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Category ArchiveGreat Lessons

Yearbook theme development

Shared by: Mitch Eden

Who are you: Kirkwood H.S. journalism adviser, proud father and husband, Duke basketball enthusiast and just giddy UNC did not make the Final Four.

Briefly describe the lesson you are sharing: On the heels of Valerie’s newspaper redesign lesson (which I have used the past decade–thanks, Valerie), here is a theme development assignment I use when the book is completed and a unit in my Journalism I class to expose the kids to magazine journalism. This was given to me when I began 16 years ago and I have modified it somewhat. Thanks to the person who shared and I apologize for not remembering.

Download: Here is the handout Mitch uses to explain the assignment to his students.

SLR Photography, Manual Shooting

Shared by: Mary Prichard

Who are you: CJE; Journalism instructor at North Kansas City High School; adviser of school newspaper “The Hornet’s Buzz” and yearbook “The Purgold”.

Briefly describe the lesson you are sharing: Before my beginning Photo students are allowed to physically get their hands on our dSLR yearbook/newspaper staff cameras, I require them to learn the manual shooting concepts of shutter speed, aperture, exposure, etc. Penn State University created a great SLR simulator website last year at http://photo.comm.psu.edu, and I created this straight-forward activity set of questions to go along with it. I personally like to have students work together on it in pairs, so they can explain and teach each other as they try to figure out all the questions. Then I break them into 6 groups and they have to use the website and “present” their answers for a specific section (DoF, focal length, white balance, ss, exposure, ISO) to the entire class. You can use the questions however you like — if you need help answering one, feel free to contact me.

Bonus camera simulator site links that photography teachers might find useful:

Download: Here is the handout Mary uses to go along with the Penn State site she references above.

Using Twitter to learn about from other journalists

Shared by: Coni C. Grebel, CJE

Who are you: I’m a veteran English teacher who became a journalism teacher by default — no one else on staff would take it. That was 10 years ago, and I cried when they told me I would teach journalism. The only thing I knew about a newspaper was how to read one. Now, I’d cry if they told me I couldn’t teach journalism — and I might just quit. It is the highlight of my day. I teach at Lee County High School where I advise the Panoptic, the PanopticOnline, and the Mag literary magazine. I also teach honors tenth grade world literature and composition, senior British lit and comp and advanced composition. Oh — and most important — I’m mom of three daughters and three sons-in-law and grandmother of 3 1/2 darling little boys.

Briefly describe the lesson you are sharing: When I started my Twitter account, the only accounts I followed were related to journalism or teaching journalism. I couldn’t believe that I was suddenly learning so much more and finding so many more resources from teachers across the country. I wanted my students to learn that Twitter was more than just telling your friends where you are and what you’re doing. That was the catalyst for this lesson. I wanted my students to see a productive use for Twitter, I wanted to see them forced to be concise in their writing, and I wanted to let them discover the pool of journalism resources available through social media. And while we were at it, I wanted to see the staff Twitter account spread increase followers. You’ll see that food served as the motivator for that aspect. The project lasted two weeks, but for most of my staff, the journalism Twitter accounts are still active, and I now hear them quoting advice from some noted journalism programs.Next year I will use this project in the fall and will probably refer back to it intermittently throughout the year.

Download: Here is the handout Coni uses with this assignment.

News Writing

Shared by: Gary Lindsay

Who are you: After teaching for 40 years at Kennedy High in Cedar Rapids, I have recently retired and now work as JEA’s mentor for Iowa, and keep busy working on JEA committee work, and local organizations. This lesson was developed by several JEA members as part of the inaugural National Professional Learning Committee headed by Jim Streisel and Mark Newton. This great team can take the credit or blame. It does work though, and my students consistently said it taught them more than any other lesson I used.

