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Lesson Plans Archive

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  • advertising
    • Advertising in the Multicultural Community
      Multicultural advertising is the goal of this ambitious lesson, which asks immigrants from the community to come in to discuss their businesses and advertising needs and later accept — or reject — students selling ads for the school newspaper
    • Advertising sales
      Teaching students that advertising is an important community service; explaining that both businesses and customers benefit and that designing and selling ads requires professional knowledge and personal preparation.
    • Design and Advertising
      A simple lesson that asks students to look at advertising design as part of the process of creating ads. It also discusses “weasel words” used in advertising.
    • Preparing Students as Sales Professionals: Steps for Selling Advertising Space Professionally
      Students generally have no idea how to sell advertising. This lesson gives them ideas on how to market their paper, what techniques to use in identifying advertisers and selling them advertising.
    • Selling Advertising
      A short lesson plan to start students off selling advertising for the newspaper, including what to wear, what to say, etc.
    • Teens Do Spend Money
      This lesson asks students to think about where teens shop and what it would take to entice them to go there by requiring them to build a spec ad. It relies heavily on a Web link.
    • The Leonardo da Vinci method of selling advertising
      A great overview of what a successful newspaper should do to ensure advertising success, from conception to execution to billing.
  • beat
    • Forming the Beat
      Kellie Wagner of Hartford, Conn., leads her students to understand why beats are important to good journalism.
  • bias
    • Bias vs. Perspective: An Inevitable Aspect of Journalism?
      There’s a difference between bias and perspective, isn’t there? This lesson explores how the same topic will be perceived and reported differently by different news organizations (and, possibly, the comics of “Saturday Night Live”!)
    • Coping With Bias
      We all have biases, but often students are unable to see them (“I’m not prejudiced!”) This lesson and handout asks students to examine their own biases and to hunt them in news stories from the student paper.
  • content
  • copy editing
    • Caption Writing Activity
      Good caption writing does more than repeat the story; it adds depth. Students will learn that it takes creativity and is more difficult than it looks.
    • Captions: A picture is worth a thousand words
      A lesson about what makes a great caption from the ground up. This lesson could be taught concurrent to a layout and design lesson using pictures and other artwork as points of interest on a newspaper page.
    • Fitting ideas to the space: Writing headlines
      A lesson that assigns students actual layouts and asks them to write heads to fit in that space. Drives home the point that you need to read and understand the story as well as understanding that some layouts make headline-writing impossible.
    • Headline Writing is Hard!
      Students will understand that headline writing is a difficult art. Besides space limitations, it is full of pitfalls that can make the newspaper look foolish. In addition, students will learn to write headlines with these pitfalls in mind.
    • Writing Headlines
      Writing good headlines is more than making them fit in Pagemaker. It’s using the right words and forcing yourself to think beyond the obvious. This lesson has students write them manually, eliminating the “cheat” factor.
    • Writing the Perfect Cutline
      A single-day lesson that instructs students how to writing photo cutlines (captions).
  • critical thinking about media
  • curriculum
  • decisionmaking
    • Decision making in the newsroom
      Decision-making is a primary skill of most reporters and editors. In this lesson, students are asked to practice making decisions and explain their thought processes or rationales for them.
    • Full coverage
      A look at the importance of diversity to coverage. Key questions include: What is our community? What does diversity mean in relation to a high school newspaper? What groups get the most coverage in our paper? Etc.
    • Journalistic Scenarios
      Would you run these stories? Some scenarios student journalists might encounter.
    • The Editorial Board Process
      By making ethical decisions in a group, students will become better at considering others’ thoughts and ideas, and they will also better understand the procedure that the student newspaper practices.
    • Understanding what makes a good news story
      A plan and chart to help students think about what makes a good news story in addition to examining who such a story would assist and who it would harm.
    • You Make the Call: Shape the Front Page (and Public Discourse?)
      A lesson that asks: What are the key factors that contribute to editorial decisions within the news media? It explores this through examination of numerous newspapers and their approach to the news.
  • design
    • An Introduction to Newspaper Design
      An exploration of what good design looks like — and what it used to look like — as students prepare to redesign their own publication.
    • Circle in a Box
      A deceptively simple exercise: Putting a circle in a three-dimensional box in a layout program. Execution, however, can be much harder.
