the chapter’s content?
  11. Imagine you are the main character, and then describe a day in the life of the main character.
  12. How effective is the author in leading you to empathize with the main character? Explain your answer.
  13. Select a piece of music that expresses the mood of a scene in the story.
  14. Are there any settings or locations reported in the newspapers that can be compared to the settings or locations in the story? How do they compare?
  15. Read the newspaper to find current issues/stories related to the location or area where the story takes place. Write the headline and a brief synopsis (two or three sentences) of the issue/stories.




  1. Describe the main events that have happened so far.
  2. What do you think will happen next? What do you think will happen at the end?
  3. How do feel at this point in the story? Why?
  4. List the main events that take place from the beginning to the end of the story.
  5. Have you noticed anything you think the author might bring up again later in the story? If so, what did you notice?
  6. Write a brief synopsis of the plot.
  7. Are there any outside influences that determine the actions of the characters?
  8. Is there a physical journey central to the story? Explain your answer.
  9. Is there an emotional journey central to the story? Explain your answer.
  10. Search the newspaper to find a story or movie that may have a similar plot. Explain your choice.




  1. What do you think the author's message will be? Why do you think that?
  2. What is the author trying to tell you? How do you know?
  3. Does the author present an underlying theme throughout the story?
  4. How does the author reveal the major theme: character, conflict, irony, setting, etc.?
  5. Are there any stories in the newspaper that have a similar theme to this story? How are they similar?




  1. What is (are) the conflict(s)/problem(s) in the story? How do you think it (they) will be resolved? (Character vs. self; character vs. character; character vs. nature; character vs. society).
  2. What is the central conflict in this novel? How is it developed for the reader? Is it resolved? (Explain your answer.)
  3. What is an internal-personal conflict? Are there any internal conflicts in this story? Explain your answer.
  4. Are there any dangers to be reckoned with? Explain your answer.
  5. Search the newspaper to find examples of different types of conflict.
  6. How does the main character try to resolve his or her problems? Have you experienced a similar problem? How did you resolve your problem?
  7. Are there any conflicts reported in the newspaper that are similar to the conflicts in this story? Explain your answer.


Imagery/Descriptive Language/Style


  1. Write about the images the author has left in your mind.
  2. What special words has the author used to help you see, hear or feel things in the story?
  3. What is the author’s style of writing? How is it different from the style of other stories you have read? (e.g. narrative, expository, persuasive, etc.)
  4. As you read each chapter, select new and unfamiliar words, research their meanings in a dictionary and select the meaning that best describes the author’s use of the words.
  5. Find words or expressions that are unique to the characters' culture, location and dialect.
  6. What details does the author include to create an exciting interest in the story?
  7. What emotions does the author use to create interest and influence your own emotions?
  8. Create your own dictionary of words or expressions related to the story. Search the newspaper to find your select words or expressions. Are the words/expressions used in the same context? Do they have the same meaning?
  9. Search the newspaper and select words, expressions or sayings from articles, editorials, letters, etc. that are used to convey a message, create a feeling or an emotion. Explain each of your selections.


Reflective questions (general)


  1. What do you remember most about the story?
  2. What was your favorite word, line or paragraph in the story? Why was it your favorite?
  3. If you wanted to suggest this story to a friend, what would you say it was mostly about?
  4. What did the author have to know in order to write this story?
  5. From whose perspective is this story written? What point of view is it?
  6. Predict what will happen next in the story.
  7. Do you share in any of the feelings or emotions of the story?
  8. What questions would you like answered?
  9. Are there any modern-day situations that are representative of the story's theme or plot? What would you like to see happen?
  10. Rewrite the conclusion of the story, representing a different outcome.
  11. Is there a lesson you have learned from the story? How did the author influence your views?
  12. Select a character. If you were in the situation, would you behave the same? What would you do differently?
  13. Answer Who, What, When, Where, Why and How for each chapter of the story.
  14. Write a brief synopsis of the story. Create a promotional poster to represent your synopsis.
  15. Now that you have studied the story, what conclusions can you make?
  16. Have a group of students perform a reader's theatre of a dramatic section of the novel. (Performers do not move around the stage or room, but rely on their voices, facial expressions, and simple gestures to communicate the drama of the text.)
  17. Create a song, rap or poem to summarize the content, imagery, theme or message, and mood of the story, connecting your song, rap or poem to your own life experience and/or a piece of literature you have read.
  18. Select a character from the story. Create a scrapbook from this character’s point of view. Include sample photos, sketches and souvenirs, a journal entry describing a significant event in the book, a letter to a parent or close friend from the character detailing the character’s problem, a written response that may offer advice to the character.
  19. Using material from the newspaper, describe how a reporter, editor or author of a letter to the editor uses his or her creative writing skills to present the material, ideas, emotions and feelings. Are there any similarities to those used in the serial story?
  20. You are a newspaper reporter. Write an article about what happened in the story. Be sure to answer Who, What, When, Where and How.
  21. You are a newspaper reporter who will interview the main character. Write 5 questions that you would ask.


Resources, reviewers/contributors; February 2007: Linda Budgell, English Dept. Head, Holy Trinity High School, Torbay; David J. Locke, English Dept. Head, Holy Cross Junior High School, St. John’s; Linda Little, Elementary Classroom Teacher, St. Bonaventure’s Private College, St. John’s; D. Locke, NIE Coordinator, The Telegram, St. John’s, NL, . Michelle Terry of Burlington, NC; Paul Crowner, Manager, NIE, The Chronicle, Centralia, WA.