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Debbie Service
Journalism teacher
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Lesson Plans

Libel and Ethics

Producing a Campus Newspaper

Producing a Campus Newspaper

Debbie Service of Davis High School in Houston.

Debbie Service
Jefferson Davis Senior High School

Title: Producing a campus newspaper

Description of School and Students

The 2001-02 school year will be the first year Jefferson Davis High School in Houston will have a journalism program. This is being added to the curriculum due to the practical application of technology involved in desktop publishing and campus publication production. Within the past decade this campus has worked within its mission to evolve from a typical troubled inner-city school into a model of the positive impact technology, corporate incentives, and parental involvement can have on student achievement. Web design is one component of the school’s improvement plan and one web teacher began producing Houston ISDs first online newspaper as a web class activity.

Most students enrolled in this course are advanced placement ninth-graders. Scheduling is in accelerated blocks. This unit will be taught in several 90-minute sessions. These first-semester journalism students will produce the semester’s final newspaper edition as a bridging activity to enable them to seek a position on the active staff.

Generative Topics

  • What stories should be included in this issue?
  • How will the content be influenced by the time of year (Christmas, final exams)?
  • What art will be needed?
  • Who will be responsible for specific tasks?
  • Will advertising be sold?

Generative Objects

Understanding Goals

  • Essential Questions
    • What stories will students have an interest in reading?
    • What stories must be included to keep the campus informed?
    • What entertaining items should be included?
    • Will this group attempt opinion pieces, features, and sports or allow the active staff to continue with those responsibilities?
    • Should community news be included?
    • Are national stories having an impact on this campus and should stories on these topics be included?
    • How will responsibilities be assigned?
    • What are the deadlines?
  • Critical Engagement Questions
    • What positions must be filled to accomplish the task and who will fill the positions?
    • Will this staff adopt the web design already in use or develop an original design?
    • What will be the lead stories, who will write them, will art be needed?
    • If advertising is sold, who will be responsible and how will rates be established?
    • Who will design the ads once they are sold and where will they appear in the publication?
    • How will staff promote readership?

Performance of Understanding, Rationale, and Time Line

  • TEKS 74§110.62(1)(C): Define the responsibility of the media to the audience, distinguish fact from opinion.
  • 74§110.62(2)(F): Differentiate among and write straight, interpretive, and feature news stories, including effective leads, use inverted pyramid form.
  • 74§110.62(2)(G): Understand the elements of news.
  • 74§110.62(2)(I): Use journalistic style.
  • 74§110.62(2)(A, B): Gather information through interviews and incorporate direct and indirect quotes.
  • 74§110.62(2)(K): Write captions.
  • 74§110.62(2)(L): Recall and employ the rules of headline writing.
  • 74§110.62(2)(E): *Edit copy using appropriate copyreading and proofreading symbols, demonstrate the use of appropriate English.
  • 74§110.62(2)(M): Rewrite copy.
  • 74§110.62(1)(B): Analyze policies.
  • 74§110.62(2)(H): Write an editorial, feature, column and/or review.
  • 74§110.62(3)(A, B): *Describe characteristics of front, news, editorial, feature and sports pages and distinguish among them, explain the significance of placement, demonstrate the relationship among the elements of design.
  • 74§110.62(3)(D): Identify size, contrast, and variety of type.
  • 74§110.62(3)(C): Select, crop, and scale photographs; recognize good, usable photos and demonstrate proficiency in cropping the photos to fit the overall page plan. 74§110.62(3)(E): *Paste up and proofread layout.
  • 74§110.62(4)(A): Study trends in advertising, differentiate between advertising appeals and propaganda.
  • 74§110.62(3)(F): Design an advertisement.
  • 74§110.62(4)(B): Explain the purpose of advertisements.
  • 74§110.62(4)(C): Analyze economic costs of a publication.

*These elements will be modified for online publication.

TEKS Covered: 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2I, 2L, 2M, 3B.

This unit provides students with a lab experience for practical application of knowledge and skills acquired up to this point in the course, and prepares students for newspaper production.

Nine 90-minute sessions will be devoted to initiating these students to newspaper production.

Day 1

  • Using textbook chapter as a guide, TLW (the learner will) evaluate personal skills and talents of classmates to make staff assignments and prepare job descriptions.

Day 2

  • TLW evaluate school calendar and needs of audience to prepare future book.
  • TLW make story assignments based on staff positions.
  • TLW (editors) set, announce and post production schedule and deadlines.

Day 3

  • TLW brainstorm interview questions.
  • TLW use master class schedule to arrange interviews with sources.
  • TLW conduct interviews.
  • TLW brainstorm advertising prospects.
  • TLW contact merchants for ad sales.
  • TLW complete advertising sales calls.
  • TLW design ads according to merchants’ layouts.
  • TLW proof out ads.
  • TLW arrange photo shoots.
  • TLW photograph campus activities and personalities.
  • After TLW develop page design ideas.
  • TLW compose stories using inverted pyramid style.

Day 4

  • TLW continue activities from previous day if necessary.
  • TLW (design editor) examine designs of other online newspapers to determine if changes will be appropriate for this issue.
  • TLW (photographers) take pictures of campus activities and personalities with digital camera.
  • TLW obtain advertising run sheet from current staff.

Day 5

  • TLW (copy editor) edit copy.
  • TLW (reporters) finish stories and submit to copy editor for review.
  • TLW make corrections to copy as indicated by copy editor.
  • TLW complete photo shoots.
  • TLW continue activities from previous day if necessary.

Day 6

  • TLW arrange copy on pages.
  • TLW Select appropriate photos.
  • TLW write headlines.
  • TLW write cutlines.
  • TLW continue activities from previous day if necessary.

Day 7

  • TLW proofread and correct each completed page.
  • TLW continue activities from previous day if necessary.
  • TLW determine if additional activities or issues should be covered.

Day 8

  • TLW use individual slogans, clip art Selections and border designs to create rough sketches of eye-catching posters.
  • TLW label clip art and borders for posters to be produced by desktop publishing students.
  • Submit finished newspaper to active staff for final approval.

Day 9

  • TLW evaluate front page for balance and content.
  • TLW evaluate inside pages for logical positioning of content according to the inverted pyramid.
  • TLW search for typographical errors.
  • TLW discuss other flaws.
  • TLW discuss successful application of journalistic principles.
  • TLW evaluate photographs and cutlines.
  • TLW discuss campus reaction.
  • TLW evaluate participation of all staff, problems, teamwork, use of skills, development of new skills.
  • TLW compose thank you notes to faculty and staff whom provided assistance (granted interviews and time away from class).


Students will collaboratively write an evaluation of strengths and weaknesses of this endeavor.

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