    • Laying out the high school paper
      Modular layout is the standard for most publications. This lesson asks students to identify part of modular page layout and then design their own in groups, comparing and contrasting to a known standard.
    • Photojournalism and Creating a Layout
      This unit explores photography and design, asking students why photos are important, what makes a good photo story and how one approaches it, and looks at examples of award-winning designs and photos. Has gifted and special education components.
    • Redesigning The Wheel
      A good plan to lay the groundwork for redesiging your school paper. From comparing good publications to yours to eliciting comments to good design elements to use as you go forward.
    • Redesigning Your High School Newspaper
      An extensive plan for redesigning the school paper that could be used at the end of the year during slack time and as a final exam grade. Also great for generating new ideas for the paper.
  • diversity
    • A Classroom Discourse on Diversity
      A unit that explores the depiction of minorities, women and the elderly, among others in modern media and media from 30 years ago. The great differences between the eras allows diversity to be discussed more easily.
    • Diversity Does Matter
      Covering a diverse student community takes work and a conscious decision to cover people who may be different from you. This lesson explores the ASNE Time-Out for Diversity and Maynard Institute audit material in a high school context.
    • Finding Diversity
      Teaching diversity in a homogenous school can be difficult. Carolyn Woodward tackles it by giving students yarn necklaces and “discriminating” against the ones with yellow yarn. Later, she asks students to identify all the groups at their schools — and to assess which ones are covered poorly in the school paper.
    • Incorporating diversity into the school newspaper
      A unit that challenges students to expand their comfort level with people different from them by challenging them to compare their newspaper’s coverage to the school population — and then take steps to help it reflect that population.
    • Introducing diversity into media coverage
      Garcia, a teacher in Tampa, asks students to ID bias and inequity in reporting that may exist in mainstream media and consider if this is an issue for the students’ own paper.
    • Making Sure Everyone Has a Voice: Campaigning on Campus
      Michelle Elizondo of San Antonio has newspaper staffers start a schoolwide campaign to diversify their storytelling.
    • Photojournalism and Diversity
      A photography unit on learning to use the camera by using diversity as a subject. Explores the kinds of diversity, what a photo story is, etc. Has gifted and talented as well as special education components.
    • The Black and White of News Reporting
      A unit examining the portrayal of race in the media — both in advertising and in news reporting. It asks students to identify and assess it critically.
    • The Importance of Diversity in Reporting the News
      Two units explaining the importance of diversity in the media and giving students a chance to work out why it’s important. Two related units that integrate a visit from a newspaper editor.
    • Understanding and Covering Diversity in Your Own School
      A unit that gets students to explore race and diversity at their school and in universities they might attend. Brings together statistics, investigation and interviews into an accessible project.
  • editing
    • Editing for AP (and Your Newspaper’s) Style
      A plan that gets to the heart of the matter of newspaper style. A hands-on lesson (with grading sheet!) that asks students to analyze stories for style errors after an explanation of what it is.
    • Shorter is Better!
      Brevity is an important skill to learn as a reporter. This exercise forces students to write who, what, where, why, when and how in one of the briefest forms there is: the comic strip.
  • editorial cartoons
  • editorial writing
  • entertainment journalism
    • What’s a Good Movie Review?
      A five-day lesson that explores all reviews with movie reviews as the example. Uses “Absence of Malice” as the movie to review (with the added benefit of teaching about libel). Asks what makes a good review — it’s more than “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down.”
  • features
  • First Amendment
  • Google Docs
  • graphics and design
    • Introduction to Infographics
      short, introductory lesson on what infographics are, how they are used, what they convey and how to create them. Students are asked to created their own as a project.
  • information graphic
  • interviewing
    • Car Raid!: Preparing for an Interview
      Preparing for interviews involves learning all you can about the subject. This lesson has students investigate a car and then develop questions and a story based on what they find.
    • Careers in Journalism
      A lesson on bringing a guest speaker in journalism into the classroom. It outlines how the students should prepare for the visit, how to prepare the speaker and how to grade students on the visit.
    • Effective interviewing
      After having students watch television interviews, they are asked to come up with interviews of their own using open-ended questions and a conversational style.
    • Generating open-ended interview questions
      Open-ended questions force the interviewee to explain and talk more — giving reporters more to quote. This lesson asks students to interview inanimate objects to hone their skills at open-ended questioning.