Briefly describe the lesson you are sharing: This week-long lesson gives students a set of facts and quotes that can be used to develop a news story about an athlete who may have messed up. I know, it’s far fetched (I wish!). Students need to apply previously taught skills of news judgment, and as the lesson progresses they are introduced to lead writing, news story formats, effective sentence combining and journalism ethics. The unique thing about this assignment is, like real-world stories, the facts change as the week progresses. The lesson is all explained on the PDF handout, and I have attached a rubric for evaluating the stories in process. Email me for an editable ID document if you want to adapt it to your own school.

Download: Here is the PDF handout and accompanying rubric.

Writing for a modern audience

Shared by: Rod Satterthwaite

Who are you: I am the newspaper adviser at Dexter High School in Dexter, Mich. I also teach one journalism class a year as a part time faculty member at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor.

Briefly describe the lesson you are sharing: This lesson looks at alternative ways to provide coverage to today’s increasingly distracted audience of reluctant readers. I’m not advocating dumbing things down. I am advocating looking at other ways of covering events apart from the 10 inch story.

Download: Here is the presentation Rod uses to teach this lesson and he has graciously included notes to accompany the presentation.

Social Media

Shared by: Beth Phillips

Who are you: I am assistant journalism adviser at Francis Howell North High School. This is my sixth year teaching my fourth year being involved with the journalism program.

Briefly describe the lesson you are sharing: Whether a student is starting their own social media account or working on a social media account for the school publication, they need to have a plan and focus. Here is a planning sheet and evaluation sheet for students to follow. Students should develop a plan and execute the plan for two weeks. After two weeks, they should evaluate the plan and keep what worked and change what didn’t. Hopefully, they will keep improving on their social media presence. Students will classify their posts into categories, and those categories were mooched from Sarah Nichols’ assignment “It is ok to be a follower.”

Download: Here is a handout she created to help develop a plan and another she created that will help evaluate the plan’s effectiveness.

Observation and description

Shared by: Matthew Schott

Who are you: I’m the publications adviser at Francis Howell Central H.S. in St. Charles, Mo. where I advise the newspaper, yearbook and literary magazine and each of those publications digital component.

Briefly describe the lesson you are sharing: This is a one to two day lesson I teach a couple days into my unit on profile/feature writing. It focuses on getting reporters to observe what is going on around them and taking them past just simply looking at something and describing it. I usually tie this in to my unit on writing profiles.

Download: Here is a handout he uses with his class for this observation lesson.

News Gathering

Shared by: Ann Visser

Who are you: I’m the self-proclaimed queen of Pella (Iowa) High School, which does not mean I’m the oldest, just the one who has been here the longest. Advising publications has truly been a gift in so many ways, and I’m excited to having been a part of the profession for almost 30 years.

Briefly describe the lesson you are sharing: Trying to get your students out and about to gather the news? Looking for a way to make sure that they are thinking about what is happening that goes above and beyond monthly beat sheets? This might be the answer, especially for those yearbook staffs who are doing weekly coverage.

Download: Here is the handout students use with this lesson.

Photojournalistic Images

Shared by: Eric Thomas

Who are you: Eric Thomas teaches publications at St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City, Missouri: the Dart print newspaper, DartNewsOnline website and the Teresian yearbook. ┬áSt. Teresa’s is an all-girls private Catholic high school founded in 1866.

Briefly describe the lesson you are sharing: Often as photography teachers we get hung up on the photo composition principles: leading lines, rule of thirds, framing, etc. Those categories don’t help students create photographs with photojournalistic content. In teaching photojournalism I try to lean back on all of the kinds of photographs that I tried to gather when I worked as a professional photojournalist and when I studied photojournalism. This lesson plan showcases the kind of images that I want my student photojournalists to bring back to the publications room.”

Source Materials: Here are the source materials Eric uses for this lesson:


Shared by: Allison Berryhill

Who are you: I teach English and journalism at Atlantic High School in Iowa.

Briefly describe the lesson you are sharing: This lesson invites students to inductively discover various types of quotations and their purposes.

Download: Allison has shared the handout and exercise she uses with her class. Download it here.