    • Getting to the bottom of the Ebola virus while learning interviewing skills
      Mitzi Wilson of Ohio teaches questioning techniques to solve the mystery of an Ebola pandemic.
    • Interview scenario
      This plan hones your students’ ability to listen and ask the right questions. Seven role-playing scenarios allow them to ask questions about a news event and write stories based on their questions.
    • Interviewing Historical Media Figures
      Practice asking open-ended questions during mock interviews of past and contemporary media figures.
    • Mock Interview with Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series.
      Jennifer Seavey of Virginia enjoys a mock interview with Stephenie Meyer, popular author of teen vampire novels.
    • Oral Histories of World War II
      A unit designed to introduce students to techniques of transcribing and conducting oral interviews. By interviewing people who lived during World War II, students will gain an understanding of this generation.
    • Out of Your Comfort Zone
      Joel Neden of New York trains students to use their innate skills to improve their interviewing and reporting talents.
    • The Basics of Features and Interviewing
      A lesson that asks students to find a story where there appears to be no story, to value their peers and collegues as interesting people with stories to tell and how to prepare for an interview.
    • The Everett McGlinn interview: An exercise in (a sometimes frustrating) reality
      This simple, but difficult lesson (for students), has the teacher pretend to be a treasure hunter visiting town. But this interviewee speaks fast, quietly and with an accent — and isn’t very forthcoming. Good preparation for the realities of interviews.
  • journalism ethics
    • An ethical framework for journalists
      Grubaugh gives us five wonderfully problematic ethics problems straight out of high schools in the recent past and gives some great lists for ethical journalists to follow as they make their decisisons.
    • But That’s Not Fair: Exploring Journalistic Fairness
      What is journalistic fairness? What’s the difference between ethical and legal news reporting? Are there standards? Who decides?
    • Case studies in journalistic ethics No. 1
      A one- or two-day lesson (part of a five part unit). This one focuses on a journalist’s responsibility and ethical concerns in reporting on illegal immigration, but could be adapted to other sticky topics.
    • Defining a code of ethics
      A lesson for a 90-minute block that outlines what a code of ethics is. It then asks students to compare journalistic ethics to their own “community ethics.” Finally, it asks them to draft a code to be used in conjunction with the school newspaper.
    • Ethics and Hazelwood: What Student Journalists Should and Can Write
      By examining ethics codes of journalists and — pirates — students will gain an appreciation for ethics in general. Asks them to consider ethics within the Hazelwood/Tinker standards.
    • Everyday ethics as an editor
      Ethical decisionmaking can be an everyday exercise. Here are some questions to ask and some scenarios to explore.
    • Exploring Ethical Issues
      Ethics questions often pique students’ interest. This unit plan asks them to develop and their own code of ethics.
    • ‘Extra! Extra! Read All About It,’ ‘News Break,’ and ‘A Special Report’
      The ethics of journalism and thoughtfulness of the editors and reporters behind it are intertwined. This plan gets behind the role of journalists and their special responsibilities.
    • For the Record: Whose Record?: A Lesson on Balance in Reporting
      A thorough explanation of the concept of journalistic balance, a sometimes slippery concept. She uses professional ethics codes, as well as an example from a novel to explain that balance isn’t always as simple as “getting both sides.”
    • Forming a code of ethics
      Starting up a school paper, Scholz decided to tackle an ethics policy. A great lesson for introducing journalism ethics.
    • How Do The Media Measure Up?
      What essential standards of journalism should the media follow? What motivates the media? Do the media reflect society? How can we become critical readers and viewers of the media?
    • It’s a Question of Ethics
      A multi-day unit exploring ethics, how they apply to the news media, what codes of ethics are and how morality applies to media ethics. Has a handout.
    • Journalistic ethics when tragedy hits
      A one- or two-day lesson (part of a five part unit). This one focuses on tragedies and the decision-making process a reporter must address when reporting on them or other sensitive situations.
    • Lessons to be learned: The importance of attribution, accuracy and honesty
      A one- or two-day lesson (part of a five part unit). This one focuses on the challenges faced by the journalism community in the face of several flagrant abuses of journalistic integrity.
    • ‘Shattered Glass’ study guide
      This “Shattered Glass” study guide highlights ethical questions raised by the career of Stephen Glass at The New Republic.
    • Sticky ethics scenarios journalists face
      Two lesson plans exploring the ethics issues both student and daily newspapers face. Many of the questions are delightfully gray.
    • Teaching Ethical Situations
      A lesson plan for discussing journalism ethics. It includes a set of overall goals for discussion and eight theoretical situations for students to ponder.
    • The Question of Ethical Journalism
      What are ethics and are they synonymous with morals? Is it possible to create an objective list of ethics or morals? How does the First Amendment affect — if at all — journalists and their sense of ethics? Can journalists abuse the First Amendment?
    • The Right to Know vs. the Need to Know
      A fundamental journalism concept and one that causes lively debate. Evolves from what the students need to know about themselves and their teacher into whether the right to know is equal to the need to know in every case.
    • To Do or Not to Do…the News?
      An extensive unit that builds on “All the President’s Men” as an ethical starting-off point for developing a code of conduct for the school newspaper. Very detailed and specific.
    • When is the News Not News?
      When is a story not a story? When should the news not an event? Should some things be considered to the press?
    • You Make the Call: The Ethical Dilemmas that Face Reporters Today
      What are the types of decisions reporters must make when pursuing stories about public figures? How do those decisions fit into the reporter’s responsibilities to his or her news organization, and to the public?
  • journalism history
  • journalism introduction
  • libel
    • Case studies in journalistic ethics No. 2
      A one- or two-day lesson (part of a five part unit). This one focuses on the ethics behind the use of hidden cameras to tape alleged wrongdoing. It also touches on libel.
    • Law, Libel & The Golden Rule: Law & Ethics for Photojournalists
      An exploration of both the legal and social decisions one must make as a photojournalist (although it applies to most journalism with its excellent work on libel). An excellent and extensive lesson plan with two related activity handouts and a quiz.
    • Libel and Ethics
      This unit emphasizes the need to provide complete and truthful accounts of events in student publications. It examines of the consequences of providing false, incomplete, or misleading information.
    • Libel and the Student Newspaper: Making Tough Calls
      Can student publications be sued for libel? You bet they can. This lesson examines three hypothetical cases and asks students what they would and wouldn’t publish.
    • Student press law and ethics
      A lesson to be used near the beginning of the year that touches on ethics, press law, diversity and other fundamental topics in journalism.
    • The First Amendment, What It Means and When Libel Comes Into Play
      Can anyone say anything at any time? Is that what the First Amendment guarantees? Where does libel fall into that? This unit examines libel, free speech and the John Peter Zenger case.
  • maestro
  • news values
    • News values and the front page
      This plan helps students recognize traditional news values — what makes news: timeliness, proximity, consequence, etc., and apply them to stories they find in the newspaper.
    • Uncovering news values
      Why is one idea a news story and another isn’t? How do journalists make that determination. Julie Chortanoff of Pennsylvania explains.
  • online journalism
    • Check It Out on the Web
      Students need to know how to find accurate information on the Internet. By giving them the goal of learning about online newspapers, they can research a topic (putting their school newspaper online) as well as use Internet research techniques.
    • Introduction to Online News
      Considering going online? Help your students understand the pros and cons of online journalism.
    • Spinning a Web
      A plan to introduce students to Web journalism and how it differs both from print journalism and public relations, with the purpose of creating a school journalism Web site.
  • organizing a journalism class
  • organizing a school newspaper
    • Building a Journalism Team
      Fun activity to be used with new and returning journalism students at the beginning of the school year to promote teamwork in preparation for producing the school newspaper.
  • photography
    • About Digital Cameras
      Learn about the standard settings on a SLR camera and why exposure is important.
    • Case studies in journalistic ethics No. 3
      A one- or two-day lesson (part of a five part unit). This one focuses on the ethical decisions involved in publishing controversial/sensitive photos.
    • Effective photojournalism
      After having students examine work of professional photographers in newspapers and magazines, basic photographic concepts are explained. Then students are asked to shoot, develop, edit and caption the photos for a portfolio.
    • Getting the Picture: Composing and Building, Frame by Frame, Pixel by Pixel
      Introducing photography by asking these questions and more: How do we build upon a visual foundation with verbal imagery and accurate voices? Are there special techniques that enhance the photo?
    • Introduction to Photography
      An introduction to photography climaxing in a photo contest. Allows intstructor to bring in newspaper or other photographers to share their skills.
    • Looking at photographs from the other end of the lens
      A lesson that aims at answering this: What makes a good photograph and cutline for journalism? Teaches basic critiques of photos for news purposes and what belongs in a good photo caption.
    • Making Photo Essays Easy
      A lesson that asks students to look at photos as a storytelling medium by forcing them to lay out or create photo essays. What are they missing? What do they wish they had? These are the questions they remember the next time they shoot.
    • Making Photo Slideshows
      Andi Mulshine of Wall., N.J., leads her students through the process of posting their slideshows online.
    • Moving beyond the mug shot
      A short, two-day lesson that asks students to look beyond basic “grip and grins” in their photos. Gives them disposable cameras and demands that they be creative.
    • News “Framing” through Photographs and Videotapes
      “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but do the media exploit the power of photographs and videotapes to influence public opinion?
    • Photo Editing and Photo Ethics
      Katrina Hester of South Carolina teaches students that just because they CAN do something to a photo in Photoshop doesn’t mean it’s RIGHT to do it.
    • Photographing High School Sports
      Photographs are crucial to an interesting newspaper, but interesting photos — or photos that come out at all — can be difficult in a sports situation.
    • Photography: Beyond the Snapshot
      A plan to take student photography to the next level by examining examples of good photos and learning what a good photo is and how to recognize it, and finally, looking at what a student can do to take more interesting photos.
    • Photography: Where journalism meets art
      Looking at photo opportunities as a unified whole that combines subject, background, foreground, action and mood.
    • Photojournalism and composition
      A beginning photography lesson that delves into the rules of thirds, framing, etc. They should be able to recognize composition principles and their impact on photography.
    • Recognizing 4 major photojournalism techniques to improve quality and interest in pictures
      A lesson that, after introducing students to various standard photographic techniques, asks them to assess professional photographers work AND shoot photos of their own that fit the models they’re taught.
    • The Basics of Photography
      A lesson that asks students to look beyond the content of a photo and examine it for its quality. Photos shouldn’t be seen as space-filler in the paper. Also looks at daily newspapers that do photography well to see the power of photography.
    • The Challenge of Egg Photography
      Create a composition in which a white chicken egg is distinguishable from a white background by creating and using shadows.
    • The Influence of James Nachtwey on the Field of Photojournalism
      Encourage your students to try photo essays by examining the work of James Nachtwey.
    • The Rule of Thirds
      This lesson introduces the rule of thirds in photography to students and gives them resources to explore it further. They are then assigned to take photos that they think adhere to this rule.
    • Through the Viewfinder
      A two-three class period lesson that asks students to think about photography: What makes a good photo, the difference between chemical and digital photography and more.
    • Through the Viewfinder: Learning to Think Like a Professional News Photographer
      A look at why some photos are good and others aren’t, with an exploration of terms that help describe these aesthetics. Related photo grading sheet will help assess student work.
    • Using Photography to Enhance a Story
      By reading a text and studying examples of good newspaper photography, students will learn to crop photos for maximum storytelling effect.
  • plagiarism
    • Plagiarism In The Real World
      Oklahoma librarian Rae Magby helps students get why plagiarism in journalism is wrong — by pretending to steal THEIR work.
  • press conference
  • print vs. electronic media
  • prior restraint
    • Journalism Law Lesson: Tinker vs. Hazelwood
      This lesson uses SPLC’s “Law of the Student Press” and compares the Tinker and Hazelwood standards when it comes to student journalism.
    • The Legacy of the Pentagon Papers
      What is prior restraint? Why is prior restraint dangerous in a democracy? When is it legitimate to keep information from the press? Who makes that decision? Why? Would the Supreme Court decision in New York Times v. United States (1971) be the same today?
  • reporting
    • Balancing Journalism in Wartime
      A unit that explores the role of journalists in general by highlighting wartime journalism. Asks students to think of themselves as wartime journalists and ask the tough (and unpopular) questions they sometimes ask.
    • Basic feature interviewing
      Teaching student reporters to develop skills to interview for details, anecdotes and quotes for feature stories.
    • Basic Interviewing and Reporting
      Basic skills are the foundation of journalism. Improving writing and reporting will impact the quality of the student newspaper. With a clear understanding of basic interviewing and reporting skills, students will gain confidence in their abilities.
    • Basic writing and reporting
      A unit with four individual lesson plans exploring writing style, newspaper beats, coverage and minimum standards of a staffer, and the importance of editing.
    • Beginner’s In-Class Story Assignment
      One-day reporting assignment for beginning reporters.
    • Classroom Press Conference
      This lesson demonstrates how to hold a press conference in the classroom. It asks students to arrange the conference and guest, to do research, to ask good questions and then compete for the honor of having their work appear in the paper.
    • Conducting the “Orchestra:” How to Implement Maestro
      A three-day unit examining the Maestro Concept, a method of writers, photographers, editors and graphic artists working together on a project to produce a more cohesive result.
    • Covering a presidential election
      A multi-day lesson that asks students to look at presidential debates for issues of interest to teens then research and write articles about what they heard.
    • Creating Hate: The Power of Words
      The power of words is considerable; this lesson plan explores that in the context of hate language not only in literature but in everyday culture. Observation is a key activity in this lesson.
    • Developing story ideas
      Teaching students how to develop specific and feasible story ideas.
    • Effective Reporting: What Is It and How Do You Do It?
      A plan to take young reporters to the next level by helping them to identify who to talk to and how to talk to them.
    • Gotcha: Exploring the Role of the Investigative Reporter
      What is investigative reporting, what is its role, what does it take to be an investigative reporter?
    • Investigative Reporting
      What role does the press play in fostering social change? How has investigative journalism changed over time? Who/what helps or hinders the job of the investigative journalist?Has investigative journalism created problems regarding privacy?
    • Localizing News for School Newspaper
      Students will study the local newspaper for stories to be localized and then present their ideas for doing so.
    • Make the Most of Your Story with Research
      A lesson with four handouts that explains how research makes a story better by giving it depth. The handouts give story ideas and questions students should be asking.
    • Mall Trip
      A role-playing exercise evolves into a news story. Students play roles of mall denizens and interview each other for individual points of view. A teacher-turned-police chief delivers the press conference.
    • News: researching, interviewing, reporting, and writing
      A lesson that gets at the heart of reporting and writing an article and goes through all the steps of doing so. Includes two excellent handouts.
    • Observation
      How to teach students to use all five senses to gather detail for a feature story.
    • Observation and Reporting Techniques
    • Point of View: The Three Little Pigs
      What does “The Three Little Pigs” have to do with journalism? In this lesson, it’s a great example of what it takes to write an objective piece of journalism from people’s subjective viewpoint.
    • Propaganda: You Better Believe It
      Propaganda, sometimes in the form of public relations, is common in our lives, used by presidents, corporate executives and government employees alike. It’s important for students to understand what it is and how to dechipher and get around it.
    • Publish or Perish: The rights of journalists to report on war developments
      What is censorship? What is fair game in reporting?
    • School Scavenger Hunt
      Good for the beginning of the term, this lesson and worksheet asks students to find out more about the school they’ll be writing about.
    • Searching for Stories
      A multi-day unit that asks students to find 10 story ideas that will be reviewed and critiqued by their peers. Students are encouraged to use the Internet as well as classic research techniques to find interesting stories about their town.
    • Story generators
      A two-day lesson to get students to think of original and interesting story ideas. First by relating news events to the school, second by asking them to develop questions prior to interviews.
    • Straight News
      A short lesson that asks students to look at an out-of-order news story and put it back in order. Comes with two worksheets on news judgment.
    • The Advanced Obit
      This lesson teaches young people how to structure and write an obituary by using current celebrities (both national and local) as examples. This teaches students how to research and find out information about subjects.
    • Thinking Like a Reporter
      How can story ideas be generated? By training students to think like a reporter — by seeing the potential of stories everywhere and then choosing the most immediate and interesting one.
    • Two Sources of Story Ideas for Our Paper
      Two lessons/handouts for getting students to think like journalists. One asks them to write down quotes — what people are talking about — in notebooks. The other asks them to read newspapers, magazines, etc. for school-specific story ideas.
    • Writing Under Pressure
      An elegant 90-minute-period lesson plan that forces students to report and write under pressure. First they attend a news conference, then they have to write a story. That’s it. They’re graded on the quality of the story and its freedom from errors.
  • role of the journalist
  • social media
  • story ideas
    • Finding a Voice
      Jimmie Bellah of Victoria, Texas, shows students how to brainstorm story ideas. One method: ideas vs. stories. The war in Iraq is an idea; a profile of an alumna serving there is a story.
    • Finding Local Story Ideas
    • Generating Feature Ideas
      Recognizing a feature story isn’t the same as coming up with one. In this lesson, Elinore Kaplan of New York asks students to brainstorm based on the news.
    • Why are high school newspapers relevant?
      Instead of letting students compalin about the irrelevancy of the school newspaper — and print journalism in general — Kim Harris challenges her students to make it relevent.
  • wrap-up
    • Bringing It All Together
      Courtney McGonnell of Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg, Va., uses this exercise to wrap up her journalism I year.
  • writing
    • An overview: The characteristics of news writing
      A lesson to compare and contrast news writing vs. composition writing.
    • Categorizing quotes
      How do reporters choose the quotes they use? By choosing the ones that move the story forward and convey the most meaning. This lesson delves into that a bit and asks students to try it themselves.
    • Creative Nonfiction: An alternative to the feature story
      A lesson that asks students to look at the personality profile in a different way — as creative non-fiction. Uses a book and article on creative non-fiction. Asks students to define and implement it.
    • Developing Ideas for In-Depth Newspaper Stories
      To be substantive, school newspapers must have more than light features. This lesson requires each student to develop one in-depth/investigative article as a way to add substance and topical issues to their paper.
    • Feature Writing: Where do I begin? Writing an effective feature story
      A unit that explores the writing of the feature story in-depth and looks at the different types of feature stories — profiles, backgrounders, etc. Students write a draft and a final paper as part of the unit.
    • Identifying and Writing Different Types of Leads
      Writing interesting leads draws the reader to the story. This plan reviews different types of leads and models the different ways to approach the all important lead.
    • Interviewing and Feature Writing
      A lesson to encourage students to come up with “good” interview questions — those that elicit longer, open-ended responses. Also, how to recognize a good feature story and interview.
    • Introduction to Paragraph Development in News Journalism
      A lesson to introduce students to paragraphs and their importance. Asks them to look at stories without paragraphs and with them to analyze the most important material. It reinforces the differences between journalistic writing and essay writing.
    • Learning how to coach writers
      A one-class lesson that asks students to write and listen to others’ writing, all the while listening to improve their partner’s writing and their own.
    • Nursery Rhyme News
      Students are asked to write leads from well-known nursery rhymes — both feature and straight news. Designed to teach them the difference.
    • Practice makes perfect: an exercise in newswriting
      A lesson that you can repeat as a staple of the class over and over again. It asks students to identify the key pieces of information in a story so as to better write their own stories.
    • Precise writing
      Teach students how to choose precise and accurate nouns, adjectives and verbs to create vivid writing.
    • Real Reporting: Making a Good News Story into a Great News Story
      What makes a good news story? By exploring that and why some are better than others, this plan gets at the qualities of a good news story: details, precise writing, good sources, good quotes, good description.
    • Revision strategy: Using math to improve writing
      Tracey Burger of Miami shares a short and sweet lesson to eliminate passive voice and “worthless words” from student writing.
    • Shouting out the window
      This lesson makes an actor out of the teacher — feigning to see action out a window — in order to drive home the point of the most important elements of a lead: what, who and why. Then when and where.
    • Starting strong, staying focused
      A lesson to teach the basic elements of lead writing and the importance of story focus to any story.
    • Teaching the Personality Profile
      A unit that explains in detail how to do a personality profile, complete with a press conference.
    • The Key to Good Journalism is Storytelling
      A journalist must know the audience and capture the attention of the audience. Developing the ability to tell stories and convey them is an important journalistic skill. This lesson explores telling stories about objects.
    • Transition from essays to features, news and editorials
      A lesson to teach the basic differences between features, editorials, and news stories. Also, students should be able to differentiate between these amd essays.
    • Using Best Newspaper Writing in a journalism class
      Megan Harowitz of Florida uses “Best Newspaper Writing” to show how the best writers craft their stories.
    • What Does It Take to Write a Good Story?
      By helping to develop and employ good research and interviewing skills, this unit aims at helping students write good stories. Students will be taught some specific journalistic rules for writing — and that the lesson is ongoing (and perhaps lifelong!)
    • Writing the lead
      Outlining the basic elements of a lead — prominence, proximity, timeliness, oddity/uniqueness, consequence and human interest — also helps students gain news judgment. Two related handouts and an exercise sheet.